Oral History Interview, Website

First Look at the Website


So this is the first final version of the website for the project BC Through Arriving Eyes. I am almost done with the immigrant stories & wanted to share the first screenshots of the website. I finished almost all transcripts of the conducted oral history interviews, included all photographs and designed the websites. In April next years we will film short documentaries about each interviewed German speaking immigrant which will also be included in the website.

Oral History Interview

More Oral History Interviews

Interview Portrait


During the last two weeks I conducted two more oral history interviews in Victoria & Robert’s Creek. Right now I am working on the transcription of the interviews & formatting the collected photographs. Have a first impression & click through the pictures I posted.

Oral History Interview

First German-Canadian Oral History Interview

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Over the summer I interviewed the first German-Canadians for the research project. Hans & Barbara Milewski immigrated to Canada in the 1950’s from Germany and are both now over 90 years old. I interviewed them for several hours in their home in Maple Ridge, BC and collected hundreds of photos of their life in Canada. It was wonderful to meet and get to know them and I hope it will be as interesting for you to listen to them telling the story of their life in Canada. As long as the project website is not online I am posting some interesting photographs of them here on this blog.


Conrad Kain – Swiss Mountaineer in BC

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


Camels in British Columbia

In 1862 German immigrant Frank Laumeister and his associates came up with the idea to bring in Camels from California to use as pack animals on the legendary Cariboo road during the Cariboo Gold Rush. The 23 camels were a failure as the animals feed were not compatible with the harsh terrain of the Cariboo Road. The last camel of this venture lived till 1905 on a farm near Grand Prairie, British Columbia, now Westwold.


Vancouver from a German-Canadian photographer’s perspective


Fred Herzog was born in Stuttgart, Germany in 1930 and immigrated to Canada in 1952. Shortly after he arrived in Vancouver in 1953 he started to take photographs of the city. Since then he kept on taking pictures of Vancouver and its people. It wonderfully shows the transition of the city over the decades and it would be quite interesting to research the influence Herzog’s German background has on his photographies.

Please check out FadeAndBlurred.com and Vancouver Sun for more information.


German-Canadian Country-Music Singer

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This is the first entry for the “BC through arriving eyes” blog and I wanted to start of with some music. In 1956 Heinz Theodor Schmitz immigrated from Germany to Canada when he was 22 years old. Already in love with musicians such as Hank Williams and country music itself, he changed his name to Hank Smith and settled in Edmonton, Alberta. There are some videos on youtube showing him perform and it is quiet interesting, apart from the retro style, that he has no apparent German accent. Hank became very successful with his recordings and landed several number one hits. He also was the founder of the Canadian Country Music Association. Hank Smith died in 2002 when he was 68 years old. Please check out his music on youtube. It is pretty interesting.

Hank Smith – Take Me Back Into Your World Again