Kimberley’s clock is ticking; and yodeling

Happy Hans is yodeling as community effort restores Platzl cuckoo clock

  • Oct. 18, 2012 10:00 a.m.

Mayor Ron McRae congratulates the community effort put forth to refurbish the Platzl cuckoo clock. With McRae are Adi Unterberger

A little piece of Kimberley history, the Platzl cuckoo clock, has received a buff and polish in a real community effort.

Mayor Ron McRae was in the Platzl Wednesday to congratulate Adi Unterberger and Ossi Piechatzek on their efforts in pulling it all together. Also there to take a look at the work was Bill Spence, who in 1972 built the original clockworks for the Kimberley Bavarian Society.

Unterberger explained that in recent years the clock has not been working — Happy Hans has not emerged to yodel on demand.

“A woman from Manitoba came to me last summer,” Unterberger, who owns a shop in the Platzl, said. “She said she used to come here with her family and they always put money in the clock to see Happy Hans. Now she’s here with her grandchildren and it doesn’t work.”

After a visit to City Council for permission, Unterberger enlisted Piechatzek’s help and they  began the work to refurbish the clock. It has been repainted, a new lens for the clock was put in, a new bench out front and the doors repainted. Inside it was re-insulated and the clockworks repaired.

Spence recalls the efforts to build the clock in 1972, just as Kimberley was adopting the Bavarian theme.

“Bill Taylor was chair of the Bavarian Society then,” Spence said. “We decided we needed a cuckoo clock but the quote from Germany was $80,000. So they couldn’t afford it. I said I’d build the works if someone would take on the exterior. Dick Bova said he would. We didn’t have a permit, we just built it. On the Labour Day weekend the timer fouled up and it yodelled all night.

“A group of people went to City Hall to complain. The Mayor and a Councilman went looking for Dick Bova. I went into hiding,” Spence said with a smile.

“They caught up with Dick and asked him if he built the clock. He said no. They said ‘was it Bill Spence?’ Dick said no. Then they said it has no permit and it has to be torn down. Mayor Jim said the City would move it, but they never did.

At this time there is still some uncertainty as to who actually owns the clock.

However, regardless of who it belongs to, it is an institution in Kimberley and obviously very important to many people.

That importance was spelled out with the number of businesses who pitched in to make sure Unterberger and Piechatzek had the supplies they needed to finish the project.

&B Glass supplied the glass for the clock face, Kimberley Building Supplies provided all the paint, My Signs donated the sign; Tyee donated wood for the bench, artist Gehard Winkler repainted the doors.

“All in all, a real community effort,” Unterberger said.

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