Bernadette’s Take #26

Swiss Carpenter on a mission

Martin Stutz from Courtenay B.C.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAThis is Martin Stutz with lumber, he is something like a Swiss lumber jack, but it has to be high-quality Canadian lumber. (Photo Martin Stutz)

I was surfing the internet when I discovered an article about Swiss immigrant Martin Stutz.

When Martin visits his home town Elgg in Switzerland, the local newspaper takes notice.

Click here on the link to read.

Martin used to be a local politician and I think, many people from Elgg were surprised that Martin emigrated to Canada.

He did not tell anybody how long he would stay (which is a good thing, because when you go back to Switzerland after a year or so, you can say: I only intended to stay a year. Which helps to save face.)

Anyway, Martin has been in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island for 7 years now. He even has his own company there: Swiss Home Builders Ltd.

SONY DSCI have heard rumours that they build this kind of entrance way so that people find their door at night. (Photo Martin Stutz)

“Nobody expected me to stay that long”, he says. “They thought I would get homesick.”

Well, they did not know Martin. He says the Comox Valley is “the best place on earth”. Sorry, Elgg, you are pretty, too, but beautiful Vancouver Island is a hot spot for Swiss immigrants.

It was the lumber that lured Martin to Canada. He saw an ad in the magazine “Schweizer Holzbauer” (Swiss Lumber Builder) and realised: “These Canadians build their houses effectively with massive lumber!”

Martin is a carpenter with heart and soul, you see. But in Switzerland, most houses are built with brick stones. Or concrete. Not exactly a hotbed for die-hard carpenters.

So Martin packed his bags and arrived in Canada. And could not believe his eyes. He loves how the Canadians build their houses here. Not the “Vancouver shit box houses” (builder’s slang), mind you. It is all about the custom-made homes which make Martin swoon.

MartinStutz3 - CopyStay out of the way! A passionate carpenter swinging his axe! (Photo Martin Stutz)

“The entire structure is timber-framed and more massive”, he says. “It is beautiful because it is sanded and oiled and it looks like a piece of furniture.” (Wow! Carpenters can be poets!)

In Switzerland, you don’t do that anymore. No timber frames. No medieval Riegelhäuser (frame houses) anymore. But Martin was shocked when he saw the lumber prices in Canada: “When I came here, I could not believe it! In Canada, lumber is about 3 times more expensive than in Switzerland.”

But in Switzerland, it is mainly pine wood, in Canada around 90 percent is Douglas fir, some of it old growth fir, at least 300 to 400 years old. Sayeth Martin.

This Swiss guy loves the Canadian lumber. And he loves the Canadian laxness. “Canadians don`t stress themselves”, he says. “When I make an appointment, I don’t expect people to be punctual. Maybe they don`t turn up at all.” Martin sees this as an advantage. Because that means, there is less pressure on him, too!

SONY DSCThat is what Martin is doing when he does not feel under pressure! (Photo Martin Stutz)

He loves his bachelor life in Courtenay where he can drive to a ski hill in 40 minutes, there are 6 golf courses and the ocean close by.

Although one thing is not to his liking: “The ski hill is not big enough for me.”

Please take note: Not everything is bigger in Canada than in Switzerland!

See Martin’s website:

Here is the Can-Swiss Quiz with Martin Stutz:

What gift do you bring home from Canada (or Switzerland)?

From Canada to Switzerland: Maple Syrup and Salmon.

From Switzerland to Canada Schnaps and Bündnerfleisch (air-dried meat that is produced in the canton of Graubünden, Switzerland..

What product(s) do you miss most in Canada (or in Switzerland)?

In Canada I miss the “Bürli” (Swiss bread bun with a hard crust) and the “Metzgete” (a hearty Swiss dish that primarily consists of boiled belly pork and freshly cooked Blutwurst and Leberwurst sausages).

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAMartin looking for treasures in the ocean around Vancouver Island – like lumber? (Photo Martin Stutz)

Which are the 3 qualities you cherish most in Swiss men or women?

Accuracy, honesty and reliability

Which are the 3 qualities you cherish most in Canadian men or women?

Tolerance, cooperativeness and straightforwardness.

What triggered a culture shock for you in Canada?

The biggest shock was, you can drink beer at an event only in the “Beer Garden”.

Which Canadian or Swiss personality fascinates me?

No one special.

This is what fascinates Martin, not people but golf! (Photo Martin Stutz)

P.S. If you would like to fill in a Can-Swiss Quiz, you are very welcome! Send it to

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