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June 03 , 2009

Swedes in Canada

Invisible Immigrants


Since 1776, more than 100,000 Swedish-speaking immigrants have arrived in Canada from Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Ukraine, and the United States. Elinor Barr’s Swedes in Canada is the definitive history of that immigrant experience. 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 can be attributed to Swedes.

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Despite this long list of accomplishments, Swedish ethnic consciousness in Canada has often been very low. Using extensive archival and demographic research, Barr explores both the impressive Swedish legacy in Canada and the reasons for their invisibility as an immigrant community.

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