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ALL ABOARD!

Welcome to my first blog here at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21! I’d like to share a bit of our collection with you today. After searching for interesting historical tidbits, I came across a few children’s ship and train menus from the 1940s and 1950s. These menus provide a unique window into how passenger travel evolved after the Second World War.

Today’s companies increasingly cater to younger passengers, aiming to highlight their services and products in hopes of attracting them and their parents. Youth now hold more spending power than they did in previous generations.

In the immediate postwar period, the majority of travel between Europe and Canada was by ship. As air travel became more accessible with increased routes, less time spent in transit and lower fares, passengers turned away from ships and trains.

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What is your vision for a culturally diverse and “integrated” community?

For the past decade the buzz word “integration” has anchored Canadian immigration discourse. Policy analysts, academics, immigrant settlement workers, newcomers and community members use the word “integration” to describe the ultimate goal of immigration and settlement. Yet, despite the term’s prevalence, there tend to be many different views on what “integration” means, in definition as well as in practice.

Certainly, in the post-Trudeau era of multiculturalism, use of the term “integration” reflects a shift in Canadian values. This shift represents a departure from an “assimilist” past towards an appreciation of cultural diversity and an emphasis on encouraging active citizenship and community membership of newcomers to Canada. However, some argue that “integration” is simply a semantic replacement for “assimilation,” with very little actually changing on the ground in terms of settlement experiences of newcomers to Canada.

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More than a Building

Pier 21 today, as it was in years past, is a building. For visitors past and present, some find this site unmoving. They give little thought to what the walls and their surroundings have seen. For others, the site is precious and represents a new beginning in a country that they love. These individuals never forgot their first steps on Canadian ground. And I tend to agree with the latter, Pier 21 is much more than a building.

The story I’d like to share happened a long time ago but I will never forget it. It illustrates the significance of Pier 21 to the thousands of refugees and displaced people who arrived here during the 1940s and early 1950s, better than any of the histories that I have read or documentaries that I have seen.

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