The Ken Elliott Collection
On July 6, 1965, photographer Ken Elliott spent a day at Pier 21. The pictures he took during his visit make up a unique collection that has become a favourite of the museum staff, volunteers and visitors.
Elliott took photographs of newcomers in various areas of Pier 21. Several of them capture the pedway that connected Pier 21 to the Immigration Annex, where small baggage customs took place. The pedway was the scene of many animated conversations as people struggled to communicate with Custom Officers and explain their possessions, some of which had to be confiscated.
In the spring of 2012 the Museum refurbished and re-opened the pedway. It was decorated with Ken Elliott’s photographs including this favourite. We all had a theory about what was in the open suitcase.
In July of 2015 the mystery was solved when the Barbieri family returned to the pedway and stood in front of the picture that Ken Elliott had taken of them.
Giuseppe and Maria Barbieri along with their five daughters, Annunziata (Nancy), Fortunata (Tina), Maria, Giuseppina (Pina) and Silvana had a long crossing during which almost all of them were seasick. A kind purser on their ship, the Queen Anna Maria, knew that their appetites would come back by the time they were on the train so he gave Giuseppe oranges and dinner rolls. Since the food had come from the ship he was allowed to keep them. Giuseppe seems to be laughing in the photo which we always thought was a result of his being caught with something that he wasn’t allowed to have. As we examined the photo with his widow and daughters, one of them told us that what you see in the photograph is Giuseppe’s nervous smile. They were thrilled to see it again and to know that the photograph will always be here for them to come back to.
Enjoy the Ken Elliott Collection and let us know if you find yourself.