Pier 21 is today a museum to commemorate the thousands of immigrants that landed here to begin a new life in Canada. I was one of the last immigrants to arrive at Pier 21 on the 18th January 1967. It was a snowy winter day as I set foot on Canadian soil for the second time. I had been here before in 1964-66 whilst a crew member of the submarine Alcide. This time I was a civilian and here for good, at least I hoped so. I had a job waiting for me at a small British auto repair garage in Dartmouth and a place to stay with friends I’d met during my naval days in Halifax. Nevertheless, it was an anxious time, I was a stranger in my new role as a civilian, no longer could I rely on the Navy to care for me. My welfare was up to me and the words told to me at Canada House in Belfast before I left still rang in my ears. “Now son, you remember when you get to Canada there are no hand outs you have to work for a living or go hungry”. Well, now some 48 years later I’m well fed have a nice home a beautiful Canadian wife, two lovely daughters. I’m retired and as I look back to that cold dock on a wintery January day I have no regrets, indeed I’m so grateful to this wonderful and welcoming land of Canada. In the photos I have added to this blog are first on left my trunk, still have it today. I bought it in Dublin in 1962 for a mere 5 pounds, about $15 in those days. Linda and I visited Pier 21 some time ago, it was hard to think of the pier where I landed as a museum, I must be getting old. It is also sad to recall the RMS Sylvania the grand old Cunard lady I sailed in, it is also long gone. Of course the Trans- Atlantic sailings were coming to an end with the success of the large passenger jets that crossed the Atlantic in five hours as opposed to six days sailing.
The last of the Saxonia class of ships, RMS Sylvania was built by John Brown & Co., Clydebank – entering service in 1957.
The ship was used alongside her sisters on the Liverpool to Eastern Canada service; however within a year of her entering service the Boeing 707 had rendered the service obsolete and as such her time with Cunard was short lived. She was retired from the Trans Atlantic run in 1968.
Great memories of my young life as a landed immigrant and later becoming a Canadian citizen and veteran. Besides my Royal Navy service I served a further 12 years in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve.
God Bless and keep reading.