The Joseph Kuchar Fellowship
The Joseph Kuchar post-Doctoral Fellowship of the Wirth Institute for Austrian and Central European Studies was made possible by funds donated by Joseph Kuchar between 2003 and 2007. The Fellowship’s main purpose was to create and support the position of Assistant Director of the Institute during this period.
Joseph Kuchar was born in Siebenhirten, Austria, near Vienna, in 1916, and was educated in Czechoslovakia and Denmark. After working a year in the coal and steel industry in England, he returned to Central Europe. Finding himself in Austria in 1938, he fled to Czechoslovakia after the Anschluss, the Nazi annexation of Austria into Greater Germany, and served briefly in the Czech army. After the Nazi seizure of Bohemia and Moravia, he went underground until 1945. Shortly thereafter, his life took another dramatic turn when he fled Czechoslovakia after the Communist takeover, escaping back to Austria where he founded a textile import-export company.
In 1950 Kuchar emigrated to Canada, where he purchased a small mothball and deodorizer packaging firm, which he build into a giant Canadian-owned, family-held, multi-national chemical empire in the subsequent decades. The firm, Recochen Inc., has since become Canada’s leading producer of naphthalene and now has five branches in Canada, as well as subsidiaries in the Unites States, Australia and Belgium that deal in a broad range of chemical products. Kuchar is also an environmentalist, horse breeder and art patron. In 1983 he established a sprawling experimental farm in Quebec’s Laurentian Mountains, which was given the aptly bilingual Central European name of “Waldeck – U Lesa”. Among other things, the farm is the leading Canadian centre for breeding and development of the Austrian state of Tyrol’s famous Haflinger horses.
Kuchar is equally committed to both his Austrian and Czech heritage, and sees the Wirth Institute for Austrian and Central European Studies as the best institution to transmit his cosmopolitan Central European vision to future generations of students. Believing that individuals can and do make a difference, he created the position of Assistant Director for the Institute to further the fulfillment of his vision.