The Forsberg story is part of the festival

This week, it’s appropriate to recall our tragic but beloved Forsberg family before another great district music festival has departed. Bert Forsberg, his wife, Elvi and daughter, Florence, were all centre stage here in so many ways–and music was much of their life.
Singer Florence was known as the sweetheart of the local Kiwanis Club, the star of outdoor concerts in Pither’s Point Park, and a festival winner. She went on to study at the Julliard School of Music in New York City.
She also could be called the pride and joy of our community when she landed a lead role in an off-Broadway musical. But imagine the sorrow when she was murdered by a New York boyfriend. He took his own life the same night and the New York Times immediately phoned me for a background story on Florence.
I was shocked but greatly honoured.
Our music festival had not yet finished with the Forsbergs, however. Mrs. Forsberg, still receiving condolences, was struck down herself after attending one of the next festivals in the old high school. She and Bert had continued as festival patrons. Florence was their only child.
Now it was Bert, strong and much admired for his community efforts, who became the target of recurring disasters as he weathered blow after blow.
A leading storekeeper of a couple decades ago, and favoured by bush workers for his stock of heavy work clothing, he soon lost his partner in Forsberg and Lindberg’s, and then their store caught fire.
All the way through, Bert was continuing to better his hometown. He was always the secretary of the busiest public affairs, from the Chamber of Commerce to Kiwanis to the Curling Club, always available.
He also served regularly as Swedish interpreter at the courthouse.
His greatest claim to fame probably was his battle prominently among Chamber delegations at Toronto to achieve the highway to Thunder Bay will MPP Bill Noden.
This was to become Bert’s final triumph, however. The tragedies continued when, while driving to Winnipeg, he had a car accident in which a young Manitoba veterinarian died, a lawsuit was threatened, and the same friends who helped support Bert right along were needed again.
A happier page was turned with Bert’s second marriage but then his rugged health collapsed although he continued working to the end, rarely letting his sorrows show through. There was no family left to mourn or inherit the business–unless you counted most of the town that practically worshipped the old merchant.
The Forsberg story comes up along with the snowstorms that also can haunt or festival, but it serves us as an annual spring dose of inspiration.
• • •
As a footnote the Forsberg saga, the story persists that when friends took Bert on a district hunting trip to help cheer him, they walked into a bush cabin where a detective magazine was found on a table and opened at a lurid story of his daughter’s murder.
Somehow, they managed to bring Bert out but it was not easy!
• • •
It was good to see dancing wind up the festival on Sunday as teachers on both sides of the river presented considerable talent. One 10-year-old miss in an emerald green dress danced “The Green-eyed Lady” so divinely the Winnipeg adjudicator had no option but to award her an incredible 96 marks.
One onlooker was Irene McKelvie, who has now attended 52 festivals consecutively. My first was 1948.
• • •
According to Bob Cottam of Nestor Falls, not yet too busy this summer to spread some of his homespun humour: “It’s nice to be important, but more important to be nice!”
This was relayed by James Andrews of Devlin, who reports his new book in flying prospectors in the Colorado area, “Mountain Pilots,” has been experiencing success.
• • •
Gerry Martin, who like his old Hydro co-worker Adrian LaFreniere, winters around Mesa, Az., is home with the report that tourism there has been down around seven percent. Others claim Florida is still doing well.
Most of our snowbirds are returning these days in time for snowball fighting.
• • •
You can get some interesting answers when you inquire how members of someone’s family are getting along. One answer: “Just fine for the most part. My son has had his picture on the cover of Fortune magazine and our daughter is on the Playboy cover. But I still haven’t seen my wife’s picture on a milk carton.”
• • •
And, oh yes! Have I got a great new home for you. As you probably suspect, I’ll have to dispose of my playing fields and prestigious home along River Road.
It’s very close to town among the doctors, lawyers, and other aristocrats. The place offers a wide variety of recreation and a high price to be negotiated. We’re showing you convenient fishing, golfing, boating, swimming, horseback riding, or if you prefer, and excellent opportunity to practise agriculture, horticulture, and zoology.
Anyone interested should not hesitate to contact me personally. Lots of older buildings and 120 acres enhance the setting.

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