Friday, March 20, 2015

The Dutch

Vancouver has a lot to thank the Dutch for. In fact, the explorer Captain George Vancouver could trace his roots back to Holland. Vancouver's family name was originally Van Coeverdens. Van Coeverdens is the name of a small town on the Dutch-German border.

Canadian Pacific Railway's W.C. Van Horne was Dutch and he accomplished the near impossible by introducing modern transportation across Canada.

Contractor Andrew Onderdonk was of Dutch colonial stock. He used Chinese labour to build the Yale section of the railroad.

Volkert Vedder and his sons came to this area from New York and their names appear in several places in the Chilliwack area. 

The first Dutch pioneers settled in this area in the early 1900s. Among them was the animal protection activist Baroness Van Steenwyk who later formed the Vancouver SPCA. 

The Dutch have influenced the Vancouver area in many ways. Some notable transplants include Vancouver Symphony director, Allard De Ridder, Vancouver Aquarium direct, Carl Lietze, CCF politician Dorothy Biersteker Steeves, photographer John Vanderpant, orchid grower Jim le Nobel, the Baders of Bader's Dutch Cookies and lawyer Matthew A. Van Roggen who also served as honorary consul of the Netherlands.

By the 1920s, the Dutch immigrant community had grown large enough to organize major social events. In 1926, Holland Society members were instrumental in the institution of the first of British Columbia's 36 Christian Reformed Churches.

Local farmers on Lulu Island, Annacis Island and in Burnaby and Surrey got acquainted with their Dutch immigrant neighbours. The depression of the 1930s and then World War II put a temporary stall in the community's growth; the infrastructure was there for the massive Dutch immigration of the 1950s. 

The early pioneers played an important role in helping the new immigrants settle in an area that contrasted so much with what they were used to.

The above information is from an article entitled "Dutch" by Albert Van Der Heide, which appears in the book, The Greater Vancouver Book, An Urban Encyclopaedia.

If you happen to live in Vancouver or the nearby area, I would like to invite you to the Imperial Theatre at 319 Main Street on March 21 and 22. For the second year, the BIL Conference is gracing Vancouver with its presence. Admission is by donation and you will get to see a variety of speakers talking about some very interesting topics. I am even going to be speaking.

I hope to see you there and I hope you find the beauty around you.

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