Immigrants

Many Canadians have German ancestors. The first big wave of German  immigrants arrived from about about 1850 to the beginning of WWI; a second one left Germany right after WWII. While today we can’t talk of waves anymore, each year a few thousand Germans receive their permanent resident card.

Why do they choose Canada as their new home country? How do they feel after landing in a new country on the other side of the world?

Here we feature diverse perspectives of those who decided to try a new life in the new world. Can you imagine becoming an owner of gold mines in Canada, traveling as a journeyman from coast to coast to coast, or buying your own tower?

Check back regularly as we will add portraits on a monthly basis.

Dramaturg Birgit Schreyer Duarte at the Canadian Stage rehearsal hall

Talk with dramaturg and translator Birgit Schreyer Duarte about German and Canadian Stage Culture

We are always thrilled to see German artists reach an international audience. German dramaturg and translator Birgit Schreyer Duarte is regularly involved in bringing German playwrights to Canadian stages – most recently by translating “Das Ding” by Philipp Löhle for the Canadian Stage. We spoke to Birgit about her work on the edge between Canadian and German stage culture.

Stubbe Chocolates, photos by: Nancy Rahija

"People eat chocolate to bring back their childhood"

When Daniel Stubbe started his first job at a pastry shop in Germany and put on his apron for the first time, he thought to himself: “This feels like home!” Fast-forward 23 years, and we meet Daniel in his store at 653 Dupont Street, Toronto, to hear more about his business, his life, and his plans for the future. One thing is clear right from the start of our conversation: There are worse things than interviewing someone with the smell of chocolate in your nose.

hitchBOT on tour in the US

HitchBOT abroad. Talk with hitchBOT co-creator Frauke Zeller about robots, language and academia

HitchBOT, the talkative cosmopolitan robot from Port Credit, Ontario travelled across Canada, Germany and the United States until its trip came to a sad end when it was vandalized in Philadelphia. We talked to Frauke Zeller, hitchBOT's German co-creator, about creating hitchBOT, media strategies, and academia in Germany and Canada.

Nicoline Beglinger

Living the high altitude life: Nicoline Beglinger, Revelstoke and Durrand Glacier Chalet, British Columbia

Find out why the descendant from the old Woermann dynasty, once upon a time owner of a shipping line in Hamburg, ends up taking care of a remote lodge high up in the mountains of British Columbia.

For John Wannecke, this floatplane was a dream come true. John became his own airline, imagine!

A highflying bush pilot: John Wannecke, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories

When John Wannecke and Yellowknife found each other, this German immigrant from Wernigerode in the Harz mountain range took off. Literally...

Lesson 1 for wannabe gold miners: You need a great hat and muscular arms. Just like George Abermeth.  And it helps if your mother is a German baroness.

The call of the gold: George Abermeth, Dawson City, Yukon

Find out how the son of an engineer and a baroness from Germany struck gold in Yukon, become a millionaire in five years, and became known as wonder boy in Dawson`s mining community.

When Bernhard Güller does this, he is not playing Mikado, a pick-up stick game originating in Europe - he is conducting Mozart.

Orchestrating a symphony: Bernhard Güller from Halifax, Nova Scotia

It had always been Bernhard Güller`s goal to be a conductor. He already dreamt of it when he was a boy in a small German town. Be careful what you wish for. Because you might just end up as a German conductor of a symphony orchestra in Canada!

Miriam Müller

A proud prairie girl: Miriam Müller, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

When she was just 21 years old, she met a Canadian at the catholic World Youth Day in Cologne and Dusseldorf. Nine years later, Miriam is married to Kevin, she lives in Saskatoon in the province of Saskatchewan, and works as the administrative assistant of Chief Darcy Bear of the Whitecap Dakota First Nations.

If you look closely enough, you will see that Jürgen`s shirt matches the colours of the puffin baskets. This is what I call German precision.

Puffin man on a mission: Jürgen and Elfie Schau, Berlin, Germany and Witless Bay, Newfoundland

Jürgen Schau leads a double life – and he doesn`t do anything to hide it. The people in Germany, and especially in Berlin where Jürgen comes from, would be aghast if they saw this man on the East coast of Canada: He is traipsing around at night, in a weird outfit, carrying a torch in one gloved hand, a butterfly net and a basket in the other -  and waders up to his waist.

Cylla von Tiedemann

Talk with Cylla von Tiedemann about Photography and German Roots

Cylla von Tiedemann is one of Canada's most treasured dance photographers. Her work with the world-renowned National Ballet of Canada has graced the covers of magazines, brochures, and gallery walls. Right now, one of her photographs can be seen all over Toronto – the promotional poster for the hit musical “Once”, which is staged by the Mirvish Theatre.

Heidi and Konrad Linckh

On top of the world and no vertigo: Heidi and Konrad Linckh, Gananoque, Ontario

When Heidi Linckh told her parents in Germany on a nice spring day last year what she had just done, they said: “Now all is lost!” Find out how Heidi and her husband Konrad ended up with a 138-metre tall tower in Ontario.

Talk with Barbara Fischer about Art and Being German in Canada

Barbara Fischer, the Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, was born in Bochum, Germany, and moved to Canada after finishing high school. She studied visual arts at University of Victoria in British Columbia and started volunteering at an artist-run centre, getting a foothold in the arts community. We sat down with Ms.Fischer to discuss contemporary art and being German in Canada.

Portrait of Florentine Strzelcyk

From Hamburg to Calgary: The fascination with all things German

Twenty-five years ago, when Florentine Strzelcyk from Hamburg, Germany received the offer to become an exchange student in Canada, she went for Vancouver. Today she lives in Calgary, because it's the place to be for a professor in German Studies. She teaches the “Holocaust on Film” and her expertise is the “Afterlife of Nazis in the Movies”.

Birgit Rameseder

The treasure huntress from Bavaria: Birgit Rameseder, first Montreal, then Yellowknife and Toronto

Birgit Rameseder grew up in Germany devouring books like "The Valley of Kings" about the tombs of Pharaohs in Egypt, getting involved in archeological digs in Bavaria and Amman, Jordan. After immigrating to Canada, she became Chief Geologist for De Beers, the world's leading diamond mining and exploration company.

Ronny as a journeyman: Don't you love his snappy uniform! But Ronny, what are you up to with your stick?

A journeyman taking the high road: Ronny Pahl, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Ronny Pahl has traveled to 46 countries. Fourty-six! And he is only a little over thirty years old. Ronny belongs to a rare species: He was a traveling journeyman.

Immigrants

Visa stamp by Immigration Canada

Bernadette Calonego, author of immigrant portraits

Bernadette Calonego

Most of our immigrant portraits are written by Bernadette Calonego, a freelance Canada correspondent for European German-language newspapers. Writing about German immigrants in Canada made me realise to what extent they helped to shape this country – and still do," she says.