Harry Drung was only nine months old when his parents, Leonhard and Frieda carried him aboard the Beaverbrae at a northern German port city for the nine-day voyage to Canada and a new life. That was in 1950.
The Drungs were but three of 33,000 passengers transported to Canada on the Beaverbrae between 1948 and 1954 as part of a program to resettle Europeans displaced by the Second World War. Many of these passengers, along with the Drungs, were assisted by Canadian Lutheran World Relief. A strong German presence in the Kitchener-Waterloo area drew many to that region of the country.
On the weekend of October 2-3, a reunion of Beaverbrae passengers was hosted by Harry’s church, Bethlehem Lutheran in Kitchener. An estimated 800 people attended to share stories of their journeys to Canada and the lives they have built here. Rev. Albert Lorch, a former CLWR Board member, brought greetings to the gathering on behalf of CLWR. An offering taken during the weekend event raised almost $2,500 for CLWR.
During the war, the Beaverbrae was a floating maintenance facility for German submarines. It was ceded to the allies as part of post-war reparations and came to be owned by Canadian Pacific. CP, along with the Canadian government, refitted the ship for both passengers and cargo. Cargo moved east from Canada to Europe. Passengers made the return trip to Canada. It made 52 of these trans-Atlantic voyages as part of the resettlement program.
— Posted by B. Lorch with files from the Kitchener-Waterloo Record; photos courtesy of Harry Drung.