Former Rimbey Review columnist pens book examining local senior couple

Regular readers of the Rimbey Review will certainly recall the name Dijie Ratzlaff who wrote a weekly column examining senior citizens in the area for the newspaper. With that experience under her belt, she has taken things one step further and has recently completed a book looking at the lives of long-time area couple who farmed locally for more than a half-century.

Former Rimbey Review columnist Dijie Ratzlaff has written a book examining the lives of former residents Erna and Rudulf Belter.

Former Rimbey Review columnist Dijie Ratzlaff has written a book examining the lives of former residents Erna and Rudulf Belter.

Review staff:

Regular readers of the Rimbey Review will certainly recall the name Dijie Ratzlaff who wrote a weekly column examining senior citizens in the area for the newspaper. With that experience under her belt, she has taken things one step further and has recently completed a book looking at the lives of long-time area couple who farmed locally for more than a half-century.

“A Place to Call Home is the true story of Erna and Rudolf Belter’s journeys from their homes in Volhynia, Poland in the 1920s, through childhood and the hardships of the Second World War and their eventual immigration to Canada,” Ratzlaff said of the subjects of her book. “The Belters farmed in the Blindman area near Rimbey for 53 years, building a new life through determination and faith. Enhanced with maps and photos, the story focuses primarily on Erna’s and Rudolf’s lives but encompasses their ancestors and the political upheaval of those times.”

As for inspiration in writing the book, which according to Ratzlaff took a little over two years to complete, the author said it was a direct result of her weekly columns.

“After the closure of the County Weekender, I was thrilled when the Rimbey Review picked up my weekly column. By then I had departed from my initial variety column and was writing solely about the lives of seniors, which I continued to do until I resigned from the column in January of 2007 after about one and a half years of writing,” she said.

“One of the Belter’s daughters contacted me to write a story of her parents after she read my column about her mother Erna,” Ratzlaff recalled. “I had heard of Erna Belter a time or two while I was writing the column. One day I took my voice recorder to the Rimbey Manor and knocked on Erna’s door. She welcomed me and agreed to an interview on the spot.”

Born in Three Hills and raised in Drayton Valley, Ratzlaff lived in Edmonton for 21 years. After relocating to Rimbey almost three years ago, she said she was blessed to be able to spend time with her parents prior to the passing of her father in October of 2007, and was quick to add the move was intended to bring her closer to her family.

“With a sister settled on a Rimbey-area farm and my parents retiring to Rimbey in 1993, I always looked forward to visiting this small and friendly community,” she said. “Finding city life increasingly hectic, I naturally chose Rimbey and moved here in February of 2005.”

Unfortunately, Erna Belter passed away recently however her husband Rudolf now lives in Barrhead. The couple relocated there to be closer to their family.

The public and former readers of her column will have the opportunity to meet Ratzlaff next week, as she will be in attendance at a book signing at the local Pharmasave outlet.

A Place to Call Home was published by ArtBoookBindery.com.