April 24, 2018

Carrie-Ann Smith | Movers & Shakers 2006

Telling the People’s Stories


Carrie-Ann Smith admits to ‘falling backwards’ into ‘the greatest job in the world’: research manager at Canada’s equivalent of Ellis Island, where a growing collection of immigration records, images, books, and oral histories tracks immigrants’ arrival.

On any given day, she might be helping long-lost shipmates find each other, assisting students with oral history projects, building a partnership with Ellis Island to study cross-border immigration, presenting a program on Italian immigrants, or providing research for a book on British war brides, a film on Samuel Cunard, or a teaching tool for elementary school students.

But every single day, Smith is a storyteller, weaving the individual stories of Canada’s immigrants into what library educator and publisher Norman Horrocks calls a ‘limitless national portrait.’ She tells those stories in presentations to numerous local and national organizations, in a regular column called ‘Stories from Pier 21,’ and in articles like ‘We Huddled Each Night Around Our Radios: Memories of the Hungarian Revolution and of Immigrating to Canada.’

She also tells those stories to people who wander into her office under the impression from the clutter of memorabilia – a gas mask, a cow’s tooth, World War II propaganda posters, dishes salvaged from ships that sank in Halifax harbor – that her office is part of the collection. Says Smith, ‘A good librarian is the point at which everything comes together.’



Current Position Manager of Research, Pier 21 National Historic Site, www.pier21.ca, Halifax, NS
Degrees MLIS, Dalhousie University, 1996
Fun fact Plans to learn scuba diving in hopes of retrieving historic objects from the harbor