The 1986 Canadian census indicated that 900,000 Canadians were of German origin. When broken down by linguistic origin, 1.7 million Canadians indicated German.11 The Germans continue to be the third largest ethnic group in Canada. Their contribution to the Canadian tapestry is immense, from the settling of both coasts to economic contributions. Many of the early immigrants were soldiers, followed by farmers, artisans, machinists, skilled and semi-skilled labour.
Canada's West, which became the bread basket of Canada, owes its cultivation to the thousands of Germans and Ukrainians, who came to Canada between 1870 and 1914. Until the outbreak of World War I, the German community and its influence thrived in Ontario and British Columbia. Following the outbreak of the war and the humiliation faced by German Canadians, many tried to hide their country of origin. This was graphically illustrated in the 1921 census, when the number of Germans in Canada declined dramatically.12
In Waterloo, Ontario, the former city of Berlin is now known as Kitchener, Ontario. The name was changed during the first World War, to try and elevate some of the hostility felt by the town. Kitchener is still home to a large German population (including many German-speaking Mennonites) and the German culture is still celebrated each year with Oktoberfest. Other German communities have lost their language and identity as a result of the two wars.
Economically, the Germans have tended to prosper in Canada. They have retained management of their German-owned companies, and are prominent in the technical fields. Even the Niagara Peninsula wine-growing region owes its start to German immigrants.Previous Page - - Next Page