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Walnut Reunion

Passenger Reunions

Back on its golden hinges
the gate of memory swings,
and my heart goes into the garden
and walks with the olden things.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Like branches on a tree,
our lives may grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.

How will our children know who they are if they do not know where the’ve come from?
 Pass on the legacy and keep it alive - don't forget to remember.

If you don't recount your family history, it will be lost.  Honour your stories and tell them often.  The tales may not seem very important, but they are what makes each of us who we are.

To commemorate something means to remember, and by so doing, to honour the event. You’ll notice that the term commemorate has the word “memory” within it. We remember an event with a marked observation to remind us of the origin and significance of the event.  

Since the beginning of time, man has given priority towards commemorating special occasions. We do so to cultivate our sense of community, instill a sense of meaning and importance to the event, to reminisce of a time long ago, and to take our place, or the place of our ancestors, in the circle of life.

The Walnut passengers have been coming together for years to honour their voyage to freedom. Joining them have been spouses/partners, family members, and friends and acquaintances. Reunions encourage communication among extended family members and provide an opportunity for various generations to learn about the event. This website, in fact, is the result of a reunion where all decided to collect voyage memorabilia in one location.

Although we can now connect with email, facetime, telephone calls, social media, texts, and so on, there really is no substitute for the physical presence of spending time together to pass on legacies.

Lest we forget. 

Life gives us brief moments with another but sometimes in those brief moments we get memories that last a life time.

Walnut passenger reunion

Above:  Walnut passengers attending the 65th reunion in 2013.

The Walnut passengers have always described themselves as a family.  They have experienced together the hardship of leaving their homeland, the danger of the voyage to freedom, and the difficulties re-establishing oneself in a new country, with a new language and culture.   Friendships made onboard have strong bonds. Several reunions have taken place over the years. These are but a few: 

The Winds of Fate
One ship drives east and another drives west, with the selfsame winds that blow.
'Tis the set of the sails, and not the gales,  that tell us the way to go.  
Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate; as we voyage along through life,  
'Tis the set of a soul that decides its goal, and not the calm or the strife.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox


  30 th
  • Over 150 participants attend the reunion held at Toronto Estonian House.
  • October 27th, 1978


  50 th
  • More than 100 people attend at Toronto St. Peter's Lutheran Church.
  • October 17th, 1998


  60 th
  • Families gather together on a snowy December to reminisce.
  • December 6th, 2008


  65 th
  • Multiple reunion gatherings held this year in several locations.
  • November 30th, 2013


  70 th
  • Passengers & families gather in a private home to share memories.
  • November 25th, 2018


Back on its golden hinges 
the gate of Memory swings,
And my heart goes into the garden
And walks with the olden things.
The old-time, joys and pleasures,
The loves that it used to know,
It meets there in the garden,
And they wander to and fro. 

It heareth a peal of laughter,
It seeth a face most fair, 
It thrills with a wild, strange rapture
At the glance of a dark eye there;
It strayeth under the sunset
In the midst of a merry throng,
And beats in a tuneful measure,
To the snatch of a floating song. 

It heareth a strain of music
Swell on the dreamy air, 
A strain that is never sounded,
Save in the garden there.
It wanders among the roses,
And thrills at the long-lost kiss, 
And glows at the touch of fingers,
In a tremor of foolish bliss.  

But all is not fair in the garden,-- There's a sorrowing sob of pain; 
There are tear-drops, bitter, scalding, And the roses are tempest-slain.

And I shut the gate of the garden,
And walk in the Present's ways,
For its quiet paths are better
Than the pain of those vanished days!  

Shells by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Milwaukee: Hauser & Storey, 1873.