German occupation in Holland still weighs heavily on Brink

By Ted Clarke
The Prince George Citizen
November 8, 2022
Category: Special Feature
Region: Canada, Canada West

John Brink

John Brink was four-and-a-half years old when Canadian troops liberated his part of Holland. Nearly eight decades later, Brink’s memories remain vivid of seeing those friendly faces arrive in the final days of Second World War. …The Canadians came on May 12, 1945, right after the ‘hunger winter’ that brought brutal cold and starvation to parts of the country where food and fuel supplies were blocked by the retreating German army. …For Brink and his family, the war brought ever-present anxiety, malnutrition and the misery of separation that divided them. As he writes in his autobiography, Against All Odds, “It was a life without luxuries, but it was bearable – after all, it was all I knew. What was infinitely more difficult was the worry generated by living under occupation.  

…The impact the Canadians made on Brink never left him. He wanted to immigrate to Canada as a 17-year-old but his parents denied permission. He was then drafted and served two years in the Dutch Air Force as part of the special forces military police before coming to Canada at age 24. Driven by his ambition to own his own sawmill, Brink arrived in Prince George in 1965 with $25.47 in his pocket and worked his way to the point where he could start his business. Ten years later he opened Brink Forest Products in Prince George and its finger-jointed lumber mill, which, with the addition of value-added mills in Vanderhoof and Houston, he’s turned into one of the largest forestry companies in the province. Brink, who celebrated his 82nd birthday Nov. 1, realizes the importance of Remembrance Day, especially to remind the younger generation of the sacrifices our soldiers made to preserve the freedoms we often take for granted. 

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