KALESNIKOFF, JOHN WILLIAM (July 17, 1930 – June 1, 2021) was on this earth to become a son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, photographer, mentor, artist, videographer, musician and singer. We are blessed to have so much of dad’s work in photos and videos to remember his life and legacy.
Mourning his loss are John’s three children, Tamara Kalesnikoff and Steve Nemeth (Calgary), Blair Kalesnikoff and Taryl Franks-Kalesnikoff (Regina), Lisa Kalesnikoff and Peter Rhodes (Saskatoon), and their mother Marian Kalesnikoff (Saskatoon). John’s four grandchildren will also remember him dearly: Jordan Kalesnikoff (Saskatoon), Dryden Kalesnikoff (Edmonton), Davis Kalesnikoff (Regina), and Hanna Rhodes (Saskatoon). His siblings: Bill (Gayle) Kalesnikoff (Saskatoon), Alexander Kalesnikoff (Calgary), and Emily (Ned) Riben (Saskatoon), were all able to be with John, just before his passing. Numerous nieces, nephews, and their families also mourn John’s loss. John was predeceased by his beloved partner of over thirty years, Shirley Swanton, in February, 2018.
John was born July 17, 1930, first son of a proud Doukhobour family, to William and Tena (nee Perehudoff) Kalesnikoff of the Ospenia District south-east of Blaine Lake, SK. He and his siblings were raised on the farm, dedicated to hard work and love for family. Toil and peaceful life. John left school after Grade 8 to work on the family farm, but his talents for photography and music soon became apparent as he built his first film projector and learned to play the accordion, entertaining others at many weekend dances and social events. He married Marian Zbitnoff (1954), and after a short period of working for the Town of Blaine Lake, they moved to Rosetown, SK where he took a position with the Department of Highways. Years after Tamara and Blair were born, John moved his family to Kindersley, SK, eventually establishing one of three successful photography studios, Kal’s Photography. It is during this time that Lisa was born, the family spent summers up at the cabin near Cochin, and John worked tirelessly photographing weddings, graduations, family portraits and, eventually, school photos. John expanded Kal’s Photography to North Battleford, SK and Kelowna, BC, deciding later in his career to pass his business on to his son, Blair to become Territory Manager of Saskatchewan West for Jostens, Canada and to expand his school photography business. During this time, he met Shirely Swanton of North Battleford and they immediately became inseparable. After retirement, John began to pursue his real interests with Shirley such as taking the trailer to tour Alaska and many southern United States. They took the boat for camping and fishing up north to Beauval and Jan Lake. Dad was so happy during these times. He and Shirley eventually settled in and became a part of the community of Meota, SK.
John inherited his musical talents from his parents Tena and Bill, both proud members of the Blaine Lake Doukhobour Choir. Anyone who spent time with John either up at a lake campfire or at a family gathering will remember the magical way his fingers brought the accordion to life. He learned and played every song by ear — Russian polka dance music, 70s folk music and Christmas carols. John and Shirley volunteered many years with the Meota Band, bringing joy to the community and to people in the regional care homes. John loved to sing. His passionate performance of “The Gambler” is a most memorable song moment for all who heard it. John was an avid fan at Craven, particularly enjoying the music of Don Williams with family and friends. He was proud to stand with various Doukhobour choirs, adding tone, depth, and bravado to the songs. Even though many of this generation could not understand the Russian language, he helped us to feel the power of the hymns and prayers within the music.
In every photo or video, there is a subject, a lens, and the person who captures the moment. John Kalesnikoff was the photographic lens to thousands of people’s lives throughout Saskatchewan and across Canada. His fingerprint is on generations of family memories, captured by John’s keen and artistic eye for detail. His photographs hang in people’s homes and his videos document many historical moments for the town of Blaine Lake, on travels he took, and, most recently, the lives of all of his grandchildren and their activities. In retirement, John’s greatest pleasure was dressing in camouflage, sitting in the bushes around Meota with his video and still cameras, and filming the wildlife of the area. He was so proud of his edited videos put to music, selling them and donating proceeds to the local church. He wanted the people of Meota to see the area as he saw it, through his lens of tranquility and nature’s endeavor for survival.
John’s family would like to extend their deepest appreciation to the staff of The Franklin in Saskatoon for their care and compassion in making John’s last months comfortable and safe. A heartfelt thank you is also extended to the doctors and nurses at Battleford Union Hospital palliative care unit, for treating John with such dignity, care, and understanding in his final days.
A Celebration of Life will be held in John’s honour at the end of June. Due to COVID restrictions, attendance is limited and will be by invitation only. A live stream of the service will be available. Please contact Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org for the link to the viewing. In lieu of flowers, John’s family kindly ask that you consider making a donation to the Heart and Stroke Foundation 1738 Quebec Ave #26, Saskatoon, SK S7K 1V9 or Canadian Cancer Society 1910 McIntyre St, Regina, SK S4P 2R3.
Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Trevor Watts of Eternal Memories Funeral Service & Crematorium (306) 445-7570
To send flowers to John’s family, please visit our floral store.
Nos plus sincères sympathies à la famille et aux amis de John William Kalesnikoff 1930 2021 (age 90)..
Décès pour la Ville: North Battleford, Province: Saskatchewan