RITTINGER, JOHN ADAM, editor, publisher, and humorist; b. 16 Feb. 1855 in Berlin (Kitchener), Upper Canada, son of Friedrich Rittinger and Elisabeth Geiger; m. 22 Jan. 1877 Mary Jane Rogerson (Rodgerson) in Owen Sound, Ont., and they had one son; d. 29 July 1915 in Kitchener.
John Adam Rittinger was educated at the College of St Jerome in Berlin. After graduation he was apprenticed in his father’s firm, Rittinger and Motz, publishers of the weekly Berliner Journal [see John Motz], and then obtained a journeyman’s training in the newspaper and publishing business in Guelph, Toronto, Buffalo, New York, and Chicago. He returned to Ontario and in 1875, in partnership with Aaron Eby, acquired the weekly Walkerton Glocke. He became sole owner and editor of the paper in 1878 and changed its name in 1882.
Friedrich Rittinger died in 1897 and John Adam succeeded him as a partner in Rittinger and Motz. In 1904 the Ontario Glocke amalgamated with the Berliner Journal, though an edition of the Journal continued to be published with the Ontario Glocke masthead; Rittinger moved to Berlin and became “political and responsible” editor of the Journal, which he now published with John Motz’s son, William John. It prospered and by 1909, when it sold more than 5,000 copies every week, Rittinger and Motz had absorbed, with one exception, all other German-language newspapers in Ontario.
As a journalist, Rittinger was keenly interested in public affairs. He argued that Canadian patriotism and the maintenance and promotion of the German language and culture were not only compatible but desirable. It was in the letters he wrote under the pseudonym Joe Klotzkopp from 1890 onwards in the Ontario Glocke and the Berliner Journal that he expressed his views most effectively. The publishing of texts in the Pennsylvania-German dialect common among German Canadians in southwestern Ontario was a tradition at the time for German-language newspapers, and letters were published under various noms de plume in almost all of them. Although Rittinger was not himself of Pennsylvania-German descent and acquired the dialect as an adult, the Klotzkopp letters, 120 in all, became the most favoured of these writings. The letters, which in their humour can be compared to writings by Thomas Chandler Haliburton* and Stephen Butler Leacock*, for the most part deal with matters of public concern. Less often, Rittinger wrote letters and poems of an occasional type, such as a description of his son’s birthday party. Despite their thematic restrictions, the Klotzkopp letters, in their linguistic and stylistic treatment of themes and in their humoristic mode of narration, are outstanding examples of a specific literary genre and testimonials of 19th-century German Canadian thinking and affairs.
AO, RG 80-5-0-64, no.2937. H. K. Kalbfleisch, “Joe Klotzkopp returns!” Kitchener-Waterloo Record (Kitchener, Ont.), 4 March 1966: 3–4. Ahornblätter: deutsche Dichtung aus Kanada, ed. Heinz Kloss and A. B. Dyck (Würzberg, [Germany], 1961). Canadian encyclopedia, 2: 895–96. Heiteres und Satirisches aus der deutschkanadischen Literatur . . . , ed. Hermann Boeschenstein (Toronto, 1980) [text in English]. H. K. Kalbfleisch, The history of the pioneer German language press of Ontario, 1835–1918 (Toronto, 1968); “John A. Rittinger,” American-German Rev. (Philadelphia), 23 (1957–58), no.6: 18–20; “A word about Joe Klotzkopp,” German-Canadian Rev. (Galt [Cambridge], Ont.), 10 (1957), no.1: 2–5; 11 (1958), no.1: 2–7. K. K. Klein, Literaturgeschichte des Deutschtums im Ausland (new ed., with biblio. by Alexander Ritter, Hildesheim, [Germany], and New York, 1979). Gottlieb Leibbrandt, Little paradise: aus Geschichte und Leben der Deutschkanadier in der County Waterloo, Ontario, 1800–1975 (Kitchener, 1977; also issued in English as Little paradise: the saga of the German Canadians of Waterloo County, Ontario, 1800–1975, Kitchener, 1980). “Literary works by German-speaking Canadians and their critical appraisal: a selected and annotated bibliography with an introduction,” comp. Steven Tötösy de Zepetnek, Canadian Rev. of Comparative Lit. (Edmonton), 16 (1989): 669–86. J. E. Middleton and Fred Landon, The province of Ontario: a history, 1615–1927 (5v., Toronto, 1927–), 4: 438–39. L. E. Richardson, “A facile pen: John Motz and the Berliner Journal, 1859–1911” (ma thesis, Univ. of Waterloo, Ont., 1991). G. K. Weissenborn, “John Adam Rittinger: the ‘Glockemann’ (1855–1915),” German-Canadian yearbook (Toronto), 8 (1984): 221–24.