Ernest Walter Otto
Born June 21, 1909 in Winnipeg, Manitoba;
Died December 24, 2005 at Third Crossing Manor, Gladstone, Manitoba
Ernest Walter Otto was born in Winnipeg, the 2nd eldest child of 11 children born to Henry and Mary (Adolph) Otto.Four generations of the Otto family came to the Pembroke district, north of Gladstone, in 1917.Walt was 8 years old and remembered well having to get up the next morning and pick stones in 10 pound syrup pails.Walt’s first three years of schooling were in Winnipeg.He then attended Pembroke School until age 13 when he graduated Grade 8.At 14, he went to work for J.K. MacLennan on his dairy farm located in the town of Gladstone.The pay was $15.00 a month including room and board.He also worked with his father cutting wood in the Mekiwin district and hauling it home as there was a shortage of firewood on the Otto property.At 16, he ventured out on his own and moved to Winnipeg where he worked for the Winnipeg Electric Co.The starting wage was 34.5 cents an hour, 6 days a week.He was soon making 52.5 cents an hour and getting rich quickly, but he was very homesick, so in 1929 he came back to the farm.In 1929, he and Percy Carefoot and Eric Chandler went out to Saskatchewan to look for work. They came back to Gladstone the following year after a rainy fall and early snowfall put an end to any hopes of a harvest.Things got pretty bad for farmers in Saskatchewan in the 30’s.Due to the drought, there were no crops and pasture for cattle became non-existent.One farmer, by the name of Martin Howe, brought his cattle to Ogilvie to wait out the drought.Three of his daughters came to visit one year and that is when Walt met Mabel.Their courtship carried on for about 10 years while Mabel pursued her teaching career and they finally married on June 28, 1947 in Regina.Their marriage resulted in the birth of 4 children, Ken, Tom, Valerie and Gary.Walt and Mabel survived many tough farming years, supplementing the family income with selling cream and eggs and butchering chickens.As the children grew older, Mabel went back to teaching and Walt became an accomplished cook. Eventually, Ken and Tom took over the farming operation and Walt and Mabel retired to the town of Gladstone in 1985.Walt and Mabel loved to travel and they made many trips across Canada, visiting family.They also made trips to Scotland, toured continental Europe and enjoyed a cruise through the Panama Canal. The Ottos were famous for their large family gatherings as both Walt and Mabel came from big families. Walt loved these family times and even at 96 years of age, he enjoyed the last Otto Family Reunion held July of 2005.Walt was devastated when Mabel started showing the signs of Alzheimer’s disease and was eventually admitted to Third Crossing Manor in Gladstone in 2000.He had tried his best to care for her in their own home and after her admission to the care home, he visited daily.Even after his own admission to the care home, he took it upon himself to look out for her and you would often find them sitting together in the lounge holding hands.His marriage vows were taken very seriously and Mabel became his whole life.
Walt was always interested in local sports clubs. He joined the Gladstone Golf Club in the 1930’s when the course was at the intersection of Hwy. 16 and Morris St.He helped to get the new course on Hwy 34 ready, working on the grounds and cutting through thistles 6 feet high.He joined the Curling Club in 1931 when the membership fee was $3.00 a season.For 2 years he helped flood the ice, which was an all-day affair involving loads of water hauled from the river with a few hours in between loads to allow for freezing.The ice-maker at the time was Fred Mowat.When he was the President of the Curling Club, a cistern was built so the flooding process wouldn’t be so difficult.It was built with volunteer labour by fellow curlers, Milt Younger, Davey Smith, Stewart Broadfoot and Dan Bergson.He was also active in the Hardball League as a left-handed pitcher in the years leading up to the Second World War.
Walt was very well read and there was nothing he enjoyed more that a good argument.He always maintained that he never meant to marry and have children, but the accomplishments of his children and grandchildren have been a source of great joy for him.He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Mabel (Howe), his sons Ken (Linda) and Tom (Verna) of Gladstone, daughter Valerie Ford (Daryl) of Glenboro and son Gary (Wendee) of Calgary, AB., grandchildren Keith and Karen Otto; Jason (Deanna), Julie Rempel (Kevin), Philip, and Kelly Otto; Glen and Chris Ford (fiancé Robin); and Emalee Otto, step-grandchildren Joelle Freeborn, Jason Cooper (Lina), Dan and Adam Rosa, and 8 great grandchildren.He is also survived by his one remaining brother Bob (Fran) of Pinawa, MB, his sisters-in-law Madge Otto of Dawson Creek, BC, Marg Otto of Gladstone, and Helen Otto of Drumheller, AB.Also survived by Mabel’s family,Shirley Nagel, Evelyn Howe and Del Howe of Regina, SK., Jim and Anne Howe of Assiniboia, SK, John Howe of Nanaimo, BC, Barb Howe of Lethbridge, AB, Bill and Barb Howe of Glentworth, SK. and Sylvester Mowat of Gladstone.There are numerous nieces and nephews who thought the world of their Uncle Walt, as he did them.He was predeceased by his siblings; Lydia in 1909, Oscar in 1988, Frieda in August 2005, Dorothy in 2002, Carl and Art in 1995, Fred in 1982, Albert in 2004 and Audrey in 1938.
The funeral will be held on Friday, December 30, 2005 at the Gladstone United Church with Rev. Peggy Reid officiating.Interment will be in the Gladstone Cemetery.If friends so desire, donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Society in Walt’s memory.