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Geurt Smienk

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Geurt Smienk

August 5, 1932 - September 12, 2013


Geurt Smienk was born in the town of Putten, Province of Gelderland, Holland on August 5, 1932 the  second son of Gijsbertje (nee Heimensen) and Willem Smienk. Geurt grew up with a loving family and close community and was  the sunshine of his parents. He was always close to his cousins and friends.  During the war Geurt lost his father and uncles  in a concentration camps.  He suffered more after the war when at the age of 16 he had TB and was isolated for 2 years.  He met the love of his life, Anna Sprenger when he was 20 working in the family Garage and Bike shop.  Geurt and Anna were married in 1953 and the following  year they had their first child, Willem.  They both worked at Mooi Veluwe,  Anna’s father’s vacation resort and two more children were born, Mimi (1956) and Jos (1957).  With limited opportunities in Holland and the need to support his growing family Geurt was looking for better ways to make a living.  An invitation was extended to Geurt to move to Canada.  Where he joined his Brother Tijmen who had immigrated a few years earlier.  He had fantasies about the wild west as a child and the lure of adventure in a new land appealed to the young couple. In October 1960, Geurt and family said their farewells to friends and family in Holland and sailed to Canada. At first the prospects seemed dim. With only $300 in his pocket and a promised  job that fell through upon arrival. Geurt’s positive spirit was not to be overcome. Geurt was delighted with this new vast land.  There was opportunity everywhere .Even though Geurt was allocated to work for a dairy farmer, getting up at 4 every morning to milk cows and living in a 2 room shack he persevered.   He loved talking to people and he soon got a job at the Purity Dairy in Lethbridge, Alberta (by a chance meeting of an old friend from Holland).     Geurt bought a car for $85 – a 1948 Hudson. Soon the family moved to a larger rental in nearby Coalhurst.  By 1962 Geurt bought his very own house and moved first the house to a plot of land in the middle of a treeless prairie that he bought for $25 and then moved his family into it.(After a lot of renovation work). A Canadian baby was also added – Nanette was born in October 1962. 
The only thing that troubled Geurt about the prairies was the lack of greenery. Geurt loved gardening and soon built a little greenhouse.  The gardening passion grew and soon the little greenhouse was replaced by many larger greenhouses. People were fond of dropping by and talking to Geurt about plants and soon gardening evolved into a business. 
The greenhouse business grew but the need to have forest around never went away.  In 1972 the miracle baby Naomi was born. In 1973 Geurt finally made the move to greener meadows and the family moved to Nelson to a cozy waterfront house at One mile on the North Shore . After a short illness, Geurt was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 1974.  In 1975, the Smienks bought 7 acres at Redfish Creek . With no house, lots of ideas and passion Geurt moved his family onto this plot of land in April  where homesteading became  a way of life.  A cookstove was outside,picnic table and rocks for chairs, a tarp was used to ward off the rain and chickens and geese were brought in to eat the scraps.  By August a cabin was built and plans were made to build the family home.  There was more vision than money available and building materials for the house were scoured from old mine sites and demo sites.


Geurt finished the house with recycled materials and started to build Redfish Greenhouse.  Many great years were spent at Redfish, Willem and Colleen got married and the first grandchildren arrived.
In 1990 Geurt and Anna bought  land on Wightwick Rd. for their retirement home.  Geurt’s dream was to have a beautiful garden with a pond and many trees and a smaller easy care house so that he could spend more time with his grandkids and hobbies.  These years he dedicated  to the loving and nurturing of family. Birthdays were celebrated  and more grandchildren arrived.  Geurt continued to care for kids. Kaitlin and Marja practically lived with their Opa and Oma.  After school care – Opa would be there.
Picking grandchildren  up from school, taking his family on holidays, taking the grandkids fishing – Opa would be there. 
These were also the years that Geurt worked on his passion, antique cars. His father was a mechanic and working on antique cars rekindled fond memories of his Dad.  He restored a 1929 Dodge Brothers Businessmen Coupe and also had a 1927 Studebaker.  He joined the vintage car club and the Dodge Brothers Club, and over the years won many prizes with his restored cars. He loved going to car club events and socializing with antique car buffs.
As Geurt aged his body broken by the effects of his illness, he seldom complained about his pain.  He enjoyed every moment of everyday and was thankful.  His faith kept him going.  He attended St Michael's Anglican Church in Balfour in his later years but worked hard to keep churches going, first in Nelson (First Presbyterian) and then in Castlegar (Grace Presbyterian). He loved his church community and  hoped that his example of faith would filter down to his  children and grandchildren.  
Geurt also took great pleasure  from animals , especially birds.  He was blessed with nurturing all sorts of animals-rabbits, peacocks, canaries, chickens and most recently doves. He recently opened the door of the dovecote and let the birds free. He enjoyed watching them fly. 
When he was sick in the hospital he wanted to share the gift of his pigeons with his  nurses and grandchildren.  His generosity was evident even in his last days.  We will be dividing his doves of peace this week. May you fly free with the birds.



Send a condolence, light a candle and/or share a memory, click "Send Condolence". Once your message has been approved by the moderator it will be posted to the website.

From: Thompson Funeral Service Ltd. Staff

Thompson Funeral Service Ltd. Staff send our condolences to family and friends.

From: Dawn Wrangler
Relation: Gardening friends

I have many memories of Geurt and all his good work. My sympathies for your loss.

From: Judy and Warren Garner
Relation: Friends

Please accept our heartfelt sympathies for your loss, Geurt was a very special and kind person. We met Geurt when he operated the Redfish Greenhouses and enjoyed his gardening advice and plants that we purchased from him. We think of Geurt every time we look at our Dutch Geranium that we purchased from him over 30 years ago. We have kept the plant in the house every winter and then moved it outside every spring to enjoy its abundant blooms every summer. We will always remember his warm smile and friendly manner.

From: Cinda Reid
Relation: Church

Geurt was an amazing man. His simple gentle approach to my husband Bob, won my heart. Geurt will be missed but more than that he left an impression that I will never forget.

Service Schedule

  Funeral Service

Date & Time:
September 17, 2013
Beginning at 2:00pm

Balfour Evangelical Convenant Church
7741 Upper Balfour Road
Nelson, BC Canada V1L6S8

Rev. James Hearne officiating interment will follow in The Balfour Cemetery

7741 Upper Balfour Road
Nelson, BC Canada V1L6S8

Memorial Gifts

Memorial donations will be gratefully accepted to:


Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada
Okanagan/Kootenay Area Office
4-1551 Sutherland Avenue
Kelowna, BC V1Y 9M9


Thank You Notice

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621B Herridge Lane, Nelson, BC V1L 7B3
Phone: (250) 352-5592

2870 Georama Rd, Nelson, BC V1L 6Y7
Phone: (250) 352-3468 / Toll Free: 1(800) 712-6797

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513 A  Front Street, Nelson, BC V1L 4B4
(250) 505-5222


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