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
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
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
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.