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1956: Hungarian refugees welcomed to Canada

The Story

A Christmas tree decorating her bow, the ocean liner Arosa Sun arrives in Quebec City on Dec. 9, 1956, carrying 257 refugees. The passengers, who fled Hungary after the Soviets crushed an uprising that began in October of that year, are greeted by federal and Quebec City officials and more than 3,000 people on the docks. CBC Newsmagazine cameras follow the group as they are processed through a welcome centre with a hot meal, warm clothing, and medical examinations. The newcomers also sample North American popular music, try out their new English language, and children play that most Canadian game: table-top hockey.

Medium: Television
Program: Newsmagazine
Broadcast Date: Dec. 16, 1956
Narrator: John O'Leary
Duration: 4:06

Did You know?

• The week of this broadcast, the Globe and Mail reported that immigration minister Jack Pickersgill was predicting severe labour shortages in Canada for the summer of 1957, and that Canada was therefore willing to take an "almost unlimited number of Hungarian refugees." As of Dec. 1, 1956, some 1,400 visas had been granted, and it was expected that there would be between 6,000 and 7,000 more issued during the month of December. The final tally for Hungarians granted entry status to Canada as a result of the exodus caused by the 1956 uprising was more than 35,000.

• The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 began with a student march in Budapest on Oct. 23 of that year. Soviet tanks re-entered the country on November 4, and the end result was approximately 20,000 Hungarian casualties (2,500 of which were deaths), and the escape of approximately 200,000 refugees into the early part of 1957. 

• Oct. 23, in honour of the beginning of the 1956 revolution, is now a national holiday in Hungary.



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