Off we go to Canada
On 3 May 2018 Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet opened the presentation Off we go to Canada at the Open Air Museum.
This presentation in the farmhouse from Midlum, Friesland, tells the story of the wave of Dutch emigration to Canada in the 1950s. These Dutch people sought their fortune overseas, but were also confronted with difficult and emotional choices. They had to leave everything behind and start again from scratch. In the presentation these dilemmas are highlighted in various ways. Visit the presentation now at the Holland Open Air Museum!
After the Second World War the Netherlands was poor. For farmers and labourers, but also trained professionals, the future held few opportunities. One in three Dutch people considered emigrating. They were faced with a difficult decision: to stay or embark on an adventure. More than 400,000 Dutch people actually decided to take this huge step. The province of Friesland was particularly affected by emigration, with Canada proving the most popular destination.
A Frisian Farmhouse
The farmhouse from Midlum is more than 300 years old. It originates from the north of the province of Friesland, where the farmers cultivated grain crops and hay on the fertile clay soil. The cows produced dung for use on the land as well as milk for buttermaking.
Why has a Frisian farmhouse been chosen for this presentation? Frisians were keener to emigrate than people from any other part of the Netherlands. At the height of the exodus 7% of the inhabitants of some Frisian villages decided to leave their homeland behind.
What would you do?
More than a million Canadians are of Dutch ancestry. Some of them are keen to hold on to their language and culture and are members of Dutch associations or Dutch religious communities. They celebrate Dutch festivals and love eating Dutch foods. In Canada you can find ‘Dutch shops’ filled with liquorice, treacle waffles, Conimex satay sauce and other products that serve as a reminder of home.
In the 1950s emigrating is a huge step. You’ll be leaving your home behind for good and won’t have the money to make regular trips back. And where will you end up? Many Dutch families have heated discussions around the kitchen table about whether they should stay....or go. What would you do?
Photo: Mayor of Arnhem Ahmed Marcouch, Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet and former director of the Holland Open Air Museum Willem Bijleveld at the opening of the presentation 'Off we go to Canada'.
Photography: Wim de Knegt