Register Login

Butler – a part of Canadian heritage

Oceń ten artykuł
(0 głosów)

NiemczykJanusz        A recent beautiful and romantic Polish movie also relates to Canadian history. The title “Kamerdyner”  translated into English means  “Butler”. 

        In the middle of XIX century, the first large group of Poles emigrated to Canada from the Kaszuby region of northern Poland. This first group were allowed to settle on  poor quality land in the vicinity of the towns of Barry’s Bay and Wilno in Renfrew County, Ontario. It is now estimated that about 50,000 of descendants of these first Polish emigrants live in Canada. 

 A few words of explanation. Poland lost its independence and disappeared from political maps for over 123 years after several  stages of partition by neighbouring Prussia, Russia, and Austrian empires. Back then Poland had regions with distinct dialects and accents such as the Kaszubians with their dialect of the Polish language. 

        What made them feel different from Germans other than language?  


        Poles, or more exact Kaszubians were predominantly Roman Catholic, whereas Germans were predominantly Protestant. At that time the affiliation to a religion  decided in general what type of work someone could have, material status, and social position. Poles and Kaszubians found themselves with the lowest social status in the dominant Prussian society. This unequal situation encouraged many to emigrate from Prussia to Canada and other countries in search for better life. 

        “Butler” tells a story of some 30 years after the emigration of the first Poles (Kaszubians) to Canada. It starts in 1900 with a birth of child (Mateusz) whose mother was a servant at the palace of a German large land owner and whose father is the landowner himself (Hermann von Krauss). The story takes place in the region of city and Bay of Puck (Kaszuby) then in Prussia, which later became part of Poland. The boy Mateusz is adopted by the landowner’s wife and is raised together with the  land owner’s daughter Marita where loves slowly develops between them. 

        Since Marita is  the land owner’s legitimate child, she is sent to study at a university in Berlin while Mateusz ends his education in high school and is allowed to serve as a butler in the von Krauss palace. In the meantime, the First World War starts. After Germany’s defeat in the war, the peace negotiations at Versaialles divide the land belonging to von Krauss between Poland and Germany. Mateusz’s uncle, Bazyli Miotke, is a leader in the Polish (Kaszubian) movement for independence, whose story is based on the real person who represented Poland during the negotiations in Versailles (and who was executed along with many other Poles by the Germans in the first act of mass murder of World War II). The movie shows the story of the rich family von Krauss and Poles who are predominantly peasants and servants in the span of 45 years till the bitter end in early spring of 1945 when Russian troops “liberate” these regions. 

        The movie is an epic description of the history of that region. The acting of all actors involved in the movie is just fantastic. More so, they are at level not seen for long time in the cinema. Picture of almost every scene from the movie could be put on the wall to become adornment and decoration of every house.

        As time goes by, the great-great-grand children of these first Poles/Kaszubians who came to Canada often may not know about the origins of their ancestors and their distant relatives in Poland. This movie is not only art in itself, but also great story telling.

        Here in Canada we have several distinct people to whom the movie should be shown, one of them is Mr. John Yakabuski long lasting member of Ontario Parliament and himself a direct descendant of these first group of Poles who settled in Canada.

        Let’s hope that a Canadian TV broadcaster will show the “Butler”. It is highly recommended as part of Canadian heritage.

Janusz Niemczyk

Dalsza część artykułu dostępna po wykupieniu subskrypcji. Kup tutaj!

Zaloguj się by skomentować