Scandinavian & Baltic States Families of Quebec 18th, 19th & 20th Centuries

Norway – Sweden – Finland – Denmark – Iceland – Estonia – Latvia & Lithuania

Coming to Canada


The offer of Canadian land parcels to settlers in the 1890s attracted Norwegians to come to Canada. Before that time, Norwegians would cross the Atlantic Ocean, land in Quebec City, then migrate south to the United States. As the American Midwest and Northwest became more populated, and immigration policies more restrictive, the Canadian Prairies became the next destination for many Norwegians.


Swedish immigration to Canada began in the 1870s with the first rural Swedish colony, Scandinavia, near the town of Erickson in Manitoba. Originally named New Sweden, Scandinavia was established by three men who organized dwellings to house the first settlers.

Like their Scandinavian counterparts, Swedish immigrants first arrived and settled in the United States and then travelled north to settle in Canada. A large influx of Swedish immigrants from the states of Minnesota and North Dakota migrated to the Canadian Prairie provinces in the 1920s.


It is very difficult to determine the exact date of arrival of the first Finnish settler to Canada. However, Finns began settling in large numbers in the 1880s. During this period, many Finns who had arrived in the United States in the 1860s crossed the border into Canada. By 1890, many communities of Finnish Canadians had formed. The largest of those communities were Nanaimo, British Columbia; New Finland, Saskatchewan; Port Arthur, Toronto, and Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario.


Although there are early accounts of Danes working as trappers in Canada, little documentation exists that describes their experiences. By the 1860s, political unrest, religious divide, and the promise of a better life in America, all contributed to the migration of Danish people to Canada and the United States.


Leif Eriksson was the first Icelander to set foot in what would become Canada. Wineland, the first settlement of Icelandic origin, was established in 1003, and Snorri Þorfinnsson is the first known European born in L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland.

In 1872, Sigtryggur Jonasson traveled to the Muskoka region of Ontario and a group of 100 Icelanders later joined him there. Not satisfied with their settling attempts in Ontario, the Icelanders moved west to Manitoba and established the first lasting Icelandic colony on the continent. 


From 1900 to 1944, fewer than 3000 Estonians immigrated to Canada. Approximately 72, 000 Estonian political refugees fled to Sweden and Germany in 1944 to escape Russian communism. Of these, nearly 14, 000 immigrated to Canada between 1946 and 1955

Approximately 72, 000 Estonian political refugees fled to Sweden and Germany in 1944 to escape Russian communism. Of these, nearly 14, 000 immigrated to Canada between 1946 and 1955. Balts, mostly Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians, were among the first displaced persons selected by Canadian immigration during the Second World War (WWII).

Lithuania is a small country on the southeastern coast of the Baltic Sea. The first recorded Lithuanian immigrants to Canada were soldiers serving in the British army in the early 19th century. The 2016 census reported 59, 285 people of Lithuanian origin in Canada (11, 185 single and 48, 100 multiple responses). At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, many Lithuanians, fleeing Tsarist police or to improve their livelihoods, immigrated to Canada and settled in Nova ScotiaOntario,and western Canada   
Between 1921 and 1945, 409 Latvians arrived to Canada, although in the 1941 census listed 975 people claimed Latvian origin. After the Second World War in 1947, many Latvians moved to Canada as war refugees. This migration, which accounted for 92% of Latvians who immigrated to the country between 1921 and 1965, ended in 1957. Many of these Latvians worked in the agricultural areas during their first years in Canada, but soon settled in cities. By 1961, only 10% of those immigrants lived in rural zones and farms (6% in rural areas and 4% on farms). The majority of Latvian immigrants in Canada in 1991 were women, 775 more women than men.[1
Information : Library and Archives Canada

Click on the above link to access the database that consists of authors who have written about those who immigrated to Quebec.

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