The official opening of Heidehof, on May 26, 1972, marked the end of a seven year journey to bring an idea to fruition.
On August 8, 1965, Mr. Emil Kutscha, the first president of the organization, came up with the idea of a German-Canadian home for the aged. Then a small group of men and women set to work with idealism and confidence and managed to fulfill the conditions required so that “Heidehof” could become a reality.
The most important events from the foundation day to the symbolic handing over of the golden key are recorded here in short:
On October, 4th, 1965, we obtained our charter from the province of Ontario and were therefore registered as a charitable organization under the legal name “Benevolent Society Heidehof for the Care of the Aged.”
Under the leadership of Mr. Heinz Lakeit, who was president from 1966 1969, provisions were made to hold fundraising bingo nights regularly at “Club Heidelberg.” The Trans Canada Alliance of German Canadians kindly donated flights to Germany as prizes for dances and lotteries . Mr. Frank Lehnert also started a donation drive, with little success however, so the idea of a German-Canadian home for the aged had to wait a little longer to materialize.
At the 4th Annual General Meeting on the 22nd of June, 1969, Sigmund Hildebrandt was elected president and one month later he called a meeting of the board of directors to decide on the purchase of real estate. This effort also failed.
The executive of “Heidehof” then approached Mr. Gerhard Dolch, and asked for his assistance. A short time later we had the opportunity to purchase a four acre site on an option basis. The location was directly opposite “Club Heidelberg” on Lake Street, and the time had now come to make a move.
An executive committee, consisting of Mr. Sigmund Hildebrandt, president, Mr. Josef Kuca, vice-president, Mr. Kurt Trant, treasurer, Mr. Gerhard Dolch, co-ordinator, and Miss Roswitha Hildebrandt, secretary took the next steps.
The first discussion about all necessary steps to be taken took place in Toronto on March 2, 1970 with Mr. Lawrence Crawford, director, Homes for the Aged Branch, Queens Park. We never looked back after that meeting. Without the excellent support of Mr. Crawford’s department, our project would not have become a reality.
We would like to thank our MPP’s Robert Welch, and Bob Johnston, and our MP Jim McNulty, who supported our cause.
At the 5th Annual General Meeting on July 12th, 1970 we were able to inform our members that more than 1 million dollars had been secured for our building project. Now the tiresome work, consisting of numerous meetings, discussions, personal lectures, calculations, correspondence and much more, began.
The symbolic turn of the first sod was performed by Mr. John Yaremko, then Minister of Social and Family Services, and on June 25th, 1971 the $1,200,000 construction contract was signed by representatives of the “Heidehof” Benevolent Society and Sunnylea Construction Ltd. in the presence of our lawyer Joe Reid. Thus “Heidehof” came into existence.
The plans for the home were designed by our architect, Mr. Tony Horton, of “Horton & Ball,” Kitchener, Ontario.
We thank the government of the Federal Republic of Germany for its generous contribution. We are grateful to individuals and associations for their contributions which enabled us to furnish our home. We thank our members for believing in us and trusting the acting committee, so that this project could be completed smoothly.
Heidehof opened under the leadership of Mr. Stan Wright, administrator and Miss Roswitha Hildebrandt as assistant administrator.
It was the hope of the Board of Directors that “Heidehof” would bring happiness and blessings for all those who live in it, and their utmost obligation was, as it still is today - to serve its residents.