Pier 21, Halifax

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 Reviews

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  • Pier 21 Museum, Halifax, Canada.
    Pier 21 Museum, Halifax, Canada.
    by planxty
  • Pier 21 Museum, Halifax, Canada.
    Pier 21 Museum, Halifax, Canada.
    by planxty
  • Pier 21 Museum, Halifax, Canada.
    Pier 21 Museum, Halifax, Canada.
    by planxty
  • planxty's Profile Photo

    Wonderful living history.

    by planxty Written Dec 5, 2014

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The term "Pier 21" will probably not mean much to anyone outside Canada and indeed it meant absolutely nothing to me prior to visiting recently but to Canadians it is almost a symbol of nationhood as it is a place of huge significance to the people of that wonderful country. Pier 21, as the name itself suggests, is a shipping wharf on the Halifax seafront. OK, there are plenty more (I believe it goes up to 23) but Pier 21 is a very special place and one I feel very honoured to have visited. Please allow me to explain.

    Pier 21 was where all the immigrant boats docked for many years between 1927 and 1981. Canada was certainly seen as a place for economic migration early on but then, with the rise of German Nazism in Europe, it became even more important in allowing people to escape persecution. It is estimated that over one million people passed through what is effectively an old wharf building during those years. Take into account the children and grandchildren of those one million people and that is a fair slice of the current population of the country. The reader should remember that Canada has a very limited history (apart from that of the indigenous peoples obviously) and they basically needed people to come there. Well, Pier 21 was where they came and set foot ashore in the "New World".

    If you visit, and I do suggest you do, have a look to see the "special events" that go on daily. The very friendly young lady on the ticket desk recommended that I started by going to the cinema as there was another showing of a film starting in a few minutes. I was up for that and watched an excellently produced video presentation about the place. I went out for a wander and looked at some interesting things but I had seen that there was a talk being given by an actual "veteran" of Pier 21 at whatever hour it was and so I had determined myself to see that.

    I turned up at the appointed time and this is where the magic starts. There was an elderly gentleman who, as soon as he started to speak, I knew to be from the Low Countries (Netherlands / Belgium). He told us how he had arrived at Pier 21 in, I believe the 40's as he was very young at the time, and explained exactly what had happened to him there. In what is now a very modern Museum he was pointing out where the medical officer sat, where the luggage pen was, where they ate etc. I love history and this was as good as it gets as this guy had actually lived it. He then went on to tell us about his subsequent life in Canada (he was actually from Holland incidentally) and it was just fantastic. He finished his talk by producing from his pocket his original passport and passing it round. I suppose part of me says that it should be in a glass case in a Museum under climatically controlled conditions but it was almost surreal. Looking at this elderly and obviously active guy and looking at his immigrant passprt from when he was effectively a small boy really threw the whole thing into very stark contrast, as they say. I just felt very small and very priveleged to have met such a man.

    Whilst the Pier 21 Museum is well worth seeing, try and get there when there is an actual immigrant member of staff (one of several I believe and all pretty old now), it is something you will not forget in a long time I assure you.

    I didn't actually get pictures of the old guy as I don't like using flash in people's faces and, if you are so inclined to go I should mention that the Museum is closed until May 2015 for refurbishment. I shall attempt to keep this page up to speed on that.

    Incidentally, the last image of the railway carriage is one of the "special" trains laid on by the Canadian government to take immigrants to the far corners of this huge country.

    Pier 21 Museum, Halifax, Canada. Pier 21 Museum, Halifax, Canada. Pier 21 Museum, Halifax, Canada. Pier 21 Museum, Halifax, Canada. Pier 21 Museum, Halifax, Canada.
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  • King_Golo's Profile Photo

    Pier 21

    by King_Golo Updated Jul 8, 2014

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Pier 21 is one of the historically most interesting places in Halifax. The pier was where most of the immigrants to Canada landed from 1928 to 1971. It was thus a place of joy and tears close together - joy for those who were admitted to the country, tears for those who weren't. A museum gives an overview on those years, focusing mainly on some objects that are connected with immigration to Canada. More interesting than the actual exhibition is the 3D multimedia show that tells the story of a fictitious officer of Pier 21 who worked there from 1928 to 1971 and saw thousands of immigrants entering the country. In addition to nearly 1,000,000 people entering Canada, 500,000 soldiers left the country via Halifax during World War II.
    When you're done with the museum, don't miss visiting the souvenir shops downstairs. They are well-sorted and offer a multitude of interesting souvenirs.

    Immigration Desk at Pier 21 Museum
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  • seasonedveteran's Profile Photo

    Canadas immigration depot - a beginning

    by seasonedveteran Written May 4, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    This dock area was an assembly line for newcomers to Canada! As a child of parents who left their home for a better life, the story this institution tell hits close to home. Millions of immigrants saw pier 21 as their first canadian experience. some were accepted, some were rejected, some waited for a long long time, some were treated unfairly and had their dreams corrupted. immigrants probably mostly from europe.

    There is first hand accounts in audioplaybacks, which brings you back to that time and puts you in the shoes of nurses, workers, volunteers, soldiers, and the newly arrived immigrants seeking that oh so important stamp "landed immigrant". The highlight of Pier 21 is the movie presentation, which is a 3-D pleasure; the realness was impressive as the immigration officer who would be the first canadian the ship weary travellors would ever meet in their lives, would check their papers . In the movie, the newly arrived immigrants convincingly anxious, worried and excited, as their fates were decided from a couple of papers and documents.

    I particularly liked the section on the war brides; thousands of canadian soldiers come back with wives from UK and the rest of europe. and of course the story of the soldiers themselves where pier 21 was sometimes the last part of canada they saw leaving the dock, due to the tragedy of WWI and WWII. for the lucky ones pier 21 was a wondrous sight after serving in europe.

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  • fairy_dust's Profile Photo

    Pier 21

    by fairy_dust Written Mar 22, 2008

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    Halifax was the entry city for many immigrants before air travel became common, and Pier 21 was their point of entry. Now, Pier 21 is a museum with information on the waves of immigration that came through the pier (many were Europeans who were hit hard by economic problems, refugees, war brides, etc), and includes artefacts from those immigrants. It wasn't just immigrants either, soldiers who fought in the World Wars would sail to/from Europe through Pier 21. The museum also includes a guided tour, a video presentation, several video testimonies from immigrants, and fun games for kids.

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  • Kaspian's Profile Photo

    Pier 21

    by Kaspian Updated Jul 3, 2007

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Pier 21 is a Canadian immigration museum. It operated from 1928 to 1971 as Canada's primary immigration port. In that time over a million and a half immigrants, war refugees, and soldiers entered Canada through its doors.
    Pier 21 was refurbished and opened as a museum on July 1, 1999.
    Inside (upstairs) there are displays of passports, photos, stories, and a bunch of small movie theatres where you can learn the immigration experience for people coming from different countries (i.e., one booth is labelled "Russian", another "Poland", etc.)
    What struck me most was a recreation of a waiting room with a customs desk at the front. I can't imagine what it must've felt like sitting there waiting with your family for your turn to move permanently into a strange new country.
    We attended my cousin's wedding ceremony here--they wanted to do it at this location because the bride's grandparents came to Canada through Pier 21.

    Halifax - Pier 21 (2004)
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  • Immigration Museum

    by cpm440vee Updated Sep 1, 2006

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    Today, Pier 21 stands as a museum about immigration. But from 1928 to 1971, it was the main immigration port for immigrants arriving in Canada on the east coast. This museum isn't too big but it consists of one main room, a side room for WW2 stories, a theatre in the back and a series of very small viewing rooms. Pier 21 tries to convey information primarily through the use of immigrants' real life stories and recollections. The 25 minute video (included in admission) shown in the main theatre tells the tales of a number of people's experiences at Pier 21. It's not bad for just $8CDN (2006). Don't forget to show your CAA card. You can get a 15% discount.

    Pier 21

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  • victorwkf's Profile Photo

    Pier 21

    by victorwkf Written May 13, 2006

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    The famous Pier 21 of Halifax is located along the scenic waterfront boardwalk of Halifax, and it is now a museum which opens all year around. This is one of the major attractions in Halifax because this pier is where many people from all over the world (especially Europe) enter Canada and became citizens of this new country then. There are lots of exhibits here, which are very educational in terms of the history of Canada. Located at the museum area is also a nice viewing area with a good view of the harbour and McNab's Island (there are telescopes provided here). Pier 21 is highly recommended if you are visiting Halifax. More photographs are at the travelogue section of this VT page.

    Pier 21, Halifax, Nova Scotia
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  • wreckloose's Profile Photo

    Gateway To Canada

    by wreckloose Written Dec 20, 2004

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    From 1928 to 1971, Pier 21 was Canada's 'front door' to over a million immigrants, wartime evacuees, refugees, troops, war brides and their children. They enriched our social and cultural landscape and uplifted the very soul of Canada forever.

    At Pier 21, in front of the Queen Mary 2
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  • PA2AKgirl's Profile Photo

    Canada's "Ellis Island"

    by PA2AKgirl Updated Oct 20, 2004

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    Pier 21 was recently named a historic landmark--it's where many Canadians can trace their history best as their ancestors most likely passed through here. The area is great for not only Canadians interested in genealogy, but also for anyone wanting to learn some history of the area. There are signs that explain the process of the immigration here. It's funny to think that this wasn't long ago at all--this is the 20th century port of entry...from the 1920's until 1971.

    It's amazing the things you learn when you have no agenda...we just saw water and walked down to it, not really knowing of the pier's significance. The whole waterfront area is incredible...more tips on that later.

    Bobby's gorgeous pic of the waterfront
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  • tvor's Profile Photo

    Pier 21

    by tvor Written Jul 17, 2003

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Pier 21 is a museum about Canada's Immigration history. From 1928 to 1971 ships bringing in new immigrants landed at pier 21 in Halifax as a starting point for their new lives. They would often take the train westward from here. During WWII the troops were shipped out from here and the War brides arrived here.

    The museum is excellent with exhibits and also some research facilities if you are looking for geneology information as well. It's well worth a visit and if you are arriving in Halifax on a cruise ship, it's on your ...er... doorstep so to speak.

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  • pieter_jan_v's Profile Photo

    Pier21

    by pieter_jan_v Written Dec 16, 2003

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    Pier21 is the building used to funnel all immigrants in the past (it's a kind of Canadian Ellis Island). Nowadays it's a immigration museum and cruiseline terminal.

    Pier21
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