Olga passed away peacefully in her sleep on March 7th at Sunrise Senior Living, Erin Mills, Mississauga.
Born in working-class Toronto in 1926, only child of hardworking and socially engaged Ukrainian immigrants, Catherine and Alexander Yartym, Olga imbibed an inclusive and outgoing ethic in her youth that would define the rest of her life.
To her family and friends, and recently in her autobiographical notebook, she often expressed how fortunate she was to have grown up in a downtown League of Nations, where “we all got along.” Her parents had a bakery at Queen and Sherbourne with home above the shop. Following her older friends to Kindergarten at four, an avid reader she entered Jarvis Collegiate at eleven. An awkward fit, she stayed until after Grade 11, and left for a Shaw Business School diploma. She also attended part time Ukrainian School where she learned to read, write, dance and play the mandolin, the Bathurst Street Labour Temple for orchestra and concerts, and Mutual Arena for roller and figure skating. She also passed Grade VIII piano at the Conservatory of Music.
As a teenager, Olga loved music, dance and movies. A regular at the Masonic Temple, the Hanlan’s Point Pavillion and other clubs, it was at the Pavillion that she first saw the love of her life, George Jackson. ‘He was wearing a Zoot Suit (jacket down to the knees and shoulders a yard wide) and all I thought was “gee I wish he would ask me to dance.”’ The Depression led to War and George joined the Air Force under-aged at seventeen. Later, she got a “second sighting” of him at a Cab Calloway Band performance at Mutual Arena. Finally, after two years she had her first dance with him at the Sea Breeze at Sunnyside in the summer of ‘44. “He asked, and we danced the rest of the night.” George being from Parkdale, it was classic east end girl meets west end boy. Upon George’s discharge, they married on May 8th 1945, V.E. Day.
Olga and George’s first child Donald arrived in March ’46, and their second Barbara in June ‘50. With the return of good times and a nightlife for ‘Toronto the good’, they continued the dance of the rest of their life together with friends across the City. Later, the West-Way in Etobicoke, close to their Mississauga home of 64 years, became their club of many friends and much fun. This past summer, Olga and George relocated to Sunrise Erin Mills.
Lifelong love and wife to George, Olga was a most wonderful and loving mother and mentor to Don and Barb, and full time local homemaker, family and community go-to. When Don and Barb went off to university, her business background and maturity positioned her well for the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association head office she served until retirement. Grandma to Don and Elayne’s sons, Nick (Kevin) and Andy, and great grandma “Baba” to Andy’s daughter, Alexandra, her family and extended relatives, especially her cousin and childhood companion Jenny, always brought great comfort and joy. Socially and politically active in the First Unitarian Congregation of South Peel, Voice of Women, South Peel Hospital Association and Women’s Auxiliary, and Gordon Woods Community Association, among others, she also enjoyed fishing and golf, landing a 3 foot muskie and a hole in one in the 60’s, with more trophies to follow.
Olga’s life was one of respectful intelligence embraced and developed from childhood. As friends and family, we will cherish the gifts her love and talents have given us, and our wonderful memories of her.
The family gives special thanks to the team of outstanding caregivers at Sunrise Erin Mills and to the many friends she made there.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Heart and Stroke Foundation or a charity of your choice.
A Celebration of Olga’s Life will be held on Sunday, April 7, 2019 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm at the Turner & Porter Funeral Home, 2180 Hurontario St., Mississauga, ON L5B 1M8, (www.turnerporter.ca).