There is more and more German content in our Canadian cultural landscape to be found. In the arts there has been for a long time a strong presence of famous artists of longstanding disciplines like composers and painters, as well as those of newer artistic endeavours, like in the entertainment and film making industry. In manufacturing technology/engineering and design German content has always been rated highly and the appreciation is still growing, often due to the merging of companies from across the ocean with North American firms. Money has had no borders for a long time now, thus we can expect more and more common enterprises from and with abroad.
Toronto has ties with Frankfurt and Ontario has some with Baden-Wuertemberg, and now there is a new player on the horizon, Nordrhein Westfalen (NRW), the economic powerhouse of Germany. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the highest of all German federal states, and internationally it ranks in 16th place, according to data from the World Bank. Fact is that in nearly all important sectors of business, marketing, industries and manufacturing NRW gets top marks across the board, placing it in the top 20 "countries" of the world. Now is the time for NRW to expand its standing in even more industries, such as logistics, media and communications, life sciences, environmental industries and future energies.
The dense population with its large qualified labour potential also makes NRW one of the best markets for other suppliers in the world, also if they want to set up shop there. Total imports are EUR 149.7 billion, and total exports are EUR 143.0 billion. Add to that the fact that NRW is the world’s largest trade fair location in the world: Cologne, Düsseldorf, Essen and Dortmund all have huge trade fair facilities, which bring annually more than 100 fairs to the state and 5.5 million visitors.
The quality of life is very high and the landscape does not leave much to be desired either. The central location is ideal for developing a European market.
A Welcome to Nordrhein-Westfalen
Representatives of NRW helt a full day seminar on ITT opportunities and ended the day with a special reception, attended by investment brokers, power brokers and members of several consulates, including from the state of Malta.
Hailing from that region ourselves we had been looking forward to some rheinische Gemuetlichkeit with perhaps a few delectable specialties from that region. But that was not planned, not even truly rheinisches Bier like Alt, instead the best sushi and dim sum was served that this town has to offer.
German Impressionist Art in Canada
Seeing Dr. Arpad Soelter standing under a huge, very Canadian piece of banner-like art in the McMaster Gallery in Hamilton’s university of the same name touched a cord in many peoples mind. Who knew that the museum has such a large collection of Impressionist German art? And how grateful we should be, because many of these artists were certainly not allowed during WWII. Their work fell later under the label of "Entartete Kunst". It is hard to believe that someone like Kaethe Kollwitz would be on such a list. But the work of these artists reflects what was going on in Germany, how much the people suffered from hunger, lack of work, displacement, and just generally the trend of industrialisation before and after WWI.
This exhibit, put together by McMaster University Hamilton in conjunction with the Goethe Institute Toronto is meant to be a teaching tool for students, teachers and laymen alike. For one year an interactive website will discuss this remarkable collection and be available to all who are interested. You find the interactive website at www.goethe-mcmaster.com . And by the way, the gallery/museum is always worth a visit. It has a few extraordinary treasures to offer. Go to www.mcmaster.ca/museum for details.
The unveiling of this event drew an interesting mix of a crowd. There were art students, teachers from as far away as Waterloo University, Kitchener and Toronto. Curators spoke, as did German Vice Consul Christoph M. Fabis and Dr. Soelter from the Goethe Institute. Greg Rennick, an Education Officer at the university, thanked all the individuals who helped make this project a reality, and the list is quite long.
Anyone who is interested in German culture should check out the Goethe Institute. Never before have there been so many interesting projects. The team at the institute under Dr. Arpad Soelter has done wonders for our image and the forwarding of German culture. The cooperation between European consulates and cultural institutions is at an all time high, as is evidenced again and again with the now annual EU Film Fest, a Nuit Blanche event of Euro Night ‘06, which was kicked off at the Harbour Castle Hotel Toronto by invitation of the Instituto Italiano di Cultura together with the Consulates of Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy and the Netherlands; and the many other happenings.
Film Fest Party in Yorkville
The International Film Fest Toronto is undisputedly one of the best and biggest in the world now and has quite a bit of clout in the Oscar nod department. Many a film that went on to win the big honour has been shown here first. Toronto is sort of the hand on the pulse of the industry, and big celebrities love coming here. Every year there are also many German films being shown, and this year was no different. We will spread some of the reports over a few issues. The before mentioned group of consulates also got together this year to throw a party in honour of their country’s contributions to the film fest. A fashion agency, featuring Versace and other Italian lines, with a posh Yorkville address, was the location chosen for this event.
We spotted Margarethe von Trotta, again in red boots, the kind she seems to have a penchant for as we discovered 2 years ago, when she was here with Rosenstrasse, and Sandra Huetten, star of Requiem, a disturbing film about exorcism in Germany. (Report in the next issue of Echo Germanica) and then there was Dr. Arpad Soelter again, always near the entrance, greeting people, helping them to find someone, smiling, directing traffic. People naturally gravitate towards him. He has got to be the most extrovert ambassador of German culture we had in a long time. Together with his wife Beata, who is liaised with the Polish Consulate, he turns up at any cultural affair Germany is represented.
A great time was had by all who were invited and, I dare say, all who crashed the party, which went on for much longer than anticipated.
We recall when Miele first arrived on the Canadian horizon with its fabulous vacuum cleaners and other high quality kitchen appliances. From the early beginnings we watched and saw this German company grow and expand into a great success story. Recently Miele moved into its third corporate headquarter, build to accommodate a new marketing strategy and to accommodate further growth. President Jan Heck explained proudly the fabulous features of the new building.
Not only are the showrooms terrific, but the entire energy efficient structure is also an ideal venue for corporate affairs and other celebratory occasions, complete with kitchen facilities for catering purposes, big LCD screens, and great sound system. Even a flexible lighting system has been taken care of and possibilities for other decorating needs that might arise.
Washing machines, which Miele is famous for in Europe, are to be the next target to be made popular in Canada; and from what we could see, the new models certainly compete with any other popular make. But knowing what Miele does quality wise, we think it is safe to speculate that German quality will win out once again. This was part of an after hours program the German Chamber runs.
The menu will instantly transport you to those parts of the old world with authentic recipes crowding the pages. And when a Bavarian beer maid in an authentic Dirndl brings you your choice of beverage and food, then the experience becomes even more complete.
All of October is of course created to reinvent Oktoberfest with Spanferkel (roast suckling pig) and all the trimmings.
Do not forget!
The day after Thanksgiving, October 10, - and a lot we have this year to thank for -, Ontario is celebrating Pioneers Day. There will be big celebrations again in Kitchener at City Hall with all day exhibits, and later in the afternoon the official ceremonies will start.
For the first time Pioneers Day is also officially recognised at Queens Park with a Flag Raising Ceremony at 12 noon. Everyone is invited to this important event!
The Day of German Unity is commemorated on the 5th of October with a reception in Roy Thomson Hall prior to a Beethoven/ Mahler concert. We went to the second season opener, also a Beethoven/ Mahler evening, which was extremely exciting. When Peter Oundjian is on the podium the orchestra is alive and vibrant. Everything sounds new and fresh. The complete Beethoven Symphony program as season opener is yet another sign of how strong German culture is in Canada. To learn more about the Toronto Symphony please go to www.tso.ca . Tickets for the last 2 concerts are still available.
Until next time, with more signs of German culture in Canada,
I remain yours truly
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