Multicultural History Society of Ontario Insider's Look

“Ship’s Log” Newsletter

“Ship’s Log” Newsletter

Canada has a long and proud history of being a haven for all manner of refugees and displaced people, especially those who have lost their homes on account of persecution, destruction, and catastrophe. This artifact, a copy of the “Ship’s Log,” a passenger newsletter from the USAT General R. L. Howze, is a piece of physical history that tells the story of one such group of people who were offered new lives and a second chance by a warm and welcoming Canadian people.

By the end of the Second World War, millions of Europeans had been forcibly displaced from their homes and faced uncertain futures. For some, the war had utterly destroyed everything that they had known, leaving them with nowhere to go. Others were unable to return to their homes for fear of being persecuted for who they were and what they believed in. Camps were established to provide temporary relief to these displaced persons while the legal and logistical details of their resettlement were determined by a variety of nations and humanitarian organisations. Over time, many of these displaced people boarded ships like the General R. L. Howze and were transported from bleak refugee camps to new homes across the Atlantic.

This newsletter, distributed at the end of one such maritime journey, addresses disembarking passengers as new Canadians and sends them off with this inspirational message: “The main purpose of this voyage has been to bring you safe and healthy to Canada … Your worries, troubles and camp existence is now over, you are to become free people in a free country.” This welcoming message of hope and acceptance has been communicated to all manner of peoples throughout our history, from the Quakers and United Empire Loyalists displaced by the American Revolution in the late eighteenth century to the thousands of Syrian refugees being resettled in communities all across our country today. This artifact is ultimately a testament to Canada’s enduring ideals of tolerance, humanitarianism, and goodwill for all.


Object Information:

  • Object Name: "Welcome to Canada!" / "Ship's Log" Newsletter
  • Object ID: LIT-2578-MIN
  • Dimensions: 32.6 cm L x 20.2 cm W
  • Curator: R. Dennis Moore