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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

German Immigration to Alberta

Bruno Engler

Bruno Engler was born in Switzerland and spent much of his childhood travelling in the Swiss Alps with his photographer father. In 1939, Engler immigrated to Canada, partly to escape the war that was threatening Europe. He settled in the Rocky Mountains and began work as a ski instructor at Sunshine Village near Banff. In 1944, he was assigned to teach mountain warfare and survival to Canadian troops being sent to Europe. After the war, Engler revived his interest in photography and worked as a free-lance cinematographer and photographer in the Rocky Mountains. Engler continued to be a mountain guide and went hiking with celebrities such as Pierre Elliot Trudeau and Paul Newman. Many of Engler’s beautiful black and white photographs are on display at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies in Banff. Engler was also renowned as a storyteller.

Horst Schmid

Horst Schmid was born in Munich, Germany, in 1933. He came to Canada at the end of World War II and began working in a gold mine in the Northwest Territories. He later moved to Edmonton, where, among other things, he started a German restaurant. In 1971, Schmid was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta where he became Minister of Culture. He believed strongly that the government should support Alberta’s artists and helped to found the Alberta Art Foundation, now known as the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. In 1974, Schmid declared the first Monday in August a holiday in honour of Alberta’s diverse heritage. Under his guidance, the Heritage Days Festival was begun. Among other initiatives, Schmid also helped to gather government funding for the creation of the current Citadel Theatre.

Elizabeth Rummel

Elizabeth Rummel, or Lizzie, as she preferred to be called, was born in 1897 in Bavaria, Germany. She was the daughter of Baron von Rummel. In 1911, her family bought the ranch in Alberta where Rummel was living when World War I broke out. She could not return to Germany, and, after the war, the family’s fortune had disappeared. Rummel had meanwhile fallen in love with the Rocky Mountains. In 1936, she moved to Banff, where she worked as a mountain guide. She soon began operating several lodges in the mountains. Rummel provided her guests not only with warm hospitality but also with a wealth of knowledge about the mountains. Rummel was also a member of the Alpine Club of Canada. In 1979, she was made a Member of the Order of Canada in honour of her work protecting the environment and sharing her knowledge and love of the Rocky Mountains with countless others. The Rummel Lake, Creek, and Pass in Kananaskis Country and the Elizabeth Rummel School in Canmore are named in her memory.

Dr. Otto Schaefer

Dr. Otto Schaefer was born in Germany where he got his medical degree. He served in the medical service of the German Army and, after being captured in 1945, began giving medical treatment to his fellow prisoners. He came to Canada in 1951 and became director of the Northern Medical Research Unit in 1964. This position took him all over northern Canada where he learned the Inuktitut language and often travelled by dog team. Shaefer was affectionately known as the “dear little doctor” by his Inuit patients. While treating them, Schafer gathered information about Inuit health problems and wrote over one hundred publications on the subject. After leaving his position in northern Canada, Schaefer continued to work with Aboriginal patients at the Charles Camsell Hospital in Edmonton. He was appointed to the Order of Canada in 1976, was counted one of the One Hundred Albertan Physicians of the Century, and was named a Fellow of the Arctic Institute of North America.

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