As our research is concentrating on German speaking immigrants in BC my posting today is about Swiss emigrants in Western Canada. The first most famous Swiss settlers in Canada were brought in by the Canadian Pacific Railway to guide tourists through the mountains in Western Canada. To make them feel more comfortable in Canada, the company for example built several chalets in typical Swiss architecture near Golden, BC and called it Edelweiss Village.
One of the interesting mountaineers who came from Switzerland was Conrad Kain and 144 of his letters he wrote during his time in BC were collected and published by Zac Robinson, historian in the Faculty of physical education and recreation at the University of Alberta. In one of his letters from 1909 he writes for example about the train trip from Quebec to Winnipeg:
” The trip from Quebec to Winnipeg is wonderful. For almost two days, you drive through forest and pass a thousand lakes! You see no houses for hours. Not like at home, every two kilometers a little house, a signal box station.”
A little bit later he writes about being homesick:
“I often think I have to get it out of my head and not think of home, but the old thoughts return whenever one sees something familiar and that is how you will feel. I don’t know whether you know homesickness? I tell you it is horrid! No food tastes good, no smoking helps, and not even work.”
Please check out these websites for more information:
Edelweiss Village, near Golden, BC
Conrad Kain – Letters from a Wandering Mountain Guide, 1906 – 1933