Hugo's Groote Beer page

I am an Accountant and Tax Agent from Adelaide, South Australia. However I am of Dutch origin, born in Alkmaar, Noord Holland.

20 Dec 2017.

I would love to hear from you. Email to

Send me news or memorabilia of the Groote Beer. Or if you want any help in Australia or information ask me.

I was born in Alkmaar (NH) in 1944 and then lived 5 years in Heiloo. My father came from Bergen (NH) and my mother was born in Heiloo. From Heiloo we migrated on 25 October 1955 in the "Groote Beer" to Australia.

There was Mum (Ria)and Dad (Jan) and my brother Sjon (9 years), my sister Marlies (6 years) and I was 11 years. We arrived in Melbourne and travelled by train overnight to Adelaide to begin our new life.

We left the Dutch port of Rotterdam on 25 October 1955. We are standing on the bottom row: in the centre is dad Jan (with hat and camera), then from right Sjon, me, Marlies and mum Ria.

Enjoying the hot weather on board the Groote Beer in the Red Sea. On the left is Dad, then sitting on the deck are Marlies, Sjon and me, with a friend Mr Scholten behind me sitting in the deck chair. My mother is sitting in the centre behind the table. With our family is the family Scholten who left the boat at Fremantle and then went to live in Melbourne.

The 60th Anniversary of our arrival in Australia is on 26 Nov 2015.

See some photos of our migration.


Bergen Nostalgia Page. Robert has also visited Bergen where my father was born, and took some nostalgic photos of the village.



Built by Permanente Metals Corporation (Richmond, Calif) constructed in Portland, Oregon in 1944, she was a standard wartime type 'Victory' ship. - 9,140 gross tons, length 455.3ft x beam 62.1ft, one funnel, two masts, single screw and a speed of 15 knots. There was capacity for 1600 one-class passengers. Launched on 17/6/1944 as the "Costa Rica Victory" she was used as a US Army transport. The Victory ships were built for the war effort and by 1945, 531 had been constructed.

In 1947 she was sold to the Netherlands Government for use as a transport ship to and from Indonesia. Reports suggest that in 1948 she was already renamed "Groote Beer". After a Hospital ward was built on the ship there was room for about 810 persons. As a troop transport the ship was owned by Stoomvaart Maatschappij Nederland.

In 1952 she was owned by Holland America Lijn (HAL) and used as an emigrant ship. There were 3 Victory ships and were re-named Zuiderkruus, Groote Beer and Waterman - Southern Cross, Big Bear and Water Carrier.

Managed by the Holland America Line, she was refurbished from a troop ship to carry 850 passengers and commenced her first Rotterdam - Halifax - New York voyage on 18/6/1952. In August 1952 she made her first Rotterdam - Quebec sailing and in August 1965 made the last of 105 round voyages when she sailed from Rotterdam for New York.

Chartered to Greek owners in 1965, she made four educational cruises between June and August 1966. In 1967 she was renamed "Marianna IV" and in 1970 was scrapped at Eleusis, Greece.


The 3 Victory ships were re-named by HAL after the star constellations: Zuiderkruus, Groote Beer and Waterman - Southern Cross, Big Bear and Water Carrier.

There is a good history of the 3 Victory ships including the Groote Beer and photos. CLICK HERE.


From Norm Weisenfluh: The voyage was in late 1944 from Europe to the United States. The SS Costa Rica Victory, Hull number 529 sailed from somewhere in Europe on December 13, 1945. I have been unable to determine the Costa Rica's point of embarkation for this trip other than the ETO (European Theater of Operations).

The Costa Rica was transporting members of the Anti-Tank Co, 359th Infantry Regiment, 90th Infantry Division, 3rd U.S. Army (formerly commanded by General George Patton). This was the 359th's Anti-Tank Company's last voyage. The unit had participated in combat operations from Normandy on D-Day through Mochtin, Czechoslovakia and after the war they were assigned occupation duties in Amberg, Germany until their return to the United States on the SS Costa Rica Victory.

The Costa Rica Victory arrived at Boston, Massachusetts at 0945 on December 24, 1945. The 359th's Anti-Tank Company traveled from the SS Costa Rica Victory in Boston to Camp Myles Standish, Massachusetts where on Christmas Day, December 25, 1945 the 359th Infantry Regiment was inactivated and the men allowed to transfer to other assignments or to separation points and return home.  

As impressive as the long voyages of the SS Costa Rica Victory/Groote Beer around the world are, that short voyage in December 1945 returning men from the horrors of war to their families makes it a very special ship in my book.

10 Aug 1946 USA to Japan

Gordon Hale wrote: I sailed on the Groote Beer when she was the Costa Rica Victory. I sailed from San Francisco, California, U.S.A. on 10 Aug 1946 and arrived in Yokohama, Japan on 1 Sep 1946. I don't know if this was an unusual long time for this voyage but they did tell us they were still "dodging" mines laid by the Japanese during WW2.


People who migrated on the "Groote Beer" can contact me and you can have your name here! I have heard from several people so far. I am also collecting Passenger Lists and other memorabilia.

NEW - I have received a plan of the Groote Beer from Anton Verhulst.

Click here for the plan.





In 1947-1950 Groote Beer sailed to and from the Dutch Indies (Indonesia)

Cor Sterkenburg's father sailed to Dutch-Indies in the years 1950 so it was a dutch troop transport ship for a few years. Trying to hold Indonesia as dutch colony, young dutch soldiers were sent to ‘dutch-indonesia’ in the years 1947 tot 1950. They helped the Indonesian people against the Japanese soldiers, however the Indonesian people wanted freedom and later all the Dutchmen did leave Indonesia in the years 1950 /1951.

My father sailed with it to Sabang and Sumatera nearby Lake Toba and Medan. Soldiers sent to Dutch-Indies first arrived on the island Sabang in northern Sumatra. The route was from Ijmuiden to the coast of France and Spain , Mediterranean Sea, Suez Canal, Indian Ocean. Cor's email is

Cor sent some photos.

1948 from the Dutch Indies to Netherlands

John Mulder wrote: I have sailed on the "Groote Beer" two times. The first time I sailed on the "Groote Beer"  was with my dad when I was seven, he was in the Dutch Indonesian Army (KNIL) and he got a six month leave. We sailed on the "Groote Beer" in 1948 from Indonesia to Holland, when in Holland my dad got remarried. I sailed back to Indonesia in 1949, on the "Willem Ruys" with my step mom and back to Holland again on the "Johan van Oldenbarnevelt" in 1950.

John sent a postcard which his father sent to him in 1948 - the name of the ship is spelt "Grote Beer" on the card.

John travelled on the Groote Beer again in June 1960 - see below.

August 1948 to Indonesia

Chris Den Braasem wrote: My first experience on the Groote Beer was my trip to Indonesie August 1948 the name of the ship was at time already the Groote Beer my second trip on this ship was June 3rd 1954 it is listed on your website as June 2nd 1954 destination Canada my name is on the passenger list.

December 1949 from Indonesia

Bill Boogart wrote: My uncle sailed from Indonesia to Holland over Christmas in 1949 on the Groote Beer. This was their Christmas menu. I don't know where they would have been at the time.

He had traveled to Indonesia by military Jeep, at one point crossing the Sahara Desert with three others, but they were sponsored by Prince Bernhard on this venture.

22 February 1951 to Australia


Liz Feillafe's father (Theodorus Thoolen) came to Australia on the Groote Beer on 21 March 1951 . He cannot remember the exact date. I am trying to find specific information about arrivals in 1951, such as arrival dates, passenger lists etc. Is there any information that would assist?

Liz's email is

Ben Heeren wrote: I left my hometown of Eindhoven on the 22nd of February 1951 and travelled by bus to Rotterdam or Amsterdam (I can not remember which one) together with a bus load of other potential emigrants. Perhaps the photo below will indicate that part of the city shown, which belongs to either Amsterdam or Rotterdam.

We boarded the Groote Beer on the same day which then took us to Australia, arriving in Melbourne on the 21st March 1951. Being, for the first time in my life exposed to so much sensation is unforgettable. Anyway after disembarkation I flew with Ansett ANA to Adelaide. From then on we resided there as well as in several SA country towns until after retirement in 1987 we shifted to the Gold Coast in Queensland, where we are still living up to this date.

During my earlier days in the 1950s, whilst being employed by the ANZ Bank, I was appointed to conduct several migrant shipboard agencies in order to discuss banking facilities in Australia as well as pay out landings money to the emigrant families. One of those agencies was also conducted on the "Groote Beer" whilst it was sailing from Holland to Australia. I would fly to Perth and board the ship on arrival there and then sail with it until Melbourne. from where I would fly back home to Adelaide.

Ben's email is

Lyndall Keller wrote: My father Leendert de Man, came out to Sydney, Australia on this ship which left the 23rd February 1951. In his papers I found the following documents which could be of interest to you for your website.

Aileen Sterkenburg wrote: my father is Johan Marie Sterkenburg born in Amersfoort 8th Dec 1921. He migrated out to Australia on the Groote Beer March 1951. Dad hopped off at Fremantle for awhile then reboarded and went to Port Kembla and worked on the steel mills until his BMW motorbike arrived where he then rode over the nullarbor back to Western Australia and met mum in Midland. It would be lovely to know of others from this trip and photographs of the boat so he can remeber what it looked like.

Apr-May 1951 from Indonesia to Holland

Huib Akihary wrote: My family in April-May 1951 sailed from Semarang via Tanjung Priok (Batavia/Jakarta) to Amsterdam. This was a special troop transport of Moluccans ex KNIL-military. My Opa was KNIL soldier (Koninklijk Nederlands Indisch Leger). In the period March-June 1951 there were 12,500 Molukkers (3500 Molukse ex-KNIL soldiers witrh wives and children transported to Nederland in 11 transport ships one of which was the Groote Beer. The voyage was from Surabaya, Semarang, Tanjung Priok to Amsterdam arriving on 6 May 1951.

26 May 1951 to New Zealand and Australia

My father Rudolf Anthony Joustra, his siblings Maarten and Elja, his mother Elizabeth Wilhelmina Johanna (nee van Seggelen) and his father Ids Joustra travelled on the Groote Beer 26/5/1951-27/6/1951 from Holland and ending up in Victoria, Australia. From Kyle Joustra, email

Kyle sent in some Menus and a Seasick bag from the Groote Beer.

Anneke Simmons wrote: My father's family left Holland on the Groote Beer arriving in Melbourne in June. They were Mr & Mrs A Piening, children Jan, Stefanus and Anneke, 2 boys and 1 girl. We left Holland on 23rd May 1951 and arrived in Sydney 1st July 1951 and from there went to Bathurst Migrant Camp. Dad has passed away but Mum is still going strong at 92 years old.

We have a photo of the Piening family in Holland, and on the Groote Beer.

17 August 1951 to New Zealand and Australia

FOR PASSENGER LIST disembarking in New Zealand only CLICK HERE.

My name is Piet Romijn and I was born in Lisse in May 1930. I left Holland on the Groote Beer on the 17th of August 1951 from the Java kade in Amsterdam . Most of the emigrants were young single men. For 453 of them the destination was New Zealand. We sailed via the Panama canal and Tahiti and arrived in Wellington on the 19th of September .

If I remember correctly this was the first sailing with emigrants to New Zealand and Australia that the Groote Beer did . Prior to this sailing had the boat been used as an hospital ship to transport the injured back to Holland during the war in Indonesia . The conditions on board during our sailing were pretty rough and that was the reason why in 1952 the boat was extensively upgraded.

Piet is organising a reunion in 2001 on the 50th Anniversary of that sailing with the migrants from that voyage to New Zealand. His email is

John Zaadstra wrote: Three Groningers, Jan Scheepstra [on the photo the small joker] Kees Sijkerman and myself travelled on the Groote Beer which left Amsterdam on 17 August 1951 to make a "new" life in New zealand. We are still going strong and we had this 50 years re-union in 2001 but unfortunately there was not enough interest in doing another one in 2005.

John sent a photo of the reunion.

Jan Lindeman arrived in New Zealand in September 1951 with 498 other young men while the ship went on to australia with the rest, another 400 or so. When we travelled on her, she was still just a troopship! We slept in the holds on army type bunks 3 high. Only 2 families i think,and 3 single ladies, otherwise young men. We landed in Wellington on sept 16, 1951. Most went by bus to the train station, but some including me sailed across Cook Strait to the South island that night ,landing in Littleton.

On the Groote Beer there was fresh water only for cooking and drinking. Washing showers were salt water for which we used special salt water soap. No deck chairs, cabins Except the families and ladies had a cabin. She really was primitive, not that we minded!

Exactly 50 years after arriving, on sept 16, 2001, I organised a reunion in my home town Taupo, where 80 turned up and we had a jolly good party, even though most did not know each other! The Dutch ambassador came, we sang we ate we drank and danced the night away. I had some great help from Piet Romijn and Corrie ,they actually copied the passenger list in the Archives in Wellington by hand! and worked hard at finding folk in the Wellington area. Now at 80, I am retired (sort off) Stll living in Taopo new zealand, And still go to Sydney for operas and Adelaide where i keep a motorbike to cruise all over ozz.

My name is Lynley Jerphanion and my father is Frans Willem Jerphanion. He came from Leidschendam. He emigranted to New Zealand aboard the Groote Beer in September 1951. I am hoping either you or someone reading your page can help me. I am trying to put something together for my father as it is 50 years since he arrived. Her email is

Monique Brocx wrote: My parents came over on the Groote Beer- arriving New Zealand 19th September 1951. Their names are not on your list- but I think they might just be mis-spelt. Johan Brocx----J Broe???? HHC Soederhuizen-----HHCh Sooderhuizen

Con de Vos wrote: We arrived in Sydney on the Groote Beer in September 1951 after a lengthy voyage of 6 plus weeks across the Atlantic Ocean, through the Panama Canal (very interesting) across the Pacific Ocean to Tahiti, New Zealand and on to Sydney. We remained at Bathurst for about two months, then "trained" across the Nullabor to Merredin in Western Australia. By the way ours was one of the first trips on the Groote Beer after her deployment as a troop transporter in 1950s and very basic!

18 June 1952 to Canada

Ria van Dijk wrote: My father Nicolaas Jan Willem van Dijk, born in Ingen,Gelderland, landed in Halifax from Rotterdam on the "Groote Beer" June 25, 1952, with his parents "Adrianus Gerald & Maria Adriana van Dijk" ,along with two other siblings.

Ria's email is

Ron Nieuwenhuis's parents and oldest brother emigrated from Holland to Canada in June 1952. Their names were Bareld and Tietje Nieuwenhuis. My brother's name is Ben (Bareld) Nieuwenhuis. They landed in Halifax on June 25, 1952 and made their way to Ontario Unfortunately both of my parents are dead. I am putting together a family tree and came across your site during my research. I am hoping other Nieuwenhuises will read this and possibly send information to help me.

Ron's email is

Ron sent an Immigration Certificate. Click Here

My name is Ina Schellenbach (nee Kapteijn). I came to Canada in 1952. I was on the Groote Beer which left Rotterdam June 18, 1952 and arrived in Halifax, Canada on June 25, 1952. It was the first trip as the newly renovated ship I believe. My parents and 1 sister and 1 brother and I came to Canada. I was 12 years old at the time, my sister was 7 and my brother was 3 years old.I still remember the trip as if it was yesterday. My parents Jan and Marie Kapteijn have both passed away and my siblings are still alive and well in the London, Ontario, Canada area.

Jake Kuiken wrote: Our family came to Canada on what appears to have been the first voyage of the refurbished Groote Beer, June 18, 1952, arriving in Halifax on June 25, 1952. My memory of that trip is captured by the imagination and experiences of a nine and a half year old: a very large ship, wonderful places to explore, unremarkable food, a visit to the noisy engine room, a church service, a younger child vomiting on deck the first morning out of Rotterdam, falling out of bed in the middle of the night while sailing in a rough sea, the arrival in Halifax and the lighthouse on the side opposite the pier.

A few years ago, after many earlier trips to Halifax, I went to Pier 21 and only when I saw the lighthouse on the island, was I able to orient myself to the experience of where we had landed and the proximity of the railroad. Although no longer there, the store where my father bought our first groceries in Canada remains a fresh experience. None of us spoke a word of English and the cheese that we now know as cheddar, tasted awful at the time. While it's much better now, it still takes a distant second to spiced Gouda or that wonderful Frisian cheese with cloves.

The train trip to Calgary was broken into two segments, after a stop at Longlac and a diversion that took us to Fort William and Port Arthur to visit an aunt who had left our home town of Nieuwe Bildtzijl, Friesland, the year before us. The second segment took us to Calgary where we arrived just in time for some of to see our first Calgary Stampede Parade on the corner of 7th Ave and 3rd Street SE. In a matter of weeks, a transition from the flattest of flat land in Het Bildt of northern Friesland, to the foothill city of Calgary with its own imagined version of the wild-west.

Jennifer Meyer was also possibly on this sailing.

16 July 1952 to Canada


Corry Kuipers wrote: My family migrated to Canada in 1952. I was 3 years old. My family settled near Toronto.

Corry has provided a Passenger list of the voyage.

11 Aug 1952 to Canada


John and Sandra Meyer wrote: The Meyer family migrated on the Groote Beer on 11 Aug 1952 and sent in a Passenger list.

Alida Hunt wrote: We were the veltman Family. There were 9 of us: 7 children and mom and dad. We lived in Soest and I think we went out of Rotterdam. We came over on August 1952 so we must have landed at Quebec, then off to Norwich, Canada.

Bill Boogaart wrote: This voyage did indeed end in Quebec City as I just came across proof of a passenger on that ship. Gloria Farquar was the wife of my cousin Bill van Dyk (although I always called him uncle) and I do remember them visiting us in Den Haag in 1952 as they were on their honeymoon. The following is from USA immigration records I found online while doing family history research. An arrival date of August 19 would fit with a departure date of August 11.

Manifests of Passengers Arriving in the St. Albans, Vermont, through Canadian Pacific and Atlantic Ports

Name: Gloria J Farquar - Arrival Date: 19 Aug 1952 - Arrival Port: Quebec, Canada - Birthplace: Long Beach, California - Departure Port: Le Havre, France.

22 September 1952 to Canada/USA

Joop Kielman wrote: My wife's name is Sietje Lutgerdina. We traveled on the Grote Beer to Canada on September 22, 1952 and landed in Halifax on October 1 or 2. We traveled together with a number of other just married couples. At first the men and women were seperated, but it did not take very long and we found a solution for that problem. It was a very stormy trip and there were a lot of seasick people on board. I still feel sorry for the stewards who had to clean up a lot of mess on board ship. We ended up in beatuful British Columbia. We both still speak and write dutch fluently, but we became real Canuks very quickly.

Richard Post migrated in September 1952 from Parrega, Friesland to the USA. Mother and father Eile and Tjitske Post and family of four spent 10 days on a somewhat stormy North Atlantic crossing aboard the Groote Beer arriving on October 2, 1952 in Hoboken, New Jersey.

We settled in Sussex County, New Jersey. A Dutch-American community stills exists there, largely centered around the Christian Reformed Church. It was there that I married Edie (born Yttje) Oord whose family had come from the Joure in Friesland in 1955 aboard the Johan Van Olde Barnevelt.

Fries was natuurlijk mijn eerste taal. Nederlands had ik geleerd op school voor dat wij naar Amerika emigreerde. Of course English is now my first language.

Richard's email is He now lives in southeast Ohio.

Toon and Trees Maas boarded the Groote Beer in Rotterdam for Canada. Their crossing of eight days, or so, was rather eventful as the newly married couple was required to sleep in separate quarters for the entire journey! On at least one night the seas were so rough that Trees elected to forgo the rules of the ship and seek comfort with her husband. They then arrived in Halifax,

Gerard Kreeft wrote: We immigrated to Canada ( I was 4 at the time) and landed in Halifax on September 30 1952 on the Groote Beer. Since then I’ve resettled in NL.

Oct 1952 to USA

Harry Suender wrote: I think we landed in NYC on Nov 4 1952. I came with my Parents and sister: Heinz Suender, Irmgard, and Linda. I was five at the time and it broke down with engine problems and according to my parents and we were two weeks late. They had to ration the food, and of course everyone got sea sick because we had no power and adrift.

One thing I remember, somehow I got away from my parents and went on deck in a savage storm. I was hanging on the rails when a woman started screaming because she was fearful I might fall overboard. She ran to get me, but with the ship bobbing she slipped, fell and broke her arm. Out of nowhere came my dad, grabbed me and of course I got a spanking.

I also remember the ship running out of Barf Bags and every morning my mom had to open my eyes with warm water because my lashes would crust over with salt which cause me extreme panic because I couldn't see. To this day I cannot sleep in a totally dark room because I have to know if I can open my eyes. Quite a experience for a five year old.

We ended up in Sussex County Newton, New Jersey, after a few year stay in Manhattan at Washington Heights, the drug capital of the world.

27 November 1952 to South Africa

Henk Schuring wrote: Our family (parents and 5 children) left from Amsterdam on 27 November 1952 on the immigrant ship Groote Beer to South Africa arriving on 14 December 1952 at Capetown. From there we travelled by steamtrain to Pretoria and arrived there on 16 December.

About 40,000 dutch migrants went to South Africa but there are no records of them that I have found.

Tinie Clack wrote: My parents and I immigrated to South Africa on the Groote Beer which left Holland in November 1952, arriving in Cape Town in December 1952.

20 Feb 1953 to Canada and USA


The grandparents of Bonnie Delyea migrated to Canada in the Groote Beer. Their children included Bonnie's mother. The Groote Beer left Rotterdam on 20 Feb. 1953 and arrived in Halifax March 1953. Bonnie's email is

Bonnie sent me the Passenger list of the Groote Beer of the journey and also a map of the journey travelled.

My name is Simon Knuist. I was born in Alkmaar 1928, emigrated on 20 Feb 1953 with the Groote Beer in February to Canada. Simon and his wife are shown on the Passenger list. Simon's email is

Albert W. van der Zeijden wrote: I was on the Groote Beer  Feb. 20 1953 leaving Netherlands to Hoboken NJ. in the USA.  My family settled in Green Bay, Wisconsin. There were 5 of us, my mother Magdalena and my father Albert, my older brother Cornelis and my younger brother Robert.  Boy Oh boy what a trip we had some rough seas. 

  Both my parents have passed,but my brothers are still here.  The younger one Robert is a instrumental music teacher and my older brother is also a music teacher. I was a police Sgt. with the Brown  County Sheriffs Dept for 28 years and am now retired.  I live in Green Bay. My younger brother lives in Jefferson WI. and my older brother travels the USA in a 40' motor home.

Albert (known as Dutch) email is 

19 Mar 1953 to Canada


Jan Evers wrote: I was borm in Hensbroek N-H, and lived in in Alkmaar until 1972 but now live in Canada. My sister-in-law came to Canada with her whole family (de Goey) on the Groote Beer to Halifax on 19 March 1953.

Dim Wittekoek wrote: Our family left Rotterdam on March 19 1953. We came from Oude-Tonge and were in the 1953 Flood. We were evacuated to Eindhoven and lived with family until we left.I was seasick the whole trip and had to be carried off in Halifax on a stretcher.

Our destination was Pembroke Ontario. The family moved several times (Georgetown-Kitchener). I am the only one left at age 74 so it is 60 years that we began this journey. I live In Peterborough Ontario now.

Jake Kuiken wrote: on March 19, 1953, the family Vast from Stedum, Groningen with two young girls were on the Groote Beer arriving in Halifax five days later and from there on to Edmonton and to Calgary several years after that. The oldest of the two daughters and I were married during Canada's Centennial year and continue to reside in Calgary.

8 April 1953 to Canada

Our family immigrated to Canada from Wassenaar Holland on April 8th 1953. My parents Cornelis (Kees) and Hermina (Mein) NELL, brothers Thys, Casey, Johan (Joe) and myself Hennie (Joan). We arrived in Halifax April 16th after a rough voyage. I remember one night my brother's crib sliding to and fro in the cabin with the movement of the ship, and had to be tied to one of the bunk beds. My mom and I were more or less confined to our cabin, as she was seasick the whole voyage and I had a broken leg with a cast. This had happened the day before we were to depart so needless to say my parents weren't happy about having to carry me about. My dad was kept busy looking after my other two brothers as they were wandering about the ship. One of the highlights of the voyage was the sighting of an iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland. Joan Robb's email is

For more of Joan's excellent migration story Click here.

30 April 1953 to Canada


Ray Zoethout family migrated and left Rotterdam on 30 Apr 1953. There was mother, father and 4 children.

Ray sent in the Passenger list of the voyage.

When we got to Canada I recall the coast line and coming into port at Halifax and that was quite exciting because I realized we were getting close to our final destination. I remember coming into New York harbor and passing the Statue of Liberty. All of us left on the cruise were on deck to see that sight.

26 May 1953 to Canada

My name is Elizabeth Kroon-Bekkevold. My family and I left for Canada in 1953 on the Groote Beer. We arrived at Quebec City June 3, 1953 and from there disembarked for Winnipeg, Manitoba. When we arrived in Winnipeg our sponsor did not need a family with 10 girls and only 4 boys. Needless to say, we made our way back to Pickering, Ontario where my uncles and their families had landed. Pickering is where we arrived and stayed ever since. I have been trying to find a passenger list of that voyage for some time now and have not been able to find anything.

I came to Canada April 8,1953 on the Groote Beer. Johan

August 1953 to Canada

John Willems sailed on the Groote Beer to Canada in 1953 in August. John's email is

22 September 1953 to Canada


Ingrid Thompson wrote: My parents Gerardus and Elizabeth Broersen left Rotterdam on 22 Sep 1953 and arrived in Quebec and then boarded the train for a further adventure to Edmonton. Dutch officials told my parents Edmonton would be an ideal place for my father to find employment because Edmonton had a major river (the North Saskatchewan River) and because of the river there would be boats my dad could work on. Of course, this was totally incorrect - there is a major river in Edmonton - but no big ships in this Canadian prairie province! We landed in Quebec on 1 Oct 1953 - see the immigration landing cards.

Ingrid provided a Passenger list of the journey and also a photo of her parents on the Groote Beer.

The Potma family, Mom, Dad, 6 boys and 1 girl (the oldest sister having come to Canada a year earlier) left from Heerenveen, for Canada. We left on the Groote Beer from Rotterdam on September 21 or 22, 1953 and had stops at Southampton and Le Havre. We experienced at least 2 or 3 days of storm in the mid Atlantic and everything was tied down and ropes strung along the upper deck to hold on to while trying to get to the bow or stern of the ship. Very few passengers came to the dining room during those days.

Soon after we sighted land, we were treated with the most spectacular display of Canadian Fall colours as we sailed up the St. Lawrence River. We stopped briefly in Quebec City but continued on for Montreal, arriving either September 30 or October 1. We travelled by train to Hamilton and settled in the Niagara Peninsula, initially in Fruitland.

Diane Vermeer wrote: The family of Gerrit Vermeer left Opheusden, Holland and travelled to Rotterdam and boarded the Groote Beer. Gerrit came with his wife Wilhelmina (Meijering) his sons, Willem,Gerrit Jr., and Johannes, his daughters Johanna, Wilhelmina and Cornelia. They landed in Pier 21, Halifax on Sept. 30, 1953.,and continued by train to Mission, B.C.There they were picked up by a Mrs. Klop who took them to Chilliwack, B.C. where they all except the parents are all still alive and making Chilliwack their homes.

Diane sent a newspaper cutting of the family saying Goodbye to family and friends.

20 October 1953 to Canada/USA

FOR PASSENGER LIST CLICK HERE. Also a Menu from the ship and also a letter from Travel Agent with the cabin allocation and cost of the voyage.

Hello, my name is Jennie Bimberg, I was born in Den Haag, April 24, 1947. On 20 October 1953, my parents along with me and my little Sister set sail for the U.S. on the Groote Beer from Rotterdam. My Father was born in Wijchen in 1914, Mother was born in Rotterdam in 1917. We are Peter, Judith, Jenny and Francien Arts. We were in hut 324 and 322 on the ship and paid 610 guiders per person.

We were all very seasick and our smallpox injections were very infected on our legs and the doctor had to change the bandages every day. My Sister had a lung infection and my Parents were afraid immigration would send us back home. I remember being on deck with a lot of people and seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time, I remember I was happy along with every one else.

We settled in Minneapolis, Minnesota since my Fathers' Sister and her family had immigrated here a few years earlier. I'm still here although my family including my younger Sister have passed. I do have a Husband (American) and two grown children who have given me 7 Grandchildren. Jennie's email is

Jennie sent some photos, Passenger list and Menu.

Geertje Verheul (now Geraldine Bruno) migrated on the Groote Beer on 20 Oct 1953 from Rotterdam to Canada and we arrived on October 28th 1953. I was born on April 1st, 1946, in Amsterdam, Holland. My father was Rocus Verheul, my mother Marta van Tol, my brothers are called Rocus, Leonardus, Cornelius, and Dirk.

We arrived in Halifax, and from there took a train for three days and stopped in Ontario, to go to Aurora, where my father had a sister. We bought a farm there close to Orangeville, and from there started our new life.

I remember that boat like a fairy tale, because I was only six years old. I remember going out in the morning early, so we could watch the dolphins jumping in and out of the water as the people from the garbage disposal dumped all the waste of the kitchens into the ocean. The fish followed the boat just for the scraps. Perhaps the Groote Beer was not the largest ship in the world, but it seemed huge to me. I used to get seasick every day, and everyone had to carry little paper bags just in case they would need to vomit. I remember that the women and men were separated, and different cabins.

I remember a large playroom, and a lot of other things, but most of it is vague. I am a grandmother now, and I emigrated to Venezuela from Canada 26 years ago. I live in a place called El Tigre, and have two grown sons. My husband is Italian. I like to go on to the internet on a sort of nostalgic journey, because I'm separated from both my countries, Canada and Holland.

That is how I found my family tree The Rocus Verheul homepage. We can trace our family directly back to 1595. I have family living in Australia too, by the name of Verheul.

Yvonne Dunlop came to Canada in October 1953 and I remember some of the trip although not all of it as I was only 5 years old at the time. My family consisted of my father (deceased 1997) my mother (deceased 1956) my sister and myself. My sister is still living. I remember my mother and father were both very, very sea sick on the voyage over and that they slept in separate quarters. Women were with women and the men were with the men in dormitories.I remember running up and down the decks with my sister and throwing small woolen dolls off the end of the ship (not sure what that end is called). We sailed from Rotterdam to Halifax and then took the train west to Vancouver, British Columbia where we have resided ever since. I was wondering if there is a passenger list for that particular sailing and if so, where can I go to find it. Yvonne's email is

Eva Hooper (nee Haase) wrote: We sailed October 20, 1953 and arrive in America in the night of October 30, 1953. We did sail into the inner harbor on the morning of October 31st. In America that is Halloween day and it was a rather delight to me to see the children in NYC walking the streets in their fun costumes. My parents were Friedrich and Charlotte Haase ( both have passed away) and my two brothers were Ulrich and Michael. We traveled by bus and went to Arizona where our American sponsors lived and we actually stayed in Mesa Arizona.

Eva sent a photo of the family.

Heidi Abrahamson writes: My parents, Romuald and Sonja Schulz, with my older brother, Lutz, came to the States on the Grote Beer October 1953. My Father passed away in 2005, my brother passed away 2008 and my mother has Alzheimer's and is in a nursing home.

November 1953 to Canada

Dad (Cornelius Klerks, age at time 13) and his family came (to Canada) in "1953". There were Cornelius Klerks, Ted Klerks, Helen Vanderloo, Agatha (Quakenboos) Klerks, Govert Klerks. Dad remembers things like seeing a flying fish, a surfaced sub passing by, and times when the weather was stormy and the waves washed over the 3rd deck and they were locked in. with an edge placed around each table to keep the dishes in place and at times heavy with fog where the fog horn was blown every few minutes. They were able to walk around most of the ship when the weather was good.

After arriving in Halifax they had the long train ride through Northern Quebec, Northern Ontario and down through Chesley (Ontario, current pop. 2,000) where your Aunt Helen and her family the Vanderloo's left the train to be met by their relatives the Vandervoort's. Uncle Ted and Aunt Helen met on the Groote Beer. The Klerks went on to the last stop which was Windsor (Ontario) where Aunt Em and Uncle Janus were living (Harrow) and a farmer had a job for your grandfather as well as a house to live in. The beautiful scenery and great expanse of the country seen from the train really impressed Dad and his family.

Cornelius Klerks and, his wife, Joan still live in Chesley, Ontario. They have two children, Lisa, married with three boys, Kevin (me), married with one daughter and three step-daughters. From Kevin Klerks,

Heino Molls wrote: I was born in Germany in 1950. I came to Canada in about November of 1953 on the Groote Beer. I arrived with my mother and my sister. My father had come ahead of us to find a place and get a job. I have some memories of great storms and rough seas. I recall a man bursting into our dormitory half shaven as he had been thrown across the hallway from the rough seas.

I was told we had to take a long train ride to get to the boat in Rotterdam from Germany. Although my memories are vague, one is very clear. It remains the first memory I have. My mother was telling me we were going to play a game but in order to play the game we had to put on life jackets. I think I remember this incident so well because my mother's eyes struck me. Even though she was trying to speak to me in a happy voice her eyes showed great terror. The storm outside was raging. The odd thing is that my memory is so very clear about my mother's terrified eyes and in my memory she is speaking English but of course that would have been impossible because we spoke German at that time.

My mother had to remain with me because I was so sick but my sister roamed the ship at will. During part of the storm my sister wandered out on to the open deck and soon had to hang on to a pole for her life as the waves crashed onto the deck. A sailor from the ship came out at great risk to himself to bring my sister back inside. This seaman was then and remained unknown to our family as we did not know what happened until after we had left the ship. To the end of her life, my sister, Elisabeth donated what she could to sailors' benevolent funds and volunteered at the Seaman's Mission on Cherry Street by the shipping docks in Toronto as repayment to this kind, brave sailor on the Groote Beer.

We arrived in Quebec City, I believe, in November of 1953. When we arrived the dockworkers in Quebec likely on purpose according to my mother had our only possessions slip and fall smashing what we had. Maybe because we were German and in 1953 there was still ill feeling toward German people in Canada, we don't know for sure. If that was the case it was ironic as my mother's family were Jewish and from Poland. We got on the train in Quebec City. It was very cold and we took the train to Toronto where my father met us at the station. He had waited all day and met every train as he did not know which one we would be on. He had a rented room and we stayed there for months, all 4 of us! I eventually got better and in 6 years my mom and dad worked hard and saved and we got a little house in Toronto.

I was sick for many months after we arrived in Canada. My parents just thought I was a sickly child, there was no money to see a doctor, we were very poor. I did not know until I was an adult that I had had tuberculosis when I was a child. I realized that's what had been the problem of my long time of sickliness. My mom and dad and my sister have now passed away.

Josie (van Lammeren) Cook wrote: When I was six our family emigrated to Canada and sailed on the ship in November of 1953, from Rotterdam to Quebec (I still have a stub!). If I remember correctly the trip was to last 8 days but we went through some very stormy weather and it took 10 days, quite an adventure for a child. We arrived November 20th, 1953. We took the train to Toronto where my Dad's brother met us and we subsequently lived in several places in South Western Ontario. Currently I live in Clinton, Ontario.

5 February 1954 to USA


From Neil Mudde: We left Rotterdam on February 5th, 1954 a date never to be forgotten, with all the weeping and wailing that went on, then there was this long delay, so we just stood on the decks waving, it was worse for family members seeing us of, as no doubt they wanted to go home, and put this in the past.

Mom and Dad Bastiaan and Alletta Mudde-Brouwer left Lekkerkerk with 11 children, and every piece of furniture they possessed which stood us well,as for years we did not need any new furniture, the crate that it was finally delivered in was the size of a garage. Many family members in Holland questioned my parent's sanity, imagine leaving your own country to travel to an unknown country, Canada, were they did not even know the language.

And as any one having immigrated will tell you those first few months were very tough, no one would rent an apartment to such a large family, so we ended up in an old farm house, which did not have running water nor hydro fortunately at that time it was April-May the weather turned very beautiful and it was an adventure living in the woods.

We actually travelled to New York! although our destination was Barrie Ontario. Dad had been advised about a week before we left, that to get off the boat in Halifax could mean 4-5 days travel on a not too passenger friendly train, so a few days before we left, all of us had to travel to The Hague visit the US consulate apply for a 24 hour visa, which we received.

This meant when we arrived in Halifax, after a crossing from hell, the Grote Beer had turned into one huge icicle, people had great difficulty disembarking. We travelled on to New York city, were the weather was spring like, it was one of those very smart moves.

We travelled via taxi to Grand Central Station to get on the midnight train, which took us to Toronto, where we arrived at 9 am the next morning, transferred to the train for Barrie, were we arrived around 3pm, the day before there had been a major snowstorm in Barrie, that there was no one to greet us at the station until some time later.

Since we were a large family, it had been decided that they would split up our family in twos to live with church members, this had to be one of the most difficult things we had to do, since we had never ever been separated from our parents or each other for any length of time, and having gone through the trauma of leaving Holland, travelling by boat this was a major upheaval in my life.

Two Brothers were born in Barrie, so the first one became the first Canadian in our family. Dad passed on at 68, Mom lived to be 93 years old, our family is still mainly around the Barrie area. Neil's email is

Picture of the family like so many other thousands leaving Rotterdam Feb 5 1954

My family were passengers on that ship on 5 February 1954. My Mom, Dad (Roelof and Sjoeke Bangma )and six of us kids: Antje, Anneke, Jan, Marten, Iepie Gonzalez (me), and Marieke . I was only 12 at the time.

We came from Uitwellingerga, Friesland. We boarded in Rotterdam and arrived 13 days later in Hoboken, NJ. I've never puked so much in my young life. It made me feel better when I noticed that even several of the crew members were giving up their meals to the fishies.

We experienced very bad weather the entire trip. Waves covered the ship from left to right freezing the water when it landed aboard. The ship laid still for two days while we looked for survivors of a plane that apparently had gone down. None were found. We made an emergency stop in Halifax, Canada for a man that had fallen on the icy ship breaking his back.

My parents had made arrangements to meet someone at a Pub in Hoboken to take them grocery shopping. Feeding six healthy kids on a train for three days could be costly. We ended up in Norwalk, a suburb of Los Angeles, California. My parents both have passed now. The rest of us have moved around from Alaska to Arizona, Missouri and back again. Five of us are still in California, and one recently moved to Branson, Missouri.

5 March 1954 to Canada


Harrie Walschots wrote: I am one of the passengers on the list when I was 6 years old shown as H.W.Walschots. Harrie & Margaret Walschots sent in the Passenger List of this voyage.

The Walschots Family of 8 left the Netherlands for Canada in 1954. Antonius and Gerarda (Pennings), mother and father and children Corry, Theo, Johanna, Hetty, Harrie and Toosje. The children were ages 5 through 11. We left Rotterdam on March 5th, 1954 and arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia on March 17, 1954. The arrival was at Pier 21. We just celebrated the 60th Anniversary of arrival.

Our home in the Netherlands was Oisterwijk, North Brabant. We settled in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. One more Walschots child was born in Canada named Theadora (Do). We all continue to love our traditional Dutch trinkets, candy (dropjes), pastries and food in general. Our parents lived in Windsor, Ontario until their passing. Three of my siblings continue to make their home in Windsor, Ontario. One lives in London, Ontario. I live in Amherstburg, Ontario and two live in the United States.

The Walschots Family Leaving Rotterdam on the Groote Beer on March 5, 1954

We returned to our home town in December 2013. At this time we renewed our marriage vows in Oisterwijk at H. Johannes Church founded in 1928. This was the church that I was baptized in and it was a very special occasion with our children and other family members present. We will soon be married 45 years.

Taken on the Lind in Oisterwijk on the way to renew our wedding vows at H. Johannes Church.

Grace wrote: My parents immigrated to Canada via the Groote Beer in March of 1954. It is 60 years ago they left Rotterdam and journeyed to Halifax, Canada. They were newly weds (married 6 months) were born and raised in Drenthe, my Mom in Klazienaveen and my Dad in Erica. They are both still living and now live in Lethbridge Alberta. When they emigrated they came to British Columbia, Matzqui to be exact, which is now a part of Abbotsford and were sponsered by a diary farmer, I was born in January 1955.

30 March 1954 to Canada


The Raymakers family is from De Haag where both of my parents were born, as well as all 5 of their children who were born between 1935 and 1950. Our name in Holland was spelt Raijmaakers but as best as I can tell it was originally spelt Raaijmakers but was accidentally changed on an official document at some point in time.

Our family arrived in Canada on I either April 7 or 8th 1954. After taking the long train journey to Western Canada we eventually settled in Calgary where two of us still reside today with two other residing in different parts of Western Canada and the 5th having ultimately returned to Holland where she still resides.

Mj Andreola wrote:My father H.N. Pennings and our family migrated on the Groote Beer on 30 Mar 1954. I know my mom was awfully seasick for 7 days and never went on the water after that! Dad took care of mom and was an alter server at the church service on the ship. Dad and Mum have worked and lived in SW Ontario all their lives. Although i live in Fernie BC, all my other siblings and parents are still in Ontario.

20 April 1954 to Canada


My name is Peter Jansen. My family immigrated to Canada on the Groote Beer on Apr 20, 1954. We landed in Quebec City. The last page of the Passenger List has some information my father wrote regarding weather and icebergs. I remember both, especially the storm on 22 April. Peter's email is

10 May 1954 to Canada


My name is Cornell (Kees) Wynnobel. I was born in Leiden, Holland on August 12, 1946.My family including my Father (Geil), Mother (Johanna) brother (Leendert) and myself (Cornellis) immigrated to Canada on the Groote Beer on May 10th, 1954. We landed in Quebec City for "processing" by Canadian Immigration and then continued up the St. Lawrence River to Montreal. We then went on the train to Winnipeg, Manitoba where my family still lives.

I presently live just 40 kms west of Calgary, Alberta and look out my kitchen window at the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

Cornell also sent a Passenger list of the voyage and photos of the Groote Beer.

A 6 berth passenger cabin on the Groote Beer.

Dining Room on the Groote Beer.

A public Lounge room on the Groote Beer.

Passengers on the deck of the Groote Beer.

My name is Gauke (Gordon) Halbersma and currently live on Vancouver Island, BC. I am one of those who sailed on the Groote Beer as an immigrant. I was originally from Witmarsum, Friesland. I was only 2 years old at the time and so remember nothing about it except possibly a very hazy memory of some tall ship masts and cranes. Mom told me that I was constantly sea sick and yet she had a hard time keeping me under control as I was always curious and wanted to run all over the decks. My sister Titje (Theresa) was only 2 months old at the time.

We disembarked at Quebec City and from there took a train to Truro, Nova Scotia where our sponsor (Mr. Hamm I think it was) was waiting for us. From there, it was one quick move after another from Truro, to the Annapolis Valley, NS, to Emsdale, NS, and back to the Annapolis Valley (Berwick) where we finally settled and I grew up. After about 15 years, my Mom and Dad went back for a visit for the first time, with several more visits since. I have never been back.

Patricia Bohnet wrote: . My grandfather Henk van Lohuizen, my grandmother Hermine van Lohuizen and their three children, Gerrit, Everdina and Hermiena took the voyage from Rotterdam to Canada on May 10, 1954 on the Groote Beer. From Montreal they then took a train to Edmonton, Alberta. My grandparents are buried here in Edmonton, Alberta. My aunts still live in Edmonton. My dad, Gerrit, who they call here in Canada, Gerald, lived here by Edmonton, until 9 years old. He and my mom moved back to Holland. >hr>

3 June 1954 to Canada


The parents of Maria Struyke-Laurin migrated to Canada from Holland on the s.s.Groote Beer on "Donderdag 3 Juni 1954" from Rotterdam to Quebec. The family came from Limburg. They landed at Montreal. At present we live in Exeter, Ontario, Canada (along Lake Huron, north of London, Ontario).

Maria's email is

Chris Den Braasem wrote: My first experience on the Groote Beer was my trip to Indonesie August 1948 the name of the ship was at time already the Groote Beer my second trip on this ship was June 3rd 1954 it is listed on your website as June 2nd 1954 destination Canada my name is on the passenger list.

12 June 1954 from Canada to England and Return Aug 1954

My name is Bill Estes and I live in Tennessee, USA. In the summer of 1954 three college friends and I sailed to Europe on the Groote Beer. We sailed from Quebec City and disembarked in Southampton, England. We returned to the states by the same route. We probably sailed in late June of '54 and returned in early Aug '54. Going over, most of the passengers were college students. Coming home were a lot of students plus some Dutch emigrants to Canada.

Richard DeRemee wrote: It was a tumultuous trip with waves as high as the ship's mast and most people sea sick and vomiting all over. Still the adventure has seared my mind and it was the beginning of my travel lust. So far I have gone to Europe 69 times with the 70th planned for next June. I will be 79 this July.

I returned home on the ship in October that year. On the way back we boarded at Le Havre. My buddy and I slept on the quay awaiting the Groote Beer in the morning. That was because we were out of money and could not afford the boat train that left the morning of departure. The GB was a very welcome sight that cold morning.

19 July 1954 to Canada/USA

Annemarie Boersma-Foley wrote: I, along with my brothers and sisters were born in Rijswijk (Z-H). Our father was born in Parrega, Friesland and my mother in Carlsfeld, Germany. I was twelve years old when our family traveled on the SS Groote Beer from Rotterdam on 19 July 1954 to New York arriving 29 July 1954, via LeHavre and Halifax. We were a large family, mother, father, eleven children, and our cat Felix. Our aunt, my father's sister, came along as one of the ship's nurses.

Allert Boersma wrote: After stops at Le Havre, France, and Halifax,we landed in Hoboken, New Jersey, (across the river from New York). My family: father Otte, mother Margarete, siblings, in order, Marianne, Allert, Frans, Jos, Annemarie, Marta, Maria, Otte, Andre, Ingrid and Evaline (Elfie), cat Felix. I was seasick for 6 days, the other siblings more or less. The only ones unaffected during the crossing were my father and youngest sister. By sheer coincidence, my favorite aunt Ans, who, at the time, was the director of a medical clinic in Moerwijk, Den Haag, had the opportunity to come across with us as one of the ship's nurses.

We settled in Minnesota and now our family is spread across the United States. Our parents and Aunt are deceased along with our sister Maria. In 2014 it will be 60 years since we made that voyage and we as a family are planning a family reunion with the surviving members in New York city.

Annemarie sent in some photos of the voyage. (1) Dining Room. and (2) Disembarking in Hoboken, New Jersey.

22 Sept 1954 to Canada/USA

Louis Woerden wrote: I sailed on the Groote Beer arrivig Quebec September 30 as a landed Immigrant. I have come to the conclusion, that somehow I was on that ship on a NON immigrant voyage. I was terribly seasick , pretty much the entire voyage-- I do not remember a thing , abeit I do recall sharing a room with multiple American College Students returning home, as I later figured out

4 Nov 1954 to Canada/USA

Joe Minten wrote: My grandparents came to Canada on it. It left Rotterdam on November 14, 1954 (Probably 4 Nov 1954 - Hugo)

December 1954 to South Africa

Theadora wrote: I remember the name of the ship although I was only 6 years old when I left Rotterdam with my family to sail to Cape Town arriving on the 14 December 1954. We then travelled by train to Salisbury Rhodesia, my parents now deceased were Willem and Christina de Ruijter, and my brother who was 10 at that time also named Willem. We had some really bad weather whilst off the coast of Africa, and lost contact with authorities for some days. My brother died in a bicycle accident at the age of 14. I now live in Sydney, Australia with my husband and family.

January 1955 to Canada

My name is Broer (Bruce) Burghgraef. I migrated from Workum, Friesland, from Rotterdam on the Groote Beer and landed at Halifax on February 6 1955, from there I moved on to Omemee Ontario Canada, and at present reside in Brantford, Ontario, Canada. My email address is

5 February 1955 to USA

Ed Sytsma wrote: We came from Rotterdam and disembarked in Hoboken NJ in February 1955 when I was 5 years old. My father and mother were Oene and Rictje Sijtsma. I have a brother Pier and my name was Abe. My parents have deceased and my brother lives in Arkansas. I live in Harvard, Illinois. The trip took two days longer then expected. I remember it being very stormy as I recall one time while sitting at the table in the dining room, the ship leaned hard to one side and all the tables and chairs with all the china and all sliding across the floor. I don't think we ate dinner that evening. I also remember waking up to lights coming in the porthole window and a lot of commotion on the ship. Later I found out that we had past the Statue of Liberty.

23 February 1955 to USA

We immigrated to the US leaving Rotterdam on the Groote Beer on 23 Feb 55 and landed in New York via Hallifax about 8 days later. My parents names are Cornelis and Truus (Trijnje) Van Helden and then my sister, Ineke and myself, Teunie. I remember the trip very well since I was nearly 7 yrs. old then. We settled in South Dakota and I now live in Spencer, Iowa. I have looked at some sites for passenger lists, but I have never been able to find our names or this particular sailing. Tony van Helden's email is

18 March 1955 to USA


My name is Margaretha De Keizer Briesch.  I came to the U.S. in March 1955 on the Groote Beer with my parents when I was 18 months old.  My parents names are Jan L. De Keizer and Marina J. De Keizer.  We came from Dordrecht, The Netherlands. 

I found the passenger list and a picture of me on the deck of the ship.  From Hoboken, we travelled by train to Kalamazoo, Michigan, where my father worked with his uncle as a carpenter.  Then in 1956 we moved to Chicago where my sister, Sonja, was born.  My father worked for Kitchens of Sara Lee until he died in 1986.  My mother still lives in Northbrook, IL.  My email is

From Carol Wolter Hall. I have been trying to figure out my mother, Marion Eberlein's emigration to Canada from Hamburg, Germany in 1955. After going through all her papers and boxes I finally found a Canadian Immigration Identification Card. She definitely was on the S.S. Groote Beer, on the Holland-America Line from Rotterdam to Halifax. It looks from the stub that she arrived at Halifax's Pier 21 on March 25, 1955. She was only 19-years-old in the attached photo.

4 May 1955 to Canada


Arie Bronk was born in Arkel, Zuid Holland in 1937, then moved to Enkhuizen in 1949. On 4 May 1955 the family migrated to Canada and arrived in Quebec City on 13 May. They left the same day by train to Winnipeg, Manitoba where they arrived on 15 May. Arie's email is

Hette Van Ravens migrated on 4 May 1955 in the Groote Beer and arived in Quebec on May 13th 1955. I was born in Schiedam and my wife Margaretha (nee Taal) is from Vlaardingen. Back in those days for a young couple to qualify to have your name put on a waiting list for an appartment in Holland, the couples age had to total 60. So we decided to set up house in Canada. We are still happily married and have been richly blessed with 3 children and 9 grand children. Now we are happily retired. Hette's email is

Jack van den Kieboom now lives in Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada. He migrated in May 1955 and landed at Quebec City and travelled by train to Montreal. He later met Marian there and married. His wife Marian's email is

John van der Heide now lives in Tara, Canada. He came from a village Oosterend in Friesland (it is about 11 kilometers north west of Sneek) in May 1955. His parents are Peter and Betske (nee: Nauta) and migrated with 5 children: Jan, Klaas, Hessel, Ietsje and Hendrik. They arrived at Quebec City and from there took the train to Toronto. His email is

My name is Dora Smeets-Buren. I was born in Alkmaar. My Father (P.N.G.Buren) had a grocery store on the Laat 223. We migrated May 5th and arrived in Quebec May 12th 1955. There were 9 children in the family who migrated. When we arrived in Canada we lived in Delaware Ontario, close to London. When we all got married and my Dad past away in 1969, my Mother moved to Byron, she past away in 1996. at the age of 94.

Dora's email is

27 May 1955 to Canada


Jan du-Pree emigrated from Rotterdam on May 27 1955 on the Groote Beer with his parents Albertus and Nellie, brother Arie Pieter, sisters Nellie and Alberta. I turned 18 years old on May 29 on the boat. I remember we had a storm and stopped the boat for 2 days to let the storm clear, lots of people seasick but not our family, we had waiters all around us. We landed in Quebec on June 4 1955 and took a train to Windsor Ontario, I lived in Windsor 12 years before emigrating to San Francisco Bay Area Aug. 1967. I have visited Rotterdam twice since then, including the camp in Apelvaken- Sweden I was sent to in 1948 to recuperate from war starvation. Jan now lives in Concord,Ca and his email is

Luuk came over on the Groote Beer in May of 1955. I remember the voyage well, sea sick for 9 out of 10 days. The only day I felt well was a day so stormy no one was allowed on deck. The dining hall almost empty, it is the only day I remember eating and keeping it down.

Joanne De Vries wrote: I along with my parents and 2 sisters immigrated to Canada 17 May 1955 on the Groote Beer. We Landed in Quebec City and took the immigrant train out west. We landed on a Saturday and the next day being Sunday the train stopped in downtown Montreal. We were fortunate that day to go to Mass at the Notre Dame Cathedral and enjoyed a picnic in the park by the train station. Around supper time the train continued on its way again.

Our next stop I remember was Winnipeg where we went for a walk and had lunch in a restaurant. We then continued on to Saskatoon and transferred to another train and eventually landed in Shaunavon, Saskatchewan.

Our trip across the Atlantic lasted 10 or 11 days as we spent at least one day going back towards Holland because a young lady of 16 years of age did not want to come to Canada with her family and thus stowed away in a cabin. When she was found the ship continued on to Canada. We also endured three days of stormy weather. It was such that we could not eat in the dining room and dad would get us a bun and a drink and eat outside. One of the passengers told us to run against the dip of the ship so as not to get sick and us 3 girls ran back and forth all day. The trip down the St Lawrence River was very picturesque as I remember the shore line dotted with white houses and red roofs. Landing in Quebec city was also memorable.

18 June 1955 (?) to Canada

Harry Abbink wrote: My parents names were Herman and Cornelia Abbink, and they travelled with their children Jennigje (Jenny), Bastiaan (Bas) and Dirk in June 1955. They sailed to France first and then to Halifax. They took the train via Quebec City, Montreal, Toronto to their destination in Chatham, Ontario. Interestingly, they had planned to immigrate in 1954 to Tasmania, but were held back for a year because my sister was still recovering from TB. In the meantime, my father's sister had immigrated to Canada and wrote that it was a great place. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if they had immigrated to Tasmania instead! hr>

15 July 1955 to Canada and USA


Darren Tanke wrote: My father, Hank William Tanke, left Rotterdam, Holland on July 15, 1955 aboard the SS Groote Beer. He was accompanied by his mother, a sister and brother. They were moving to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada to start a new life there. The ship first stopped in La Havre, France and arrived at Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia on July 23, 1955.

According to him, between 1950 and 1960, the Dutch Government wanted to reduce Holland's population by 1 million. People could go to the United States, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand. As an incentive, their entire passage was paid for by the Dutch Government. A large shipping crate was part of the great deal and you filled it with all your possessions. Your shipboard meals and ticket price were paid for and once you reached Canada, each person got $25.00 to pay for meals, lodging and transportation to their new homes across the country.

Darren supplied a Passenger list of this voyage.

Note that the Tanke family name has been misspelled as Tancke in the Groote Beer passenger list.

Linda Pratt wrote: My father and his family were on the July 15, 1955 sailing of the Groote Beer from the Netherlands to New York. My mom and dad are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this year and we are sending them to New York on a visit.

My dad’s family of 6 came to the US with a few clothes, a single bed for some reason and a huge dream.

Mijn naam is Coreen (Laagland Winder) en mijn familie emigreerde vanuit Rotterdam, naar Halifax in Juni 1955. De naamen zijn/waaren: Cornelis Laagland Winder, Wijtske (Hoogeterp) Laagland Winder, Arend, Marten, Rein, en Hans Laagland Winder.

27 July 1955- From USA to Rotterdam

From Dave Fisher, Hancock, Michigan: I was 8 or so when our family set sail from New York Harbor to Rotterdam in 1955. I had a great time aboard, the crew let us go (supervised) to all parts of the ship, even let us take the wheel. We went down to the depths of the engine room (wow, just awesome for a kid, adult too) to the first level of the crows nest, to letting us hang over the bow. Our cabin was forward main deck level starboard, across from us was the lounge. No sea sickness for any of us, weather was great, other passengers nice.

My father was on sabbatical leave and a research grant from Cornell University. He took his family on a working vacation, we spent 2 or 3 weeks in the Netherlands, part of it in Scheveningen at a really nice resort hotel, also traveling over the Zuiderzee land bridge as it was then, and then onto Merry Olde England for 6 months living in an old (1300s) guest house and going to school there.

Dave sent in the letter from Holland America Line confirming the voyage.

Sep 1955 to Canada

Olav den Ouden sailed from Rotterdam landing at Halifax on October 10 1955. His father and mother Nico den Ouden and Thelca Helena Kleinherenbrink came with with 6 children and Mom pregnant with the 7th, Gerard, Emmie, Thea, Paul, Olav and Jose with Nico (Jr) born in 1956. A train ride to Quebec City and from there the train took us to Kingston, Ontario. My uncle, Rijk den Ouden picked us up took us to Picton, Ontario.

Olav now lives in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada and his email is

Sep 1955 FROM Canada

Margaret Wirtz wrote: I believe it was September or October, my mother, sister and I went back to Holland for a visit, and we left Halifax on board the Groote Beer.

1955 (date unknown) to Canada

My parents and I emigrated to Canada in 1955 aboard the Groote Beer. I was too young to remember the voyage. From Minke Stornel, email

25 Oct 1955 to Australia

The family Tillemans came to Australia in October 1955 on the Groote Beer and first stop was in Fremantle, November 1955 then on to Sydney where they travelled to the Upper Hunter Muswellbrook to settle. This information came from daughter Sharon Coates and her email is

This is the same voyage on which I (Hugo) came out.

Jennifer Quick wrote: My father emigrated from the Netherlands in 1955 and stopped in Perth where he has lived since. He is Annechienus Reemeijer (called "Alec"). He is from Groningen, but also lived in Amsterdam, Hilversum and Utrecht. (He went back in 1960 for a short holiday - met my mother and got married in Wales - she's Welsh). Jennifer's email is

Arie Delhaas wrote: My family also migrated to Australia on the Groote Beer. We left Rotterdam on 25th October, 1955. We arrived in Sydney on 28th November. Our family consisted of my father and mother and nine children. I was 12 years of age when we left Holland. I remember the trip vividly. I now live in Kiama, New South Wales. My wife and I have been back to The Netherlands on numerous occasions.

Mandy Daalmeyer wrote:. My parents Johannes Daalmeyer and Cornelia Daalmeyer also came over from Holland on the Groote Beer, arriving in Fremantle about 25 Nov 1955, it has come to light that my mother was in a beauty contest on the ship. as it turns out, she won second prize! She was greatly dissappointed that she never had any photos from the contest.

Catherine Gorey (nee Wassenberg) wrote: The Wassenberg family came to Australia on the passenger ship the "Groote Beer" from Rotterdam on October 25th, 1955 and arrived in Melbourne on November 25th, 1955.

I recall a strong sense of excitement when I first learned of our plans to immigrate to Australia. I was ten years old at the time. I mostly saw it as an adventure, although, on departure, I experienced a wave of sadness at the sudden realization that I may not see my grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins and school friends again. I was born in Helden-Panningen, Limburg, in April 1945. I was one of eight children, so there were ten of us on the "Groote Beer" my mother, Johanna, (Anna) father Franciscus (Frank), three brothers, four sisters and myself. To my knowledge, there was only one larger family on board the ship at this time and that was the Tillemans family, who continued on to Sydney.

Like many passengers, it wasn't long before I became sea sick, however, after four or five days at sea, that seemed to settle down, and I soon forgot the misery of those earlier days. Mostly the seas were relatively calm during that time. The ship pulled into harbour at Port Said and Aden but we did not get off the ship at these stops. However, we did all get off in Fremantle for the afternoon, I recall my father buying a large bag of bananas, one for all of us. It was so good to set foot on land again after a long month at sea.

The food on the ship was quite good and there always seemed to be plenty of fresh fruit available. I remember the rather cramped conditions but as a ten year old it was sort of comforting to have the whole family in close proximity. My father and oldest brother Jan, aged sixteen, slept in a separate, shared cabin, the rest of us, eight in total, slept in bunks in the one small cabin, space was limited but we had all the necessary facilities, we shared a communal bathroom, but there were wash basins in the small cabins.

On our arrival in Melbourne we were met by Dutch friends and we stayed with them in Warragul, Victoria. After some weeks we rented a house in Nilma and the following year my parents bought a house in Drouin. My father and oldest brother Jan worked at the flax mill there, and my second oldest brother, Leo, started work at the saw mill in Drouin. I remained in Drouin until 1966. My parents eventually bought a house with a few acres of land on the outskirts of town, and many years later moved back into town, they always remained in Drouin. My father passed away in September 1981 and my mother subsequently one year later in September 1982.

Catherine sent some photos.

The Wassenberg family leaving Rotterdam (Catherine is 2nd on the right).

My second oldest sister, Mia, now deceased, with one of the Tillemans girls.

Peter Eerden wrote: I am an immigrant from Holland who travelled on the Groote Beer in 1955 with my family of ten. I was only five at the time and both my parents are now deceased.

My name is Kylie Betteridge and my mother is Grietje Van Triest.She migrated to Australia on the Groote Beer with her parents William and Jantje and her younger brother Benjamin in October 1955.They came to Brisbane where my grandfather was a boat builder( he has since passed away).They had two more daughters born in Australia, Catrina and Janet.My grandmother now lives on the Sunshine Coast Queensland as do the rest of my family.My mother was from Loosdrecht and I think she was about 11yrs of age when she migrated.

Roland Burman wrote: Our family imigrated to Australia on the Groote Beer October 1955 voyage and disembarked in Melbourne late November.

3 December 1955 from Indonesia to Netherlands

Jim Adam wrote: Well I guess after you disembarked from the ship (in Melbourne: November 26 1955) the Groote Beer probably travelled to Indonesia, because my family boarded it in Surabaya in early December, maybe 3th or 4th.

It was beginning December 1955, and the four of us, my brother and parents took the train from Semarang to Surabaya where the Groote Beer was berthed. We boarded the next morning, and left the dock in mid to late afternoon. 5 hours out of port, and my Dad is deadly ill with seasickness and was in the bunk until we reached Rotterdam.

The route we took was similar coming to Australia except in reverse. Cutting through the strait between Java and Summatra around India through the indian ocean into the Red sea, to the Suez canal locks. While in the lock for many hours, all kinds of Arabian merchants came with their wares along the boat. The goods we bought was a wall tapestry of a stag, a dragon relief tea service which did not last long, and I ended up with an inflatable dragon which once deflated could not be inflated again.

After Port Said and the canal, we went into the Mediterranean sea. I dont remember much about that, except that there was a seaboard funeral. Since a lot of people left Java under duress, there was quite a cross-section of people, some old and sickly, and some did not make it. One of the things I remembered was that about 3-4pm, they used to throw out kassbolletjes (cheese balls) to the kids I think because of the holidays.

We went around Portugal and Spain into the Gulf of Biscay. It was around here that we felt like the boat was a fishing bobber. I may be exaggerating, but I could swear the distance between the trough and the crest of the wave was more than 15 meters high. That was the first and only time I was seasick. What a nasty feeling.

We were greeted by my uncle in Rotterdam when we docked on a morning in early January. I know that the trip took about a month to reach Rotterdam, we arrived in Jan '56. We then lived in Schoorl (near Alkmaar) for a little while.

Then in June 1961, we emigrated to California, and again we went by way of the Groote Beer. (See below at June 1961 for more).

12 February 1956 to South Africa

Martina Bieker wrote: My dad, Hans Bieker, was on board the "SS Groote Beer" - he emigrated to South West Africa (now called Namibia) on the ship and the date on the back of the photo is 12 February 1956. He would have disembarked in Walvis Bay. He emigrated from Germany and I was born and raised in Namibia although now lives in the UK.

Photo aboard the Groote Beer.

13 Mar 1956 to Canada


Gerry Kaldenhoven sailed on the Groote Beer from Rotterdam on March 13 1956 by himself and arrived at Halifax March 22 1956. He has a passenger list of the trip. I was born in Bunnik (Utrecht) and have been living in Alberta, Canada ever since I arrived here. Met my wife in 1958 and raised five children.

Gerry's email is

My name is Frans van den Bijllaardt and I live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I was 6 years old when I came to Canada on this boat with my Mother, Father and 4 year old brother. We arrived at Pier 21 in Halifax and took the train to Toronto where we stayed with my aunt. We then moved around a little bit and finally settled in Scarborough in 1960 (suburb of Toronto).

Frans sent in a passenger list.

I have included a picture of myself just before we left Holland, I am the tallest of the 2 boys in the picture.

My name is Tony Wildeman and I live in Vernon, British Columbia, Canada. I emigrated to Canada with my family on the Groote Beer in March/April 1956, landing in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

I believe Gerry Kaldenhoven, whose story is on the web-site, may have been on the same sailing as we were. (However the name Wildeman does not appear on the above Passenger list: Hugo) Tony's email is

Tony sent in a photo of the family aboard the Groote Beer.

The man on the far right is my father, Hendrikus who passed away in 1992. He is holding me, Antonius and my mother, Catherina is standing to our right. My baby sister, Nora, is not in the picture and the other man is my mother's uncle who came aboard to see us off

Nic Laudy wrote: I came to Canada with my family. Dad (Nic Laudy), Mom Bernardina (nee te Loo) and four sons: Vic, Nic(me) Marcel and Antoine (Twan). I have a lot of memories from that trip. I was 14 years old and all was a big adventure. We had the worse weather that trip and we saw the QE1 pass us and their injuries from the rough seas. As I understand it was to take 9 days for the voyage, but because of the weather it took 11 days. All the deck chairs were roped together on the aft deck and went overboard in one gust of wind and we had nothing to sit on the rest of the way.

We landed in Halifax and took the train to Hamilton, Ontario where I lived for thirteen years before moving to Calgary, Alberta where I still live. Both Mom and Dad are no longer here.

There are some video's somewhere, but I have no idea where they would be. Thanks for the trip on memory lane. I am 70 years old now and live in Calgary, Alberta. I have a wife, three kids and seven grandchildren and two great grandsons in the family.

4 Apr 1956 to Canada/USA


My name is Peter Maas and live in Fenton, Michigan, USA. My family was from Tilburg, Noord Brabant and immigrated to the USA in 1956 on the Groote Beer. We left Rotterdam on April 4, 1956 and we arrived in New York Harbor on April 13, two days after most of the passengers disembarked at Halifax. My family included my father and mother and four children: Peter (11) Simon (10) Hans (7) and Huub (3). My mother was six months pregnant and she was so sea sick that she did not step outside the cabin for nearly six days. The weather was cold and windy and the seas were very rough. We have resided in Michigan ever since 1956 and all grew up in Detroit.

Peter sent a photo and trip map.

Jeannette (deVries) Miller wrote: I was a six year old on the April 4th 1956 crossing of the Groote Beer. I have lived my life with a few mental images of the ship as no pictures were taken. I recall a very specific layout of the cabin, I was on the upper berth to the left of the door, there was a single berth perpendicular below the porthole and another double berth parallel across the cabin but offset from my berth and to the right of the door. Each night a steward would place a net across my bed and make jokes. I recall a play room and big washroom. Thanks to your site and your contributors I have seen the room configuration of my memory exactly on the Cdeck of the deck plans, I have seen the bed net in the background of one of the photos.

Marinus Dieleman wrote: I was born in Axel, Oost Zeeuws Vlaanderen (Zeeland), the Netherlands in 1946. We immigrated on April 4, 1956 from Rotterdam to Halifax. I did find the list for that year and my mom, dad and I are listed.

28 Apr 1956 to Canada/USA


Bill Sluyter wrote: In April of 1956 my father Wim Sluyter, mother and five children (Henny, Bill, Nicoline, Robert and Margaret) as well as my uncle John boarded the Groote Beer in Rotterdam and sailed for Quebec city in Canada. It was the second voyage of that spring and a terrible crossing as the weather was extremely bad crossing the Atlantic ocean. My father had arranged for a cabin however when we got onboard we ended up in the dorms in the front of the ship. The thing that most of us remember was the stench because everyone was seasick most of the time and the dorms where next to the washrooms.

We took the Canadian Pacific railway from Quebec to the west coast of British Columbia. Because of our numbers we took over a small compartment and settled in for the long haul. As soon as my dad saw land on the East coast he recovered from his seasickness and was in great spirits the rest of the journey. In Winnipeg my uncle John had to transfer to another train as he was going straight through to Kitimat. We had to stop in Edmonton as Kitimat was an instant boom town and unless you had accommodations you where not allowed in.

We had to wait until my uncle Nick took possession of his new house which he was entitled to after getting married in Kitimat to a lady that he met on his trip across Canada. After spending some time living in Edmonton my uncle could then sponsor us into Kitimat as he could supply us with accommodation .

My father worked in construction and had to move to Terrace B.C. with his family around 1960. Dad ended up working for the government and eventually moved to Surrey B.C. around 1970. My mother passed away in January of 2003. My father passed away in 2009.

Bill sent in a Pasenger list of the trip and photos of the family on deck.

The family of Rinke and Jacoba Kruis migrated from Sneek, Friesland. They left the Netherlands with 5 boys departing from Rotterdam on 28 April, 1956 on the Groote Beer. The children were Richard (Rinke junior), John (Jan), Sam (Siebren), Joe (Jouke) and Pete (Pieter). The crossing over took about 10 days and they endured stormy conditions throughout the journey.

They landed in Quebec, Canada and traveled by Greyhound bus to Hammond, Indiana in the United States. The bus trip took about 40 hours. From there, they were greeted by members of the First Reformed Church of Alsip, Illinois, which had sponsored his family's journey. The family eventually settled in Alsip, where Oma Jacoba still lives.

Rinke (senior) passed away in 1973, but Oma is still going strong at age 88. She has 18 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. They still have family in Friesland.

The family can be contacted by email through Lisa Kruis-Pavalon, who is the daughter of Rinke (junior).

Hendrika Brown wrote: My parents, my Tante Leny and I came to Canada on the Grote Beer on the April 28th, 1956 voyage to Canada. I was three, so I have few memories of this trip. We took the train from Quebec to Halifax and settled in Nova Scotia. Dad was Adrianus Cornelis den Hertog. He passed away in 1999. Mom, the family’s much loved “Oma”, Johanna (Bakker) den Hertog is still very much alive and living in Nova Scotia, as is Tante Leny (Helena Maria Bakker). Our name was anglicized to “Denhertog” when we arrived.

21 May 1956 to Canada

Janet Clarke from Fergus, Ont., Canada wrote: I immigrated to Canada as a 7 year old with my family on the Groote Beer, landing in Quebec 30 May, 1956. I am trying to find a passenger list.

7 June 1956 to Canada

Our family, father Tiete Dijkstra, mother, Wubbigje (Willy) nee ter Wal, and 6 children: Jan 17, Aldert 15, Dirk 13, Liesbeth (me) 8, Frank 6 and Willy 1., left Rotterdam, from Amsterdam, in June 1956 arriving in Quebec City, June 16.

Although I have strong memories of Amsterdam and of our immediate arrival in Montreal, curiously I draw almost a complete blank of the voyage. My father tells me we were all seasick except for him (having worked on a ocean going ship as a young man) and was often eating alone in the dining room. I do remember a panic when on arriving in Quebec City my little sister was nowhere to be found and my mother sick with the thought she may have fallen overboard. My sister was thankfully located.

Our family is now spread out across Canada save for my parents, Frank and myself who still live in the Montreal area.

14 June 1956 to Canada

My name is Dan van der Burg. I am the eldest son of Bob van der Burg and we live in Ontario, Canada. My grandparents and their family (4 children) came to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada with his family on the Groote Beer. They landed 23 June 1956.

On this voyage were the following members of our family: Henk van der Burg (my Opa), Petranella van der Burg-Vilyn (my Oma), Bob (my dad), Tom (dad's brother), Yvonne (dad's sister), John (dad's youngest brother).

And also came Neil van der Burg (Henk's brother) and Jan De Melke (family friend)

12 July 1956 to Canada


Casey Strybos wrote: My family and myself lived in Rotterdam before moving to Canada , there was six of kids and Mom & Dad . Dad Martinus Strijbos Mom Maria Strijbos, oldest brother Maarten Strijbos(14), next brother Marty Strijbos (13), sister Truus Strijbos(12) then myself Cornelis Strijbos(10) Thea Strijbos(8) and youngest brother Bernard Strijbos (6).

We left on the Groote Beer July 12 in Rotterdam arrived in Montreal July 21st 1956 and went to visit my dad’s family in Sarnia Ontario for about a week or so and then we went by train to Vancouver British Columbia and we have all lived around this area for all these years . Mom and Dad have passed away since then but all us brothers and sister are still alive .

Casey sent in the Passenger List of the voyage and lots of photos.

My name is Jocob Commandeur, my wife Corrie and four children,Trudy,Jerry,Mia,and Lia,came with me to Canada.We left on 12 July 1956 from the Wilhelmina cade at Rotterdam with the "Groote Beer". When we arrived in Montreal on the 21 July it took three days by train to Edmonton. We lived there for 24 years and 16 years in St.Albert Alberta. One son was added to our family in 1961. In 1996 my wife Corrie and I moved to Parksville on Vancouver Island.

My nmae is Gitta and my parents Geert and Gertrud Oorthuis, immigrated to Canada in July of 1956 on the Groote Beer from Holland. We took the long train trip to Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Canada and settled there. My parent have both passed on and I (Gitta) am looking for anyone who has information from the 12 July, 1956 voyage to Canada.

6 Aug 1956 to Canada

Leanne Groen wrote: my father Lubbertus Groen came over from Holland on the Groote Beer and landed on August 15, 1956 in Quebec. My dad past away in 1996 and I am now 33 years of age and trying to collect some info.

Arie de Lange wrote: We arrived in Quebec on August 15, 1956. I was a young boy of 9 at the time and still remember stops in LaHavre, and I think, Halifax. After our arrival In Quebec we travelled to Vancouver by train, where my family settled. Later moving to Terrace. Upon retirement my parents moved to Vernon, BC. My mom, now 91 years young is still as feisty as ever, my dad passed away in 2010.

21 Sep 1956 to Canada

Bill Boogaart and family came from Den Haag and left Rotterdam on September 21, 1956. The next day was spent floating in the English Channel as a scheduled stop in Le Havre, France was cancelled due to a dock workers strike. This was at the height of the Suez Crisis, and the Channel was filled with British warships on their way to Egypt. That evening we docked at Southampton, England to take on more passengers and then left during the night for Canada.

On the way across we passed a disabled ocean liner that declined help from the Groote Beer, saw icebergs in the distance and several fishing boats and freighters. We also endured a violent storm that sent waves crashing across the windows of the lounge, which was several decks above the main deck. Most passengers were extremely seasick as a result. As we were going across on a tight budget, we were bunked in dormitories in what had to have been the lowest deck that passengers could be in.

We saw land a few days later and then sailed through the Straight of Belle Isle with Labrador to the north and Newfoundland to the south. It was our first view of Canada. All we could see were pine trees, and it was bitterly cold. The next day we docked in Quebec City to let off passengers and freight. The following morning, September 30, we arrived at our final destination Montreal. We watched them unload all the cargo during the day, and finally towards the end of the day passengers were being allowed off the ship.

All passengers had to find their belongings in a huge freight hall and wait by it, as Canada Customs and immigrations officials processed the new immigrants. In a random check of a crate belonging to some other immigrants, Customs officials found tulip bulbs hidden in a shoe. With that find, all crates were opened and searched, delaying our exit from the docks. However, we did make it in time to the railway station to catch the train that took us to Calgary, arriving there three days later on Oct 3, 1956. There we were met by relatives who had made the trip a few years earlier. That was the start of our new life in Canada.

Bill's email is

Commemorative tile of Groote Beer. Photo leaving Holland (Bill on the right).

22 October 1956 to Canada and USA


The family de Leest migrated to USA on 22 Oct 1956. They now live in Kent, Washington.

Unknown date 1956 to Canada/USA

Margo van Eerten now lives in New Washington, Ohio, USA. Her family migrated from Wolvega, Friesland in 1956 to Canada and after disembarking from the Groote Beer at Quebec City travelled to the USA to live. There were Father Jacob, Mother Grietje, Brothers Tiemen and Gerrit and Margo. Her email is

Unknown date 1955 or1956 to Canada

Elly Ernest wrote: My father brought our family from Holland to Quebec, Canada in 1955 or 1956. The family name is STROOP, my fathers name was Franciscus Rene Stroop. I've been told that I contracted polio on this voyage, and am trying to find out how many others were reported to have contracted the disease on the ship during that voyage.

December 1956 to USA

My name is Fred van Deventer and was born in Zwijndrecht, Holland in 1950. My father (Matthijs - born in Leiden), mother (Elisabeth "Bep" - born in Den Haag) and brother (Reinhard "Rein" - born in Vlissingen) left Rotterdam on the "Groote Beer" in December, 1956 and landed at Hoboken, New Jersey in January, 1957 via Halifax, Nova Scotia and ultimately settling in Wilmington, Delaware, USA.

I was six years old and remember that it was a horrible trip to cross the Atlantic in the winter! The sea was ferocious with the Groote Beer constantly climbing over huge waves with the bow pouncing back down again with waves washing over the decks. The wind and rain were relentless and I was surprised that no one was ever washed overboard. It was like this almost every day of the voyage which seemed to last forever. Mostly all on board were seasick and the dining room was nearly empty for every meal. The lasting experience that I can still remember to this day was the smell of consomme soup permeating through the vessel. That smell would make you sick, especially when you are trying to fight seasickness on a daily basis.

Finally the weather cleared and we berthed alongside in Halifax - the start of our new journey. We never forgot our loving homeland of Holland, our remaining relatives, and frequently returned as Nederland always called us back like loving families at Christmas. Fred's email is

16 Jan 1957 to USA


Simon de Vente has provided a Passenger List.

Courtney van't Hoff Rose wrote: My mother came to America on the Holland America Line "Groote Beer". She arrived in Hoboken from Rotterdam on about January 27, 1957.

8 Feb 1957 to Canada and USA


The family of Thalina Wilkens (nee van den Hende) left Rotterdam for Canada. However they returned to Netherlands in about 1962.

Thalina sent in the Passenger list of the trip.


Rudy Schouten wrote: My family and I came over on the 8 Feb 57 voyage from Rotterdam to Halifax and New York. We're from Roelofarendsveen, about 1/3 of the way  from Leiden to Amsterdam .  Our travel entourage included my parents, John (Johannes)  and Trudi (Gertruda)  and the first  five of their  kids (Ron, Sjon, Marjo, Rudy and Bob).  Phil and Irene came later.    We were in New York for a couple of weeks before settling  down in Indianapolis, Indiana.  We settled there but two of the brothers are now in Texas.   My father has since passed away, but the rest of us are all  doing well,  and glad to be in the good old USA.

Jos TerHaar lives in the Grand Rapids (Michigan) area of USA and the entire TerHaar family still lives there. We disembarked from Rotterdam on February 8, 1957, and arrived at Hoboken New Jersey on February 19, 1957, after stopping at Halifax, Nova Scotia. We traveled to Jefferson City Missouri, lived there for nine months, and moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan in November of 1957.

My mother was very lonely in Missouri as we were the only Dutch family in the entire city. The Western Michigan area has a substantial concentration of Dutch, and when we moved there she was very happy. It did not take her very long to find friends through Church. Unfortunately she passed away in 1968, and was only able to enjoy the U.S. for 11 years.

I was born in the Dutch East Indies in 1948, as my father was a soldier in KNIL(Konikle Nederlandse Indies Leger) In 1950 because of Indonesian independence, we moved back to the Netherlands on the "Johan van Oldenbarnevelt". We lived in four different cities between 1950 and 1957: Woerden, Epe, Weert and Den Haag. My father was very restless in the Netherlands so in 1957 all seven of us, mother Marie and father Henk, sister Alida, brother Kees, sister Elizabeth, myself, and younger brother Ted piled on the "Groote Beer". I remember our arrival and the Statue of Libery, the TV antennas on the homes in Hoboken. Because of a longshoremen's strike, the captain had to dock the ship without benefit of tow boats and it took him all day. Jos email is

Ton Verhulst wrote: I was 11 years old at the time. We lived in Haarlem. There were 4 of us - my Father (Hendrik), mother (Anna), younger brother (Roelof) and myself (Anton). My father died after only 5 years in the US. Things were difficult for a while but, after some time, much improved. My mother is still living, as is my brother.

I have received a plan of the Groote Beer from Ton Verhulst. Click here for the plan.

Johannes (John) C. Metscher wrote: I too sailed the Groote Beer back in 1957, we enterd New York harbor in Febuary of that same year. I don't remember a thing except from what my parents have shared with me, we were destine for the state of Colorado but lost our sponsers and ended-up in the state of Michigan and then I moved to Ohio. John's email is

Cornelia (Nell) Reid was 10 at the time we came over to the States on the Groote Beer in Feb. 1957. Her brother John was only 5 months old. Cornelia's email address is

Sonja Bell too was a passenger that traveled from Holland to United States in February of 1957. I was only 10 myself, and have often wondered about this journey and the one that brought me from Holland. I am living in Portland, Oregon

Les Mahler wrote: My family traveled on the Groote beer from Netherlands to United States in February 1957. I remember leaving Rotterdam late at night, looking through the car window and seeing all the street lights. When I lived in Holland, it was in a little town called Mill.

I remember my entire family getting seasick one stormy day. But for some reason, my younger brother and I were had a field day. Everyone, my parents, and three brothers and one sister couldn't handle the storm. Leaving Holland, I remember standing at the end of the ship and looking out at the seagulls and realizing I would never see childhood friends in Holland. And I was right. I finally returned to Mill in 1997 but the town wasn't the same.

The night we landed in New York City, we took a bus ride to a train and from there we traveled through the badlands of North Dakota and to California. I'm not sure about the rest of those who came to the United States when they were children, but I still miss Holland and oftentimes regret leaving.

5 Mar 1957 to USA


In a society in which we make heroes out of movie stars and athletes, we tend to forget what made this country we call the U S of A. A place where real Heroes came and created a way of life with hard work and a commitment to make life easier for their off- springs.

My Father and Mother are my heroes. These so called survivors of today could not hold a candle to what they and their generation went through in World War II.

The name Heijnen was changed to Heynen prior to leaving Rotterdam for the USA. I (Rob) remember the trip pretty well even though it has been forty-four years. I was ten that March day we left. The English Channel and the Atlantic Ocean are not at their best that time of year. I recall being sea sick most of the trip.

My youngest brother Peter was just a baby so he was on the floor in a crib. My Father tied it to the other bunks with his belt. Well, one night we had a pretty good storm and the belt broke and there was my Father with one hand on the bunk and one hand on the crib. Like I said, it was a pretty good storm. Before you knew it, he was sliding from one side to the other of our cabin. We all thought it was pretty funny. I learned a lot of new words that night.

As a ten year old kid I wasn't the bravest on board the Groote Beer. Well, one day we had a drill. Of course, I did not know it was a drill. I thought the boat was going down and I was the only one without a life jacket. Needless to say, that was not my high point of the trip. For the rest of the trip, if I wasn't sick, I was on an adventure exploring the Groote Beer with my six-gun.

When we got to Halifax, my parents went on shore. They left my older brother Ben and me to look after the rest. My brother Martin decided to be a tight- rope walker and walked on the rail. Yeah, he fell, but thank God he fell onto the deck. During this trip, my Sister Leny was a complete lady. Of course, she got sick just like the rest of us. I think my Mom did the best.

From Halifax, we went on to New York and the Statue of Liberty. That was quite a sight. Six weeks later, we ended up in Sacramento, California. Sometimes I wonder how life would have turned out had we stayed in Holland. Even though I'm an American citizen, I will always be Dutch in my heart, thanks to Peter Heynen Sr. & Lena J.Heynen.

Rob's email is

Heynen family emigrating to USA in 1957.

Conny Koenig wrote: I'm always looking for persons that were on board the Grote Beer from Rotterdam to New York via Halifax on March 5, 1957. Conny Koenig email is

Ray Houthuysen came over from Holland in March of 1957. My parents, Rudolph P. Houthuysen and Selma Houthuysen, traveled with my 5 month old sister, my 5 year old sister, my 8 year old sister, and me, age 7. They were listed on the passenger list as Barbara Houthuysen, Tertia Houthuysen and Monica (misspelled as Merica). Monica was the baby. She died in 1972 of cancer. My parents are recently deceased, Dad in December 2001...two weeks before his 87th birthday. Mom passed away sudden last December 6th at age 80.

We arrived in New York about two weeks after we left Amersfoort. I was sea sick the entire trip. I remember vividly the Statue of Liberty, the color of the water, the paper trash and the automats for food service. We immediately took a train to settle in Detroit, Michigan.

Before this adventure, my parents, who were born in Indonesia (former Dutch East Indies) emigrated from Indonesia following WW II. Dad was in the Dutch Army for 11 years and survived being a POW in Japan for three years. As it says on his tombstone, "Wat en lieven!" What a life!

Ray's email is

Lawrence Burchartz wrote: In 1951 my parents my sister and I were forced to leave the Dutch East Indies due to their independence and we moved to Holland where I did my formal education and was then drafted into the Royal Dutch Air Force. After having served a year and a half I was granted an early Honorable Discharge and was able to immigrate to the USA on March 5 ,1957 on the Groote Beer. I was 22 years old, married and had two very young children. The journey was uneventful but the Atlantic Ocean had to show it's might by making most of it's passengers seasick. We arrived in New York on March 15 and our lives in our New Country had started. We went to our destination, Riverside California, by train and were awestruck by the vastness of our new country. After a few months we moved to Seal Beach California where we stayed for many years. I became a US citizen, worked at an aerospace company and retired in 1992. I have a total of six children, twelve grand children and two great grand children. I'm currently living in Chandler Arizona.

14 May 1957 to Canada

Laszlo Klein wrote: My family left during or after the Hungarian revolution and travelled to Canada on the Groote Beer arriving on May 23 1957 in Halifax from Rotterdam. I was 8 years old then. I now live in Montreal.

John te Raa wrote: I was 17 at that time and we went to Quebec City where we went thorugh customs and then sailed on to Montreal for disembarkation. We left Rotterdam and stopped in Le Havre, France, where we picked up a large number of Hungarian refugees from the 1956 uprising. I fact more than half the passengers must have been Hungarian.

It was a rough crossing. I was sick most of the time. It took an extra day to make the crossing with the ship going at half speed at times. My bunk was near the front of the ship on a lower deck. The view thru the porthole alternated between water and sky. When the ship stayed low in the water it would start to shudder because the propeller came out of the water.

Robert Singer wrote: We arrived on May 23, 1957 from Rotterdam to Montreal, with a stop overnight the previous days for clearing immigration. I still remember waking up in the morning and seeing an impressive Chateau Frontenac across the river in the heights, gleaming in the sunshine. I was also a Hungarian refugee, 10 and a half years old. Many of the adults were seasick, but we kids had the run of the ship and even saw a huge iceberg in passing.I believe we did not stopped in Halifax on that voyage.I have my landing certificate from arrival in Montreal.

7 June 1957 to Canada


Edward Bakelaar's family emigrated on 7 June 1957 to Canada. Ed sent in the Passenger list of the voyage.

Ben Steenhorst and his family emigrated to Canada on the Groote Beer. We departed Rotterdam, Friday June 7 1957. We arrived Quebec City June 15 and stayed overnight. We then arrived in Montreal on June 17 and disembarked there.

I was 5 years old at the time. My Mother, father, older brother and younger sister all reside in Canada. Our youngest sister was born in Canada so she has no memories of the voyage.

I remember my brother (seven years old at the time) and I running around the ship (like typical children) having a great time. Most adults were sea-sick in bed (our mother included). Dad clung to us everywhere we went on the ship (perhaps fearing that we may get washed overboard). I recall some very harsh weather and seeing at least 1 iceberg sometime during the voyage (got quite cold quickly).

Once we arrived in Montreal, I recall it was very hot weather and none of us were accustomed to this.

Ben's email is

Rudie van Santen wrote: The van Santen family emigrated to Canada on the Groote Beer. We came from Nijmegen, Gelderland. Departed in Rotterdam on Friday June 7,1957. Arrived in Quebec city on June 15,stayed overnight there. We did go on shore,that was the 1st time in Canada,I remember going up all the steps. Next day we landed in Montreal June17,1957. I was 14 years old at the time, there was my mother,2 younger brothers & 1 sister younger also, I was the older one.

There was lots off seasickness when we crossed,my mother,1brother & sister were sick,me and my other brother were not. In the diningroom there was no one for the meals, our mother was very concerned because we were all over the ship.

NOTE: our dad had come over in 1956 to get started. He picked us up in Montreal, we stopped for lunch and that was the 1st time we had HOT DOGS not very good no one eat them.We came to our rented home in Ontario in about 3-4 hours. I still live in the same area.

5 August 1957 to Canada


Lisa Miller wrote: My family came to Canada on the Groote Beer in August 1957. I have always been fascinated with the journey my grandparents (R de Neef), mother and aunt and uncles took coming to Canada! Lisa contributed the passenger list of the voyage.

John Hoekstra wrote: We sailed on the Groote Beer from Rotterdam to Quebec City from August 5, 1957 to August 13, 1957. All our memorabilia was inadvertently destroyed several years ago. We are looking for the Passenger lists and other schematics of the ship.

16 Sept 1957 to Canada


We, the family IJzerman (now Yzerman), consisting of my dad and mom (who have passed away), myself Peter Yzerman at the age of 19 and my four younger sisters left on the Groote Beer from Rotterdam on 16 September 1957 and arrived in Quebec on the 25th of that month. We disembarked on the following day in Montreal to depart for Vancouver, B.C. I remember that the voyage was very rough, because the German cadet (tall) ship "Pamir" went down in the Atlantic with all hands during our crossing. We used to live in Velsen -Noord and I went to school in Beverwijk. These towns are 10 km north of Haarlem. I now live in Surrey, B.C. Canada. Peter's email is

Johan (John) Ouendag was one of the passengers on the Groote Beer on September 16, 1957 from Rotterdam to Quebec and Montreal, Canada. I came to Canada with my parents (see page 9 of the list) and settled in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. They mis-spelled our last name which should be Ouendag not Ovendag. We arrived in Montreal on September 25 and continued our trip to Winnipeg where we arrived on September 27, 1957.

John sent in the Passenger list of the voyage.

20 October 1957 to Australia

My name is Peter Dietzel, and I am a direct descendant (born in Australia) of a migrant who came out to Australia on the Groote Beer. My mother (from Germany) had just turned 30 soon after the ship sailed in October 1957, and she was about to be engaged (by wireless telegraph) as she was sailing.

Mum arrived in Melbourne on 20/11/57, and she married my Dad on 23/11/57 (Dad was doing all the wedding arrangements while Mum was sailing). Mum and Dad had been going out together in Berlin, but lost contact when Dad migrated in late '51 arriving in Melbourne in Feb 52 on the SS Anna Salen. They regained contact a few years later through a mutual aquaintence and Dad sponsored Mum as an assisted migrant.

I was born exactly 12 months, almost to the minute, after Mum arrived in Melbourne. My Mum is still alive, but Dad passed away about 16 years ago.

Approx 14 Dec 1957 from Rotterdam to Australia.

Branko Dujmovic wrote: I was born on board the ship groote beer on 20/12/1957. My parents are Radislav and Anica Dujmovic. I was born two days out of Port Said, Egypt

Suzy Keseg wrote: My father Frank (Ferenc) Vonatka, born Budapest, Hungary (7 Jul 1927), apparently he arrived in Melbourne on 18 Jan 58 (he was not very well when giving me this information, so if anyone has heard his name on any other voyages, I would be grateful). Her email is

Zoltan Bardos wrote: I was a passenger on the Groote Beer arriving in Melbourne on 18 Jan 1958. I am somewhat puzzled by the movements of our ship at the time, because there is no mention of it arriving from Trieste.

The ship's passengers were all Hungarian. Being 18 at the time, I have fond memories of life on the ship, traversing the Suez Canal full of sunken ships etc. See the photo of Groote Beer in Trieste below.

1958 Date unknown FROM Indonesia to Netherlands

Mick wrote: My parents came to Holland in 1958. They migrated from Indonesia where they'd been born and raised. The Groote Beer left Surabaya in 1958 and arrived in Holland in March of that year.

3 April 1958 to Canada

Robert Wagenaar wrote: I arrived in Quebec City, Canada from Rotterdam on board the Groote Beer on April 11, 1958. I still have the Canadian Immigration Identification card with that date and the name of the ship.

Wim Van Hofwegen wrote: I was born in Rijswijk, Zuid Holland, but grew up in the neighbouring town of Voorburg. I was drafted on February 3, 1956 in the Dutch army for National service. Due to having received special training with the "Verbindings Troepen" I was "stuck" in the army until the end of December 1957. I became 20 years of age on December 30, 1957, and, three months later left Rotterdam on 3 Apr 1958 arriving in Quebec City April 11. I traveled alone; that is, no family members or friends accompanied me.

15 July 1958 to Canada


Ellen Winther wrote My mom, 3 brothers, 1 sister and parents immigrated from Holland July 15, 1958 on the Groote Beer to Canada. My mom: Cornelia den Hartog, sister: Barbara den Hartog, brothers: Huibert den Hartog, Gysbert den Hartog, Pieter den Hartog, mother: Cornelia den Hartog, father: Huibert den Hartog. I have attached the passenger list, and some pictures.

The photos are: Leaving Holland, At sea, and arriving in Quebec.

It would be nice to hear from the passengers that were on the same boat as my mom. It would be really cool to hear what became of them.

My name is Lambert Smeets.I'm from Limburg, born in Valkenburg. I migrated July 15 1958 on the Grote Beer to Montreal Canada. My brother Harry and wife Betty picked me up. I lived in Montreal till 1964 from there to Toronto till 1969 and then to London Ontario. In 1964 I married Dora Buren. We have three sons, a daughter and three grandsons. Lambert's email is

NOTE: Dora Buren migrated on 4 May 1955 - see above for Dora's story.

Rick Post wrote: Our family, (2 parents, and 4 kids...The "Post" clan. I was one of the kids and we were on the Grote Beer on the July 15 1958 sailing to Canada.

Everett Hendriksen wrote: When I came in July 1958 I came alone. I was born in Nunspeet,The Netherlands. There I lived the first 19 years of my life. From the time I was a child I said: "Ik ga naar Amerika". I started learning English when I was 12 and I never quit.

My memories of the trip on the "Groote Beer" are pretty good. On the second day I was seasick a bit. The voyage on the ocean was rather pleasant and the weather was good and the sea was calm the first few days. Then as we came close to the American continent the sea became rougher and the waves were bigger. Then came the day that we passed New Foundland on our left. The trip on the St.Laurens river was very scenic and beautiful. On July 23 we got to Quebec city in the morning. I got off and walk in the city for a few hours.Then back to the boat and we went on to Montreal. On July 24 I took the train to London,Ontario.On Friday the 25th. I went looking for work in St.Thomas. On Sunday I met a man from Hardewijk and on Monday he took me to his job where I started my first job in Canada.

7 Aug 1958 to Canada


My name is Barend (now known as Barry) Langeloo. I was an immigrant to Canada who sailed on the Groote Beer from Rotterdam on August 7 1958 to Montreal. I emmigrated alone and was 18 years old, my parents and brother stayed behind in Holland. The first 3 to 4 days on the Atlantic were terrible, I was extremely seasick but by the time we spotted land, Belle Island off the coast of Newfoundland, the weather and water improved and the trip actually became bearable and ultimately even fun.

We landed in Quebec City first where some passengers disembarked. Along with a few others we were allowed off for a short sightseeing trip after which we continued our journey along the St. Lawrence River to Montreal. From Montreal a very smalll group travelled by train to Saskathewan and Alberta. I went the furthest, to Lethbridge, Alberta. As I was headed west to Lethbridge Alberta, I with about 10 other passengers, were allowed off first so that we could catch the train on time for the long trip across Canada (at that time there was only one daily departure).

Barry sent in a lot of photos and documents. Some are on this page, others on a separate page.

For Barry's other photos and documents CLICK HERE.

26 Sep 1958 to USA.

Anne Irvine wrote: My family and I (Rudolph, Mary, Jan (Jeekel), Anne and Connie Arnold) immigrated to the United States from The Netherlands on the Groote Beer in September 1958 to the United States (New York City). Would there be a passenger list for this sailing?

Anne E. Irvine wrote: We travelled from Rotterdam to New York, USA, in arriving October 1958. Family members on this journey include, parents: Rudolph, Mary Arnold, Anne, and sister, Connie Arnold, along with brother Jan Jeekel. I will never forget seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time on that very cold, early October morning from the Groote Beer!

Oct 1958 From Canada to Rotterdam.

Sam Towson wrote: I traveled on the Groote Beer from Montreal to Rotterdam in early October, 1958. The voyage took 8 days, stopping in Quebec City PQ briefly mid stream to take on passengers. There were about 300 Dutch citizens and students returning to Holland after a summer in Canada visiting relatives. There were about 20 American students and a few businessmen on board as well.

The crew was mostly Indonesian, but I recall that the food was pretty good, and cigarettes sold for $.10 per pack, and champagne was about $1 for the final night party on the deck watching the lights of France, Belgium and England pass by on a clear, cloudless night. I traveled in one of the 6 men rooms with a college friend from the Univ. of Kansas with the goal of spending our Junior year in Europe.

30 Oct 1958 to Cape Town, South Africa and Australia. There is a film of this voyage available on-line (see below).

J. Keunen a doctor from The Hague travelled in October 1958 as a doctor on the emigrant ship Groote Beer to South Africa. The Groote Beer was owned by the Dutch State and managed by the Holland-America Line (HAL). There is a film of the voyage available on the Haagse Filmbank ( in colour, 28 Minutes. A report of the trip's departure, passengers and events on board, loading and unloading in the Walvis Bay, Cape Town.

Maart Vanderbent wrote: I am a dutch woman and looking for some information of the Groote Beer leaving in october 1958 with emigrants to South Africa. My husband was on board then as a child with his parents.

R van den Anker wrote: Ik ben met mijn ouders in oktober 1958 naar Zuid Afrika gemigreerd.

Wout Koolmees emigrated from Holland to South Africa on the Holland-Afrika Lijn in the Groote Beer on 30 Oct 1958 with his wife and 3 children. He sent in his sailing documents (all in Dutch language): (1) Ticket showing payment of 3115 guilders. (2) Boarding instructions for the Amsterdam wharf. (3) Instructions for the sailing (eg baggage allowed etc) and landing instructions for South Africa.

For Wout's travel documents CLICK HERE.

He also has some photos of the voyage.

I am Carina Hanekom and I am from Pretoria in South Africa.I bought an old wicker suitcase from a second hand shop in Pretoria and inside it is lined with an old newspaper dated 24 January 1946 San Pedro Los Angeles.This caught my eye and I started to renovate the suitcase. On the outside the case was painted grey with the name C van Dam written in white on a black background and also nr 16 and on the side of the case the name van Dam was also written. When I removed the paint I found and old label with Groote Beer pasted on the suitcase lid. I would be very interested to know if C van Dam was a passenger on the Groote Beer or any of the sister ships. If the information is available I would want to know where did this person travel to and how did the suitcase land up in Pretoria South Africa.

Carina followed up her search for the owner of the suitcase: I want to let you know I have found the owner of the suitcase. There was an article in the local newspaper of a Cornelis van Dam who turned 101 years of age. He came to South Africa in 1951. I made the connection and went to visit him in the old age home to confirm if he was the owner. His mind is very alert and he said he returned on the Groote Beer from America to the Netherlands.

Dora Neilson wrote: We left Amsterdam 28 Oct 1958 and landed at Freemantle in Oct/Nov 1958 but can't seem to find any log re those dates There were 9 of us on that ship, mother father and seven children (there were already two settled in Australia). From the National Archives: VAN STAM Johannes Cornelis ; Janna (nee Brander) ; Maria ; Siebe ; Gerrit ; Anne ; Sietske ; Geertruida Johanna ; Dora Dina - Dutch - travelled per ship GROOTE BEER departing in 1958 under Netherlands Australian Migration Agreement. Arfrived Melbourne 6 Dec 1958.

Early 1959 to Cape Town, South Africa.

Onne van der Wal wrote: I emigrated with my parents on the Groote Beer from Amsterdam to Cape Town in early 1959. Would you have any passenger manifests from that voyage? (Now in Newport RI).

11 Mar 1959 to USA


Peter Vossepoel was born in 1958 in Weesp, which is between Amsterdam and Hilversum. In March 1959 we, my Mom and Dad and two older brothers, migrated to the US aboard the Groote Beer. The voyage lasted about nine days. We arrived in New York where we stayed a few days at the home of my Mother's uncle, Berend Smit.

We then took an airplane to Chicago where we lived for eleven years. South Chicago proved to be a stronghold of many Dutch Americans, including relatives of my Mom, Geert (Jerry) and Tina Kap and Gezinus (George) and Henny Schrikkema. They came from Groningen.

In 1970, I was twelve then, we returned to the Netherlands. My mother passed away in 1999. My eldest brother and his family now in Ontario, Canada. My father passed away in March 2001.

During my Chicago years I went to elementary school. As a 12 year old I had to learn to speak Dutch and adjust to Dutch life. I now live in Dordrecht. I am an accountant for an international publishing firm. Peter's email is

Peter Vossepoel has sent some photos and memorabilia of the Groote Beer. Click here.

Caroline Vanneste writes: My parents and five older brothers and sisters immigrated to Canada from Belgium on the Groote Beer, arriving in Halifax. I wasn't on the voyage myself - I was only born in 1967. My parents had five children in Belgium and four more after arriving in Canada! It was quite the adventure for them to move here with five children when they didn't know much English and they planned to become farmers with no experience. Their courage was impressive, I think! Caroline's email is

Caroline also sent some postcards of the Groote Beer and some photos of the immigration.


3 Apr 1959 to Canada

Theo van der Helm came to Canada on the Groote Beer in 1959 He left Rotterdam to Halifax on 3 April 1959. He was traveling with his cousin, Jas van Staveren. There were 511 people on board and just about everyone was sick due to the storms and rough seas. Jas van Staveren has since passed away, while Theo (known here as Ted) is retired and living in a small town in the Province of Saskatchewan.

Johanna Brown wrote: I came to Canada on the Groote Beer in 1959, arriving in Halifax on April 11.

27 Apr 1959 to Canada


Martin van Kuilenburg left Nederland on April 27 1959 and arrived in Montreal, Canada on May 6 1959. His family consisted of father James and mother Gerdina (née Hendriks) and him. Martin still lives in downtown Montreal.

I was born in Dutch East Indies where our family had lived since my grandfather. In 1956, my family left Indonesia and returned to the Netherlands. We first lived in Zutphen and then Nijmegen. In 1959 we emigrated to Canada on the Groote Beer. My sister Jeannine was born in Montreal in 1962.

Martin has a web page with photos of the Groote Beer. Martin's email is

Sonja van Weelden wrote: My family emigrated from the Netherlands on 27 April 1959 for Canada. My parents were: Mr. Gerard van Weelden, Juliana van Weelden, my sister Maria van Weelden and myself, Sonja van Weelden.

21 May 1959 to Canada


The family Wijngarden migrated on 21 May 1959 to Canada and provided the Passenger list.

Our family (Mom & Dad & six children) came in May - June 1959 arriving in Montreal from Rotterdam. Our family came from Almelo before immigrating, landing in Montreal, then boarding a train and going across Canada and settling in Victoria BC (on the island). We moved in 1965 to Trenton, Ontario, then I ended up in Kingston (to University) and entered the accounting profession. From Dan Wyngarden - email

Marianne Doney (nee Jongeneel) wrote: I migrated on 22 May 1959. Some of the passengers were students from different countries going to the US. We were to go to Montreal to leave the ship but since that would be a sunday the customs went through our papers in Quebec City,

June 1959 to USA

Joseph Basralian wrote: I was a passenger on the Groote Beer in early June 1959 from Rotterdam to New York with stops in Halifax and Boston before arriving in Hoboken, New Jersey. I was headed home to New Jersey.

The Groote Beer voyage was ten days including several rough days at sea with the ship pitching and rolling. I was fortunate not to be seasick so I never missed a meal. I remember arriving for breakfast one morning where I was only one of seven people in the dinning room with not many more in wait staff.

The passengers were mostly emigrants from Indonesia headed to a new life in Canada via the Netherlands and Dutch students going to the US for the summer. Not much to do but read and drink beer with an occasional Dutch Gin at night. The seas were too rough to even use the "theater" in the most forward part of the ship were the plating came together because with the pitching the bow the ship would drop faster than the projector which was set on a table. When the ship went down into a trough the stern and prop would come out of the water resulting in a vibration throughout the ship.

I was in a cabin midship, which I shared with three others, so I really did not experience some of the rolling of the lower cabins. I was able to persuade the captain to let me take the helm for several hours at a time on calm days and nothing but sea in every direction. Very exciting for a teenager as I had to keep the the ship which had cable steering on a particular course. Great fun.

6 August 1959 to Quebec and Montreal

Eric Kieken sailed from Rotterdam on this voyage. With him were Johannes Kieken (Father), Gijsbertje (Mother), Looi, Roland, and Roger.

August 1959 to USA

From Yvonne Mulder (nee van Tilburg): After finishing High School in Holland I was granted a scholarship from the American Field Service (AFS) and went to the United States for one year. I went from Rotterdam to New York by the ship SS Groote Beer I stayed with a family, Bill and Toots Mossman and their two daughters Marlyn and Carol, and went to Meadville Area Senior High school. My Class of 1960 chose me as their Vice-President. I returned to Holland, again with the SS Groote Beer, in August 1960. Yvonne has published 11 books. Yvonne's email is

Sandra Howard wrote: In approximately August of 1959, we emigrated from Rotterdam to Hoboken, New Jersey, as a family, on the Groote Beer. My parents, Paul Johan and Amy Bakker, my three sisters and I arrived in Jackson, Michigan by train from Grand Central Station, New York. I currently live in Traverse City, Michigan.

Unknown date 1959 to USA

My name is Deanna de Vries, and I remembered migrating to the US in 1959. The ship departed from Rotterdam and ended up in New York. I remembered lady liberty and her glory of her radiant crown studded with sun rays. My Mother Elisabeth Helene Glaser single handedly migrated with four kids. I was eleven at the time. My older brother and sister had their own passports. The brother's name is Anthony Dunki Jacobs and sister Renee Dunki Jacobs. My older brother and sister are from Indonesia. I was born in Batavia after the war, and since my mother married a Dutch man, we departed to Holland and stayed for six years or so.

9 December 1959 to Australia

My name is Rudolph de Hoogh, I was born in Alkmaar on Sept 1945. Our family: Vader Frans, Moeder Riek, broers Alex en Frans en zusje Annalies. We left Holland from Amsterdam on the Groote Beer on 9 Dec 1959 and arrived in Melbourne mid Jan. 1960. I was 14 years old. My vader owned "schoonmaak bedrijf Service", I.e vuilnis bakken schoon maken in Alkmaar.

Our first stop was in Cuxhaven, Germany where we picked up about 300 German migrants, remember this was only 14 years after the war to say "there were hard feelings" would be a understatement .

From Melbourne we traveled by rail to Adelaide at night, I remember the "cattle car" very well. Nice, comfortable wooden benches I believe we made one stop, in Murray Bridge, Mum and Dad got of and bought some, what they thought to be appel gebak, as we were quite hungry. I never forget biting into this thing and spitting it out, it was a cold meat pie, of course I later learned to love my Australian pies and pasties.

We got of the train in Woodside and were shipped by bus to the immigration/army camp. After about 8 weeks we moved to the Glenelg hostel a great improvement although it was all an adventure to me. From there on we were on our own......

HoweverI left Australia in 1972, lived in Holland until 1986 and moved to the USA where I've been ever since. Rudy's email is

Unknown date 1959 to Australia

From Anna Semple: My family of 6 - Mum dad and 4 children came to Australia from Holland in 1959 on the Groote Beer. Our family's name is Jansink, Dad - Frederick Henderick, Mum - Anne-marie, Sister - Gerda Wilhelmina, Brother - Frits, Me - Annemarie, and Brother - Frederick Henderick (Jnr)

27 February 1960 to Australia

We are Annie and Wim Aupperlee now living in Middelharnis ZH, Netherlands. But on the 27 Feb 1960 we migrated to Australia and left Amsterdam on SS Grootebeer. We had just married and had a little son Johan (nickname Eddy ) 14 months old. We had to sleep in separate cabins: me and my son in one cabin and my husband in the other. We sailed through the Suez canal and stopped in Port Said and also Aden, Fremantle ,Melbourne, and disembarked in Sydney.

The food was really good and we felt like being on a big holiday. There was a big storm out of the Golf of Biscaye, when we told not to open the gangdoors. Wim did open the door a little and saw waves as high as big buildings. And he got really scared ! We were not seasick, lots of people were.

In Aden I turned 20 years old and Wim bought me a necklace, that was something else shopping in Aden. Wim and some other men had a contest to throw a potato to the side off the Suez canal and Wim hit the side.And he was the only one.

In Melbourne we where advised to go on to Sydney because more work there as a bricklayer. Between Melbourne and Sydney our son got the measles, in the port of Sydney our son was taken by ambulance to hospital ( Prince Henry). Because it was very contagiousness and because of that we should not have been in the port with the ship. The port authoritys where not pleased and the captain got a fine.

Wim started work after 6 weeks with a blocklaying firm. We had a great time downunder but Wim wanted to go back to Holland. So after 12 years and lots of talk with the children ( son and daughter Margie) we went back to Holland in 1971. This time by plane and have been living in Middelharnis ever since.

Annie has sent some photos of the Groote Beer.

Birthday Cake.

Children's Lounge.

Maryke de Rooy wrote: We also sailed to Australia in 1960. We left Rotterdam in February 1960 and arrived in Perth on the first of April , then sailed on to Sydney where we settled. I came with my parents Wim and Cornelia Beerman, my brothers Ton, Rien and Sjon and myself Marijke. We kids were all born in Haarlem. My mum and dad were born in Amsterdam.

I was eleven years old at the time and the youngest in the family. We all shared a six berth cabin. I got very ill towards the end of the voyage and was almost not allowed to disembark in Sydney. Some stomach virus.

Albert Jansen wrote: On 27 February 1960 my parents, my sisters and I went to Australia in Groote Beer. We departed from either Amsterdam or Rotterdam. First harbour of call was Fremantle, then Adelaide and finally Sydney.

Jodie Partridge wrote: My husband's grand parents (Pieter and Sara DeGroot) came over on this voyage and arrived in Sydney and still live here.

Tony Doevedans wrote: My Opa, Jan Doevendans came to Australia in 1962 with my Oma, Christina (maiden name Katz), and their children Henk, Theunis, Hetty, Jannie, Albertus, Christiaan and Fredericus on the Groote Beer. They had lived in Overijssel (i think in Vriezeveen and Almelo). My Opa was I think from Sneek, but definitely somewhere in Friesland.

From the National Archives: DOEVENDANS Jan ; Christina D (nee Katz) ; Theunis ; Hendrik ; Hendrika J C ; Jannie born ; Albertus born ; Christiaan ; Fredde - Dutch - travelled per ship GROOTE BEER departing in 1960 under Netherlands Australian Migration Agreement arriving 1 Apr 1960.

28 Apr 1960 from South Africa to Holland

Luuk van Hessem wrote: I missed the springtime in 1960 since in that year we ( 3 childeren) went with our mum from South Africa, Cape Town to Holland, Amsterdam by SS “Groote Beer”. It was from April 28 till May 10. My father did stay for a longer time in South Africa to finish his work and my sister was with one of my uncles in England.

June 1960 to USA

John Mulder made his second trip on the Groote Beer st the end of June 1960. After our Atlantic Ocean crossing we arrived in New York, from there we took the train "Ernie" to Chicago", where we transferred onto the "Santa Fe" train to Los Angeles, California. I have had a pretty good life here.

Ineke Snyder Mesman wrote: The Mesman family, departed in June 1960 from Rotterdam and arrived in New York. We were a family of eight.

mid-July 1960 from USA to Rotterdam

Mark Ashley Sellers Jr wrote: In summer 1960 I traveled to Europe, sailing over and back on the ship Groote Beer. I traveled all over western Europe with a EURail Pass, costing $600. It left from Hoboken NJ to Dover UK and 6-weeks later travelled from Rotterdam to Hoboken (1 Sep 1960 trip - below). I loved the ship! Knowing it was a Dutch Freighter, I had no idea how passenger-compatible it was. I never saw the crew, unless they were waiters, cooks, bartenders and deck cleaners. There were a lot of us on board, mostly young adults.

1 September 1960 to USA

From Ute Gacs. I left Germany at the end of August 1960 and drove with my mother to Rotterdam. We left Rotterdam on 1 Sep 1960 and arrived in Hoboken. N.J. on September 11 1960. Our voyage took approximately 11 days and about 600 of the passengers on the ship were exchange students, also students returning from Europe.

I was rooming with approximately eight other women most of whom became violently sea sick as we sailed into Hurricane Donna.

We spent much time on the upper deck, wrapped in blankets as the smell downstairs was unbearable.

My maiden name is Ute Diederich and I was born in Germany. I came to the U.S. alone and left my family in Germany, initially to study and work here but decided in 1963 after meeting my husband, a refugee from Hungary that I would stay. I am presently recreating my immigration experience and would like to know more about the ship, its passengers and where that information is stored today

Ute now lives in Nevada, USA. Her email is

Val Mullan wrote: When I was on the Groote Beer it was in September 1960 leaving Holland to New York. I was returning from a two month and half month student tour of Europe. I was one of the very sick people on that ship with a combination of sea sickness and a cold.

But I did participate in the musical comedy production we student passengers put on for the entertainment of the rest of the folks on board. The production was written by one of the student passengers. The story line was about a group of women (of which I was one) who were stranded on an island without any men. One of the production numbers was "We’ve Got Bananas". I can’t believe that I still remember some of the words: We’ve got bananas hanging on a tree. We’ve got bananas enough for you and me. We will not starve for at least another week, we got bananas that won’t turn green but keep. Why should I worry why should I care, we ain’t had no lovin’ - - - - any where . . .

Oh well that’s as far as my brain will take me. I got off the Groote Beer with $2.00 to my name fortunately I had a friend who lived in New York and I stayed there over night before I caught my train back to Chicago and then onto Southern California.

Susan Parker wrote: I was an American student passenger on a voyage which sailed from Rotterdam to New York in September 1960. It may have been the last made by this ship before it changed hands and was no longer used to transport students. During the 9-day crossing , we sailed through a hurricane which lasted several days. Eventually, I was the only person on board, including crew, who did not succumb to seasickness. The voyage was an important landmark in my life and I have tried to find a passenger list for that crossing online

Jim Bloom wrote: In the summer of my third year of college I booked passage on the Groote Beer in the student exchange program. I had to attend several lectures at University of Leiden, but then was free to tour Europe on my Eurailpass, very new at that time. I had saved money from working as a waiter in the college dining hall to make this trip and used Frommer’s Europe on Five Dollars a Day book to stretch out my very meager pocket money.

I believe I sailed on the Groote Beer to Rotterdam and the Waterman on the return voyage to New York. However it may have been the reverse. Bathrooms were community style in the passageways, maybe one bathroom with several showers and toilets for as many as 30 or more passengers. I slept in a six-berth cabin with one or two sinks.

There were some larger cabins to hold as many as 20 or so in dormitory fashion. A party atmosphere prevailed. Lots of Heinekens beer. About two days out from New York we hit very rough weather—I think it must have been at least a gale if not a hurricane. The ship rolled and pitched heavily and there were a lot of buckets around all the lounges to handle the results of all that beer drinking. I preferred sleeping in the lounges because the cabin was quite stuffy and the illness of my cabin mates made it very messy- and rather foul-smelling.

Michail Kalman wrote: My parents and I were on board travelling from Amsterdam to Hoboken, NJ in Sept/Oct 1961 or 1962. My memory is a little fuzzy on this and my Dad just passed away and my mother has Alzheimer's.

There were many others who were immigrating on the same ship from parts of Europe (mostly Romania and Hungary) to the US.

Michail sent in 2 photos of the Groote Beer.

1961 from USA to Europe and back to USA

Irene Barron wrote: One of the most fun ships I've ever been on was the Groote Beer of the Holland American Line. I saved for a year and with a girl friend traveled to Europe to study French at the Sorbonne under the Study Abroad program. We traveled each way on the Groote Beer. I didn't know it was a special trip for students that summer. There were over 600 students and about 8 adult passengers. When we hit the international date line the bars opened, I was surprised at how many students were drinking. There were not so many drinking on the trip back as they were all broke, including me. I had saved enough for the bus trip from New York to Ohio, not thinking about taxi fare to the bus station. Fortunately a young man from Columbus allowed me to travel with he and his parents and sibs from New York to Ohio.

I think I was memorable to the dining staff as I was the only one who requested milk with my meals. They argued that they didn't serve milk. I insisted that they must have some set aside for cooking. They finally agreed that I could have milk if I didn't tell anyone. The tables all had a quarter round all around the edges in case of rough seas, to keep the plates from sliding off. We went through one storm which to me was exciting. The ship's yaw felt like about 30-degrees. When I went downstairs, if the ship dropped beneath you, the step down was six or seven feet. If you stepped when the ship was rising, you just about had your knee jammed into your chin. Many were sea sick, but not me. I made it to every meal, finding only three or four persons instead of the several hundred at each meal.

Since everyone was ill, I wandered around the ship, which I loved to do anyway. I was at the bow on the lowest open deck leaning against the wall facing the bow. There were ropes all around to hold on to if you were walking. As the ship dropped into the sea, the curve of the outer hull pushed the waves into an arc away from her. The resulting splashes rose fifty feet or more resulting in stupendous noise. The pitch and yaw of the ship was such that many were thrown out of their bunks. I was on the 5th level in a cabin with 7-other young ladies. We had bunk beds, little room to maneuver and one sink. I hated to be cooped up and under the safe exit areas of the upper decks, so I spent little time there, only to sleep. There were only two stairwells to the lower decks. One day during the week-long journey I was rushing down one to go across the dining hall to get to my cabin. I was abruptly stopped by the whole serving crew mopping the floor forbidding my traipsing across. They said I might slip and fall. If I went back up many decks and over to the other stairwell, it would take much time, energy and I just didn't feel like it. Disappointment must have shown in my expression, for two of the men joined their arms and hands to create a seat for me and carried me around the floor while all the others sang "Good Night Irene". I didn't even know they knew my name, but my drinking milk every meal evidently made me noticeable. That was a fun time, for they were all swinging their mops or buckets to the tune and as they danced and marched me around the hall before depositing me on the other side. It was like being in a spontaneous musical staged event on Broadway. What a delightful trip that was because of the friendliness of the crew at all times. They always had a smile.

Jim Howie wrote: I was on the Groote Beer twice. First in June 1961 from New York to England and in August from Rotterdam to Halifax then to New York. It was a student ship run by Holland American. I had just finished my first year of college in North Carolina and went to Europe for the summer.

Carol wrote: I was a college student and a transatlantic passenger on the SS Groote Beer in1961 I believe, leaving New York harbor and arriving in Rotterdam 9 horrific days later. I use the term horrific because I experienced overwhelming sea sickness the entire time. It took me 30 years to be willing to board anything that resembled a ship. Now I love to cruise.

June 1961 to USA

Jim Adam wrote: In June 1961, we emigrated to California, and we went by way of the Groote Beer. Again my dad was seasick, I gues he never learns, we could have flown. Otherwise than that, the trip was uneventful. I remembered that there were a lot of college students on board. We docked in Hoboken, and took the Santa Fe train Hiawatha to our new home in California.

6 Aug 1961 to Canada

Bob (back then Albertus) Alleman wrote: My parents and 3 their young children emigrated from Rotterdam to New York via Halifax in August of 1961. My memories were that of a wonderful travel experience even though I was very seasick the first couple of days. The dining room was empty because most passengers were seasick as well. I remember carrying around a barf-bag the entire trip. I recall the on-board English lessons, drinking Sisi on the deck, the trash going overboard daily and a few other memories. I remember it was too cold to swim (I’m pretty sure there was a swimming pool). What a great vessel.

October 1961 to Australia

Alex Fahd wrote: The voyage for me started from Beiruit Lebanon, first port of call Aden via Suez Canal, not sure in between. I do recall stopover at Colombo, Sri Lanka, onto Fremantle (arrived 17 Nov 1961), Melbourne, disembarking in Sydney.

Tony Morreau wrote: My family came to Australia on the SS Groote Beer in October/November 1961. I was 12 years old. We embarked in Rotterdam and disembarked in Sydney, then to Queensland. The family consisted of Rev. Dirk Morreau, Miep van Elst Morreau, siblings in chronological order: Anneke, Antoon (me), Jeanette, Pauline and Jean Baptiste.

My father was ship's chaplain; had his own privileged office where he was sea-sick for almost the entire voyage. We felt very privileged in that because my father was a minister with a call to Australia, we were allowed a lot more personal cargo than the regular emigrants who basically only had their clothes and about 5 m3 of space. I think we had 20 m3.

We came from Kats, Noord Beveland, Zeeland. While at Kats in the late forties, dad also served in the army as a chaplain / lieutenant and spent a year or so in Java and Sumatra. I think it was because he loved the heat and tropics, (and the Nasi Goreng) that we considered and finally came to Australia (where the fare in those days was bangers and mash rather than 'rijstafel').

After disembarking in Sydney, we travelled by train to Brisbane where we spent a few weeks at Wacol. Then again by train, this tme to Bowen. Contrary to our knowledge of trains, that you could set your watch by them, Queensland Rail's Sunlander was different. At one time the train stopped in the middle of nowhere and we got out of the train in the sweltering summer heat so that the driver, fireman and guard could have their lunch under a tree.

When finally we arrived in Bowen, it was well after midnight and half the town seemed to have turned out to meet an important dignitary who must have been on the train. We took a while to accept that with great abandon and fanfare they were there to greet their new minister and his family at 2 am!. So un-Dutch!

5 March 1962 - Born on the Groote Beer to Australia

Theodore Kabbout wrote: On the 5th of March 1962 I was born on the Groote Beer. My parents Olga and Antoine Kabbout and my brother were migrating from Lebanon to Australia. I now live near Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia.

April 1962 to New Zealand/Australia

Our family Baron Herman Andries van Raders, Baronesse Louise van Raders and four daughters Marion, Monica, Corine and Mariette van Raders arrived in Wellington on the Groote Beer from Rotterdam.

John van der Spruit wrote: Our family Kees and Alida van der Spruit (my parents), my brother Marius and myself (John) arrived in Wellington New Zealand in April 1962 on the Groote Beer. We first settled in a village called Benhar and then moved to Balclutha before finally living in Christchurch in 1969. I can recall Dad telling me that we passed through Aden and the Red Sea via Fremantle and then onto Wellington.

My father was born in Lisse and my mother came from Scheveningen while my brother and I were born in Leiderdorp. Unfortunately my parents have passed away.

25 August 1962 from Europe to USA - Special Student Sailing.


Ward White was on this Student Sailing of the Groote Beer from Rotterdam to New York. Ward's email is

Lillie Kamanu wrote: This ship brought my husband from Le Havre to Southampton to NY in August 1962. My husband, Onyeonoro Kamanu, had been selected by the American Scholarship Program for African Students. Many of his mates have passed away but we would be so thrilled to see information of the voyage which heralded a new life for these young people.

Theo van Door wrote: I applied for a job with the Holland-Amerika-Lijn because I wanted to see New York. At that time the SS Groote Beer transported students to and from the USA. On that Victory ship I sailed to voyages westbound and eastbound as a diningroom steward. The salary was low, but the tips were wonderful for a young man of 22 years of age. During the night the crew had to be careful because of the drunken students, who laid in the corridors. Apparently they couldn't reach their cabins. After that I sailed with the Holland-Amerika-Lijn (now Holland-America-Line) on the MS Westerdam, SS Ryndam, SS Maasdam, SS Nieuw Amsterdam and the SS Rotterdam as an assistant purser from Rotterdam to New York and made some cruises to the Caribean. My sailing career ended in 1963.

September 1962 From USA to Europe - Special Student Sailing.

Munro Strong wrote: I was on a Holland-American Line 'Student vessel" which made a passage from Hoboken to Southampton about mid- or early September 1962. I was told it was to be scrapped after that voyage was over.

I was on that vessel, and from Southampton I took the boat train to Paris, where I was to study at the Sorbonne in the Cours de Civilisation Francaise Pour Les Étrangers. On September 30th, an incredibly golden, deliciously warm autumnal morning, I was sitting outside what was to become "my café" on the corner of the Boulevard Saint Michelle and the rue de Vaugirard. I was celebrating my twenty-first birthday.

I was lucky because the vessel was divided into huge dormitories, except for 3-4 small cabins on the top deck, and I was given one of these. Also, because the student vessels were no more as of my return voyage at the end of the summer in 1963, I was given passage on a regular Holland-American Line vessel for no extra charge, and again was given a single cabin.

The nine days of the passage from Hoboken to Southampton were incredibly rough from the second to the eighth day. On the third day I went to breakfast in the vast "dining room" and when I entered I saw I was alone except for one other person at the far end. The rest of the 798 people were in their bunks or in the bathrooms.

There was a small "theater" in the very forecastle of the ship, and one night I was there watching West Side Story, and the screen was going up up up and then plummeting down down down and then leaping to the side and then up and then down ... I thought it was wonderful, but my feeling was shared by few.

I am retired and now live half the time in the US and half in Poland.

11 October 1962 to Australia


Jan Weber wrote: My wife boarded ship the 11th October in Amsterdam. My wife had to share a cabin with 4 other woman and I was allocated to a dormitory out in the front of the ship to be shared with about 50 others.

We landed in Melbourne the 12th November and got overnight accommodation in Melbourne somewhere. Next day on the overland train to Balhanah and then to the Woodside camp. Stayed there for a few days till we found work and were then moved to the Glenelg hostel. In February 1963 we moved to Geoffrey Ave, Valley View, next to the van Roosmalens (see next entry) and 3 other Dutch families from the same sailing all lived in the same street.

In 1974 we moved back to Holland and lived in Midden Beemster and found work in Alkmaar. Then 1975 we moved back to Australia and went to live in Windsor Gardens till I retired in 2004 and moved to Seaford Rise. Jan Weber

We sailed from Rotterdam in October 1962 on the boat the Groote Beer. There was my father Hans, mother Wilhelmina, brothers Hans, Hank, Robert,me John, and sisters Yolanda, Sophia, Everada and Marina. We arrived in Melbourne 12 Nov 1962. We came from Arnhem in Gelderland. My parents have now passed away but the rest of the family still live all over Australia. John van Roosmalen

William Zilber wrote: We, my Parents (both deceased) and two brothers and myself, were among a large group of Polish emmigrants to Australia. We boarded the ship, "Groote Bear", in Amsterdam on the 12th Oct, 1962 We, especially the young people, all looked upon this voyage as a great adventure. There were a lot of young people on board, although we, the Poles, did not mix with the Dutch passengers due to language barrier. Although I do remember one young man, crew member, Peter Folkes, with whom we tryed to communicate in broken German language. Somehow, it worked. I don't know why, but I do remember this bloke. Maybe, becouse I've tryed to contact him some years later, without success. I remember the ship picking up some Greek passengers in Port Said, who turned out to be quite rowdy. We stopped in Aiden, but I do not remember stopping in Colombo, Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon). First port on Australian soil was Freemantle, WA, then Melbourne, and finally, on Nov 14th we landed in Sydney. Lived here ever since.

NOV - DEC 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth WA

In Nov - Dec 1962, both the SS Groote Beer and SS Waterman were chartered as accommodation ships for the Commonwealth Games in Fremantle (Perth), Australia.

Summer (July?) 1963 to USA

Win Bryson wrote: In Spring 1963, most of our (26) Penn State Architecture Class went to London for a term of study, and afterwards they scattered touring Europe before returning to the USA. Then about 5 classmates returned to New York aboard the 'studentship' SS Groote Beer from Rotterdam that Summer in 1963.

Win sent a photo of the passengers relaxing on the sundeck.

13 Sep 1963 from USA to Rotterdam

Todd Pierce wrote: I took the voyage on the Groote Beer from New York to Rotterdam, also called at Southampton and LeHavre. I went with 30 other students from what is now The University of Wisconsin- River Falls, USA. There were 800 students on the ship and maybe a dozen "regular" passengers. I think it was 10 days to Rotterdam including the stops at Southhampton and LeHavre.

Ran into very boisterous weather and the crew came around one evening and strapped us into our bunks so the rolling and pitching would not throw us out. The waitstaff moistened the tablecloths so the plates would slide about on the tablecloth a bit less.

Someone got a tour of the bridge and noticed the roll gauge showed the ship rolling 45 degrees each way. It was radical for a while, they would not let anyone on deck. Nonetheless, it was a fun voyagefor us all and we remember the ship and her overworked bartenders fondly. Drinks in the bars ranged from 11 cents US for a bottle of Amstel beer, to the most expensive cocktail-a Singapore Sling-for 27 cents US. About every 3rd person "won" a bottle of champagne every evening at dinner.

I often remember the evenings I spent watching the luminescence of the propwash as we churned toward Europe. We were aware that the original troops going to the war in Europe spent their passage hoping they didn't get torpedoed and faced an uncertain future if/when they arrived in Europe.

We just had a 50 year reunion of the group in 2013.

Todd sent in a label from his luggage showing the destination Rotterdam.

Sept? 1963 to USA

Besides the above Student sailing to USA. others were on the Sept 63 sailing back to USA. There were 800 students aboard and it was a rough crossing of nine days. I was on the lowest deck “F” in an eight bunk cabin. First sign of land ahoy was the Nantucket Light Ship off the coast of Nantucket Island, then we entered the harbor at dawn to see the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan skyline, both moments are keeper memories.


Geraldine Dotzler wrote: Marianna IV (Groote Beer) was chartered in 1966 to the Atlantic Educational Program for four round voyages between Rotterdam and New York. For this purpose she was renamed Groote Beer once again. Holland America Line acted as agents.

We departed New York on June 29, 1966 and arrived in Rotterdam on July 8, 1966.

I can remember:

our festive departure out of New York feeling quite moved as we passed by the Statue of Liberty.

the rough days at sea when the Orangeboom empty bottles of beer rolled from side to side of the walls in Ocean's Lounge.

the days on rough seas with slats added to the tables so the plates wouldn't roll off (no stablizers on this ship)

the price of accommodations: Dormitory Style $155 each way, Stateroom Style $185 each way. We had the stateroomstyle accommodations which was 8 bunk beds in what would seem to be a closet.

the landing in Rotterdam being met by a brass band and struggling to get our suitcases off the ship (the days before wheels).

we carried small flight bags all over Europe while hitchhiking for part of the time and using our Eurail Pass for the rest of the time.

and of course all the fun kids we met on the way over, then traveling all over Western Europe left to our own devices for the summer.

We reboarded the ship for our return on August 24, 1966 and arrived back in New York on Friday, September 2, 1966.

3 July 1966 from USA to Rotterdam

Salle A. Erwin wrote: I sailed the GB in 1966 as a student. I loved the ship and arrived Rotterdam in July 1966. I purchased a Mobylette Kaptien in Amsterdam and traveled through Holland and Europe, putting the moped on train from time to time. I am now a criminal defense attorney in Michigan.

Ron Glaze wrote: I was on this great ship on an Educational trip from NYC to Rotterdam in July 1966. We were mainly s tudents: about 2/3 young women and 1/3 young men. it was truly educational! Our arrival in Rotterdam 12th of July.


August 1966 from Rotterdam to USA

Gary Lee Nelson wrote: I sailed on the Groote Beer in August 1966 from Rotterdam to New York. We hit a sand dredger in Southhampton but made it to NY after a 24-hour repair.

I had been playing in Het Kunstmaandorkest in Amsterdam for several years. I was headed back to the US to face a military draft for Viet Nam. As a professional musician I was hoping to escape the battlefield by getting into one of the military bands. I had audtions scheduled for West Point and several of the bands in DC.

The ship was full of American students returning after a year or summer in Europe. They were in a party mood and dance in the ballroom above my cabin until 2-3 AM. My instrument was tuba and I needed to be in top shape when I landed in NY. After and early breakfast I practiced every morning in the billiard room from 6-9 AM. The students, asleep on the level above me, did not understand the meaning of poetic justice.

1969 SS GROOTE BEER renamed - scrapped in 1971

In 1969 the Groote Beer was renamed "Marianna IV" and in 1971 was scrapped at Eleusis, Greece.

For the PASSENGER LISTS of the Groote Beer that I am aware of CLICK HERE.



Go to Hugo and Denise TravelPage. Travel journals to Europe, USA, Canada, Egypt, India, Vietnam and more

Go to Hugo Schouten Accountant page.

This page maintained by Hugo Schouten Accountant and Tax Agent.