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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Ethnicity and assimilation : German postwar immigrants in Vancouver, 1945-1970 Gumpp, Ruth


This thesis analyzes German immigration to Canada in the period following the Second World War and primarily focuses on the settlement of these immigrants in Vancouver. By examining residential patterns, economic experiences, the role of German churches and Saturday schools, language retention, and the secular organizations maintained by Vancouver's German population, it becomes apparent that Germans' attempt to adjust to Canadian circumstances entailed two, seemingly contradictory phenomena: speedy integration and assimilation into the mainstream of Canadian society on one hand, and support for ethnic social, economic, religious, educational, and cultural institutions on the other. The study concludes that assimilation and ethnicity were thus not mutually exclusive. Immigration gave individuals the opportunity to weigh alternatives with regard to social form and institutions, personal values, and the role of their ethnicity in the new life offered by Canada. Consequently, involvement in the local German community may be attributed to as complex causes as the supersession of ethnic origin as a basis of association by other sources of group identification. Yet, even though German-Canadians were highly assimilated into Canadian society by the end of the postwar period, they may have preserved a sense of ethnic identity that did not manifest itself in any visible behaviour.

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