A German presence in Canada is growing exponentially, especially in the trade and the arts. Travel between the two countries has always been good, as have the exchanges between Baden Württemberg and the Province of Ontario and Toronto and Frankfurt. The signs of this expanding cooperation are more visible than ever and are worthwhile observing.
In Toronto the month of October offered many examples of this.
The new Consul General of Germany, Mr. Holger Raasch, was kept especially busy, not just with official visits for introductory purposes with the powers that are, but he was also residing over and attending many important events.
We met up with him first at the German Gala Ball, which was an occasion to tighten relations between Frankfurt and Toronto. Next we saw him at the Flag Raising Ceremony at Queens Park, where he gave a very appropriate address about the German input to this country by its settlers, a history that must have been fairly new to him, being so new in Canada.
After that we saw him reside over the Tag der Einheit event on the 25th floor of Bloor West, in the heart of Toronto. The view from the top of this future location of the Consulate General was spectacular.
As the sun slowly descended Mr. Raasch welcomed the many guests from various levels of government and also introduced a main sponsor of the evening, the Land of Niedersachsen, Lower Saxony, Germany, whose Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economics, Mr. Walter Hirche, was here with an extensive trade delegation, like Frankfurt did a month earlier, to expand the ties between the two nations and regions. Mr. Hirche was happy to celebrate the German Day of Unity here in Toronto, as were other official figures of various local government levels, like the Speaker of the City Council Ms. Gloria Linsay-Luby, who was standing in for Mayor Miller, and. Mr. Richard Kohler, Canadian Assistant Deputy Minister International Relations and Chief of Protocol, delivered a message from Prime Minister McGuinty, among others.
The reception was catered generously with all good things German, some of which could be taken home for trying later: and an extraordinary guestbook was established, several pillars of the structure were used to hold the signatures of all who cared to sign it. What a novel idea!
It did not take long and we saw the Consul General again, this time in Kitchener at the celebrations for Pioneers Day. Really stressed for time he somehow made it possible anyway to come and greet the revellers there. He expressed his eagerness to come back and learn more about this heritage of Germans in this country.
Unusual activities took place at this gathering on October 3rd Students were honoured for being the best German students in their School: Hermonie Xie, German Language School "Metro Toronto, Scarborough, Elisa Cristea, German Language School Concordia, Kitchener, and Sina Schweter from the German Language School in Richmond Hill. Mr. Raasch handed them all their diploma.
Also witnessed was the bestowing of German citizenship to three individuals that evening: Mr Kurt Servos, Mr. David Servos and Mr. Andrew Levy.
We have not seen this kind of officiating publicly in a while in our climes.
Was this better than a reception in Roy Thompson
Hall with a concert afterwards? May be, may be not, but it was grand anyway!
German Pioneers Day in Kitchener
Every year since its inception/introduction and inclusion on the official calendar of holiday in Ontario - through the never-ending efforts in the Ontario Legislature of Wayne Wettlaufer - the day after Thanksgiving is celebrated as German Pioneers Day.
At least in Kitchener it involves the entire community and beyond that politicians of various government levels and diplomats of all German speaking countries, as well as many other dignitaries in our midst. The Pioneers Day 2007 committee, chaired by Gerhard Griebenow, was another example of how well this community in Kitchener works together. It qualified as another full success.
In their wisdom the committee always chooses some individuals that have been either through their families or organisation deeply involved in the development of their region. This year the work done to keep peoples spiritual nature healthy and well balanced was addressed:
Four local Churches received recognition for their over 150 year services to the community. They are: St. Boniface Catholic Church, Maryhill; Historic St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Kitchener; St. John’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Waterloo; St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, Kitchener.
Of course the ceremony would not have been complete without a framework of greetings by the many dignitaries present and some extraordinary entertainment by the Children Choir of the Concordia School and St. Mary’s Church Choir, and the Concordia Choirs, who have sung for almost as long as some of the churches have provided services to their communities.
The Concordia Choir was also honoured for this longstanding commitment to the glory of god and men. It was founded in 1873. To this day this choir, now under the outstanding leadership of its extraordinary conductor Dr. Alfred Kuntz, has delighted audiences in many countries and locally. Hopefully this tradition can and will continue for a long time.
After the ceremonial part in Kitchener’s City Hall there was dinner party for the few dozen people who were seeing the town through yet another successful Oktoberfest and of course the Pioneers Day. It was the first gathering of its kind and held in the Transylvania Club.
Its President Alfred Lowrick and his lovely wife Heidi were perfect hosts at this delicious sit-down dinner, served family style. It was a good opportunity to say thank you to all the hardworking people and to celebrate life and all its beauty, including the many lovely Miss Oktoberfest of the many different clubs.
It is important to mention that after many years of a non-local Oktoberfest Miss, they were American for a long time after the city took over the Oktoberfest, this year it was a local girl again, just like in the beginning of this long standing tradition! I think it is safe to say the hallelujahs are in order.
Until next time
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