“I’m going back because I’m not homesick for the country of Holland but I’m homesick for my family in Holland. My son moved back to Holland six years ago. We miss him like crazy,” said Hartgerink, a clerk and administrator at the library for the past five years and an office administrator for the chamber.
“In September, five years ago, I started as the office administrator for the chamber,” said Hartgerink, adding she helped organize the Midnight Madness Santa shop and helped out with municipal election forums.
To make a long story short, according to Hartgerink, the Holland native moved to Canada over eight years ago to reconnect with family in the area. Irene’s husband’s grandfather moved to Canada in 1904 and started a family but moved back to Holland.
“When we found out there was a whole bunch of family still in Canada, we wanted to meet with them. They came to visit us in 1998 and then the year after we visited them and there was a big family reunion with the Canadian part and us. We came for several vacations and we fell in love with the country and we wanted to stay here,” she added.
Hartgerink said, along with her husband, the two lived in Picture Butte from 2007 but moved to an acreage near Iron Springs in 2009.
Prior to gigs with the library and the chamber, Irene was a teacher in the Netherlands for 25 years. She also had stints at The Bay in Lethbridge and at Koster’s Bakery in Picture Butte.
“I was forever coming into the library taking books out and I saw a job opening,” she said, which was better suited for her skills as a teacher.
As for Picture Butte, Hartgerink said she likes the friendly people in town and will miss it when she moves.
“I will miss the small town community. When you go to the bank and everybody says, ‘hi Irene’ and you go the bakery and everybody knows you. People are very helpful and that part I will miss,” said Hartgerink.
Hartgerink will also miss the honesty of people in the community, as she moves to a suburb near Amsterdam, which has a population of over 150,000.
“That is what I very much liked here and that’s what I’ll probably miss the most when I’m back in Holland,” she noted.
Once back in Holland, Mrs. and Mr. Hartgerink are going to play it by ear with what future endeavours will be pursued, as retirement is not an option as of yet.
Irene mentioned she may be a sub for a school or perhaps work in remedial teaching or as an office administrator.
“(We will) see what kind of opportunities come towards us.”