Page 9 of 10
They were Polish Jews and ran a meat wholesaling business.
In about 1926, said Martz, her grandfather Morris Martz came to Canada alone and settled in Montreal. His wife and children followed the next year.
After landing in Halifax, the family joined Morris in Montreal, where Martz grew up.
"My father never talked about it much and he died 20 years ago," said Martz.
"I was in the Maritimes a couple of years ago — my daughter Naomi goes to school in New Brunswick — and we were in Halifax and there's Pier 21, the immigration museum."
Pier 21 was the port of entry for hundreds of thousands of immigrants, Canada's equivalent of Ellis Island.
Martz, 56, and her husband Maury had merely planned to check out the museum.
But as they went in, they saw a door marked "Data Collection Room," and walked in to see what it was all about.
"I'd heard about the Pier 21 Museum but I hadn't decided to go there looking," added Martz.
It seemed too good an opportunity to miss.
"We spent hours in the computer room," she chuckled. "We never made it into the museum. We had to go back later."
Martz only had some very basic information about her family.
She knew how old her father was when he came to Canada.
"I knew the surname, which was Marc in Polish, and was turned into Martz by the immigration officials," she added. And I knew my grandmother's first name and that's all I knew."
Helped by an enthusiastic archivist, Martz entered the information, along with a couple of potential years.
"Up popped the immigration log with the listing of all the names and the ages of the kids and the name of the ship they came in on and there was even a photo of the ship," she said. "You hear all these stories but seeing this it's like, 'Wow, that was actually reality. There's the boat. There's their names.' They came to Canada with the equivalent of $3."
She said the room was full of other people doing the same thing.
"It was a very emotional thing to do," she said. "I didn't know all that much about my family roots. I hadn't chased it that much. With the reality of record keeping at the time and Jewish migration, I couldn't go back very far."
So why do people feel so driven to track down their ancestors?
"A lot of it is connection," said genealogy expert Peter Whitlock, of Sardis. "A lot of families are a lot smaller than they used to be and people are looking for other family. A lot of people have lost contact with other members of the family so they're reaching out to see what other members of the family there are."
December 6, 2013, 10:01 AM
Hydrogen stack will be dismantled; buses could be converted to diesel-electric More...
December 5, 2013, 11:00 AM
Online petition launches calling for more centre barriers on Highway 99 More...
December 5, 2013, 5:02 AM
Council stops Whistler International Campus before rezoning process begins More...