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Le Heritage Trails sont présentés de courtoisie CKUA Radio Network et Cheryl Croucher

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German Immigration, Part Three

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In the early part of the 20th century, so many German-speaking people emigrated to Alberta, they quickly became the second-largest ethnic group in the province.

German settlers integrated well into the new Alberta society, and prospered until World War One, when Great Britain and Canada took up arms against Germany.

And during World War One there was a great deal of resentment of these people, who had settled in the area, and a lot of hostility towards them, particularly towards the Mennonites. These people were pacifists, as well as German and German-speaking, and so would not take up arms against other Germans in the Old Country. And so there was a lot of hostility, and during the war and shortly after, a number of communities with German names, like Karlstadt, became Alderson, and Whittenburg became Lisedale, and little Dusseldorf became Freedom, because of the extent of hostility of people towards Germany.

As a result of the public shunning, German immigrants kept a low profile during World War One.

And in Edmonton, what was called the Ukrainian Bookstore, it was closed down. It was a German bookstore - it was the "Ukrainian Bookstore," but it was run by Gustav Koorman, and was primarily a German organ. And his newspaper, "Der Herald," was closed down, and, of course, during World War One a lot of Germans, a lot of Ukrainians, were interned. Not that they were expressing any hostility towards the Canadian government; because of their background, from the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, or from Germany itself in some cases. Simply picked up, physically, and forced to live in labour camps, where the authorities could keep an eye on them.

The end of World War One brought another flood of German settlement during the 20s and 30s.

There were a lot of people escaping the hardships of the depression, and, in 1938, a lot of Suedentan-Germans came to settle, and there was big colony of them up in Tom's Lake in northeastern British Columbia.

And during World War Two, also, many people of a Germanic background were urged to keep a very low profile. Of course, by this time, very many ethnic Germans had totally integrated within western Canadian society, and actually joined the military and did serve to fight other Germans in the Old Country.

Because of the two World Wars, German ethnicity in Alberta was not allowed to express itself with the flamboyance of other groups, such as the French and Ukrainian communities, even though they were the second-largest ethnic group in the province.

On the Heritage Trail,

I'm Cheryl Croucher.

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            For more on the history of settlement in Alberta, visit Peel’s Prairie Provinces.