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Thread: Ethnic German Communities in Canada

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    Ethnic German Communities in Canada

    Could someone enlighten me a little bit on this theme? I've heard much about the German communities in the USA, but not so much in Canada. Where are the majorst German communities, where German is spoken and the German cultural heritage lives on? Which areas from Germany do these peoples come from predominantly?

    Advanced thank you.

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    I live in an area of Ontario with a pretty big German presence, although it sometimes escapes you if you're not part of it. One of the bigger cities around here was founded by Mennonites and then settled by Germans from Germany later on, and was called Berlin (name changed during WWI I think). They still apparently have the biggest Oktoberfest outside of Germany (not sure if that's true but it's what they say) and there is also a Christmas Market called Kristkindlmarkt. German (especially varieties of Low German) are pretty widely spoken by Mennonites at least, and taught in most of the regions schools. There are a few German Language contests actually for high school students at the universities, and on top of that there are at least half a dozen German cultural clubs in the area (even one for Transylvanian Saxons actually). Many of the smaller towns are named after German cities (Mannheim, Baden, etc.). Even though my city itself was settled by fewer Mennonites than the rest of the surrounding area, we still have to visit heritage museums as kids in elementary school.

    I can't tell you about the rest of the country, but I know there are a lot of Mennonites / Hutterites in the Western Provinces (Manitoba, Alberta especially I believe).

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    The main German settlement was in southern Ontario, around what is now the Kitchener-Waterloo area. As Svartljos states, it originated as a Mennonite settlement, but with increased immigration from Germany in the mid-1800s, it it became the focus of Canada's German community. Many I believe were from Baden and Wurttemberg. There were other concentrations of German settlement around what is now Markham, Perth County, and the counties surrounding Kitchener-Waterloo. Kitchener used to be named Berlin, but was changed in 1916. There were also riots in Berlin/Kitchener during the war in response to the Canadian government banning German-language newspapers, etc. After 1945, a number of German immigrants settled in the Kitchener area, and it has a number of German clubs and German radio programming.

    The settlement of the Prairies also resulted in a number of concentrated districts, primarily in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The Hutterites came to Canada in 1918 because of problems that they were experiencing in the USA.

    There were also Germans who came to Nova Scotia in the 1700s and several tens of thousands of German mercenaries who fought for the British during the American Revolution. They mostly settled in Ontario and Quebec, but have since assimilated.

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    There are the Hutterites, a community of Anabaptists similar to the Amish in Pennsylvania and other Mennonites throughout the New World:

    Hutterites are a communal branch of Anabaptists who, like the Amish and Mennonites, trace their roots to the Radical Reformation of the 16th century. Since the death of their founder Jakob Hutter in 1536, the beliefs of the Hutterites, especially living in a community of goods and absolute pacifism, has resulted in hundreds of years of odyssey through many countries. Nearly extinct by the 18th and 19th century, the Hutterites found a new home in North America. Over 125 years their population grew from 400 to around 50,000. The Hutterite community has one of the highest fertility rates.
    Originating in the Austrian province of Tyrol in the 16th century, the forerunners of the Hutterites migrated to Moravia to escape persecution. There, under the leadership of Jakob Hutter, they developed the communal form of living based on the New Testament books of the Acts of the Apostles (Chapters 2 (especially Verse 44), 4, and 5) and 2 Corinthians—which distinguishes them from other Anabaptists such as the Amish and Mennonites.
    Just as the Amish and Old Order Mennonites often use Pennsylvania German, the Hutterites have preserved and use among themselves a distinct dialect of German known as Hutterite German or Hutterisch. Originally based on a Tyrolean dialect from the south-central German-speaking Europe from which they sprang in the 16th century, Hutterisch has taken on a Carinthian base due to their migratory history. In the years 1760 -1763, the Hutterites were joined by a large group of Lutherans who spoke a Carinthian dialect. Eventually, this led to the replacement of the Hutterite's Tyrolean dialect with the Carinthian dialect. Partly as a result of this, the Amish and Hutterite German dialects are not generally mutually intelligible. In their religious exercises Hutterites use a classic Lutheran German.
    The mid-2004 location and number of the world's 472 Hutterite colonies:

    * Canada (347)
    o Dariusleut (142): Alberta (109); Saskatchewan (31); British Columbia (2)
    o Schmiedeleut (106): Manitoba (105); Alberta (1)
    o Lehrerleut (99): Alberta (69); Saskatchewan (30)
    Source

    And the Russian Mennonites (don't let the name fool you, they're actually Prussian/Dutch/Frisian):

    The Russian Mennonites are a group of Mennonites descended from Dutch and mainly Germanic Prussian Anabaptists who established colonies in South Russia (present-day Ukraine) beginning in 1789. Since the late 1800s, many of them have come to countries throughout the Western Hemisphere. The rest were forcibly relocated, so that few of their descendants now live at the location of the original colonies. Russian Mennonites are traditionally multilingual with Plautdietsch (Mennonite Low German) as their lingua franca.
    In the early-to-mid 1500s, Mennonites began to move from the Low Countries (especially Friesland) and Flanders to the Vistula delta region in Royal Prussia, seeking religious freedom and exemption from military service. They gradually replaced their Dutch and Frisian languages with the Plautdietsch dialect spoken in the area, blending into it elements of their native tongues. Plautdietsch is the distinct Mennonite language which developed over a period of 300 years in the Vistula delta region and south Russia.

    In 1772, most of the Mennonites' land in the Vistula area became part of Prussia in the first of the Partitions of Poland. Frederick William II of Prussia ascended the throne in 1786 and imposed heavy fees on the Mennonites in exchange for continued military exemption.
    The state of Kansas owes its reputation as a wheat-producing state in large measure to its early Mennonite settlers. Winter wheat was introduced to Kansas in 1873. The following year the Mennonites, who had experience with dry land farming in Russia, quickly took advantage of its characteristics resulting in rapid expansion of the milling industry in the State. It was planted in the fall and harvested in the following summer, and was therefore ideally suited to hot, dry Kansas summers. Today Kansas is a top producer of wheat in America. Swiss Volhynian Mennonites settled in the Moundridge, Kansas and Pretty Prairie, Kansas areas. The Swiss Mennonite Cultural and Historical Association tells their story. Mennonites of Dutch-Prussian descent (who speak a language known as Plautdietsch, which can be loosely translated as "Low German") settled much of South Central Kansas.

    After 1870 many Russian Mennonites, fearing state influence on their education systems, emigrated to the Plains States of the US and the Western Provinces of Canada. They brought with them many of their institutions and practices, including separate denominations heretofore unseen in North America, like the Mennonite Brethren. The largest group of Russian Mennonites came out of Russia after the bloody strife following the various Russian revolutions and the aftermath of World War I. These people, having lost everything they had known, found their way to settlements in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, British Columbia and Ontario and in many regions of the United States. Some joined with previous Mennonite groups, while others formed their own.

    Source

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    I recently saw a TV ducumentary about a German family immigrating to Steinbach, Manitoba.
    It is a small town with approximately 13000 inhabitants. 7000 of them are Germans.
    The Mayor's name is Chris Goertzen. It was also founded by Mennonites like many other German settlements in Canada an the Plautdietsch language is still spoken there.

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    Nearly extinct by the 18th and 19th century, the Hutterites found a new home in North America. Over 125 years their population grew from 400 to around 50,000. The Hutterite community has one of the highest fertility rates.
    I find that very impressive. Too bad that they do not value war and it is, of course, unlikely that they take measures to improve the quality of their offspring along with the numbers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hauke Haien View Post
    I find that very impressive. Too bad that they do not value war and it is, of course, unlikely that they take measures to improve the quality of their offspring along with the numbers.
    Not quite sure what you mean by "improve the quality". They take measures to keep their children from being corrupted: they believe in hard work, they isolate themselves sometimes in remote northern areas where they turn poor soil into productive farmland, and they generally have maintained their ethnic heritage. I think that they have done much that we all could learn from.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gardisten View Post
    Not quite sure what you mean by "improve the quality". They take measures to keep their children from being corrupted:
    A healthy culture makes sure that people realise their potential, but no one can ever exceed it; that is what the generational cycle is for. A soft approach to this would be that people in higher positions of the social hierarchy have a slightly (or proportionally) higher number of children than those in lower positions, assuming the qualities that recommend people for such positions are also qualities that a people wants to proliferate among the general populace.

    It is not enough to simply breed and raise people in a faith, one also has to advance biological quality and the resulting competence that can shield the whole venture against competition. But as I said, they succeed at a fundamental level without needing much power, whereas others consistently fail there.

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    Would this be of interest?

    http://www.scq.ubc.ca/reading-week-tuesday/

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    The study mostly describes genetic health issues, but the introduction also mentions that "their communal lifestyle ensures that all Hutterites are exposed to similar environments, including a traditional diet, proscription on smoking and birth control measures, and only occasional alcohol consumption."

    If there is no pronounced hierarchy with disparate environments, then it is unreasonable to assume disparate fertility rates.

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