In 1883 John and Mathilda Radtke left Hamburg, Germany with their daughter Bertha, his mother Ernestina, her sister Emma and his brothers Wilhem and Carl. They left Liverpool, England, in April 1884 for Canada and upon arriving in Petawawa took up residence on a homestead on the Petawawa Plains where they remained until 1905. John and Mathilda had five children: Bertha - died in the flu epidemic of 1919; Annie -married a Wiesenberg and moved to Pembroke; William (Bill) – never married, remained on the family farm until his death, helping with the farming; Paul; and Martha – died shortly after birth.
When the military acquisitioned the land, the family left the Plains, purchasing the 200-acre Biggs farm on Murphy Road. The farm buildings consisted of a house which became their home for the next several years, and a barn at the back of the property. John, a skilled stonemason, utilized the brick from this first house to construct the existing Radtke home closer to Murphy Road.
In July 1924, Paul married Augusta Kathen from Pembroke, and together with John, Mathilda and brother Bill, they worked the farm, becoming very popular with fresh honey, cream, vegetables and flowers. Paul and Augusta had six children: Marion, Phyliss, Earl, Vera, Sylvia and Mona. Mathilda died in May 1935 and Paul died at the age of 51 in November 1944. He had suffered with a heart condition for most of his life as the result of a hunting accident during his teens. John died at the age of 94 in December 1951, and Vera, who suffered with diabetes, died in February 1958.
The family continued to keep the farm alive after Paul’s death. Earl had a successful lumbering and trucking business, and for ten years he offered part of the farm acreage for an annual display of steam farm machinery called “The Steam Show”. Earl died in October 1979; Augusta lived in the homestead until her death in November 1983.
Augusta’s granddaughter, Patricia Charette and her husband Robert purchased the homestead plus five acres in 1996, where she continues to live. The remaining acreage has been sold to a developer who plans to construct a subdivision called “ Radtke Estates.”
Written By: Patsy Charrette 2012-05