VUGT email@example.com_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-03-05 published
Politician, chef, farmer cooked for presidents
He first came to Canada after the Second World War at the invitation of the Dutch ambassador
By Randy RAY Special to The Globe and Mail Wednesday, March 5, 2003 - Page R9
Ottawa -- Anton WYTENBURG was a proficient chef who had little time to prepare meals for his wife and 10 children because he was often too busy cooking for others, including presidents and other dignitaries.
"He was never a chef at home, because he was always working in a hotel somewhere or at the bakery, " says his son Rudy of Ottawa, who says his father's specialties were Dutch pastries and cakes.
At one point, Mr. WYTENBURG was a cook at the venerable Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, where he helped prepare meals for U.S. presidents Dwight EISENHOWER and Harry TRUMAN, and president-to-be John F. KENNEDY. In 1945, he worked as a chef for General Henry CRERAR at a Canadian Officers' Club in Holland.
Mr. WYTENBURG, a native of Delft, the Netherlands, died in Ottawa on January 30. He was 83.
The son of a Dutch tailor, Mr. WYTENBURG completed Grade 8 in Delft and landed a job at a bakery. Later, he moved to Scheveningen to work as a sous chef in an oceanside hotel.
While working there, he learned to speak German, French and English and, during the Second World War, used his language skills as part of the Dutch resistance in its fight against the invading Germans.
Later, while working for Gen. CRERAR, Mr. WYTENBURG was asked by Dr. Jan VAN ROYEN, the Dutch ambassador to Canada, to come to work for him as a chef at the Dutch embassy in Ottawa.
"Anton gladly accepted the opportunity. The Dutch were and are forever grateful for the support of the Canadians during the war, " said Rudy. In 1947, he came to Canada to work at the embassy in Ottawa.
In 1950, when the Dutch ambassador was transferred to Washington, Mr. WYTENBURG worked as a chef at the French embassy in Ottawa before buying a bakery in Ottawa that became the first Dutch pastry shop in the city. The business, renamed Anton's Select Pastries, later expanded to include five outlets.
In 1952, he married Catharina VAN VUGT, also a native of the Netherlands, whom he met when she was a nanny for the secretary to the Dutch ambassador. That year, Dutch Queen Juliana paid a visit to one of Anton's bakeries.
While running their bakeries, the WYTENBURGs made many Friends, including some who farmed outside Ottawa and spoke highly of life in the country. This led them to buy a small farm west of Ottawa in 1962 and in 1964 would see the family give up its bakeries in favour of full-time agriculture on larger Ottawa Valley spreads, first in Richmond and later in Renfrew, where dairy farming would become the family's bread and butter.
As a farmer, Mr. WYTENBURG took a keen interest in agricultural organizations and committees. "He had a way with people, he could diffuse tense situations and always find a solution, " says Rudy.
Over the years, Mr. WYTENBURG's sons took on more of the farming responsibilities, leaving their father with more time for the many organizations he worked with, including the Ottawa-Carleton Safety Council and the Richmond Agricultural Society. In the late 1970s, Friends and neighbours urged him to consider politics.
In 1978, he won a councillor's seat in the rural ward of Goulbourn in 1980, he ran for mayor but lost; he tried again in 1982 and was successful, sitting as Mayor of Goulbourn Township from 1982 through to 1991. He was also on the council of the former Regional Municipality of Ottawa-Carleton.
Moving a large family around the community and the farm was difficult, until Mr. WYTENBURG bought a used, fully stretched Cadillac limousine.
"It sure raised a few eyebrows when we were being chauffeured to the hay fields in a black limo, " recalls Rudy. "It often made for a bit of fun when the boys would ask an unsuspecting gal out on a date."
Mr. WYTENBURG left politics and farming in 1991 at age 72. After retiring, he continued to volunteer his time to help out on committees and task forces and as a strong supporter of the church. At the age of 75, he was the oldest participant in a walkathon for a local charity.
Mr. WYTENBURG leaves 10 children who live in California, Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Renfrew, Ottawa and in England. Two of them continue to operate the family's 440-hectare farm near Renfrew.
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