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THE IMPOSSIBLE HOME: Robert Kroetsch and his German Roots
Immigration History

Over 150 years after Martin and Kunigunda Kroetsch immigrated to Canada, their spirit and courage in coming is still the glue that holds the many generations and family circles of their descendants together. And this recognition of German roots holds true in the larger Canadian society. In 1991 one in every ten Canadians acknowledged some amount of German in their ethnic background - not a surprising ratio considering German Canadians are Canada's third oldest and third largest ethnic group of European origin.

And despite the diversity of origins within the German population, German Canadians have still managed to interact as a community. From Lunenburg, Nova Scotia to Waterloo County, Ontario and out into the western provinces, German communities of mixed backgrounds come together in many ways: church membership, voluntary ethnic associations, and in celebration of events symbolic of German heritage such as Oktoberfest, Karneval and German Day(16).

The cultural diversity of the German Canadian mosaic is also reflected in its rich legacy. In Lunenburg, relics of 18th-century German culture are still noticeable. Canada's first illuminated Christmas tree, a medieval German custom, was erected there in 1781 by General von Riedsel, commander of the German troops in North America(17).

The German love of music is evident in the choirs, musicians, conductors and orchestras they started in many Canadian cities. Since the early 19th century, such German Canadian artists as William Berczy, Peter Rindisbacher, Cornelius Krieghoff and Otto R. Jacobi have enriched Canadian culture. Today, German Canadians are among professionals of international acclaim such as architect Eberhard Zeidler, scientists Gerhard Herzberg and Nobel Laureate John Polanyi; and space engineer Claus Wagner Bartak(18).

In the field of literature, there's the great-great grandson to Martin who is a renowned Canadian author. Robert Kroetsch has published over twenty books and has won the Governor General's Award for literature. Kroetsch considers his writing conveys the words and stories and experiences of his ancestors. It comes from a narrative in his mind - a continuous line that goes back hundreds of years.


1-18 - The 1998 Canadian & World Encyclopedia
(McClelland & Stewart, Toronto, 1998).

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