Henner Grimm looks out from the deck of the sailing club clubhouse onto Stuart Lake.

Stones Bay’s oldest resident

At 86, Henner Grimm has had his second knee replacement surgery, and while during the recovery he has slowed down a bit, he still maintains an enthusiasm for his life on Stones Bay.

At 86, Henner Grimm has had his second knee replacement surgery, and while during the recovery he has slowed down a bit, he still maintains an enthusiasm for his life on Stones Bay.

Henner and his wife Almut Grimm, who is 83, live at the far end of Stones Bay, in a house Henner built, where Almut still tends a large garden in a well-kept yard along the lakeshore.

The couple met at a May dance in Germany. “I had my eye on her for awhile,” said Henner, and so the pair fell in love and were married. The couple will be celebrating their 60-year anniversary this fall.

In the 1960s, the couple came to Canada, moving around to a few different places, but settling in Prince George, where Henner worked as a carpenter and became a part owner in a construction company. While he had a degree in engineering from Germany, he couldn’t practice professionally in Canada, so he had to adapt.

A friend of theirs had property at Binche Bay, and Henner helped him build his cabin, and the friend convinced him to buy his own lot in the area.

So they built their own small cabin, and the family would spend their vacations there for about four years, Henner recalled using a boat to pull supplies to the cabin across the snow during the winter, when they couldn’t get all the way in.

But after a few break-ins while they were away, the Grimms decided to buy on Stones Bay, and built a small loft cabin.

The small cabin is still there, and the couple rent it out, for extra income, while they live in the large custom-built home next to it Henner built later.

Over a period of about 20 years, the couple had still been living in Prince George, but eventually his wife convinced him to let go of the house in Prince George. So in the 1970s, the couple moved to the Fort full-time and he got a job working on the first band office at Nak’azdli and he then helped build Kwah Hall.

His next job was a part time position as a building inspector for Fort St. James and the Department of Indian Affairs.

Grimm would fly to Takla and other First Nation communities which weren’t accessible by road at the time.

The couple loved the area and the lifestyle it entailed, enjoying skiing, hunting, fishing and sailing.

Sailing is clearly a passion for Grimm, who calls it a “fantastic sport” and started the local sailing club in his living room 29 years ago.

While the club was larger in its heyday, the club is still going, and has a dozen members.

The club used to host dingy races in the bay, and has a small club house next to Grimm’s property on a right-of-way, which was recently given some upgrades thanks to money from the revitalization funds which have spruced up many local buildings.

Grimm fondly recounts stories about races the club used to attend on Francois Lake, with Peter Sanders from the club winning the race twice.

“It was a nice come-together” for the sailing community, according to Grimm.

But sailing on Stuart Lake is pretty good as well, especially if it is on your doorstep, though Grimm does admit “you have to know what you’re doing” on this lake.

An experienced sailor, Grimm had taken courses on the coast and sailed on the Pacific and in the Gulf of Mexico, and even the winter didn’t stop him in the past.

He used to sail an ice boat across the ice.

Now with his knees giving him trouble, he only sails a 21 foot single hull sailboat in the summer called Windsong.  He can operate the entire boat from the cockpit for the most part. He does take younger sailors with him now though, for a little help if he needs it to launch and dock the boat.

“I have very good friends here and they help me,” he explains.

This is a life and a country which Grimm does not seem to take for granted.

“I’m proud to be a Canadian,” he said in a still-strong German accent. “I couldn’t find a better country to live in —period.”

 

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