"It's the visits to the farm that caught my imagination," said Lothar. "I saw many generations living together... working together... happy. Being a dedicated doctor, my dear father was seldom home, so different from what I saw on the farms - my dream was born."
In 1969, Lothar's dream was realized with the purchase of a large dairy farm beyond the end of Beaver Creek Road. Armed with a fierce intelligence that compelled him to continue learning and developing his skills throughout his life, and supported by an equally capable wife, he was able to make a living from the farm, eventually building homes for his three children on the land where they grew up.
Indeed, four generations now inhabit the farm, enjoying the bounty that a rich rural life, thoughtfully constructed, can offer. Although his son now manages the farm, Lothar, at 83, remains active in its operation.
Window-gazing over the vast 130 developed acres, Lothar is rewarded with views that sing to his soul - the water-giving Beaufort mountains rise up directly from his fields; Arrowsmith soars majestically to the southeast; four young great-grandchildren ride joyously free-range on their motorbikes; herds of deer (28, the largest count) and three distinct bear families visit daily.
"It is paradise," he said quietly. But the journey from childhood to idyllic dream-fulfilment was not an easy one. Early childhood soon became one of mere survival through a Nazi-fuelled war that saw his father drafted and in postwar imprisonment by the Soviets as his mother was stricken with Tuberculosis.
The family became refugees once the war ended.
In his teens, Lothar struck out on a perilous journey on foot from Soviet-controlled East Germany to a farm in West Germany where, in safety, his farming education began in earnest. Through a church youth group, an 18-year-old recorder-playing Lother met the 16-year-old, Edith, a pianist.
"We were asked to play together at one function and we have been playing together ever since."
Lothar's eyes twinkle, his smile expanding, as if the memory of young love and a deep life-long partnership fuse in bliss. Indeed, Lothar and Edith continue to play music on a regular basis with their grand-daughter, Anna, rounding out their trio.
Knowing that he could never own his own land in Germany, Lothar seized an opportunity through the Baptist World Alliance, to come to Canada in 1952. Life changed forever.
Many challenges continued, however, challenges met only through strong faith, hard work and an unwavering determination to realize a dream. Lothar said, "Despite the challenges, I am forever grateful for the many "angels" that seemed to appear when they were most needed."
A long-time diarist, Lothar compiled his memoirs as a legacy to his family in a compelling book called Lothar Haack, Crossing Borders in Faith. An ever-grateful, generous Lothar decided to use the book as a "thank you" to a community he holds dear.
Realizing he could sell the book and donate the funds to a worthy cause, the Ty Watson House, he and Edith held a book launch at their farm in May. Many family and friends attended and Lothar would like to thank everyone for their generous donations to Ty Watson House.
"Canada's open arms of freedom is the greatest gift I ever received. We were not free in Hitler's Germany. We were not free in a Soviet regime. Canada's part in the Second World War brought freedom to us, too, and I am forever grateful to Canada and to the community of Port Alberni. Edith and I have enjoyed a wonderful life here, full of faith, family, friendship and music. We wanted to give back."
Lothar's book is available at The Alberni Valley Visitor Centre, Rollin Art Centre, and Jenny's Fine Foods.
AV Hospice would like to thank Lothar for his generous donations this summer.