S.S. Walnut

A voyage to Freedom - 1948

1949 - 1950




Note:  Newspaper articles from various sources appeared both shortly after the Walnut voyage and were also written many years later.  Many news articles contain factual inaccuracies, but are presented herein  as published and written by their authors.  



The Halifax Mail, January 3, 1949 - Staff photo by Merrimen
Posted courtesy of The Halifax Herald Ltd.  
Copyright The Halifax Herald Ltd. - Not to be reproduced in any print or electronic format -
(ie: CD, DVD, Video, magazines, books, print or electronic newsletters, emails, electronic publishing).


Celebrating New Year's Eve and welcoming 1949.

DP's MAKE MERRY AT NEW YEAR -- The large group of displaced persons, now quartered at the Rock Head detention hospital, started the new year far from the dangers fro which they had fled, and this was one of the reasons that they gave a joyous welcome to 1949.  Mostly Estonians, but with other European nations also represented, the group, came to Canada on the former minesweeper "Walnut".  They staged a costume ball at the Rock Head institution on New Year's Eve, and showed real ingenuity in devising effective costumes, as the picture proves.



Missing Article - Just photos with captions

Unknown source - Friday, January 7, 1949


Benjamin Lambert was the chef in charge of the detention quarters at Rockhead.

Photo caption:  GREAT FRIEND OF YOUNG DP's -- Benjamin Lambert, chef in charge of the kitchen at the Immigration's detention quarters at Rock Head, is shown giving some of his little Estonian friends a "pre-view" of the menu that lies ahead for them at the next meal.  Mr. Lambert is a great favourite with the nearly 250 DP's quartered at the institution and is especially popular with the children in whom he takes a warm, personal interest.  A native of Newfoundland, he saw service in the Royal Navy and Merchant Navy in two wars and survived a torpedoing.



"Young Voyagers From Estonia Take Bright View 
of Their New Homeland"

The Globe and Mail, Toronto -  Saturday, February 5, 1949
No article, just photographs with captions.
Copyright The Globe and Mail - Posted with permission.

Luule Linde visits a police station in Ajax, Ontario.

A police station was the first thing Luule Linde, 7, wanted to see after her arrival at Ajax immigration centre from Estonia.  At the now East York police headquarters, she got a great kick out of taking over the radio to the cruisers under Sgt. Bill Warren's guidance.
For the two boys in the group of boys and girls on a tour of the Toronto area to see what they wanted to see, Ice cream was a highlight.  They are Peter Ainomae, 9, and Enn Saumets, 13, and they needed to know no English to express their approval.

Peter Ainomae and Enn Saumets enjoy icecream in Toronto.

Youngsters review a local movie billboard.

The whole group was enthusiastic about local movies.  At each theatre they shouted "Kino, kino," and at the Odeon (above) Luule gleefully recognized the Bumstead family on the billboard.  Peter, Heili Linde, 11, and Enn puzzle out strange words.
Visiting the Centennial Rd. School at West Hill, Helle [Heili] Linde and Enn Saumets trace their trip from Estonia across the Atlantic on the globe for Ann Jamieson, pupil at the school, who was delighted with her new friends.

Young passengers visit the Centennial Road School at West Hill.

Enn Saumets tries out a 1949 deluxe model car in Scarborough.

Photo caption:  Enn's greatest thrill came when he was able to blow the horn, turn the wheel and work the gear shift of a 1949 deluxe model car at Evans Garage in Scarboro.  For the first time on the tour, he cracked a wide-open grin.




Unknown Newspaper Source - Dated approx. Dec. 1950

The rusty, little minesweeper Walnut, her role forgotten except maybe by those who sailed her on her last voyage, sank slowly yesterday at her Windmill Pier berth, on the Dartmouth side of Halifax Harbor. 

Scuttled by vandals who removed her sea cocks while stripping her brass fittings, the former Royal Navy warship is now resting in 20 feet of water, her stubby prow pointed skyward on a 45 degree angle.

Haligonians can well remember the December day in 1948 when the little vessel steamed into Halifax Harbor with her cargo of humanity.

In living quarters originally designed for 14 men were 347 refugees from Gothenburg, Sweden.  The majority were Estonians who had picked Sweden as a haven from Communism. 

Their three-week, stormy Atlantic crossing was one of hardship.  They told newsmen on arrival here of seasickness, hunger and much suffering.

A month later, after her occupants were accepted into Canada as political refugees, the Walnut was put on the block by 50 D.P.'s who co-operatively owned her.  There were, however, no offers to purchase the little ship.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers of the Dartmouth detachment are investigating the incident, but no arrests  have been made.

Besides flooding her holds, lifeboats were torn from their davits, life-rafts were set adrift, and rigging was ripped away when she settled to the bottom.


A view of the Walnut ship.

Photo commentary:  SCUTTLED AT WINDMILL PIER -- The former Royal Navy minesweeper Walnut is shown above as she looked when she brought 347 refugees to the port of Halifax from Sweden one cold December day two years ago.  The ship, owned co-operatively by 50 of the D.P.'s who sailed on her during the three-week, stormy Atlantic crossing, was scuttled yesterday by vandals, whom R.C.M.P. officers claimed opened her sea cocks while stripping her of movable brass fittings.  She is now submerged at the stern in 20 feet of water at her berth at Windmill pier, Dartmouth.


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This page was last updated 27/12/2018 08:05 PM

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