The BEAVERBRAE - the gates to a better life (1947 - 1954)The Beaverbrae ship was purchased by the Canadian Pacific on September 2nd, 1947. It was the only ship to carry cargo eastbound and passengers westbound (others were just cargo ships) and was also the only one under Canadian registration and with a Canadian crew. The Canadian Pacific worked with the International Refugee Org. and the Canadian Christian Council for the Relief of Refugees. The refugees were forwarded from collection points on the German frontiers to the dispatching center in Bremen. Here they were examined by Canadian government officials for health and security. The Beaverbrae ship made an average of one sailing each month and usually carried between 500-700 emigrants, of whom 1 in 5 were children. They were destined for friends or relatives in Canada and few could speak English. When advice was received in Montreal that the ship had left Bremen, arrangements were made for two special trains with colonist and baggage cars to be assembled at the port entry. The first train would usually be routed to Montreal and Toronto, and the second to Winnipeg and points west. The Beaverbrae made its last emigrant voyage when it left Bremen on July 28, 1954, having carried over 38,000 refugees to Canada. Later the ship was sold.
Irmgard Mitterhuber who resides in Langenburg was one of the passengers in 1951.
"My uncle Frank Mehringer and his wife Erna lived in Marchwell. They didn't have children, so they wrote a letter to my mom asking if somebody wanted to come live in Canada with them. It was very hard to live in Austria after the war, so my mom asked all 4 of her children if anybody wanted to go. I said "I want to" right away" - her story begins...
"I was just 9 years old, so the Government didn't let me come. My uncle decided to adopt me. The adoption procedure took 4 years. In 1951 at the age of 13 I left Austria. My dad took me to Salzburg to the train station and from there I went to Bremen all by myself. It was December 2nd when I got on the Beaverbrae cargo ship. Usually trips lasted 7 days but we faced big storms and were stuck at roaring sea for 17 days. I thought we would not make it. Everybody was seasick, there was lots of water and ice around us. I was lucky I didn't get sick" - remembers Irmgard. The ship landed in Saint John, NB. From there Irmgard took a train to Winnipeg. "I arrived in Marchwell on the 29th of December. My trip lasted 27 days. My uncle every day for 10 days at 6 a.m. in the morning in the winter came to the train station to meet me but I was not there. They thought I was not coming so they decided that December 29th will be their last trip to the train station. Exactly that day I arrived. It was the luckiest day of my life. After 2 days I celebrated New Years - with my new start!" - says Irmgard. And this is not the end. In 1958 after 8 years she returned to Austria to attend her sisters wedding and during this visit she met Ernst Mitterhuber. They fell in love with each other and Ernst made the decision to follow Irmgard to Canada. But the only way Ernst could come was if Irmgard would send a letter to him promising that they will marry in 30 days. So, on 20th of June in 1959 they married here in Canada and this year in 2019 they will celebrate 60 years of marriage.