My deadline for finishing Wilderness Beginnings by Rose Hertel Falkenhagen (Caitlin Press) was December 21 because that’s when my partner David finished an out-of-town job. I’m a sucker for books about homesteading, especially homesteading in the north, and Wilderness Beginnings did not disappoint me.
In 1929, Paul Hertel, a young German, came to Canada to get away from his routine life and his mother’s idea of who he should marry. Through his story, we see the connection between life in pre-Hitler Germany and life in rough, undeveloped British Columbia. Throughout the dirty thirties, Paul and Crete (the wife he chose) home-steaded in northern B.C., and his account of these times is heartwarming and even inspiring.
Near Babine Lake, Paul and his friend Arno built a cabin in about a week, while David and I have been renovating for ten years. Paul’s daughter, Rose Hertel Falkenhagen, put this story together from her father’s handwritten memoirs, but it is Paul’s voice that comes through loud and clear.