Skip to the main content

The Immigration Story of Lewis Borg (Maltese 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.

Category: 
Culture : 
Port of Arrival: 
Language: 
English
Creative Commons: 
CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Accession Number: 
S2012.2248.1

Story Text: 

In 1948, over sixty years ago, Canadian representatives of the Immigration and Employment Department same to Malta to select young tradesmen to immigrate to Canada. I, Lewis Borg, was one of the 500 select to immigrate. The first 150 men left Malta on a ship named the Marine Perch, which encountered a dangerous storm in the Atlantic Ocean on their way to Canada. I did not travel with the first 150 men, as I needed to advise my employer, the H.M. Submarine Base officer, that I would travel with the next group. I was transferred to the H.M. Submarine Base after the war in 1945 from the H.M. Malta dockyard. The second group of 351 men, travelled to Canada on a ship named the Vulcania. Of the 351 passengers, one was Father Lawrence Bonavia, whom the Maltese Bishop sent.

The Vulcania started the voyage from the Balkans to Italy, and then picked up the 351 passengers in Malta, made a short trip in Gibraltar, and then onto Halifax, Canada. The trip took nine days. On the ninth day, after many hours in heavy fog, and the blow horn blowing every 5 minutes, we were told that the Halifax Harbor master had come on board to take the Vulcania into the Halifax Harbor. It was a relief as the sun came through the heavy and thick fog that we had been travelling in.

After going through immigration, we were pit onto a train for London, Ontario. Once in London, we were then taken by buses to the air force base, Fingal Rest Camp. From there, the employment officers placed us in jobs all over Ontario. I was the last one to leave Fingal Rest Camp, as when we arrived, I volunteered to help the cook, working 12 hours a day. Two weeks later, I was sent to work for the Brantford Roofing Company. It was hard work, moving 50-gallon drums of tar with a two-wheel truck, and a big change after spending three years as a messenger at the submarine base in Malta. During this time, four of us were taken to live in the home of Mr. Ben Zahra for a couple of days, and then lived in a hotel for two weeks. One weekend I came to Toronto to see my cousin and some of the boys who travelled on the first ship, the Marine Perch. My friends suggested that I come to Toronto to live with them on Dundas Street West. I was very happy as I was with my friends from Malta once again.

My next job was with the railroad, and this too was hard work, so my cousin asked the foreman at the O’Keefe’s brewing Company in Toronto, to give me a job. I was laid off after five months of employment. Three months later, I got a job with the Canada Packers Inc., making jelly for the canned lunchmeats and corn beef. I was laid off a few months later, and after three months I started working with the Toronto Drydock Company. It took me one and a half hours to travel to work by streetcar each way.

After one year with the Toronto Drydock, I got a job at Cansfield Electric, working on a punch press making parts for the thermostats for electric heaters. I worked at Cansfield Electric, located at Dufferin and Dupont in Toronto, for one year, until the company burned down one Saturday, and all were without a job. A few days later, I started working as a drill operator with the Hamilton Gear and Machine Company, located at Dovercourt and Dupont, in Toronto. Five months later, I was told that I was going to be laid off, but the company found me job as a material handler and the last few years as a receiver and shipper.

I started working for the Hamilton Gear and Machine Company in September 1951, and I retired in July 1992. The same month I retired, I got a job a St. Francis Xavier elementary school, in Brampton, and work as a lunch time supervisor. I still work there today.

I will be 82 on July 4, 2009. I met my wife, Edith Dunning, in 1948. Edith was born in Bloomfield, Ontario, and we got married in July 1951. We worked hard, and had two sons, Franklin and Douglas. Franklin will be 56 in May, and is retired from the Canada Post Office. Our other son, Douglas, is 43, and is the head custodian for the Peel school board.

Edith and I bought our first home in the west end of Toronto in 1955, and moved to Brampton, Ontario, in 1969. Franklin got married to Peggy Sinden on Boxing Day, 1975. They have four children, Mathew 30, Andrea 28, Jonathan 26, and Katherine 24. All of our grand children have finished university, and are working. Andrea is married, and has one child, our first great grandchild.

I have seen a lot of changes since I moved to Canada, but I believe that Canada is a good country, and that is why I made it my home.

Lewis Borg

Brampton, ON

PLEASE NOTE: On the Vulcania ship voyage log, dated 1928-1971, our June 19148 trip from Malta to Canada is not listed.

(Photo Captions)

1948- Lewis Borg near life boat.

1948- Lewis on the Vulcania

June 1948- Vulcania docking at Pier 21

Mount Julie, Quebec- Train in the background taking us from Halifax to London, ON

June 1948- Lewis Borg at Fingal Air Force Camp helping the cook.