Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Vikings to U-Boats: The German Experience in Newfoundland and Labrador

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Vikings to U-Boats: The German Experience in Newfoundland and Labrador

Article excerpt

Gerhard P. Bassler, Vikings to U-boats: The German Experience in Newfoundland and Labrador (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2006), x + 378pp. Cased. £60. ISBN 978-0-7735-3124-6.

When Gerhard P. Bassler arrived in St John's in 1965, he found a community that proclaimed itself British but drank lager from the local Bavarian Brewery. His search for Newfoundland's German roots, which covers anyone from a German-speaking country, has been a labour of love, pursued without research grants. He argues for a strong German tradition that has curiously slipped under islanders' traditional suspicion of outsiders. True, they were always a minority but, as he argues, in a territory the size of modern-day Germany but with a population of a few hundred thousand, their influence could be considerable. There was a German on Leif 's Viking voyage, who insisted that Vinland produced grapes, and another who accompanied Gilbert and identified mineral resources. (Both seem to have been wrong.) Moravian missionaries arrived in Labrador in 1784 and maintained strong links with Germany until the 1920s. Hamburg was a major trading partner throughout the nineteenth century, most of the island's lobster catch was exported to Germany, and Germans could be sharp observers of the local scene. …

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