KRUGER, AUGUST, farmer and blacksmith; b. 26 Aug. 1845 in Germany; d. 27 March 1908 in Krugerdorf, Ont.
Having immigrated to Canada, August Kruger bought land in 1879 at Germanicus, a scattered rural community of German settlers in Renfrew County, in the Ottawa valley. He was skilled as a blacksmith, and this trade helped to augment his farm income. His first wife died in 1881, when she fell down a well, leaving him with two sons. He subsequently married Louise Mueller, and they would have five sons and a daughter. According to a granddaughter, Kruger’s decision to leave Germanicus and explore northern Ontario was prompted by the attraction of stone-free land and by the difficulty of finding farms for his many sons in the area where he lived.
Land had been opened for settlement in 1891 at the head of Lake Timiskaming, in the Little Clay Belt region, which was soon to develop as the most important new area of colonization in eastern Canada. In 1905 Kruger, at age 59, and his son Frank took the newly constructed, provincially owned Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway to New Liskeard, then the end of the line. Continuing north by boat and on foot, they located in Chamberlain Township, where they built a small house and a blacksmith’s shop before sending for the rest of the family. In 1907 the Pembroke Deutsche Post reported that the Krugers’ “new homestead” comprised 820 acres.
In addition to establishing a farm in the bush of “New Ontario,” Kruger and his sons worked on the extension of the TNOR in 1906. A station was built on their property and Kruger Sr made railway spikes and shod horses. They were visited by young men from Renfrew, who saw for themselves that the land was level and well watered. German-speaking families soon created a pioneer community, Krugerdorf, in the vicinity of the station and the Kruger homestead, and were joined there by adventurous settlers from the Toronto region who were British in origin. The newcomers found that crops grew well in the rich clay soil. The Krugers were prominent in the new settlement, establishing a sawmill on the Blanche River and later a threshing mill. A cavalcade of German families came from Renfrew in 1910 but this influx was not witnessed by August Kruger. He had died two years earlier, following a kick from a horse, and his body was taken back to Renfrew for burial in the Lutheran cemetery near Germanicus.
Little remains of Krugerdorf, which began to decline in numbers in the 1920s. Although the soil was good, killing frosts shortened the season and markets were distant. Farmers earned extra money in the wintertime in lumber camps but the mines of the north offered more permanent employment.
[Details for Kruger’s biography were provided by a granddaughter, Alma Kruger Allsopp of Kirkland Lake, Ont., in an interview on 4 May 1981. b.b.l.-w.]
C. C. Farr, The Lake Temiscamingue district, province of Ontario, Canada . . . (Toronto, 1894; repr. Cobalt, Ont., n.d.). B. [B.] Lee-Whiting, Harvest of stones: the German settlement in Renfrew County (Toronto, 1985); “Krugerdorf,” Beaver, outfit 314 (1983–84), no.4: 35–39.