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Welcome aboard our Colonist Car! This is a carefully constructed replica of the train cars that took immigrants from the ships at Pier 21 to their new homes across Canada. These cars were specially designed for immigration. They were called “Colonist Cars” because they were intended to take immigrants the thousands of miles across the Canadian landscape.

This little plastic figurine of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police Officer is one of my favourite objects in our exhibit. It tells many stories about immigration to Canada. This little guy was presented to the Saujani family in 1972 when they arrived in Montreal on September the 28th 1972 as refugees from Uganda. They were fleeing the dictator, Idi Amin, who expelled every Asian in the country and the Saujanis arrived in Canada after a long flight and many scary and challenging experiences, they were very exhausted but happy to have arrived in Canada. Shanta Saujani, her husband, and 3 children arrived and were welcomed at the immigration facility in Montreal and they were presented with winter coats, the staff were very kind and welcoming, and the children were presented with this little plastic figurine of an RCMP officer. They were a little puzzled by this object, which seemed so different from the toys they had in Uganda, but they understood that it was an important national symbol and they cherished this object.

This creepy shattered porthole is the first thing that visitors to our exhibit, Empress of Ireland: Canada’s Titanic, see as they come through the door. It’s a shattered porthole from the actual ship, RMS Empress of Ireland. It—Actually the glass broke as the ship sank and settled on the bottom of the Saint Lawrence River. It’s a compelling object; it’s also a very rare one. This was a high-tech porthole for 1914 when the disaster happened. It has an automatic sort of flotation shut device on it, made by the Thomas Utley Company of Liverpool. And it’s one of only five known Utley portholes in the world.

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