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District School Board of Niagara
Pier 21 was an immigration depot located on the Halifax harbour front. The facility welcomed over 1 million immigrants from 1928-1971, until it officially closed due to air travel surpassing shipping. Throughout its years of operation, the facility would provide immigrants with transportation and aid throughout their immigration journey. It was especially helpful during WW2 for it allowed troops to travel to and from their port, and gave homes to immigrants who had experienced destruction. The building is now "The Museum of Immigration at Pier 21". This museum shares the memories from the seaport and stands as a reminder that Canada's character has been shaped by the many immigrants that have passed through.
What was the most interesting thing you learned about your topic?
I learned about the difference immigrants have made in Canada's character and how seaports such as Pier 21 helped to make Canada the diverse country it is today. Without Pier 21, the over 1 million travellers that immigrated wouldn't have experienced Canada. I think other Canadians should learn about the impacts different facilities have had on Canada and even our own families. Many of our families could not have ended up where they are today without the support of the piers.
What important lessons have you learned that you want to share with other Canadians?
As I was exploring my project, I had the opportunity to look through documentation that came with my family's immigration to Canada. My grandfather found the papers his father had to sign in the customs of Pier 21, where he wrote down his belongings and the value of each item. I also discovered the documentation of my grandfather's arrival to Canada through Pier 21. It was very interesting to discover more about my family's backstory and how their lives began in Canada.
How would you compare your life today to the lives of those studied in your project?
As someone who grew up in Canada, I haven't experienced the difficulty that comes with immigration. Those that I studied in my project had to travel over a week at seas into a country that they had no idea about, and most did not know what to expect. They would then have to learn how to adapt with the standards of Canada such as learning English. I know all of this because my grandfather and his family traveled to Canada through Pier 21 in 1953. Immigrants today have a higher advantage than in the past for they can have a safer, faster travel and there is proper technology that can help them with learning to adapt. Those living today can also communicate with loved ones easier, as in the past they may have been disconnected forever from others. It would have been very difficult for immigrants to leave the country they grew up in, which reminds me how fortunate I am to have grown up in Canada.