Born in Vaduz, Liechtenstein|
Gebhard’s older sister had moved to England, married and, in 1956, decided to move to Canada with her husband. Gebhard, still in high school at the time, waited until he graduated and moved to Toronto to join her in 1959.
“Canada was a wonderful destination for a young man.”
In Toronto Gebhard met his wife Livia, whose family had moved to Canada from Estonia in the 1950s as well. Together they have raised three children and now have five beautiful grandchildren. Gebhard started his career working as a childcare worker with the Catholic Children’s Aid. Before he retired Gebhard obtained a degree in Philosophy from the University of Toronto and worked as a civil servant within the correctional services. Interestingly, Gebhard may have walked around Toronto more than anyone else. For a period of twelve years he documented his everyday walks and by 2009 he had evidence that he had in fact circled the earth at the equator (40,075.16 kilometers).
Toronto as Home
Gebhard has lived in The Beaches for half a century. In 1953 his wife Livia’s family decided to build a cooperative with other Estonians. They were all immigrants and no one individually had enough to buy a house, so they decided to pool their money. When they first approached the national housing association they were denied, as it was viewed as “a communist idea.” Luckily they found a legal bypass and made the collective a company limited with each person owning shares – and so today, Gebhard and Livia own this spot.
Connection with the Past
This is a painting that Livia did during a visit to see Gebhard’s parents more than twenty years ago of Gutenberg Castle in Balzers – the town Gebhard’s family is from. This landmark was built in the 12th century and sits in the middle of two villages. Gebhard explains how the first people to stand on that hill were the Romans in the 3rd century and that there are many legends that surround this castle.
“It is the main showpiece whenever I go anywhere. It’s like the CN Tower but this castle is more romantic to me”
During WW2, his friends lived there and it was a place that he visited regularly as a child. Gebhard remembers running through its old halls, looking at all of the paintings depicting the days of the knights.
“This castle has my childhood memories all around it.”