Today’s Poll

Smienk, Geurt

Geurt Smienk was born in the town of Putten, Province of Gelderland, Holland on August 5, 1932 the second son of Gijsbertje (nee Heimensen) and Willem Smienk. Geurt grew up with a loving family and close community and was the sunshine of his parents. He was always close to his cousins and friends. During the war Geurt lost his father and uncles in a concentration camps. He suffered more after the war when at the age of 16 he had TB and was isolated for 2 years. He met the love of his life, Anna Sprenger when he was 20 working in the family Garage and Bike shop. Geurt and Anna were married in 1953 and the following year they had their first child, Willem. They both worked at Mooi Veluwe, Anna’s father’s vacation resort and two more children were born, Mimi (1956) and Jos (1957). With limited opportunities in Holland and the need to support his growing family Geurt was looking for better ways to make a living. An invitation was extended to Geurt to move to Canada. Where he joined his Brother Tijmen who had immigrated a few years earlier. He had fantasies about the wild west as a child and the lure of adventure in a new land appealed to the young couple. In October 1960, Geurt and family said their farewells to friends and family in Holland and sailed to Canada. At first the prospects seemed dim. With only $300 in his pocket and a promised job that fell through upon arrival. Geurt’s positive spirit was not to be overcome. Geurt was delighted with this new vast land. There was opportunity everywhere .Even though Geurt was allocated to work for a dairy farmer, getting up at 4 every morning to milk cows and living in a 2 room shack he persevered. He loved talking to people and he soon got a job at the Purity Dairy in Lethbridge, Alberta (by a chance meeting of an old friend from Holland). Geurt bought a car for $85 – a 1948 Hudson. Soon the family moved to a larger rental in nearby Coalhurst. By 1962 Geurt bought his very own house and moved first the house to a plot of land in the middle of a treeless prairie that he bought for $25 and then moved his family into it.(After a lot of renovation work). A Canadian baby was also added – Nanette was born in October 1962.
The only thing that troubled Geurt about the prairies was the lack of greenery. Geurt loved gardening and soon built a little greenhouse. The gardening passion grew and soon the little greenhouse was replaced by many larger greenhouses. People were fond of dropping by and talking to Geurt about plants and soon gardening evolved into a business.
The greenhouse business grew but the need to have forest around never went away. In 1972 the miracle baby Naomi was born. In 1973 Geurt finally made the move to greener meadows and the family moved to Nelson to a cozy waterfront house at One mile on the North Shore . After a short illness, Geurt was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 1974. In 1975, the Smienks bought 7 acres at Redfish Creek . With no house, lots of ideas and passion Geurt moved his family onto this plot of land in April where homesteading became a way of life. A cookstove was outside,picnic table and rocks for chairs, a tarp was used to ward off the rain and chickens and geese were brought in to eat the scraps. By August a cabin was built and plans were made to build the family home. There was more vision than money available and building materials for the house were scoured from old mine sites and demo sites.

 

Geurt finished the house with recycled materials and started to build Redfish Greenhouse. Many great years were spent at Redfish, Willem and Colleen got married and the first grandchildren arrived.
In 1990 Geurt and Anna bought land on Wightwick Rd. for their retirement home. Geurt’s dream was to have a beautiful garden with a pond and many trees and a smaller easy care house so that he could spend more time with his grandkids and hobbies. These years he dedicated to the loving and nurturing of family. Birthdays were celebrated and more grandchildren arrived. Geurt continued to care for kids. Kaitlin and Marja practically lived with their Opa and Oma. After school care – Opa would be there.
Picking grandchildren up from school, taking his family on holidays, taking the grandkids fishing – Opa would be there.
These were also the years that Geurt worked on his passion, antique cars. His father was a mechanic and working on antique cars rekindled fond memories of his Dad. He restored a 1929 Dodge Brothers Businessmen Coupe and also had a 1927 Studebaker. He joined the vintage car club and the Dodge Brothers Club, and over the years won many prizes with his restored cars. He loved going to car club events and socializing with antique car buffs.
As Geurt aged his body broken by the effects of his illness, he seldom complained about his pain. He enjoyed every moment of everyday and was thankful. His faith kept him going. He attended St Michael’s Anglican Church in Balfour in his later years but worked hard to keep churches going, first in Nelson (First Presbyterian) and then in Castlegar (Grace Presbyterian). He loved his church community and hoped that his example of faith would filter down to his children and grandchildren.
Geurt also took great pleasure from animals , especially birds. He was blessed with nurturing all sorts of animals-rabbits, peacocks, canaries, chickens and most recently doves. He recently opened the door of the dovecote and let the birds free. He enjoyed watching them fly.
When he was sick in the hospital he wanted to share the gift of his pigeons with his nurses and grandchildren. His generosity was evident even in his last days. We will be dividing his doves of peace this week. May you fly free with the birds.

 

A Funeral Service will be held Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 2:00pm from Balfour Evangelical Covenant Church.. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Thompson Funeral Service ltd. On-line condolence may be expressed at www.thompsonfs.ca

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