The immigration story of Patsy Douma (Dutch Immigrant)

Category: 
Culture : 
Country of Origin: 
Port of Arrival: 
Language: 
English
Creative Commons: 
CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Accession Number: 
S2017.279.1
Story Text: 

Memories of my immigration to Canada.
It was in the spring of 1952 that I became aware we were going to immigrate,I Petertje Boeve 11 years old ,had mixed feelings about this!! On the one hand it was exciting to go to different country but it meant leaving all my friends and life as I knew it behind.It was a comfort to know we were all going Mom Dad my sister and four brothers.

I remember going on a bus to Kampen to have X-rays taken.The next journey was to The Hague by train. We were all examined by a Canadian doctor to see if we were healthy ,I guess we passed,because my next memory is, the day I came home from school and the "kist" was being packed ! Our "kist" was a ten foot square box where many of our belongings were placed to bring to Canada. An inspector observed what went in not all things were allowed in Canada.

Soon the day came to leave, we were picked up by our neighbours, who owned a trucking transport company to bring us to Rotterdam. That trucking company still exist.

It was May 21 1952 the day we boarded the m.s.Sibajak to sail from Rotterdam the Netherlands to Halifax Canada. The company was Holland- Amerika Lijn.

A few memories from those eight days are that the first meals were well attended but it soon changed due to people getting sea sick.Thankfully I never did! To keep me busy I was allowed to help in the kindergarten just up my alley.Also saw my first movie Snow White WOW no words for that !

There were two ways to come to Canada one to pay your own way or to be subsidized by Holland and Canada the reason Holland was very short of housing due to the Second World War and Canada needed people. My Dad had to pay and was only allowed to take a little of his money.A few years later he did receive the rest.This was the reason we had two cabins each with four berths a lot more comfortable than those who slept in the open spaces!Remember seeing those beds row beside row. On our crossing there were 1031 passengers mostly from Dutch decent.

On May 29 1952 we saw the green hillsides approaching Halifax I could feel the excitement rising and I also remember the ship ever so slowly sliding into dock and then that walk over the gang plank "into Pier 21 as I now know it" I will never forget.One of the first things we had to do was walk through some water ( disinfectend ) and after that we had to wait in a huge hall ,it seemed like forever as Dads paperwork got checked and we were reunited with our luggage.

I suppose Dad was given instructions for we headed for the trains,ugly green monsters.He helped us in and then my sister and him went looking for food they came back with a sausage and bread my mouth watered, it had been quite awhile since we had last eaten on board.But alas GARLIC sausage and SOUR DOUGH bread was not something our palate was familiar with!Yuk then Mmmm now!

Well I do not have good memories of our first week in Canada four days in that uncomfortable wooden seats train and sleeping on the wooden shelf above (The one in the museum Pier21 is beautiful compared to the one we traveled in!)Jostling back and forth and than being held up for two days in Winnipeg MB at the immigration hall ,at least we received meals and had a shower there, the first since leaving Holland.They wanted us to stay in Manitoba but since my Dad had paid to go to Alberta he insisted on that. After all was sorted out we went back into another green monster for another day and a half to our destination Edmonton AB.Things improved from there on in especially after our "kist" arrived.Now we could start feeling at home in Canada.

Last year I was able to visit Pier 21 thank you to all involved making sure our history is preserved .Thanking God who brought me to this country I am proud to be a Canadian I have been blessed with a husband (deceased)and six children 27 grandchildren 23 great grand children and more on the way.

Carman MB Nov 14 2016 Patsy Douma.