Albert Koehler raises his right hand, smiles, and braves torrents of rain to proudly recite the Oath of Citizenship at a special ceremony Friday.
Koehler’s been in Canada for 26 years. Only now did he find time to become a Canadian citizen.
“When I first came here, I had other priorities. I had to make a living and support my family,” he said.
“I arrived in Vancouver on March 10, 1985 with my wife and children, aged two and five. I remember we were sitting at English Bay, the children were playing in the water. We were happy – even though we had nothing.”
He has no regrets about choosing Canada as his adopted homeland.
“When we came here, we had our back against the wall. I had to work hard to succeed. This country has allowed us to build up a new life from nothing. It took many years but now I am self-sufficient and financially independent.”
His success is a testament to what can be accomplished in life with a good education, solid work ethic and land of opportunity – Canada.
“There are still opportunities here for people who want them,” he said.
Koehler, 64, was born in Bermen, Germany and grew up on a farm. Later, he studied mechanical engineering in Cologne, earning his MSc. degree then a PhD in engineering.
He married Jutta in 1978 and seven years later, the couple immigrated to Canada.
Today, Koehler is a well known and highly regarded member of the Prince George community.
He’s past president of the Prince George Chamber of Commerce and served on several boards such as Resources North Association, Community Futures and the PG Symphony Orchestra. He is also author of over 40 published articles.
In 2005, he was appointed German Consular for all of northern British Columbia.
For Koehler, however, the road to success began with his own engineering consulting company, Tribotec International Ltd. in Vancouver. The business soon expanded to include a branch office in Prince George with Koehler going between the two cities where he continued to look after clients and teach mechanical engineering courses at UBC.
In 1997, he made Prince George his full time home and accepted a position as adjunct professor at UNBC. He sold his company in 2004 and went into real estate management.
Koehler now feels totally immersed in the community.
“My journey from the small village in northern Germany to Prince George in central B.C. has been most interesting, challenging, enriching and also most rewarding,“ he writes on his webpage.
And true to his rural roots, Koehler lives with his family on a small farm west of Prince George and has an office in town where he continues to serve as German Consular and conduct his business.
His offspring too are enjoying their own success. His son is a land surveyor living in Vanderhoof and his daughter works in patient care for Northern Health.
Jutta will be next to get her Canadian citizenship.
“Then I’ll work on my children,” he jokes.