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K-W residents may not be aware of it, yet most will have passed by one or more of the historical contributions made to K-W by the German-Canadian Business and Professional Association (GCBPA). Take the Granite Peace Memorial in Victoria Park for instance. Not the one with Queen Victoria on it, but the one that is missing Kaiser Wilhelm I’s bronze bust, first erected in 1897. Emperor William wound up in the adjacent lake in 1914, was recovered and then mysteriously disappeared again. He was still missing in 1916, when the pedestal was taken down also, on instructions of the Park Board.

The story has become a piece of Kitchener’s history. So in 1996, on the occasion of celebrating 100 years of Victoria Park, the GCBPA, supported by the City, rebuilt the pedestal – without the Emperor (he is missing to this date). Instead of the bronze Emperor atop the pedestal, a bronze plaque on one of its side now tells the story of the bust-less monument. Stop by and read a piece of 19th century history and the K-W connection.

Two plaques across the entrance to Council chambers in Kitchener’s City Hall are another contribution of the GCBPA. The plaques were presented by members of the GCBPA at the opening of the New City Hall and commemorate the history of the two earlier City Halls, which are pictured as reliefs.

And most will remember the 2000 thumbprints collected here and in Berlin and then cast in bronze as a Millenium project. Kitchener Artist Marshall Ward, who conceived the idea, with colleagues Charles Baker and Christopher Griffin collected 1,000 prints from Berliners in Germany and 1,000 from Kitchener residents. The bronzed thumbprints and dedication are mounted to the west of the Main entrance to City Hall on King Street. It is said that anyone who touches the thumbprints will connect to Kitchener’s past, present, and future.

Among the many organizer’s, donors and supporters for this project was the GCBPA.

There is a whole lot more to this Association, and not all visible. Meetings and events, participation at Multi-Cultural Festival, Christkindl Market, the Bitzer Event (student competition with valuable financial and other awards) and regular distinguished speakers to the group from near and far.

Congratulations to 40 years of successful contributions to K-W’s business, academia and culture and for the efforts leading to the public record of some of the city’s unique spirit and history! And all on a voluntary basis. As noted recently by Tony Bergmeier …… “It is this spirit, this attitude, which helps to raise the profile of our community. And it is also this spirit, which directed the German-Canadian Business and Professional Association over the years”.