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"Come to Canada! ...you will never regret it! ... In Canada a man like you would have great chances! Canada needs men of your type!"

With these parting words, Colonel Onesiphore Talbot, Liberal Member of Parliament from Ottawa, left 37-year-old Martin Cohn, who had taken Colonel Talbot on a tour of the Technical Institute in the Berlin suburb of Charlottenburg where he worked. Martin was the manager of Germany's largest printing house and currently on-loan to the Technical Institute.

Martin was born in Silesia, Germany in 1868, the son of Moritz and Auguste Cohn. Moritz Cohn was described in the annals of the Jewish congregation in Reichenback as "preacher, teacher, shochet and cantor."

Twelve weeks after saying goodbye to Martin Cohn in Berlin in 1906, Colonel Talbot greeted Martin at the railway station in Ottawa. Three years later in 1909, when Martin had changed his last name from Cohn to Nordegg, he was already well-known in the political and financial circles of Ottawa and Toronto and in the Canadian West.

One of Alberta's early pioneers, Martin Nordegg built the largest mine in Alberta and created a model town that bears his name to this day. In so doing, he played a pivotal role in the development of mining in Alberta. Nordegg, Alberta, west of Rocky Mountain House in the foothills of central Alberta, exists today as a thriving mountain town, although the Brazeau collieries founded by Martin Nordegg which created it are no more.

Martin Nordegg pursued numerous economic, financial and humanitarian interests, often in collaboration with the governments of Canada and the United States. In the 1930s, he helped many endangered citizens of Germany and other European countries to escapee persecution by bringing them to North America.

JAHSENA Archives, donated by John Koch, author of Martin Nordegg: The Uncommon Immigrant.

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Martin Nordegg (Cohn)

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