Margarete Mertins (nee Lehmann)
Passed away peacefully at home on August 20, 2022, in her 97th year. Predeceased by her husband Paul and three siblings. She is Mutti to her six children, Marianne Stickland, Ursula Mertins (Brian), Brigitte Mertins-Kirkwood, Hans Mertins, Karin Mertins and Helga Mertins (Bruce). Oma to her seven grandchildren and nine great grandchildren Christopher, Trudi, Katie, Hadrian, Finn, Sebastian and Alexander and all their families. Cremation has taken place. A Celebration of Life is scheduled for a later date. If desired, donations to a local charity or doing a good deed for someone would be gratefully acknowledged as expressions of sympathy. Arrangements entrusted to Opatovsky Funeral Home- Moore Chapel 9 Paget Street, Sundridge, ON.
Written 1977 or 1978, translated from German
My cradle stood at the Pregel. I grew up on my parents' farm in Staatshausen, Insterburg district with three siblings and a young aunt almost my age. My grandparents lived together with us. Our land was bordered on one side by the Pregel River and extended to the state forest. Both the forest and river were big attractions for us children. I can't imagine my childhood without our garden. It was large and versatile. Grandfather kept his bees in it. Fruit trees of all kinds could be found in it as well as berry bushes and vegetables. Flowers bloomed everywhere, lovingly cared for by mother. Each child had their own garden, which was nurtured and cared for. Like all my siblings, I went to the village school for four years. I attended high school in Insterburg. We used to cycle to the train station Norkitten and then took the train to Insterburg. In the war winter of 1941/42 train service was limited and it became difficult for us to get to school. We children were then driven the 15 km directly to Insterburg by horse drawn sleigh. Packed in fur and fur blankets, our trip started early in the darkness. At sunrise we reached the city and always arrived punctually at school. I have fond memories of those trips. Our special winter pleasures also included tobogganing and ice skating. The entire village youth participated.
During the holidays we helped a lot in the fields and garden. I further recall continuing with the hay and grain harvest, as well as the potato harvest during the autumn holidays. In the garden, picking berries, as well as harvesting cherries, apples and pears was always our job. If the fruit harvest was abundant, fruit was also brought to the Housewives' Association in Insterburg. My grandparents used to drive and I was more than happy when I was taken along. We passed the time with singing along the way.
I left school in 1942 having completed the Mittlerer Reife. I worked on my parents' farm until my Landfrauenschuljahr began in Neuendorf, Kreis Lyck. This time was credited to me as an apprenticeship. I happily think back to those years. Mother and grandmother taught me essential things for my life. Due to the scarcity of war years, the loom was set up and towels were woven from still existing linen. I made the spools and was allowed to weave from time to time. Old clothes were cut into strips and woven into rag rugs.
I remember the year at The Peters School as one of the most beautiful years of my life. We were familiarized by our teachers in theory and practice with everything a farm wife needs to know. We formed a lively community and in addition to all learning, there was often fun. The magnificent Masurian landscape with its lakes and forests is unforgettable. We all loved the long walks or bike rides that made us familiar with Kreis Lyck. A big impression for us was the trip to the Baltic Sea together with the visit to Koenigsberg, Pillau and the Steep Coast. War events made our school year more difficult. We were happy to get our degree. We were the last school year in Neuendorf.
In September 1944 I traveled to Schleswig-Holstein to join Mrs. Thomsenin Tetenbuell, Kreis Eiderstedtals as an apprentice in rural home economics. There I found entirely different agricultural conditions. The flat land without forest was so foreign to me and I was often homesick. It was also a difficult time with great concern for my family who had to flee East Prussia. Fortunately, my Tetenbueller address became a meeting point for the family. In autumn I did my assistant examination and then went to my parents, who had found a place to stay in Horst/Holstein. In the following years I worked at various farms in Schleswig-Holstein. In 1947 I met my husband, who had just returned from POW captivity in Africa. He comes from the Elchniederung district (East Prussia) and is a farmer. In 1949 I started working in a hand weaving mill in Horst and stayed with it until we married and secured an apartment in Essen. My husband retrained as a construction and furniture carpenter.
In Essen, together with a Master Weaver, I opened a hand weaving mill, where I worked until the birth of my first child (1956). My husband received a job offer in Saudi Arabia in the same year. A wealthy Sheikh wanted to see the desert green and have an experimental farm near the port city of Jeddah set up. I later moved to the farm with my daughter and stayed in the hot country until the birth of my second child. Later, my husband was further employed for an agricultural development project in Iran. We now had 4 children and were looking for our own piece of land. An ad in the Welt drew our attention to Canada. A German offered his farm for sale. Indeed, a connection was made and in the spring of 1963 my husband first traveled overseas. I followed a little later with the four children of preschool age. We bought the said farm in Sundridge/Ontario and still live here today. Two further children were born in the first years. The farm is about 500 acres in size, mostly forest. We live 6 km from Sundridge. The country is hilly, covered by extensive forests and many lakes. In the past, there were many farms here. Today, agriculture is declining. Since it is so beautiful here and almost no industry is available, the area has developed into a recreational area. Tourism has become an important source of income. Climate conditions are difficult. The summers are short and hot, the winters long and cold. At most, the months of June, July and August are frost-free. The soil is light. We keep some cows and keep a small pig farm. The main emphasis is on sheep farming. Lamb is a sought-after and well-paid product. sell
Otherwise, we have turned to growing vegetables. We sell directly from the farm to private customers and a business in Sundridge. Since I have a small greenhouse, I also grow young plants for sale in the spring year, namely flowers as well as tomatoes and cabbage of all kinds.
But we cannot make a living from agriculture alone. My husband turned to construction a long time ago. He builds residential houses, which are always made of wood here. The farm is becoming more and more a sideline. We have found a second home here, but the old home remains unforgotten.