You have all probably seen them – large blue heritage markers located at highway rest areas or points of interest throughout Alberta. These interpretive signs tell of Alberta’s rich heritage. Come, travel Alberta and read a featured heritage marker:
Driving westward on Highway 18, about 3 kilometers east of the intersection with highway 33 (near the Town of Barrhead) I came across a heritage marker commemorating Alberta’s first Dutch settlers. The sign is about 19 kilometers south of the Hamlet of Neerlandia. Why is Neerlandia special? The sign explains:
“Wij gann naar Alberta!” We are going to Alberta! This was the call of thousands of Dutch settlers who immigrated to Alberta in the early 1900s. A booming economy and the promise of free homesteads attracted Dutch immigrants from Holland and from the American Midwest. By 1911, Alberta’s Dutch population of 2,951 was the largest in Canada.
Most Dutch immigrants settled throughout Alberta on homesteads, or in the province’s growing towns and cities. There were several areas, though, where the Dutch presence was particularly strong. In 1904, Dutch immigrants from Holland and America settled near Monarch and Nobleford, while in 1908 nearly 100 families from North Brabant, Holland, settled near Strathmore. In 1912, a group of Dutch immigrants living in Edmonton established the colony of Neerlandia, near Westlock, the province’s only exclusively Dutch settlement.
More Dutch immigrants came to Alberta after both world wars and continued making contributions to Alberta’s political, economic, and cultural life just as the first pioneers had done.
Note: The text on the sign is repeated in Dutch. To view, click on the below photo.
Heritage Marker Location
On the north side of Highway 18 approximately 3 kilometers east of Highway 33, near the Town of Barrhead.
Alequiers is a Provincial Historic Resource located near Longview in the M.D. of Foothills, in southern Alberta. Although it’s not located near this sign, the property is associated with the well know painter Ted Schintz. Schintz migrated to Canada from Holland during the 1920’s.
Prepared by: Michael Thome, Municipal Heritage Services Officer