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First Beer in Canada

“I will always remember the process at Pier 21 and the train ride to Toronto - the vastness of the country. I also had my first Canadian beer (1 qt Oldham) before boarding train. It was a strange experience because I had to sit down before being served. The beer was great.”

H.J. Coleborn arrived from Ireland in 1952. [S2012.2179.1]


"Coming from beer-loving Bavaria, it was only natural that I would take a break in my sight-seeing of Halifax by enjoying a beer. I entered a restaurant, sat in one of the booths and asked for a beer. First the waitress explained to me that I was not allowed to have a beer unless I ordered a meal. I was 18 and always hungry, so that was not a problem. I said "hot dog, please" and solved the problem. Or so I thought. She next asked me whether I was a miner. I was really puzzled. I couldn't understand what my occupational pursuits had to do with ordering a beer. Furthermore, I was dressed in my best blue suit, white shirt and tie. My face and hands were cleaner than they ever were in Bavaria. My shoes were polished. I didn't answer. I didn't know what to say. Next the waitress - and she was pleasant enough - asked for identification. I produced my brand-new passport, to which was attached my three-day old land immigrant card. She took a quick look, concluded that I was a miner after all and walked off.

After a few minutes she brought me a hot dog and glass with a colourless, odourless liquid, which I did not touch. I thought she must have made a mistake. I didn't order that glass. She never explained why I did not deserve a beer. I wondered whether I should have pretended to be a miner to get one. I ate my hot dog and left. On Monday I told my immigration officer. He laughed his head off. He explained the difference between a "miner" and a "minor", a word I had not known. He also apologized for Canada's archaic liquor laws. He knew that that was a tough thing for Europeans to adapt to in this country. Well I didn't make that mistake again”

Morris Haugg arrived from Germany in 1960. [S2012.1063.1]