Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Pier 2 - NOT Pier 21

It is a common mistake people make, thinking their early immigrant family arrived in Canada at Pier 21 in Halifax. I did so myself!! Pier 21 is more well known and talked about, so it is no wonder that is the first (and only) place that comes to mind when we think of our ancestors arriving in Canada.  In fact, Pier 21 didn't open until 1926.

Our 1880+ ancestors arrived at a facility that included a wharf, Intercolonial Railway facilities and a huge shed. After a fire in 1895 a better concrete building took place of the wooden shed, and around that time the facility was called Pier 2.  

My husband's maternal grandparents immigrated to Canada from Galicia, Austria, with the promise of free land in Canada's West.  On 19 May 1900 the family of 8 left Hamburg on the steamship Arcadia and arrived at Pier 2 in Halifax on June 2nd. From there, with their fellow immigrants, they boarded the waiting Intercolonial train and traveled across the country to Winnipeg, Manitoba.... to a new life. 

Pier 2 became a beehive of activity during the course of World War One. Troops from across Canada arrived by train and embarked on ships for Europe. A hospital was built upstairs to receive the sick and wounded as they returned to Canada. 

My grandfather and his brother both left from Pier 2 to go overseas. At the end of the war Grampa left Liverpool aboard the Carmania and arrived 30 December 1918 at Pier 2 in Halifax. From there he boarded a train for Montreal. By then it was not a pretty site, as  while the concrete shed and facilities survived, most of that part of Halifax was damaged in the explosion of 1917. 

Pier 2 continued to receive immigrants and visitors until in 1928 Pier 21 became the official port of entry. 

Relevant Links

Journal of Remarkable Occurrences 1880

Arrival of a WWI Hospital Ship at Pier 2


  1. Can you imagine travelling on a ship for two weeks, disembarking, and immediately boarding a train for more travel. They would hardly have had time to get their land legs back!

    1. Right, and it sure wasn’t first class!

  2. thanks for the info and great photo!

  3. How did you happen upon the Journal of Remarkable Occurrences? What an irresistible title!

    1. I am a big fan of government papers for genealogy. I saw an old article about Pier 2 and as soon as the Journal was mentioned I knew exactly where to look for it.

  4. I'm a huge fan of Internet Archive as well. I was able to trace my grandmother's education in Nova Scotia provincial reports.


Leave me a note to tell me you were here! Thanks for visiting.

Popular Posts

By joining our Facebook group you get other genealogy news from time to time, and you can download pages of links that go with the posts. Use follow buttons at top right under search bar.

Copyright © Genealogy: Beyond the BMD
Division of Dianne at Home

Genealogy Blogs    GeneaBloggersTRIBE