Elsie Mary Johanson, 86, of Fort Frances, Ont., passed away peacefully Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2003 at La Verendrye General Hospital in Fort Frances.
Elsie was born July 12, 1916 in Kakabeka Falls, Ont., the eldest daughter in a family of four, to Clarence and Ellen Eady.
At an early age, Elsie took on many household responsibilities and put her creative talents to work. She loved to draw and paint; and at Christmas time, she designed the family greeting cards.
Before and after school, she helped her mother with janitorial duties at the schoolhouse.
Her love of baseball made her a skilled player and avid fan as her team travelled to tournaments in other counties. In her early teens, Elsie also joined the 4-H club, where she discovered her talent for sewing. It wasn’t long before her entries were winning sewing prizes at the county fair.
She also earned her own money by doing home care for those who were ill or disabled.
Elsie loved to have fun, too! She was a good dancer and attended as many community functions as time allowed. One of her favourite pastimes was fishing with her brother at Cedar Creek.
Elsie left Kakabeka Falls for Thunder Bay and worked in the cafeteria of the Great Lakes Paper Company. In 1937, she left Thunder Bay to work at Beckman’s Mink Farm near Rainy River.
Her job was not an easy one: she fed and watered 200 mink, twice each day, as well as cleaning their cages. It was at Beckman’s, however, that she met the man who would be her husband until his death 41 years later.
In 1938, she married a tall handsome Swede—John Arthur Johanson, known to his friends as “Art.” Although Art was 6’3” and Elsie only 5’1”, they could “cut a rug” better than most at country dances in Spohn.
The newly-married couple farmed 160 acres during the hard years of World War II. With money scarce, they traded butter, eggs, and wood for other necessities. On one occasion, a cord of wood paid for the doctor’s delivery of one of their daughters.
Art joined the CNR and a few years later, in 1948, moved Elsie and her three daughters to Fort Frances. Here, another daughter was born. A few year later, when their only son, John Stephen, was born, Elsie made history at La Verendrye hospital when he weighed in at 13 lbs., 2.5 oz.
Elsie continued to sew for the whole family, and it wasn’t uncommon for her to “whip up” an outfit for herself a few hours before she and Art went out for an evening. Even though Elsie was very short, she was easily recognized by her unique hats.
There isn’t a friend who doesn’t have an apron, set of placemats, or a kitchen towel made by Elsie. Most of all, Elsie loved making quilts, whether elaborate designs or traditional crazy quilts. All her children, grandchildren, and even her many adopted grandchildren have received a quilt from Gramma Jo.
Elsie’s love of sewing continued to the very end. Each stitch represented her love of life, her determination to live life to the fullest, and most of all, her love of family and friends.
Elsie is survived by her five children, Yvonne (Gerald) Busch of Charlottetown, P.E.I., Sharlene (Fred) Kelly of Winnipeg, Man., Christine Johanson of Kingston, Ont., and Beatrice (Ed) Metzler and John Stephen (Eleanor) Johanson, all of Thunder Bay, Ont.
Also surviving are 10 grandchildren, Steven Johanson, Don Kelly, David (Guinevere) Kelly, Brad (Jill) Kelly, Donna (Ron) Profit, Sandra (Doug Boe) Busch, Eugene (Janice) Busch, Greg (Donna) Busch, Michele (Larry) Davis, and Christi (Brian) Howell; 20 great-grandchildren, Sherra, Talia, Maria, Johannah, Mila, Sumara, James, Joshua, Darcey, Meagan, Alex, Elyssa, Tiana, Barbara, Debbie, Andrew, Zac, Cindy, Dustin, and Jeremy; five great-great-grandchildren, Elsie, Alexis, Austin, Ashly, and Kalli; as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
She was predeceased by her husband, John Arthur Johanson; parents, Clarence and Ellen Eady; two brothers, Art and Ray Eady; and one sister, Gertie Stobart.
Memorial services will be held Saturday, Feb. 15, 2003 at 11 a.m. at Green Funeral Home in Fort Frances, with Rev. Marietta Marshall officiating.
Friends may visit Friday, Feb. 14, 2003 from 7 until 8:30 p.m. at Green Funeral Home.
The honourary pallbearers will be Elsie’s grandchildren.
Expressions of sympathy may be made to the Canadian Diabetes Association, Box 655, Fort Frances, Ont., P9A 3M9, or to the charity of your choice.