The next celebration of the “German Canadian Heritage Plaza” will take place September 30th, 2012 at the corner of Atlin and 29th Avenue, close to the 29th Avenue Skytrain Station. More details will follow, but just pencil this important date in for now!
History from their website: http://www.deutscherplatz.org/history.html
For EXPO ’86, GRACE McCARTHY, the Minister of Transportion at the time, contacted all multicultural groups in Vancouver, to construct park-like areas along the new Sky Train route.
In the German-speaking community, the GERMAN-CANADIAN CONGRESS formed a working group known as the “Parkway Committee”, which pursued this idea with a great deal of initiative and enthusiasm. The next step was fundraising. Through the intense commitment of all committee members, we were able to collect very generous donations in BC, as well as in Germany, in a very short period of time. Thanks to the German-speaking population in Vancouver, associations, corporations, churches, schools and the media, this space could be created.
The Place was built after a model that adapted ideas of the design provided by landscape architect G. Edel. The GERMAN CANADIAN HERITAGE PLAZA was born. Once the construction was complete, Axel Hoyer began laying out the garden. Ebco, “Eppich brothers” made the plaques and had the donor names engraved at no charge. Goetz Lange-Michels donated the log; Mr. Hammerl from Armstrong carved the logo free of charge.
The opening ceremonies took place on June 29, 1986. Reputable representatives from public life and about 2,000 enthusiastic participants attended. The GERMAN community had created a memorial, which was seen to be deserving symbol of the contributions of GERMAN immigrants, with positive recognition from the CANADIAN public. The donations, to maintain and upkeep the space, lasted for 6 years. With time, it fell into obscurity.
In August 1992, all of the former Committee Members were invited by Ursula and Eugen Neubert to discuss to upkeep of the space and to once raise donations for this purpose, resulting in the founding of the GERMAN CANADIAN HERITAGE PLAZA COMITTEE. This working group is an independent, non-profit society, which, on behalf of the German-speaking public, assumes the responsibility of maintaining this space and carries out these responsibilities based on jointly established conditions in order to maintain the GERMAN CANADIAN HERITAGE PLAZA of the German-Speaking community. Every year, a different association of the Board takes over the Chairmanship, in order to keep the distribution of duties dynamic and current.
In previous years, all of the goodwill and intentions could only be realized through the drive, initiative and support of associations, corporations and individuals. Evidence of this enthusiasm has been seen annually since October 3rd, 1992. The “Tag der Deutschen Einheit” (German Unity Day) is celebrated in festive solidarity and joy at the GERMAN CANADIAN HERTIGE PLAZA. This can only continue, if the GERMAN CANADIAN HERITAGE PLAZA has the full and well meaning support of all the interested parties and fellow citizens for this project to upkeep and maintain the Plaza. In this way it can be kept in a presentable fashion well as one of the memorials of German-speaking immigrants, such as the GERMAN FOUNTAIN at the Queen Elisabeth Theatreand the Friendship Globe in Dundarave Park.
In our Anniversary year – in retrospect, we can see that this group has done an exemplary job of upkeep and maintenance of the GERMAN CANADIAN HERITAGE PLAZA. This has been met with a lot of recognition and appreciation in wider circles of the public, in neighbourhoods and participating government offices, especially since only 3 of the nineteen Ethnic places along the Sky Train route remain.
The dedication and commitment of our group has also garnered special recognition in the fact, that, after long and difficult negotiations with the City of Vancouver, the PARKS BOARD offered us a very fair lease. This includes that the authorities taking on many of the maintenance duties along with the guarantee of the continuation thereof. In September 2002 the final version of the document with regard to the foreseeable future was signed by both parties. Based on this contract, the gardens were freshly planted in 2003. The old log, including the name of the plaza and the eagle coat of arms, which had been carved into the log, were upgraded with a large contemporary plaque, which is much easier to take care of.
On October 2nd 2011 we celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the GERMAN CANADIAN HERITAGE PLAZA. It is a special request that as many German-speaking groups and ethnic communities participate and celebrate the anniversary with us.
For the future we await a great deal of support from all sides, along with the participation from the general public.
Guest columnist: Elke Porter – it is interesting to note that one of the donors to this plaza was my family!