Dutch Settlements

In 2001, 32,300 residents of Saskatchewan claimed to be of Dutch origin: 6,445 completely and 25,860 partially. Close to a million Canadians are entirely or partially of Dutch descent. However, in Saskatchewan far fewer people have ever claimed to be Dutch-speaking than to be of Dutch origin, at least partly due to the fact that many Mennonites, who traditionally have spoken a German dialect, have claimed Dutch origin (Menno Simons, the progenitor of the Mennonite faith, lived in the Netherlands). In 2001, only 1,930 Saskatchewan residents recognized Dutch as their mother tongue. In 1892–93, Frisian farmers arrived in Winnipeg, the vanguard of a larger group of Dutch immigrants assisted by the Christian Emigration Society to homestead around Yorkton, although only a small number actually made it to their destination—most remaining in Manitoba. By 1904 Dutch immigrants, primarily from Iowa and Montana but including some directly from the Netherlands, settled in southern Alberta around Granum, Nobleford, and Monarch (where their settlement was named Nieuw Nyverdal after their place of origin in Overyssel). Subsequently a Dutch Catholic settlement developed around Strathmore, also in southern Alberta, in 1908, and a Dutch Calvinist settlement, Neerlandia, near Barrhead in northern Alberta, in 1912. These successful settlements would encourage further Dutch settlement in all three prairie provinces.

In Saskatchewan, Dutch Americans settled near Moose Jaw in 1908, then in the Cramersburg rural district in the RM of Miry Creek near Abbey in 1910. The first settlers (named De Vries, Veltkamp, Vry, Van der Wall, Leep) were men who lived in tents while building wooden houses and barns, before being joined by their wives and families. The railway arrived in nearby Cabri in 1912, facilitating settlement. However, this settlement started to break up in 1919-23 due to drought, influenza, hard winters, light crop yields, and low grain-buying prices; several families returned to the United States. Meanwhile, Edam, near Turtleford, became a post office in 1908, continued to be settled in 1914-17, and became a bicultural Catholic community shared with French neighbours. Other rural Dutch concentrations emerged around Leoville and Morse, while Dutch immigrants continued to arrive in Saskatoon, where they established a Dutch (now Christian) Reformed congregation which has long been served by Dutch-origin pastors.

Alan Anderson


Further Reading

Ganzevoort, H. 1988. A Bittersweet Land: The Dutch in Canada, 1890–1980. Toronto: McClelland and Steward.