Velbert is a big town in North Rhine Westphalia. Its primary industry is small scale steel production. It is renowned worldwide for the manufacturing of keys, locks and fittings. You can see all kinds of interesting locks and keys in the local museum.
Velbert has a primarily small based metal industry which evolved from backyard forges. Right beside the Old House was such a small forge. At suppertime we would see tired and grimy looking workers emerge from the dark, windowless stone building to trudge home,
My mother had respect and pity for these hard workers looking emaciated and pale from working long hours in that hellish plant. North of Velbert is the city of Essen where the largest steel manufacturing plant of Europe was located. My dad found employment in the dental laboratories of the 400 year old Krupp dynasty of steel manufacturing.
Every morning my dad would leave by bus around 6:00 a.m. to go to work. It would take him about an hour to get to his workplace in Essen. He would return at 6:00 p.m. dead tired but happy to have employment with a prestigious and socially progressive company, which treated their employees well.
For my parent’s 25th wedding anniversary a representative of the Krupp management visited my parents at the Old House and delivered some gifts and well wishes. My parents were touched and felt honored by this caring and generous treatment of my dad’s employer.
Located near the city of Essen is the beautiful lake Baldeney, a dammed reservoir of the Ruhr river. It was the destination of one of our first family excursion on a sunny spring day. It would become our favorite recreation spot. Lake Baldeney has personal significance for me because it changed my life forever. But I won’t get ahead of myself.
My dad who loved nature and above all water sports was delighted to have this jewel of a lake in our vicinity. It would still take some effort to travel there by bus, but these outings were recreational highlights and brightened up our otherwise drab existence in the Old House.
A few times my dad and I walked the ate approximate 16 km distance through forests and fields. I felt very proud that I could keep up with my dad on these long hikes. My brother who was not fond of swimming in cold water and hated exertion would seldom accompany us.
On those hikes my dad and I would often daydream about the future. We would envision a beautiful home built on a hill surrounded by forests and overlooking a big lake. Far in the future this dream would come true for me at the Arrow Lakes in Canada. On his last visit to Canada before his death my father experienced the fulfilment of our dream for a short time with us.
The first time we walked barefoot at the shore of Lake Baldeney we were puzzled that our feet were sooty black even after a swim in the clear water. At that time the coal industry was still in full production and there was heavy pollution around Essen. Blue skies as seen on these pictures were rare in my childhood but all the more appreciated when we had them.
This is the house and the lake of our dreams in Fauquier, B.C. at the Arrow Lakes.