4:30 p.m., Feb. 12)
Maverick entrepreneur left his mark on the community
By Fred Sherwin
Game Meat owner and 50-year resident of Cumberland,
Walter Henn, passed away on Feb. 5 at the
age of 77. File photo
man, one of a kind, maverick entrpreneur, devoted family
man -- all would describe Walter Henn, who passed away
last Friday at the age of 76.
Wednesday, more than 400 people jammed the Maple Leaf
Almrausch Club in Carlsbad Springs to pay their last respects
and share their favourite memories of a man who lived
life on his own terms and epitomized the Frank Sinatra
classsic "My Way".
not so much that he was a rule-breaker, he just wasn't
much of a rule follower. He blazed his own trail.
was a dear friend and a huge supporter of OrleansOnline.ca.
He was also one of the few people that got away with calling
first met Walter in 2005 at the Orléans Oktoberfest
fell in love with his wife Inge's sauerkraut and potato
salad, which is still the best I've ever had, and I somehow
talked him into bringing the Bearbrook Game Meat food
truck and trailer to the Greater Orléans Canada
Celebration on Petrie Island as the main food concession.
was a little leery about coming at first, but by the end
of the night he was over the moon. He couldn't believe
the crowds and he couldn't believe how much work went
into staging the all-volunteer event.
was born in Germany in 1939 in the North Sea village of
Cuxhaven, which sits at the mouth of the Elbe River near
immigrated to Canada at the age of 18 with a couple of
suitcases and $50 to his name. He spoke very little English
and worked at a series of menial jobs, including picking
worms which he sold to weekend fishermen just to get by.
returned to Germany in 1961 to marry Inge and together
they came back to Canada and settled down in Toronto.
the first few years Walter earned a living as a traveling
salesman, pawning his wares in rural communities and along
the backroads of southern and central Ontario.
eventually journeyed to the eastern part of the province
and was immediately taken by the tranquil landscape. One
day while driving down 5th Line Road, which is Dunning
Road today, Walter saw a man on a tractor and pulled over
to inquire if there were any farms for sale in the area.
farmer was Leslie Armstrong and he directed Walter to
a dairy farm on Magladry Road which he and Inge ended
up buying with money they borrowed from her parents.
They eventually sold the dairy farm n 1972 and purchased
a prroperty on Russell Road iwhere they started out raising
hogs and poultry.
Walter began questioning the need for a middle man to
slaughter the hogs and get them to market, he opened his
own slaughterhouse and meat store.
he needed additional refrigeration for the meat, he got
into the refridgeration and walk-in cooler business which
grew into a major enterprise with sales in 20 different
international success led to a reception with Pierre Trudeau
in 1973, and an audience with the Queen. In 1989, he was
invited to join a trade mission to Russia with then Prime
Minister Brian Mulroney.
time, the Henns opened a Red & White grocery store
and a modest bed and breakfast. They added a large banquet
hall, cabins, an indoor swimming pool and a petting zoo/game
farm to attract European tourists.
its busiest, the Bearbrook Farm Resort welcomed 200 buses
a season and employed close to 80 peoplem but busuness
dropped off sharply after the 9/11 attack on the World
Trade centre in 2001, leaving them having to rely on Handful
of weddings every year and sales from their elk and buffalo
final blow came in 2008 when the property was assessed
at $1.3 million, more than tripling their municipal tax
he unsuccessfully tried to appeal the assessment, Walter
boarded up the business, and he and Inge moved to another
property fhey owned on Dunning Road where he started a
meat processing operation; raised buffalo, deer and peacocks,
and opened an exotic game meat store that sells everything
from rattlesnake to emu.
the business, Walter was deeply involved with the local
German community and twice served as president of the
Maple Leaf Almrausch Club.
survivor of a heart attack in 1992 and colon cancer surgery
in 1998, Walter began having heart issues about six months
ago and this condition steadily deteriorated. Despite
his condition he never stopped working.
night before he passed away he was putting the finishing
touches on a new menu which he had promised the owners
of his favourite Italian restaurant. He also spent the
better part of three days putting pen to paper to write
down the recipies for his sausages, pepperettes and other
items, which up until now, only existed in his head.
Inge plans to continue to operate Bearbrook Game Meat
with Sharen Armstrong, and for that their customers are
Henn was a one off. He was generous with his time, talent
and money, but shied away from taking any credit. He often
came to the aid of friends and neighbours alike. When
he found out the ladies at Bearbrook Anglican Church didn't
have a fridge to store their fruit to make pies, he bought
them one, and he often provided food for community events
and fundraising activities at the Club.
passing has left a void in the community and among his
family and friends that can only be filled by the memories
he's left in his tremendous wake.
Henn is survived by his wife Inge, daughter Heidi, son
Herbert, mother Frieda and his grandchildren Josh and
story was made possible thanks to the generous support
of our local business partners.)
www.orleansonline.ca's main page