September 14, 2012

Canadian immigration

Island of Hope and Sorrow: The Story of Grosse Île
by Anne Renaud

Halifax's Pier 21 was not the only gateway into Canada. Between 1832 and 1937, more than four million people sailed across the Atlantic to the port of Quebec, in search of a better future. Due to poor conditions onboard ship, diseases like cholera and typhus claimed many lives, especially those of Irish immigrants fleeing the potato famine. To prevent these diseases from spreading, a quarantine station was needed, and it was located on Grosse Île.

This is the story about Grosse Île and how it became a comfortable settlement for thousands of newcomers. Historical notes, photographs and illustrations illuminate an important place in Canadian history.

To further understand the difficulties faced by immigrants to Canada, read Our New Home: Immigrant Children Speak, by Emily Hearn and Marywinn Milne. In it, immigrant children write about their feelings and how they have adjusted to their new country. Their letters are unedited, and thus contain errors (many could not speak English when the first arrived), but their words are remarkably candid. 

A good book that fosters understanding and empathy.

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