ROBERTSON, HAROLD WILLIAM
1910 ~ 2014
Harold William Robertson died at Kelowna, BC on May 28, 2014, just weeks before his 104th birthday. He is survived by his children: Kenneth (Sylvia) in Victoria, BC, Garry (Valerie) in Yorkton, SK, and Carolin in Kelowna, BC. He is also survived by his grandchildren: Shannon in Vancouver, and Melanie, Jared, and Melinda in Yorkton. Harold was predeceased by his wife Myrtle (nee Benson) in 2010; his parents James Smith Robertson and Sophia Susan (nee Robinson); and his 9 siblings: Mildred, Blanche, Lloyd, Mae, Violet, Annie, Della, Kenneth, and Marion.
Both Harold and his wife, Myrtle were members of families who were pioneers in Saskatchewan. Harold’s parents had moved from Lanark County, Ontario to Saskatchewan in 1903. Harold was born in the family farmhouse on Sec. 18, Tp. 4, Rge. 5, W 2nd M., near Lampman in SE Saskatchewan in June 1910. He was the 8th of 10 children.
When he was a young child, Harold moved with his family to a farm near Weyburn, SK where he grew up doing the usual manual farm work. Travel to town and school was on foot or by horse. Fortunately he liked riding horses and he started very early. Harold saw his first car when he was about 6 years old, and a few years later the first airplane appeared.
Harold’s early off-farm jobs were driving horses on road construction and later, hauling rocks for the addition to the large Saskatchewan Hospital at Weyburn. He liked physical activities and competed in provincial amateur boxing competitions.
The Depression hit the farmers in Saskatchewan very hard. However, with his parents, two brothers and one sister available to run the farm, his family supported Harold through Teacher’s College in Moose Jaw in 1934. In 1935, Harold became the first teacher at Somme, Saskatchewan. There, he met his wife Myrtle Benson, whose family had homesteaded near Porcupine Plain. Harold and Myrtle were married in Regina in 1937 and found a teaching job at Yeoman, a rural one room school in the dust of southern Saskatchewan. Just as some farmers were forced to do, in the summer of 1937 they moved north to Archerwill where there was an abundance of jobs, water, trees, and wildlife, all of which made survival much more likely. Here they built their first house and in that year, Harold was the only teacher for a class of 59 students. He spent the next 33 years teaching in the Hudson Bay and Wadena School Districts. While in Archerwill, Harold and Myrtle had 3 children: Kenneth, Garry, and Carolin.
During this time he periodically continued his education at the University of Saskatchewan. Harold particularly enjoyed physical education and ran successful sports programs when teaching. He also obtained a journeyman certificate in carpentry, and taught industrial arts and physical education. While teaching at McQuarrie School near Carragana, SK, he spent considerable off-work time hunting, trapping muskrats, and bee keeping. From 1950 to 1960 they lived at Nora, SK, where they built a house and, for the first time, lived in a house that had electricity. Running water came later in Wadena. They also spent a few more years at Wadena and Viscount, again building their houses, before retiring.
In 1970, he and Myrtle built their retirement home in the Rutland area of Kelowna, BC and kept active picking apples, cross-country skiing, square dancing, gold panning, and other activities, including annual RV trips to visit family and friends in Saskatchewan. As Myrtle was of Norwegian descent, they joined the Kelowna Sons of Norway. Harold was a charter member of the Okanagan branch of the Saskatchewan Retired Teachers Association.
In 1995, Harold and Myrtle moved to a nearby condo, and in 2005 they moved into an assisted living suite at Sun Pointe Village, a senior’s facility also in their neighbourhood. Harold parked the 1985 Volvo when he turned 97.
Throughout his life, Harold enjoyed accepting challenges and learning new life skills, and had an ongoing curiosity about the world. This may have contributed to his maintenance of good physical and mental capacities as well as his longevity.
Harold lived through times which put great demands on rural people. Perhaps the hardships of all rural people produce the cooperative ethic that Harold shared with his neighbours during his long and active life.
Thank you to Harold’s longtime friends, and the residents and staff at Sun Pointe Village for their friendship and care.
There will be no service (or flowers, please) by Harold’s request.
Condolences may be sent to the family through the guest book at www.valleyviewfuneralhome.com.
Arrangements entrusted to Valleyview Funeral Home, Kelowna, BC. 250-765-3147.