With heavy heart we must speak of the passing of Avis Halvorsen (nee Himsl) of Hinton Alta., a wonderful and caring lady with a big heart.
She could be outspoken at times but always was honest in her feelings and always ready with a hug when one was needed. She also was very smart. For more than 60 years, she did the New York Times Crossword in ink. We always said she could have made a fortune on the game show circuit.
She will be sorely missed.
Avis was born on Sept 28, 1926 on the Walter farm near Lumsden, Sask. to Rudolph (Rudy) and Charlotte Himsl. Until the very end, Avis would speak of memories she had as a four-year-old on the old farm.
The Depression was on when Rudy decided to uproot his family to Northern Ontario. As he had been working there as a logger, he knew there was no shortage of rain—unlike Saskatchewan at the time. By train and truck, they moved their livestock and themselves to the Blackhawk area of Rainy River District.
A few years later, he moved again to his own farm seven miles up Highway 71 from the Manitou corner. That is where Avis grew up. She was an Emo, Ont. girl.
A very hard worker, she never shirked anything that had to be done. Chores before riding a horse to Mather 3 School and chores after.
This was where her love of animals was born and it never left her. She often related memories of racing horses at the Emo Fair. She told of how people would bet on her because Rudy had the best horses and the tiny girl riding was a sure thing.
She also fondly related stories of a pet deer (“Mickey”) they had on the farm for years. So long, in fact, that Rudy had to geld it to keep it home.
Her early years were spent working at various camps in the Sioux Narrows, Nestor Falls, and Lake of the Woods area, or housekeeping for mine executives in Atikokan.
She married and raised five children, Kenneth, Kevin, Albert, Christopher, and Leslie. In 1958, they relocated to Barwick, Ont.
Widowed in 1964, she struggled to raise her family but managing however she could.
It was in Barwick that she eventually met her soulmate and life partner, Keith Halvorsen. They married in 1967 and were inseparable until she passed peacefully in Hinton with Keith by her side holding her hand.
In 1969, they moved to Atikokan, Ont., where Keith found work at the Steep Rock Iron Mines. They remained there until the mine's closure in 1979. After that, it was off to the Alberta, the boom province. Keith again found work at a mine, Cardinal River Coal.
They eventually purchased an untouched piece of forest and spent their years clearing and building it into the acreage it is today. Always together, side by side, they cut, brushed, and gardened themselves their own little paradise.
Growing a huge garden every year and preserving for winter was the norm. She could grow anything, including banana trees from Hawaii or desert plants from Arizona. Any gardening questions one had would be answered quicker than Google.
By herself, she could table a Christmas feast for a dozen with no parallel. One just had to stay out of her kitchen and out of her way and when she called dinner, be ready to overeat.
Now on an acreage, Avis could have her animals! Five horses that came to her calls, too may cats to mention by name, several dogs over the years, goats (just to keep the brush down, ha ha), a pot-bellied pig (“Arnold") that thought he was a horse, lots of chickens along with the most beautiful rooster you ever saw ("Dudley"), and a Canada goose named "Mr. Peepers” that came to her in the yard as a fledgling and stayed for more than three years before finally heading south one fall.
It did return the following spring but just to say “hi.” It walked up to Avis, then after a look over its shoulder with what could have been a smile, it flew away with a flock.
Avis is survived by her husband, Keith; her five children and their spouses; seven grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, Avis asked that people make a donation to the Canadian Wildlife Federation in her name. This is easily done at CanadianWildlifeFederation.ca or by calling toll-free 1-800-563-9453.