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

The Period of 1900 to 1945: Community Life

The presence of such small numbers of Dutch in Quebec during the first half of this century was not conducive to the formation of ethnic institutions. Nevertheless, there were some, especially in the Montreal area.

In the first place there was the Netherlands Consulate. Already in 1856 conditions warranted the appointment of an honorary Vice-Consul for that part of the province situated west of Quebec City. Located in Montreal, the Vice-Consulate came under the Consulate General in Toronto, the only one in Canada, which was eventually answerable to the Dutch Embassy in London (U.K.). The above was the result of an agreement between the Netherlands and Great Britain to admit consular agents in the ports of each other's colonies and overseas possessions (Consul General, Montreal, personal communication, March 3, 1983).

Consular responsibilities for the Canadas, later Canada and Newfoundland, seesawed between Toronto and Montreal. By 1895, or even earlier, a Consulate General for Canada was apparently established in Montreal. However, in 1902, responsibility reverted again to the Consul General in Toronto. This lasted until 1922 when a career Consul General was appointed in Montreal, who soon was given responsibility for Canada and Newfoundland. Evidently, Ottawa began to gain in importance in the early 1930's but not enough to warrant the transfer there of the Consulate General, al though the Montreal Consul General himself seems to have resided there. Instead, a Special Envoy and Minister Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary was appointed in Ottawa in 1939, without this affecting the territory of the Montreal post (Netherlands Consul General, Montreal, personal communications, March 31, 1983, July 7, 1983).

Even though Ottawa's role grew in importance during and after World War II, it took until 1952 before a realignment of territorial responsibility took place that would move the centre of gravity from Montreal to Ottawa. In that year the Montreal post was demoted from Consulate General to Consulate, and its territory became limited to Quebec, the Maritimes and St. Pierre and Miquelon (Netherlands Consul General, Montreal, personal communication, July 7, 19831.

Ganzevoort (1975) mentions that the Consul General was considered a pillar of the community, and he must have seemed formidable indeed (p. 203), The importance of his post combined with the natural prestige of the diplomat among the class-conscious immigrants of the period, as well as the paucity of highly placed and influential persons in the Dutch community, must have made him a key person that people in distress would turn to. On the other hand, if the current situation gives any indication of how it might have been during the inter war years, many Dutch may never have registered with the Consulate, especially if they did not face major health or employment problems, or if they intended to move on to the United States. Thus, the Consul's view of the Dutch in Quebec may have been coloured darker than necessary, and his remarks made earlier must be seen in that light.

Much less clear than the history of the Consulate is the history of other institutions. Not surprisingly, there were no Dutch churches. It was unlikely that the few hundred immigrants, divided among many denominations, were in a position to form one or more congregations. Residential concentration, then as now, must have been weak. One person interviewed knew of a few families in Verdun, another knew some Dutch people in the Town of Mount Royal. There is no report of a Dutch enclave, however small, in Montreal, which is another factor discouraging institutionalised bonds.

There is at least one report of an association, called "Door Eendracht Sterk" (Strength through unity). Established by Dutch professional people in Montreal, its aim was to give information and aid to Dutch immigrants (Ganzevoort, 1975: 203). It is not clear if this was the same society referred to by V (J. Lowensteyn [cassette recording) 1985) when interviewed. He could not remember the name, and variously called it the Netherlands Society,"Je Maintiendrai" (the motto of Dutch Royalty and a popular name for Dutch Clubs), the Dutch Club, etc. It might have been the forerunner of the Holland-Canada Society which existed at least during the war years. V cooked Dutch food for the dinner parties organised by this club to celebrate important Dutch events such as the Queen's Birthday, St. Nicholas, and Leiden's Ontzet (Liberation of Leiden from the Spaniards in 1572). He said these were well attended, although the number of 300 persons mentioned by him, probably referred to such dinner parties after the war when there were more Dutch immigrants living in Montreal (V, Tape I, side 2, 25:151.

It is unlikely that the small Dutch community of the inter-war years was served by more than one such society. In any case, V could not recall any other Dutch institution or support structure, formal or informal, for newly arrived immigrants such as came into being after World War II, nor could any of the other persons interviewed. In fact, V himself began providing some of these services. His involvement in finding employment for Dutch immigrants referred to him by the Consulate or others has already been mentioned earlier. His other involvement was with the Sailors' Institute. His own extensive experience as a sailor, from age 13 to age 31 (interrupted only by several years compulsory military service during World War I) as well as his wife's connections with the seafaring world (her father was a ship's engineer) were instrumental to this. Being community service minded, V responded positively to a Dutch sea captain's request to "look after one of his boys" who had to be left behind in a Montreal hospital. From this time on the person at the Sailors' Institute who normally undertook this task referred cases of Dutch sailors to the V's, and in the process became fast friends with the couple. The contact was established in 1934 and V estimates that he and his wife "took care" of about 30 "boys" in the next six years. Taking care means that the V's would visit the patient as soon as they heard of a case, provide small amenities, interpreter services, contact the patient's family and, between release from hospital and his next sea voyage, provide transportation and social outings. In short, the sort of thing a minister might have done (V, Feb. 26, 1983, Tape I, side 2, 6:00).

Summing up, one can say that the Dutch community in Montreal stood out more for what was lacking than for what it had to offer. Consider the following:

(1) In the 1920's the Emigration Central of Holland had appointed representatives in Toronto, Hamilton, and Winnipeg, whose task it was to assist with immigrant placement (Hartland, 1959:1541. These representatives assisted by Advisory Boards (in Toronto and Winnipeg) would have been a focal point in any com munity. In Montreal there was no such focal point.

(2) Host pre-World War II Dutch adhered to Canadian churches, particularly the United Church (followed in order by the Anglican, Baptist, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, and Lutheran Churches). However, the Reformed Church in America and the Christian Reformed Church each with a smaller number of adherents, had an important role in the ethnic community . Neither of these two Dutch Calvinist sects were formally present in Montreal (Canada, 1951:49).

(3) Montreal was not the only city lacking a Dutch newspaper which could have been an important means of maintaining bonds within the group. Not until the post-war period would a Dutch language press begin to appear anywhere in Canada (Canada, 1951:49).

The small size and weak structure of the Dutch community in Quebec would have restricted the opportunity of marrying within the group. The above quoted report states some conclusions regarding intermarriage, based on information found in the Annual Reports on Vital Statistics (Canada, 1951:62-64). For example, the Dutch in Canada show a marked tendency to marry outside their own group. Across Canada the proportion of Dutch fathers who married women of the same group had decreased from 47.0% in 1921 to 42.7% in 1947. Variation between provinces was considerable, e.g. in 1947 the proportion of fathers who had married outside their own group was 82.5% in Ontario and 21.1% in Manitoba. Overall, they had a preference for women of British stock. Although the Report states that the Dutch showed only a slight tendency to intermarry with persons of French origin, and that mainly in Quebec, the figure quoted of 18.1% of Dutch fathers in Quebec who had married French women in 1947, seems surprisingly high. The explanation may be that it concerns mostly descendants of Loyalists, farmers in the Eastern Townships, who now mix freely with their French neighbours.

In any case, the high rate of intermarriage can be seen as both a result of, and contributing to, the weak community structure of the Dutch in this province.