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Former April 1952 passenger undertakes Sibajak project

John Immerseel looking for fellow travelers

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

LANGLEY, BC – Passenger John Immerseel who as a young child came to Canada in April 1952 aboard the Sibajak wants to connect with his fellow travelers of 60 years ago. Now retired from a Parks Canada position, John has already devoted countless hours to document his family’s history and wants to add a chapter to it about his Sibajak journey.

John Immerseel is looking for help with a range of things, from simple anecdotes of the April 26, 1952 sailing to diaries and family travelogues, photographs and snapshots taken just before, during and shortly after the trip. Of interest as well, of course, is the reason for leaving the Netherlands and how the passengers fared in their newly adopted country.

The projected is co-sponsored by passenger list collector Albert van der Heide of the Windmill Herald but correspondence about this project should be directed to John Immerseel at Sibajak1952.04.26 “at”

Sibajak passenger lists still missing from Van der Heide’s Windmill Archive collection are those of Halifax/Montreal/New York sailings of October 1954 and August 1955. Anyone who has these available is requested to contact 1-800-881-0705.


The Sibajak was one of a large number of (Dutch) passenger ships that accommodated the early 1950s mass movement of Dutch emigrants heading for North America. According to the Pier 21 database the ship made seven trips across the Atlantic Ocean to Halifax and New York with either a stop in Quebec or Montreal. Some of the sailings also included stops at Southampton and LeHavre, giving its passenger list a multinational flavour.

The Sibajak left a far greater mark on the Australia and New Zealand Dutch immigration story, since it regularly sailed for those countries throughout the 1950s. In 1959, it was scrapped by its Dutch owners, the Rotterdamse Lloyd.

One source suggests that the Sibajak carried 25,000 emigrants to destinations abroad. When the emigrant flow had dwindled in 1957, the ship started on a new round-the-world service for which this 30-year ship was not really built, leading to a re-evaluation and the decision to decommission it.