Former Hintonburg welder Alan Gustafson honoured during KT party

Many people pose for a photo next to a poster of Alan on the KT cover.
Alan Gustafson’s family were presented with a large poster from when the was on the front page of the Kitchissippi Times back in October 2015. Photo by Ellen Bond.

By Charlie Senack

For friends and family who knew Alan Gustafson, they all commented on what a nice, honest, hard-working guy he was.

KT was first introduced to then 38-year-old Alan in Oct. 2015 when family friend Peter Joynt contacted the paper to write about a fundraising initiative he was starting for the Hintonburg resident, who had just been diagnosed with ALS. The news came one month before Alan’s son Harvey was born. Over $200,000 was raised during the campaign.

Alan knew something was wrong the previous November when he felt a weakness in his right hand and arm. By the time KT caught up with the welder by trade, he had lost most of the strength in his arms and legs, making it difficult to get around. That soon resulted in not being able to work. 

“Losing all strength in my hands and arms to begin with and not being able to create in a medium that I’m familiar with feels kind of like you’re choking basically,” Alan told KT at the time. “You have stuff you want to get out there but you have no avenue to express it. You have no avenue for output.”

Alan passed away on Dec. 3, 2016, only about a year and a half after his initial diagnosis. 

While the news and timing was tragic, Alan’s wife Jessica said it was community support and their newborn son who uplifted them on the darkest days. 

“It was a really intense time. Harvey was snuggled by his dad every single day and was the absolute light of our lives at a time when there was a lot of darkness,” she said.

A front page of the Kitchissippi Times featuring Alan.
Alan Gustafson on the Oct. 1, 2015 cover of Kitchissippi Times. Cover photo by Ellen Bond.

During the Kitchissippi Times anniversary party on Nov. 14, Jessica and her now seven-year-old son Harvey were presented with a large poster of Alan from when he was featured on the front page of the paper. Many other family members and friends were in attendance to remember the life of Alan, who’s connection to the community still runs deep, even years after his passing. 

“Harvey was very proud. He carried the poster home and showed the neighbours. He has it up in his room,” Jessica said. “I invited Peter [to the party] because he is the catalyst for Alan being on the cover of the paper. We both saw his picture blown up and we burst into tears even after all this time. It still hits you. It was such a nice reminder of when the community came together for us.” 

Peter Joynt said being able to support community news while honoring his longtime friend, a community builder, was a perfect pairing. 

“I’m a massive fan of the Kitchissippi Times. I read it regularly. So to be there at the event was so cool, to look around the room and see all the different stories on the posters and to see what KT has done to create culture in our community,” he said. “Knowing what that story did for Alan at the time was cool.”

With files by Andrea Cranfield

Leave a comment