Anna Elizabeth Meissner

One building often contained living quarters and barn. A poor family would not have a horse, but would keep a goat or two for butter and cheese.

Photographer: Heather Holm, Posing as Frau Meissner: Marilyn Manzer.
Freilichtmuseum Hessenpark, Neu-Anspach, Germany
c. 1998
© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


It is decided: we are leaving our village, just my husband and I and our children. I can’t imagine it. I have never been farther away than a day’s walk, to attend a festival in town or go to market. And that, and the fields and woods around here are all of the world I really know. Everything I’ve grown up with, I have to leave behind.

I can’t see how we could stay, not if we are going to feed our children and make a life for ourselves. My husband is a good man and a hard worker. But the Count takes the best of his labour and leaves little for us. For seven years, we have lived with my husband’s parents and his brother’s family in this crowded house. When will we be able to build our own? We can scarcely feed ourselves! Last fall we were harvesting the Count’s grain when the deer ate our best cabbages. And the winter came early and hard. The grain we had wasn’t enough. The baby cried so much, he was so hungry. My milk wasn’t enough for him anymore. He took fever, and now lives with the Lord in Heaven. But I won’t see another child of mine die for lack of food!
It is decided: we are leaving our village, just my husband and I and our children. I can’t imagine it. I have never been farther away than a day’s walk, to attend a festival in town or go to market. And that, and the fields and woods around here are all of the world I really know. Everything I’ve grown up with, I have to leave behind.

I can’t see how we could stay, not if we are going to feed our children and make a life for ourselves. My husband is a good man and a hard worker. But the Count takes the best of his labour and leaves little for us. For seven years, we have lived with my husband’s parents and his brother’s family in this crowded house. When will we be able to build our own? We can scarcely feed ourselves! Last fall we were harvesting the Count’s grain when the deer ate our best cabbages. And the winter came early and hard. The grain we had wasn’t enough. The baby cried so much, he was so hungry. My milk wasn’t enough for him anymore. He took fever, and now lives with the Lord in Heaven. But I won’t see another child of mine die for lack of food!

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

We heard of Nova Scotia when a stranger came to the town and held a meeting. The mayor said he was an agent of the British government. They were looking for people - good Protestants who would cross the great ocean and settle in Nova Scotia. We would get our own land, and tools, and food for a year. We could even pay for our passage by working for the government when we get there. There was a big discussion. Some said it was too good to be true, that the land was poor and we’d have to fight the French as we did here. But the stranger assured us that Nova Scotia was a very fine place, and far from France, and we could make a good life for ourselves there.
We heard of Nova Scotia when a stranger came to the town and held a meeting. The mayor said he was an agent of the British government. They were looking for people - good Protestants who would cross the great ocean and settle in Nova Scotia. We would get our own land, and tools, and food for a year. We could even pay for our passage by working for the government when we get there. There was a big discussion. Some said it was too good to be true, that the land was poor and we’d have to fight the French as we did here. But the stranger assured us that Nova Scotia was a very fine place, and far from France, and we could make a good life for ourselves there.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

When my husband went to the Count for permission to leave, we thought we would have to buy our freedom, but the Count let us go! But if by some miracle we ever come back, we will still belong to this land and have to work for the Count. And our family too. It’s all written on a piece of paper that my husband hid in a safe place, even though he doesn’t know how to read it. It’s our "pass," he says. We’ll need it as we’re going to Nova Scotia, first on the long trip down the great Rhine, and then for the British.
When my husband went to the Count for permission to leave, we thought we would have to buy our freedom, but the Count let us go! But if by some miracle we ever come back, we will still belong to this land and have to work for the Count. And our family too. It’s all written on a piece of paper that my husband hid in a safe place, even though he doesn’t know how to read it. It’s our "pass," he says. We’ll need it as we’re going to Nova Scotia, first on the long trip down the great Rhine, and then for the British.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Passport

Passport issued by the Prince of Stolberg to the Meissner family in 1751.

Public Archives of Nova Scotia
c. 1951
© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


And what else will we need for the long journey? Money - from what little we can sell. They say they will give us tools in Nova Scotia. For clothes we only have our everyday things and our Sunday dress. When these clothes wear out, what then? My spinning wheel is too big to carry. We will take as much food as we can and as much as the family can spare us - smoked meat, dried apples, grain, black bread, sauerkraut and maybe some cheese. The pig and the goat we must leave behind. But we must have our bedding, and our Bible!
And what else will we need for the long journey? Money - from what little we can sell. They say they will give us tools in Nova Scotia. For clothes we only have our everyday things and our Sunday dress. When these clothes wear out, what then? My spinning wheel is too big to carry. We will take as much food as we can and as much as the family can spare us - smoked meat, dried apples, grain, black bread, sauerkraut and maybe some cheese. The pig and the goat we must leave behind. But we must have our bedding, and our Bible!

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

Meissner Home Indoors Composite

Simple furnishings and tools. The house was full of smoke from the open cooking fire, which caused health problems. Everyone ate from a common bowl.

Photographer: Heather Holm
Freilichtmuseum Hessenpark, Neu-Anspach, Germany

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


The pass the Count granted is our chance to go. But my heart is breaking in two. I’ll never see my dear old parents again, ever, or my brothers, unless they follow us - oh, how I hope they will. Life HAS to be better in Nova Scotia.
The pass the Count granted is our chance to go. But my heart is breaking in two. I’ll never see my dear old parents again, ever, or my brothers, unless they follow us - oh, how I hope they will. Life HAS to be better in Nova Scotia.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.

A Heartbreaking Departure

The heartbreak of saying good-bye forever.

Auswanderer auf alter Zeitungsgrafik, by Sigfried Stölting, Worpsweder Verlag.

© 2009, CHIN-Canadian Heritage Information Network. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:
  • Describe the economic conditions under which emigration from Germany to Canada in 1750-1752 took place
  • Understand some factors considered by potential emigrants in deciding to leave their homeland
  • Describe the possessions that emigrants from Germany to Canada in 1750-1752 took with them
  • Empathize with the emotions of emigrants from Germany to Canada in 1750-1752

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