From the late ’20s to the early ’70s, a Halifax seaport was the “front door to Canada.” Pier 21 welcomed more than one million newcomers to this country. Of those newcomers, Pier 21 was an anchor for two couples to start their lives together. These are their love stories, as told by their children.
In this episode of “Born And Raised: Love,” hosts Alisha Sawhney and Al Donato find out who the sender and recipient were of a mysteriously marked love letter; Alisha shares the story of her parents’ long-distance, personal-ad fuelled courtship; a war bride crosses the Atlantic to reunite with her soldier husband and live on his nation’s reserve.
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Meet the guests:
“To the most honest girl,
In the village of Sant’Andrea di Barbarana,
This letter was written by Donato Pezzutto’s father Augusto, a steelmill worker in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. Who knew that it would find its way to the love of his life?
“Who could guess a blind–date dare would
lift me like a wave in Surrey
wash me to the Wolastoquik
where the woods dip to the river?”
It was love at first sight when Cindy Gaffney’s parents, Charlie and Jean, met in a crowded dance hall in England. When Charlie, from Tobique First Nation, returned to his nation’s reserve after the war, Jean would have to cross an ocean and a river to see him again.
About Pier 21
The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 keeps the seaport’s memories alive through sharing immigration stories like those featured on the podcast. If you’d like to share you or your family’s journey to Canada with the museum, check out their online collection form.
Read the poem inspired by Charlie and Jean’s love story: “Blind Date” by Maggie Butt, voiced in the episode by Sophie Gallagher.
Thousands of Indigenous soldiers were on the frontlines for Canada during both world wars. But when they returned home, they were rarely afforded the same assistance non-Indigenous Canadian veterans received. To learn more about the ongoing efforts to support Indigenous veterans like Charlie, read the latest report on Indigenous veterans by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs.
Curious about what Augusto wrote on the back of his photo? Here’s the note in full:
Alto il petto, dritto lo sqardo
Fiero l’orgoglio di essere sano e forte
Anche cio e un grande ed un bel dono del creatore
Attendo i tuio commenti
With a high chest, looking straight ahead
Feeling proud inside that you are health and strong
Even this is a big and great gift from the creator
I await your comments
Translation by Vince Simone and voiced in the episode by Franco Berti.
The song “Pier 21,” featured at the end of the episode was by musician John Wort Hannam.
Special thanks to tape-syncers Kaila Jefferd-Moore, Jericho Knopp, and Russell Gragg. The three of them made our interviews in Halifax, Fredricton, and Sault Ste. Marie possible.
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