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Antonino Masciotra
March 1955

My name is Antonino Masciotra. My sister Giacomina and I arrived at Halifax as immigrants with our parents on March 7, 1955. We travelled from Naples Italy aboard SS Saturnia, to Palermo, to Genova, to Portugal and finally to Halifax. When we disembarked, we looked like a herd of people. My parents remembered that day, and told me that they will never forget it. They did not know what to expect—a new country, new language, new life, and new everything. All that in only in 15 days! I remember my mother Ernestina, she was worried about finding food for us, then she worried about finding a job, then she worried about how to pay for the food, then she worried about what to do for us to get us warmer. It was a cold month of March and we did not have appropriate clothing, Italy is much warmer in March!

We waited some three hours to get our boarding pass to board the train to Montreal. But first we had to get clearance from the customs. Finally a custom agent opened our two trunks and cut the rope that held our ballot that contained our clothing together. Then most of our belongings were scattered on the floor (we even had a grey blanked that had the German eagle threaded on it) and the agent asked questions. My father remembered that he had no interpreter available; they were all busy with other immigrants. He had some papers to fill but didn’t know how. My father remembered that one officer, with a smile, he helped with sign language.

During our trip to Montreal, we could see small villages with small houses. I recall my mom questioning ‘La casetta in Canada?’ And then she was worried about the heat in those little houses. I recall my father Vincenzo telling mom ‘don’t worry! Look they have chimneys and there is smoke coming out, it must be warm!’ Ah Canada! Grandfather used to say ‘A paradise and land of opportunity.’