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Dutch emigrants boarded a flotilla of North America bound ships for new future

Trio Groote Beer, Waterman and Zuiderkruis tip of iceberg

Tags: Immigration

LANGLEY, British Columbia - The great majority of the tens of thousands of post-WWII Dutch immigrants readily can identify the ship they or their family arrived on in North America, a sampling of Windmill Archives’ material reveals. Many are not as certain where their ship first docked or on what date however. More confusion exists over the correct spelling of the ships. There is, for eample, no unanimity on the spelling of the name of the ship which carried the largest number of immigrants, the Groote Beer often is cheated out of its second o, a reminder of earlier spelling rules. Hardly anyone today is aware of the actual fare charged by the liners. Over 250,000 people trekked to North America in the period of 1946-1956.

The 16-page booklet Emigratievervoer Canada by “the oldest travel and passage bureau” Lissone Lindeman (1953-4), which in the 1970s merged with TUI Nederland, provides a basic overview of ticket prices, detailing nonsubsidized and subsidized rates. The booklet also lists the range of travel options from “emigratie-chartervliegtuigen” (785 guilders for adults, 390 for children 1-12, 55 for babies up to one year of age) and government ships (610 guilders per bed in a hut, 570 in a common room, children up to 12 at half price, 38 babies) to ship lines Holland Amerika Lijn (Rijndam/Maasdam, winter season, tourist class from 636 guilders, first class 893 per bed, children up to 12 at half price, babies 76/38), Oranje Lijn (from 646 guilders, children up to 12 half price, ms. Prins Willem van Oranje, then new, up to 931), Canadian Pacific (departing from Antwerp, all rates a fraction below those of HAL), Cunard Line (departing from Southampton, tourist class, winter season from 532 / summer 551, first class from winter 729, summer 817); Swedish American Line as well as a miscillaneous group of lines which included County Line, Donalson Atlantic Line, Furness Warren Line, Greek Line, Home Line, “etc. etc.” Each booking option also involved a range of shipping costs for the immigrants’ belongings as well as rules on customs’ duties which considering total costs, made immigration a significant expense, particularly for large families.


A review of information collected over the years by Windmill Archives, suggests that the government-sponsored trio of Groote Beer, Waterman and Zuiderkruis were supplemented by numerous other ships. In fact, when immigrants received their visa they only had a few months to finalize their departure. Such an undertaking was frustrated by the post WWII scarcity of accommodation and the massive military and civilian repatriation from the (former) Dutch East Indies. In addition to Canada, the U.S.A., South Africa, Australia and New Zealand also were destinations of Dutch emigrants and therefore also required accommodation. Airfare for many in the early fifties was not yet an option. The routes included several stop-overs and the cost higher.

The following ships which includes some freighters with limited passenger accommodation, served as carriers of Dutch emigrants to North America: Alexander; America; Anna Salen; Aquitania; Arosa Kulm; Arosa Sky; Arosa Star; Arosa Sun; Ascenia; Berlin; Black Gull; Breaverbrea; Beaverbrook; Bremen; Caronia; Castel Bianco; Castel Felicia; Columbia; Duivendijk; Earnie Pyle; Edam IV; Empress of France; Fairsea; Franconia; Greeley; Groote Beer; Gripsholm (Swedish, passengers boarded in Sweden); Hedel; Homeric; Ile de France; Italia; Johan van Oldebarnevelt; Johan de Witt; Kota Inten; Leerdam II; Maasdam IV; Marine Flasher; Mauretania; Montrose; Nelly; Neptunia; Nieuw Amsterdam II; Noordam IV; Prins Willem V; Queen Elizabeth II; Queen Mary; Rotterdam V; Ryndam II; Sabena; Samaria II; Scythia; Seaven Seas; Sibajak; Skaubryn; Statendam IV; Stefan Batory; Tabinta; Tutonic; United States; Veendam II; Volendam I; Washington; Waterman; Westerdam; Willem Ruys; and the Zuiderkruis.

Information is welcomed on other ships post-WWII Dutch emigrants travel in to Canada and the U.S.A.