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L’histoire de l’immigration de Michael et Agnes Ginter (immigrants polonais)

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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Michael & Agnes (Gutowski) Ginter

Our parents heard about Canada taking in immigrants through the North American Baptist Immigration and Colonization Society and were assisted by them. An Uncle of mother’s, who had immigrated to the USA in the early 1900s, was visiting and encouraged them to leave Poland. He gave them $100 to help with the costs.

During June 1928 they left for Danzig, a seaport on the Baltic Sea, with their four children, Bernhardt 9, Linda 7, Alma 5 and Frieda 3. Mother was six months pregnant with twins and after sitting on a train for many hours she said her legs were like stove-pipes, having swollen from the lack of proper circulation. On arrival at Danzig they were housed in immigration sheds with many others who were also immigrating to the “new World”. The weather was very hot, however, the white sandy beaches provided relief and amusement for the children. Each family was concerned about disease as doctors came to inspect the group, because if there was serious illness the whole group would be quarantined.

During late July or early September, they boarded a small steamer and arrived at Rotterdam. The voyage from Danzig to Rotterdam was uneventful. Here they had to receive permission from the British Consulate in London to see if they could proceed. All this took much time and they finally boarded the Nieuw Amsterdam on September 18. The voyage to Halifax was very rough and most of the people were seasick and one man died and was buried at sea. The seasickness did not affect one particular female passenger, who danced in the dining room during the evenings. One night it was very foggy and suddenly they heard the warning bells on the Nieuw Amsterdam as well as those of another ship. Everyone was very frightened as they thought the ships would collide. Even the dancer stopped her dancing! They wee very happy and thankful when they arrived at Pier 21 on September 26, 1928.

Mother was detained and sent to the Grace maternity Hospital in Halifax where she gave birth to Milton and a stillborn twin on October 12. Dad and the four children boarded a train for Galahad, Alberta where mother had an aunt and uncle. Mother was released from the hospital on October 27 and joined the rest of the family in Alberta. During the stop in Winnipeg, Manitoba she was met by a minister who gave her much needed food. That must have been a daunting experience for someone not able to speak English and traveling with a wee babe thousands of miles across Canada! Dad worked at an open pit coal mine while mother took in washing and cleaned homes.

In 1933 dad moved the family of now six, Seferin having been born at Forestburg, Alberta, to the Swan River district in Manitoba. Because of the Depression, farming seemed a better choice than and man of the people they knew were living at Minitonas, Manitoba, a fertile farming area. Three more children were born here, Gertrude, John and Harold. The first winter on the homestead was tough as food was scarce. The main staple was boiled potatoes and slat herring with bread and lard. The next summer mother was able to can meat, vegetables and fruit. From then on, each year got better. The older children were employed outside the home to help ease the tough economic times.

Unfortunately, Bernhardt died in 1956 as a result of open heart surgery needed to repair a defective heart valve damaged by an untreated rheumatic fever suffered while a young adult. Dad died in 1985, mother in 1988 and Linda in 1992.

When we heard of the dreadful events that happened a decade or two later in Europe, and indeed to some of our own relatives who stayed there, we are grateful to God and our parents that they took this daring adventure and came to Canada. This land has been good to us. Our parents strived for a better life for their children which they indeed did accomplish tenfold. We have all been successful in our chosen discipline and have lived rich lives.

Submitted by Alma, Frieda, Milton, Seferin, Gertrude, John & Harold in loving memory of our parents and siblings Bernhardt and Linda.