Saturday, January 9, 2016

Halifax & foreigners : in AND out

We all know that there are ports like Norfolk Virginia that are internationally known first as naval bases and as being very good at keeping most foreigners out and then there are immigration ports like New York internationally known first to be rather good at inviting some foreigners in.

(There are also ports famous around the world for being neither - rather for existing as major emigration points - Hamburg, La Havre, Liverpool, Genoa and the like. Yes, they certainly saw many foreigners - but only as birds of passage.)

Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada thus is a bit unusual.

It is equally known around the world for keeping most foreigners out (its naval base is Canada's largest military base) and for encouraging some foreigners to stay.

It is home to Pier 21, Canada's National Immigration Museum, located on the site of Canada's last major immigration shed - reflecting the fact that more than 2 million immigrants passed through Halifax for Canadian and American destinations over the last 250 years.

(Quintessential American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan's family actually came to North America through Halifax, just for example !)

I live in Halifax - my extended family both immigrated to Canada as foreigners through Halifax and served in Canada's Navy keeping other foreigners out.

I see the inclusion and the exclusion from both sides - both through my family's history and simply as a lifelong resident of the Halifax area .

I should add that the last legal sea borne immigrants through Halifax arrived in the 1970s - after that we only got a few sea borne stowaways on cargo ships. (Large scale illegal immigration to Canada today prefers remote rural ports for their nighttime arrivals.)

But to what extend all this has influenced the nature of this blog, I can only leave to future writers, to ponder if they wish...

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