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More documentation sought on passengers of three immigrant ships

Kota Inten, Tabinta and Volendam

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

LANGLEY, British Columbia - The call for in-formation on passengers who emigrated to Canada and the USA on the ships Kota Inten, Tabina and the Volendam produces a steady flow of responses for Project I Remember. All three ships transported emigrants across the Atlantic in the earlier stages of the post-WWII period when the shipping companies provided no-frills service. They also did not issue the customary lists of passengers. A number of interested people and several historians encouraged Windmill Archives to gather the information from the community.

In letters accompanying completed ship passenger forms (see also page 22 of this issue) people repeatedly make references to the spartan conditions aboard the ships which of some also ferried Dutch troops to and from the Dutch East Indies.

During the past decade, numerous people made in-quires concerning passenger lists, usually wanting a keepsake which involved their personal history but also to reconnect with fellow immigrants with whom they had shared a sometimes harrowing journey.

The absence of such lists meant that future research into the initial stages of the post-war immigration era over time would be more difficult. Although the lists from other 1950s passenger ships only provide basic information, it is sufficient to launch research or for it to become a treasured keepsake for immigrant families.

Response 1947 passengers best

The information collected to date, show that families who travelled on the two 1947 sailings - the Waterman of June 17 and the Tabinta of September 8 - respond far better to the requests than those of the other ships or trips. It becomes clear that many of the new 1947 immigrants were joining family or friends who had arrived in Canada before WWII hostilities started.

The passenger lists in the Windmill Archives collection show that the Dutch ships also carried many other nationalities to North America. So far, no such information has surfaced about the Kota Inten, the Tabinta and the Volendam trips. The three ships are re-membered for their army-like non-private living quarters of which seemingly few pictures have survived. The men and boys were segregated from the women and the young children. Malfunctioning and flooding toilets, particularly a problem during stormy weather, and crowded, non-private washing area greatly added to the misery of sea sickness. On the lighter side, hilarious tales have surfaced of kitchen workgangs who pined away entire shifts peeling potatoes.

The emerging passenger lists of the Volendam are not all equally popular. Several departure dates so far only rate a few submissions although the possibility remains that erroneous dates were provided. Most of the departures could be confirmed from unpublished manuscripts, diaries, letters and copies of emigration documents. Other sailings are very well represented.


The Kota Inten crossed the Atlantic once a month, likely for a total of seven times, between March 12 and September 7, all in 1948. It is not clear how many passengers the ship transported each sailing. The Tabinta departed Rotterdam for Canada a minimum of ten times between September 8, 1947 and July 1949. The Volendam made at least fifteen crossings between June 1949 and October 1951 after which the former Holland America Lijn ocean liner was taken out of service.

The Waterman which sailed the first of the two 1947 Canada-bound trips, from 1952 onwards made well over twenty journeys during the massive and unprecedented Dutch “landverhuizers” campaign. None of the ships however rival the record of the Groote Beer.

Windmill Archives encourages everyone to nudge former Kota Inten, Tabinta and Volendam passengers to complete the form on page 22. An email form is available upon request from