German Heritage Tours in Vancouver

German Booth at Expo '86

The German Consulate General Vancouver, Brian Jessel BMW and the German Canadian Business Association invite you to a journey through time to the German cultural heritage sites in Vancouver and the lower mainland. On September 28th and 29th, they are organizing tours that will take you to famous German landmarks such as the German Canadian Heritage Plaza, “The Drop”, the Roedde House Museum, the German Friendship Globe and “The Castle” – all in the name of shining a spotlight on German influences in Vancouver as well as celebrating German-Canadian relations in the past and present

The West Tour – Tuesday, September 28, 2021 between 9 am to 3 pm

This tour starts with a visit to the German Consulate, where they plan to inaugurate the Buddy Bear sculpture The Buddy Bear is a life-size sculpture in form of a bear whose open arms symbolize a spirit of friendship. Buddy Bears all over the world stand for international cooperation between nations and societies. They convey a positive mood and the vision of a peaceful world. Each bear stands for the people of a specific country, their culture as well as their friendship and connection with Germany.

This will be followed by a drive to “The Drop”, a steel sculpture in the shape of a raindrop at the “Bon Voyage Plaza” next to the Vancouver Convention Centre, designed by a group of German artists “Inges Idee”. The sculpture is 65-feet (20 me) tall and covered with Styrofoam and blue polyurethane.  Many locals see it as an “inside joke” as Vancouver is Canada’s third most rainy large city with up to 162 rainy days per year.

Giant Teadrop
© Photo Credit Elke Porter

The next place on the list is the Roedde House Museum in the Barclay Heritage Square, which was restored and furnished by the “Roedde House Preservation Society” in the 1990’s to reflect the “ambience of late Victorian Family life.” The house was built by the architect Francis Rattenbury on behalf of Gustav and Matilda Roedde, who settled in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1888. Five years after opening up a bookbinding business, they experienced enough success to build their grand house in the West End neighbourhood.

Roedde House Exterior
Exterior Shots of Barclay Manor

Another highlight on this tour is to visit the statue of The Hon. David Oppenheimer in Stanley Park. Oppenheimer was acclaimed as the second Mayor of Vancouver, BC and served until 1891. Stanley Park was opened in 1988. He was also a businessman and philanthropist, donating land to the city for parks and helping to found charities.  David Oppenheimer was born in Blieskastel, then in the Kingdom of Bavaria. He came to America to participate in the California Gold Rush, but then moved to Canada for the Cariboo Gold Rush, choosing instead to provide the supplies for the miners, rather than dig for gold.. The company he founded in 1887 “Oppy” still exists today.

Stanley Park

The tour will conclude with a small party with local celebrities at the German Friendship Globe in Dundarave Park in West Vancouver. The Globe was donated by members of the German Community of Greater Vancouver, led by Harold Lincke, both a long-time West Vancouver Resident and a long-time member of the German Canadian Business Association.

Friendship Globe Selfie

East Tour – Wednesday, September 29, 2021 between 9 am to 3 pm

The “East Tour” begins with the German Canadian Heritage Plaza, which was set up to decorate one of the skytrain stations at Atlin and 29th in honour of Expo ’86. The Hon Grace McCarthy was the Minister of Transportation at the time and the theme of Expo was “World in Motion; World in Touch. When they first built the skytrain, they ran out of money to decorate. So McCarthy asked all the local multicultural groups to construct park-like gardens. The German Community founded the “Parkway Committee”, collected donations and used local expertise to create their plaza. It is one of the few plazas to survive the last 30+ years!

Elke at the Deutscher Platz

The next visit will be to the St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, one of the last remaining German churches in Vancouver. The church was built in 1925 as “Robson Memorial United Church”, and was first rented by the St. Mark’s Church in October 22, 1961. In the Spring of 1962, they were able to buy the church and the two adjacent buildings. The current Pastor, Hardo Ermisch was hired in May 15, 1991 and is planning to retire this fall, after 30 years of service. He will be missed by many.

The German Fountain is next on the list. The Fountain in the Queen Elizabeth Plaza was given on behalf of the British Columbia’s entry into the Canadian Federation at its Centenntial Celebration in 1971. A group of German businesses and organizations founded the “United German Canadian-Centennial Committee” in 1966 and donated money and collected donations for 5 years in order pay artist Gerhard Hans Class to design the fountain.

Queen Elizabeth Plaza

The Vancouver Alpen Club needs no introduction. It was founded by Sebastian Schmidt at the corner of Robson and Granville as a non-political Schuhplattler Dance Group in 1935. They then moved to Hamilton Hall in 1937 and finally opened up at their current location at 33rd and Victoria Drive on October 18, 1950. Their goal was always to “provide programs and opportunities for German-Speaking Vancouverites to maintain their cultural link with the past, and at the same time provide a bridge between German-Speaking immigrants and the community at large.” Besides a club, they also operate a “Deutsches Haus Restaurant.”

Vancouver Alpen Club
vancouver-alpen-club-event-location-restaurant-gallery

The tour ends with a small party of local celebrities at the Barons Manor Pub, once built by the famous Werner Karl von Mackensen. He immigrated from Strasbourg, Germany and set off for Canada in 1904. He transformed a farmhouse into a small “castle” with 16 rooms, a 3-story turret tower, a concrete bomb shelter, described as “A Victorian Homestead style architectural gem.” He was arrested for being a spy in 1915, put into an internment camp and the Canadian Government confiscated and sold his property. He was deported to Germany where he died. Sarb Randhawa purchased and reconstructed the property in the late 2000’s in honour of his late father.

Barons Manor Pub

Their partner BMW will kindly chauffeur our guests with their new electric cars on the tour. Would you like to join them? Send an email to wiss-100@vanc.diplo.de for more information and/or to register. Limited seats available!

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