Monday, March 23, 2015

The Netherland's Gifts

One of the Dutch newcomers after World War II was a lawyer and investment banked named Jan Bloom. He put together a consortium of Dutch investors with the aim of reclaiming a flooded area, 2,833 hectares, near Maple Ridge. This area is now known as Pitt Polder.

To overcome stringent, post-war Dutch currency controls, the group packaged its engineering skills through the newly established CBA Engineering and sold know-how in B.C. The Pitt Polder company survived for years on CBA's profits from such projects as the Port Man Bridge, the Keenleyside Dam and other bridges around the province. The Dutch investors attracted local participants by the mid-1960s until they sold out in 1989.

Many of these immigrants came to farm, However, there were also a fair amount with trade-school diplomas. There were ten brothers from the Van Vliet family. They were all employed at Van Vliet Construction and built landmarks such as the Bloedel Conservatory for one, The Van Vliets were joined by other high-profile Dutch-born engineers, builders and such.

The Dutch were also involved in forestry. Dutch entrepreneur, Nick Van Drimmelen built one of the Cariboo's first integrated lumber operations.

The United Flower Growers Co-op is in Burnaby and it operates Canada's oldest Dutch flower auction. Nearly 100 nurseries, largely owned by Dutch immigrants, supply potted plants and cut flowers to B.C., the prairies and the U.S. via the auction. You can see the Dutch presence in garden centres, landscapers and the supply trade. The largest greenhouse vegetable operation in this area is run by .... Dutch immigrants.

And we can't forget about the tulips the Netherlands gift to Canada. To read more about that, please read an earlier post I wrote here.

Dutch-Canadians have copied part of their society in the Netherlands. They built Calvinist churches and started Christian school systems. They operate homes for the aged and the handicapped; provide services for the mentally ill. The Dutch have even formed a Christian labour union.

These institutions reach beyond the Dutch community. Dutch Roman Catholics blended in with existing churches, schools and organizations. By the 1970s, the Dutch were emerging in leadership positions in different areas and quite a few Dutch-Canadians have entered local and provincial politics.

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.

I hope you find the beauty around you.