Decline & Falling: Part II

The opening scenes of life onboard a luxury liner of the time carrying new immigrants from England to Australia strike a personal note with me. My family came to Canada on the CP ship “Empress of England” that departed from Liverpool and docked in Montreal, where we then boarded a train that took us over many days thousands of miles across the country all the way to Vancouver. A very strange and somewhat unsettling trip for a six-year old, although it was great fun for the most part…

Much of this segment of the film deals with the institutionalized racism of Australia that drove its immigration policies for many years during the latter part of the 20th century. Of course, it’s easy to scoff at such ridiculous notions these days, but there’s an underlying sensibility of racial prejudice that still persists in our own policies to this day, most particularly a rather curious hypocrisy when it comes to the issue of economic migrants.

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19 Comments

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19 responses to “Decline & Falling: Part II

  1. Ian

    Cool that you made that trip yourself. My grandmother came from Carlisle (to Nova Scotia) when she was about the same age, in late 1912. A long time afterward they found a brochure for the Titanic with her father’s writing on it “Can’t make this one.” I’m certainly glad they didn’t.

  2. Wow. Good call by your great grandfather.

  3. from the legend of 1900:

    “It happened every time that someone would look up and see her. It’s difficult to understand. I mean, there were more than a thousand of us on that ship, travelling rich folk, immigrants, strange people and us. Yet, there was always one, just one who would see her first. Maybe he was just sitting there eating or walking on the deck. Maybe he was just there fixing his pants. He’d look up for a second, glance out to sea and he’d see her. Then he’d just stand there, rooted to the spot, his heart racing. And every time, I swear every damned time, he’d turn towards us, to the ship, towards everybody and scream…”

    see, “canada!” just doesn’t work there….

    KEvron

  4. sapphireandsteel

    fixing his pants eh? 😉

  5. Yes, I know. It’s a somewhat dispiriting prospect. Kind of like being headed for Tasmania, New Zealand or some other fictionally challenged destination.

  6. sapphireandsteel

    Wouldn’t you have been in shackles if you were an earlier “settler” of Tasmania? I can’t imagine there’d be anyone on the deck screaming Hobart! with excitement (possibly fixing their pants).

  7. Oh, I don’t know… There’s something incredibly liberating about heading off for parts unknown without much of a plan… That was what motivated my Dad to some extent. He wanted to shake off the dusty past and all the suffocating, class-based and narrow-minded religious moral constraints of the dreary war-torn world he grew up in.

  8. sapphireandsteel

    I was more thinking the shackles. 🙂 I can understand wanting to get away from narrow-minded religious moral constraints;a friend of mine referred to the part of Canada I’m from as having moral schizophrenia.

  9. ”see, “canada!” just doesn’t work there….”

    We didn’t need to get the huddled masses worked-up. They knew they were coming to a prosperous land governed by the same laws as the Motherland.

    Their primary challenge was geographic. These were emigrants – not immigrants, and as such did not buy into the libertarian nightmare called the United States of America.

  10. “They knew they were coming to a prosperous land governed by the same laws as the Motherland.”

    que cosi?

    KEvroni

  11. this bud’s for you, aty:

  12. sapphireandsteel

  13. “Amerida” – that’s a classic!

    But it’s more likely to be “Chinamerica” now – given who owns your national debt …

  14. Ti-Guy

    There’ll soon be a generation of Canadians who won’t get the “grade 13” reference.

  15. We never had grade 13 out here in B.C. I don’t believe Alberta has it either.

  16. Ti-Guy

    Yes, but only Ontario counts. 😉

    I liked grade 13. It was hardest grade in high school and it really culled the herd. Undergrad was a breeze compared to it. Also, you could write your own sick notes.

  17. sadly, no video of the “nightline” spoof that followed, with al franken reviving his kissinger bit.

    KEvron

  18. Ti-Guy — Seemed to make sense to me. Here, the universities spend much of the first year getting kids up to speed with remedial courses in English or otherwise preparing them for the basics of higher education. Many graduates go off to community colleges for a year beforehand to fill in missing credits or improve their grade point average.

  19. “Amerida”; so funny. thanks for sharing Kevron.

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