A Scattering of Seeds: The Creation of Canada
Episodes Search Site Map The Series Partners White Pine White Pine Home


Má vlast (My Homeland): The Jiraneks In Canada
Director: Hunt Hoe & Laura Turek

About the Film
In their film Servant of God, German Painter, Berthold Imhoff, directors Hunt Hoe and Laura Turek tell the astonishing story of German immigrant Berthold Imhoff, who left a successful fresco business in Pennsylvania in 1914, and settled with his family near St. Walburg, in northwestern Saskatchewan. Instead of the promise of riches, the 45 year old was lured by the secluded setting where he could devote his time to painting churches and pursuing his favorite passion: hunting.

Imhoff was born in 1868 in Bavaria, Germany and displayed a remarkable artistic talent at an early age, winning a much-coveted scholarship to the Berlin Academy of Art. After his studies, Imhoff immigrated to the United States and began work painting public buildings, homes and churches throughout the area. Yet Imhoff coveted peace and quiet more than notoriety, and it was the pursuit of a locale where he could paint undisturbed which eventually brought him to Saskatchewan.

Fortune turned against Imhoff with the outbreak of World War I, and later, the Great Depression. There was no money for non-essentials like church decorating. Relying on the modest earnings from his farm to support his family, Berthold continued to decorate dozens of catholic churches across the province, generously donating his time and effort. In 1921, Berthold Imhoff built a large studio on his farm, creating the first art gallery in the remote area.

In 1937, Imhoff was knighted by Pope Pius IX into the Order of St. Gregory the Great for his generosity to the Catholic Church. Berthold refused to slow down and continued to paint everyday in his studio until his death in 1939.

Directors Hunt Hoe and Laura Turek have created a gorgeous tapestry of visuals, juxtaposing the simplicity of prairie scenery and light with the ornate decorative flourishes of church art. Combining archival photographs with family interviews, the film honours one of western Canada’s most generous and artistic artists, German immigrant Berthold Imhoff.

Top of page.