Swedish Canadians
Total population
341,845 (by ancestry, 2011 Census)[1]
1.1% of Canada's population
Regions with significant populations
  • Canadian English
  • Swedish
  • Canadian French


Related ethnic groups

Swedish Canadians (Swedish: Svenskkanadensare) are Canadian citizens of Swedish ancestry or Swedes who emigrated to and reside in Canada. The Swedish Canadian community in Canada numbers 330,000.[3] The vast majority of them reside west of Lake Superior, primarily in Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. Toronto is the most popular settlement spot for newcomers. Despite having an influential presence and distinctive cultural bond, only 14,000 Canadian persons of Swedish descent speak Swedish.[4]


A few Swedes trickled into Canada even before it became a country in 1867, but the first real wave of immigration began in the late 1890s and ended with the onset of the First World War in 1914. Included in this group were a significant number of farmers who had settled first in the United States.

The first Swede, Jacob Fahlström, arrived in Canada in 1809, as an employee of the Hudson's Bay Company. He was succeeded in 1812 by another Swedish man, who was accompanied by two other men from Norway and Ireland to populate the Red River Colony in lower Manitoba. A much more substantive wave of Swedish settlers immigrated to Canada from the United States between 1868 and 1914, as land for farming became more and more scarce in America. Crop failures in their home country between 1866 and 1868 encouraged a similar exodus from Sweden.

The second and largest wave, which came during the 1920s, endured both the depression of the 1930s and the Second World War 1939–45. The third wave, although not as numerous, has been steady since the 1950s.

The immigrant pattern in Canada differs slightly from their counterpart in the United States. Whereas the majority of the earlier Swedish immigrants in America are from south-central Sweden, a significant portion of the Swedish immigrants in Canada are from the Stockholm region and Northern Sweden.[5]

As the economic situation improved after the Second World War, the overall emigration rate of Sweden slowed down considerably. Very much like recent Swedish emigrants found in other parts of the world, many of the newcomers are connected with Swedish companies, and do not intend to remain in the country permanently.

Spatial distribution[]

Most Swedes settled in western Canada, from northern Ontario to British Columbia. There were only a handful of strictly Swedish communities, the earliest being Scandinavia, Manitoba, in 1885 and Stockholm, Saskatchewan, in 1886. The Census of Canada shows that Swedish immigrants could be found scattered throughout every province and territory, with pockets in rural areas and in some towns and cities.

Winnipeg acted as the Swedish capital of Canada until the 1940s when Vancouver took over this title. A significant number of Swedes live in Calgary and Edmonton and their environs, but the Toronto area is home to the largest concentration of newcomers, where it has one of the largest concentration of Swedish business in North America.[6]

More than 175 places' names in Canada are of Swedish origin,[7] which include Uppsala (Ontario), Stockholm (Saskatchewan) and Thorsby (Alberta).

Swedish Canadians by province or territory[]

Swedish Canadian population by province and territory in Canada in 2011:

Province or territory Swedish Canadians Percentage
 Canada 341,845 1.1%
 British Columbia 106,085
 Alberta 96,890
 Ontario 67,795
 Saskatchewan 32,705
 Manitoba 22,575
 Quebec 6,265
 Nova Scotia 3,815
 New Brunswick 2,640
 Newfoundland and Labrador 955
 Yukon 945
 Prince Edward Island 600
 Northwest Territories 510
 Nunavut 65


Assimilation was considered by most Swedes as a primary goal to succeed. Early immigrants made every effort to master the English language while supporting a fairly large number of Swedish-language newspapers, including two weeklies. The only Swedish magazine in North America today, the Swedish Press, is published in Vancouver.

Swedes are accustomed to four distinct seasons. Although Sweden is located quite far north (in the Western Hemisphere it would lie in the middle of Hudson Bay), the Gulf Stream keeps Sweden significantly more temperate than would be expected. The reason that so many Swedes settled on the prairies, despite the very different landscape and significantly colder winters, was the availability of land.

Notable Swedish Canadians[]

Noteworthy Canadians of Swedish origin include former NHL Hockey star Daniel Alfredsson, who is originally from Sweden but has lived in Canada since playing 19 years for the Ottawa Senators, and he eventually acquired Canadian citizenship in September 2016; Canadian Senator Pamela Wallin; Judge Tom Berger, who headed the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline inquiry; architect Arthur Erickson, who designed Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto and the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C.; singer-songwriter and recording artist Michael Saxell; Harry Strom, who was the premier of Alberta (1968–1971); naturalist Louise de Kiriline Lawrence, who was the most prolific contributor to the Audubon; and Ralph Gustafson, who won the Governor General's Award for poetry in 1974.

  • Malin Åkerman
  • Daniel Alfredsson
  • David L. Anderson
  • Glenn Anderson
  • Margaret Avison
  • Hayden Christensen
  • John Cordts
  • Aaron Ekblad
  • Dean Haglund
  • Tricia Helfer
  • Oskar Johansson
  • Eric Lindros
  • Robert Nilsson
  • Lorne Nystrom
  • Peter Outerbridge
  • Ulla Ryghe
  • Alexander Steen
  • Alexander Sundström

Further reading[]

  • Hale, Christopher S. "Swedes" in Paul Robert Magocsi, ed. Encyclopedia of Canada's Peoples (1999), 1218–33

See also[]


  1. ^ [1] Statistics Canada, Census 2006 – Selected Ethnic Origins1, for Canada, Provinces and Territories – 20% sample data
  2. ^ [2] (Statistics Canada, Census 2001 – Selected Demographic and Cultural Characteristics (105), Selected Ethnic Groups (100), Age Groups (6), Sex (3) and Single and Multiple Ethnic Origin Responses (3) for Population, for Canada, Provinces, Territories and Census Metropolitan Areas 1 , 2001 Census – 20% sample data)
  3. ^ Statistics Canada - Swedes in Canada
  4. ^ "NHS Profile, Canada, 2011". 
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-02-29. Retrieved 2012-05-25. 
  6. ^ Ruprecht, Tony. Toronto's Many Faces
  7. ^

External links[]