Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Big Day Downtown #4: Pick a Card, Any Card (Part 1)

It's the most wonderful time of the year again - no, I don't mean back-to-school or Christmas. I mean, Big Day Downtown time - YAY! 

This is my 4th year participating (you can read up on past year's here, here and here), and I think this year was the most fun yet - we were given a stack of cards and we had to randomly choose any 3 and base our experiences around them.

I ended up with:

A very cool twist, but I have to say, I had trouble finalizing my plans! I had ideas, but I really wanted to do things I hadn't done before, visit new places and try new things rather than go with the tried-and-true. Might as well make the most of the experience, right?

I decided to plan one activity related to each word. First up is "Inspirational".

A place I am inspired by but have never visited is Pier 21 Museum of Immigration. What is more inspiring than people starting a whole new life in a foreign country? Over 1 million people came through here to rewrite their life stories, and many left loved ones behind in the process. Sacrificing everything safe and familiar in order to build a better life for yourself is an incredibly brave thing and I have a lot of respect for it.

Our visit started with a film that gave us some history about the museum throughout the decades and outlined some stories from specific immigrant families and their experience entering Canada. There were couples with children from Eastern Europe and Italy, English war brides, many of whom hadn't seen their Canadian husbands in over a year, orphaned children from Europe, and wounded war veterans returning home.

I was surprised to learn that the Pier was not only an entry point for immigrants to Canada, but also the main deployment site for troops heading over to Europe for the World Wars. Coincidentally, the Amazing Race Canada teams visited the museum on this week's episode (did you watch?).

After the film, I loved reading all of the old travel documents displayed throughout the main museum- passports, medical records, luggage tags and even menus, etc, from the ships the immigrants would have arrived here on. I also loved the stacks of vintage suitcases covered with worn labels and painted on numbers. Walking through, I felt what the place must have been like 50-100 years ago when it was teeming with men, women and children, waiting and hoping.

The museum is currently open 9:30am-5:30pm, and admission is very reasonable (only $7.80 for an adult). They also have a small shop with some great handmade items from around the world.

I say this often, but I feel pretty lucky to live in Canada. We aren't perfect, but every time I take a trip, I am happy to come home to a place where I have the freedom to live the life that I want. Not everyone is so lucky and my outing to Pier 21 reminded me of that.

Next, it's time for Part 2 - Social and Dramatic!


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