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General News · 28th May 2017
Emilie Hansen
Gunnar was born in Tversted Denmark October 6, 1931. He died a medically assisted death (M.A.I.D.) at his home on Cortes May 25,2017 surrounded by his loving family and friends.

Gunnar came to Cortes in 1961 with his young family having bought a ship yard in Squirrel Cove with Finn Jensen. He moved on to working in Teakerne Arm for Macmillan Bloedel as the shop foreman for seven years. In 1971 he bought a sawmill together with Bruce Ellingsen and they milled lumber under the company name Sea Sawmills. They graduated from milling lumber to constructing houses. Together they built upwards of 15 homes on Cortes. Around 1986 their interests diverged and Gunnar moved on to building kitchens which was what he continued to do until he "gradually" retired in the early nineties. After he retired his wife Emilie started the Blue Heron bed and breakfast and Gunnar's role was to entertain the guests while Emilie prepared the breakfast. This he did by recounting many of the stories about island life before hydro and the ferry arrived.

Gunnar also had a more unorthodox occupation. He witched wells for people. Many, many of the wells on Cortes were a result of Gunnar's efforts at water witching. His fee was fifty dollars or a bottle of scotch. He rarely needed to buy his own scotch.

He was a resourceful man who trained as a machinist. He was able to fix almost anything.....after a fashion (except computers). These skills were a good match for the requirements of island life. He was a giving, loving, humorous and generous person and he felt we should leave the world a better place than we found it. He will always be in our thoughts.

There will be a celebration of his life at a later date.

New Year tradition
Comment by Bobo Fraser on 31st May 2017
Being of Scottish extraction New Year is a big deal with me. Also you would a long time to find anybody as fond of real Sauna as me and the combination of both was a big highlight of my year on this funny little island--the sauna best I've ever seen, the sea, the herring, the bread and the water of life. Rapture. Thank you Gunnar. You are missed and I toast your memory with a dram of my own water of life. Slainte to all your family and friends.
Saunas, Pickled Herring & Akvavit
Comment by John Sprungman on 28th May 2017
I was fortunate soon after Sherry and I came to live on Cortes in 1971 to have the opportunity to build fireplaces in a number of houses Bruce and Gunnar constructed. The best moments of those work days were the coffee breaks and lunch time when we would talk about life on the island. Gunnar would be puffing on a pipe, calmly and wryly reflecting on what was happening in the community. When Manson's Hall was rebuilt in 1978-80 and expanded to include the play school where Emilie was the teacher, Gunnar donated his tools, skills and many days to build the cabinetry and furniture for the pre-schoolers. On the weekends, our families often got together at Gunnar and Emilie's to get hot in the sauna he built by the beach and take a dip into the chilly sea, followed by pickled herring and akvavit (the Danish spelling). I raise a glass to you, Gunnar. A fine, good-hearted man.
Gunner, a water magician
Comment by Yvonne Kipp on 28th May 2017
Gunnar witched my well in the Eighties. I was thrilled that people still witched in the Twentieth Century . He was a warm and merry human being who clearly communicated with other world spirits through his work and how he was in life.
A Foundation Elder who will be missed. Best wishes and condolences to his beloved wife Emilia, and Family. Receive the love and blessings of your community.

Will be missed
Comment by Ole Steen on 28th May 2017
So sad to hear that my old uncle has left.
He was really a man worth knowing.
I think back on 2008 when me and my family visited you both in your wonderful home, and how passionated Gunnar was, for making the world a better place to be.
We all here in Fredericia send the best wishes to you all in the family.
Some memories
Comment by Bonnie MacDonald on 27th May 2017
I first met Gunnar when we asked him to inspect the 70 year old house on the corner of Cemetary Road. He crawled where no man had crawled before and declared it good for another 100 years. So we bought it and so it still stands. Later, he designed and built the most efficient kitchen I have ever cooked in. He witched our deep well and taught me how to witch for water.
But one of my fondest memories is of the boiling hot / freezing cold/boiling hot New Year's day gatherings in Gunnar and Emilie's sauna by the beach. Such a man will not be forgotten and is a life to celebrate.
A lovely fellow
Comment by Mike Moore on 27th May 2017
Gunnar's quick yet quiet wit and pickled salmon will be missed at the local dinner parties and gatherings! He was a kind friend. Big hugs to you Emilie.
GUNNAR
Comment by gailringwood on 27th May 2017
So sad to hear about Gunnar going --he was a lovely guy-talented , fair, generous , and a wonderful part of the Cortes community all best wishes of support and love to the family and to Emilie
Gail Ringwood