Dolores Niskanen

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Dolores Niskanen, 2007

Dolores Melba May Niskanen (nee Vuori) (born circa 1937) is a Canadian of Finnish descent from St. Catherine's, Ontario who was a professional dancer and dance instructor. She ran a dance studio in Thunder Bay for about 30 years from about 1975 to 2005. Since then she has lived in London, Ontario.

Dolores was Michael Currie's first ballroom dance teacher.

Early life

Dolores was born circa 1937 to Irene Kuisma and Hannes Antinpoika Vuori (1892 - 1962), a carpenter and general contractor. Her parents may have been immigrants from Finland, or their parents were. At the time of her birth her parents were likely living in St. Catherine's, Ontario.

Her father Hannes had previously been married, to Amelia Hermanson, so when she was born she already had a half-brother based in Thunder Bay:

She married Wally Niskanen sometime between 1953 and 1956.

It is possible that Wally was related to famous Finnish ballet dancer Toivo Niskanen (1887 - 1961). [11] [12] [13]

In 1958, with her husband she had her son Keven in St. Catherines.

Her father Hannes died in 1962 at age 70 in Saint Catharines. After Hannes' death, Dolores' mother Irene remarried to a man named Onni Kuisma.

It seems that her husband Wally remarried to a woman who died in St Catherines in 2003, so it's possible that Dolores and Wally divorced in the early 1970s, and Dolores moved with their son Keven to Thunder Bay, while Wally remained in St Catherines, eventually moving to Red Deer sometime between 2003 and 2014.

According to his obituary, Keven spent his teen years in Thunder Bay, attending Westgate High School before moving to Victoria, BC. So it's likely that Dolores had moved to Thunder Bay by about 1972, and then in about 1976 her son moved away from home to Victoria, BC.

Career

"Beautiful and Pleasant was the colorful and swift "ink jet race" of the Toronto daughters, which they presented at Sunday's Sunday afternoon party in Sudbury on Alerts' ground; The picture was taken in the field right after the presentation. Dolores Niskanen from St. Catharines performed the fine solo dance" - Vapaus, 8 August 1957, page 1

On 8 August 1957 Dolores performed a solo as part of a dance by her dance troupe in Toronto. She was reported as being from St. Catherine's.

On 19 June 1960, CBC's anthology television program General Motors Theatre, which broadcast theatrical works live, broadcast an episode "The Virtuous Island" in which Dolores apparently played a supporting role. The episode starred Canadian actor John Colicos, who later went on to great fame on Star Trek as the first Klingon, Kor, in 1967.

In the early 1960s, Dolores was the instructor for the Yritys athletic club, part of the Toronto Yritys and Finnish Organization. They performed a "mass gym by the girls, a hoop gym by the girls and a folk dance (a Finnish polka)", on Sunday 9 July 1961.

On Sunday 4 August 1963, at 20:00, at 300 Bathurst Street, Toronto, at a Finnish dancing event, a dance troupe led by Dolores was set to perform the piece "Finlandia in abstract" as the closing number of the performance. [19]

31 July - 2 August 1970, Vapaus newspaper advertised a "suurjuhla" or "High Feast" event. Dolores performed an "erikoistanssia" - finnish for "special dance" - at the "Anniversary Concert" segment, which was held at St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, Toronto. [20]

Dolores Niskanen donated a gift certificate for her School of Dance to the first "Wymmyn's [sic] Social", held on 14 November 1981 in Thunder Bay.

As of 1999 she ran the Dolores Niskanen Studio Of Fitness & Dance, at 16 Court Street South, in the historic Ruttan Block, (named for the former mayor of Port Arthur, Mayor James Ruttan) in downtown Port Arthur, Thunder Bay. The studio's phone number was (807) 344-1300.

Michael Currie took classes with Tanya Elise Watson (nee Oja) in the fall 1999 and winter 2000 semesters.

One of her most dedicated students during this time was a man called Wayne.

Condolence From: Bev Wakefield

Condolence: Remembering all the good coffee times we had years ago in the cafeteria at St Joe's Heritage after our exercise class with Delores [sic] Niskanen. Whenever I met her she always had a minute to stop and chat. My thoughts are with at this sad time.

Wednesday January 06, 2010
— Bev Wakefield, in memory of Danica Mary Brovak, 6 January 2010 [1]

Her business shut down sometime prior to 2009, since Google Street View shows the studio as derelict as of 2009, and occupied by a lingerie store as of 2012.

Dolores Niskanen, right, 2007

In 2007, she was living in London, Ontario, likely to be with her second husband Dr. Paivio. In 2007 she organized a fundraiser for Breast Cancer Research at Cherryhill Village Mall.

Snowflakes of Hope. To raise money for Breast Cancer research, Smart Woman of Cherryhill Village Mall hosted dinner, a fashion show and a silent auction at Aroma restaurant downtown. Kim Ariesen (Fashion Coordinator) and Dolores Niskanen (Event Coordinator) put on an impressive show with the models from Elegance School of Modeling. With all the fashions stating class, and dinner being unparalleled, there is little reason to doubt that next years show will be anything less than impressive.
— snapd London, 2007 (written possibly by photographer Jason Wells)


I am especially grateful to my wife Dolores Niskanen for her patience during the many years when she thought I was glued to my computer. But then, she understands passion for a calling from her own long career in dance and choreography.
— Dr. Allan Paivio, second husband of Dolores, in the acknowledgements to his book, Mind and Its Evolution, 2007

Personal life

Her first husband was Wally Niskanen. With him she had a son, Keven Richard Vuori Niskanen (1958 - 2 March 2014), born in St. Catherines. At the time of Keven's death in 2014, Wally lived in Red Deer. Keven was "a licensed finishing carpenter and had a great interest in architecture, design, and colour. He loved animals and was a fan of the Rolling Stones." From his obituary it does not appear that Keven married or had issue. This means Dolores has no surviving biological descendants since 2014.

Her second husband was Dr. Allan Paivio (1925 - 2016), who was born in Thunder Bay and was later Professor of psychology at the University of Western Ontario. She married him sometime after his first wife Kathleen Laura Blanche "Kay" Austin died after 50 years of marriage (circa 1945 - 1995). [7]

Coincidentally, in 1928 her second husband's father worked briefly on a paper called Vapaus (Finnish for "freedom"). In 1961 this same paper reported on Dolores' dance coaching at an event in Toronto; this would have been 30 years before she would have met her second husband.

With Dr. Allan she became stepmother to the five adult children from his previous 50-year marriage to Kay: Sandra, Anna Lee, Heather, Eric, Karina.

At 14:00 on Sunday 2 March 2014, she watched her only child Keven "take his final breath" at the University Hospital, London. A month later, Dolores' husband had to endure a death of one of his children, Heather Kathleen Gérard, age 63.

Two years later, on 19 June 2016, Dolores' second husband Allan died.

Dr. Irving Taylor murder

In 1975, Eva Spero, mother of Dr. Irving Taylor, Saul Taylor, and Lillian Taylor, died. Irving lived in Thunder Bay while his siblings in Texas were supposed to take care of their mother. But Irving sued his siblings for mismanaging her assets. On 8 October 1982 in the law office, Saul shot and killed Irving.

Houston Chronicle article from 1982 giving details of Dr. Taylor's murder

On 8 October 1982, "Delores [sic] Niskanen" was the named life insurance and pension beneficiary and received about CAD 175,000 when 57-year-old Lakehead University professor Dr. Irving Abraham Taylor (1925 - 1982) was shot dead in Houston, Texas by Irving's brother Houston Police Officer Saul Taylor (1918 - 1999) in a dispute over a family inheritance. It is not clear what Dolores' connection was to Irving, especially since the Irving Taylor estate's executrix was a woman named "C. Dianne Taylor", of Thunder Bay, which would appear to make Diane likely to be Irving's wife. However, Irving was married five times and fits the type of man who would have interested Dolores, as he was a professor of psychology, so it is possible she was previously married to him. He lived in Thunder Bay from 1975 to 1982. The case became subject to a lawsuit in American Court since Irving is an American citizen and so his estate was subject to American taxes. [14] [15] [16] [17]

Sources

1. Mind and Its Evolution: A Dual Coding Theoretical Approach By Allan Paivio. Google Books

2. https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/chroniclejournal/obituary.aspx?n=keven-niskanen&pid=174241737

3. http://yourlifemoments.ca/sitepages/obituary.asp?oid=792072

4. http://ca.soopage.com/company/Niskanen_Dolores_Studio_Of_Fitness_Dance_5Yw8.html

5. http://yourlifemoments.ca/sitepages/obituary.asp?oId=961211

6. 13 July 1961. Vapaus (Sudbury). https://newspapers.lib.sfu.ca/vapaus2500-42082/page-3

7. Northern Women Journal, 1981. http://northernwomansbookstore.ca/resources/NWJ/1981%20Vol%207%20No.%201.CV01.pdf

8. UWO remembers Dr. Al Paivio http://www.psychology.uwo.ca/people/faculty/remembrance/paivio-psynopsiswinter2017.pdf

9. Tanya Oja, Considering Childlessness. 2008. https://philpapers.org/rec/OJACCA

10. Dolores' Geni entry https://www.geni.com/people/private/6000000045712447821?through=6000000045689225101

11. https://www.danceinfo.fi/en/factsfigures/history-of-finnish-dance-in-a-nutshell/

12. https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Toivo_Niskanen

13. https://asiakas.kotisivukone.com/files/wwwmakkonen.kotisivukone.com/i_existing.pdf

14. http://news.ourontario.ca/3171000/data?n=4

15. https://www.leagle.com/decision/1989155456khtcm149811261

16. http://news.ourontario.ca/3170981/data?n=377

17. http://tx.findacase.com/research/wfrmDocViewer.aspx/xq/fac.19820729_0041499.TX.htm/qx

18. http://yourlifemoments.ca/sitepages/obituary.asp?oid=792072

GERRARD, Heather Kathleen (nee Paivio) - Peacefully at Victoria Hospital on Tuesday April 15, 2014 in her 63rd year. Beloved wife of Zorin Gerrard of London. Loving mother of Aaron Gerrard of London. Cherished daughter of Allan Paivio (Dolores Niskanen) of London. Sister of Sandra Paivio of Windsor, Anna Lee Dietsche (Robert) of London, Eric Paivio (Laura) of St. Thomas, Karina Macfarlane (John) of St. Thomas. Fondly remembered by several nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephew. Predeceased by her mother Kathleen Paivio. Cremation has taken place.

19. Vapaus, 23 July 1963. Page 9. https://newspapers.lib.sfu.ca/vapaus2500-40370/page-9

20. Vapaus, 21 July 1970. PAge 9. https://newspapers.lib.sfu.ca/vapaus2500-35022/page-9