Sara Maria Haukioja survived grim conditions in Finland and northern Ontario before creating a beautiful life for her family

Sara Maria Haukioja may have been a quiet person, but her warmth and strength spoke volumes.The mother of three immigrated from Finland to northern Ontario in 1951 to reunite with her husband, who had secured a job and housing. What started off as a tough time in Canada’s harsh lumber camps eventually turned into a beautiful, fulfilling life. “She wanted a better future for her children because she came from quite a poor background. She went through war,” says her daughter Olivia Lee, who recalls their first home resembling a trapper’s camp with no finished floors. “She couldn’t put us down because we’d get splinters.”Despite the difficult early years, Haukioja went on to be a dedicated homemaker, often baking delicacies from Finland. Her son, Ari Haukioja, says her food was an integral part of his life, woven into his childhood memories, and later, into his own family’s. “She would always make these things called Karelian piirakoita (rice porridge pastries),” he says. “It’s a special treat.” Sara’s eldest daughter, Tuula Haukioja, recalls her mother reminiscing about her childhood, a mixture of happy and challenging times. “She was a storyteller,” says Tuula. “She loved the place where she grew up” — on the shores of Lake Ladoga, now part of Russia.When Sara was nine, tragedy struck. She had gone outside to take a break from baking, and when she turned around, she saw her house in flames. “She ran in and grabbed her baby brother and got out of there,” says Tuula. “Her brand new shoes were left behind. Her mother was going to run in and get them, but fortunately decided not to.”Then in 1940, the Moscow Peace Treaty was signed and a ceasefire took place between what is now Russia and Finland. The Soviets took over the territory where Haukioja had grown up, displacing around 400,000 Finns. “They had to be evacuated into the western part of Finland,” Tuula says. “Her father, at that time, was off with the war. He wasn’t there to help. It was her mother and the neighbours.”Sara went back to her home country to visit with Tuula around five years ago. As a young woman, Sara told her daughter, she had a lot of fun dancing, which is what she mainly did during her courtship with her future husband. “They had friends who were coming to what the Finlanders always said was ‘America.’ It didn’t necessarily mean the U.S.A.,” says Lee, explaining how they ended up in Canada. “They said to my dad, ‘Why don’t you come?’ He said to my mother — he didn’t ask — ‘We’re going to America.’ ” When Sara arrived in 1951, she was pregnant and had two young children in tow. It was already getting cold in northern Ontario. Inside her new home — a shack, as Tuula describes it — an oil barrel had been fashioned into a stove. “That was her introduction to Canada,” says Tuula. “My father had written to say he’d built a home for her, so I guess her expectations were of something else. She apparently cried for two days straight. The other women came and said, ‘O.K., Sara, that’s enough. You have to just get on with it.’ And she did.”Over time, their circumstances improved, and they eventually moved to Timmins, Ontario. Sara was quiet and shy, but always had practical advice. She was committed to her family and was interested in politics, history, and health. In her later years, she played golf. She went on long walks and enjoyed taking a sauna. She had a strong command of English and was completely self-taught, learning from television, reading and her children. Sara made her children’s education a priority, but growing up, Tuula saw herself and her mother as opposites. Sara was a homemaker, while Tuula was an academic. It was only in later years, that Tuula came to appreciate the value of what her mother did. “She was my greatest teacher,” she says, “but not in a conventional sense, because she didn’t teach me how to do all those homemaker things that she did. She just taught me to get into my books and study.”What still resonates with Sara’s family was her quiet strength. “She was not a fighter. She was not fiery. She wouldn’t argue with you,” says Tuula. “Almost in retrospect, you’d realize, ‘She gets us to do what we need to do.’ ”Sara Haukioja is survived by her children Tuula, Ari and Olivia Lee; grandchildren Sara Stewart, Jessica McCarthy, Keri Howard, Erin Lee, Matthew Haukioja, Olivia Jones and Luke Haukioja; great-grandchildren Logan McCarthy, Meekah Howard, Aanna Stewart, Kaisa Howard, and Harper Jones.

Sara Maria Haukioja survived grim conditions in Finland and northern Ontario before creating a beautiful life for her family

Sara Maria Haukioja may have been a quiet person, but her warmth and strength spoke volumes.

The mother of three immigrated from Finland to northern Ontario in 1951 to reunite with her husband, who had secured a job and housing. What started off as a tough time in Canada’s harsh lumber camps eventually turned into a beautiful, fulfilling life.

“She wanted a better future for her children because she came from quite a poor background. She went through war,” says her daughter Olivia Lee, who recalls their first home resembling a trapper’s camp with no finished floors. “She couldn’t put us down because we’d get splinters.”

Despite the difficult early years, Haukioja went on to be a dedicated homemaker, often baking delicacies from Finland. Her son, Ari Haukioja, says her food was an integral part of his life, woven into his childhood memories, and later, into his own family’s. “She would always make these things called Karelian piirakoita (rice porridge pastries),” he says. “It’s a special treat.”

Sara’s eldest daughter, Tuula Haukioja, recalls her mother reminiscing about her childhood, a mixture of happy and challenging times. “She was a storyteller,” says Tuula. “She loved the place where she grew up” — on the shores of Lake Ladoga, now part of Russia.

When Sara was nine, tragedy struck. She had gone outside to take a break from baking, and when she turned around, she saw her house in flames. “She ran in and grabbed her baby brother and got out of there,” says Tuula. “Her brand new shoes were left behind. Her mother was going to run in and get them, but fortunately decided not to.”

Then in 1940, the Moscow Peace Treaty was signed and a ceasefire took place between what is now Russia and Finland. The Soviets took over the territory where Haukioja had grown up, displacing around 400,000 Finns. “They had to be evacuated into the western part of Finland,” Tuula says. “Her father, at that time, was off with the war. He wasn’t there to help. It was her mother and the neighbours.”

Sara went back to her home country to visit with Tuula around five years ago. As a young woman, Sara told her daughter, she had a lot of fun dancing, which is what she mainly did during her courtship with her future husband.

“They had friends who were coming to what the Finlanders always said was ‘America.’ It didn’t necessarily mean the U.S.A.,” says Lee, explaining how they ended up in Canada. “They said to my dad, ‘Why don’t you come?’ He said to my mother — he didn’t ask — ‘We’re going to America.’ ”

When Sara arrived in 1951, she was pregnant and had two young children in tow. It was already getting cold in northern Ontario. Inside her new home — a shack, as Tuula describes it — an oil barrel had been fashioned into a stove. “That was her introduction to Canada,” says Tuula. “My father had written to say he’d built a home for her, so I guess her expectations were of something else. She apparently cried for two days straight. The other women came and said, ‘O.K., Sara, that’s enough. You have to just get on with it.’ And she did.”

Over time, their circumstances improved, and they eventually moved to Timmins, Ontario. Sara was quiet and shy, but always had practical advice. She was committed to her family and was interested in politics, history, and health. In her later years, she played golf. She went on long walks and enjoyed taking a sauna. She had a strong command of English and was completely self-taught, learning from television, reading and her children.

Sara made her children’s education a priority, but growing up, Tuula saw herself and her mother as opposites. Sara was a homemaker, while Tuula was an academic. It was only in later years, that Tuula came to appreciate the value of what her mother did. “She was my greatest teacher,” she says, “but not in a conventional sense, because she didn’t teach me how to do all those homemaker things that she did. She just taught me to get into my books and study.”

What still resonates with Sara’s family was her quiet strength. “She was not a fighter. She was not fiery. She wouldn’t argue with you,” says Tuula. “Almost in retrospect, you’d realize, ‘She gets us to do what we need to do.’ ”

Sara Haukioja is survived by her children Tuula, Ari and Olivia Lee; grandchildren Sara Stewart, Jessica McCarthy, Keri Howard, Erin Lee, Matthew Haukioja, Olivia Jones and Luke Haukioja; great-grandchildren Logan McCarthy, Meekah Howard, Aanna Stewart, Kaisa Howard, and Harper Jones.

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Rosie DiManno: Have we seen Jennifer Abel’s last dive? Canadian slips to eighth in 3-metre springboard at Tokyo Olympics

TOKYO —Ere was I ere I saw Abel.Jennifer Abel. And, as diving honcho Mitch Geller poignantly observed of Canada’s long-time diving divinity, ’round about 4:30 p.m. Sunday: “I believe that we just saw her last dive.’’Maybe off a cottage dock or local pool in Montreal, the three-metre springboard virtuoso will, on occasion, continue to awe spectators — family, friends and kids on the block — with her diving mastery. Or just cannonball it after a near lifetime of pursuing perfectionism, as an individual and synchro crème de la crème competitor, where every muscle twitch and misplaced toe can make a points difference.Abel won’t suddenly forget how to do a forward 2 ½ somersaults with two twists in the pike position. Maybe will even bang off the complicated contortion with the greatest of ease and ne plus ultra because nobody’s watching. Which is what elite athletes are all the time wailing after a bobble and a botch in front of judges: “But I’ve been training it so well …’’If this was Abel’s swan song, stamp it with a patina of remembrance and retrospection. “Unless I hear different, she finished her career with a double twisting 2 ½ and it’s a big dive,’’ commended Geller. “There’s not that many women in the world doing it.’’Last of Abel’s five dives, that whip-around manoeuvre, all corked arms and hand to the head as the neck strains and legs jackknifed to the chest and feet pointed taut and palms cracking the surface of the water. A dive with a 3.4 degree of difficulty; no woman in the final tried anything harder and only one matched it.But, at 61.20, there must have been details not visible to the untrained eye because Abel wasn’t plentifully rewarded, just a better than average score and total points of 297.45, where gold for China’s Shi Tingmao came off a gobsmacking 383.50 performance.And still, emerging from the pool after exhaling a feather of bubbles, Abel smiled widely and blew kisses to … well, the imaginary fans.“There’s a mix of emotions. There’s more happiness and satisfaction than sadness.’’Because, though finishing eighth when she had been sitting third, it was a moment to reflect upon a career and contemplate a life.“Yes, it is,’’ the 29-year-old agreed. “Because I remember four years ago, I was sort of ashamed of my fourth place. And now I finished eighth.’’She laughed at the absurdity of it.“If I’d been eighth four years ago’’ — she means five years ago, Rio — “I would have been even harder on myself.’’ As it was, it would take a year to recover from the disappointment of no medal for Abel last time, in neither individual nor synchro, many months of ‘’dark thoughts,’’ convinced she’d lost her passion for the sport; couldn’t find it until the 2017 world championships rolled around.“When you’re able to see the whole picture, your whole career …’’ she started to say on Sunday. “…that was my fourth Olympic Games, that was my third Olympic finals. The first, I missed (finals) when I was 16 by one place. So when you look at the bigger picture, everybody would dream to be here, everybody would love to have a medal opportunity, or just being able to finish with a smile even though I missed, and I think that’s the beauty of sport.’The 29-year-old is coming home from Tokyo with Olympic bling, of course — silver, earned with partner Melissa Citrini-Beaulieu in synchro three-metre springboard. Copped bronze in that event with former partner Emilie Heymans in London, 2012. She’d made no secret, however, of her yearning for an individual medal.Not to be. As that Olympic ideation of a medal and a podium is not to be for nearly every athlete who came to Tokyo, whether as a favourite or on a wing and a prayer.Abel, though, had reason to like her medalling chances, in third place coming out of the semifinal, bettered only by a brace of Chinese women who never lose and hardly ever screw up.But Abel, following a strong second dive, forward 3 ½ somersaults, score of 69.75, her highest on the afternoon, had a disastrous third round, scoring a mere 39.00 on the reverse 2 ½ somersaults, a dive that historically been her nemesis. And she’d appeared to have solved it.“It was almost too technically correct, coming off the board,’’ explained Geller. “She had a very good takeoff. The problem is, she doesn’t get a good takeoff consistently (on that dive). She’s usually working on some corrections as she goes where she’s more comfortable. So when she took with what we would consider almost ideal circumstances, she just wasn’t prepared for the timing of the whole thing.’’A baffling inside-out conundrum, we must say.“She doesn’t get enough reps with that kind of quality,’’ Geller continued. Never recovered from that dive, which dropped Abel from third to ninth. “That made the difference. It sort of changed the whole dynamic for her.’’Thing is, the Chinese weren’t actually that otherworldly dominant on this day. At least Wang Han, some 35 points off her compatriot’s pace for silver, with Krysta Palmer of the U.S. rising for

Rosie DiManno: Have we seen Jennifer Abel’s last dive? Canadian slips to eighth in 3-metre springboard at Tokyo Olympics

TOKYO —Ere was I ere I saw Abel.

Jennifer Abel. And, as diving honcho Mitch Geller poignantly observed of Canada’s long-time diving divinity, ’round about 4:30 p.m. Sunday: “I believe that we just saw her last dive.’’

Maybe off a cottage dock or local pool in Montreal, the three-metre springboard virtuoso will, on occasion, continue to awe spectators — family, friends and kids on the block — with her diving mastery. Or just cannonball it after a near lifetime of pursuing perfectionism, as an individual and synchro crème de la crème competitor, where every muscle twitch and misplaced toe can make a points difference.

Abel won’t suddenly forget how to do a forward 2 ½ somersaults with two twists in the pike position. Maybe will even bang off the complicated contortion with the greatest of ease and ne plus ultra because nobody’s watching. Which is what elite athletes are all the time wailing after a bobble and a botch in front of judges: “But I’ve been training it so well …’’

If this was Abel’s swan song, stamp it with a patina of remembrance and retrospection.

“Unless I hear different, she finished her career with a double twisting 2 ½ and it’s a big dive,’’ commended Geller. “There’s not that many women in the world doing it.’’

Last of Abel’s five dives, that whip-around manoeuvre, all corked arms and hand to the head as the neck strains and legs jackknifed to the chest and feet pointed taut and palms cracking the surface of the water. A dive with a 3.4 degree of difficulty; no woman in the final tried anything harder and only one matched it.

But, at 61.20, there must have been details not visible to the untrained eye because Abel wasn’t plentifully rewarded, just a better than average score and total points of 297.45, where gold for China’s Shi Tingmao came off a gobsmacking 383.50 performance.

And still, emerging from the pool after exhaling a feather of bubbles, Abel smiled widely and blew kisses to … well, the imaginary fans.

“There’s a mix of emotions. There’s more happiness and satisfaction than sadness.’’

Because, though finishing eighth when she had been sitting third, it was a moment to reflect upon a career and contemplate a life.

“Yes, it is,’’ the 29-year-old agreed. “Because I remember four years ago, I was sort of ashamed of my fourth place. And now I finished eighth.’’

She laughed at the absurdity of it.

“If I’d been eighth four years ago’’ — she means five years ago, Rio — “I would have been even harder on myself.’’ As it was, it would take a year to recover from the disappointment of no medal for Abel last time, in neither individual nor synchro, many months of ‘’dark thoughts,’’ convinced she’d lost her passion for the sport; couldn’t find it until the 2017 world championships rolled around.

“When you’re able to see the whole picture, your whole career …’’ she started to say on Sunday. “…that was my fourth Olympic Games, that was my third Olympic finals. The first, I missed (finals) when I was 16 by one place. So when you look at the bigger picture, everybody would dream to be here, everybody would love to have a medal opportunity, or just being able to finish with a smile even though I missed, and I think that’s the beauty of sport.’

The 29-year-old is coming home from Tokyo with Olympic bling, of course — silver, earned with partner Melissa Citrini-Beaulieu in synchro three-metre springboard. Copped bronze in that event with former partner Emilie Heymans in London, 2012. She’d made no secret, however, of her yearning for an individual medal.

Not to be. As that Olympic ideation of a medal and a podium is not to be for nearly every athlete who came to Tokyo, whether as a favourite or on a wing and a prayer.

Abel, though, had reason to like her medalling chances, in third place coming out of the semifinal, bettered only by a brace of Chinese women who never lose and hardly ever screw up.

But Abel, following a strong second dive, forward 3 ½ somersaults, score of 69.75, her highest on the afternoon, had a disastrous third round, scoring a mere 39.00 on the reverse 2 ½ somersaults, a dive that historically been her nemesis. And she’d appeared to have solved it.

“It was almost too technically correct, coming off the board,’’ explained Geller. “She had a very good takeoff. The problem is, she doesn’t get a good takeoff consistently (on that dive). She’s usually working on some corrections as she goes where she’s more comfortable. So when she took with what we would consider almost ideal circumstances, she just wasn’t prepared for the timing of the whole thing.’’

A baffling inside-out conundrum, we must say.

“She doesn’t get enough reps with that kind of quality,’’ Geller continued. Never recovered from that dive, which dropped Abel from third to ninth. “That made the difference. It sort of changed the whole dynamic for her.’’

Thing is, the Chinese weren’t actually that otherworldly dominant on this day. At least Wang Han, some 35 points off her compatriot’s pace for silver, with Krysta Palmer of the U.S. rising for a bronze. China has now won 19 consecutive gold medals in this event.

There had been room there for Abel to wrangle silver before it all went pear-shaped.

“It’s the moment, right?’’ suggested Geller. “It all comes down to this. We’re talking about managing all kind of micro movements and sort of shutting out all the what-ifs. So, obviously, they didn’t all get shut out.’’

He paid tribute to Abel’s legacy, though.

“Somebody as prolific as she’s been and respected worldwide for her athleticism, for her drive, for her competitiveness and her results.

“I think she’s looking to see what’s next for her in her life.’’

Rosie DiManno is a Toronto-based columnist covering sports and current affairs for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @rdimanno

Source : Toronto Star More   

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