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

The Post World War Two Period: Making a Living

War brides

Little can be said about the economic conditions of war brides as they are not singled out for statistical purposes. One can only assume that they are more or less randomly spread out in terms of income and social class. This would tend to be supported by the many interviews David Kaufman and Tom Huller conducted with war brides (Kaufman & Horn, 1980).

Netherlands Farm Family Movement

It is clear from the discussion in the preceeding section that, although Dutch farmers did well across Canada, the Netherlands Farm Family Movement did not make a great impact in Quebec, because of their small number.

Tuinman (1952) reports that financial improvements had taken place in 65 out of a sample of 70 farm families who had been in Canada 13-24 months. All subjects in a sample of 22 who had been here 37-48 months, had improved their financial status, some of them considerably (pp.64-65). An estimated fifty percent of Dutch farm families who arrived in Canada in the period 1947to January 1, 1952, owned or had shares in a farm by the end of that period (p. 70).

There is no reason to believe that in Quebec, which had excellent farm loan facilities, the situation would be worse. Unofficial reports regarding the status of Quebec farm families come from priests serving the almost exclusively Catholic Dutch rural families south of Montreal.

Various reports by priests in the late 1950's mention 45 families in the area between Clarenceville and Knowlton, and 12 farmers near Sherbrooke, and turn-outs at Mass or social events of 200 persons in the former, and 130 in the latter area. One Dutch priest, who was in contact with all these families, reported four cases of hardship in one year; three due to financial problems, one due to illness (C.C.A. Blommesteyn, personal communication, 1985). An unknown number moved to Ontario, but those who stayed seem to have done well or even very well as the following interviews indicate (J. Lowensteyn [cassette recordings3 1985).

S immigrated with her farming family (mother, three sisters of 19, 14, and 13, one brother, 17) in 1953 when she was 16 years old. An aunt was already living here. She worked elsewhere while the rest of her family ran the small farm they had bought. She found the first years very hard, harder than expected. Nevertheless, they were able to move into a larger farm with government help a few years later, while her married sister took over the old farm (S, Tape I, side 1, 0:15).

R came only in 1958 together with his cousin. They arrived under the auspices of the Young Farmers Programme, a scheme set up in the late 1950's to boost the sagging emigration of Dutch farmers by making them acquainted with an emigration country through a trial stay of nine months. They had to pay for their outbound passage but were guaranteed work at a certain wage level to enable them to save for the return trip. R thought about 60 persons per year arrived. He guessed that 25-30% settled permanently as farmers (R, Tape I, side 2, 2:OO).

R and his cousin had asked for an extension to their stay and used this time to travel across Canada to find the best place to buy a farm. They were attracted by the mixed farming in the East, and R commented that, while farm incomes in Ontario were higher, farm prices in Quebec were lower. Ontario has better climate and soil and in the 1950's it had also a better organization to produce and sell a larger variety of crops than Quebec. But in the intervening years, conditions have changed and Quebec farms now produce a large variety of crops, but farm prices have risen too (Tape I, side 1, 39:50).

R has a thriving 100 hectare farm with 220 head of cattle and, by virtue of his social contacts (he organizes an annual spring picnic for Dutch and Belgian Eastern Townshippers) he knows many Dutch farmers. At the time of the interview (Spring 1983) he thought perhaps 10 or 12 Dutch families live in the Chateauguay Valley (Tape I, side 2, 09:40).

R is a director of the local Union des Producteurs Agricoles and estimates that 50 of the 350 members are new Canadians, most of them French speaking Belgians, the others Flemish, Swiss, and Dutch. He contends that European farming methods had been well ahead of the ones used in Canada 25 years ago, and that the new-comers had acted as trail-blazers and role models for Canadian farmers. "They put on a lot of fertilizer. They built many silos and farms. Contractors did 85% of their work for new-Canadians." Energy and ambition respondent's explanations for this boom. "This is why the gap between Ontario and Quebec narrowed so much... Some farmers brought money from overseas, others borrowed a lot at the Caisse Populaire. As soon as the bank understood that the farmer was a businessman, they offered to lend money!" (Tape II, side 1, 19:45).

R and his wife both agree on the crucial role the wife plays at the farm, and claim that today those farmers that are successful have wives who are actively involved, e.g. by keeping the books, following husbands to meetings, etc. She herself had always worked hard alongside her husband from the beginning (Tape I, side 1, 40:00).

As the only Dutch member of the local Syndicate of Farm Management ("those farmers are real businessmen") R travelled to the U.S.A. to 1earn about more efficient production methods. He, his wife, and his son are taking computer courses given by the Syndicate.

Other Dutchmen in the area are also very involved in Quebec and Canadian society. R's cousin is a cash crop farmer who has been a councillor for six years, and mayor of a small community in the Eastern Townships for eight years. For years he had been president of the Sugar Beet Growers Association of Quebec. R's brother-in-law is involved with the Chamber of Commerce of a larger town. Both men travelled extensively in Canada and the U.S.A. A Dutch friend was, at the time of the interview, president of the Holstein Association of Quebec, another friend was a judge, and a third Dutch friend or acquaintance was president of the Vegetable Growers Association of Canada (Tape II, side 2, 38:20).

Priests and officials of the C.I.S. report in a similar vein on the situation in rural Quebec in the fifties.

Correspondence from R with the C.I.S. and reports from priests and officials confirm R's own story, his contentions about the situation in rural Quebec in the 1950's, and the position of the immigrants in it (C.C.A. Blommesteyn, personal communications, 1985).

The large influx

Notwithstanding the interesting position of the Dutch farmer in the Quebec economy, it must be remembered that the majority of Dutch in this province are urban dwellers. In fact, in 1951 it was reported that "Quebec is outstanding as the only province in which the urban proportion was much higher than the rural" (Canada, 1951:40). Although in 1981 this is no longer the case, among the Dutch in Quebec the urban element still represents 80% compared with 63% across Canada (Census 1981). Most of this change appears to be accounted for by the changes in occupational entrance status that took place when Canada opened its borders in 1950 to a variety of occupations. Whereas the proportion of agriculturists of the total number of Dutch immigrants in Canada in 1949 was still 87.5%, this dropped fairly quickly to 22.1% by 1954 (Tuinman, 1956:183).

During the decades 1951-1971, the Dutch population in Quebec increased by 9,456 persons, that of Montreal by 7.010 (see Tables X and XI). Most came with all the requisites required to be successful immigrants able to make a good living. They had a comparatively high level of education, professional and language skills.

Table XIII shows that there was no illiteracy among the Dutch in Montreal in 1971. And as most post elementary education in the post-war Netherlands involved the teaching of several languages (generally Dutch, English, French, and German), the proportion of individuals with at least a basic understanding of the local language must have been very high, as in 1971 only 4.1% had no more than grade school. It is possible, of course, that this percentage was originally higher, as some might have upgraded themselves since their arrival. But the effort required to earn a living, working in a new language, and getting settled in the new environment would likely have precluded that for all except a few. Nevertheless, the head of the Dutch section Catholic Immigrant Services in Montreal wrote to his superiors in the Netherlands, in 1957: "Poor knowledge of English or French among the Dutch is their greatest problem. It is my impression that less than 25% can understand or respond to an employer" (C.I.S. correspondence, MSR 4743, Box 1, Cremers to van Campen, July 24, 1957).

 Table XIII
Distribution of Education Among Selected Ethnic Groups
in Montreal 1970








With Degree







1+ yrs Univ.







High School







Grade School







No Schooling







Total number







 15 years and over and not attending school
Source: Statistics Canada. Special Report No. 6001-00175 AC- 2B-1971

The author of the report does not specify, but it is entirely possible that those with "school English or French" were in this unenviable position at first. However, their basic language education will have helped them to improve rapidly, and quickly move from an initial low status job into one commensurate with their level of education. Richmond found in his cross-Canada study that "It was evident that in those national groups with an average or above average level of education, such as the German, Scandinavian, and Benelux groups, about two-thirds were fluent..." (1967: 142). In any case, Reitz found that knowledge of English upon arrival had only a temporary influence on job status. Language knowledge is linked to education which is the important variable (1980: 171).

The phenomenon of educational upgrading after immigration is much more likely to have existed at higher educational levels, where the immigrant had already enough command of the language to study other subjects in it and where of ten the employer would pay for the course. Particularly in Montreal we know that many immigrants availed themselves of the opportunity to take part time evening courses leading to a university degree. Sir George Williams College (later Sir George Williams University - then Concordia University) was a leader in this field and attracted many new-Canadians, Dutch among them, who had been deprived of easy access to a university in their home country. L's story gives a good illustration. Even then, it was usually only a minority who were in the position and who had the fortitude to upgrade their formal education significantly later in life. It is therefore assumed that the 1971 figures largely reflect the distribution of education among the Dutch upon arrival, that is, no illiteracy, a majority that completed high school, and a relatively high proportion with at least some university education.

Data compiled by E. Gavaki (19851 show that in 1981 the Dutch of Montreal had improved their level of education. Those with grade school education only dropped slightly to 3.5% and those with high school dropped from 68.4% to 62%, whereas those with one or more years of university increased their proportion from 13.6% to 19.5%, and those with a university degree went from 13.6% to 15%. These changes are on the one hand a reflection of the life cycle of the community, and, on the other hand, show a continuing upward mobility.

The existing pattern of occupational concentration among Montreal Dutch is what can be expected with such high levels of education (see Table XIII). Among males in 1971, managers, administrators, and professional s account for 36%. What is perhaps somewhat surprising is the high proportion of factory workers (14%), considering that those with grade school and no schooling combined accounted for only 4%. One explanation could be that many of the Dutch factory workers occupy supervisory positions such as foreman. Personal experience of the author indicates that this might be a possibility. It may also be that these Dutch factory workers were employed in high-tech industries. The data are not refined enough to detect such distinctions (See Table XIV).

 Table XIV
Occupational Concentration of Dutch in Montreal 1971-1981 (Males Females)


 % of Total




% of Total
























Total number  





 Source: Census 1981. Special Dissemmination Report, 64511300-2B-1981 Census.Tables compiled by E. Gavaki, Concordia University.

One can get some idea of the upward mobility that has taken place since the 1950's from the records of the Christian Reformed Church. In 1979, the congregation of the C.R.C. was mostly made up of engineers, maintenancemen, tradespeople, and accountants, a pilot, scientists, a doctor, a businessman, university professors, college and high school teachers, and, the largest group, management personnel. This compares favourably with the cross section of occupations listed on the Act To Incorporate The First Christian Reformed Church: engineers, tradesmen, office clerks, accountants/bookkeepers, a salesman, a plant superintendant, a chemist, and a number of lower ranked occupations (CRC 25th anniversary Al bum, 1979:12).

The high income level among the Dutch in Montreal is reflected in the pattern of residential concentration, although "concentration" is probably too strong a word to use. Of the 9000 Dutch in the Montreal CMA in 1971, one third lived on the West Island, a comfortable middle class, mostly anglophone, area. The rest was spread out over other anglophone areas of the CMA (LaSalle, Verdun, St. Laurent, and Westmount mainly), and some off-island areas (Laval and the South Shore) (J. Lowensteyn, 1981:2&I. LaSalle and Verdun are of ten considered blue-collar communities, while Montreal's wealthiest tend to live in Westmount. The Dutch are thus spread across the whole spectrum of community types, except inner city slums and (hardly) francophone areas.

Table XV
Average Income of Dutch in Montreal, 1971-1981 (Males Females)









Average Income





% of total





 15 years and over and not attending school
Source: Census 1981. Special Dissemmination Report 6451-1300-2B-1981 Census

For the Dutch in Montreal, high level of education and occupation is related to high income. Tables XVI and XVII compare this group with (a) other ethnic groups in Montreal, and (b) Dutch elsewhere in Canada. On both counts the Montreal Dutch score very high. In relation to other ethnic groups, entrance status and lifestyle of the group are part explanations of this phenomenon. As North Europeans they were highly preferred immigrants (Reitz, 1980).

While discrimination and prejudice form an enormous barrier for some ethnic groups, and are troublesome aspects of daily life for others, the post-World War II Dutch immigrants seemed to have little to worry about. One can hardly speak of discrimination in practical terms if the group has attained such high economic status as the Dutch in Montreal, or such prestigeous and influential positions in their profession as some of the Dutch farmers have in this province. Still, there are reports of prejudice. There was U who at the time of his second immigration in Canada, in 1952, remembers being called a "displaced person" (a derogatory term).

 Table XVI
Total Average Income of Selected Ethnic Groups
in Montreal, 1971

 Ethnic Origin

 Total Population

 Average Total Income
















Negro/West Indian



*) Includes 2% of Greek population of Province of Quebec living outside Montreal.
Source: Statistics Canada. Special Report NO. 6001-00175 AC28-1971.


 Table XVII
Population of Dutch Origin, Aged 15 Years and Over,
by Education, Income, and Occupation. Canada, Selected Provinces, and Montreal, 1971






 Canada less Ont. & Que.













 Grade 11












 Prof. /Mgr/Admin.


















 Average Total

 $ 5.581

 $ 5.193

 $ 4.115

 $ 3.929

 $ 3.666

 Source: Statistics Canada. Special report no. 6001-00175AC-2B-1971


Another interviewee, L, still feels like a immigrant: "People let you know you're different", and thinks it is his heavy accent. He talks of discrimination but, at the same time, wonders if he is too sensitive (L, Tape I, side 1, 1710).

Neither man was held back economically at any time, and both are now comfortably off in their retirement years.

As urban people, armed with a certain amount of education and skills (including language skills), they were able to establish themselves quickly and start improving their socio-ecomic condition with a minimum of delay. They were also among the earliest to arrive after World War II which means that by 1971 many were at or close to the peak of their earning power.

In relation to the Dutch elsewhere in Canada, the Dutch in Montreal and, indeed, in Quebec, are in a particularly high position with respect to education, occupation, and income. This likely reflects primarily the low proportion of agriculturists in this province, including the absence of Mennonites. Even though Dutch (and Mennonite) farmers tend to be highly skilled and very successful in their field, their income and education levels tend to be on the low side, bringing the average down. For example, Harry Cunliffe, a Canadian immigration official well acquainted with post-war immigration from the Netherlands, referred to "the simple, unlettered folk who came in the early years" (personal communication, May 6, 1983). These were the agriculturists who settled mostly in Ontario and the Western provinces.