Storytelling in Weirdale, Saskatchewan often occurred in a large white post office building where the world’s problems were solved by the morning coffee crew. Political debates, crop updates, life histories, and many laughs unfolded in this building, with Jim Krawec as a central character. His kind heart, generous laugh, wonderful sense of humor, and open ear made coffee time in Weirdale a morning ritual for many community members. The atmosphere created by Jim turned the post office into a natural “hub”, where everyone could come together without fear of judgment or exclusion. It is with a heavy heart that we inform friends and family that Jim will no longer be able to share his stories, even though we are certain that he would have loved to get a few more words in. Jim passed away peacefully at his home, as he desired, on June 13, 2020.
Jim’s story began when he was born to Olga and Joe Krawec on March 12, 1935 in Foxford, Sk. He spent his early years on the farm in Foxford and attended Chiefwood School. Later the family moved to a farm just outside of Weirdale where he attended Weirdale School and met his wife, Rolena, to whom he would be married for 64 years. Jim was a resourceful and innovative child who was always “fixing” things like his little red wagon. He liked to create and build his own toys and learned how to play the saxophone on his own.
Jim sought something different from farm life, so he joined the Canadian Air Force in 1954. He was very proud that he had the highest marks in his basic training classes where he would move on to serve as a fire fighter. While first stationed in Calgary, he frantically called Rolena to tell her they had to get married because his next posting was in Marville, France and he wanted her to accompany him on this new adventure. Rolena agreed and they married on April 8, 1956. Rolena followed Jim to France where they had Brent and Pat during the five years they lived overseas. The family then moved to Winnipeg where Jim worked at a fire station as a Crash and Rescue worker. They added to their family when Laurie was born. Jim did not care for big cities so when an opportunity came to take over his father-in-law’s store in Weirdale, he jumped at the chance and the family moved to Weirdale in 1962.
The entrepreneurial nature that Jim possessed sparked numerous small businesses that evolved in the Norland General Store over the course of Jim’s 57 year career. Norland General Store always had the Post Office which has been in the family for 84 years. In the early years, he also sold groceries. Jim worked as a caterpillar operator clearing land to support the newly established business. Jim’s inquisitive mind and passion for learning helped him decide to take a home study course from DeVry Institute in Television and Radio repair work. He spent 4 years studying in the basement to complete his courses and completed his diploma in 1969. He began selling Quasar TVs in 1971. He was proud of the fact that DeVry Institute offered him a job to work for a research team in Chicago, but being a home body it did not interest Jim.
Jim kept his childhood fascination of fixing and making things throughout his adulthood. He was known far and wide for his ability to fix anything from Pac Man Arcade games to heavy equipment parts, to electric fences, to a part on a train’s snowplow. Jim’s talent for problem solving, combined with his seemingly endless patience, as well as his stubbornness shone through when fixing things. If he did not have a certain part, he simply would make it. People would often bring items to fix that no one else was able to repair. He had “no time” for other unimportant work.
The store changed over time. When groceries were no longer viable, Jim added a Special Liquor Vendor #8. He also started a Television Rebroadcast system in 1982 called J.L.R. Systems with his brother-in-law Leon Merchant that rebroadcast 6 channels, seemingly the better ones to watch, to customers years before small dish systems became mainstream. With over 200 clients, he started another station near Smeaton.
Jim was very community minded and spent many years as a village councilor and mayor in Weirdale. He spearheaded, along with others, the water and sewer system in Weirdale, and helped to troubleshoot potential problems as well as actively maintained the system for many years. He spent countless hours on the grader, grading the roads around town. He coached a little league hockey team as well. He was always a person to look at ways to the benefit the whole, rather than just himself.
Jim was a life-long learner and was curious and interested in many different areas. He developed a machine that would trip alfalfa, designed elk horn inukshuks, and built novel electronics for his TV station. He was an avid reader and read about local and global issues.
The outdoors was another passion for Jim. He loved fishing and camping and being at the lake. Most weekends of the summer were spent fishing at Clarence Lake. He also loved to quad, snowmobile, and curl. He loved to be in nature, and would take a drive around the area each day to see the changing seasons, the progression of crops, and hopefully see wild animals. He loved to bird watch. His vehicle was well recognized in the area as he made his daily rounds.
Jim will be missed by his wife, Rolena, his son, Pat (Elaine), and daughter Laurie, his seven grandchildren Chelsie (Matt) Bergen, Chantal (Jeff) Harder, Tara (Kevin) Knipe, Matthew and Breanna as well as seven great grandchildren. While we know Jim’s story has ended, we also know stories of him will live on in the collective memory of our family and community.
In lieu of other tributes, donations in memory of Jim may be made to the Weirdale Senior Citizens Club, Box 22, Weirdale, SK, S0J 2Z0. In keeping with the current COVID-19 regulations, a Private Family Service will be held. Family and friends wishing to send online condolences are welcome to visit www.beaulacfuneralhome.com. Arrangements have been entrusted to the care of Beau “Lac” Funeral Home, Tracy-Lynn Lenchuk, Funeral Director, Prince Albert, SK 306-763-3322.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Jim Krawec, please visit our floral store.