Valley Lives - Martin Podehl

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the November 18, 2009 issue. Reprinted with permission.

One last party for 'man who wouldn't stop'

by Trevor Greenway

Martin Podehl loved to party. He enjoyed sitting by the campfire with friends and family, listening to old Supertramp records while remembering the good old days.

He got to do it one more time, as his two sons Olaf and Carsten along with their mother Cordula threw a final bash for their late father and husband.

Podehl died suddenly Oct. 29 after a dead tree he was cutting fell on him.

"It's one more time, Martin style," said Carsten during a telephone conversation. More than 100 people showed up on the Podehl family farm in Farrellton Nov. 11 to celebrate the life and bid a final farewell to their beloved friend. The party was a potluck style with hot chili and cold drinks, but it turned into an all-out dance party for about an hour, as close friends danced to 70s funk songs in an outdoor tent, trying to stay warm as a DJ blasted tunes throughout the night. Quieter gatherers huddled by the campfire, telling stories of Martin in his prime days.

Valley Lives
Martin Podehl.

Carsten said it was only fitting to throw his dad one last party, the 68-year-old favourite activity was hanging out with friends and family.

"My dad loved parties," said Carsten.

"So I thought, 'I'm going to throw him a party.'"

Sitting in his home in Wakefield that he built with his dad, 41-year-old Carsten flips through an old scrapbook of family vacations. His hand stops on a picture of him, his older brother Olaf and Martin sitting in a circle, starting a fire. The photo is a true depiction of the type of father Martin was, teaching his boys to fish and start fires and in the bigger scheme of things, how to be men. This Canoe trip to Georgian Bay, ON was Carsten's favourite, as it was his first real wilderness experience.

"It was also my first moose sighting," said Carsten, who was 10 years old at the time.

After moving to Canada from Germany in 1969, Martin landed a job with Statistics Canada in Ottawa. The family would travel up to the Gatineau Park on weekends to go skiing or head to Wakefield to take in the Gatineau River. Martin and Cordula quickly fell in love with the village eventually purchased a 100-acre farm in Farrellton in the mid 70s and have been there ever since. Martin was an avid hiker of his own land, building trails and clearing bush so that he and his wife could ski to a neighbours house for an evening visit.

Carsten remembers more adventurous hikes in the Gatineau Park, where the two would get lost on purpose to add some intensity to their outings. From canoe trips across the country to cross country skiing closer to home, Martin was always on the go; a "busy body" who wouldn't give up on life, according to Carsten. Martin even beat a mild case of prostate cancer and had been in remission for a few years.

He once traveled all the way from Vancouver to San Diego on a bicycle. The trip took him six weeks. "He was a man that just wouldn't stop."

Carsten, who found his father's body, said his mourning days are to come, but added that the community of Wakefield has already helped him through some of the tough times.

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