Wayne was born to Almer and Zylpha Wallaker on March 21, 1937 in Spalding, Saskatchewan. Wayne was the second youngest of a family of 7 children.
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Wayne grew up on a farm outside Spalding and attended Lake Edward School. He completed the eighth grade then went to work on the farm. The family was musical so inevitably Wayne picked up the guitar continued to play it for many years. We would hear stories about Dad playing in bands, even at the young age of around 14. Our parents met at a dance he was playing at and the rest is history.
Wayne married Florence Nivon on June 2, 1959 in St Front. They started their married life on a farm in the Spalding area and lived in the ‘teacherage’. Dad also worked for the RM and did road maintenance which would lead to his to move to Flin Flon.
Wayne and Florence added Garry and Eloise to their family while still living on the farm. The pull to Northern Manitoba was strong as two of his brothers and his sister already lived there. So, Wayne, Florence, Garry and Eloise moved to Creighton then to Flin Flon. Dad started working for the City of Flin Flon as a heavy-duty equipment operator. After they settled into their home on Waldron, they welcomed their last child Rhonda.
Dad enjoyed working for the City of Flin Flon. In the winter, he was the favorite grader driver. He seemed to get to know everyone in town and specifically, what street they lived on. Dad also studied to get his blasting ticket. He used the ticket at work but also saw an opportunity for a home business.
Dad started Wallaker Blasting and it was busy for years. He employed many young men in the community from his son, to sons-in-law, nephews and friends. Basements were made bigger, rocks taken from corners and lots cleared for construction. The last big jobs were the Coop being rebuilt on the same lot uptown and the Red Square. We think the employment of the sons-in-law was to see what they were made of and they must have passed, as they are still around.
Dad eventually retired from the City after a career that spanned being an equipment operator, union president to becoming a supervisor. Throughout these years, he worked with numerous workers and summer students, who would continuously reach out to him years later. However, he didn’t completely retire as he would work for the RCMP as a guard and with Mark Whitford and his paving company. Dad actually left his retirement party at their house because the RCMP called and needed someone to guard, which did not score any points with Mom.
During these years, Dad was involved in his children’s sports but the focus was on hockey. He coached and managed Garry’s teams as he progressed through the leagues. Dad was involved with the Flin Flon Bombers for years and was President when they started in the Manitoba NorMan League.
When Dad married Mom, he converted from Lutheran to Catholic, which did not make his mother happy. Dad took this change seriously and was involved in the church for years. He agreed to take the position of Parish Council President, as long as he did not have to speak in church. Luckily someone volunteered to speak at church, so Dad was in as President. One project which was meaningful to Dad was the big cross at the cemetery and ongoing maintenance of it. He wanted me to ensure I told the council it has to be looked after.
Wayne was involved with the Knights of Columbus for many years. He wasn’t interested in advancing up the ranks but volunteered where he was needed. Friday Night bingo, selling Nevada tickets became the anchor of the week. Bomber games were missed and a few family gatherings were cut short due to him having to work bingo. It sounds like he treated each of the ladies who bought tickets as close friends, as they all seemed to know him so well.
Through out this time, music was always apart of Dad’s life. He would play with his band, at the Manor and the PCH. We know his playing brought many a smile to the elders of the homes as we would hear about it from the families. Interestingly, the Blueberry Jam Festival that recently started in Flin Flon, was largely inspired by a well-established country music gathering that was hosted by Myrna and Ray Tennent near Naicam, Saskatchewan. Our dad was a staple at the Tennent gatherings for many years and the second lot from the main stage was always reserved for his trailer. Our family members had the amazing opportunity to attend a few of these gatherings, and it is where many of us realized how respected Dad was as a guitar player in the music community. We learned that these musicians were like his extended family, as many of them grew up together in the same area of rural Saskatchewan. We took Dad back to Tennent’s one last time and people were continuously coming up to him with greetings. Dad really enjoyed it even though I had to be his voice. It was really touching when our neighbor Holly Freeborn borrowed a guitar from another player so Dad could go on stage with him. His smile told the whole story.
Through out our parents’ marriage, having a trailer and camping every weekend was their way of life. Accompanied by Uncle Harvey’s family, we would camp and fish at Neso Lake for the majority of our childhood. When the Hanson Lake highway was paved, Jan Lake become the place to be in June. This became an extended family gathering for a two + weeks for many years. Not only was this where we camped and fished, it was a place our children got to enjoy time with their grandparents. Mom would ‘volunteer’ to keep the children who did not want to fish at the camper while the rest went with Grandpa. When the children would be really young, we would use a stinky stringer to tie the back of their lifejackets to the boat and as they fished with the ‘Lucky Lion’ fishing rod. All our children would be able to speak of a story of Jan Lake and grandpa. One of the photos we treasure is Grandpa and the three boys lined up in the fileting shack clean up the day’s catch.
Dad and Mom tried the ‘snowbird’ life for a few years. Dad played guitar at a few trailer parks while mom sewed projects. The winter El Nino happened, gave them an excuse to stay home and watch the kids in which ever sport they took part in. At one point we had to color code the hockey schedule as they were following 3 grandsons in 3 leagues. They loved to travel for hockey tournaments with the boys which usually meant following three hockey teams. They were accepted fixtures wherever we went. After Mom passed away, the boys were still playing hockey and it was a great distraction for Dad. Dad also attended synchro swimming performances, volleyball games, Creighton School functions, and a few figure skating competitions.
Dad loved his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They were all so important to him. Dad’s wallet was full of small pieces of paper with their phone numbers on them. He always wanted to know what was new with us and the children. A few of the children were fortunate to live with him which was reassuring to us, as we knew he was not alone.
When the time came for Dad to move into the manor, we took him out to eat to break the news to him that a room was available and we thought he should move in. Well, he gave us the biggest smile and two thumbs up. He was ready to move! When the moving day came, he was ready to go at 7 am even though the moving in time was 10 am. Blair, Rachelle, and Rhonda moved him in, put his pictures out and clothes in the drawers. By then, Dad was already down the hall watching TV in the blue chair. We are pretty sure he didn’t even notice them leaving.
Life at the Manor was good for Dad. The staff treated him with care and dignity right to the very end. We would like to thank the staff there and finding the right words is so very hard. Our hearts go out to all of you, in every role, as it takes a great team for a place to be so special.
So, as we go on our way today, I would like to share with you a few lessons I’ve learned over the last few days:
- A genuine smile stays with you forever
- Take time to be a good listener
- A few well-spoken words go a long way
- Be gentle to others
- Be easy to love
Dad is gone to hold hands with Mom as she has been patiently waiting for 14 years.
Dad, you will never be forgotten as our memories run deep. And we will ensure we keep one lefsa, a burnt one, out for you.
With all our love we send you on your way with two thumbs up!