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The Immigration Story of Luigino Zanatta (Italian 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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Date of Arrival: 
October 17 1957
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Story Text: 

My name is Luigino Zanatta; I come from Giavera, province of Treviso. I left from Venice, Italy on October 4, 1957 on the ship Vulcania with my mother and younger brothers. I was 15 years old. We were coming to Canada to meet my father, who was here for 6 years and my older sister who arrived 2 years before us.

From Venice we stopped in Greece then back to Italy, over to Lisbon, Portugal and then finally we crossed the big ocean to arrive 13 days later in Halifax, Canada at Pier 21.

On the picture are only me and some friends I met on the ship. My mother and brothers could not make it as they were too sick. The picture was taken on deck, during a drill that everyone had to report to and put on their life jackets, excluding those who were sick.

What I remember most about the trip is the dolphins following the ship, there was so many of them. One day I was on deck looking over the side when one the ship crew who was on the bow called over to me. The area was roped off, but he said it was ok to come and see. You could see all the dolphins missing the bow by inches, maybe leading our ship not following us to the new land, I wondered what was waiting for us on the other side.

Another thing I remember is those sunsets, for days we could not see land. Just our ship, sea, skies and this big ball of fire the sun going down into the ocean.

After we landed in Halifax at Pier 21 and cleared customs and got all of our papers in order we boarded a train bound for New Westminster, British Columbia. We had to change trains in Montreal, good thing as the train only had wooden benches and was extremely cold. Five days later we arrived in New Westminster and there I saw my father for the first time in 6 years.

It was one hell of a trip but it was worth it.

PS. I would like to thank everyone involved at Pier 21 for the wonderful job you are doing. You made feel very special when I visited on October 17, 2007.

Thank you and hope to see you again.

Luigino Zanatta