It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of William Henry Heystee. He passed away peacefully, after a long and valiant struggle with cancer, at the Elisabeth Bruyere Hospital on Fri., Jan. 25, 2013. He was 85.
William was born in Hilversum on Aug. 8, 1927, to Wihelmina (nee van der Heijden) and Richardus Heijstee, and was the middle child in a family of seven children. Always the adventurer and looking for a place to escape from poor economic conditions of post-war Netherlands, William decided to immigrate to Canada. Canadian immigration officials found a sponsor, and he departed The Netherlands on June 13, 1951, at age 24, and with only $50 in his pocket. He traveled from Kortenhoef to the port of Rotterdam on a bus with his mother, sister, and fiancée. On the bus trip, he and his wife-to-be exchanged engagement rings, and made plans to marry in about one year’s time.
He arrived on June 24, 1951, at the port in Québec City aboard the old rickety troop ship, S.S. Volendam, and then traveled by train to Barry’s Bay via Montreal and Ottawa. He worked on the sponsor’s farm near Palmer Rapids, Ont. for about one year, and after fulfilling all obligations of the sponsorship, moved to Ottawa. During his time in Palmer Rapids, he was paid $1.50 per day or $45 per month. His fiancée, Cornelia Maria van Wijk, traveled from The Netherlands to join him in the fall of 1952, and they were married on Dec. 6, 1952, within 30 days of her arrival in Canada. After their marriage, they lived in Ottawa for a short while, then over a period of about 60 years, lived in Edwards, Ramseyville, Carlsbad Springs, and near Vernon.
Following about a decade of working on farms, William decided to switch careers and to work in the construction industry in the Ottawa-area. Over time, he developed his carpentry skills, and decided to start a small home renovation business. Through word-of-mouth referrals he successfully provided services to numerous clients in the Ottawa-area until retirement in his early 60’s.
In retirement, one of his main passions was music. He began singing at a young age in a Kortenhoef church choir under the direction of Jacob Hamel. Then, while in Canada, and after a singing hiatus, William sang in various choirs including the Osgoode Male Choir, Ottawa Carleton Male Choir, Ottawa Brahms Choir, Russell Male Choir, North Dundas Community Choir in Kemptville, Carleton University Choir, Valley Men with George Wallace, and the Dutch Treat Choir. On Dec. 7 the Dutch Treat Choir made a special performance for William and family while he was at Winchester District Memorial Hospital.
He was the loving husband to Cornelia (nee van Wijk) for 60 years. He was the dear father of Bill, Mary, and Richard (Audrey), and the proud grandfather of Mark, Chelsey, Bryan, Steven, and Ian. He is survived by his siblings, Wilhelmina, Hendrikus, and Richardus, and was predeceased by sisters, Maria, Jacoba, and Catharina.
A sincere thanks to the palliative care team at Elisabeth Bruyere that cared so wonderfully for him, and supported his family in his time of need. Thanks also to the staff at Winchester District Memorial Hospital and Russell Meadows Retirement Home for the care they provided.
A funeral mass will be held at St. John the Evangelist Church, 2546 Stagecoach Rd. in Enniskerry, on Sat., Feb. 2 at 11 am. There will be a reception following the mass. A private family inurnment will be performed at a later date.
As an expression of sympathy, and in lieu of flowers, donations to the Canadian Cancer Society would be appreciated.
The arrangements are entrusted to the Daley Family
Funeral Home in Metcalfe (613-821-2120).