Pier Perspectives Blog

  • A “Little” Coincidence

    On March 13, 2012, I received an email from Bonnie Pollock of Nova Scotia who wanted to find out more about her great-great-grandfather George Little. He arrived in Canada from Ireland before 1837 and settled in Prospect, Nova Scotia. But there was no record of his arrival because Canada did not start keeping record of immigrant arrivals until 1865. Manifests from this time are few and far between, as not many of them survived. Knowing I would not be able to determine which ship he arrived on, I focused my search on determining where in Ireland the Little family is from. I began with some early genealogical research on George Little and his family in Nova Scotia, determining who he married and who his children were. I discovered that George married Mary Coolin and had the following children: James (b. 1840), Thomas (b. 1841), John (b. 1844), Peter (b. 1847), Ann (b. 1848), Margaret (b. 1854), George (b. 1856) and Mary (b. 1858).


    In the years immediately after the Second World War, transportation companies published children’s food menus abroad their ships and trains. In order to attract prospective travellers, transportation companies realized that illustrating the services they offered and the travel experience aboard was vital in acquiring customers over their competitors. These postwar menus provide a unique window into how passenger travel evolved after the Second World War.

  • More than a Building

    Pier 21 today, as it was in years past, is a building. For visitors past and present, some find this site unmoving. They give little thought to what the walls and their surroundings have seen. For others, the site is precious and represents a new beginning in a country that they love. These individuals never forgot their first steps on Canadian ground. And I tend to agree with the latter, Pier 21 is much more than a building.

    The story I’d like to share happened a long time ago but I will never forget it. It illustrates the significance of Pier 21 to the thousands of refugees and displaced people who arrived here during the 1940s and early 1950s, better than any of the histories that I have read or documentaries that I have seen.

  • Lawlor’s Island Survey

    Historians tend to pay close attention when a public site seems “silent” in public memory. This is true of a place quite close to Pier 21 in Halifax Harbour. Lawlor’s Island is next to McNabs Island, close to Eastern Passage. People in Halifax love the harbour islands. We’re all over these things. Devil’s Island, Georges, McNabs – people can’t get enough. But strangely, few people in town know very much about Lawlor’s Island (or its history) at all.