In Memory of Lars Volstad

 

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Lars Volstad, 5 March 1926 - 2 March 2005

Lars was born on the family dairy farm at Austvoll in Sandnes, Norway, to Thorvald and Clara (née Haaland) Volstad.  He had an older brother Torger, an infant sister Anna Margrete, and a younger brother Tor.  Growing up in Norway during the war made for some interesting stories about stray bombs and assorted mischief against the occupying forces.  But Lars' amazing work ethic must have been cemented during those years of hard subsistence.  He often joked about the humble Grade Eight education of the day (and less often mentioned his success at business school).  From his youth, he always enjoyed outdoor activities with friends, and when he came of age, he served his time in the army.  He started an excavation business and gave it a good go for several years, but post-war Norway, like much of Europe in the 50's, remained a tough place to make a living.

So he followed his younger brother Tor to Canada in 1956, sailing on the Empress of Scotland and landing at Quebec City. He intended to stay for a few years only and then return to Norway, but the prospects in Canada proved irresistible (never mind the fact that he and his brother had no money, slept in the car, and cooked on the engine block!)  Lars eventually found work surveying a new railroad and a new aluminum plant on the Quebec north shore.  In Baie Comeau, he met and wooed a young and pretty school teacher named Janine Ayotte, from St. Séverin, Quebec. (Janine initially thought that he was too young for her; only later did she learn that he was 6 years her senior!) Wedding bells soon followed: marrying Janine was "the best thing I ever did", as he recently told one of his grandkids.  In 1958 the first son, Mark, was born.

In 1962 the young family moved to Toronto, which at the time was experiencing a construction boom. Among the projects that occupied him for the next 8 years were office buildings at 16 King St. East, 400 University Ave., and the Bloor/Yonge subway station. His talent and hard work were rewarded with promotions to Project Engineer and Project Superintendent. It was during this busy period in his life that his second son, Eric, and daughter, Clara, were born.

In 1970, Lars decided that the daily commuting was taking too much time from his family life, and returned to his farming roots by purchasing a dairy farm in St. Tite, Quebec, not far from Janine's birthplace. Within a year, however, he realized that his calling was still in heavy construction, and he found work in Ottawa.

In 1972, the family moved to London, Ontario, where Lars was Project Manager for the construction of City Centre, a 3-building complex in the heart of the Forest City.

The family's next stop was Saint John, New Brunswick, where a series of construction projects enabled the family to settle down for 12 years. Lars superintended the building of Brunswick Square, Market Square and the Saint John Regional Hospital.

When the heavy construction work eventually dried up in Saint John, Lars was offered major projects on Prince Edward Island building UPEI's Atlantic Veterinary College and Revenue Canada's Summerside Tax Center. Between these two projects he superintended construction of the beautiful Blue Cross Centre in Moncton, New Brunswick. He finally retired in 1992 at age 67.

Wherever Lars lived and worked, he made lasting friendships. Looking back on his career, he told us he was grateful to have worked with so many good people, and grateful for the many opportunities to be a mentor to younger leaders in the industry.

Lars had a rare and wonderful combination of intellect and practical ability, reflected in his lifelong enjoyment of a variety of hobbies. He was the first president of the Sandnes Philatelic Club. He was a talented woodworker, and crafted a number of handsome pieces of furniture that grace the house to this day. He taught himself English and French and was a voracious reader, as well as a particularly good writer.  He loved to debate with anyone who could keep up with him on a wide range of historical and political topics.  He had a life-long passion for his garden, which he continued to tend in recent years even through failing health. His vegetables won horticultural awards, and we enjoyed his bumper crops of strawberries, raspberries, currants and gooseberries. When his children left home and could no longer enjoy them fresh, Janine made wonderful jams to send to them.

Lars was a generous man, always glad to share his time and resources with friends and strangers alike.  He had great respect for the work of the Salvation Army and the War Amps in Canada.  In his own neighbourhood, he spent countless hours volunteering with Scouts Canada and the Gondola Point Recreation Committee in the 1970's and 80's.  He was a driving force in the construction of the recreation centre there, and was a superb mentor to the boys of the 1st Gondola Point Venturer Company.  More recently, he served with the Red Cross Meals on Wheels programme for seniors in the Moncton area.  Through the local Multicultural Association, he worked with new immigrant families, helping them settle in the area.

Lars cared for his family above all else. He always encouraged his children to develop our own interests and careers, and was very proud of our achievements. He taught us to be independent, yet we knew that we could count on him at any time for any support that we needed.  He was a man who expressed his beliefs through his actions.  His greatest legacy to us is the example of his honesty and his compassion for others.

Lars passed away peacefully in his home with Janine, Mark, Eric, and Clara close by his side.  We are eternally grateful for the blessing he continues to be in our lives.

 

  • Lars Volstad was predeceased by his parents Thorvald and Clara, his infant sister Anna Margrete, and his brothers Torger and Tor.  He leaves his wife Janine Ayotte Volstad (school teacher, retired, in Dieppe, New Brunswick); son Mark (web developer, with wife Lylah and children Bruce and Angela, in Kentucky); son Eric (military pilot officer, with wife Alysia and daughters Amanda and Kristen, in Quebec; daughter Clara (registered nurse, with husband Mark Butland and sons Alex and Evan, in North Dakota); his aunt Tora Hove Solli in Norway; and many beloved relatives and friends in Norway and Canada.

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