To German immigrants, British Columnbias appears to be the place to go in Canada; more than 80,000 have settled in the province, according to Vancouverver's German consulate. They have left their stamp; on some blocks of downtown Robson Street, German is as common as English. The concentration of German merchants and tradesmen (delicatessens, cafés, bookshops, musicstores, tailors, bakers and hairdressers) is such that the locals call the street Robson Strasse.
Now, the B. C. colony can boast its own aristocracy. Four German princes, all related to one another and distantly connected with the British royal family, have bought two coastal islands and thousands of acres of timberland.
The princes are not immigrants. They expect to use their new estates as bases for hunting and fishing (they plan a moose hunt next fall) but in the main they’ll be absentee landlords with a long-range investment stake in their B. C. properties. They all have large holdings in Germany’s forest products industries that spring from their ances-
tral estates, and forest management is a family tradition with them all.
The man who dealt B. C. the German royal flush is Henry Roethel, an immigrant who worked for the B. C. government for nine years before becoming a consulting forester in Victoria. On a trip home in May, 1960, he sang the praises of his adopted country to his princely friends and urged: “Come and see for yourself.” They came, one at a time, and according to Roethel. “they loved it here.”
First to put down some roots was Prince Frederick von Hohenzollcrn, whose home is a castle on his Black Forest estate. He bought 2.000 acres on Malahat Lake, 20 miles north of Victoria, in November, 1960. He w'as followed by Prince Joachim von Fürstenberg, of Donaueschingen in south Ciermany, who is a brewer as well as a forester. Fürstenberg picked up 1,400acre Moresby Island and 3,500 acres in the Malahat timber area, near Shawnigan Lake, for $200,000.
T he third arrival was Prince Wilhelm zu Wied of Koblenz on the Rhine, who
paid $80,000 for 2.500-acre Hernando Island near Powell River. The fourth was Prince Johannes von Thurn und Taxis from Regensburg, who bought 3,000 acres on Saltspring Island, in Georgia Strait, for $500,000.
Roethel says the princes' first income from their new properties will come this year from the sale of Christmas trees, but they aren’t out to make quick profits. “They will introduce intensive forest management, European style. Their families have found over the centuries that though a forest grows slowly, the 1 g-range investment is an excellent security.”
Since the prices paid by the princes were reported, Roethel is fending olf owners of farm and timber lands who would like to meet more wealthy noblemen. He is also trying to deal with another kind of publicity: a newspaper story called von Thurn und Taxis “the beatnik prince" because he likes to relax in a floppy shirt and jeans.
"An entirely wrong impression,” says Roethel. “The prince is a sensible businessman.” ROBERT METCALFE
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