When I first arrived on PEI, 14 years ago, I was almost immediately swept up into the maelstrom of Victoria Row, the stretch of historical Charlottetown street where the PEI Crafts Council, where I was working, was located. For some reason the businesses of the street decided that it should be me, a complete outsider (and not a business owner at that), who should lead their ragtag business organization. And so I spent a pleasant summer mediating the competing interests of the various merchants and restaurateurs (“sure having a brass band playing on the street is great for you, but it’s scaring away my customers!”).
Beyond the internecine business warfare, our little group actually managed to do some good that summer: we worked with the Red Cross to organize a big outdoor fund-raising concert to support their efforts in Rwanda.
Nobody worked harder on pulling that concert off than Sandra Furrer, owner of the Black Forest Café. Somehow, between the demands of soup making and bread baking and running her restaurant, Sandra found the time to organize sponsors, find bands to play, and myriad other tasks. She even donated her jean jacket to be raffled off (it ended up with my brother Steve).
A few years later Sandra sold the café and moved away. From time to time I would hear news of her from friends who kept in touch. And today came the sad news that, at the young age of 39, she died from cancer last month. Her friends placed an obituary in today’s paper:
May 8, 1968 October 24, 2007 — Our friend and loved one passed away in Baden, Switzerland, from cancer. The former owner of the Black Forest Cafe in Charlottetown will be greatly missed by family and friends near and far. Sandra leaves her parents, Inge and Kurt, her siblings, Sabine (P.E.I.), Rahel and Jonas. Nieces and nephews Alice, Florian, Sarah, Allieanna, Andrin, Benjamin, Hannah and Sophie. Sandra shared her love of food and wine with colleagues and customers at the cafe and at many memorable feasts. Raised with an appreciation of opera and classical music, Sandra shared her passion for all genres of music. An avid reader, Sandras library was filled with books in the five languages she spoke fluently. Her passions included movies, art, photography and dance. She encouraged and displayed the work of several Island artists at the cafe. Sandra first moved to P.E.I. as an au pair and her love of children enriched many young lives. She was the proud godparent to five children, including Lucas LeClair (P.E.I.). Her ashes will be spread in one of her favourite places, Tocino, Switzerland.