Immigration from Germany to Oshawa began as early as the 1860s, possibly because of political changes and events leading up to the Franco-Prussian War in 1870.
By looking at census records, the German population can be traced and its growth measured. The population was 8 in 1871 and 9 in 1881. In 1891, the number almost doubles, and occupations include labourers, cabinetmakers and machinists. By 1901, there are 45 people of German descent in Oshawa and 2 in East Whitby. Their occupations included a tailor, carpenter, physician, spinner, piano tuner and teacher.
In 1955, there were enough German-Canadian residents in Oshawa that a group gathered to consider the prospect of organizing a club. The Board of Directors was chosen in December of that year, with Arthur Schatz as the first President. He said, “It was their [the organizers] ambition to create a respected organization, holding on to old customs and providing entertainment in our City.”
At the time, the Club was not incorporated, and Members paid for any events, food, etc. out of their own pocket. In 1957, the prospect of purchasing a property for the Club arose. Again, Members paid for this vision.
In June 1961, construction commenced on the future home of Club Loreley with the Members using their own trades expertise for the majority of the construction. The Ladies Auxiliary purchased curtains, dishes, and chairs to give the Clubhouse a more welcoming atmosphere.
The first dance was held on November 18, 1961, during the heyday of the club. One Member said, “Down there in the 1950s my parents would stay out all night long on Saturday night and wouldn’t get home until Sunday morning.”
Like most cultural clubs, Club Loreley has its own German language school, folk dancing group, soccer teams, singing groups, and rifle club.
They have been participants in Oshawa’s Fiesta Week since its inception. Club Loreley becomes ‘the Schnitzelhaus’ for one week after Father’s Day, hosting the community and treating them to traditional dancing from the Funkengarde dancers, songs and food. Through the years, they have won numerous awards for best float in the Fiesta Parade.
In May 2015, Club Loreley celebrated its 60th Anniversary with 160 Members and families in attendance. The Club honoured 60-year Members with certificates, and guests were treated to the Club Loreley Singers performing the Canadian, German, and Austrian national anthems.