Turning Seven in Quarantine

Author(s)

Carrie-Ann Smith

Carrie-Ann Smith is the Vice-President of Audience Engagement at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. She joined the Pier 21 Society in the summer of 1998 and has watched the organization evolve from an idea into an interpretive centre, and now a national museum. Though she has occupied several positions at the museum, collecting and sharing stories has always been her favourite thing to do—it still is.

One six-year-old made the best of long weeks of quarantine in Pier 21’s Accommodation and Detention quarters. Gerard Van Kessel arrived in Canada with his family in 1951.

“…two of my brothers had developed a contagious disease on board, I think it was mumps or whooping cough, I'm not sure which, we were in fact quarantined for three weeks and I turned seven in the quarantine camp in Halifax,” Gerard recalled.

“I think for a child, everything, as long as he gets the rest and eat and play a little bit, everything's fine. It didn't seem extraordinary to me at all on what I do remember is the matron.

“I do recall her taking us out for walks on the cobblestone streets of Halifax at that time. I recall that, but I don't recall much else to be honest. Yeah. It certainly wasn't traumatic in any way, shape or form.”

Thanks Gerald, we needed to hear that. Let’s make those our instructions for the day, get your rest, play a little bit and know that one day those might be things that you remember the most clearly and with the greatest fondness.

Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 (18.06.04GVK)