The Damkar story began many years ago, when Abel and Anna Damkar immigrated from Denmark to Canada in 1928. They were just married and settled in the Calgary area. Abel worked as a butcher at the Burns meat plant during the dirty thirties and started a family which included his sons Ernie and Norman who eventually took over the future family farm. The Damkar family later set down roots in the Bearspaw area in 1944. As Ernie grew older, he attended the Olds School of Agriculture, then later a local Bible School. It was at that Bible School that Ernie met Iris and eventually married in 1961.
In 1970, brothers Ernie and Norman bought their father’s dairy farm and formed the “Damkar Brothers” partnership. Through their education at Old’s college, changes in farming regulations and challenges with mother nature, Ernie and Norman brought the family farm into modern times with the construction of silos, slurry tanks and state of the art irrigation systems, among others. After many years of success, the Damkars sold their dairy enterprise and retired in 1999. Sadly, both Iris and Ernie have since passed away.
It was a family vision to give a portion of their land in Bearspaw to build a Church and and a residential community for seniors. Abel was involved with the first Bethany Care Centre in Calgary, while Iris worked in a nursing home as a young woman. The Damkars say they have seen married couples become separated through periods of illness and differing levels of care needed. The Damkars believed strongly that seniors should be able to age in place and stay connected to those they love.
Community is important to the Damkars. Norman, Ernie and Iris lived during a time where people helped one another and looked out for their neighbours. They worked hard to maintain their land, and they say they have also been blessed by the generosity of their neighbors. They see this land as a gift to the Church, their neighbors, the seniors who worked hard to build this community and to God. When asked why they would give such a valuable piece of land away, they said, “when you give a gift to God you give Him the very best.”