Saint Ansgar's Lutheran Church
Montreal - Quebec - Canada

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Our Danish Connection

Although the roots of our church are Danish, and we continue to celebrate our Danish connection, our church is now an international church, with members and visitors from a wide range of backgrounds. Although our services and our events are in English, except for a few specifically Danish events during the year, if you listen carefully you may yet hear some Danish spoken. You may even meet some Danes!

[Our Ship?] [Danish Associations] [Danish Festivals] [Danish Links]

In the 1920’s there was a large wave of Danish immigrants to Montreal. Times were hard in Denmark and they received encouragement from the Canadian government to come here. Some went westward to work on farms, but many others chose to stay in Montreal and found employment in factories, construction, restaurant and stores. Pastor John M. Jensen, who had been serving Danes all over Eastern Canada, decided to move to Montreal in 1926 and spent his days meeting trains to see if there were any Danish immigrants needing help. Their needs were pressing and he helped them find employment and taught them English, as well. St. Ansgar’s Danish Lutheran church (founded in 1927) welcomed these immigrants warmly and found them lodging in a church-run rooming house, until they could find their own housing.

The Danish church became a focal point for these immigrants, many of whom were away from their families for the first time. The Danish Ladies’ Aid, founded in 1928 by Ragnhild Jensen, wife of the pastor, served the church through fund-raising activities such as fairs and Bazaars to pay for the upkeep of the Young People’s home and even directly helping some families in dire need.

Along came the Great Depression followed by World War II during which Danish immigration was largely interrupted. During this time the Danes had to rely on each other as never before, due to being cut off from their family in Denmark. Several Danish organizations sprang up in those years. Being adaptable, Danish immigrants soon became part of the Canadian fabric and they thought of themselves as Danish-Canadians. Danish immigration peaked in the 1950’s and the new immigrants joined Danish organizations in large numbers which gave them the opportunity of networking with others like them. St. Ansgar’s Church remained the central gathering point for many of the Danish/Canadians in Montreal.

Danes have always been adept at mixing in with Canadians and entering a wide variety of careers. For instance they have always been adept at learning new languages. Some Danes came to identify with the Francophones and others with the Anglophones in Quebec. Unlike many other immigrant groups, they have no enclaves where you’ll find the Danish community. They could choose whether to retain their culture, or not. They have brought many of their traditional foods and crafts with them. Nearly everyone is familiar with Danish pastry, Danish furniture and needlework, Georg Jensen silverware and Royal Copenhagen porcelain.

When St. Ansgar’s church holds its annual Bazaar, you’ll see the Danes in Montreal come out in droves to get a piece of their homeland. The Smørrebrød (Danish open-faced sandwiches) and Wienerbrød are the most sought-after items, as well as Danish Christmas decorations and handmade embroideries, to name a few.

In the early 1960’s St. Ansgar’s church moved to Notre-Dame-de-Grace. The cornerstone was laid by Pastor Emeritus Vilhelm Beck in 1963. The first service in the new building was held in 1964 and the Pastor at the time was Frederick Jensen, son of the earlier Pastor Jensen. Around the same time, because the second generation of Danes often were more comfortable speaking English than Danish, it was decided to drop the word ‘Danish’ from the name of the church. It was by then reflecting the mix of nationalities that had begun to worship at St. Ansgar’s church and church services were no longer held in Danish. However, the DCS still holds a Danish Christmas service at St. Ansgar’s church.
-Jette Blair

[Læs Mere om den Danske Kirke]
[Read More about the Danish Church]

 

 

Læs Mere om.../Read More about... [Dannebrog]
[The Danish Flag]

Why is there a ship hanging in our church?

Visitors to St. Ansgar's are often intrigued by the model of a ship, suspended over the centre aisle, pointing forward towards the altar. This actually is a tradition found in many churches of Scandinavian origin. The ship symbolizes our personal voyage through life, always with the Cross before us, to guide us as the stars guide the mariner on the rough seas.

(Photo Henning Ross-Jensen/)Photo by Jette Blair: Winter 2003)
Suspended over our Church
 [See Full Size Image]
 

The Frigate Gefion

The Danish naval steam frigate Gefion was commissioned in 1843. In 1849, Denmark went to war with Schleswig-Holstein. A squadron was sent out to the North Sea to blockade the river Elbe and the mouths of other German rivers in the area. An engagement was fought at Eckernførde Fjord on April 5, 1849. Wind conditions were against the Danish ships and laid them open to accurate enemy fire from Prussian emplacements on land. The ship-of-the-line Christian VIII was blown up and the frigate Gefion was forced to surrender. After the war, the Gefion would serve for many years as a ship in the Prussian navy. [Material taken mainly from Orlogsmuseet]

Royal Danish Museum
The Danish Frigate Gefion: 1843-1849
 

Danish Organizatons in Montreal

The Danish Float in the Canada Day Parade

 

  • The Danish Club (Established 1922): www.danishclubmontreal.com
  • The Danish Canadian Society (Established 1935): Secretary: Anne Jorgensen
  • DABGO (Danes Abroad Business Group Online) (Established 2006): www.dabgo.net
  • Danish Festivals

  • Sankt Hans Fest: The Danish version of the traditional Midsummer Night's Day, celebrated on June 23. Local Danes gather at a local countryside venue where there is a bonfire and Danish songs are sung. [More Info]

  • Consitution Day: Grundlovsdag observed on June 5,commemorates the anniversary of the signing of the Danish constitution of 1849, which established Denmark as a constitutional monarchy.[More Info]

  • Dansk Julegudstjeneste: The Danish Christmas Service, typically held at St. Ansgar's on a Monday evening just before Christmas. [Link to an actual service, in Danish of course.]
  • Other Danish Links

  • The current Honorary Consul of Denmark in Montreal is André Vautour (514 878-5595, avautour@lavery.ca)

  • The Danish Consulate

  • Denmark in Canada

  • Federation of Danish Associations in Canada

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    Web Page maintained by Roger Kenner and Jette Blair.
    St. Ansgar's Lutheran Church - Montreal: Last Updated: 2017/09/19