Holger Renner, who owns the Old Germany Restaurant in downtown Amherst, recently became a Canadian citizen.
AMHERST – Holger Renner was enjoying his first day as a Canadian.
“I love it here,” said the owner of Old Germany Restaurant in downtown Amherst.
Coming to Canada was an accident. In July, it will be 10 years since he arrived in the country from his former home, Germany. The idea of emigrating only occurred to Renner and his now-deceased wife when he accidentally came across an online ad for a farm in Canada. He’d been searching for a farm in Germany.
The price of a property in Canada was eye-opening. Land he could afford here would be available only to millionaires in Germany.
Renner was sworn in as a citizen in Halifax this week, at an office on Brunswick Street.
“It was a real interesting ceremony,” said the restaurateur.
A happy end to a story with an inauspicious start. When he arrived in Canada almost a decade ago, having sold their belongings in Germany, Renner said the lawyer they’d employed had misled them about how easily they could become Canadians. They had to survive on savings for two years after their arrival.
The restaurant, which opened in 2006, serves German cuisine “the old-fashioned way,” according to the man behind the food. Two years later, the couple were able to purchase the building in which the restaurant resides.
The cook and baker has also done his time at markets in the region, selling 37 kinds of breads and cakes in Tatamagouche, Sackville, Amherst and Moncton.
A rocky start on our shores isn’t the only hardship the man has faced. He lost his wife to cancer in 2011. Just recently, though, he found love again: he was married this past January.
The new Canadian has opinions about his adopted country and he’s happy to share them.
“Canada is a young country,” he said.
The owner of Old Germany Restaurant said our nation has an opportunity to pick and choose best practices from other countries, such as those in Europe.
“Suck everything in,” said Renner.
He described Canada as the only country in the world whose children have a future, and said he particularly enjoys the laid-back pace of the Maritimes.
Life in Germany was stressful.
“I’m missing normally nothing,” he said, from the land where he grew up.
He said he misses a week-long carnivale celebration held in the community where he lived, and he feels there are a number of ways in which Canada could emulate Germany, specifically in its federalism – which sees less variation in economic resources among regions, according to Renner, than in Canada – and the, in his view, flawed way Canada provides educational opportunities for young people. (Based on his description, the German system sees young people taking a multi-year, paid internship that provides education and typically leads to employment.)
Renner is having a party at his home in Tidnish soon. Citizenship is a cause for celebration. He knows he’s in the right place.
“So many million mosquitoes cannot be wrong,” he said.