Souvenir from German real estate broker Heinz Melzer
Born during WWII, German nationality Heinz Melzer became a conscientious objector in the service of a driving force that caused so much hardship for his family. “He believed in the right to refuse to do his military service,” says his daughter Nathalie Melzer. Instead, he sought adventure in Paris before finding a home in Canada’s greenest pastures.
“My father’s pursuit of happiness stems from the fact that he lived in a country torn by war,” says Nathalie. “(Her family has been) uprooted because of the war. My grandfather perished in the war when my father was a child. Her death left an emotional vacuum and the family struggled financially. “My father saw the ravages of war with his own eyes, and I think that’s why he’s against violence.”
The second child of Heinrich Melzer, owner of a watch store, and Herta Maria Marschik, housewife, Heinz Helmut Melzer was born in Parchen, in the Sudetenland (Czechoslovakia occupied by the Germans). When Melzer was four, Herta moved the family to Wanfried, a small town in West Germany, where he and his sister, Rita, attended a Catholic school. Later, Melzer studied industrial management, which led him to a job in a printing house.
Melzer left Wanfried for Paris at the age of 22. “He wanted to meet new people, travel and start a career,” says Nathalie. Alone in a new city, the resourceful young man first lived in a youth hostel, did odd jobs and took French lessons.
Despite the absence of the nature he grew up with, Melzer was able to satisfy his passions for art, geography and history. He eventually embarked on a career in the tourism industry.
He met people from all over the world including his best friend and Slovenian native Frank Zormann while they were studying at the Alliance Française. Zormann convinced Melzer to join him in Toronto in 1972. “My father, always eager to go on an adventure and challenge himself, decided to move,” says Nathalie.
In 1976, Melzer obtained his real estate license and in 1978, became a chartered broker affiliated with RE / MAX and, later, with Royal LePage. His talent for numbers and languages - he was fluent in German, French and English – as well as his sense of integrity and honesty, enabled him to be successful in his career and earned him many sale prices.
A decade after arriving in Toronto, Melzer became a Canadian citizen. As Germany did not allow dual citizenship at the time, Melzer made the difficult decision to renounce his German citizenship.
He married Dominique Bourcy – whom he had met in a hospital in Paris shortly after arriving in the city, when he worked as a janitor and she was a nursing student – in 1984. Nathalie was born later that year – there, and the family moved to Mississauga.
He was a devoted father. While on a camping holiday in Croatia, he drove preteen Nathalie 14 hours to Germany after she injured her foot and was unable to receive proper care in the war-torn country. They later learned of the severity of his injury. “If I had arrived a few days later, says Nathalie, my foot should have been amputated.
Retirement was not lacking in adventure for Melzer. He loved to travel and, in addition to visiting Europe, Venezuela, Jamaica, China, Tunisia and the United States, Melzer has returned to Germany several times over the years to see his sister and family. At 74, he climbed the 1,776 steps of the CN Tower for charity in under 30 minutes – a great time for someone decades younger, and for years he has hiked the Bruce Trail twice. per week with a large group. “Hiking always puts my dad in a good mood,” says Nathalie. He took his last hike just days before an unexpected cancer diagnosis – a shock, Nathalie says, because he seemed to be the epitome of health. He passed away a month later.
Melzer was the product of the many places he had lived. From Paris, he developed a taste for different cultures. His frugality and love of the simple things come from the fact that he grew up in a small town in post-war Germany. “Even in a cosmopolitan city like Paris, where everything is in abundance, a baguette with cheese and wine would be enough to please him,” explains Nathalie.
Spending his early days in Germany also instilled in him a love of nature, from taming a raven at age 12 to feeding the wildlife that visited his creek-backed yard in Mississauga. . “With its abundance of forests and water,” says Nathalie, “Canada was my father’s paradise.