John Nicholas Steward (Swetleshnoff)
Oct. 26, 1939 to Jan. 23, 2013
John Steward was born Oct. 26, 1939 in Canora, Saskatchewan to Nick and Nellie Swetleshnoff. He grew up on their farm and worked alongside them until high school graduation. He and sister Violet used to race the family Percherons until they went to a fall fair and found out that there were special horses for racing. He left Canora upon graduation to work for the Bank of Montreal in Saskatoon.
John married Irene Nielsen in Morden in 1963. Their son Ian Darcy was born in Victoria in 1966 and daughter Lori Jean was born in 1973 in Smithers.
John moved frequently with the bank, working in Saskatoon, Neepawa, Swift Current, Nipawin, Morden, Richmond, Fort Victoria, Stewart, Kitimat and Whitehorse arriving in Smithers in 1973. John fell in love with Smithers and decided to stay. When he purchased the Marshall Wells Hardware Store he fulfilled a lifelong dream of owning a country store. The store was a complex warren of merchandise with something to meet everyone’s needs, and John knew the location of every tiniest item. Many Smithers residents will remember Earl, John’s basset hound, who, as the store mascot, greeted all visitors, lounged on the sidewalk outside and wandered the town at will. John eventually sold the store, and used his new expertise in computers, use and repair, in a variety of jobs with Cheni gold mines and Wrinch Memorial Hospital. After his retirement he continued to work part time for the Schrader Funeral Home until the time of his death.
John loved to explore and investigate the back country roads and abandoned settlements for miles around. He could be found far off the beaten path, miles from nowhere, on a snow machine, motorcycle or ATV. He loved to cook, his specialties being cabbage rolls, borscht and blini. John was an inveterate and eclectic collector. John was a specializing non specialist. He loved auctions and garage sales. He collected all kinds of things: vehicles, timepieces, tools and sewing machines. John loved to tinker and fix things. He could often be found at the Telkwa “Wal-Mart” looking for new projects.
In 1984 John met Karen Fisher when she came into the store for bicycle parts. They set up home downtown in John’s vintage house. He pretended to dislike the collection of dogs and cats they came to own but he was the one they came to for petting and treats. He liked to play the “curmudgeon” but was truly a kind and generous person offering help where he could. John loved his granddaughters. There was nothing better than a game of monopoly or teasing them.
John’s health had been failing for the last four years, but he continued his usual projects, part time work, volunteer activities and played crib. John is survived by wife Karen Steward; son, Ian Steward (Telma), daughter Lori Nixon (Islamuddin), granddaughters Erica, Jessica, Rebecca and Elaina, sisters Tunya Audain and Violet Gartman (Dieter).
There will be a Memorial Service for John Feb. 23 at 1 p.m. at the Smithers United Church.