Sunday, July 12, 2015

Swedes in Canada

Swedes in Canada: Invisible Immigrants by Elinor Barr
University of Toronto Press: 7/2/15
eBook review copy, 576 pages
Trade Paperback ISBN-13: 978-1442613744

Swedes in Canada: Invisible Immigrants by Elinor Barr is a very highly recommended definitive history of Swedish immigrants to Canada.

Barr has done exhaustive research into this very complete history of Swedes in Canada. "Since 1776, more than 100,000 Swedish-speaking immigrants have arrived in Canada from Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Ukraine, and the United States." Barr covers a wide range of topics, activities, and areas of interest, both historical and much more recent. "Active in almost every aspect of Canadian life, Swedish individuals and companies are responsible for the CN Tower, ships on the Great Lakes, and log buildings in Riding Mountain National Park. They have built railways and grain elevators all across the country, as well as churches and old folks homes in their communities. At the national level, the introduction of cross-country skiing and the success of ParticipACTION [promotes physical activity and the health and wellness of children and their families in Canada] can be attributed to Swedes." Just as in the USA, Canadian Swedes can be rather reticent to share their legacy as immigrants.

Being of Swedish descent myself, I was fascinated by this in-depth look at Swedes in Canada. Barr's research and presentation is impeccable and impressive (even with the few digs at American Swedes). I was especially impressed with how thoroughly she covered the roles of women, traditionally and historically. Honestly,  much of the societal and familial aspects of the Swedes in Canada that she presented can be seen in my own history and heritage. I found this book utterly fascinating; however, I will also readily admit that the appeal will be generally limited simple due to the topic. Swedes in Canada is a remarkable accomplishment. There is a website too:

As is my wont, I was thrilled to see the presence of a wide variety of appendices and notes, an extensive bibliography, and an index. Swedes in Canada also contains several pictures, charts, diagrams and maps in the text.
Contents include:
1. Under an Invisibility Cloak
2. Emigration from Sweden, Immigration to Canada
3. Immigrants
4. Settlement Patterns
5. Religion
6. World Wars
7. The Swedish Press
8. The Depression, Strikes and Unions
9. Earning a Living
10. A Woman’s Place
11. Swedishness in Canada
12. Links with Sweden
13. Language, Discrimination and Assimilation
14. Literature
15. Emerging Visibility
Appendices: Place Names, Firsts for Swedes in Canada; Vasa Order of America; Ambassadors; Consuls General; Consuls; Vice-Consuls; Honour the Pioneers
Bibliography (extensive)

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of
University of Toronto Press via Netgalley for review purposes.

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