Peter Paparizos

Crossing an Ocean: Migration through the Eyes of a Child

Image 2.1 Majestic alongside the Nova Scotian Hotel at Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada in 1934. Pier 20 is to the left and Pier 21 to the right.  1934.  National Harbours Board, Canada.

Aboard the SS Cristoforo Colombo & Arriving at Pier 21

When Peter and his family left Greece in 1968, he was only seven years old. For children, the journey was an exciting one with pools, playgrounds, banquets and games available while on board the ship. Peter believed that he and his family were simply travelling to another part of Greece – not realizing that he was crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

The Paparizos family eventually arrived at Pier 21 aboard the Italian cruiseliner, the SS Cristoforo Colombo. Following the excitement of the ship, the customs hall of Pier 21 was not memorable for Peter. After his parents were processed by customs officials, they continued their journey to Toronto by train.

Childhood Memories

Children’s economic and educational opportunities are important factors in a family’s decision to move.

Image 2.2 Peter with family and friends at a Bouzoukia in Xanthi, Greece. Courtesy of the Paparizos’ family.

Recollections and perceptions of children can help us to understand the specific challenges they face as migrants, often having had little to no choice as to where, how and when to move.

Image 2.3  Peter with his family and grandparents in Xanthi, Greece. Courtesy of the Paparizos family.

Peter’s movements were not fully his own until he was an adult, but his well-being was a significant motivator for movement. The Paparizos moved to Canada in 1968 in order to improve the family’s economic situation. However, in 1978 when Peter was 17, his family sent him back to Greece to learn a trade.


By 1978, the Junta were no longer in power making it safe for Peter to return to Greece to continue his education. How does this go against the idea that people come to Canada for a better education? What is the value of returning?

How are children and the desire to provide them with a better future motivating factors for parents to move?

Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia was the first point of contact for many migrants to Canada, witnessing the arrival of nearly one million migrants during its 43 years of operation (1928-1971).

 Part 1

 Part 2

 Part 3

 Part 4

 Part 5

 Part 6