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GERMANS IN CANADA
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Germans have been part of the Canadian mosaic for hundreds of years. While
many migrated individually and separately into the country, most arrived
en masse in large immigrant waves from many parts of the world, including
the German and Austrian provinces,Prussia,
Hungary, and other regions, seeking land and
opportunities for economic progress.
German settlement in Canada can be divided into three primary regions:
the east (Atlantic provinces), the central
area (Ontario and Québec), and the west (the Prairie
provinces and British Columbia). The eastern and central areas were settled
mostly by citizens of the German states of central Europe and by people
of German heritage who had first migrated to the British colonies or to
the United States. The west
was largely settled by ethnic German farmers from eastern and southern
Europe and from Russia.
There was a broad spectrum of religious background. Most were Lutheran,
Catholic, Reformed, or Mennonite, but there were also Moravians, Baptists,
Seventh Day Adventists, Jews and others.
Eastern Canada - The Atlantic Provinces
German auxiliary soldiers were employed in England's North American conflicts
with France as early as 1711. The first German settlement, Waldoburg, was
established just outside the walls of Fortress Louisbourg on Cape Breton
Island in Nova Scotia in 1745. This was a community of military families,
whose men had assisted the English in the siege and capture of this French
stronghold. It was abandoned a few years later.
The first permanent settlement began with the arrival of over 2000 citizens
of the Holy Roman Empire (the collection of states that would unite to
form the German Empire in 1871) and Switzerland,
plus some Protestant French, who settled in Lunenburg and Halifax starting
in 1750. They were followed over the next thirty-five years by others,
including Hessian soldiers who chose to accept land grants in North America
after their service and to remain loyal to their British employers rather
than to the newly-independent United States. Over the centuries, the descendants
of these people gradually integrated into the rest of the growing Maritime
population. However, German was still spoken in Lunenburg County
at the turn of the twentieth century, and anglicized German family names
are very common throughout Nova Scotia to this day.
Central Canada - Ontario and Québec
United Empire Loyalists of German origin emigrating from the United States,
along with German soldiers who remained in North America after completing
their service, settled in the St. Lawrence River Valley and the Eastern
Townships of Québec after the American Revolution. They quickly
integrated into the surrounding environment, often changing their names
and religion in order to do so. Settlement by such groups in Ontario began
as early as 1784. However, the biggest influx into Ontario, which began
in 1796, consisted of Pennsylvanian Mennonites, largely because much of
the arable land in Pennsylvania was already occupied. Mennonites settled
in the Niagara region first, later expanding westward to the area around
Waterloo. The settlement of Toronto (then called "York") was partly initiated
through the efforts of a small group arriving from Germany via New York
Until about 1820, much of the Germanic migration into central Canada
had come indirectly through the United States. After the defeat of Napoleon,
a new wave of German migration to North America directly from Europe took
place. For many people the ultimate destination was still the United States,
but others, including craftsmen, tradesmen, and farmers, found their new
home in Ontario. Most continued to settle in the same areas as the preceding
Mennonites. Many people of German heritage, especially in the Waterloo
region, have retained much of their ethnic identity and, in some communities,
Western Canada - Prairie Provinces and British Columbia
Again, the first Germans to enter the Canadian West were soldiers who were
employed by the British, in this case to help keep the peace at Red River
in 1817. A little-known fact is that a French suburb of Winnipeg, St. Boniface,
is named after Winfried Bonifatius, the patron saint of these Catholic
German soldiers. The Seine, a small river which flows through this suburb,
was originally called German Creek. St. Boniface did not grow into a permanent
settlement, as is often the case with many temporary military communities.
Another attempt at German settlement was made in 1821 by 200 people
from Switzerland and the Alsace
region. By 1849, only 2 of these families remained, the rest having emigrated
to warmer farming conditions in the United States.
The largest Germanic wave into Canada did not originate in Germany or
the United States but in eastern Europe, the Austro-Hungarian
Empire, and Russia. It was launched in 1874 with the arrival of 7000
ethnic German Mennonites from southern Russia. Much of the religious freedom
that the Czars had previously granted to the Mennonites, including exemption
from service in the Russian army, was now gone, prompting mass exodus.
The Canadian Homestead Law of 1872 attracted hundreds of thousands of Europeans
to settle the Canadian prairie with the promise of cheap land, available
at only $10 for 160 acres. The Mennonites first took advantage of two large
tracts of land set aside specifically for their use. Both were south of
Winnipeg, with one on the east side of the Red River around Steinbach,
and the other on the west side around Gretna and Altona.
Following close behind them in large numbers were Lutheran Germans.
Starting in the late 1880s, many of them would first go to work for the
already established Mennonites before moving on to their own homesteads
or buying land from other settlers who had encountered difficulties in
developing their plots into good farmland. These ethnic Germans came from
the Black Sea and Volga River regions of Russia, from Volhynia, Galicia,
Central Poland, Bukovina, Banat,
and Romania. Much smaller numbers also came
directly from Germany, the United States, and Ontario. Hundreds of German
villages sprang up throughout the West with German names like Neu Elsass,
Strassburg, Langenburg, Josephsthal, Landshut, Neudorf, Waldersee, Friedensthal,
Bruederheim, and so on. In Saskatchewan alone, Germans made up 14% of the
population in 1911.
The Twentieth Century
The admission of German-speaking immigrants from eastern Europe continued
into the twentieth century. Reichsdeutsche (Germans from Germany)
were barred from entry into Canada from the onset of World War I until
1923. Between 1919 and 1935 some 90,000 German-speaking people arrived
in Canada. Over 50% of these were again from eastern and southern Europe
and Russia, with the balance directly from Germany. Over 70% were farmers.
World War II again interrupted the flow.
After the Second World War, massive numbers of immigrants from Germany,
Austria and Switzerland entered Canada in the 1950s and 1960s. Many of
these people did not ultimately remain in Canada, but the majority did.
After English and French, the third largest ethnic group in Canada is German.
As it is a highly integrated group in general, it is often invisible, and,
according to the 1981 census, the language itself falls behind English,
French, and Italian in usage.
1) Einarsson, Magnús and Taylor, Helga Benndorf, eds.
Just For Nice: German-Canadian Folk Art. Hull, Québec: Canadian
Museum of Civilization, 1993.]
2) Lehmann, Heinz. The German Canadians 1750-1937.
Gerhard P. Bassler - translator and editor; St. John's, Newfoundland: Jesperson
Press, 1986 (compilation of five dissertations originally published in
the German language by Heinz Lehmann between 1931 and 1939).]
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All provinces and some cities or regions have their own societies that
can assist with regional research. Details and addresses can be found
on the homepage of the National Archives
of Canada / Archives nationales du Canada.
Alberta Genealogical Society
Club of Kitchener, Ontario is a social and historical society of Donauschwaben
The Federation of East European Family History
Societies is an extensive site with links in the Canada section
of its regional index to, among other sites, the following:
Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies, Winnipeg
East European Genealogical Society, Winnipeg
Germans from Russia Heritage Society, British Columbia Chapter (GRHS-BCC)
Jewish Historical Society of Southern Alberta, Calgary
Mennonite Heritage Centre, Winnipeg
Saskatchewan Genealogy Society, Provincial Society Headquarters, Regina
Saskatchewan Genealogy Society, Swift Current Branch
The Ontario Genealogy Society (OGS), Toronto
Wandering Volhynians German-Volhynian Newsletter, Vancouver
The South Shore Genealogical
Society covers genealogy in Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia, which was
the end destination for many Germans arriving in the province in the 1700s.
Genealogical and Historical
Church Records *
Most churches that keep records retain them in their own offices. In some
cases, the records have been brought together in regional offices. In most
situations it is necessary to write to specific churches to obtain information
from these records.
The national libraries / archives of the following denominations may
also be helpful:
Anglican Church of Canada, General Synod Archives
Church House, 600 Jarvis St.
Toronto, Ontario M4Y 2S6
Presbyterian Church of Canada Archives
59 Saint George St.
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2E6
United Church of Canada Central Archives
Victoria College, 73 Queen's Park Crescent East
Toronto, Ontario M5S 1R7
Civil Registration Records *
These records are kept in the Vital Statistics offices of individual provinces.
There is a cost for searching and copying them which varies from province
to province. In most cases, you will need to at least know the year of
the event you are interested in researching in order to achieve a result.
* The National
Archives of Canada / Archives nationales du Canada. website contains
information on accessing all of this material.
Good census records are generally available for various areas through the
19th century to the present. Detail varies from location to location but
they are generally worth researching for family data.
Canadians share many of the same resources on German immigration into North
America with the United States.
In some instances, Canadians may need to examine passenger
lists for entry into American ports.
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Gazetteers and Maps
Atlases and Maps
This material is available on Cyndi's List as linked in the Other
Internet Resources section of this document.
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Bibliography and Literature
Scherer, Anton, Donauschwäbische Bibliographie / Das Schrifttum
über die Donauschwaben in Ungarn, Rumänien, Jugoslawien und Bulgarien
sowie - nach 1945 - in Deutschland, Österreich, Frankreich, USA, Canada,
Argentinien und Brasilien [Danube Swabian Bibliography / Writings on
the Danube-Swabians in Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, and since
1945, in Germany, Austria, France, USA, Canada, Argentina and Brazil]
Volume I. 1935-1955, Verlag des Südostdeutschen Kulturwerks, 1966,
Volume II. 1955-1965, Verlag des Südostdeutschen Kulturwerks, 1974,
Volume III. 1965-1975, Verlag des Südostdeutschen Kulturwerks, 1997,
Historical Literature (in English)
Bausenhart, Werner. German Immigration and Assimilation in Ontario,
1783-1918. Ottawa and Toronto: LEGAS, 1989.
Bell, Winthrop P. The 'Foreign Protestants' and the Settlement
of Nova Scotia. Sackville, New Brunswick: Mount Allison University,
1990. (Original edition: University of Toronto Press, 1961.)
Des Brisay, M.B. History of the County of Lunenburg. London
Einarsson, Magnús and Taylor, Helga Benndorf, eds. Just
For Nice: German-Canadian Folk Art. Hull, Québec: Canadian Museum
of Civilization, 1993.
Epp, Frank H. Mennonites in Canada, 1786-1920: The History of
a Separate People. Toronto: Macmillan, 1974.
Froeschle, Harmut, ed. The History and Heritage of German Immigration
to Canada. Canadian Germanica. Occasional Papers, 3. Toronto: German-Canadian
Historical Association, 1982.
History in Modern Times (4 vols.)
The Historical Society of Mecklenburg, Upper Canada publishes the German-Canadian
Lee-Whiting, Brenda. Harvest of Stones: The German Settlement
in Renfrew County. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985.
Lehmann, Heinz. The German Canadians, 1750-1937: Immigration,
Settlement, and Culture. Trans., ed. and introd. Gerhard P. Bassler.
St. John's, 1986.
Leibbrandt, Gottlieb. Little Paradise: The Saga of the German
Canadians of Waterloo County, Ontario, 1800-1975. Trans. G.K. Weissenborn.
Kitchener: Allprint Co., 1980.
Lowell, Edgar J. The Hessians and Other German Auxiliaries of
Great Britain in the Revolutionary War. Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikal
Noonan, Gerald, Kathleen Wilken, Vera Tanner and Wienfried Laurier.
- Ontario - Canada. W.V. (BEU) Uttley, 1975, 454 pages.
Ramsay, Bruce. A History of the German-Canadians in British Columbia.
Vancouver: Alpen Club, 1958.
Rompkey, Ronald. German Emigration to Nova Scotia in the Mid-Eighteenth
Century. Edmonton: Alberta Genealogical Society, 1983.
Wilhelmy, Jean. German
Mercenaries in Canada.
Wright, Esther Clark. Planters and Pioneers, Nova Scotia, 1749
to 1775. Hansport, Nova Scotia: Lancelot Press Ltd , 1978
Antique books of the Mennonites
include Prussian history and genealogy.
Hier finden Sie historische Literatur auf Deutsch.
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Avotaynu is a major publisher
of works on Jewish genealogy, including German-Jewish and Jewish-Canadian
genealogy, supplying books, microforms and electronic media to libraries
Baxter, Angus. In Search of Your Canadian Roots, revised and
updated edition, 1994.
Baxter, Angus. In Search of Your German Roots: A Complete Guide
to Tracing Your Ancestors in the Germanic Areas of Europe, 3rd ed.,
1994, reprinted 1999.
Jonasson, Eric. The
Canadian Genealogical Handbook: a Comprehensive Guide to Finding Your Ancestors
Merz, John. Publications
on Hessian soldiers and their families in North America.
Punch, T.M., and Sanborn, G., eds. Genealogist's Handbook
for Atlantic Canada Research, 2nd edition. available for order through
the New England Historical Genealogical Society, Sales Department, 160
N. Washington St., Boston MA 02114, or phone (617) 624-0325.
Rottenberg, Dan. Finding Our Fathers [tracing Jewish genealogy],
1977, reprinted 1998.
Smith, Clifford N. Mercenaries
from Hessen-Hanau Who Remained in Canada, 1976.
Smith, Leonard H. Jr., and Smith, Norma H. Nova Scotia Immigrants
to 1867, vols. 1-2, published 1992-1994.
Thode, Ernest. Address Book for Germanic Genealogy, 6th ed.,
Thode, Ernest. German-English Genealogical Dictionary, 1996.
Weiner, Miriam, ed. The
Encyclopedia of Jewish Genealogy: Sources in the United States and Canada,
vol. 1, 1991.
Archives and Libraries
The genealogy section of National Archives
of Canada / Archives nationales du Canada website will direct you to
many on-line sites for starting your research in Canada, and to the locations
of the branch provincial and territorial archives. The site is available
in both English and French. They are physically located at 395 Wellington
St., Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N3.
Archives nationales du Québec, Section de généalogie
Québec, C.P. 10450 Sainte-Foy (Université de Laval), Québec
Direction des archives nationales de l'ouest du Québec, 1945 rue
Mullins, Montréal, Québec H3K 1N9, phone (514) 873-3064.
Direction des archives nationales de
l'est du Québec, 1210 avenue du Seminaire, C.P. 10450 Sainte-Foy,
Québec G1V 4N1, phone (418) 643-8904.
For some national denominational church archives / libraries, see also
the Church Records section
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History Centers, supported by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day
Saints (Mormon), are located throughout Canada. Their extensive genealogical
records and materials, including those particular to Germanic and/or Canadian
research, can be ordered and transferred from one center to another.
German Genealogy: Guide to Libraries
The National Archives of Canada / Archives
nationales du Canada and the National Library of Canada are located
at 395 Wellington St., Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N3.
The North York Public Library, which merged with the Toronto
Public Library in May, 1999, is Canada's second largest source of genealogical
data, surpassed only by the National Archives of Canada. Note that browsing
their catalogue requires the use of Telnet software. The address
is: North York Public Library, Canadiana Dept., 6th floor, North York Centre,
5120 Yonge St., Toronto, Ontario M2N 5N9, phone (416) 395-5624.
Cloverdale Library, 5642 - 176A St., Surry, British Columbia V3S 4G9.
Surrey Public Library, 15105 - 105th Ave., Surrey, British Columbia
V3R 7G8, phone (604) 588-2997.
Bibliothèque municipale de Montréal, Salle Gagnon, 1210 Sherbrooke
Est., Montréal, Québec H7L 1K5.
Regions of Origin
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- Deutsche Presse; weekly; German/English
1 year: in Canada, $65 CD; USA and overseas, $120 CD or airmail, $259 CD
Subscription: Deutsche Presse
455 Spadina Ave., Suite 303
Toronto, ON M5S 2G8
Tel: 416 / 595-9714
Fax: 416 / 595-9716
Email: Deutsche Presse
- Das Echo; monthly; in German; founded 1979; minimum 32 pages
1 year: in Canada, $22; in the USA, $22 US; overseas, $36 CD or $50 CD airmail; or $2 / issue
Subscription: Das Echo
1111 Bough Beeches
Mississauga, ON L4W 4N1
Tel: 1-888 / 522-3653
Fax: 514 / 335-3185
Email: Das Echo
- Echo Germanica; monthly; German/English
Subscription: Forster Enterprises
383 Vaughan Rd.
Toronto, ON M6C 2N8
Tel: 416 /652-1332
Fax: 416 /658-6909
Email: Echo Germanica
- Kanada Kurier; weekly; in German; founded 1889
1 year: $68 CD; overseas $123.78 CD
Subscription: Courier Press Limited
955 Alexander Ave.
Winnipeg, MB R3C 2X8
Email: Kanada Kurier
Accessing Telephone Records
Other Internet Resources
The Canada section of Cyndi's
List contains extensive listings of on-line genealogical resources
in Canada including maps, gazetteers, mailing lists, postal codes, phone
listings, military links, cemetery data, and much, much more.
InGeneas.com has extensive databases
and research services specifically for Canadian genealogy.
Rootsweb.com is a well-established,
international site offering many services, including a surname database
and a German-Canadian
mailing list .
Canada GenWeb Project
/ Projet GenWeb du Canada is an ongoing venture with links to genealogical
data and information for all of Canada, with links to the Provincial sites.
It is connected with the Rootsweb.com server.
Palatines to America is
a genealogical society which particularly focuses upon German-speaking
ancestors who emigrated from anywhere in Europe to the United States and
Ships Transcribers Guild maintains lists of immigrants out of certain
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Last update: 7-December-1999 (mf)
Contributions and suggestions may be emailed to: WebMaster.
This page created by Jennifer Publicover and Jerry Frank. Thanks
also to Monika Ferrier, Helmut Flacker, John Merz, and Richard Heli for
their generous assistance.