Government of Canada



Government of Canada

February 07, 2011 07:15 ET

Minister MacKay Officially Opens Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

Government of Canada fulfills commitment to preserve important chapter of our history

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA--(Marketwire - Feb. 7, 2011) - The official inauguration of the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax—Canada's sixth national museum—was celebrated today by the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence and Member of Parliament (Central Nova).

"I am proud that the Harper Government is delivering on our commitment to create the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, Canada's sixth national museum and the second one we have established outside of the National Capital Region," said Minister MacKay. "This national institution pays tribute to the women, men, and children from all over the world who chose Canada as their home. I know I speak for all Nova Scotians in saying that we are proud to be part of ensuring this important chapter of Canadian history is preserved, promoted, and shared with all Canadians—now, and for generations to come."

"This museum is for all of us because with one in five Canadians tracing a relationship back to this site, we know that Pier 21 has played a key role in creating the Canada we cherish today," said the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. "By creating this National museum, we've ensured that the stories of those who travelled far, toiled long, and sacrificed much for a better life in this great country, will be forever preserved in the national fabric of Canada's broad and colourful history."

From the late 1920s to the early 1970s, Pier 21, a national historic site in Halifax, was Canada's front door for more than a million immigrants, refugees, troops, wartime evacuees, and war brides and their children. As Canada's last surviving ocean immigration shed, Pier 21 gives Canadians a chance to explore a key part of our heritage. The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 has a broadened scope and mandate that tells the stories of people who came to Canada seeking a better life for themselves and their families, and who contributed immensely to building our great country.

"I am very happy to chair the inaugural board of Canada's newest national museum," said John E. Oliver, Chair of the Board of Trustees. "This board is composed of very committed individuals from across Canada, and we are delighted to have been chosen by the government to oversee this new institution."

The mandate of the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 is to explore the theme of immigration to Canada in order to enhance public understanding of the experiences of immigrants as they arrived in Canada, of the vital role that immigration has played in the building of Canada, and of the contributions of immigrants to Canada's culture, economy, and way of life. For more information, visit the Museum's website at www.canadianmuseumofimmigrationatpier21.ca.

(This news release is available on the Internet at www.canadianheritage.gc.ca under Newsroom.)

BACKGROUNDER

Located in Halifax's South End in the Halifax Ocean Terminals, Pier 21 officially opened as an immigration shed on March 8, 1928. Pier 21 closed in 1971 but reopened as a museum in 1999.

Pier 21 symbolizes Canada's proud history of immigration: between 1928 and 1971, it opened its doors to more than one million immigrants. Today, one in five Canadians can trace a relationship to this building. Specifically, large trends of immigration from England, Hungary, the Baltic nations, Italy, and Germany are linked to Pier 21. It also played an important staging role for Canada's Armed Forces during the Second World War, when it served as the point of departure for more than 500,000 Canadian troops to fight in Europe.

On June 25, 2009, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the Government's intention to designate Canada's newest national museum at Pier 21 in Halifax with a broadened national mandate. On April 30, 2010, a legally binding Definitive Agreement was signed with the Pier 21 Society, the Pier 21 Foundation, and the Halifax Port Authority. 

Bill C-34, the legislation to amend the Museums Act to create the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, was tabled in the House of Commons on June 7, 2010. Royal Assent was received on June 29, 2010, and legislation came into force on November 25, 2010.

The Harper Government will invest up to $24.9 million over the next five years to upgrade the premises of the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 and to develop new exhibitions and programming that will be national in scope. The museum's ongoing annual operating budget is projected to be up to $7.7 million.

For more information, visit the new national museum's website at www.canadianmuseumofimmigrationatpier21.ca.

Contact Information

  • Office of the Minister of Canadian Heritage
    and Official Languages
    Codie Taylor - Press Secretary
    819-997-7788
    or
    Canadian Heritage
    Media Relations
    819-994-9101
    1-866-569-6155
    media@pch.gc.ca