Alfons'  Homepage

In Memory of

Katharina  Balke

My Wife for almost 25 Years

the 50's

I was born, as the first child of six, to
Franz Kuhn and Luzia Kuhn/ Kahsnitz
In Karstaedt/ Stavenow, Kreis (county)
Perleberg/ Schwerin, Mark Brandenburg
(province), DDR (german democratic republic) 
 Katharina was born as the first child of seven
 to Klaus Balke and Roswit Balke/ Fell
 In Keoln-Poll (cologne) Nord Rhein Westfalen 
 BRD (federal republic of germany 


the 60's

In 1961 my parents left Eastgermany, just 
before the WALL was built. After living  in 
 different refuge camps, my father rented a
farm in Berghausen/ Thier, Rheinisch
Bergischer Kreis (county), Nord Rhein
Westfalen, BRD. On the picture above,
you can see, i like the taste of freedom. 
 Katharina always liked horses, she had a few,
 here she is with her brothers and sisters on the
Rhein meadows in Koeln (cologne), she lived
only one block from here. She cared for  sick
animals, mostly pigeon and other birds. She
kept white mice, but lost control, there are  still
books and paintings with bite marks on them


the 70's




In 1973  i take over the farm from my father,
who had to quit farming for health reasons.
Katharina joins the Bread and Puppet Theater,
who is touring Germany, she goes with them
to Vermont for a few year.


 In 1975 meet for the first time and fall in love

Two years later our first and only child is born,
Johann Baptist, Benedikt or Ben for short.

This is a norwegian horse, his name is Alf, what are the odds
when buying a horse to find one with that name, if you did not
get it yet, my name is Alfons.

the 80's

In 1980 we emigrated to Canada, here our van is unloaded in Montreal,
we came with the same boat. We had no place in Canada, the van was
our home for the first two month, this with a tree year old child.
The only thing we had was a place Katharina's friends had in
Nova Scotia, we left there the big boxes to get more room in the van.

Nova Scotia, Bay of Fundy at low tide.

No, i did not catch this fish, the person behind me in the door
bought this fish, but makes a great picture.

Looking for a farm.

Found a farm, in Quyon, Quebec. This is one hour west of Ottawa.
Note the dots in the background, cows. The brown ones in the foreground
are horses, plus a white one, this is "Thunder", he was on the farm when we
bought it, he is still here. My line on him is;  I'm going to feed him until he
dies and then i hope someone is doing it to me."

Ben start going in the kindergarten, he spoke only german until he was four
years old, then he learned english from the neighbors kids, now with five he
goes to the kindergarten to learn french.

We grow ginseng, needs artificial shading.

the 90's

This is Katharina's 37 th birthday, after some hard years in
the beginning, we had really good years and good times here.
We just don't know it yet, according to her medical files
there is already a 3 by 5 cm tumor, which will be diagnosed
in less then a year as ovarian cancer.

Our child is graduating from high school,
time goes by.

Visit to Germany, the village i left in 1961, this is 1993.
From left to right; my cousin, my mother, me and Ben.

Katharina, Ben and me at the Externsteine.
In just a few weeks Katharina will be diagnosed with
ovarian cancer, her aunt Sigrid who took this picture
with pancreas cancer, she died over a year later.
Katharina had operation and chemo, the cancer
went in remission.

This is after operation and chemo.

This is in august 1998, a month later i found out the cancer is back.
Katharina knew it much longer. The problems really started in june 1999,
our son Ben said he did not do enough for his mother yet, so he was there
for her 24 hours a day, three months straight, except for the time she was
in the hospital and he got pneumonia from spending to much time there,
she did not want to see him for a while, because he had a hospital acquired
pneumonia.  The irony seemed lost on her.

Katharina's final Voyage.
Katharina died on september 26, 1999 peaceful at home,
she never woke up that morning, her mother and Ben holding her hands.
Our old friends and neighbors, Kevin, Angelle and Alexis were there too.
We had a ceremony on the very same place Katharina spend her last evening.
Kevin is holding a short speech, Donna, Eleanor and Topp are singing, Katharina
used to sing with them. Matthew is holding a few minutes of silence first, then he
performs a short shamanic ritual, after, he start singing "The river is flowing" a song
Beatrice (Katharina's sister) taught us when she was here a year ago. Ben, Eric and
myself go into the canoe, go out on the Ottawa river and I spread Katharina's ashes.

There will be a memorial ceremony, August 19, 2000, in Glover Vermont, at Bread&Puppet.

Katharina thank you for those years. I always try to live
without regrets,  we have to wait  to see if I can do it.

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Memories of my Sister-Beate Balke (translation)

Erinnerungen an meine Schwester-Beate Balke

Read Fred Ryan's Editorial about Katharina

Bread+Puppet Information;

To contact me, go to my farm page:


This Page created; 15 February 2000, by Alfons Kuhn <

Updated: 23rd February 2005