Wilderness Beginnings

Rose Hertel-Falkenhagen

Born into a comfortable middle-class German family, Paul Hertel left Germany in 1929 for a taste of adventure in the Canadian wilds before he was to settle down to run the family business. For the next five years he had the ultimate adventure: he rode the rails across Canada, homesteaded north of Burns Lake, picked fruit in the Okanagan and punched cattle in the Nicola Valley. Just after the Nazis won their first election, Paul returned to Germany.

Urged by his bride-to-be, Grete, but over the protests of his family, Paul returned to BC with Grete, but as World War II approached they faced rising anti-German sentiments. Feeling uncomfortable and unwanted in the south, they moved to the wilds of northern BC where they homesteaded in the Smithers area.

Wilderness Beginnings is an amazing story — partly because it is a true one that shows how recent our frontier actually is, but also because it is a story of courage, of an individual who wouldn’t say “enough already” and pack it in. Paul Hertel just picked himself up again and kept on.

Buy this book! …According to Falkenhagen, she began writing this book so that the memories would stay alive. Thankfully for us, she decided to put it in book form…Her father’s journey is beautifully crafted as a picture of how we were and what we looked like back then.

–Alberni Valley Times