Norman George Herriot Profile Photo
1931 Norman 2024

Norman George Herriot

March 11, 1931 — January 24, 2024

Norman George Herriot, youngest son of Charles and Edna Herriot of Emma Lake, Sk. slipped away peacefully on the morning of January 24, 2024, after a long and rewarding life serving his wife and family. He was 92 years old and looking forward to being once again with his wife, Jeanne Herriot (nee McRae) who passed away in December 2018. He is pre-deceased by his parents, daughter-in-law Carrie Neufeld, and all four of his older brothers, and is survived by his four children: Jackie Kerby (husband Bill), Trevor Herriot (wife Karen), Scott Herriot, and Lisa Herriot (husband Peter Grajczyk), as well as fourteen grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

 

Norman was a child of the Great Depression, born on a farm near Hazlett, Saskatchewan in the heart of the dust bowl near the Great Sand Hills, one of the driest regions of the northern Great Plains. In his eighties, he wrote down some of his earliest memories, which were of dust storms: 

 

“You could see the dust rolling in as the wind picked up. The sun would be completely blacked out, then you would hear the sand scratching on the windowpanes, next you would feel sand grinding between your teeth. Mom and dad would be covering the meager food supplies with sheets or tablecloths in an attempt to save it. Most food was contaminated to some extent. When attempting to serve a meal, Mom would place a cloth over the table, then each item brought to the table would be slipped under the cloth and then each of us would quickly reach under and retrieve and stuff it in. You may expect this didn’t promote the best of table manners.”

 

In October 1937, his parents packed up the family and joined others in what became known as the Great Trek north, leaving the dry prairie for a more hospitable climate in the forest fringe by Emma Lake, Saskatchewan. All of Norman’s fondest memories are of life on their subsistence farm—their market garden, cutting cord wood for the tourists from the city, meeting the girls at the Emma Lake Art Camp. As a boy, Norman did his best to keep up to his four older brothers whether it was in sports or with the family band. Into his adult years he played hockey and softball. He pitched for small town softball teams while working with Imperial Oil in Alberta in the 1950s. In that same period, he met Jeanne McRae at a dance in Edmonton. They were married in Tantallon, Sk. in June 1955. By 1961 they had moved back to Saskatchewan to be closer to Jeanne’s family. 

 

After taking night courses in industrial processes in the early years of his marriage, Norman began working in management at potash mines near Esterhazy and Saskatoon. The family moved from Esterhazy to Saskatoon in 1968 so that their children would be able to attend university. In the 1980s, Jeanne and Norman moved to White Rock, B.C. to be near their two daughters. They returned to Saskatoon in the early 2000s. 

 

Each fall, Norman would head out to hunt ducks and geese, often with his friend Bryce Anderson, and later taking his two sons and nephews Neil and Garry Tinnish with him to bigger expeditions in the Eston-Kindersley region of Saskatchewan.

 

Norman’s children remember him as the original DIY man—someone who was always in the garage making or fixing something. Often it was a toy for one of his children, improvising from his childhood memories or designs he found in magazines. In the early days he made wagons, sleds, a plywood airplane, toy scuba tanks (rubber hoses attached to soldered-together juice cans), go-carts, and all manner of games and weaponry. He would try his hand at any craft. He sewed a first communion suit for his eldest son by taking apart his wedding suit and stitching it back together down to size. In the early ‘70s, while recovering from lumbar surgery and wearing a back brace, he built an in-ground, concrete swimming pool for the family. Then there were the boats. Over the years he made a couple of canoes, helped a young friend build a sailboat, and in his eighties fashioned a small rowboat out of scrap lumber he had on hand. He hewed two oars out of 2X6s.
 

Toward the end, though his memory was failing, it would come back to life if anyone would read to him a story he’d written describing how it felt to leave the dust bowl and move north as a six year old boy. A few days before he died, he talked about their first winter in an abandoned trapper’s cabin on Crown land. It was the happiest time of his childhood, he said, to arrive in a place where there were lakes and forests. Perhaps he is back there now.

 

A few years ago, the Herriot farm was passed onto the Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation as a nature reserve. The clan is hoping to gather there this summer, to celebrate Norman’s life and mark the passing of all the Herriot brothers. Norman’s ashes will be buried next to Jeanne’s at Valley View Cemetery just north of the eastern Qu’Appelle Valley and Tantallon. 

 

Martens Warman Funeral Home is honored to be entrusted with the care and arrangements for Norman Herriot.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Norman George Herriot, please visit our flower store.

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