Kevin Waugh (Saskatoon—Grasswood)
2016-11-21 11:46 [p.6967]
Mr. Speaker, I wish to speak today to Motion No. 73, German heritage month. As deputy critic of the heritage committee of our party, I totally support the motion.
My province of Saskatchewan has a very high population of German-ethnic groups that came to our region well over 100 years ago. In fact, in my riding of Saskatoon—Grasswood, 31% of our residents are listed German-ethnic origin, which is the fourth highest in the province of Saskatchewan.
We are proud to have the German Cultural Centre in my riding of Saskatoon—Grasswood. That centre hosts many events throughout the year. It has two banquet facilities and a very large dining area that serves traditional German foods. I was just at the facility yesterday, and the menu featured traditional Bavarian dishes such bratwurst, beef goulash, rotkohl, sauerkraut, schnitzel, reuben, strudel, spätzle, and many more.
Folkfest is a tradition in our city. Every August, it gives our German community a chance to showcase its heritage and its traditions. It is one of the more popular pavilions during the three-day Folkfest in August. Food and drink, along with bands and dance, are showcased, such as traditional German beers known worldwide, which have a rich and bountiful taste. Entertainment includes the Concordia Brass Band, the German choir, the German folk dance, and so on.
In fact, the highest population of ethnic-Germans in our provinces comes from the riding of Carlton Trail—Eagle Creek, which, by the way, surrounds the city of Saskatoon.
Although I was born in Saskatoon, I actually spent 11 years in a community called Humboldt. Humboldt is one of four settlements of German Catholics in Saskatchewan. There were also a number of German Protestant settlements, mostly Lutheran. People of German origin have become the largest ethnic component, nearly 30% of our total population of Saskatchewan.
The city of Humboldt is named after Baron Alexander von Humboldt, a world-famous German scientist. The history of Humboldt was influenced by the establishment of St. Peter’s Colony. A businessman formed the German American Land Company back in 1903 and purchased 100,000 acres of the railroad land in the district. The company enticed German Catholics living in the United States to homestead in the St. Peter’s Colony. The St. Peter’s Abbey began back in 1903, with the arrival of seven Benedictine monks from Collegeville, Minnesota.
Many German-speaking Roman Catholic immigrants had settled in the area. By 1903, homesteads reached over 700. By 1910, over 8,000 thousand arrived. Then, by 1930, it was home to 18,000 Roman Catholics.
Even today, as we drive down Main Street in Humboldt, a number of businesses still have a Bavarian theme on their buildings. They are proud of their tradition and their German culture.
My wife’s family settled north of Humboldt, in an area called Marysburg. My wife’s parents, Ray and Caroline Albers, had a small farm about three miles north of Marysburg. The family included their two sons, Jerry and Ed, and three daughters, Lois, Ellen, and Ann.
Everything they produced back then was homegrown. The huge garden in the summer produced fresh vegetables. They would also can those vegetables, like carrots, beets, and pickles, so they could be eaten in the cold winter nights.
Strawberries, along with raspberries and Saskatoon berries, were plentiful and were made into jams and jellies. Homemade bread and buns were a tradition, and sometimes bread dough was deep-fried and dipped in sugar, cinnamon, or honey, a special German treat known back then, and still today in our culture, called spitzbuben.
Chicken and other homegrown meats were cut, wrapped and taken to the town of Humboldt back then for storage. There was no electricity, or even running water. However, the work ethic of this family and their culture is world-renowned.
Jerry and Ed later would leave Saskatchewan and move to Alberta, and later British Columbia, but the work ethic of these two men produced a great entrepreneurship, a tribute from their parents. The three daughters all became successful teachers, with Ellen moving away to Alberta to pursue her teaching career with her husband Rick, who was also a teacher. Lois stayed in the area living in Lake Lenore. She was married to Frank Yeager, and they raised a strong family of entrepreneurs. Anne became my wife and moved to Saskatoon to raise two children. Our children have followed in their mom’s footsteps and have also became teachers.
What is interesting about the Albers family is that the children have 100% German ancestry, which is rather unique for anyone whose family has been in North America since the last 1800s, and in Canada since the turn of the century.
Some of the German traditions and values were common to many European cultures, and later North American pioneers. From my experience, German people valued intellect, hence their education, and certainly this family with all three daughters in education. They value discipline, hard work, and a job well done. It is no surprise when we look at the landscape of Saskatchewan, and especially around Humboldt, that we call it the iron triangle as many businesses have been set up, producing farm equipment for worldwide.
Living off the land is what this group of German ethic people did best, producing grains, animals for milk and meat, raising their own beef, pork, chickens, and, yes, sometimes the odd goose or even a duck. There was also wild meat.
The Germans are known for their rich tradition of making sausage, hence all the bratwurst dishes. Every meal, of course, included potatoes, which is another German tradition. Some of the best German sausage in the world is made in right our province. A schnitzel is a thin, boneless cutlet of meat, which is coated in breadcrumbs. One can choose a wiener schnitzel, which is made of veal, or a weinerart schnitzel, which back then was made of pork.
Families often made their own butter and cottage cheese, and apple strudel, the popular dessert. It is a buttery pastry filled with apples flavoured with sugar, along with cinnamon, raisins, and breadcrumbs. The delicate flaky pastry is made from an elastic dough, which is kneaded and stretched until it is paper thin. It takes a real talent, but when perfected, it is one of the great foods in the world.
Women certainly worked very hard, not only preparing the meals and looking after the family, but making family clothes, like coats, knitting socks, mitts, and toques.
The church was the centre of the community for both social and religious life. Even when times were tough, parishioners donated large amounts of money to the church. Many of the churches in our area in Saskatchewan have sensational art work, like original paintings on the walls and ceilings. They even have marble alters. Every fall, parishes around Saskatchewan would have their church picnic and everyone would attend. Social events centred around family and neighbours. Large extended families often visited back and forth. Card games like schmear were very common.
Oktoberfest, as we all know, is the world’s largest funfair. Many communities in my province celebrate this long tradition. Oktoberfest is an important part of Bavarian culture, having been held all over the world since 1810. In Canada, it is modelled after the original Munich event.
It is my pleasure to speak in the House today in support of a rich German culture and heritage, which has built our country strong for over 149 years.