Canada: Day 1
This exhibit explores the multifaceted experiences of newcomers from their first day of arrival in Canada to how Canada became their home, spanning from Confederation in 1867 to the present day.
- Day 1: accounts of immigrants’ first day in Canada
- Arrival: snapshots of immigrants arriving in Canada
- Encounters: highlights the experiences of meeting new people, encountering different authorities and strange landscapes
- Finding Your Way: the challenges that new immigrants and refugees face as they attempt to navigate their way in Canada
Day 1 focuses on the first day of arrival in Canada, a symbolic, personal and official milestone in the process of becoming Canadian. Through photos we explore the hopes and fears, as well as the joys and sorrows of many immigrants’ first days in Canada.
Leaving home and arriving in a new place can bring emotional and profound reactions. Experiences upon arrival include thoughts and memories of people who have been refused entry. Some groups were recruited and welcomed, while others were discouraged and turned back.
The people we encounter in our first days in a new place stay with us―whether through small acts of kindness or negative encounters we would like to forget. These encounters inform or reveal expectations, crystallize moments of culture shock, and inspire and affect our views of the future.
Finding your way
Immigrants and refugees faced many challenges as they attempted to find their way in Canada. Getting their bearings, settling in and learning to navigate all that was new to them in Canada was at times overwhelming and exhausting, but it was also exciting.
Length: 16 seconds
Departure, arrival, finding your way and settling in are just some of the challenges facing newcomers. While the themes are familiar, the memories made are unique to each person.
Each experience—positive or negative, heart-warming or heart-wrenching—becomes interwoven with many others. Together, they contribute to the story of our nation.
Length: 13 seconds
Caption: SS Abysinnia arriving at Vancouver with Chinese immigrants in 1887.
Credit: University of British Columbia Library, Rare Books and Special Collections, Chung Collection, CC-PH-02545
Caption: British immigrant children arrive at Saint John, New Brunswick. Between 1868 and 1924, 80,000–100,000 poor or orphaned children arrived in Canada as Home Children from Britain. Those pictured were the first to arrive in Canada after the First World War.
Credit: Library and Archives Canada, Isaac Erb, PA-041785
Caption: Two young Kosovar refugees following their arrival at Canadian Forces Base Greenwood, May 6, 1999. The two boys were part of a flight of 267 refugees fleeing the war-torn Yugoslavian province of Kosovo.
Credit: The Canadian Press, Tim Krochak, Halifax Chronicle Herald
Caption: Immigrants to be deported, Québec City, 1912. Canada’s immigration policy at this time considered some immigrants “undesirable” based on disability, political views, on racial, ethnic or religious affiliation, or on geographical origin.
Credit: Library and Archives Canada, William James Topley, PA-020910
Caption: Last photo taken of the three Bouphaphanh families together in Vientiane, Laos in 1977. The following year, 1978, Chairuth Bouphaphanh and his family fled to Thailand and then came to Canada as refugees.
Credit: Courtesy of Sam Bouphaphanh
Caption: Colorado settlers arriving by special train in Bassano, Alberta. Photograph published in the Calgary Daily Herald, March 12, 1914.
Credit: Glenbow Archives, NA-984-2
Caption: Asian-Ugandan refugees at Canadian Forces Base Longue-Pointe, Montréal. Between October and November of 1972, Canada accepted 4,420 Asian-Ugandan refugees.
Credit: © Government of Canada. Reproduced with the permission of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada (2013). Library and Archives Canada, Department of National Defence fonds, e011052355
This interactive exhibit was developed by the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, is supported by RBC Foundation, and presented in partnership with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
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