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Dutch Immigration ceremony a big boost for Pier 21

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

The recent Dutch Immigrant Commemoration ceremony has left a huge impression on everyone associated with Pier 21 at Halifax. The gathering which rates large in its ongoing series of anniversary events, also was unique for its attendance from every region in the country, from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island. It also included all available Dutch Consuls and Consuls General in Canada.

Pier 21 also is taking its ‘immigration show’ on the road. Eager to reach out to Canadians everywhere and particularly to its ‘alumni’ (those who passed through Pier 21), it recently held its first Montreal event while one has been planned for Toronto this Fall. Education will be a strong component in this drive while at Halifax attention is being given to a citizenship program and genealogy workshops.

The Dutch community also rates very high on the list as contributors of objects (such as suitcases, tags, pictures, documents, etc.) to the museum. Staff at Pier 21 are elated at how history-conscious the Dutch are as a group, saying that the Dutch frequently still possess all the documents and information from their trip to Canada. Included in Pier 21’s collection is the entire series of wall plaques with (Dutch) immigrant ship which were distributed throughout Canada and the U.S. between 1978 and 2000, and still decorate walls in numerous homes.

The Austrian, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese and Slovak communities also have held events at Pier 21.

Nova Scotia’s Dutch honorary consul, the Hon. Peter McCreath, a former Veterans Affairs minister, for six years served as a director of the Pier 21 Society when millions were spent to restore the dilapidated facility and turn it into a museum. Serving as Master of Ceremonies, McCreath had a unique vantage point, “people just loved it and it was a big boost for Pier 21.”