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Smelly Suitcase, Putrid Pig

Heather Wineberg

Heather Wineberg (née Davis) immigrated to Canada from England in 1947 as a young girl, settling in Nova Scotia with her family. She volunteered in the Pier 21 nursery from 1956-1962.

Click below to hear Pier 21 volunteer Heather Wineberg recall a particular incident when customs officials discovered a surprising item concealed in an immigrant’s luggage.


Heather: We had an incident where two of the customs men used to come out and have coffee and they said, “We’ve just run into a terrible incident down there,” and we said, “What was it,” you know, and he said, “Well, there was — there was this blue box — painted wooden box,” like a trunk, and there was terrible smell in the area, and they isolated it down to this box. It was just appalling. And they asked, they said, “Well, we have to open it,” and when they opened it, all they could see was these very beautiful sheets and pillow cases with thick lace. Beautiful stuff, but the smell was obviously coming out of the box. It was absolutely appalling, so they kept removing things and putting them down, putting them down, putting them down. And, when they got to the bottom, there was a baby pig. They had come from a village and they had roasted this baby pig and put it in the bottom of the box because they didn’t know if they were going to get food on the ship.

And it had rotted. The whole — and it was appalling. And I kept thinking, “Oh, how dreadful. Will they be able to get the smell out of these?” I mean, I went down and saw the sheets. The sheets were gorgeous. How could they get the smell out of the sheets, you know.


Oral History with Heather Wineberg, 10 August 2005 (05.08.10HW)