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The Immigration Story of Morag MacLachlan (Scottish Immigrant)

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Morag MacLachlan, October 1966

I immigrated to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland with my husband, Walter and my mother, Agnes Gillian.

Coming aboard the Empress of Canada II, we were only allowed a specific amount of space in the hold. We brought a steamer chest, a tea chest and three rolls of carpet. We managed to fit seven suitcases in our cabin. They were mostly full of wedding gifts we received when we married in August 1964.

The trip from Glasgow to Montreal took seven days. We had a good time aboard the ship except for two days when I was seasick. My husband and mother never missed a meal though. Not even when the seas were so rough they had to put the sides of the tables up so the dishes wouldn’t slide off.

While on the boat, we met a nice family who were also immigrating from Scotland; Anna and Danny Troup with their daughter Elizabeth. They spent their first winter in Winnipeg but it was too cold for them so they moved to Ottawa. We became good friends with them over the years.

When we came across, the ship also had a famous traveler in first class. The Right Honourable Robert Anthony Eden, the 1st Earl of Avon and retired Prime Minister of the United Kingdom was on vacation with his wife. He would come down to steerage every night for the dancing.

One day, the young Elizabeth Troup and I went for a swim in the pool far below deck. The waters got too rough so we decided to head back to our cabins. We got on the wrong elevator and ended with the doors opening into the first class dining room. Everyone was dressed in formal wear and we were standing there in our bathing suits, dripping water from the pool. It was so embarrassing.

I remember we got up at 6:00 a.m. one morning to see the first signs of Canada. We could see the Newfoundland coast but it was so far away that all the houses looked like little huts.

We arrived at Pier 21 in Halifax on the 1st of October, 1966. After going through Customs, we continued on to dock in Montreal, Quebec on October 2nd.

My brother, Bill Gillian and his wife, Martha were waiting for us at the port in Montreal with a U-Hall to take us to Ottawa. We stayed with them for six weeks until we found a place of our own. My husband was lucky as he got a job interview aboard the ship. He was given the name of a company in Ottawa that was hiring and an appointment to meet with them the following week. He got the job and worked there for 29 years.

When I think back on it now, my mother was a very brave lady to immigrate in her sixties. She only had a small British pension so she lived with my brother and looked after his young daughter, Carolyn. In those days, you had to be in Canada for ten years before you could apply for citizenship and receive the Canadian old age pension.

Our son Craig was born here in 1971.

We’ve been in Canada for just over fifty years now and we’ve never looked back . We’re very glad we chose to immigrate here. It’s a great country and we love it.