Berend (Bernie ) Bergsma
June 5, 1952
Immigration Story of a 9 Year Old Boy in 1952
The best memory I have of coming to Canada and Pier 21 is that my dad told me of an aunt and uncle living near Halifax. They came by bus to Pier 21 to greet us. However when we landed at Pier 21 in the late afternoon, we had to wait one more day on the ship before we could disembark. My Dad made all of us siblings stand by the railing of the ship and wave, to my aunt, who was my dad's sister.
As a nine year old boy I do remember some of the highlights when leaving our village in the Netherlands. First by bus, from Friesland to the Rotterdam harbour. I had never been on a bus before so it was quite something. When I saw all of those ships and was told by my dad that we were going on that ship. I will never forget that.
We were week at sea. There were a lot of people on the ship the first day, but as the days passed, less and less people were in the dining room. I could eat all the apples, oranges and bananas I wanted.
I remember getting scolded, with my friend for running in the hallways and up and down the stairs and being told not to go to the bridge.
I also remember sitting in a corner at Pier 21 waiting with my family to go through customs and going with my Dad to the warehouse and seeing a lot of big boxes.
I remember the train ride from Pier 21 to Vancouver and when the train would stop in a small town, my Dad and other men would get out to buy milk and bread. Then one day the train stopped in the country for a long time. Dad told me that of a man who missed the train. He went to town to buy medicine for his wife who was sick with a high fever.
I had lots of friends on the train and of course lots of energy. Running up and down the train from car to car. One day, us boys were in a car that had white pillows cases on the seats and a glass roof. We were told not to go there again. I later learned that it was first class.
We stayed in Vancouver for six weeks while my Dad looked for work. I remember going to Stanley Park where I could run. We moved to a farm in the Sumus Prairie outside of Abbotsford.