Ken Smale passes away

Ken Smale
Ken Smale (October 17, 1944 - May 16, 2017)
Click here for larger picture

The Sault Ste. Marie Métis community is mourning the loss of one of its leaders. Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) citizen Ken Smale was a councillor on the Historic Sault Ste. Marie Métis Council for multiple terms. Ken is the father of Historic Sault Ste. Marie Métis Council Treasurer, Shari Smale and Grandfather of MNO Youth Council President Mitch Case.

Ken and his family descend from some of the original Métis families in Sault Ste. Marie, with connections from Manitoba, Drummond Island, Penetanguishene and all around Lake Superior. Ken was proud of his family’s rich Métis history and was proud to be a part of the great work happening for the Sault Ste. Marie community. 

Friends may visit at the Arthur Funeral Home and Cremation Centre on Sunday, May 21, 2017 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Expressions of sympathy may be offered at www.arthurfuneralhome.com.

Smale, Kenneth Jackson –obituary 

Ken Smale passed away peacefully with his family beside him at Sault Area Hospital on Tuesday, May 16, 2017 in his 73rd year.

Beloved husband for 48 years of the late Marion; special friend of Virginia Rydall.

Loving father of Shari Smale, Wade Smale (Maxine) and the late baby Kenneth. 

Devoted grandfather to Mitchell Case, Samantha Case, Carrie-Lynne Smale and Brendan Case. Special “GG” to Great Granddaughter Lynnea Smale.

Son of the late John Charles “Jack” and Helen May Smale. Brother of Carol Gemme (Maurice) of London, Ontario; Valerie Harron of Wisconsin; Herb Smale (Sheila) of Bar River; John Smale (Lucille), and Lynne DeLavalle both of Sault Ste Marie. Son-in-law of the late Stanley and Lillian Simons. Much loved brother-in-law of Emily Duplin (late Paul), Harold Simons (Linda), Judi Dukes (Brian), Raymond Simons (Angelika) and Brenda Rogers (David). Fondly remembered by Uncle Herb of Winnipeg and Aunt Joyce Huffman of Vancouver Island as well as many nieces, nephews and cousins.

Ken started working at the age of 15 as a labourer for his Great Uncle Jack at Smale Brothers Construction.  In the beginning, Ken was given some of the worst jobs in the hopes that he would tire of it and go back to school; however, when Ken persisted Uncle Jack offered him a real job as part of a crew. He worked his way up on various projects including building fuel storage tanks along the North Shore.  After the business was passed down to his father, Ken spent many years leading Smale Brothers’ crews in the construction of hydro and Bell transmission lines all over Algoma. 

In 1987, Ken with his brother John became the third generation to run the family business when they started Double S Construction and for the next 25 years he took great pride knowing that they were employing local workers and supporting the community. Throughout his career, Ken became known as one of the best backhoe operators around. A former coworker and long-time friend once told his son: “your dad took a backhoe to places a mountain goat couldn't go, setting poles for GLP” and the PUC was known to call and ask for him by name when they had a tough spot to get into.  

Ken had many other joys throughout his life, from his many dogs and horses to photography, walking, moose hunting, apple crisp and of course his country music.  He was a devoted family man, always showing an intense interest in anything his children and grandchildren were participating in. Nothing we did was beyond his interest; including gymnastics, swimming, music lessons, robotics, soccer, hockey, classes and new jobs.  Together Ken and Marion raised a small, but strong family; they passed on a strong work ethic and many talents. From Ken: welding, resourcefulness, storytelling and a passion for good music. From Marion: woodworking, problem solving, determination and a passion for research. 

Ken was very dedicated to his community; volunteering his time for years as a member of the Historic Sault Ste. Marie Metis Council. He gave many hours to the council attending meetings and assemblies, helping set up for events and ceremonies and serving as handy man at the Sault Metis Centre. Ken spent countless hours with his good friend Big Track, discussing everything from ceremonies, history, native politics and philosophy. He was a regular at the Big Track house, helping as a fire keeper for the sweat lodge. Ken was proud of his Metis and Ojibway heritage and was excited to be a part of the progress being made by the Sault Metis community on many important issues. 

When Marion fell ill, Ken slowed down at work and after 54 years traded in his backhoe and dump-truck for a vacuum cleaner and a dishwasher. When Marion passed, Ken and their dog Kaylie took to walking five kilometres a day and canvassing his neighbourhood for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.  Ken became active in a Métis Seniors Group where he met Virginia Rydall, a wonderful Métis woman who had lost her husband around the same time as Marion’s passing. Ken and Virginia became fast friends and spent their time together camping, beach-going, and continuing their involvement in all manner of events in the Métis community. Throughout Ken’s recent illness, Virginia stayed by his side, advocating for his care and coordinating with his family for various appointments and ensuring his every need was met.

He loved his family unconditionally, and we knew it. His children and grandchildren will always have wonderful memories to carry us through our time without him.

The family would like to thank Jim and Jen and Adam and Angela for their help over the years. The family also wants to thank Sault Area Hospital ICU staff including nurses Joanie, Melissa, and Ash.  

Donations can be made to the Sault Ste. Marie Soup Kitchen or Historic Sault Ste Marie Métis Council (Building Fund).

Posted: May 18, 2017

See ALL news articles