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Museum Spaces - The Gateway

by Marie Chapman, CEO

Hi there,

My name is Marie Chapman, and I have the privilege of being the CEO at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, here on the Halifax Waterfront.

It’s been a strange time. And for all of us at the Museum, we miss our visitors. This is what we love, is to share our Museum with people from all over the world. And so we wanted to take this opportunity when we’re apart to try to bring you together a little bit. And we chose different spaces that are our favourites and for me this is such a meaningful space, this Gateway. It’s a space where from 1928 -1971 a million people started their journey into Canada. It’s a space of first footsteps and it’s a space where I come often to reflect and to share with visitors. And so that’s what we wanted to do today.

It’s also a space of last footsteps because it’s the space where 368,000 troops deployed for World War Two to the European venue.

(Translated from French)
During the Second World War, more than 368,000 military personnel left this gateway to serve overseas. It is also where many soldiers, their 44,000 war brides and their 21,000 children were welcomed into the country.

One of my favourite places on the gateway is a series of luggage tags in the corner where visitors can leave their impressions of what Pier 21 means to them. And I wanted to share some of those with you today. Here’s a few of my favourites.

(Translated from French)
"It was the first step my parents took on Canadian soil when they arrived from Greece in 1951 for Dad and 1952 for Mom. This is where it all started. For me, it’s very moving to be here. I can only imagine the fear and hope they must have felt. Coming here has almost closed a circle for me. It’s extraordinary."

Here’s another one.

“Pier 21 is the first sight of Canada we saw in 1958. We immigrated to Canada; My mother, brother and younger sister, aboard the Olympia. We made Canada our land. 59 years later I am able to revisit Pier 21 accompanied by my husband and travelling aboard a different ship. a luxurious cruise ship. Thanks Canada, Thanks for the Memories Pier 21.”

The other amazing thing about the luggage tags is that we have many people who feel compelled to leave their story even if they don’t have a connection to Pier 21. And it’s really moving to see different languages written and stories that aren’t necessarily connected to the building but people have felt so moved that the choose to write their own.

(Translated from French)
"These stories of courage and determination are wonderful. We have no connection to Pier 21, but we wanted to try to understand what it meant to others. Thank you for sharing your stories with us."

And finally,

“Incredibly humbled. My uncle and family arrived in Canada as refugees from UGANADA. My parents arrived from India in the 70's. Feel so lucky to have been born here. I appreciate what my family went through to become Canadian citizens.”

(Translated from French)
Because of these messages, when people visit this place, even though their Canadian story did not begin on the Halifax waterfront, they feel that they are part of the ongoing story that we tell here.

It is such an honour to work here and to welcome people an d to have them share their stories and for others to be able to be part of them.

(Translated from French)
Thank you.

Thank you for sharing this time in one of my favourite spaces in all of Canada. And I really hope that some time soon you’re able to travel and gather with people you love and I hope to see you here, at Pier 21, in the near future.

Be well.

(Translated from French)
Thank you.