The family of Jake Ingo Sirkkunen sadly announces his peaceful passing in the early morning hours of December 18th, while surrounded by love and listening to Conway Twitty.
Born in Narva, Estonia on August 30, 1931, Jake was the eldest of 3 children. His parents, along with their young family, fled the war-torn countries of Europe to Canada onboard the ship Gripsholm in 1951. After docking at the famous Halifax Harbour the family traveled by train to Winnipeg where they began their life in Canada. Eventually the family decided to move to Toronto, but after stopping in Port Arthur on their way, they found the beauty and multicultural inclusion irresistible and decided to make Port Arthur their permanent home. Jake and his father quickly secured work at Port Arthur Shipbuilding and through the years he was proud to share stories about building the ship “Thunder Bay”.
In the early 1950’s, Jake met his wife Patricia and they began their life together raising 6 children. There were many snowy days when Dad would have to park the vehicle at the bottom of the big hill, and as a family we would walk the remaining ¼ mile to Papa and Mumu’s homestead at the “Bluffs” for our regular Saturday night sauna. Dad shared many stories and pictures and has ensured that while the history of the “Bluffs” may have faded in the memories of most locals, the fact that his parents settled and made their homestead up on the big hill will remain a strong part of our family history for years to come.
Dad found a strong connection with the Finnish community in the Bay and Algoma Streets area. He had a passion for soccer and was a proud member of the local Reipas Soccer Team, including when they won Gold at the 1962 Finnish-Canadian Championships in Toronto.
Eventually Dad and his father began their masonry business and would leave their mark throughout the city on the many basements and buildings they created, including when they put the basement under the family home on Velva Avenue where Dad proudly lived until just a few years ago.
Jake treasured the beauty of Northwestern Ontario, especially Lake Superior; it reminded him of his homeland in Estonia. Dad always had a boat, he began with a small skiff, and as his family grew so did the size of his pleasure crafts. Dad exposed us all to Lake Superior visiting the Welcome Islands every Summer and later the Flatlands, where his volleyball team ‘Sirks Jirks’ ruled the day. The stories of those days are endless, and we love him for having us (and our many friends) experience all that he taught us and the places he took us, which include Silver Islet, Isle Royal and more.
Dad was extremely proud when in 1973 he secured a position as an Operator with the City of Thunder Bay Transit. Three-piece suits were the uniform norm, and Dad took great pride in his appearance always wearing his smartly pressed uniform and his cap which was adorned with a Safe Driving pin for each of the 20 plus years that he drove. He retired in 1993 with a smile and an exemplary record.
Dad enjoyed a good Leafs game and supported Toronto FC and Thunder Bay Chill. He was a member of Amalgamated Transit Union, and the Thunder Bay Yacht Club for many years. As one who was never afraid to embrace technology, he quickly became a master at texting and use of his cell phone. Dad stayed up to date with the many happenings in the world and spoke with great concern about the ongoing pandemic and other world events which troubled him deeply.
Dad was a fiercely independent and proud man, living on his own at McKellar Place until just a week before his passing. His greatest attribute was his strength and determination to provide a great life for his family. Dad never let a visit or a phone call end without telling us he loved us. He saw and overcame many tragedies throughout his 90 years. We take great relief knowing he is now at rest after a job well done.
Surviving Jake are his 4 daughters, Wendy Glena (Doug) Karen Matson, Anne Sirkkunen and Jane Calnek (John), and his son Andre Sirkkunen (Brenda). He was blessed with 12 grandchildren Ann-Marie, Stephanie, Steven, Codi-Brianne, Ashley, Krista, Kelly, Jenna, Breanne, Adam, Jamie and Eric and 12 great grandchildren Jake, Mya, Kaitlyn, Joshua, Lukas, Jayden, Jordyn, Emery, Kiara, Keisha, Conor and Anna-Lise who love him dearly and thank him for all that he has taught them. He has inspired 3 generations of Domino players including his devoted son-in-law Doug Glena. His wit and humour will surely be missed.
He is also survived by his sister Maria (Jack), several nieces and nephews as well as his sister in-law Mary, and brother in-laws Mike and Tom.
Jake was predeceased by wife Patricia in 1977, eldest and wisest daughter Lisa in 2015, sister Impi in 2005, parents Olga 1964 and Antti 1992 and his beloved dog Max. When you live as long as Jake did you see many others go before you. He recognized this fact and spoke often about them all and the times he shared with them. While it was a great loss when his best friend Kurt Kangas passed, he left many interesting stories for us to remember him by.
We know Dad lived a very full life, he took great care of us, and always gave advice when sought. He loved to discuss or argue politics, policies and current affairs right up to his final days. Dad was our McGuiver and could fix anything.
Rest well Dad, you’ve earned it. We will love you always and we’ll carry on proudly because you were our rock.
Thank you to the staff at McKellar Place and the Regional Hospital, and a very special thank you to the Angels of St. Joseph’s Hospice for the warm, loving care shown to Dad and his daughters in his final day. Bless you!
Cremation has taken place and a graveside service will be held in Spring 2022.