In 1929 1000 British pilgrims set off on a 3-week pilgrimage to Canada, leaving Liverpool on May 31 aboard the Doric, to dock in Montreal 8 days later. Aboard the “Doric” pilgrims were given a British Weekly diary entitled My Canadian Pilgrimage, boasting words of welcome from then Prime Minister Mackenzie King, and a letter of introduction to Canada. Pilgrimage is frequently described as a universal quest for self; this is conveyed in the greetings sent to the pilgrims by John A. Hutton, then editor of the British Weekly:
We are sure that the whole experience – the amazing nearness in which you discovered you were with those who are separated from us by such spaces of sea and land – will be a real well of life within you as long as you live.
Canada was an unusual destination for a pilgrimage, and only a year after the pilgrimage took place the country experienced one of her worst cycles of depression. For this project, I retraced part of the pilgrims’ journey – visiting some of their destinations in Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton and a range of Canadian and British archives to learn about the reasons behind the pilgrimage and its media coverage. Alongside, I reintroduced the details of this event through encounters with ministers, archivists and locals.