Eilert Sjur Oskar Holter Nygaard 1,403,404
- Born: 28 May 1913, Mysen, Eidsberg, Østfold, Norway
- Christened: 13 Jul 1913, Eidsberg, Østfold, Norway
- Marriage (1): Anna Edvarda Jensen on 2 Sep 1939 in Fredrikstad, Østfold, Norway
- Died: 11 Jun 1987, North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
- Crem.: North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Another name for Eilert was Nygård.
On the 28th of May 1913 Tora Nygaard gave birth to her fifth child and third son. He was named Eilert Sjur, names that were given to him uniquely. He also carried the middle names Oscar Holter, the first after his father and the second being his mother's maiden name.
Tora's first child was John who was seven years old in mid 1913. The others at that time were: Margit, five years old; Knut, three; and Hedvig Astrid who was born on 28 October 1912, according to the record of Magna Aaser. If this was so, Hedvig would have been just 7 months old when Eilert was born, making our admiration of Tora even greater. Tora's first five children were born before the beginning of the Great War.
Eilert was two in 1915 when his mother gave birth to a third daughter, Solveig. In December 1917 a brother, Klaus, was born. Eilert was about 7 1/2 when Tora's last child was born in 1921, Ingrid. By that time the great Spanish Influenza had followed on the heals of the World War, devastating Norway as it did the rest of Europe and parts of North America.
When not at school, Eilert often worked for his father. When he was at school the teacher would note his dirty hands but, knowing that they were so because of his work, the teacher called this "clean dirt". As well as fieldwork, Eilert helped in his dad's shop, watching him turn wood on a lathe that the boy would power by peddling, like an old sewing machine. This is where Eilert learned his craft. Eilert's formal education ended with grade 7, by the time he was a teenager. However he was a voracious reader. He read many classic novels, great books of history. Later in life he often recommended to his children the novels of Victor Hugo.
To fulfil his mandatory term in the military, he joined the King's Guard. Later, he and his brother Knut built a stone cabin together. The cabin was later given to the nurses or nuns of the Fredrikstad parish when Eilert took his family to Canada. The cabin was finally given to the state. From photos it appears to have been a gathering spot for the brothers and their friends, even during the occupation in the 1940's. The cabin was later named Borgstua.
Germany invaded Poland on 01 September 1939, and Eilert proposed marriage to Anna. They were married the following day. The next day, 03 September, Britain and France declared war on Germany. Needing gold later during the war for a dental filling, he used Anna's wedding. Later she got her mother's ring and wore that.
In the early part of the nazi invasion of Norway, Eilert witnessed the sinking of the German heavy cruiser, Bleucher. He saw an "awful" site of thousands of Germans dying in the burning waters, a site he never forgot. During the invasion, the Norwegians who used their rifles to shoot at the German planes amused him. He never liked guns; he was very non-militaristic.
During the German occupation, Eilert took money from a number of friends and neighbors and went to Sweden to get sugar, salt and other scarce imported commodities such as stockings. He returned with a suitcase full of chocolate. He managed more than one trip to Sweden during the occupation. Years later he spoke about the beauty of skiing with his backpack under a starry sky. During those times, Eilert took Anna out in a sailboat, and ended up in a German gunnery range. They also went to the cabin overlooking the Skagerrak, the path of the Bismark. Such a trip during the occupation was surely very dangerous.
Near the end of the war, when it became clearer to the Nazis that their end was near, Count Folke Bernadotte successfully negotiated the release of thousands of prisoners of war. One of these was John, Eilert's brother who was interned by the Nazis at Sachsenhausen for resistance activities. Eilert went to Sweden before the end of the war, early in 1945, to meet and care for his brother, but John died of tuberculosis in Sweden shortly after. Many years later Eilert often spoke highly of the Bernadottes.
Eilert had ongoing clashes after the war with local bureaucrats, some of whom were "Nazi sympathizers". These difficulties were concerning his business dealings. Ten days on bread and water, rather than pay a fine for business related paper violations, perhaps licenses. So he took the 10 days. He refused the jail food, only drinking water and eating the cigarettes that Anna brought him. He always disliked bureaucrats. He always had an ardent dislike of Nazis, and dogma of any sort.
In 1950 Eilert decided to emigrate, either to Canada or to the USA. Anna regretted this all her life. Canada replied first to his request. A sponsor in Alberta had a farm that needed tenants. He had to ask for formal permission to exit the military, which he received. He had two business ventures in Norway during the late 1940's, one in wood and the other in bronze. At least one of these he shared with his brother Knut, with whom he left the assets on leaving Norway. Eilert and Knut had a woodwork shop at Torvet 7 in Fredrikstad where they produced different kinds of lamps and chairs. Eilert and Anna were only permitted to take with them the equivalent of $100 cdn in cash due to post-war reconstruction. It was very little with which to start a new life and less than required to enter Canada today, even if it was escalated to current value. Anna sewed some of her jewelry into the lining of her fur coat.
Eilert, Anna and their three children took the ship from Oslo to London in mid-September 1950. The family stayed in London for about five days. The second leg of their trip left from Southhampton for Montreal. On board ship after leaving port at Le Havre, the last European port before crossing the Atlantic, Eilert was the only one of the family, and one of few, to avoid seasickness. He spent much time up on deck and one time tried to start up a conversation with another passenger. He tried his rudimentary English, but the fellow just looked back blankfaced. Having just left France he thought the man might have been from there, but Eilert's few French words didn't get a response. Some German did raise an eyebrow, but they soon discovered that they were both Norwegian.
On arriving in Montreal the family took the train to Veteran, Alberta. Their first year in Canada was spent on two farms: first the Price and then the Pringle farm. Eilert was a very skilled and gifted person, as well as having a capacity for solving all problems he encountered. His new community had never seen his abilities with a wood lathe. He found a non-working electric generator and an old lathe; in a short period he had electricity running and got the lathe going. During a demonstration to local farmers, they looked at him using the lathe and said, "This is the devil's work!" They could not believe what they saw. On another occasion Eilert connected the farm to the electrical wires running down the road passed the farm. But one of the farmers told him that he was never going to be a farmer, and that turned out to be true.
After about a year on the farms the family moved to Calgary where Eilert worked with a house building crew. While he was hanging doors he was told to slow down, or everyone would have to keep up with his pace. This was also when he discovered "carpenter's knee". A damaged knee would get the carpenters on workers' compensation, so while sipping beers at the pub they would constantly tap their knee with the beer bottle.
In 1953 Eilert took the train from Calgary to the west coast of British Columbia. He quickly went back and moved the family to Vancouver. The family lived at 1833 William Street for one year, then at 1831 William Street for 2 years. The house was a duplex. [someone told me 3 years, but the dates don't line up. Ken started grade 1 there in 1953 and started grade 4 in Lynn Valley --- comments?] Eilert started as carpenter, a house framer. He would leave his tools in his car. He owned a Ford Prefect and later an Anglia. But these were stolen, twice. Because his tools had to be replaced he could not afford to get wood for the furnace and the electricity was almost cut off. Eilert turned his occupation to finishing carpentry, mainly kitchen cabinets and interior finishing for homes on the North Shore of Vancouver. He saved his earnings to buy property and build a house in Lynn Valley, North Vancouver.
By the time the family moved into the house in Lynn Valley in 1956 (3596 Sykes Road), it had grown by two more daughters, Linda and Wendy. The house was big, and over the next few years Eilert and Anna finished the basement. He also built a rock retaining wall along 3 sides of the property. Eilert continued building kitchen cabinets. During this time he designed a unique "lazy susan" mechanism. At first he worked in the basement of the house. Then he built a 20' x 24' shop on the property, a garage, and built his cabinets there. He then doubled the size of the garage, bought wood lathes and began spindle manufacturing. He had seen a growing demand for turned balusters and quality wood staircases. His clients expanded to the more expensive homes in West Vancouver.
As his business grew he rented a building in upper Lonsdale Avenue for woodturning and staircase construction. He hired two or three craftsmen. While the business grew he saved to purchase property at 235 East 1st Street in North Vancouver and constructed his own 2-storey building to house his staricase manufacturing business, "Oscar's Woodcraft Limited". Throughout the years his business associates had come to know him as Oscar, while his family and friends continued to call him Eilert.
He was a capable and honest businessman, and his product was perfect or it wasn't sold. As a result his product sold itself by reputation. His business grew to about 6 or 7 full time employees. He was also very hard working, both during the day and after his dinner, and spent little time with his children by today's standards. However, his children did have their precious time with him, and it wasn't wasted.
Eilert continued to have a deeply rooted and imbedded dislike of police tactics. On an occasion when his son Harold had friends over during the day they had a loud band blasting in the back shop. Neighbours complained, and Eilert, Anna and Harold were upstairs talking when Eilert went running out the house. Out the back living room window the two could see that Eilert had stopped two Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers in the backyard. He had them both by the back of their jackets and took them off the property, telling them to stay off! While it was mid afternoon, and the police had no business or right to step onto his property, his dislike for non-earned authority appears to be rooted far back in his life.
... to be continued
Noted events in his life were:
• He worked as a Woodcraftsman.
Eilert married Anna Edvarda Jensen, daughter of Petter Jørgen Jensen and Sofie Wilhelmine Olsen, on 2 Sep 1939 in Fredrikstad, Østfold, Norway. (Anna Edvarda Jensen was born on 7 Oct 1917 in Fredrikstad Østre, Østfold, Norway, christened on 6 Jan 1918 in Fredrikstad, Østfold, Norway, died on 1 Oct 1990 in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and was cremated in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.)
The banns for their marriage were recorded in Fredrikstad Vestre on 12 & 16 Aug 1939. He was living at Ridehusgata 2 in Fredrikstad at that time. She was living at Voldgaten 2.
Ragnar and Astrid Knotterød were their best man and maid of honour. 403,405