The country of Rembrandt and Van Gogh was also the birthplace of artist Albert Jacques Franck (1899–1973), who arrived in Canada in 1927. Franck worked out of a Gerrard St. store restoring paintings in what was then Toronto’s artists’ colony. His depictions of sleepy neighbourhoods, gabled homes, and wintry street scenes inspired many of the city’s younger artists. In memory of the late artist, the Albert Franck Artist Exchange Programme was setup to provide an annual exchange of creative talents between Toronto and its twin city, Amsterdam.
Many of the first Dutch settlers were United Empire Loyalists who left the U.S. following the American Revolution. A prominent member of the early community was Egerton Ryerson (1803–1882), chief superintendent of educati
on for Upper Canada, who pioneered the education system of Ontario. He founded Ryerson Polytechnical Institute and is commemorated with a statue on the campus.
Toronto’s Dutch population began to burgeon in the 1920s and 1930s as southwestern Dutch farmers moved to the city seeking jobs in industry. Following the Second World War, Dutch war brides, skilled workers, and professionals settled in Toronto. Some were employed as agricultural and horticultural workers, and later became self-employed landscape gardeners or worked for Toronto’s Parks Department.
Presently, an estimated 85,000 Dutch Canadians live in Toronto, the majority having arrived in the last 50 years. Dutch-owned companies in the city include ABN-AMRO Bank, Voortman Cookies Ltd., Philips Electronics, Rabobank Canada, ING Canada, Amsterdam Brewing Company, Hudson Movers Inc., DeBoer’s Furniture.
Since the 1950s, a number of Dutch cultural, religious, and commercial groups have emerged. Several Christian Reformed Church parishes have been established. The DUCA Community Credit Union is among the ten largest of all credit unions in Ontario, with 40,000 members and assets valued at more than $400 million.
A special bond was created between Toronto and Amsterdam following the Second World War. Visiting dignitaries have included Queen Juliana in 1967, Queen Beatrix in 1988, and Princess Margriet in 1995. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the liberation of Holland by Canadian soldiers, Dutch Canadians from across Canada formed an organization: 1945–1970, Thank You Canada. In appreciation of their new homeland, this Toronto-based group raised money for a concert organ as a gift to the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. In 1995, the 50th anniversary was commemorated coast to coast, with Canadian veterans as featured guest.
DE NEDERLANDSE COURANT (THE DUTCH CANADIAN BI-WEEKLY), (Tel. 905-333-3615, 1945 Four Season Dr., Burlington). Published for almost 60 years; a bi-weekly with subscription sales of 5,800 and a readership of 25,000. Publisher: Theo Luykenaar.
“DUTCH TOUCH” RADIO PROGRAM, CJMR 1320 AM, (Tel. 416-229-1753). Host: Martin Van Denzen.
CANADIAN-NETHERLANDS BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION, (Tel. 416-757-5523, 69 Hazelton Ave). Networking organization to promote trade between the Netherlands and Canada. President: Lisa Stam; Secretariat: Duco Itordijk.
DUTCH CANADIAN ASSOCIATION OF GREATER TORONTO, (Tel. 416-229-1753, 207 Newton Dr., Willowdale). President: Martin Van Denzen. An umbrella organization for the community established in 1956.
ONTARIO CHRISTIAN MUSIC ASSEMBLY, (Tel. 416-636-9779, 90 Topcliff Ave). Director: L. Kooy.
Various other clubs operate in the city, including: DUCA Social Dance Club; Gezelligheid Kent Geen TIJD, Klaverjasclub “Zonder Naam”; Ladies Contact Club Welkom; Marines Canada, veterans organization of the Dutch marines.