Ingrid (Just) Maack the eldest of two children was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1935. She went to school in Hamburg and apprenticed in prosthetics and health aids.
In 1956, her school mate and then fiancé Hans Maack had an offer to go to either Australia or Canada for work. Hans and his brother Horst chose Canada. They left Germany, arrived in Montreal by boat, took a train to Vancouver and then on to Prince George. The brothers found work at a sawmill in Upper Fraser piling lumber for 75 cents an hour.
Ingrid said "I followed one year later by propeller plane stopping in Greenland, then Vancouver and finally Prince George. I couldn't believe it when I saw wooden sidewalks!
"We were married in the Lutheran Church but separated in 1968. I can still remember how homesick I was and how difficult everything was for me because I did not speak English. Even so, I got my first job at the Hudson Bay.
"We rented a room in another family's house on Laurier Crescent. We had a hot plate to cook on, no fridge and stove and no money. We bought a chicken and I roasted it. I carefully wrapped up the leftovers and buried it in the snow in the backyard. When I went out to get the chicken, it was gone; an animal must have dug it up and took it away.
"I was lonely so I was thankful for our three children: Susy (Fernando) Correia, Peter and Hansi. The first two were born in the old army hospital. At that time, the maternity ward was one big room that was shared with 12 people. I think back to the time when one particular lady, who already had five boys, was in labour and she was sure she was going to have a girl. She had arrived at the hospital with everything in pink. When she was told that she gave birth to another boy she was upset and very disappointed. She blamed the doctor in her sadness. When she held her baby for the first time, she forgot all about the pink clothes and loved her new baby boy regardless.
"That was at the same time that I had my second child Peter. Peter grew up to be a pilot, carpenter and musician but at the age of 44 he died tragically. It was a terrible loss and we miss him so much."
Hans first worked as a bricklayer for Norm Rother and then started his own company Hans Maack Bricklaying Ltd. Ingrid reflected back and said, "Hans hired Fred Lienert and Johnny Werlberger; they worked together for many years and were good friends both on and off the job.
"The first people I met when I came to Prince George were John and Erna Reinhart. Erna was my maid of honor and we are still good friends today.
"Times were tough but I am proud to say that as I raised my children, we traveled a lot (usually with one or two pets) and they learned by doing. We lived for today and everyday was an adventure. We did many outdoors activities. I worked for restaurants, hotels and packing houses in the Okanagan, Princeton, Campbell River and Squamish.
"I moved back to Prince George in the early 1970s and worked as a waitress at the Simon Fraser Inn and housekeeping at the Travelodge. My work as a camp cook for BC Rail, the oil rigs and logging camps in B.C. and Alta. took me to many beautiful places in the middle of nowhere."
Ingrid retired from BC Rail and then worked as a full-time caregiver for Chuck Williams, Andy Honeyman and Grace Lowrie. She retired for good when Mrs. Lowrie passed away.
In her retirement and at the age of 79, she joined the Tai Chi group and the drama club at the Elder Citizens' Recreation Centre. She had a love for theatre and ballet in Germany and was thrilled to be able to do some acting in the drama club at the senior center until she suffered a stroke in the summer of 2017 during the wildfires. Luckily her daughter was with her as she had been evacuated to Prince George from Williams Lake due to the fires.
Ingrid said "I am no longer able to do all the things that I love to do. It is not good to isolate yourself so I joined the Choose to Move Program at the YMCA and through that program I became involved with the stroke recovery group at the senior centre and that has been very good for me."
Ingrid's mother lives in Germany; she will soon turn 102 and is still going strong.
Ingrid said, "My daughter and her family and I travelled to Germany and surprised my mother on her 100th birthday. From there we went on to Portugal to explore my son-in-law's homeland. Although I've travelled to many far-off places and shared a one room shack with my son Hansi and a Mayan family in the jungle in Guatemala, the trip to see my mom will always be remembered.
"I have always been proud of my children. They are good to me, they love animals and they don't waste anything. My grandson Max of course is a highlight. He is very hard working and athletic; I was able to spend lots of time traveling with him during his skating and soccer years plus I really like his girlfriend Meghan.
"I am also very fortunate to have a couple of good friends, great neighbours and my cat Aby. Aby found me a couple of years ago and she keeps me company."
Traveling is still an enjoyable part of Ingrid's life. She just got back from spending Christmas with family in Grande Prairie. She now leaves the driving to someone else and is always happy to come home to Prince George.