November 21, 2020
1930-2020 ~ On Saturday night, November 21st, John passed away after a brief battle with leukaemia.
He was born Johannes Olsen, near Østrup, Denmark, the fifth of nine children born to Hans Peder Olsen and Meta Marie (Jensen) Olsen.
After spending his early years on his parents’ farm and serving the required term in the Danish army, he emigrated to Canada in the early 1950s with his younger brother, Bill (Emil).
Through a clerical error somewhere along the way, the brothers’ surname was changed to Olson and this spelling stayed with them. After arrival in Canada, the two worked for a time on farms in Ontario, in order to pay off the costs of their passage from Denmark.
From Ontario, the pair traveled to BC, where they spent only a short time before moving on to Dawson City in the Yukon where he met and married the mother of his three children, Doreen Olson (nee McLeod).
John’s first job in the Yukon was at the old Penguin in Dawson City, working as a bartender. Thereafter, he held many jobs over the years and was proud that he could always find employment. He worked on the Klondike gold dredges, on cat trains supplying drilling operations in the arctic, as a driver for trucking companies operating out of Dawson City, and as a foreman or heavy equipment operator in gold mining camps and with the Yukon Government Department of Highways.
After almost 40 years in the Yukon, in 1993 John moved with his partner, Donna Mendelsohn, to a small farm near Fort Assiniboine, Alberta, where they raised beef cattle for the next 25 years. In 2018, they retired from farming and moved to Devon, Alberta. John could find humour in almost any situation, and even in his last days was still joking with his nurses in the hospital.
John is survived and will be greatly missed by Donna; two sons: Clarence (Dianna) Olson, Tsuu T’ina Reserve, Alberta and Timothy Olson, Dawson City, Yukon; a daughter: Maureen (Gary) Birckel, Whitehorse, Yukon; two grandsons: Cory (Melissa) Birckel, Edmonton, Alberta, and Matthew (Santana) Birckel, Petawawa, Ontario; three great-grandchildren: Phoenix, Jealyne and Ezekiel; a niece and nephew: Jackie Olson and William Olson Jr., respectively, Dawson City, Yukon; and many other relatives, too numerous to name, in Canada and Denmark and beyond.
The family will hold a private service in the Yukon at a later time, when conditions permit.
Donations may be made to a favourite charity or to the Canadian Cancer Society.
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