Pier21 tells the Canadian Immigration story. Located on the Halifax Waterfront, this has become Canada's newest museum, the Canadian Museum of Immigration.
Did you know that 1 in 5 Canadians has a connection to Pier 21?
Did you also know that between 1928 and 1971 Pier21 saw 1 million immigrants and 500,000 Canadian military personnel within its walls?
This is incredible and the stories behind these numbers are also incredible. The foundations of Canada were being built and Pier 21 was there to play an important part!
Canada is a country of immigrants and nation builders and many of them saw Canada for the first time in Halifax on Pier 21.
This historical place is linked to Canada's multicultural national identity. Immigrants included refugees from worn-torn countries, war brides and their children, evacuee children and misplaced persons.
Most of Canada's troops that went oversees to fight in WWII came through Pier21.
This wonderful place tells their stories. There are interactive exhibits, multi-media presentations, oral histories, films, displays and photos that recount all of their stories. I really enjoyed the short film that in shown throughout the day which depicts the Canadian immigrant story.
I had no idea that 3000 British evacuee children landed at Pier 21 during WWII.
Britain was in fear of being bombed by the Germans and they wanted to protect their children.
The difficult decision was made to evacuate and Canada opened its doors.
I think this is a little known fact to Canadians.
Can you imagine that 48,000 war brides with their 22,000 children came to Canada after the war? These new Canadians saw Canada for the first time at Pier 21. This remarkable museum tells their stories and displays their artifacts and pictures.
The wall facing Halifax harbour is lined with large windows so you can see where the ships would have entered the harbour. I found this to be very poignant and I lingered there a long time. There is a great view of the lighthouse on Georges Island located just across from Pier 21.
The exhibits throughout the museum are wonderful and give a great sense of what it might have been like at Pier 21. I enjoyed looking at the photographs of immigrants just arriving in Halifax. The look of bewilderment in their eyes and excitement at the same time.
Many of these people, many with small children, were displaced in their home countries and came to Canada looking for a better life.
Thousands of soldiers left for overseas via Pier 21. Many would not return. War brides and their children would take their place.
The Scotiabank Family History Centre offers services where you can research to find names of immigrants and when they arrived. The research centre is happy to help everyone who comes through their doors. You can also make contact with them online. Lists of ships are available as well as passenger listings.
One of the most fascinating parts of the museum is the online culture trunks section. Folks like you and me can sponsor a trunk and tell the story of a group of immigrants from a specific country. Currently, there is an Italian trunk, a Netherlands' trunk and a Hungarian trunk.
The museum even has a travelling road show. They travel the country and send up exhibits in museums. This is an interesting idea and certainly brings the museum to Canadians who might never get the opportunity to visit Halifax. Many are probably immigrants themselves.
Pier 21 always wants to hear stories from the public. The museum is dedicated to hearing and gathering stories from Canadians about their family's immigration to Canada.
If you have an immigration story go to their website. They definitely want to hear from you.
Location: Pier 21 is located on the Halifax Waterfront at 1055 Marginal Road
Museum Hours: From early May to the end of October the museum is open 9:30am to 5:30pm
Admittance: There is an admittance fee for the museum.
Services: The museum is fully accessible and has wheelchairs available for visitors. There is also a gift shop with a wide variety of items.
Pier 21 website: The museum's website is filled with useful information about Canadian immigration so I would encourage you to browse their pages. But please come back and see me and write a note about your visit to Pier 21!
Visiting Halifax? There is lots to see and do in Halifax. Check out my Halifax pages!