Evelyn Kellenberger

Bernadette’s Take on
Evelyn Kellenberger from Golden, now Grindelwald

A Gondola for a Golden Girl

Kellenberger2 - CopyAt least there is one thing that is exactly the same in Canada and Switzerland: snow. – “Digging for a treasure at FIRST ski area in Grindelwald where my husband works”, writes Evelyn. Well, just let’s hope, it is a golden treasure! (Photos courtesy of Evelyn Kellenberger)

First impressions count.

Until the middle of July, Canadian Evelyn Kellenberger (42) lived in the town of Golden B.C.
Now she calls the Swiss mountain resort of Grindelwald her home.
Will it be golden for her, too?

Evelyn is married to Swiss-Canadian Markus Kellenberger who was offered a job in Grindelwald.

kellenberger1 - CopyEvelyn and Markus, “enjoying “Chateaubriand (Fleisch) dinner.  Yes, we love our meat!”, Evelyn sayeth.

So the couple, their daughter Nina (13) and son Nils (11) packed their bags in July and relocated to the Bernese Oberland.

Grindelwald is surely one of the nicer places in Switzerland. But you should see what the Kellenbergers leave behind in Golden: a beautiful huge house on acreage, with a spectacular view and additional space for a Bed & Breakfast.

If you are curious, you can see it here:


Now they are renting in Grindelwald. Evelyn still says: “I`m very happy.” She is a person who is open to opportunities. And she knows how to adapt to different cultures.

Kellenberger - CopyThe Kellenbergers storming the Swiss mountains: “Markus and I visiting The Top of Europe this past April.” I am sure, Markus checked the mechanics of the train before they rode uphill.

When she was 18, her family immigrated from El Salvador to Canada. To Lethbridge in Alberta, to be precise. Five years later, Evelyn started working in Banff in the office of a gondola company. There she met Swiss technician Markus Kellenberger in 1996.

Markus worked for Banff Gondola until 2002 but the couple did not stay in the famous Rocky Mountain tourist town. They moved to Canmore first and then to Jasper. “But Jasper wasn’t for us”, Evelyn says. “You can never own the land, you have to lease it from the government.”

So in the fall of 2002, they moved to Golden where Markus´ uncle had a farm in the area. There, Markus worked at the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort as a maintenance manager.

But Switzerland beckoned.
“Last summer, we came to visit family, and Markus applied for a position as maintenance manager for the ski hill Grindelwald First.” He got the job.

Kellenberger4 - CopyA Canadian girl with a Swiss “grossi” (grandma). Nina is proud of the Bernese “tracht” (traditional Swiss folklore costume).

It was a hard decision for the Kellenbergers but Evelyn took it in stride. “I thought it would be a great experience for the family”, she says. “We are going to give it a try.”

Their children were excited. But then they realised that their friends won`t be there. And they would have to learn a new language.
Nina and Nils have just started school. It is not an international school but a normal Swiss school.

Kellenberger7 - CopyThese kids really take in Switzerland with all its glory: “Our son Nils loves goats….. In fact he is learning to milk them right here in Grindelwald!”

Evelyn told them that it is going to be okay, and that she went through big changes when she was a teenager, too, and it worked out fine.

The family filled an entire container because they also took their Canadian furniture with them. But they had to leave their eight-year-old dog with her parents in Canada because it would have cost them 4000 dollars to fly the dog to Switzerland. “And that did not include all the paperwork”, Evelyn says.
They all miss the dog.

After one month in Switzerland, I am fishing for her first impressions. “For me, Grindelwald is like Banff, it is full of tourists but I don’t mind that, I like people”, she says.

In Canada, she had always felt accepted because there are so many immigrants.

And the Swiss? “They are diplomatic and take things very seriously”, she says. “Swiss people are more to themselves, but once they give you their friendship, they are really great people.”

Kellenberger5 - CopyNina with somebody who understands English and Swiss German, no matter what. And horses don’t need expensive Swiss gas.

“I admire them, they are so organised and reliable, they speak many languages,
and they are very punctual.”

Her in-laws only live half an hour away in Interlaken, and her sister-in-law lives close by in Grindelwald. “They help me a lot”, Evelyn says. “You have to assimilate.”

She is getting used to the narrow streets, compared to the wide roads in Canada, for instance, and the cyclists everywhere. But she is still not used to take the train for shopping instead of the car. “I feel I am on holiday if I take the train”, she says.

She finds Switzerland expensive, but she says “overall, if you are careful, the prices of food come close to Canadian prices. It is more expensive to buy gas in Switzerland but you don`t drive the same distances as in Canada.”

Kellenberger6 - CopyNow this I call assimilation: A Canadian boy with the word “Heimatland” (home country) on his baseball cap and a Swiss mountain man shirt! And a back pack.

Evelyn is learning German. She might get a job in Switzerland one day. But now she still can work part-time for a Canadian property management company at her Grindelwald home.
The world is Evelyn’s oyster.

And to her astonishment she can find Canadian culture in Switzerland. “Swiss women adore line dancing”, Evelyn says. “I went to this nice festival in Interlaken and there were around 100 Swiss women line dancing! It was cool, I was really impressed. I felt I was in a mini Calgary Stampede!”

Here is the Can-Swiss Quiz with Evelyn:

What gift do you bring from Canada to Switzerland?

* Always BEEF JERKY (proudly Canadian)
* BC Salmon
* Calendars with Canadian landscapes

IMG_0634 - CopyLandscape in Canada (Newfoundland) (Photo B. Calonego)

What gift do you bring from Switzerland to Canada?

Biber (that yummy bread from Appenzell with almond paste inside)
* Cheese and chocolate (always)
* Calendars (with Swiss Alps, flowers, etc.)
* Appenzeller (I love this unique drink!, that liquor made out of 40 plus herbs.  The best part is that my father-in-law is originally from Appenzell and that is how I got introduced to this great drink).

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

* Ice Cappuccinos from TIM HORTONS (kids loved Tim Hortons)
* Salmon
* Being able to buy products at the Latin Market in Calgary.

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

* reliable
* organized
* ability to speak different languages

IMG_7552 - CopyLandscape in Switzerland (Beckenried, canton Nidwalden) (Photo B. Calonego)

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

* friendliness
* multiculturalism (so many of us emigrate to Canada yet we still keep our heritage)
* peacekeepers

What triggered a culture shock for you in Switzerland or Canada (in one sentence, please)?

How Swiss take things seriously (including my husband) and how Swiss women adore “line dancing to country music”, I love it!

Which Canadian personality fascinates you?

The first book I read in Canada while learning English was “Anne of Green Gables”. I also read about the author Lucy Montgomery, originally from PEI. It was a dream of mine to visit PEI and I was able to share this moment with my husband in 2009.

Have a look at the website of Grindelwald First:


2 responses to “Evelyn Kellenberger

  1. Thank you Bernadette for writing about me! FYI, the last two photos (Newfoundland and Swiss landscape) are not mine but truly pretty.

  2. Bernadette, every time I read your “Take,” I miss Switzerland so much. Thanks for giving us little bits of Switzerland through this blog. Jo Hatherly

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