One of Campbell River’s most celebrated veterans is being remembered this week.
Carl Kolonsky passed away Nov. 22 at the age of 96 at the Campbell River Hospital. He is survived by his sons Don and Darryl Kolonsky and their families as well as grandchildren Oriana and Markian and many nieces and nephews. He was pre-deceased by his wife of 53 years, Elsie, in 2000.
Kolonsky was known for his fighting spirit exemplified by his service in World War II for which he was decorated, and for his willingness to take on bureaucracy.
When the City of Campbell River failed to act on his complaints about noise bylaw violations from a scrap metal operation near his home, he stormed City Hall armed with an air horn in each hand.
Kolonsky was born in Garson, Ontario on March 18, 1925 , the youngest in a family of five children. His parents were born in Horedenka of Ukrainian heritage which was under Polish rule at the time.
At the age of 19, Kolonsky served his country in WWII, being sent to Europe where he took part in Operation Market Garden, the big push to try to cross the major transportation bridge into the city of Arnhem, Holland, his son Don says in a memoriam to be published in the Mirror.
“He pushed past his strong belief as a Christian ‘Thou shalt not kill’ and served with honour,” Don says. “His nightmares and stories reminded his family of his sacrifice.”
The elder Kolonsky was honoured for his part in the Liberation of Holland. He was nominated by the Dutch and by Veterans Affairs Canada to travel to Holland for two previous anniversary commemorations but was unable to attend either. He was looking forward to attending a grand celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Liberation in May 2020 as a special guest of the Dutch but plans were canceled when the pandemic hit.
“Dad was extremely disappointed, and vowed to return to these special people before he died,” Don said.
Don says the family will travel to Holland on his father’s behalf when it is safe.
In June of 2020, Carl was a patient at the Campbell River Hospital after a fall, when the Government of Canada issued him a Certificate of Recognition “as a tribute to your selfless acts of service and sacrifice during the Second World War, in defence of Canada and our shared values of freedom, democracy and the rule of law.”
Carl met his wife Elsie Mokomela in Port Arthur, Ontario and they were married May 17, 1947. After setting up life in Ontario, they relocated to Campbell River in 1965 following a coastal building boom and the milder weather.
For an outdoor enthusiast, moving to Campbell River “was a dream” allowing him to fish in salt water and fresh and spending summers camped on Upper Campbell Lake.
The Kolonskys lived for 52 years on rural acreage outside of town and, in fact, Kolonsky’s generous donation established a permanent 33-acre park by McIvor Lake for the people of Campbell River. It is presently the Campbell River Equestrian Center.
A Last Post Poppy Ceremony and Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.