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The Immigration Story of Fred and Irene Chambers (English 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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Irene and Fred Chambers
14 Fairway Cres.
Wasaga Beach, Ontario
L9Z 1B9

Country of Origin: England
Arrival in Halifax: May 27, 1949
Ship: The Aquitainia

Description of Gift: One concert programme from 1951, R.M.S. Samario

One photo taken aboard The Aquitainia, May 1949

It was the Canadian Red Cross that came to our aid when our house in London was bomb damaged during the war. I was 11 years of age and vividly remember the boxes of clothing and food they delivered to our door. I promised myself that I would go to Canada one day. That promise was realized when I sailed aboard the Aquitainia on May 27, 1949 with my husband Fred.

The crossing was very rough and most passengers including me were very seasick. It didn’t bother Fred as he had served with the Royal Navy during the war and as rationing was still severe in England at that time, he enjoyed the food, and much to his surprise, the steward in the dining room turned out to be an old shipmate.

The first thing we saw on the dock as we entered Halifax was a Mountie on horseback, resplendent in full uniform, oh what a beautiful sight. After being processed through Customs and Immigration we boarded the overnight train for Toronto where we were met by members of the Salvation Army. We stayed at a hostel on Sherburne Street until we found a basement apartment. It was tough at first and we were very homesick, but made some good friends.

We returned to England aboard the Samaria two years later but only stayed three months as we realized we would have a better life in Canada. My husband Fred was an entertainer and was invited to take part in the ships concert. We saved the programme and submitted it to the museum.

Canada has been good to us and we have had a wonderful life here and raised a son and daughter and now have four grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Irene and Fred Chambers