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Belgian Canadian

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Title: Belgian Canadian  
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Subject: European Canadian, Belgian American, Belgian Canadian, Ethnic groups in Canada, Belgium–Canada relations
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Belgian Canadian

Belgian Canadian
Total population
(by ancestry, 2011 Census)[1]
English · French · Dutch · German
Christianity · Irreligion
Related ethnic groups
Dutch Canadians · French Canadians · German Canadians

A Belgian Canadian is a Canadian citizen of Belgian descent or a Belgium-born person who resides in Canada. According to the 2011 Census there were 176,615 Canadians who claimed full or partial Belgian ancestry.[1]


Belgians first arrived in the 1660s. A trickle of artisans came to New France before the 1750s. In the mid-19th century there were enough arrivals to open part-time consulates in Montreal, Quebec City and Halifax. After 1859 the main attraction was free farm land. After 1867 the national government gave immigrants from Belgium a preferred status, and encouraged emigration to the Francophone Catholic communities of Quebec and Manitoba. Édouard Simaeys became a part-time paid Canadian agent in Belgium to publicize opportunities in Canada and facilitate immigration. The steamship companies prepared their own brochures and offered package deals to farm families. By 1898 there was a full-time Canadian office in Antwerp which provided pamphlets, lectures and specific travel advice. By 1906 some 2000 Belgians a year were arriving, most with skills in agriculture. A third wave of immigration took place after 1945, with urban areas the destination. The 1961 census counted 61,000 Canadians of Belgian ancestry.[2]

Belgian immigration to Saint Boniface, Manitoba, but most became farmers who specialized in dairy farming, sugar beets and market gardening. After 1920 there was a move to western Alberta, with an economy based on ranching, horse breeding, and sugar beets.[3]

During the Second World War, Belgian émigrés from Canada and elsewhere in the Americas were formed into the 2nd Fusilier Battalion of the Free Belgian Forces, which was based in Canada.[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b  
  2. ^ Paul R. Magocsi, Encyclopedia of Canada's peoples (1999) pp 257-69
  3. ^ Cornelius J. Jaenen, Promoters, Planters, and Pioneers: The Course and Context of Belgian Settlement in Western Canada (University of Calgary Press, 2011)
  4. ^ Thomas, Nigel (1991). Foreign Volunteers of the Allied Forces, 1939–45. London: Osprey. pp. 15–6.  

Further reading

  • Magocsi, Paul R. Encyclopedia of Canada's peoples (1999) pp 257–69
  • Jaenen, Cornelius J. Promoters, Planters, and Pioneers: The Course and Context of Belgian Settlement in Western Canada (University of Calgary Press, 2011)
  • Magee, Joan. The Belgians in Ontario: A History (Dundurn Press, 1987)
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