MELVIN DONALD JOSEPH STEVENSON was born on September 8th, 1927 in Jordan, Ontario to Elizabeth Hannah Nickason & Donald James Stevenson. He had 4 older sisters - Eleanor Orr, Luella Orr, Evelyn Orr and Mildred Stevenson. Then came 4 more siblings Helen, Hilda, Bertrum and Bernard Stevenson. That made him a middle child and aren’t they supposed to be perfect? His father then became James Andrew Jones and he and Doreen Lee gave him 3 more siblings, Victor, Gloria and Julia Jones.
Mel’s family moved back up to Muskoka when he was just a toddler and they lived around Port Sydney close to his mother’s parents. His father left when Mel was in grade 2 and so Mel quit school to become the man of the house.
Melvin started a job in a fruit nursery one summer’s day and met Gertrude Farrell who was working there. About 6 months later - January 8th, 1949 - he married that young lady. They set up housekeeping in Beamsville, and before the year ended they were proud parents of a baby girl - Dale Ann.
Ten years after Dale was born, along came a little surprise named Marie Catherine Stella. That was so nice that they deliberately tried again, and produced Kenneth Albert Melvin.
In 1965, Mel dragged Gert “kicking and screaming” up to the north country with him. They moved to Burk’s Falls, and it didn’t take long before Gert loved living up north so much that she refused to move back to Beamsville when the opportunity arose!
On the first day of hunting season in 1969, Mel started clearing their lot “out the Sideroad” - now properly called Bonnie Lake Road - and started building their home in December. By March, they moved into the barely framed house, where Marie says they could hear the winds and wolves howl through the walls. It was pretty rugged for the first year, but there were quite a few helping hands, and they enjoyed a lot of years in that home that was lovingly hand crafted for their family.
Gert passed away on Nov 7, 2015. As life became more difficult, Mel moved to Muskoka Shores in June 2018. His family appreciated the wonderful care he received at the nursing home, where he passed away on Thursday December 19th, 2019. Mel leaves behind his three children: Dale (Glen Card); Marie; Ken (Janine); his grandchildren: Dawn (Norm Lockhart); Lesley Ann (Todd Grainger); Brent Card (Ashley); Emily Rose; and his great-grandchildren: Jordan; Joshua; Ally; Brooklyn; Jacob; Jailyn; Carson;
Mel started his working life very early. When he left school, he hired on with a logging crew to help support his mom and his siblings. In about 1944 he went west with Bert French, where he worked on a farm (being still too young to join the army).
Back in Southern Ontario, Mel worked for quite some time on the Ball’s Farm, which is now part of the Ball’s Falls Conservation Area. He was really appreciated by Mrs. Ball who kept him on after the harvest and had him help with all the chores.
After he was married, he also worked on the railroad for a while, then settled into a job in the garage in Campden. He enjoyed being a volunteer firefighter in the village as well.
When they moved to Burk’s Falls, Mel worked for the Thompson Highland veneer plant, and then the South River branch of Thompson’s as well as running their farm. Later, he worked for the the Muskoka Charcoal Company in Huntsville, which is now the Fanotech plant on Old North Road. His last several working years were spent with Ontario Hydro.
Working or playing, Mel loved to laugh and liked to stir up a little trouble when the opportunity arose. Mel and Gert liked to dance - square dancing and polkas were favourites- and they had memorable card parties where the men cheated outrageously to beat the women. “Think we’ll need a spade to get that yard work done tomorrow?”
The kids recall lots of summer holidays “up north”. Camping included a pop-up tent trailer and lots of extended family. Mel bought the odd pony -for the kids of course! - and even trained “Thunder” to pull a sleigh.
Mel also enjoyed being a part of the Stephenson District Lions Club in Port Sydney.
In the summer of 2011, Mel’s life took on a new light. That summer he accepted Christ as his saviour and was baptized that fall. Mel fully enjoyed his fellowship in the Deer Lake Gospel Hall. It is good for our hearts to know that Mel passed from this life into eternal happiness with his Lord.
Whenever we picture Mel, it will be with his mischievous grin and the way his face lit up when he said hello. He will be remembered always with love.
The celebration of life will be held on Saturday, January 18, 2020 at the Port Sydney Community Centre, 607 Muskoka Road 10 from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to Alzheimer Society of Muskoka or Muskoka Shores in Gravenhurst.
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