Polish and German Culture
Who they are
- The Germans (German: Deutsche) (also called Teutonic or Gothic in older literature) are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages. Legally, Germans are citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany.
- The name Germany is derived from the Latin word Germania, which, at the time of the Gallic War (58–51 B.C.E.), was used by the Romans to designate various peoples occupying the region east of the Rhine. The German-language name Deutschland is derived from a Germanic root meaning volk, or people.
- The Germans, and other people who lived in what is now Germany and Eastern Europe, were Indo-Europeans, originally from the area between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.
- Germany is the wealthiest member of the European Union (EU), an association of 27 countries that work together in issues of trade, security, and human rights.
- Germany with 81.8 million inhabitants, it is the most populous member state in the European Union. It is one of the major political powers of the European continent and a technological leader in many fields.
- The Polans (Polish: Polanie) was derived in the tenth century from the name of a Slavonic tribe near Poznan. It means dwellers or people of the field, meadow, or plain.
- Polish people are a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Poland. They speak the Polish language, which belongs to the historical Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages of Central Europe. The Polish word for a Polish person is “Polak” (masculine) and “Polka” (feminine).
- Polish culture has been greatly influenced by its ties with the Germanic, Latinate and other ethnic groups and minorities living in Poland like the Jews. The people of Poland owing to this central location came very early into contact with both civilizations – eastern and western, and as a result developed economically, culturally, and politically.
- Polish people are the sixth largest national group in the European Union.
When they arrived
- Canada’s Germans have come from virtually every east European country, Asiatic Russia, the United States, and Latin America. (German colonists had been migrating to Eastern Europe since the middle ages and to colonial America since 1683.).
- Canada’s main source of Germans was Russia – especially from the Volga, the Black Sea coast and Volhynia. The next largest number came from Austria-Hungary, especially Galicia and the colonies of the so-called Danube Swabians along the Danube River between Austria and Romania.
- Canada’s oldest cohesive German settlement developed in Nova Scotia between 1750 and 1753 when 2400 Protestant southwest German farmers and tradesmen landed with their families in Halifax.
- By 1760 an estimated 200 German families could be identified along the St Lawrence River – mainly families of soldiers, seamen, artisans and army doctors.
- The first significant group of Polish group-settlers were Kashubians from Northern Poland, who were escaping Prussian oppression resulting from the occupation. They arrived in Renfrew County of Ontario in 1858, where they founded the settlements of Wilno, Barry’s Bay, and Round Lake (Ontario).
- The first Polish immigrant on record, Dominik Barcz, is known to have come to Canada in 1752. He was a fur merchant from Gdańsk who settled in Montreal. He was followed in 1757 by Charles Blaskowicz, who worked as deputy surveyor-general of lands. In 1776 arrived army surgeon, August Franz Globensky.
- Wilno, Ontario is the first and oldest Polish settlement in Canada. The original settlers in this area circa 1858 were mainly of Kashubian origin from the then German-occupied area of Poland. One of the reasons they chose this area to settle was because of the landscape which reminded them of their original homes. In 1862 a group from Prussian Poland went to Berlin (Kitchener), Ontario
- There have been six district phases of Polish immigration to Canada: 1850s–1880s, late 1890s–1914, the 1920s, 1945–56, 1957–80, and 1981–91
- From September 1939 to mid-1944 Poland was divided and occupied again, and millions left their homes; almost one thousand Polish engineers, technicians, and skilled workers, all war refugees, arrived in 1941 in Canada, where they contributed significantly to the war effort.
Language: German and Polish.
- German is a West Germanic language related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90– 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world’s major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union.
- German Canadian population: there are 622,650 speakers of German according to Canada census in 2006, while people of German ancestry (German Canadians) are found throughout the country.
- In the first half of the 20ᵗʰ century, over a million German-Canadians made the language Canada’s third most spoken after French and English.
- German-speaking communities are particularly found in British Columbia (118,035) and Ontario (230,330). There is a large and vibrant community in the city of Kitchener, Ontario, which was named Berlin. German immigrants were instrumental in the country’s three largest urban areas: Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. Source: Statistics Canada 2006
- Fifteen public high schools (twelve in Ontario and three in western provinces) offer credit courses in Polish, with 450 students and twenty-three teachers.
- Since 2010, the German Language School has been teaching German at the Hansa Haus in Mississauga. Since 2008, in the elementary sector, the German Language School teaches German at Saints Peter and Paul Elementary School in Mississauga.
- Theologian Luther, who translated the Bible into German, is widely credited for having set the basis for the modern “High German” language. Among the most admired German poets and authors are Lessing, Goethe, Schiller, Kleist, Hoffmann, Brecht, Heine and Schmidt.
- Nine Germans have won the Nobel Prize in literature: Theodor Mommsen, Paul von Heyse, Gerhart Hauptmann, Thomas Mann, Nelly Sachs, Hermann Hesse, Heinrich Böll, Günter Grass, and Herta Müller.
- In 1867, the year of Canadian Confederation, there was 18 German-language newspapers in Southern Ontario.
- Polish (język polski, polszczyzna) is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland (being that country’s official language) and by Polish minorities in other countries. Its written standard is the Polish alphabet, which has several additions to the letters of the basic Latin script.
- Polish belongs to the west Slavic group of languages of the Indo-European language family, which in turn is part of the Nostratic macrofamily. Poles use the Latin alphabet.
- Polish Canadian population: there are 242,885 speakers of Polish, with a particular concentration in Toronto (91,810 speakers).
- Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof, Polish doctor and linguist was the creator of Esperanto, the most successful constructed language designed for international communication.
- According to Statistics Canada (2006) the German ethnic origin population in Sault Ste. Marie is 7185 people, and Polish ethnic origin is 2880 people.
- The German emigration flow was quite high in Southern Ontario in the 19th century, with the highest population around a community hub called Berlin, renamed Kitchener in 1916.
- In the 1820s, people of German origin in Ontario made up 70 per cent of the population.
- While Germans are one of the largest constituent ethnic groups in Canada, they are considerably less visible than others. In part this is because the great waves of German immigration were many decades ago and since then Germans have been largely assimilated. Culturally, linguistically, and physically, there is far less to distinguish Germans from the Anglo-French majority compared to other immigrant groups. Also important is that during both the world wars the Germans were regarded as enemies. Many Germans attempted to hide their German ancestry, some ceasing to speak German, and some even changing their surnames. Some German place names were renamed, such as that of Berlin to Kitchener, Ontario.
- After World War II, the Polish community in Sault Ste. Marie became progressively larger; in the 1950s, it consisted of approximately 1000 Poles.
- Polish community in Sault Ste. Marie is about 100 families. Source: Sault Star 2010 newspaperhttp://www.saultstar.com/PrintArticle.aspx?e=2530105.
Religion, Values and Traditions
- In Germany, the basic kinship group, as defined by law, is the nuclear family, consisting of opposite sex partners, usually married, and their children; and, in fact, the majority of households are made up of married couples with or without children.
- German cuisine varies from region to region. Pork, beef, and poultry are the main varieties of meat consumed in Germany, with pork being the most popular.
- A popular German saying has the meaning: “Breakfast like an emperor, lunch like a king, and dine like a beggar.” More than 300 types of bread are sold in bakery shops across the country.
- Christmas Trees: In Germany, the Christmas tree isn’t decorated until Christmas Eve. This Christmas tradition originated in Germany as part of the Yule celebrations. Traditional tree decorations included candy, apples, nuts, angels, candles, cookies and tinsel.
- Oktoberfest is one of the most popular German traditions world wide. This beer-drinking holiday began in October of 1810 at the Bavarian wedding of Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen.
- Catholicism is the most widely practiced religion. Life’s milestones such as weddings, baptisms, funerals, first communion and confirmation are influenced by the religion. Chapels and altars constituted an indispensable element of domestic life, gathering families everyday and focusing their thoughts on family and patriotic matters.
- Poland is an example par excellence of the imagined community and of the ability of nationalism to shape the world. Poland exists because individuals voluntarily fought for a free and united Poland. History is one of the themes used to create a commonality and a feeling of pride. Poles consider themselves to be members of a community.
- John Paul II (1920-2005) probably the most famous Pole ever, Pope John Paul II was born Karol Jozef Wojtyla in the small town of Wadowice in Poland. By being elected pope by the Catholic Church in 1978, he became the first non-Italian pope in 455 years.
- Family and home are precious values in the Polish culture. The family is the institution where, above all and in the first place, aid is sought in crises and in difficult situations, rather than in specialized institutions as is the case in many Western countries.
How did they contribute to life in Sault Ste. Marie
- The German and Polish presence is deeply felt in the Bruce Mines and Sault Ste. Marie community with several contributions in business. German based businesses including restaurants such as Bavarian Inn, Bobber’s Restaurant and Motel, Hotel Amogla Camp, Innovation In Wood to name just a few.
- Germany is Ontario’s sixth-largest trading partner. In Ontario there are approximately 60 German companies, operating about 400 Ontario business establishments, and employing about 30,000 people.
- Ontario is the first province to officially recognize the contribution Canadians of German ancestry have made to the province by proclaiming “the day following Thanksgiving Day in each year” German Pioneers’ Day.
- Cultural contributions of Polish cover a broad spectrum including media, publishing industry, religious presence, artistic life, cuisine and museums as well as festivals.
- The Polish Charles Horecki contributed in 1872 to the exploration and railway construction possibilities of the land from Edmonton to the Pacific Ocean, through the Peace River Valley. Today, a mountain and a body of water in British Columbia are named after him.
- The Polish contributed in the medical and pharmaceutical sciences, hundreds Polish physicians, surgeons, dentists, pharmacists, medical technicians, and nurse staff of our hospitals and teaching institutions in Canada.
- The Polish Tadeusz Sendzimir was an engineer and inventor of international renown with 120 patents in mining and metallurgy, his name has been given to revolutionary methods of processing steel and metals used in every industrialized nation of the world.
- The Germans and Polish have invented and designed many products that are used in Canada and around the world today. These inventions have improved industry, health, and everyday life such as: Aspirin ( German)Bayer Health Care Canada ( German), Cars (BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Porsche, VW) ( German), Electric & electronic goods (Siemens, Bosch) ( German), the carbonated Beer (German), Classical music (Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, Wagner, Strauss(German), The first computer( German), the ring binder( German), The television ( Polish), the world’s first effective live polio vaccine ( Polish), The first Film camera ( Polish), The Blue Jeans (German), Warner Brothers entertainment ( Polish), The first formulation of the concept of vitamins to name just a few.
Holidays and Celebrations
- German Settlers Day June 7th. It day is kept and observed each year on June 7th in the Province of Nova Scotia. This date was established in the 58th General Assembly of the Nova Scotia Legislature in 2001 under the title German Settlers Day Act to recognize the German settlers of Nova Scotia.
- Day of German Unity (Tag der Deutschen Einheit) October 3rd. This holiday celebrates that day in 1990 when the two German states again became one country. Germany’s problem with open patriotism means that it is not usually celebrated with fireworks.
- Fastnacht, Fasching or Karneval November 11. Pre-Lenten festivities celebrated in grand style in mostly the predominantly catholic regions of the German-speaking countries. The Rhineland has its Karneval, Austria, Bavaria and Berlin calls theirs Fasching, and the German Swiss celebrate Fastnacht.
- Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest is an annual nine-day festival in the twin cities of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Based on the original German Oktoberfest, it is billed as Canada’s Greatest Bavarian Festival. It is held every October, starting on the Friday before Canadian Thanksgiving and running until the Saturday after and attracts an estimated 750,000-1,000,000 visitors every year.
- Kashub Day The first Saturday in May is called KASHUB DAY. It is a celebration of the rich and unique Kashub culture in Wilno , Ontario
- Constitution Day May 3. (Swieto Konstytucji Trzeciego Maja) – On this day, Poland celebrates the Constitution of 3 May, 1791 that was Europe’s first codified constitution.
- Corpus Christi (May/June) – A religious holiday. This feast is celebrated in the Latin Church on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday to solemnly commemorate the institution of the Holy Eucharist.
- Dozynki – Harvest Celebration September or October. The Dozynki or Harvest Celebration is by far considered to be one of Poland’s most revered traditions.
- Feast of Greenery September 8 (Matki Boskiej Zielnej). Some places celebrate on August 15 the Assumption, also the date of the Miracle on the Vistula Herbs, vegetables, and other greenery sometimes interwoven with a few flowers from the fields and gardens, are brought to Church and are blessed by the priest. Kept in the home throughout the year, the herbs are brewed and used for medicinal purposes for humans and livestock.
- National Independence Day (November 11) – Poland signed its historic constitution in 1791 but its independence was not until 11 November 1918 that Poland was to regain its independence. November 11 is an important civic holiday that is recognised throughout the country and is marked with patriotic parades and festivities in many of the larger towns and cities.
- St. Andrzejki Day Rituals November 29. This is a special time for young Polish girls who want to find a husband. On this night and the next day, fortunes are told and the results are not taken lightly.
- St. Barbara’s (Patron of Miners) Feast – Miner’s Day December 4. Although there is no caste system, Poland miners traditionally have been elevated to a special social station of their own. Not only for the Feast of St. Barbara, but also for weddings, funerals and other important political or social ceremonies, miners wear an especially smart looking black uniform adorned with red feathers.
- St. Nicholas Day (Św. Mikołaj) December 06. Traditionally, Christmas trees are not displayed until they are put up on Christmas Eve Day, and Jolly St. Nick brought the kids presents on his namesake day, December 6th. This takes crass commercialism out of the Holy Day of Christmas.
- The Vigil & Christmas Eve dinner (Wigilia) December 24. Sharing of Oplatek and leaving an empty chair open at the table for a wayward stranger or Christ Himself if He decides to drop in. Kids watch for the evening star, when it’s spotted the traditionally meatless 12-course meal is served. After, presents are exchanged.
- Pasterka December After Wigilia comes midnight Mass – Pasterka is a midnight mass celebrated between 24 and 25 of December in Poland. A close translation of the name would be “Shepherds’ Mass”. This is a reference to the biblical shepherds, who were visited by an angel and told of the birth of Christ. During the Pasterka, the Poles sing traditional Christmas carols (kolędy).
Associations and Clubs
Notable Canadians of German and Polish Descent
- Claus Flinker– German entrepreneur in Sault Ste. Marie- Master Carpenter & Woodworking Instructor. He receive 2012 Diversity Award for his contribution to help immigrants and newcomers to get employment.
- Romuald Kwolek- Polish Lawyer in Sault Ste. Marie.
- Guenther Krapohl.- German entrepreneur in Bruce Mines.
- Eberhard H. Zeidler –German. Toronto-based architect designed many iconic buildings on the Toronto skyline, including the Eaton Centre shopping complex, Ontario Place on the shores of Lake Ontario, and the Toronto Centre for the Arts.
- Stanley Haidasz Senator -Polish, Canada’s first multiculturalism minister.
- Dana Elizabeth Horochowski- Polish B.Sc., B.Ed., RNCP, RMMS teacher, and owner of Jr. Genius Educational Services Inc. Born February 12, 1965 to immigrant Polish parents and grew up in Sault Ste Marie Ontario.
- Gary Malkowski – Polish former Ontario NDP MPP, Canada’s first deaf parliamentarian, and the first deaf parliamentarian in the world to address a legislature in a sign language, specifically American Sign Language.
- Isaac Hellmuth Polish (1819 – 1901) was the founder of Huron University College and the University of Western Ontario, one of Canada’s leading universities. He was also founder of Hellmuth Ladies’ College, now defunct, formerly of London, Ontario.
- Rosalie Abella- German. Canadian jurist. She was appointed in 2004 to the Supreme Court of Canada, becoming the first Jewish woman to sit on the Canadian Supreme Court bench. She is considered one of Canada’s foremost experts on human rights law, and has taught at McGill Law School in Montreal.