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Newly created database to store immigrant ship passenger list information

Photos and stories sought about ship journeys

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

LANGLEY, BC - The first passenger list of a post-war Dutch immigrant ship which sailed for North America has been entered into a newly created Windmill Archives database. Over time, almost 130 other such lists will be added. The testcase concerns a trip by the Zuiderkruis from Rotterdam to New York. The ship had about 350 passengers aboard. Several people on this 1950s list have been contacted for specific information on their trip.

The project to collect the lists was launched following comments from numerous people looking for a copy of ‘their’ passenger list. Many of the requests over the years were prompted by people receiving ceramic wall plaques depicting ‘their’ ship and then wondering if the list could be ordered too. Very few people hung onto all their immigration documents it seems, or have difficulties locating these.

Tabinta and Volendam

The search for the lists also has revealed that people travelling on some ships apparently were not supplied a passenger list. Nine years of collecting has failed to turn up any lists of the Tabinta and of post-war Volendam trips. A special effort soon will be launched to create such lists. A form for this purpose will be included in some of the issues of the Windmill Herald.

Additionally, as part of the archive project, anecdotes, stories, diaries, unpublished manuscripts with sections on immigration travel and photos of the process are sought to enhance the lists. Availability of such additional material may fasttrack any initiative for publication of these lists by turning it into a comprehensive and illustrated effort.

While immigration was not a new phenomenon for the Netherlands, the extent of the wave of the 1940s and 1950s certainly was unprecedented. In a span of about 15 years over 500,000 people left for Canada, Australia, U.S.A., South Africa, New Zealand and Brazil. Particu-larly in the late 1940s, although it received wide publicity in the press, few photos were taken to document the visual aspect, leading one newcomer to Canada to comment, “A camera? Man, that was a luxury we couldn’t afford.” Very few people documented this process on film of any kind.

Agricultural training

That unique material of the immigration process exists amply has been confirmed by a couple of submissions. Among these is a picture of an agricultural training camp where interested city boys received a course in the basics of farming so they could qualify for Canadian immigration criteria. Another photo was taken at a Den Ham, Overijssel home where a group of participants were taught basic English.

Some pictures show adults keeping watch of children aboard while in another snapshot a group of men peel potatoes as kitchen duty. Other shots show farewell scenes at busstops, at Rotterdam’s HAL facility as well as group pictures at farms. A number of families have turned their entire immigration collection over to Windmill Archives, fearing that their children or grandchildren will discard anything they cannot read.

Anecdotes, stories, diaries, unpublished manuscripts with sections on immigration travel and photos of the process are sought to enhance the following list:

  1. Veendam - July 11, 1947 (New York)
  2. Veendam - July 23, 1948 (New York)
  3. Waterman - April 15, 1952 (Halifax)
  4. Sibajak - May 21, 1952 (Halifax)
  5. Groote Beer - October 21, 1952 (Halifax/New York)
  6. Noordam - January 10, 1953 (New York)
  7. Johan van Oldenbarnevelt - June 29, 1954 (Quebec)
  8. Zuiderkruis - June 14, 1956 (New York)
  9. Maasdam IV - December 8, 1957 (Halifax/New York)
  10. Groote Beer - August 7, 1958 (Quebec/Montreal)
  11. Waterman - May 25, 1959 (New York)
  12. Ryndam - March 10, 1961 (Halifax/New York)

The new database also will accommodate information on immigrants who flew, usually with KLM. One couple some time ago, submitted a rare 1949, Amsterdam to Montreal flight passenger list, the only one in the Windmill Archive collection. Requests for more such information will be made in the future.

In conjunction with the recent 50th Anniversary Dutch Immigration Commemoration, the Windmill Herald plans to introduce a series of ceramic wall plaques with post-war passenger plane models: DC-4 (first used in 1946), Lockheed Constellation (1947) and Super Constellation (1955); DC-7 (1958); DC-8 (1960); Boeing 747 (1971); Lockheed MD11 (1994) and Boeing 767 (1995). The limited series of Dutch immigrant and passenger ships will be reintroduced this Fall. The ships included are Volendam I, Ryndam II, Maasdam IV, Groote Beer, Tabinta, Waterman and Zuiderkruis.