Ernest Henry Esau

Private family funeral service was held at Elm Creek MB Church. To view the service, please click the link below:

Remembering Dad

Ernie came into the world August 3, 1933 in Central Butte Saskatchewan, much to the delight of parents Henry & Katarina Esau and his four older sisters (Kay1926, Lydia1929, Hilda1930, Elsie1931). The sisters finally had a little brother since Henry & Katarina’s first child John had died as an infant in Russia1925. If Ernie’s older sisters and youngest sister Paulette had known how much teasing & trouble that he and brothers Henry1935 & Alvin1936 would bring with them, it would have tempered their enthusiasm.

Trying to earn a living on a farm in Saskatchewan during the Great Depression was extremely challenging with a lot of hard work and often not much to show for it. What little did grow from the dust was usually devoured by clouds of grasshoppers long before it was ready for harvest.

While Dad claimed to be “educated in Central Butte School” the reality was that he didn’t spend a lot of time in it. As the oldest boy in the family he was often needed at home and spent more time doing farm work than he ever did on schoolwork. He would often talk about the horsepower it took to work the fields (literal horses—5 horses to pull a plough, 6 horses for harrowing).

Dad was responsible for looking after the various animals they owned—pigs, cows, horses, cats and dogs. His love for animals grew with age and while in later years it was clear that Dad was primarily in the cattle business, we kids knew that he was also part “zoo keeper” and over the years brought home a wide assortment of animals, from donkeys and four horned sheep to peacocks, pheasants, guinea hens, Canada geese, and a pet racoon we named Ralph.

During the war years and the depression in Saskatchewan, Dad remembered the rationing. A coupon was needed to purchase sugar, the government dictated the size of tractor you could own, and the generous people of Nova Scotia sent their beloved codfish, which dad remembered most because he thought it tasted “disgusting”.

In 1943 the Esau family moved from Central Butte to the Manitoba town of Elm Creek. All nine members of the Esau family squeezed into their 1929 Nash car, while their animals and furniture made the trek by train in a boxcar. They settled onto a farm only ½ mile west of the cemetery where he will be buried with his beloved wife of 58 years, Irma who predeceased him Dec. 10, 2013.

Dad went to school in Elm Creek but as the oldest boy in the family he quit in grade 10 to help his dad on the farm full-time. Since Ernie always preferred farm work to schoolwork it was a transition he seemed happy to make.

1952 was an eventful year for Ernie in many ways. That was the year he bought his first two Shorthorn heifers, marking the start of what eventually became a lifelong career in the cattle business. Four years later, he and Irma would official register the name Ernmore FarmsMay 4,1956 and in June last year2019 his lifelong contributions and achievements in the cattle business were officially recognized with his induction into the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame.

1952 was also spiritually significant for it was the year Ernie was baptized as a follower of Jesus and joined the Elm Creek Mennonite Brethren Church. Ernie and Irma were married in that same church three years later.May28,1955 They served faithfully in that church for many years until they retired and moved to Carman. The Friends Community Church in Carman welcomed them with open arms.

While Dad bought his first two cattle in 1952, he had to find work to support himself. His first paying job was digging trenches by hand for the Manitoba Telephone System—he lasted one day and then quit since, as he put it, “My life was too valuable for that.” He preferred farm work and after working that fall for Scotty Sisson and John Lepp he went on a six week trip to B.C. with his friends Cornie Froese and Art Klassen. Upon his return, he worked for a year at the Brandon Mental Institution (1953-1954) and a year at the Mental Hospital in Selkirk (1954-1955). It was while working in Selkirk that he won a sweepstake worth $595. That was a lot of money back in 1955, enough for the newlyweds to go on a honeymoon to Clear Lake and buy what they needed for their home.

By the time the kids started coming along Ernie & Irma had moved to what the locals called “the old Bob Christie place”. It became the home where they raised their kids Judy1956, Liz1957, Jim1959, Sandi1962, Marilyn1963, and David1966. For the first 10 years the only running water that they had, as Dad recalled, “was when Irma carried it in from the cistern.” In 1966 Ernie & Irma bought a house in Sperling, MB which they had moved onto the farm. Complete with real running water and a flush toilet, they felt they “were really king and queen of the castle.” They eventually built their dream home and new farmstead four miles west of Elm Creek where they lived and farmed for 30 years before retiring to Carman in 2012.April

For much of his life Dad was an active leader. Locally, his leadership roles included that of Sunday School Superintendent at church, a long-time leader in the 4-H Club as well as serving on the boards overseeing the local Co-Op, Credit Union, Boyne Lodge and Cemetery as well as serving a term on the Municipal Council. He also accepted the call to serve on provincial and national boards for the Shorthorn, Charolais, and Maine Anjou Associations.

In 1959 Dad started taking the best of his cattle to the summer fairs as a way of advertising them and meeting others in the cattle business. It became the place he met his lifelong friend Einard Sigurdson and mentors like Sid Coulthard and Dr. Martin Nolds. Dad always said the most satisfying part of the cattle business was the wonderful people he met along the road.

Preparing for the show circuit each year meant every spring we were busy halter breaking cattle and every summer we were washing and grooming them to look their best for showtime. It was a lot of extra work but over the years the prize money helped pay the bills and the national championships helped promote the business in Canada and the United States.

When people at the fairs would ask Dad who his partners in the business were his answer was always the same, “My wife and kids are…I could never do it without them.” In later years he was often heard to say, “I’ve got a good family don’t you think?” By the way the only correct response to that question was, “YES”.

Whenever Dad got away from the farm it was usually in order to go fishing with his good friend Harry Trumbla or hunting for some prize game to fill the freezer and mount on the wall at home. The antlers were especially handy for hanging hats. Dad’s prized hunting skills also meant he was often called on to help with local pest control—be it eradicating skunks from a chicken coop or beavers who’d been conducting unauthorized loging on the local golf course. Even when they retired to Carmen, Dad was sure to keep his pest control skills well honed.

Some of our favourite outings as kids were going fishing with Dad at Dauphin River and Grand Rapids. In later years he took many of the grandkids out to the Red River to catch giant catfish and to Stephenfield Lake to try their hand at ice fishing in his winter hut.  

After retirement Dad shifted from hunting birds to carving lifelike models of them out of wood. Of course, he was also know to still carve up the occasional wild turkey to eat when it wandered into the live trap he had set up in his backyard!

While Mom and Dad eventually retired on the farm, it was Dad’s Parkinson diagnosis that God used to move them off it and into a lovely condo along the river in Carmen. It was in their Condo community on Bradford Road that they met old friends and made new ones.

As hard as it was for Dad to transition off the farm, the hardest transition by far came with the sudden passing of his beloved wife Irma on December 10, 2013. Dad faced that loss the way he had met the rest of life’s challenges, with his faith, family, and friends. People that Mom & Dad had reached out to during their times of loss reached out to Dad with care and compassion during his.

With his declining health in the last years, Dad went from visiting others in the Boyne Lodge to being the one visited. As was so often the case, Dad made friends wherever he went, including at his new home in the Boyne Lodge. The staff commented on, and appreciated, his good manners, his sense of humor and the thankfulness he expressed to them for the care they provided.

We would like to thank the doctors and staff at the Carmen Memorial Hospital and the Boyne Lodge for their compassionate and dedicated care for our father in what was a particularly challenging final leg in his earthly life. The apostle Paul wrote about times like this, times when “we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling”. That was evident in dad’s final weeks, and while we miss his presence we do not grieve as those “who have no hope” for like Dad “We believe that Jesus died and rose again and…that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him….And so we will be with the Lord forever.” (1 Thess. 4:14,17) Good-bye Dad, until we meet again!

Ernest Henry Esau obituary

It is with peace and sadness that our family announces the passing of Ernest Henry Esau on October 26, 2020 at the Boyne Lodge.  Ernie was born on August 3, 1933 in Central Butte, Saskatchewan.  In 1943, the Esau family moved to Elm Creek.

Ernie and Irma (Janzen) were married on May 28, 1955 in the Elm Creek Mennonite Brethren Church where they served faithfully for many years. They later served in the Friends Community Church in Carman.

1952 marked the beginning of Ernie’s life-long career in the cattle business. He was an active leader – locally, provincially, and nationally.  Ernie’s contributions and achievements were officially recognized with his induction into the Manitoba Agricultural Hall of Fame in June 2019.

Ernie was predeceased by his wife Irma, daughter Marilyn, parents Henry and Katarina Esau, brothers John and Alvin, and sisters Lydia and Elsie.

Ernie will be greatly missed by his children: Judy (Eldon) Dueck, Liz (Ed) Wiebe, Jim (Val), Sandi (Ben) ten Cate Brouwer, Fraser Hebert, David (Elaine); 21 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren; 1 brother and 3 sisters.

A private funeral service was held in the Elm Creek MB Church with interment at the Elm Creek Cemetery.  The video is available at:

We would like to thank the doctors and staff at the Boyne Lodge for their wonderful care.

Memorial donations can be made to Carman and District Ministerial Grocery Assistance Program; payable to Carman United Church, Box 1177, Carman MB. R0G 0J0

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Doyles Funeral Home
Hwy. 3&13 10-4th Avenue SE, Carman, MB
Phone:  204.745.2045 | Fax: 204.745.2499