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In Loving Memory Of

Joe (Joseph) Mertler

 

Joe (Joseph) Mertler, resident of Pioneer Lodge, Grande Prairie, AB, formerly of Holdfast, SK, Kelly Lake, BC (1930), Goodfare, AB (1935), Bezanson, AB (1961), Grande Prairie, AB (1975), Pioneer Lodge (2009) passed away on Sunday, April 23, 2017, at Points West Hospice, at the age of 90 years.

On December 18, 1926, in Holdfast, SK, a little boy was born to John and Maria Mertler. Joe often referred to himself as the “little fella!” as he was so small. His brothers and sister, Johnny, George, and Ann, watched over him and loved him dearly. There were many shenanigans as they grew up.

In the spring of 1930, with all their belongings, the family left Holdfast on the Settlers’ Train to go to a homestead near Kelly Lake, BC. Arriving in Hythe, AB, the family spent time living in a tent. The cow was tethered to a post while the horses were hobbled. After a while, Martin Moore rented them a house in the Goodfare area which they shared with three other families. The family stayed there while the house, about nine miles from the Goodfare store, was being built.

Times were hard in those early days and everyone, including the children, had to work hard.  When it time to build their house, the logs were skidded in and sod placed on the roof. By November, the house was finished.

Uncle Joe wrote, "They built a log house in November, cutting logs and putting up the house in the cold and snow. Hardships and disappointments were many, of course, in those days, but one of the most disheartening things to happen was when their very first crop, a heavy oats crop was flattened by a snowfall over night. All they managed to save out of that was 250 bundles which Grandma Mertler and brother George cut with a sickle, borrowed from Mr. Ward, the schoolteacher at Kelly Lake."

Despite the hardships, the children managed to have fun. One day, Grandma was baking but wanted to go out to the garden. Since Uncle Joe and his sister Ann were too little to tell time, she told them that when the big hand and the little hands of the clock were at certain numbers they were to put another stick of wood in the stove. While they were having too much fun dancing and singing, the fire went out, the boiler which held the water on the stove started leaking, and they were not in Mom's good books.

In December, 1935, the family moved to the Goodfare Homestead and lived in a small house while the house was being completed.

Uncle Joe and Auntie Ann started at the Steeprock School just in time to be in the Christmas concert. His school report cards showed that Uncle Joe was a very smart man. He passed many of his grades with honors.  In 1942, the barn from Kelly Lake was dismantled and rebuilt at Goodfare. The barn was still standing as a testament to the workmanship of the day.

Almost every week during the war years, Uncle Joe would saddle up his horse Shorty with Dad's saddle that he bought for $5. It was a long ride to Lymburn where the train stopped but it was important to get Grandma's parcel for Dad and Uncle George on its way. No matter what the weather, the trip was made so that the mail went overseas.

After the war, Uncle Joe joined his brother Johnny building roads on the Hart Highway. Uncle Joe’s kindness to a young man will always be remembered. Looking after others was Uncle Joe’s way. Later, Uncle Joe returned to be on the Goodfare farm with his Mom and Dad.

In the 1949, Uncle Joe spent part of his summer, helping his brother Johnny, break the land at Pine View in British Columbia. Once a farmer, always a farmer. The drive from Goodfare was long and dusty but Uncle Joe never complained. Helping family and friends was just part of life.

Auntie Ann Krug’s family from Edmonton and Uncle George’s family from Regina, SK would make the long trip over those dusty gravel roads to visit the farm. To make the circle complete, the BC Mertler would make the trip from Fort St. John.

Uncle Joe’s family has many memories of being stuck in the mud near the home place. Often the cars would have to be pulled in with the tractor or the remainder of the trip was made on a stoneboat or wooden sleigh. Summers were spent picking berries while waiting for the crops to ripen. 

In 1961, the family farm was sold and they moved to Bezanson where Uncle Joe continued to farm with more modern conveniences such as a combine with no cab. Life on the farm was not always easy but each day ended with Uncle Joe’s caring for his animals, cattle, cats, chickens, dogs, and horses. He had a great love for all his animals and made sure they had the best of care.

On April 11, 1975, the final papers were signed and Uncle Joe sold the farm and purchased his house in Grande Prairie where he lived until the summer of 2009. Uncle Joe was never one to sit still. Summers would find him working on the highways cutting grass. A job that he just loved. He also worked at an electrical shop in Grande Prairie rewinding motors.

In between going for coffee at Burger King or A&W, lunch at Arby’s, one could find Uncle Joe walking or cross country skiing. He was always active.

After a number of health issues including a triple heart by-pass, on October 19, 2009, Uncle Joe moved into his own room at the Pioneer Lodge. By October 2010, his little house at 10432 – 101st Ave., Grande Prairie was sold leaving behind many memories. Making the transition from being totally independent to living in the Lodge was made easier because he was able to sit with his good childhood friend, Max Pfau. They shared a lifetime of memories, and celebrated their 90th birthdays at the Lodge.

Uncle Joe had a real sense of adventure and never turned down a chance to go exploring. One of his outings was to visit the homestead near Kelly Lake. He was thrilled to find the old trail, the rocks used for the foundation of the house, and the well. His sense of history was phenomenal and he shared many stories of life on the farm.

His trips to Lymburn and Goodfare to visit the sites enabled us to experience what it must have been like in those early days. The old machinery nestled in the grass, the old barn, the house, and outbuildings brought back many memories. Finding the corners of the Steeprock School gave us a real sense of how far the children had to walk or ride a horse to get to school.

Uncle Joe was terrified of flying but he made the trip to Regina. Getting on that plane showed just how much he cared about family. He knew that it was the only way he would get to see the Saskatchewan Mertlers. It was not an easy for him but he was determined to go.

As years passed, Uncle Joe made a number of trips to Edmonton. He always paid his way and then some. The visits usually included medical appointments but the highlight of his time there was to see his family. On one visit, he was surprised to find out we were celebrating his 80th birthday. This past summer, family from Germany were able to attend his 90th birthday party. What fun we had even though he was not feeling well. After the party, he had time to reflect on all the cards, the certificates, and the pictures. What a grand time for him. The Governor-General of Canada wrote:

“Over the years you have experienced the world’s many cycles and revolutions of change; your own personal history is forever woven into the tapestry of Canadian history. “

Uncle Joe was a quiet man but when he spoke, you listened.  He always had time to listen. He was patient and had wise advice to give when asked. He was also a real gentleman!

Uncle Joe was always a constant in our lives. The telephone calls, the visits, all the cards for birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, and special occasions were all sent with love, usually with money wrapped up in Kleenex. Somehow, there would appear a $5 for the little ones. “Spend wisely”, he would tell us. His joy was to have family around to celebrate those special occasions and he was always willing to participate in whatever was happening at the time.

Just before Easter this year, Uncle Joe wanted to send Easter cards even if he could not write in them all. It was important to him to have that contact with his family. Uncle Joe was always there for us with his love and support. Uncle Joe struggled with his health issues but did not want to give up. He was independent and feisty right up to the end.

We have so many memories of a man who put his family first.

“Each life is a miracle that changes the world and leaves it a better place than it was before.” (anonymous)

Joe’s family will miss him very much and will remember the gentle soul who lived for his family. He is survived by his sister Ann (Ted) Krug; nieces/nephews/great nieces/nephews: Margaret (Jim) Little; Brian (Lilly) Mertler and their children: Bryce (children: Kurt, Keenin, Sadie, and Kiefer) and Brianne (Ryan) (son Lloyal); Gordon and his daughter Jacqueline; Marie (Dave) and their children: Krista and Riley; Terry (Vicki) and their children: Darcy (Joelle), Chase, Nash and Sheri (Dan); Wendy (Reg) and their children: James (Lindsay), Hailey, Vincent, Riley, Kristy (Cole), Jaden, Calyssa, Lily, and Cole; Lori-Ann Krug; as well as family in the USA and Germany.

He was predeceased by his mother Marie Margaret Mertler, father John Mertler, brother John Matt Mertler and wife Doris Freda Mertler, brother George Mertler and wife Ann Margaret Mertler, and brother in-law Ted Krug.

Following Uncle Joe’s requests, there will be a private family service at the Grande Prairie Cemetery. 

Uncle Joe’s family would like to express their heartfelt appreciation to the Staff at the Pioneer Lodge, The Alberta Homecare, Points West Hospice, the Paramedics, and the QEII Hospital Staff. A special thank you to Dr. Obuekwe, and Lindsey Neudorf (Home Care Case Manager), Layna, Steve, Brody, and Kamryn West for their care and love.

Memorial donations may be made to Grande Spirit Foundation - for the Pioneer Lodge (9505 102 Ave., Grande Prairie, AB, T8V 7G9, Grande Prairie Hospice Palliative Care Society (Box 21215, Grande Prairie, AB, T8V 6W7) or to a charity of your choice.

Messages may be sent to Margaret & Jim Little (SS #2, Site 13, Comp 23, Fort St. John, BC, V1J 4M7. E-mail:  mackeno@xplornet.ca).

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In Loving Memory of

Joe (Joseph) Mertler
 

 
 

 
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