Richard Stern

From:   Muizenburg, South Africa
ARRIVED:   1963


The firstborn twin (he insists he and his brother are not competitive), Richard grew up in the small town of Muizenberg in an old house on the seafront with his parents and four siblings. Born in 1937, Richard’s childhood was untainted by apartheid, which came into effect eleven years later in 1948. As a child, he played with children of colour on his grandfather’s farm; by adolescence, those same childhood friends were obliged to call him Boss on account of his race.

After completing high school at Kingswood College, a Methodist boarding school five hundred miles from where he grew up, Richard returned to Muizenburg where he worked on a farm before going back to school to obtain a diploma in agriculture. Around this time, he had a small mishap working at a winery. He had been warned not to fall asleep while the grapes were fermenting; sure enough, he did just that and the next morning the winery found itself with ten thousand gallons of vinegar.

Richard gained more experience in different wineries after completing a tour of Europe with the National Union of South African Students. He stayed in England and worked at a winery located under the Tower of London and later at wine farms in Bordeaux and the Champagne region of France. While in Europe, his twin brother told him about agriculture in Israel, which prompted him to go there. It was in Israel that he met his first wife with whom he had three children.

Richard worked at several jobs in Israel and opened three of the first Supersol supermarkets there. He also served in the Israel Defense Forces. Eventually though, he decided to come to Canada, which he did with his family in 1963. In Ottawa, he operated a supermarket for a short time before going to work for the head office of Loeb. Through this position, he got to see a good deal of Canada and developed a sense of its geography and a feel for its people.

In the early 1970s, Richard made a living as his own boss in a brokerage business before the Department of Industry, Trade and Commerce recruited him to market Canadian grocery and alcohol products. It was while working for the department that he became a Canadian citizen.

Today, Richard is retired and married to Doris. They have four children and eight grandchildren. He considers himself a Canadian Jew, but retains a strong affection for South Africa and its natural beauty. Since leaving, he has been back to South Africa between twenty and thirty times with Doris.

The Stern siblings
Kingswood College rugby team
Richard Stern while serving in the Israeli army
International Dairy Congress
Feeding deer in Hawkesbury