Paul Elmer Johnson, resident of Manitoulin Centennial Manor in Little Current, Ont., passed peacefully early on Monday, July 17, 2017 at the age of 94.
Beloved husband of Pauline (pre-deceased in 2007), proud and loving father of Howard Johnson (Kirsten), Judy Martin (Ned) and Nancy Paul (Steve), and kind and generous grandfather of Oona (Matthew French), Jay (Erika), Grace and April Martin, and Sarah and Paul Johnson (mother, Cathy).
He also was an amazed and devoted great-grandfather of Everett and Jack French, and Aili and Maia Martin.
Paul was predeceased by brothers, Martin and Henry Niskala; their mother, Anna Hytonen Niskala and her husband, John; and step-siblings, Hilma and John.
He is survived by his step-sister, Ellie Pattison.
Paul arrived in Canada in 1928, at the age of five, from Saarijarvi, Finland, accompanied by his mother. They came by ship via Liverpool to Halifax, then travelled by train across Canada to settle in Burriss Township in Northwestern Ontario.
He was a hard-working youth on his uncle and aunt’s farm (Tom and Alma Johnson), located in adjacent Miscampbell Township, and ran the family dairy business while still a teen, making and selling butter.
Over his long life, Paul had many businesses, including being one of the area’s first electricians and owning and operating the first television sales and repair outlet.
He designed and built a home for himself, Pauline, and their three children on the highway near La Vallee, Ont., renovated several buildings in the Town of Fort Frances as rental properties, and designed and built a cottage near Morson, Ont. on Lake of the Woods.
Always interested in the latest technology and photography, Paul had a darkroom equipped to develop both black-and-white as well as colour photos. He also made home movies that were shown locally.
And when digital cameras arrived on the scene, he quickly made the shift and ensured his children and grandchildren also enjoyed that new technology.
He was savvy with his computer until age 90, and gave all his grandchildren a laptop when they went away to university.
Paul was employed by the Fort Frances-Rainy River Board of Education and held two positions: manager of physical plant and manager of school bus transportation.
This board covers a huge area and it was important to him that all children, no matter how isolated, easily should be able to attend their local public schools, as well as the high schools in Fort Frances and Rainy River.
He and Pauline retired to Kingston, Ont. in 1987 to be closer to their daughter, Nancy. At this time, Paul took on a tender new role as primary caregiver for his wife, Pauline, who had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis a few years before and who became increasingly frail over a period of 20 or more years.
During this time period, he would make brief road trips back to Fort Frances to manage his rental properties, as well as take the opportunity to make side trips to Kenora or Manitoulin Island to visit Judy’s family.
He also enjoyed visiting Howard’s family in Ottawa, often attending the July 1 celebration in the nation’s capital.
Paul moved to Manitoulin in 2013.
Immediate family will gather in the future for interment of Paul and Pauline’s ashes in the Devlin Cemetery, not far from their former home in La Vallee.