A Scattering of Seeds: The Creation of Canada
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General History
Overcoming Obstacles, Coming to Canada

René Richard came from a family of watch-makers and the harshness of the Canadian winter and the back-breaking labour took them by surprise. Like many of their compatriots, they were ‘green horns' as far as farming was concerned and most of them soon gave up the plow to start small shops. Richard's father, for example, founded his shop in Cold Lake to supplement the family's income. Some Swiss immigrants became involved in bicycle manufacturing and the first clock-making factory in Canada was started by the Pequegant family. As their 1903 catalogue stated: ‘The Manufacture of clocks in Canada was thought by many to be an impossibility as former attempts had proved unsuccessful. However, trusting in the glorious possibilities of our fair Dominion, we surmounted every obstacle and as a result are now able to state that we have laid a solid foundation for a clock industry in the country...'1

The majority of Swiss immigrants who came to Canada spoke either German or French, with a small percentage having Italian as their first language. Swiss individuals who were already established in Canada helped the newer immigrants adapt to their new lives. Through clubs and festivals, the Swiss-Canadians kept some of their native land's traditions alive. The Swiss Mennonites who had traveled up from Pennsylvania after the American Revolution, settled for the most part in the Niagara, Grimsby and Waterloo areas of Ontario. They brought with them farming techniques such as fertilization and crop rotation which had not been used in Ontario up to that point. The Mennonite farms were among the most profitable ones in the province their farming techniques soon emulated.

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