Chapter 27 of the Peter and Gertrud Klopp Story – Part VI

         Arriving in Canada in our Sleep

Iceberg – Photo Credit: icebergwatereurope.com

In the meantime on board of the Ryndam we could tell that we were approaching Canada’s territorial waters. The storm that had been stirring up the ocean moved on eastward and made room for sunny sky and calm conditions. The temperature plunged to 2° C. On deck we had to wrap ourselves in woolen blankets to enjoy a short sunbathing session in the cold air. The Ryndam seemed to have reduced her speed although there were hardly any waves. Suddenly we heard a message over the intercom speakers to alert us to an iceberg that was floating by less than one km to the right. As we were coming closer, we marvelled at the beauty of the mountainous object that glittered in the bright sunshine like a diamond of gigantic size. Knowing that ninety percent of an iceberg is submerged and invisibly spreads into all directions, we now understood why the captain had decided on a slower pace. Fifty-five years ago about the same time and in the same waters a single iceberg had sent the ‘unsinkable’ Titanic in less than three hours to the bottom of the sea.

The First Seagulls

The next morning three fishing vessels were slowly passing by on starboard, a sure sign that we were not far from land. Seagulls suddenly appeared as if from nowhere and trailed our ship at the stern expecting to find scraps of food that someone might have thrown overboard. Then the first offshore islands emerged from the hazy horizon. They looked desolate and uninhabited. They were all covered in snow. The icebergs, the snow on the islands and the chill in the air made us feel that spring had not yet come in this part of Canada.

The First Off-Shore Islands

My sister suffered from a sore throat and decided not to accompany us in the car to travel across the continent, but to take the train instead. In the evening Adolf and I went into the bar that was more crowded than usual to say good-bye to our friends and table companions. At three in the morning, I am not sure after how many shots of whiskey and how many glasses of beer, we were finally done with saying our good-byes. After getting only a few winks of sleep, we awoke this time not by the familiar tinkling of the breakfast bell, but by an eerie quietness. Still groggy from all the partying the night before we however managed to jump into our clothes at lightning speed and rushed on board. We were anxious to find out what kind of calamity the Ryndam had gotten itself into. Perhaps the engines had broken down. Or did those dreadful icebergs surround us? What a pleasant surprise was unfolding before our eyes! The Ryndam peacefully lay securely tied to the pier posts at the Quebec Harbor. What a shame! While sleeping we had arrived in Canada.

Quebec Harbor – May 1965

After breakfast Erika and I with all the other immigrants walked over the gangway past large cargo and shipping facilities to the federal office building. There a friendly bilingual customs and immigration official greeted us and carefully examined our passports and the flimsy unassuming piece of paper we had received from the Canadian embassy in Cologne. The terrorists of today would be laughing at the simple document of fifty years ago. A photocopy on ordinary paper would have sufficed to let them slip by our border checkpoints. While we were waiting to get our documents stamped and approved, a charitable organization offered us our first cup of coffee on Canadian soil. It turned out to be a typical brew as offered then in most American coffee shops, so weak and bland you could be drinking it all day without any adverse effect, as some people were in the habit of doing. A Catholic priest asked us about our plans and provided us with useful information on Alberta, British Columbia and the other provinces of Canada. Then quite relieved that we had successfully jumped the first hurdle and had officially become a member of the Canadian society with all its rights and responsibilities except for the right to vote, we returned to our ship to reconnect with Adolf. The French-Canadian officials at the pier smiled, when I played the German folk song ‘Muss i denn, muss i denn zum Städtele hinaus’ on the harmonica. Elvis Presley sang this lovely tune while with the American Armed Forces in Germany. Wooden Heart was its English title. The sentimental Germans who themselves were beginning to forget and to neglect their very own folk songs liked the Elvis version so much that the song maintained the number one position on the German record charts for several weeks in a row.

Autobiography Book Canada Germany Photography The P. and G. Klopp Story Writing

18 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Another very well written and captivating chapter in your family story, Peter. Exciting times! So nice to hear Elvis sing this tune, it always put a smile on my face. I think Klausbernd took this route going to Canada as well, I have to ask him.
    Have a wonderful weekend! x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Dina, Klausbernd mentioned in his comments that he lived in Montreal for a while and travelled back and forth by boat to Germany. The king of rock ‘n roll was capable of very tender feelings, which he expressed in songs like Wooden Heart. Thank you for your compliment on my writing skills, Dina! Very heart-warming indeed!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I really liked the picture of Quebec harbor you have posted. The print color are so synonymous of those times. The immigration process is in stark contrast to the current processes as you pointed out. The world was much simpler than.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The world was also safer then. I remember that the airport in Calgary had no security staff and there was a simple fence around the runway from which you could watch the planes take off and land. Thank you, Arv!, for taking such a genuine interest into our story!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I haven’t seen those times but certainly today post cold war has thrown new security challenge. As 9/11 and recent European terrorism acts show things are far more complicated today.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s how most of things have become – they call it standardisation! The world is moving towards less formal and more process oriented things. People are becoming less sensitive! Especially towards other humans.

        Liked by 1 person

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