They all call it Canada…
…but I call it "Home"!
With that song, by 21 voices, this multi-talented group of gifted performers of the Szauter Family and the "Forget-me-nots" concluded their performance at the Danube Swabian Club – as they have at previous concerts and 14 concerts in Europe and the USA.
I think I should mention that the large and appreciative audience awarded a standing ovation to the artists after this performance.
This was truly a "variety" evening that started with a Dolly Parton imitation, carried on with clogging, dancing, original Viennese Schrammel music - two violins, one guitar and one other instrument of choice – plus Blue Gras and Gospel music. The palette of entertainment presented was different from performances most of the audience had previously enjoyed. The group has an amazing repertoire to choose from, so I was informed and they keep demonstrating this again and again.
Most of the performers play a variety of instruments including the "Zither" and the "Hackbrett" (Remembered by most as originating with Gypsy music) and other contemporary instruments. This made for a wonderful variety in the sounds of the various musical deliveries, thereby assuring great appreciation and entertainment for the many music-lovers in the audience.
Since there was no admission charged for the performance, a collection basket was passed around for possible donations. Over $1,100.00 were collected and presented to the group by Adam Rendl, who represented the club’s president this evening. Need I say more?
Up, up and away…
…’up, up’ refers to the huge kites and ‘away’ to the surfers in wetsuits that are attached to the other end of the kite’s lines.
All this happened at Cherry Beach recently when I went there to see some kites flying in the breeze. I was not prepared for the kite-surfers that I found there. I was watching one fellow flying his kite from the beach, and wondered why he had a surfboard clamped between his legs. Then – as he moved closer to the water – I realized that he was going into the lake to surf, pulled by the kite flying above him. I didn’t know that sport existed and subsequently – after I got home – I went on the Internet to get more info on "Kite surfing". Lo and behold there was more information than I had anticipated.
Apparently this sport started a few year ago in the Rhineland, moved to the Baltic Sea and from there around the world to as far away as Hawaii and New Zealand. The kites come in many varieties and sizes also. There are ‘ram-air’ kites that work similar to the parasails skydivers use. Other can be blown up – either with air, nitrogen or CO2 - to give them strength and stability. As I watched the surfers on Lake Ontario I also noticed that an experienced surfer could manoeuvre them quite a bit within the available wind area. It sure looked like fun and wearing a wetsuit would protect one from the cold water of the lake. If you would like to know more about it, type "Kite surfing" into your browser and hit "search". You will also be as surprised as I was when I did this – unless you already know all about it.
German Mills Settlers Park
It’s new – it’s big – and it’s Markham’s! After a four-year struggle and a lot of political finagling, concession between the region and the various municipalities, fund raisers and a lot of discussions and phone calls it finally came to fruition.
The original area where in 1794 William ‘Moll’ Berczy settled the first 64 families, who had worked at clearing Yonge Street as far north as Bond Lake, and cut a road across what is now Bond Street, as far as the Don River - before they could get on their land - is now going to be one wonderful park along the Don River.
As Lorne Smith, Markham’s historian tells the story, these settlers established a foundry to manufacture farm implements and it is believed that the millstones for the gristmill and other heavy equipment was floated up the Don River from York.
John Street was the first road the German "Berczy" settlers cut from Yonge Street and it naturally became the main route from the interior of Markham Township to York. Produce, people and supplies traveled through German Mills every day and it soon became the first major centre of commerce in what is now the town of Markham.
Some of the first commercial enterprises were the gristmill, mentioned above, a sawmill, a brew house, a distillery and more. The waterpower of the Don River had to provide power for the commercial establishments
Through the efforts of Erin Shapero, Ward 2, and a lot of helpers, the 1.8-acre area fronting on German Mills Road, north of the 1874 Schoolhouse has been added to German Mills Settlers Park. This area had been slated for development and was a serious obstacle to the realization of the "Friends of German Mills Settlers Park", Evergreen Common Ground, and many other interested groups and individuals, in the park.
The celebration at the old Schoolhouse - now a childcare centre - was presided over by Markham’s Deputy Mayor Frank Scarpitti, who addressed the many guests and related some of the background of the problems, surrounding the acquisition of the area in question, and how - after four years of concerted efforts - they were solved.
Other congratulatory messages and an unveiling of a memorial plaque – a contribution of the Historical Society of Mecklenburg Upper Canada, represented by the president Christian Jürgen Klein and several other members, followed this address.
It started at the sold-out Hansa Haus first. Not really a surprise, since the Harmonie Brass was doing its usual best to get the guests ‘in the mood’, so to speak.
Another attraction is the legendary reputation of the Hansa kitchen and the variety of delightful choices of great meals. The well-stocked bar made sure that there was something cold, for everyone’s taste, available.
The Schuhplattler groups, Weiss-Blau Bayern and the Volkstanzgruppe Almrausch, provided entertainment. When the ‘Juniors’, after their performance, did their ‘bell-ringing’ show, the applause following it showed that this performance was really appreciated by the audience.
Next in line was the Oktoberfest at the Ray Twinney Centre, hosted by the German Canadian Club – Newmarket. This is a three-day event in the ice-hockey arena of the Centre where a wooden floor is covering the ice. It traditionally starts on a Friday and ends on Sunday. This year they had the best Friday ever, I was informed and the rest of the days were great also. But why shouldn’t it be? It’s the only game in town.
This year Karlsberg and Beck beers were offered – quite a change from Molson that had been offered in the past.
The food was catered by "Chef’s Selection" from Newmarket and featured bratwurst and schnitzel dinners – with sauerkraut of course. Well presented and very tasty, I might add. For desert: tasty apple strudel and other pastries to go with the coffee.
This year Mary and Ernie Molkthin were the official "Greeters" to welcome the visitors to the event. I asked Klaus Wagner, the club’s president, why we don’t hear more of the club. "We have a great club" he pointed out and showed me the events listed in the club’s Newsletter, "but the only event, where we invite the public, is this Oktoberfest".
Next stop was the "Donauschwaben (Danube Swabian) Club" in Scarborough. The highlight of this event was the visit by the "Original Bregtal Express" from the Black Forest. This seven-man band decided on a North American visit and performed at another event in Delaware earlier this month.
The club had to add three more tables to accommodate all the visitors that had showed up. Some of the special guests present on Saturday evening were Tom Jakobek, who is running for mayor in Toronto, and Brad Duguid, (Lib.) who is running against long-term supporter of the club, Marilyn Mushinski, M.P.P. (PC) in the coming provincial election.
Wonderful food selections were offered – including my favourites: stuffed peppers.
The next big event is the Oktoberfest in Kitchener. That is an event that usually no one in Kitchener and many other visitors from around the continent and the rest of the world ever miss.
Also on the horizon is the traditional Bayern Club Oktoberfest on the 25th of October in the St. Peter & Paul Hall in Scarborough. See you there!
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