Paul Johnson

July 17, 2017


Paul Elmer Johnson
Resident of Manitoulin Centennial Manor, Little Current Ontario, passed peacefully early on July 17, 2017 at age of 94.  Beloved husband of Pauline, (pre-deceased 2007), proud and loving father of Howard Johnson (Kirsten), Judy Martin (Ned) and Nancy Paul (Steve).  Kind and generous grandfather of Oona (Matthew French), Jay (Erika), Grace and April Martin and Sarah and Paul Johnson (mother Cathy).  Amazed and devoted great-grandfather of Everett and Jack French, Aili and Maia Martin.  Pre-deceased by brothers Martin and Henry Niskala, their mother Anna Hytonen Niskala and her husband John and step-siblings Hilma and John.  Survived by step-sister Ellie Pattison.
Paul arrived in Canada in 1928, at the age of 5 years from Saarijarvi, Finland, accompanied by his mother.  They came by ship via Liverpool to Halifax and then travelled by train across Canada to settle in Burris Twp, west of Fort Frances, in North Western Ontario.
He was a hard working youth on his uncle and aunt’s farm (Tom and Alma Johnson) located in adjacent  Miscampbell Twp and ran the family dairy business while still a teen, making and selling butter.  Over his long life he had many businesses, including being one of the area’s first electricians and owning and operating the first television sales and repair outlet.  He designed and built a home for himself, Pauline and their three children on the highway near LaVallee, Ontario, renovated several buildings in the town of Fort Frances as rental properties, and designed and built a cottage near Morson, on the Lake of the Woods.
Always interested in the latest technology and photography, Paul had a darkroom equipped to develop both black and white as well as colour photos.  He also made home movies that were shown locally, and when digital cameras arrived on the scene, he quickly made the shift and ensured that his children and grandchildren also enjoyed that new technology.  He was savvy with his computer until age 90 and gave all his grandchildren a laptop when they went away to university.
Paul was employed by the Fort Frances - Rainy River Board of Education and held two positions, manager of physical plant and manager of school bus transportation.  This board covers a huge area and it was important to him that all children, no matter how isolated, should easily be able to attend their local public schools as well as the high schools in Fort Frances and Rainy River.
He and Pauline retired to Kingston, Ontario in 1987, closer to their daughter Nancy.   At this time Paul took on a tender new role as primary caregiver for his wife Pauline, who had been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis a few years before and who became increasingly frail over a period of twenty or more years.  During this time period, he would make brief road trips back to Fort Frances to manage his rental properties and take the opportunity to make side trips to Kenora or Manitoulin Island to visit Judy’s family.  He also enjoyed visiting Howard’s family in Ottawa, often attending the July 1 celebration in the capital city.
Paul moved to Manitoulin in 2013, and the family deeply appreciates the care and love that Paul received at the long term care facility (the Manor) during the last four years of his life.  Immediate family will gather in the future for interment of Paul and Pauline’s ashes in the Devlin Cemetery, not far from their former home in LaVallee.
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