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The Role of the Dutch in the Iroquois Wars
by Peter Lowensteyn

The Post World War Two Period:
Demographics - Part 2

Netherlands Farm Family Movement

By the end of the war, the Canadian Government was devoted to a policy of economic expansion. Rapid industrial development, the result of demands of a war economy, had taken place. The expected oversupply in the labour force after the war did not occur, as the level of industrial production was kept up by switching to the production of other goods. Later, the Korean War gave industry more impetus. Thus, the Canadian Government proceeded to enunciate an active immigration policy.

The general trek to the cities had created a demand for agriculturists. At the same time, the Netherlands was searching for outlets for its surplus population, particularly farmers, and those who had come back from the colonies after the war. Canada appeared as an attractive destination to both the Government and the farmers of the Netherlands. Between the two countries an arrangement was hammered out, known as the Netherlands Farm Families Movement. Screened in Holland, principally by the Netherlands Emigration Foundation, the families were placed in Canada with the help of the Settlement Service of the Immigration Branch (Canada, 1951:30a).

The first group of farmers and their families arrived in Montreal on June 27, 1947. From then, until 1950, after which non-farmers began to be admitted as well, well over 20,000 Dutch immigrants settled the Canadian countryside. An address by Minister of Citizenship and Immigration W. Harris to the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce given in January 1951, contained the following remark:

One of the most successful immigration projects since the end of World War II has been the continuing movement to Canada of Netherlands agricultural families. We have received more than 21,000 fine Dutch immigrants since 1947, and have plans which will, we hope, bring an additional 10,000 to 12,000 during 1951... (cited in Tuinman, 1952:2)The census of 1951 reported 3,129 persons of Dutch origin living in Quebec compared to 2,645 in 1941. The increase of less than 500, accounts for several hundred war brides and a small number of agriculturists and their families, most of whom settled south of Montreal.

On the whole, Dutch farmers avoided Quebec or, after initially attempting settlement there, appeared to have moved away later on. An example is Hr. de W., interviewed for the Multicultural History Society of Ontario. Upon being shown a film about Canada, Hr. de W. decided to go there. He found a sponsor in Woodstock, Ont., who subsequently changed his mind. Thus Hr. de W. arrived in Montreal without a job, but within a few days found one in Aylmer, Que. He had intended to buy a farm, and as he thought the country to be very nice, would not have minded to stay in Quebec, but "it was not as easy there as they had made it sound". After a year Hr. de W. moved to Sudbury, presumably for economic reasons. He worked for INCO and never made it back into farming, or for that matter, to Quebec.

Interestingly, Hr. de W. claims to have received the following advice from Canadian army personnel in 1945: "If you are not a fisherman, don't come to Newfoundland, and if you're in Quebec, go to Ontario or to the West" (De Wit [speaker], June 22, 1982).

When de Department of Colonization of the Province of Quebec and the Canadian National Railway offered financial assistance to Dutch market gardeners who wished to settle in the province's interior, such as de Val d'Or district, only four families had accepted by the spring of 1951 (Canada, 1957: 37).

While the stated reason, that cultural and language barriers in the interior are too formidable to overcome, may be true, a contributing factor to the scant response may be that the number of Dutch vegetable growers in Canada as a whole was considerably smaller than the number of other farmers, making the chances of a positive response so much smaller too (Tuinman, 1956:185). Another reason for the unpopularity of the northern regions appears to be the short growing season. In Ontario, too, relatively few Dutch settled in the North.

The large influx

The number of Dutch immigrants both numerically and as a proportion of total immigration to Canada had traditionally been low. Before 1948 the annual number had never been above 3000 and the proportion rose very slowly from 0.06% in 1901 to 4.27% in 1947. The following year, however, saw a steep increase to 6,997 persons, mostly as a result of the Netherlands Farm Families Movement.

In the latter half of 1950, Canada lifted restrictions on immigration of non-agricultural workers, with dramatic result. The next year 19,130 Dutch immigrants entered, representing 9.48% of the total number of immigrants to Canada (Tuinman, 1950:85). One can speak of a veritable emigration explosion. On the other hand, as Petersen (1955) points out, the rate per thousand population in the Netherlands was hardly higher than during the 1930's (p. 115).

Other characteristics of this post war migration were (1) the comparatively low numbers of immigrants entering Canada who moved on to the United States, which Richmond contends is probably due in part to the tightening up of United States's immigration regulations and quota controls (1967:254), and (2) the low rate of permanent return to country of origin. Hofstede (1967) estimates this for the Dutch to be no more than ten percent in the early post war years, ". . . in most cases it is the wife who had been unable to make the adjustment " (p. 53).

As in the pre-war years, Ontario continued to be the most popular destination, and Quebec one of the least popular ones. The Dutch share these preferences with other immigrant groups. According to the 1961 census, 55% of all post-war immigrants were resident in Ontario, while only 16% were resident in Quebec (Richmond, 1967:257).

As can be seen from Table X, the big influx occurred in the 1950's. With little benefit of chain migration due to a weak population base and lack of supporting ethnic institutions, the Dutch in Quebec more than tripled in numbers between 1951 and 1961, and increased almost fivefold between 1941 and 1971. By comparison, Ontario's Dutch population nearly doubled and nearly tripled respectively.

Even though the absolute numbers still remain small relative to settlement in the other provinces, there is clearly a sudden upswing in the popularity of Quebec as a destination. Table XI may help explain this phenomenon. Census metropolitan areas (CMA's) would represent a predominantly urban population. According to the 1951 census, almost two thirds of the Dutch population of Ontario lived outside CMA's, whereas in Quebec the reverse was true. In 1971, the Dutch living in CMA's in Ontario constituted less than half of their total number in that province, as compared to 80% in Quebec.

As a result of changes in Canadian immigration policy, greater numbers of urban Dutch were attracted, but Quebec already had a more urban Dutch population than Ontario, and maintained this characteristic over the years. The division of CMA populations into "urban core" and "fringe" underscores this as well (see table XII).

 Table X
Population of Dutch Ethnic Origin. Canada and Provinces, 1941-1981





















































































 Source: Canadian Censuses 1941-1981.


 Table XI
Population of Dutch Origin in Canada, Ontario and Quebec, and CMA's within these Provinces, 1951 and 1971

 CMA's in Ontario




 CMA'S in Quebec




























 Ottawa-Hull (Que.)*



Ottawa-Hull (Ont.)*







Ste. Catharines














Thunder Bay





















Total CMA's




 Total CMA's



Total Ontario




 Total Quebec



 * In 1951, Ottawa was reported as one CMA located in Ontario. In 1971, the Ottawa-Hull area was reported as one CMA with an Ontario part and a Quebec part.
Source:. Canadian Censuses, 1951 and 1971


 Table XII
Population of Dutch origin, Montreal-Toronto (1971)







Urban core






 Source: Canadian Census, 1971