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The Immigration Story of Dr. John Innes Macdougall (Scottish immigrant)

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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I was only 7 1/2 years old when my parents and I left Glasgow to come to Canada in 1920, so my memories of our voyage on the Pretorian are very limited. I remember sleeping in a cabin with my father and other men, while my mother was in a women's cabin. I remember a central area outside the cabins where the crew would play housey-housey (bingo) at night. I was told that once our ship arrived in Canada it would be loaded with cattle for the return trip to Britain. From Halifax we took the train to Edmonton, where my father had a job to go to, working for CN as a mechanic turner and fitter. We stayed there for 3 years, then moved to Victoria for 2 years, and finally to Vancouver in 1925, where my father worked for the CPR on their ships until he retired. I have lived in B.C. ever since. ( I will be 95 years old on April 27, 2008.) My working years were spent in the field of education. I retired as a superintendent of schools in 1974.

Immigrating to Canada was a huge decision for my parents, Innes (age 30) and Jean (age 28), as it was highly unlikely that they would see their families again. Thirty five years passed before we were able to return to Scotland. In 1955 I went to Dundee as an exchange teacher, taking my parents, my Canadian-born wife and our two daughters with me. We sailed both ways on the Empress of Scotland. My parents were finally able to reconnect with their few remaining relatives and revisit the towns they grew up in.