May 16-18, 2003
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Almost all immigrants arriving in Canada until the 1960’s came by ship. Those who did never forgot the experience: the approach to the port city of Halifax, the arrival at Pier 21, disembarking and entering the great examination hall, where they would present their documents, pass customs, and finally proceed to the train platform for the painful long slow trips to their final destinations: Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and points beyond, trips that would take up to a week to complete.
Pier 21 ceased functioning as a point of immigration arrivals in 1971 and is now a national museum, designed to preserve not only the building itself, but the experiences and memories of so many thousands of new Canadians.
The Mariano A. Elia Chair at York University is happy to promote the excursion, which promises to be a meaningful and moving return to where life in the new world began for many of us, our parents or our grandparents. The Rudolph Peter Bratty Exhibition Hall at Pier 21 will allow visitors to re-live the immigrant experience, or recreate it for the first-time, with the help of local guides and the aid of the photographical displays and interactive technology (including the wooden benches on which many of us “rested”).