Alfred Peter Ginn was born a pioneer, Oct. 15, 1914, apparently the first non-native born in Iroquois Falls, Ontario, then at the very fringe of western civilization. Before he was two, he and his family survived the Great Matheson Fire by wading in the Black River.
Peter grew up mostly in Swastika, Ontario, where his father was the Mining Recorder for Kirkland Lake in that town’s boom years. He was educated at Upper Canada College and later Queen’s University, where he earned a degree in Geological Engineering in 1939.
In the 1940s he explored the wilds of northern Ontario, western Canada and Labrador looking for gold and other valuable metals and minerals. He made many profitable investments, but the best might have been the lifetime subscription to Reader’s Digest that he bought to keep him entertained in the bush. That $35 subscription reaped dividends for more than 60 years.
During this time Peter was based in Kirkland Lake, where he met Anne Constantine. The couple were married in 1948, in her home town of Kingston.
Peter loved the north and spent most of his life there, including six full decades in Matheson. Summers were spent between Carruthers Point in Kingston and his cottage on Kenogami Lake southeast of Matheson. His work spanned multiple careers including geologist, hardware store owner, laundromat owner, real estate agent, math teacher, and prospector. He was also an active Rotarian for many years.
The last three years of his life, Peter lived in Kingston. He passed away April 2 at his home in Kingston. He was 96. He leaves behind his loving wife, Anne, four children, six grandchildren, and four great grandsons, including one just three days old. His first great granddaughter is expected in May.
He was a pioneer and explorer. An eternal improviser, cribbage fiend, imperfect dish washer, creative wine maker, optimist, and sweet tooth. A dog lover, a kid lover. But most of all, the kindest man you could ever meet. My role model. We’ll miss you, Granddad.
In 2007, shortly before they moved to Kingston, I recorded some slices of life with Nanny & Granddad at their home in Matheson. Here are some very rough, quickly edited selections from that work:
Part 1, tea time, including some history of 489 Seventh Ave. (6:18):
Part 2, highlights from a cribbage game, Granddad vs. me (13:09):
Part 3, Granddad talks a bit about his early years, including the story of a train ride from Swastika to North Bay (7:17):