Arvid George Olson was born on 14 May 1924 at Clair, Saskatchewan, the eldest son of Swedish immigrant farmers, Arvid and Annie (nee Lilja) Olson.
Over the years, the Olson family grew to include five daughters and three sons. Arvid Sr. was a veterinarian as well as a farmer. As a child, Arvid attended Quill Lake View School. In the fall of 1941, the family moved to the Armstrong area where they farmed. Arvid completed Senior Matriculation at Armstrong High School by correspondence. In 1945, the family moved to the Salmon Arm area, settling in Gleneden at the foot of the Fly Hills.
In the spring of 1943, Arvid enlisted with the Canadian Forces and completed basic training at the Vernon Military Base. During World War II, Arvid served with the Rocky Mountain Rangers on the front line as a first aid attendant in the European theatre, in campaigns in Italy, France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. He wore the famous ‘Red Patch’ of the 1st Canadian Infantry Division.
After the war ended, Arvid was stationed in Germany with the Occupational Forces. On leave, in Aberdeen, Scotland, he met his future wife, Irene Elizabeth Leith, at an ice skating rink. The couple married on 6 June 1946 at Bon Accord Church in Aberdeen and lived in London prior to Arvid shipping out with his regiment for Canada. Irene followed him on a boatload of war brides, arriving in Halifax then taking the long train ride to B.C. The couple settled in Gleneden, at first in a small house on Arvid’s parents’ farm and later at their own property a few kilometers down the road. During the Gleneden years, Irene and Arvid had four children, Garry (b. 1947), Pamela (b. 1949), Wayne (b. 1953) and Christopher (b. 1965). In the summer of 1967, the family moved to Salmon Arm.
As well as operating a small subsistence farm during the late 1940s and the 1950s, Arvid worked at various occupations. He was a sawyer at the Salmon Arm Exchange Sawmill and active in the International Woodworkers of America. He worked on the clamshell dredge “Pelican”, dredging the Thompson River and Shuswap Lake. He worked at the Salmon Arm Exchange building supply operation in Salmon Arm. Arvid was active also in cooperative ventures, including the Salmon Arm Savings and Credit Union (SASCU) and in 1952 he was elected President of the Board of the organization.
In 1960, Arvid was appointed General Manager of SASCU, a position he held until 1981. His mandate was to build up asset and membership bases. At that time, SASCU was a very small operation on Shuswap Street, the current location of the offices of School District No. 83. Under Arvid’s leadership, SASCU developed into a multi-branch operation. In 1980, SASCU moved to its present location on Front Street, the site of the former curling rink. Arvid, an avid curler in his younger days, chose the site because he knew the solid concrete base beneath the rink would be suitable for SASCU’s safe. Arvid retired from SASCU in 1981. Following his retirement, he worked briefly for the CPR, meeting the passenger train when it stopped in Salmon Arm.
He and Irene travelled in the United Kingdom and Europe and spent time at their summer cabin on Shuswap Lake.
During the decades of the 1950’s to the 1990’s, both Arvid and Irene participated in Gleneden community social activities and were active in social clubs in the Salmon Arm Area. Arvid held executive positions with the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 62 and Irene held executive positions with the RCL Ladies’ Auxiliary. Arvid was an active member of the BPO Elks and Irene an active member of the Order of the Royal Purple.
Irene passed away suddenly in 1990, a shock to Arvid that led to his slow decline. He had always believed that, since she was younger than he was, she would outlive him. In the years following Irene’s death, Arvid went on cruise ship tours to Europe and the Caribbean. In 1997, his health declining, he moved to Mt. View Manor and then to Hillside Village in 2006.
During the years in residential care, Arvid impressed residents, staff and volunteers with his prowess in the card game of cribbage. Arvid passed away peacefully on 1 May 2008.
Arvid was predeceased by his wife Irene Elizabeth (nee Leith), son Garry Arvid, parents Arvid and Annie Olson, and sisters Irene Abery, Lily Olson, Hazel Stibbs and Leona Borkes.
A celebration of life service will be held in the Mountainside Room at Bowers Funeral Home on Wednesday afternoon, May 14th, (his birthday) at 2 p.m. with Jack Bowers and Padre Norm Russell officiating. Email condolences may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Olson family would like to extend their thanks to the staff at Mountain View Manor who cared for Arvid between 1997 and 2006, and to the staff
at Hillside Village who cared for him between 2006 and 2008.
Arrangements are in the care of Bowers Funeral Home and
Crematorium, Salmon Arm.