October 9, 2019. One of the pleasures of revisiting a place is the opportunity to see friends made on previous visits. After visiting the Canadian War Cemetery in Holten, we were so close to the town of Lochem that we couldn’t pass up the chance to see Yvonne and Berry Swarthoff of the Canadian restaurant Mondani, which is also the headquarters of the Royal Canadian Legion in The Netherlands. (See On the War Memorial Trail ….. A Taste of Canada in The Netherlands) The restaurant was not open the day we came, which meant there was time for a real visit.
In addition to running the restaurant, giving presentations to schools, and the many remembrance activities of the Royal Canadian Legion, Berry started a new project on May 4…. a Liberation Museum. Of course we went to take a look.
Berry explained that he had so much stored in the basement that he decided to open up a museum, and nurture his passion for history. When the museum closes at 4 pm, he returns to the restaurant to cook.
Lochem was liberated on April 1, 1945 by British troops – the 129th Brigade of the 43th Wessex Division. However, Berry has all kinds of Canadian memorabilia on display. Museum entrance is free, but donations are accepted. (For more information see www.lochemsoorlogsmuseum.nl. Unfortunately, the website is currently only in Dutch.)
Restaurant Mondani may have been closed to customers, but Yvonne never lets anyone go home unfed. We were joined by Legion President Martin Reelick, and given a chance to preview special Liberation 75 hockey jerseys provided by a tour company.
What a fun ending to a cold and rainy day! We left Lochem warmed inside and out, and didn’t get tempted to have a cup of the Tim Hortons coffee we’d brought Yvonne. As the Royal Canadian Legion in The Netherlands is involved in so many commemorative events, we brought Canadian flag pins and a big Canadian flag, provided by the Office of Senator Mike Duffy. For Berry’s presentations to schools, we left zipper pulls and poppy tattoos that were provided by Veterans Affairs Canada.
If you have information to share about Canadian soldiers buried in The Netherlands, please contact Pieter at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on the blog.
© Daria Valkenburg