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. After landing at pier 21 in Halifax we boarded an army train to our destination in Ontario.
This was a very different experience, the train cars were crowded and noisy each family had their seats and hammock like beds above. I recall some of the children on our car being ill and as we found out later they had diptheria. After arriving at our destination in Brockville Ontario, the first thing my dad saw was a $5.00 bill on the station platform, he was thrilled, but the worst was yet to come because a few days later my brother got ill and we were promptly quarantined as the diptheria had spread.
I think that was the low point, we were in this old farm house with no running water, outside toilet, a wood stove for heating and cooking, and a long lane way to the road. I'm sure there were moments my parents had regrets about coming. People would leave groceries at the end of the lane and honk their horns so we could pick it up. The only people we had contact with were the medical personal who took swabs etc. Then to top it off my two younger brothers got the measles. My older brother, Thys was taken away to Kingston hospital for the treatment of diptheria, and who knew where that was!!! I panicked when they wanted to take me away to check on my leg that was still in the cast.
Meanwhile we were hustled indoors every time my mom or one of us would spot these large brown animals pop up out of the ground and just sit there looking about, they were all over the place. We had no idea what they were or whether or not they would harm us, so we would look out the window until they disappeared and then once again we would be allowed outdoors. We had a good laugh about it much later, when we found out they were only ground hogs.
These are just a few of the memories I have of the first few weeks in Canada. Later my parents bought a dairy farm just south of Ottawa in Osgood Township where some of my family still live. I presently live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and wonder if anyone who was on this voyage of April 8th 1953 would have a passenger list?
Joan Robb's email is email@example.com
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