Community grieves for one of its own

Justin Daniels was remembered for his love of family and carpentry during a Celebration of Life and Reception at the Haliburton Legion.

Family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances are grieving the loss of the 37-year-old tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident Nov. 20 in Algonquin Highlands.

A GoFundMe page started by his mother, Valerie, a former owner of the Oakview Lodge and Marina, has garnered more than $30,000 for Daniels’ wife Michelle and children, Peyton, Cameryn, and Addison.

Images of Daniels played on a projector on the wall, accompanied by county and western music. A table gave some insight into the type of man he was. It featured pictures of him and his family, work boots and other tools of his carpentry trade, a guitar, and a photo of him on a dirt bike.

Irene Gerber, the wife of Justin’s boss, John, was the emcee. She said people had gathered in sadness and love.

“Today, our souls honour his soul,” she said.

She added that when a tragedy such as Justin’s death occurs, “the first reaction is disbelief and an outpouring of emotion.” However, “something amazing takes its place,” in describing how people had rallied around the family, including starting a MealTrain to provide daily meals to the family.

John said Justin had worked for him for about five years, and “I very quickly came to realize that he was highly dependable, a leader, and a skilled craftsmen.” He said the young man’s positive attitude and upbeat nature made the job site a fun place to be.

He added that Justin, “garnered respect through his high standards and work ethic” and stood out amongst his peers.

He said their team had built many homes and cottages over the years and Justin often befriended clients and would tailor the workmanship to their needs, particularly the female clients. “They would share their vision and idea and Justin would make them all come true.”

He further described him as a “sincere, honest, hardworking family man. Providing for his family was in the core of who he was. His presence will be deeply missed by his coworkers and myself. His absence will be large but his shadow will watch over us on all future projects and we will strive to pursue the excellence he pursued every day as a legacy to him.”

Justin’s uncle Ian spoke to Daniels’ love of family.

He told the story of how after his first date with Michelle, he declared that he was going to marry her and he did, and the two went on to have three beautiful children together. He recalled that on the night before he died, Daniels’ was teaching Peyton the guitar.

“Speaking for everyone: We love you and we miss you,” Ian said.

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