Life of
Irma Katarine Anderson

Irma Katarine Anderson
March 14, 1917- Aug. 25, 2001

My mother, Irma Katarine Anderson was the first and only child of Olof Axel Anderson and Brita Kristina Gidlöf.
She was born on March 14, 1917 in a big, old barn-shaped house on Harkess Street in Fort William, Ontario, Canada, belonging to Olof's half-sister, Anna Stina Andersson and her husband, Nils Petter Nilsson. Brita was twenty-nine years of age: Olof Axel was almost twenty-nine. His birth date was April 19, 1887. My mother was a big, healthy baby.

My mother's early life was very simple. Olof Axel went to work as a carpenter and Brita took care of the home. She was an excellent cook.
Brita's little daughter, Ida K. had just died thirteen months earlier. Both parents loved and cherished their new baby daughter.

We know a few things about Irma's early life. She went to Isabella Street Elementary School and the Fort William Collegiate High School. The family attended the Swedish Lutheran Church on Pearl Street in Fort William. Olof Axel and Brita were not particularly religious but enjoyed the company of other Swedish people. My mother wrote her confirmation exams in the Swedish language.

Years later, at my mother's funeral, a lady by the name of Reine Wickman- Kivell of Geraldton, Canada showed me a picture of Irma's Confirmation. She was also a student in the class. We were happy to hear that Reine used to roller skate with my mom.
Irma also enjoyed swimming at Vicker's Pool.

Mother told us about having Scarlet Fever as a little girl. It is a highly contagious disease, characterized by sore throat, fever, and a scarlet rash. Their house at 735 Harkness Street had a special red sign in the window, warning people of the danger.

              Irma at the piano 1933 Brita and Axel noticed that Irma was interested in music.
Brita had a pretty singing voice and encouraged her daughter to sing.
Grandpa also liked music and bought records for Irma.

They gave my mother piano lessons. My mother was a very talented student. Grandpa was a stern but loving father and my mother was expected to practice the piano.
She completed the final grade for the Toronto Conservatory of Music in both piano and singing.

She went to the Chicago Worlds Fair in 1935 as the piano accompanist for Wesley Church Choir.

Mother taught piano all her adult life. Piano teaching was much more than a "job". She actually loved teaching the piano and derived a great deal of happiness from it.
I should tell you about my mother's piano. When my mother was in Grade Thirteen she saw a beautiful grand piano in the window of Heintzman's Music Store. It was a very special piano that had been custom-made for a rich family who owned Patterson Steam Ship Lines. The reason the piano was in the store for sale was because Mrs. Patterson had complained that the stain did not perfectly match her other furniture. My mother put a little down payment and very slowly paid for it. Grandpa paid for the final installment several years later.
Mother graduated from High School and took a Secretarial Course. She worked as a secretary for a few years at the Fort William High School.
              Irma and Sulo Korpela                     wedding 1945 Mother married Sulo Werner Matias Korpela in Jan.27, 1945.
My father wore a Canadian Air Force uniform because World War Two was still on.

My father was of Finnish origin. He utilized this language often in his job as car and truck salesman.

Thunder Bay has the largest population of Finnish people outside of Finland.
The cities of Port Arthur and Fort William were united in 1968 and are now called Thunder Bay.
My mother had four children. Our names are Karen Dianne, Kalvin Werner, Andrea Lynn, and Adrienne Eleanor.

The family lived in a modest but new home built by my grandfather, Olof Axel in Port Arthur.
My parents moved to Ottawa in around 1976 because Dad got a job in Ottawa with the Canadian Government in Transport Canada.
Dad went back to school in his late forties and graduated as a Canadian General Accountant. He was responsible for auditing the accounts of several airports.
Dad was a hard-working man who died suddenly of a heart attack while shoveling snow on Dec.6, 1986.
               Irma photo taken 1991 Special mention should be made about the relationship of my sister, Adrienne, with my mother.
Irma contracted Parkinson's disease in her late sixties. It began in a small way and slowly took hold.
By 1995, she could hardly walk. The family moved her to a long-term care facility back in Thunder Bay.
My sister, Adrienne brought her up on the plane and lovingly took care of her.
All of us visited her and sent flowers but it was Adrienne who did the "real" work of caring for my mother.

Irma looked for the good in people. She could be "cheery" and laugh. She enjoyed Dennis the Menace cartoons, Boston cream pie, and the chocolates with the soft centers. I still remember picnics at Wild Goose Park on Lake Superior. She looked for the "bright side" in bad situations. Her grand child, Michael, was a great source of happiness in her old age. Mother was proud to be a Swede. She died on Thursday, August 25, 2001 at age 83.

** Article written by Karen Korpela-Beaujot**
eldest daughter of Irma Katarine Andersson-Korpela.
May 2006

A big thank you to Karen for sharing this wonderful information about Irma Katarine and her family.



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