Anthony “Tony” Baschak passed away peacefully on February 23, 2019 in his 97th year. Tony is predeceased by his loving wife Anne (nee Kafara) and his six brothers and six sisters. Tony and Anne married in Dauphin, Manitoba on April 11, 1953 and shared a life together for nearly 61 years. They were on the family farm for seven years before moving to Pine River in 1960 where Tony became the Postmaster.
Tony will be lovingly remembered by his son Lawrence, daughter-in-law Ingrid and grandchildren Katherine and James. He will be dearly missed by numerous extended family and dear friends in his home town and beyond.
Anthony Ferdinant Baschak was born on July 18, 1921 on a farm near Pine River Manitoba, the seventh of thirteen children of Nicholas and Petronella (nee Gniazdoski). After Nicholas died in 1933 at the age of 52, it was hard times for mother and family. They all pitched in with the work on the farm and each of the boys came of age cutting cordwood, trapping, and clearing bush. Tony has shared many great stories of riding the rails to Saskatchewan at harvest time to bring in money for the family’s groceries and clothing. Even though life was hard, adventures lay ahead for Tony. At age 15, he bought his first motorcycle - a used Harley Davidson - from a newspaper advertisement.
Tony joined the 15th Field Regiment of the Royal Canadian Artillery (4th Armoured Division, First Canadian Army) in Winnipeg January 1941. Following basic training in Winnipeg, Shilo and Debert, Nova Scotia, he embarked overseas in July 1942 on the SS Cameronia that docked at Glasgow Scotland where he received additional artillery training in England and Wales. His Regiment sailed to France in July 1944, moved through Caen and Falaise, Normandy followed by Belgium, Holland and, finally, in April 1945 crossed the Rhine into Germany. He returned to Canada in October and received his honorable discharge in December 1945.
Later in life, Tony experienced a very fulfilling and emotional return to Holland for the “Thank You Canada” tour to commemorate and celebrate the 45th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands. The outpouring of gratitude from multi-generations of Dutch people and his host family from the community of Aalten was quite overwhelming. He returned two more times for the 50th and 60th anniversary events.
Tony had a passion for trying new things. His love of music began with the violin at age 13 by secretly playing his father’s violin when no one was around. After the war, he was a founding member of the Sunset Rhythm Ramblers band where he was persuaded to learn how to play the upright bass. From 1948 to 1952, they played for many weddings and dances from Birch River to Dauphin. Tony (Smokey) Caruk played guitar and sang; his cousin Joe (Gabby) Caruk played the violin; another Tony (Marshall) Caruk played the accordion; Phil (Duke) Baschak played the sax; and Tony (Lucky) Baschak played the upright bass fiddle. In the 60’s, Tony revived the band as the fiddler with new musicians. Besides playing at local dances and weddings the band won a trophy at the Dauphin CKDM radio station Talent Night.
Other interests included farming the home quarter (with a focus on sustainable practices), carpentry, commercial sign painting, hunting and fishing. Another story often shared was buying an army surplus Bren Gun Carrier in 1946 to use as the farm’s first tractor. Tony and his brother Joe also used it for a lengthy trapping and hunting trip in the Porcupine Mountains on the north side of the Swan River Valley. In 1974, he returned to his love of riding a Harley Davidson and at age 55 learned how to fly a plane.
For many years we have enjoyed his captivating stories. He had a great sense of humour and a love for life that inspired his family, friends and all those who met him. His motto was - with determination; you can accomplish anything.
Tony’s family would like to thank the doctor, nurses and support staff at the Veterans Unit, Wascana Rehabilitation Center in Regina and the home care staff in Pine River for all their wonderful care.
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