Halifax's Pier 21 museum reopens after renovations

The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 has reopened to the public after an extensive six month renovation.

Pier 21 was the main entry point for more than a million people between 1928 and 1971

Dorian Cloyd, from Kentucky, was the first international visitor through the doors. (CBC)

The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 has reopened to the public after an extensive six-month renovation.

Closed since October, the renovations are part of a $30 million expansion that will see exhibition space almost double.

One of the exhibits is an interactive view of an ocean liner in the era of immigration. It shows the difference between first class and tourist class place settings.

The museum wants to bring the period of 1928 to 1971 alive, a time when Pier 21 was the main entry point for more than a million people. 

Heritage interpreter Scott Stewart says the renovation is doing that through more interactive exhibits.

"I think it's sort of a tangible link to the past, and while it may not be the same for everybody, it does again help to place that in the period, in the context," he said.

Other exhibits include a train car that took people from Halifax to the rest of Canada, the cramped cabin of an ocean liner and a packed crate like the type Dutch immigrants used to bring over their entire households — including the kitchen sink. 

Dorian Cloyd, from Kentucky, was the first international visitor through the doors.

"Seeing the process they had to go through, I had no idea it was that long and that strict," he said.

"The regulations at that time, they wouldn't let them bring in certain foods, or certain items. I had no idea. I thought just today, you know, going through an airport is pretty strict. But they had it that tough back then also, so that was pretty interesting to learn." 

The museum staff have been waiting to show the renovations for the last six months, according to CEO Marie Chapman. 

"To gather them, and show them, and compare, and make people feel at home in this space, is always been our dream. So today is very special," she said.

Tuesday was just the soft opening for Pier 21. More exhibits will be revealed when the museum officially opens June 25.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.