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L’histoire de l’immigration de Trudie Nette (immigrante néelandaise )

Le Musée examine et accepte les dons de souvenirs et d'histoires, personnelles ou familiales, à la collection. En tant qu'institution pédagogique, ces récits nous aident à comprendre comment les individus se souviennent d'expériences vécues, comment ils les interprètent ou, encore, comment ils créent un sens à partir de celles-ci. Les histoires ne sont pas modifiées par le personnel du Musée. Le point de vue exprimé est celui de l'auteur et non celui du Musée.

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On Our Way to Pier 21


My father owned a dairy products store in Amsterdam, Holland. He had a man working for him who often spoke about his Uncle who lived in Canada. This Uncle wrote about his farm of many acres, of the woodlot he could get lost in, about being able to build an addition to his house without needing a permit, about the snow and skiing in the winter and going to the rocky beach in the summer and the shack by the lake they called a cottage. We say the movie “Rose Marie” with Nelson Eddie and Janette MacDonald several times and the four eldest girls in our family, age 19, 17 ½, 16 14 ½, dreamed about the handsome Mounties on horseback and in canoes (in their scarlet uniforms). Very soon we talked about going to live in Canada every mealtime. Soon father arranged to have an elderly professor come to our house three evenings per week to teach us conversational English. Father, mother and 6 of the 9 children, plus the professor all around the dining room table. A pot of tea and plate of cookies in the middle.
A few months later the business was sold and we sailed, first to England, next to Halifax, Canada (no regular plane schedule those days). Our ship was called the Duchess of Bedford, I still have the blueprint of the ship. The trip from England to Halifax took us 10 days, the last day – to our delight- we could not land because of the heavy fog. We had made many friends aboard, especially the elder girls me some nice students, and hated to say goodbye to our new friends and go to a place where we did not know anyone. When we left Holland on the end of March, the fields were green, the trees were budding and the early flowers were in bloom. When we arrived in Halifax there was snow and mud and not a scarlet clad Mountie, with or without horse, in sight! It was April 7th, a date we celebrated for many many years after.
A few kind ladies met us when we landed and handed us little Bibles. As it was close to dusk we were taken to a large room with iron cots. I remember how the room had a cement floor and smelled like Lysol and that the people had a different accent from “Uncle Tim” our English professor. I also remember having oatmeal for breakfast. We left for Kentville by train where an agent for the C.P.R., a Mr. Sanford, met us. I thought the station looked like a building in a movie, I mostly remember a young boy without legs, moving about on a wooden platform on casters on the station, everybody seemed to know him and I was so glad to see him smile at us when we greeted him. We stayed at an Inn at Kentville, Nova Scotia, until father found a farm about 2 weeks later. Mister Sanford drove Dad around being stuck in muddy roads a few times. We were so happy to get settled in our big house in the Annapolis Valley. It was all so new to us, the wooden houses, burning wood, learning to bake bread, and later canning our vegetables and making jam and pickles. The girls worked in the field, our boys (2) were too young.
We would go shopping, walking 3 miles to the store, with our dictionary. Sometimes we would pronounce names wrong and the storekeeper did not know what we wanted, so, out came the dictionary.
The first two winters the 3 oldest girls worked in the apple factory in Aylesford, we gave all our money but 2 dollars to our parents those first hard years. Still we had lots of fun. Neighbour boys would bring their guitars in the evening, we would sing, learned to square dance and play cribbage.
When the war broke out the 3 eldest sisters would sing Dutch songs at the Red Cross Variety shows. A Mister Clarke would be the Master of Ceremonies. We would entertain the soldiers at Aldershot and the Airmen at Greenwood. Especially the English boys at Greenwood were dancing the way we were used to, we felt right at home. We met a Mr. Ralph Marvin who did the farm broadcast on the C.B.C., he invited us to sing during the noon program. A very kink lady Marion Anderson drove us to Halifax.
Everyone was so kind to us, we couldn’t have landed in a kinder neighbourhood. I am 81 years old now and still visit my old friends on their birthdays and go to their Women’s Institute meetings. We’re all so glad to be here.