Michael Kiriluk

January 18, 1934 – October 28, 2022

“Gone to the farm”

Mike was the second son of Philip and Nettie Kereliuk. Born January 18th, 1934, on the family farm located just outside of the town of Sundown, Manitoba.

Mike had always spoken fondly about how he first learnt how to whittle, making handles for any broken tools on the farm. At 17 years of age Mike followed in his father’s footsteps and was employed by CNR from 1951 until 1964. Mike repaired and built bridges and worked as a fireman on the pike driving equipment. After an accident in a tunnel, Mike decided to change careers and became a milkman for Co-Op dairies, located on the corner of Higgins and McGregor in Winnipeg. His route was a fair portion of the West End of Winnipeg and consisted of homes, schools, corner grocery stores, businesses, personal care homes, restaurants such as Bar Italia, and The Melting Pot (where his retirement party was held). If Mike had to choose a favourite customer, it would have been the Tall Grass Prairie Bread Company on Westminster.

During this time, Mike had never put down his knife. From whittling handles as a young boy he graduated to carving just about any type of wood he could find. Using his imagination and a little bit of humor, he would coax out many types of carvings. When he would find an interesting piece of driftwood, diamond williow or maybe even a 2″ by 4″, he would look it over and then say “What do you see?” His passionate hobby soon evolved into a part time business. Starting at the Museum of Man and Nature he played the part of a cabinet maker in the old town. He surprised a lot of visitors who didn’t expect a person to be sitting up there woodcarving. During the summer his weekends were always busy going to different fairs and markets at various locations such as Dauphin Festival, Lockport, the Forks and Old Market Square. If there was a farmer’s market in Winnipeg, it was almost guaranteed Mike would have his wood carvings displayed. This is when his love for carving was instilled in his son Barry. They enjoyed spending their weekends together at markets in a variety of locations. They were even featured in the Winnipeg Free Press and had a guest appearance on The Uncle Bob show.

In the early 80’s Mike and his three brothers, Paul, Tony and Phil decided to turn their beloved family farm into a Christmas tree farm, and named it the 4 – K’s Christmas Trees.  Every Friday afternoon, Mike would pack up a ring of kubasa, loaf of rye bread, a jar of mustard and of course a 24 of OV. If anybody asked, he was gone to the farm.

The farm was a wonderful gathering place on the weekends with family, friends and neighbors having bonfires, fun and laughter.  Many treasured memories.

Mike absolutely loved his newest pastime and would spend as much time as he could planting and pruning the trees during the summer while the winter would be harvest time. In December, Mike would set up the Scotch pines for sale in the backyard of his home. The backyard was then transformed into an enchanted forest. One Christmas season he was first to register for a license to sell trees, and this prompted a CBC camera crew to show up to do a featured piece.

Mike was a people person and truly enjoyed meeting new people. Whether it was meeting on a dairy delivery, or if you happened to stop at his woodcarving display or perhaps you bought your Christmas tree from him, he always had time to say hello.

In 1996 when his son, Barry, required full time care due to health issues, Mike made the decision to retire. Father and son were constant companions until Barry passed away August 31st, 2022. After Barry passed, Mike spent his remaining time at Holy Family personal care home. Even though he was only there for a short time, he was given the best care. We are forever grateful to the staff at Holy Family and especially to the 5th floor healthcare workers who contributed to his care.

Barry had made a promise that he would be waiting for Dad at the farm. I know that’s where their journey will continue on.

A Celebration of Life in Mike’s memory will be held at a later date.

Friends and family are invited to share condolences and memories on Michael’s memorial page by using the comment field below.

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