The Spectre of Immigration to Canada
the spook story
Wherever there had been a boot or an oar laid; wherever there had been a tear shed in hope, fear, mourning or celebration; wherever there had been a family brought together again or destroyed forever… in the name of immigration, in the name of those who succeeded and the bones of the dead, the spectre remembered them. Whether the world did or not.
Laruam gathered the dust of their wrecks, the germs in their dying breaths and their tears of joy and despair and gave himself energy to raise the storms of the sea around him.
He wanted revenge for the slaves and indentured who were given no choice. The journey was such a hardship, such a risk, that he felt their pain that they had died without hope or blessing.
Laruam felt the anger and shame of the women whose bodies became a trade for food or clean water. Out of coercion, force and manipulation. For the women who in their horror threw themselves over the side of the boat. And lost their place in heaven due to their shame.
He gathered the unshriven babies and their mothers who died in the filth of the boats, neglected by the sailors in their most desperate hour. When there should have been tears of celebration, there were screams of mourning. Women ullulating and men bellowing in their fear and sorrow.
All this he gathered. All this he pulled into himself and drew himself up in his rage.
And the next boat that came by with a greedy captain, looking for a buck more than the safety of his passengers, Laruam lifted and smashed it to smithereens. Making sure the captain was mangled in the crash. Tortured in his death.
Over and over again, till a sea tale grew about this large, black creature that was stories tall that took hold of boats and shook them till they were dust. But how would they know? If they had been there, they’d have been dead as well. Yet this is the tale that made the rounds. This creature smashed the boats of greedy captains. And only their ruins talked to spread this story. But it did spread.
Thru the centuries, thru the lands, and thru the families left behind. And each time it was told, the captains shivered. Cuzz sailors are a very superstitious lot. They tried going in a more southern route. Because northern would have killed them. Not that southern was much better. But till Laruam was raised, at least they stood a chance.
And Laruam followed their boats. Nothing held him to the sites of the past. From sea to shore and back, he followed the smell of greed and killed those who saw profit over life. Made their last moments so torturous, they would remember them for eternity. It would be their hell loop.
And Laruam was satisfied with his work. What spirit of revenge wouldn’t feel satisfaction when they achieved just what they had wanted?
Somehow the sailors learned his name and chanted dirges about their friends and colleagues. Somehow the mourning families learned his name and chanted it in supplication when another boat went down , in the name of greed.
And with this adoration, Laruam grew even taller.
Till the day the piers that had welcomed the ships were turned into museums for the dead. Then he spread himself over the seas. Became part of their texture…Till the day ever came that he was needed again.
the reality, the history
Pier 2- Halifax, Nova Scotia – 1880- 1939
Halifax explosion – 1917
Grosse Ile -quarantine island -near Quebec city- in the St Lawrence River- 1832-1937
Pier 21- Halifax, Nova Scotia-1928 – 1971
conditions on the boats
Gull/ Ellis Island -1630 – 1954
USA- quarantine islands of New York
It was not the romantic illusion of the story of the Titanic, nor the family pride, status story of the Mayflower, but due to filth, unclean water, and lack of good adequate food, people were horribly ill and many died. All for a dream of making enough money and buying land back home. Returning home a hero to their family.
Only to find themselves in peril from travel conditions, raids by “savages”, dying their first winter because they had never seen a blizzard before, let alone knew what to do to survive it. Temperatures from 50C below freezing to sweltering ones of 45C
And those were the ones that wanted to come of their own accord. Prisons and work houses were emptied and swarms of them were put onto boats for the new lands, never to be provided for again.
It was mostly the poor and destitute who came. And Europe and the UK were glad to be rid of them. I mean if you had a castle or manor, a title and privilege, and resources for you and your family, why would you leave? Why would you take the risks?
Has immigration changed much?
Now they mostly travel on planes and go to the major cities’ airports across the provinces, work three jobs and pile a bunch of their family and friends into tiny apts to send a bit of money home to their family there. Every cent extra they can, because at least in Canada they can walk freely down the street. Mostly without a bomb going off or a police or military raid gathering those up who speak against the govt. Those here know how lucky they are. Many are terrorized when they hear news from back home. And the only reason they’d return home is to see their family. If they can. Some would be killed if they set foot there again. Canada becomes their second home. They try to make themselves comfortable.
And they see Canada as a better alternative than our neighbour to the south of the 49th. Our borders aren’t as harsh or closed as theirs.
It was in this time that a lot of the lines of my family came to Canada.
risk of death from
typhoid fever, dysentery
cholera, typhus, small pox, measles,
scarlet fever/scarlatina, yellow fever
childbirth at sea,
and women promised extra rations for themselves and their family if they submitted their bodies to the sailors.
6-14 weeks from England to East Coast of N Am of sea-sickness and filth min. If the boat managed to cross, without hitting an iceberg or getting swept away in a storm
in remembrance of the dead