Obituary: John Weichel – May 26, 2024

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our father, John Weichel, in his 89th year.

John was born in Elmira, the only child of Kathleen Uttley and Harry Weichel. He spoke with great fondness of his life growing up in Elmira, playing with childhood friends on the Canagagigue River, sometimes skipping church to go fishing (with dynamite) In 1957, John married Marty (Margaret-Ann Koehler). They started their life together, raising their three children in Stratford. It was here that John started his newspaper career and lifelong love of writing. By the 1970’s he, as the managing editor, took the Stratford Beacon Herald to national recognition as Canada’s best small town newspaper.

Changes in life meant changes in location…by 1982, John with his second wife Jean had moved to Southampton where they restored The Bluewater Resort and in the former Baptist church they created The Church Marketplace.

Later, with the sale of those two businesses and a little more time on his hands, John turned his attention to other projects. He and Jean constantly had a renovation project underway. It was then that John began unearthing Southampton’s forgotten marine history.  Through his 15 years of research and countless historical publications, Southampton’s maritime history was brought back to life. In the early days of The Propeller Club. he would hand deliver every copy of his newsletter, “The Bruce Coast Foc’sle”. He knew how to get a story out. John’s weekly newsletters were later published in two volumes as “Forgotten Times”.  He also published “Forgotten Lives”, documenting Southampton’s early families. All to preserve and document our marine history.

His interests were vast and varied and possibly too numerous to recount. His love of England was contagious. His grandchildren all know, at some point in their lives, they must go to England.

He and Jean also shared a love of Tobermory, opening their home to many over the years.

In John’s last years, he lost his sharp intellect and wide knowledge of seemingly everything, but despite the cruelty of Alzheimer’s, he never lost the ability to deliver a great one-liner. Just days before his passing, when asked by the attending physician if he knew what hospital he was in, he scanned the room and said to the doctor “you’re gonna have to give me a hint”.

Thank you, dad, Poppa, for the gift of the newspaper man…an enquiring mind and the love of learning that you instilled in us all.

“Keep a journal, ask questions, never be bored and show your gratitude.” JBW

John was predeceased by his second wife Jean Keast (nee Coltart). John is survived by his three children from his first marriage to Marty. Tanya Weichel and her children Emily (Adam), Kellam (Brittany), Rowan and Koehler. Tim Weichel (Amy) and their three children Brendan, Mollie (Eric and son Jack) and Madeleine. Matthew Weichel (Kiersten) and his children Sam (Emily), Harry (Clara), Hugh (Abbie).

From his second marriage, John is survived by, Kim (Jim Stewart) and their three children and families, Keane (Zoë) and their children Wyatt, Dakota and Georgia, Alek (Brittany) and their children Charley, Ainsley and Harpur and Alison (Brandon) and their children Levon and Remy and Brian Keast (Michelle O’Donovan) and their children Kona and Haydn.

At John’s request there will be no funeral service. A gathering of family and friends will be held at the Walker House in Southampton on June 8 from 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. A light lunch will be provided. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his honour to the Marine Heritage Society or to the Alzheimer’s society of Grey Bruce.