The First Wave of Dutch Immigration (1892-1914)
The first wave began in 1892, when a group of single men moved to western Canada to take jobs as farm workers. The next year, 103 people, including families, moved to Yorkton, Saskatchewan, to begin their lives in a new land. Over the next 11 years, about 200,000 more people followed these pioneers. Why did they leave the Netherlands? Many were farm workers who could not earn a living wage in their home country. They lost their jobs as machines took over much of the farm work they had done -- they were desperate. As well, Canada offered good reasons to move here. People in the Netherlands saw advertising and magic lantern shows that promised a good life on the Canadian Prairies. Land was free, and people were told that if they worked hard, they could expect to prosper.
Many Dutch farm workers decided to take a chance and move to the West. They said goodbye to their families and friends, and travelled from Rotterdam by ship on a two-week journey across the Atlantic Ocean. Then they joined many thousands of other newcomers on trains crossing Canada from Halifax or Saint John to Winnipeg. Few spoke English or French, and many found the journey difficult. Canada seemed like a wilderness covered by endless bush. It certainly did not remind them of home. They had to buy food on the platforms whenever the train stopped and hope they would not go hungry before reaching their Prairie destination.
magic lantern shows: shows using glass slides depicting Canada's prairie scenery; given by Canadian officials visiting foreign countries, to promote immigration