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Elisabet \'Mater\' Basilici People of German ancestry make up the largest of the non-British and non-French ethnic groups in Canada. During the 1880s there was little settlement by Germans in Alberta, however, German Protestant communities such as Bruderheim were founded near Edmonton as early as 1894.

Later in the 19th century, many Germans immigrated to parts of the United States. It is from there that some of the earliest German Albertans emigrated with the opening of the Edmonton Railway in 1892. Of these first German immigrants many lived in less affluent neighbourhoods of the large urban areas, like Andreas Lilge and family Calgary and Edmonton. This was in part due to discrimination they experienced in Canada, and in part due to the formal education the immigrants had when they arrived.  Although these German Albertans were not formally educated, they were well-received because of their diligent and skilled work.  Those of German ancestry came from Poland and Russia as well as those states presently regarded as German.

This amicability changed with the beginning of World War I. During this time the attitude towards Germans in Alberta changed dramatically. They were suspected of being loyal to German interests and potentially seditious to the Allied war effort. Some German Canadians attempted to return to Germany to fight for their country. Some German Albertans were sent to internment camps, one of these at Lethbridge. German cultural organizations, such as a German-language newspaper and German schools, were forced to cease operations. A church in Calgary was destroyed by an angry mob.

Henke family The interwar period brought new immigration into Canada after it had ceased during the war. This immigration continued until the depression. As was the experience for many new arrivals, the optimism of the 1920s gave way as economic depression took hold in the 1930s and particularly for those immigrants who came in search of new opportunity.  

Although attitudes toward those of German ancestry were not as hostile as those present during World War I, there was a general anger toward those Germans that supported the National Socialist (Nazi) movement. After World War II, Germans immigrated into Canada, sometimes to escape punishment for their disloyalty to Germany. Most of these immigrants were educated, although they were often sent to the sugar beet farms of Southern Alberta. Most, once their contract was completed, left for other areas of Canada. Those who came after World War II did not face the challenges of earlier German immigrants, who generally homesteaded and farmed.  Post-WWII immigrants were better educated and adapted to the social mores and values of Canadian society. 
Some believe that Post-WWII immigrants demonstrated a higher rate of social acculturation than other immigrant groups, perhaps due to the lack of cultural organizations for German Canadians and their higher levels of formal education upon arrival. 
 
For more information on German cultural and history, please visit the following website:


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