The Pier 21 Staff Story of Hugh Irenus Conway (Immigration Officer)

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Immigration Officer, Hugh Irenus Conway
by Granddaughter Alana (Mader) Amarandos

My grandfather Hugh Irenus Conway was an Immigration Officer at Pier 21 and my brother and I attended a Christmas party which was held at Pier 21. We are both in the attached photo. We are located to the right hand side of this photo where the fold is located. There is a gentleman in the back and my brother is just in front of him. He is wearing a v-neck sweater and he is blowing some kind of a horn. I am in front of him, a bit to his right, I'm looking down and I have on a short sleeve blouse with a pleated skirt, my hands are folded in front of me. My maiden name was (Alana) Mader and my brother's name is Richard Mader.

My grandfather was born 27 March, 1898 in Ferguson's Cove, Halifax Co., Nova Scotia. His parents were William and Catherine (Munro) Conway. He had six siblings, three brothers and three sisters. His parents moved to Halifax in the early 1900's. He enlisted on 16 October, 1916 in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces, at the age of 18. He served in the 8th Army Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery. He was wounded a couple of times and he received the Military Medal for bravery. Two of his brothers, William and James also saw active duty in WWI.

After the war my grandfather returned to Halifax and in 1921 he married Audrey Dorey. They had two children, Kathleen, who lives in Waverley followed by Elitha Winifred, who died in 1924 at the age of 1½ years.

My grandfather worked at Moir's Bakery for many years. He worked as a salesman, driving a horse drawn wagon throughout Halifax selling bread.

My grandfather joined the Immigration approximately 1944 and retired 1964. There was a time when he escorted prisoners to Wainwright, Alberta. They traveled by train. I'm not sure who these prisoners were but I remember my grandmother telling me how worried she was when he had to do this duty. My brother also remembers our grandfather telling him about escorting prisoners to Wainwright. In his later years at the Immigration he worked in the canteen with Ross Taylor. Of those days, my brother and I remember when we would go to visit him at work and he would always buy us caramel and peppermint roles. It is a fond memory we both have of him and the Immigration canteen!

I asked my mother, Kathleen (Conway) Mader, if she had any stories to tell about her father's days at the Immigration but she said he really didn't talk about his work very much. She said he often talked about all the little children. He loved children and his heart went out to all the little ones he would see passing through the Immigration. He was the type of person who would have talked to and fussed over the children and probably given them candy.

I'm afraid this is all I can remember. I wish when I was younger I would have asked him about his work and about WWI. Again, he never talked about the war, only in joking to say that I should try horse meat. My grandfather was a quiet, kind, loving man. He had a great sense of humour and loved to joke around. I'm sure he would have been very kind to anyone passing through Pier 21.