Celebrating all that is Dutch at the Wyoming Library


They came to make a better life and they changed the face of the community.
The Wyoming Library is celebrating everything Dutch this month in honour of the men and women who came to the area, particularly after the Second World War, and built a life in the community.
Estimates say as much as 17 percent of the population of Plympton-Wyoming is of Dutch descent. It’s the second highest population of Dutch immigrants in Canada according to Librarian Shirley Deelstra who shares the Dutch heritage.
Deelstra got the idea for the month-long display after having a garden design contest. One of the entrants told her this area had the second largest Dutch population and she felt it was something to celebrate.
Deelstra began collecting stories from people she knew and those she had never met before. Many of the immigrants came to Canada after the Second World War although there are families who can trace their arrival to the 1930s.
Many of the immigrants Deelstra talked to left for economic reasons.
“The common theme is they were doing it for their children,” says Deelstra of the long and difficult transition. “For a better life…they were looking for a future for their children.”
But there were also emotional reasons. “One man I talked to said an SS soldier put a gun to his chest and he did not want to stay in a country where someone could do that.”
Deelstra says many of the Dutch chose Canada because it was the home of their liberators. Canadian soldiers were idolized in Holland with young boys dressing in their Canadian uniforms for play.
She believes so many immigrants landed in Wyoming because of the rich farmland. And they eventually became entrepreneurs setting up stores and shops and building silos for the area farms.
Deelstra has collected photos and unique Dutch items including thick carpet-like tablecloths and wall hangings for the community to look at. And on Feb. 12, the library will hold a special event which will introduce people to Dutch specialty foods like ollieballen (Dutch donuts) and droppies (black salted licorice). There will also be Dutch party games and songs.
Deelstra says many of the Dutch immigrants worked to become part of the community and some of that Dutchness has faded. But she expects the exhibit will draw a crowd, even of younger people with a Dutch heritage who are wondering about some of the old traditions.
And she adds, it is a celebration of the good life the immigrants have been able to build in Plympton-Wyoming.
“By and large people say God really blessed their travels and their whole life here…this is what were supposed to do.
“Their Dutchness may not remain, but their heritage of faith does.”