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The Immigration Story of Davina and Arthur Burns (Scottish immigrants)

The Museum reviews and accepts donated personal or family memories and histories into its collection. As a learning institution, the accounts help us understand how individuals recollect, interpret, or construct meaning from lived experiences. The stories are not modified by Museum staff. The point of view expressed is that of the author and not that of the Museum.

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We visited Pier 21 when we were on a cruise from Quebec City and although we did not arrive in Pier 21 because of the time of year we sailed we were told that we could submit our story.

We married in February 1965 and decided to emigrate to Canada, our final destination was Toronto. We left Scotland on June 23 1965 from Greenock. It was a very cold, rainy day. Unfortunately I did not enjoy the voyage as it was a rough crossing and I was sick until we reached the St. Lawrence River. We were on the Cunard Carinthia and our cabin was small and had bunk beds. I can always remember going for lifeboat drill - we were at the bottom of stairs and never did see or hear what was going on during the drill - fortunately we did not have to abandon ship at any time. Now they are a lot stricter with lifeboat drills.

Each night on the stroke of midnight the clocks would stop for one hour to make up for the time change.

When we passed Bell Island we saw icebergs, which for us was quite exciting to see.

Immigrants disembarked at Quebec City and were questioned by the Canadian Customs and this is where we were given our landed immigrant status. We then continued to sail up the St. Lawrence, which was beautiful, especially the white churches we sailed by until we reached Montreal After disembarking we found our way to the Railway Station. This seemed strange to us, people speaking in French, clocks at different times (Railway time was one hour different from regular time) and I was afraid we were not going to make our train.

Finally we arrived at Union Station in Toronto, close to midnight and we were met by my husband's cousin. What a site to see the Royal York Hotel, it looked so high in those days and also to see the large cars.

Our first full day in Toronto was the first of July and we always say they always have a special holiday commerating our first day in our new land. That day we rented an apartment in a house and about a week after that we received word our luggage was available for us to pick up and also to go through inspection. It was good to see our possessions again, our life's possessions.

Life in Canada was great in the 60's, our rent was $80 per month, phone bill $6.00, groceries $24.00 per week and my husband was getting paid $7000 per year and I was paid $3500 per year. Life was wonderful in our new land.