Wednesday, April 30, 2014

How Grandma got to Canada

     After my last post telling about my Grandma's story telling ability, I started thinking about how she got to Canada.

    Grandma arrived in Canada about 1902. The real story happens before she got here.

    My ancestors moved to Russia/Ukraine in the late 1700's. Catherine the Great asked Germans to come to farm and show Russians and Ukrainians how to farm more productively. My family were devote Lutherans. They were pacifists. They were promised they could keep practising their Lutheran faith, keep their German language and not be made to join an army.  Over the next 100 years these things eroded away depending on the location. For example, my Grandfather was in Russian army. Land had become scarce and this meant that their children would not have the opportunity to farm and this meant that they had very little opportunity to make a living. Canada was giving land away. They did not have cash so free land looked like a golden opportunity.   All the Germans learned to speak Russian and many learned Ukrainian.

   My Great Grandfather was fearful that they would lose these rights. To him they were absolutely mandatory. They began to think about where to move so that they could maintain their beliefs.Two of the family were sent to Canada to look at the prospects of moving to Canada. They came back with a positive report. Plans were made and by 1900 some of the family had moved. Great Grandpa was the organizer and leader. Great Grandpa had all his adult children and their spouses move to Canada. Many of the in-laws of his children also came with this large family.

    So this is how my Grandma came to Canada. She was not part of the decision making group. Some of her relatives were left behind. She kept in contact with them. My Dad also kept the contact up.

  Now over a hundred years later, probably none of great Grandpa's family speak German. Very few of them follow the Lutheran faith. Many of them have been in the armed forces. Several of Great Grandpa's grandchildren fought in WW II. What would great Grandpa think today? Would he be happy how things turned out? He was a great leader and I think he would agree that he made the best decision by moving to Canada.