FOR MEMBERS

Canadians in Germany: Who are they and where do they live?

The Canadian flag flies in Frankfurt Oder.
The Canadian flag flies in Frankfurt Oder. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Patrick Pleul
Finding poutine or Nanaimo bars in Germany is perhaps a little harder than locating an American burger joint. But with just over 18,000 Canadians living here, we can be found out - and yes aboot - nearly everywhere in Germany.

Although the accents of Germany’s approximately 13,500 Aussies or 117,000 Brits may be more easily distinguished from the nearly 120,000 Americans living here, you still stand a good chance of running into a Canadian in Germany – politely, of course.

Around 18,185 Canadians were registered as living in this country at the end of 2020. But contrary to what you may have been told, we don’t all sew a maple leaf to our backpacks. So, who are Germany’s Canadians and where can you find them?

(article continues below)

See also on The Local:

For starters, according to official numbers, we’re a pretty gender-balanced bunch, with slightly more women (9,270) than men (8,915) in our ranks.

Relative to population, you’re statistically most likely to spot one of us in Berlin (3,405). Bavaria slightly beats out us Hauptstadt Canucks in absolute numbers though – with 3,420 somehow seemingly preferring a winter that reminds them more of home.

Rounding out the top five, North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg come in at just under 3,000 each, with just over 1,600 Canadians living in Hessen. At the lower end, just 75 Canadians were registered in Mecklenberg-Western Pomerania at the end of last year.

READ ALSO: Who are Germany’s foreign population and where do they live?

What brings Canadians to Germany?

One study from 2009 estimated that most of the nearly 2.8 million Canadians living abroad resided in just four places – the US, UK, Australia, and Hong Kong. In roughly that same time period though, the number of Canadians living in Germany has gone up around 40 percent. Even Canada Goose has made its way here, having opened locations in Berlin, Frankfurt, and Munich all in the last year.

So what brings our contingent of Canadians to Germany? Love is an oft-cited reason.

“We met in Scotland when we were both living there,” says Bronwyn Farr, originally from Victoria and now living in Bremen with her German partner, close to his family. “Following some work changes in Aberdeen we decided to move to either Canada or Germany. It was all about where I could get a job first. And I got a job here!”

Toronto’s Abraham Grigaitis was all set to move to London for a new job in tech. But plans changed after he met the man who is now his husband during a weekend trip to Berlin.

“It was mostly about my relationship and I’m very happy living in Berlin now. But it wasn’t the easiest move. Learning the language while trying to advocate for yourself at the Bürgeramt is hard, and there’s a lot of cultural differences. Dealing with rather straightforward Germans when you’re used to being polite sometimes feels like a splash of cold water to the face – but now my family in Canada says I’m a little too German that way sometimes,” he says laughing.

Toronto's Abraham Grigaitis (left) met his German husband during a holiday in Berlin.
Toronto’s Abraham Grigaitis (left) met his German husband during a holiday in Berlin. Photo courtesy of Abraham Grigaitis.

“We were flatmates in Beijing,” says Kari Churches, originally from Victoria, of meeting her German husband. They now have two boys, aged three and five, and live in a small Bavaria town with Bamberg, Erlangen, and Nuremberg all close by.

READ ALSO:

Work opportunities are another big reason Canadians we spoke with either came to or remain in Germany. Holding jobs ranging from IT consultant to a professional show jumping rider, many also cite a better work-life balance in Germany and the chance to travel more easily, due to more vacation days, better transport services, and shorter distances from place to place.

“I love, love, love the infrastructure,” says Kelly Dawn Fischer, originally from Calgary and now living in a small town in Schleswig-Holstein. “The transit system and bike infrastructure are accessible and user-friendly, even in the countryside.”

Kelly Dawn Fischer, originally from Calgary, visits Lübeck Gate Haus
Kelly Dawn Fischer, originally from Calgary, visits Lübeck Gate Haus. Photo courtesy of Kelly Dawn Fischer.

Fellow Calgarian Indrani Kar works in Bavaria as an environmental licencing planner but lives with her husband in Leipzig. She is also an admin for a “Canadians in Germany” Facebook group with over 2,000 members. “I can make good money here doing something ethical that I love. There’s no way I could do what I’m doing back home, and definitely not for what I currently earn. There’s no [extreme] winter here, so the outdoor lifestyle is great.”

Kar’s remark about winter might seem strange to some Germans, but as a fellow Calgarian, I have to point out that a Canadian prairie winter – with regular temperatures of -30C – is simply in a bonechilling league of its own. By contrast, German “winter” looks appealing.

“Love the milder winters and especially being so close to travel to literally anywhere in Europe at the drop of a hat!” says Marc Andrew Jannard, a Montrealer who now lives in Süsel, just outside of Lübeck.

READ ALSO: Australians in Germany: How many are there and where do they live?

From easier travel to better work-life balance, Germany has plenty going for it. But there’s always a few things you miss. True to my western Canadian roots, I myself order an Alberta steak with a glass of red from Okanagan wine country whenever I go home—things that are next to impossible to find here.

So what do our Canadians miss about Canada? For starters, it is a longer journey home than for Europeans, so family tops the list for many people, alongside naturally beautiful Canadian landscapes like the Pacific Ocean or Rocky Mountains.

“I miss how uncrowded those places are,” says Farr.

Bronwyn Farr, originally from Victoria, now lives in Bremen with her partner.
Bronwyn Farr, originally from Victoria, now lives in Bremen with her partner. Photo courtesy of Bronwyn Farr.

“I really only miss my family in Canada and I guess the familiarity of understanding and knowing what’s going on around me,” says Tammy Kovacs, who is from southern Ontario and now lives in Würzburg with her husband and youngest son. “But it has been getting better.”

“I miss how friendly people are at home in general,” says Grigaitis. “But also dill pickles.”

“I love the festive culture and family life here in Germany,” says Carolynn Jaworska, who lives in Mainz with her husband. “But when I’m home, I definitely enjoy a couple of caesars [a cocktail with Caesar mix, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and vodka], an Alberta steak, and a Nanaimo bar – or two!”

READ ALSO: Ten foods I miss as a Canadian in Germany

Are you a Canadian in Germany? Tell us what you miss about your home country, and if you have any tips for Canadian home comforts by emailing us: [email protected] or leaving a comment.


Member comments

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.