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Alberta German Settlements Banner - Old Farm House in Background

The German Catholic Settlements

German Catholics choose to settle almost exclusively in Saskatchewan. Alberta has only a few more German Catholic settlements than Manitoba.

In 1896, second-generation German Catholic immigrants from the United States began to settle in Pincher Creek along the CPR line in the southwest corner of the province, only thirty kilometers from the Rocky Mountains. They originally came from Westphalia. By 1906 their number had increased to forty families, who formed St. Henry's congregation.

A large German Catholic colony emerged at Spring Lake. The first Germans settled in this fertile and scenic district of the park belt in 1902. Most came from Minnesota and the Dakotas, some from Germany and the Austrian Burgenland. In 1903 and 1904 the entire district was occupied by Catholic Germans from the States. In order to get to their homesteads, the first settlers had to travel eighty to one hundred kilometers by oxcart from Wetaskiwin across the prairie . But the CPR Wetaskiwin-Saskatoon line was soon put with in reach (Daysland station, fourteen kilometers north of Spring Lake) and finally the CNR even built a line right through the colony opened Rosalind, Ankerton and Heisler stations within it. In 1906, about one hundred German Catholic families and thirty single young men for a total of six hundred people from the wide radius around Spring Lake, belonged to the parish found in 1903 by Oblate Father B. Schulte. By 1932 there were three churches, all of them with stately edifices that reflected the prosperity of the war and postwar years: Spring Lake had fifty-six families (353 people), St. Peter thirty-seven families (270 people), Heisler sixty family (440 people) and Wanda twenty-seven families (180 people). Spring Lake and St. Peter have a German priest and a ministry in German to this day, Heisler and Wanda only Englishg-speaking clergy. Five of the thirteen teachers in the schools of the settlement, which extends over several townships, area of German descent. The colonists engage in mixed farming. Potatoes grow well (up to 350 bushels per acre), also wheat, oats, barely and rye. Horses, cattle sheep and pigs can be found on every farm, also vegetable gardens and poultry.

Rosenheim colony (fourteen kilometers south of Provost station) has to be regarded as a extension of the large German Catholic St. Joseph's Colony in Saskatchewan. In 1911 ten Alberta townships directly bordering on St. Joseph's Colony recorded German majorities. Today more than one thousand German Catholics live in a wide radius around Rosenheim.

Fair numbers of German Catholics are to be found also near Beiseker, northeast of Calgary, near Lethbridge, and near Morinville, north east of Edmonton.

In the Peace River district German Catholics from the Rhine and Black Sea leave in Friedensthal near Fairview, other in Berwyn and some in the settlement founded at Battle River in 1928 (North Star, Notikewin).

Few traces are left of the small Catholic colonies of Black Sea Germans, founded near Grassy Lake in 1908: Mariahilf parish (two hundred souls), Sacred Heart parish and St. Anthony's parish. They were never albe to get a German priest, and have more German parochial life.

The 1931 Census records 13,180 Catholics of German origin in Alberta.

The German Canadians 1750 - 1937
Immigration, Settlement & Culture

Heinz Lehmann

Translated, Edited and Introduced by Gerhard P. Bassler