A Scattering of Seeds: The Creation of Canada
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General History


Today, many towns in Saskatchewan, including St. Walburg, Paradise Hill and Lloydminster are beneficiaries of the rich artistic legacy Berthold Imhoff left in their churches. Huge religious scenes adorn the ceilings and walls of both the old Roman Catholic Church in St. Walburg, and Our Lady of Sorrow Church in Paradise Hill. In addition, Lloydminster has over 250 of Imhoff's works on display, which includes painting from his early years to works completed shortly before his death.

It has been said that Imhoff's gift was turning little prairie churches into cathedrals, and introducing both beauty and art to the poor farmers of the prairies whose lives were so harsh.

Berthold was prolific and chose never to sell any of his paintings (a tenet he lived by since he turned down the equivalent of $3000 for his portrait of Prince Frederick William.) There is no shortage of his works. Approximately 200 painting are on display at the museum, and an additional 250 works that hung in the museum from 1939 until 1983, when the museum was closed for 10 years, can be viewed at the Imhoff Art Gallery in Llodyminster today. They are not for sale. There is now a "Count Berthold von Imhoff Heritage Society in Saskatchewan and his former studio has again been opened to the public.

According to the 1996 Canadian census, 2,757,140 persons of German descent are now living in Canada. Of this number, 726,145 identified themselves as being exclusively of German origin while 2,030,990 claimed German as one of their origins. As we have seen, few Canadians of German origin came from the German nation-state. Most came to Canada from central or Eastern Europe.

Most German Canadians today live in Ontario, followed by Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. In 1996, there were 95,545 Germans living in Vancouver; 78,760 in Edmonton; and 57,520 in Winnipeg. In Ontario, there were 116,955 living in Toronto; 47,675 in Kitchener; and 26,540 in St. Catharines-Niagara. A total of 60,765 of the 102,930 German Canadians in the province of Quebec lived in Montreal. And in the Maritimes, there were 101,050 in Nova Scotia and 30,450 in New Brunswick.

Since the beginning of their settlement in Canada, Germans have contributed much to the growth and development of our country. Initially, as missionaries, soldiers, fishermen, boat builders, and farmers and, later, as artisans, engineers, manufacturers, entrepreneurs, professionals, and artists, German Canadians have made a dramatic impact on the economic sector. German immigrant work gangs were a necessary precondition to the growth and development of packing houses, machine shops, mills, railway yards, and construction sites in such western cities as Edmonton, Calgary, and Medicine Hat. Farmers began grape growing in the Niagara Peninsula, and craftsmen established themselves in wood processing and furniture production, tanning, brewing, and in the production of rubber goods and textiles.

An important pioneering industrialist in the West was Alfred Freiherr von Hammerstein of Alberta, founder of the Alberta Herald, the Athabasca Oil and Asphalt Company, and early developer of the Alberta Tar Sands. In British Columbia, the daring investor and speculator, Gustav Constantin Alvo von Alvensleben, was believed to have pumped $7 million into the provincial economy in the pre-World War I period. As well, Montreal exporter Wilhelm Christian Munderloh is remembered for helping to initiate the first steamship connection between Canada and Europe in the 1860s.
In 1906, Adam Beck, E.W.B. Snider, and D.B. Detweiler of Ontario combined their business savvy and community effort to create a public utility, the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario, later changed to Ontario Hydro. In the nineteenth century, music proprietors, Abraham and Samuel Nordheimer, followed by Theodore August Heintzman, became Canada's leading piano manufacturers.

Among the scientists of distinction on the international scene is Gerhard Herzberg. This physicist, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1971, helped to establish the reputation of the National Research Council of Canada as a scientific “centre of excellence.”

Many other Germans who came to Canada as musicians with the early British regimental bands stayed on as music teachers. These men and others such as Joseph Hecker, who founded the Winnipeg Philharmonic Society in 1880, and Dr. Augustus Vogt, founder of the Mendelssohn Choir in Toronto, did much to develop Canadians’ appreciation of good music. The late Elmer Iseler, a native of Kitchener, made a great contribution to choral music in Canada as conductor of the Mendelssohn Choir and as the founder and director of the Festival Singers of Toronto. Postwar arrival Herman Geiger-Torel helped make opera a lively part of the Canadian arts scene as general director of the Canadian Opera Company.

Germans have been active in the public life of Canada from the earliest days of their settlement. At least two of the Fathers of Confederation – Charles Fisher of Fredericton and William Henry Steeves of Saint John – were of German origin. Over the years, many have also been elected as members of the federal and provincial governments. The Right Honourable John G. Diefenbaker, of mixed German and Scottish descent, was Prime Minister of Canada from 1957 to 1963.

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