Domenico Stagliano

March 1956

My mother Angela Stagliano, My Sisters Lina and Vincenza and I left Naples on March 8, on a clear and sunny day. The trip was without incident until we were midway through our trip when the ocean became turbulent and the waves overlapped the ship. On the captain's orders all tables, furniture and cupboards had to be secured with ropes. I remember that we had a cabin down below and I slept on the top of a bunk bed when all of a sudden there was a crashing noise as if the ship had hit something. I fell to the ground and wanted to run away only to have my sisters and mother hold me back. We could have hit a chunk of iceberg. We were told to stay calm as there didn't appear to be any severe damage to the ship. It was a horrible journey with the waters being turbulent most of the time. Upon arrival, the captain gave thanks to God that we arrived safe without any loss of life. Our cargo was however damaged to some extent. Even our trunk that housed our goods was pretty banged up.

We were guided through the big room (customs) and I could understand anything. I only saw a mass of people and didn't comprehend the process. There was a lot of waiting around and my sister held my hand at all times. Finally we were directed to a train and given slices of white bread. I had never tasted anything like it. I found it very soft and strange tasting. The train ride was slow and the seats were wooden and made it very uncomfortable. It took two days to arrive to Toronto. There we met my father who was already here having come to Canada in 1951. He hugged me and raised me to his chest and asked me if I knew who he was. I told him that I did. We then went to the house where my father had rented two rooms of a three story house in Cabbage Town. Everything looked strange to me. I guess my biggest surprise was to see tricycles and roller skates and toys strewn freely on lawns as we passed the streets which took us to our new home. I never had toys and this was all new to me. I was afraid of the unknown and wanted to go back home.

Four years ago, my wife and I visited pier 21 and I really got a good picture of how things were done in the old days. I walked along the big hall and viewed the pier from all sides imagining myself coming through as a little boy. Pier 21 is magnificent and I really appreciate how well it is maintained. This latest visit gave me an appreciation of all the hard work Canada's employees along with the Red Cross, Interpreters, Port officials and customs personnel had to go through when they received all the immigrants. It made our trip to Halifax worthwhile and very meaningful. We will return to revisit Pier 21. We are very proud of it.