The Nolins laid to rest
by Phil Ambroziak
“They’re a strong family.”
Those were the words of Rapid View area resident Ernie Dancy when describing how the Nolins were holding up in the days following the sudden deaths of Genne and Teresa Nolin, the patriarch and matriarch of the famed chuckwagon family.
RCMP discovered two bodies following an Oct. 29 incident at a home northwest of Rapid View. The Nolins were both described as well respected members of Rapid View and the surrounding area.
“They were excellent friends and neighbours,” Dancy, who lived about a mile-and-a-half from the Nolins, said. “Genne always helped me with things and I helped him. Just a couple weeks ago, I did some mechanic work for him. As a neighbour, you couldn’t wish for a better fellow. The same thing could be said about his wife. She was always a very quiet, reserved person. She would never get upset – she had patience to no end.”
While they were neighbours for many years, Dancy said he actually met Genne Nolin in the mid-1970s when both men were members of the same pony chuckwagon association.
“He and I used to be racing buddies, and he was one of the guys who got me started in pony racing,” Dancy continued. “We travelled together quite a bit over the years, then Genne started driving a school bus. I’d say he drove the bus for close to 30 years – first to schools in Meadow Lake and then to Green Acre School when they moved here in the early 1980s.”
Known for his punctuality, it was Mr. Nolin’s failure to pick students up for school last Monday morning that raised suspicions.
“My grandson was waiting for Genne to pick him up for school, but come 8:55 a.m. the bus still hadn’t shown up,” Dancy said. “Genne would usually get the kids around 8:05 a.m., so I called his house. There was no answer.”
Along with his duties as a school bus driver, Mr. Nolin also contributed greatly to Green Acre School by taking students and staff on sleigh and wagon rides at different times throughout the year. According to Northwest School Division director of education Duane Hauk, Mr. Nolin also invited students to his property to learn about equine therapy.
“He was an extremely respected individual, as was his wife and their entire family,” Hauk said. “Our thoughts are with their family right now.”
The Nolins had seven children including four boys (Shane, Vern, Mick and Laine) and three daughters (Laura, Carolyn and Stephanie). Laine Nolin was killed in an accident on his parents’ property in 2003. The Nolins also fostered children for several years.
“I spent a lot of time with their boys – their kids were here all the time,” Dancy said. “Stephanie was just married about two weeks ago. She wasn’t even here when this happened – she was away on her honeymoon.”
He went on to describe the Nolin family as being “very close-knit.”
“We had a chance to see the kids the other day,” noted Dancy, who served as a pallbearer during the Nolins’ memorial service Nov. 3. “They were all congregated at Shane and (his wife) Stacey’s house, and we brought them some food. There were a lot of friends there. They’re all doing pretty good – they’re strong. They’ve been through a lot with Laine’s death and with Shane, who was injured pretty badly in a chuckwagon accident a while back.”
On the same day the bodies were discovered, police in Prince Albert responded to a possible weapons complaint. Police say an armed individual was found sitting in a vehicle outside a convent. He was taken into custody without incident.
The following day (Oct. 30), RCMP laid charges of first-degree murder against two male youths in relation to the Rapid View incident. The second youth was also arrested by the Prince Albert Police Service and turned over to the RCMP.
The youths were scheduled to appear in Meadow Lake court yesterday (Nov. 5), but a court-imposed publication ban prevents the media from reporting on the proceedings.
Dancy, who said he still shakes when he thinks about what happened to his friends, said now is the time to throw as much support as he can behind the Nolin children.
“Genne ran ponies for at least 25 years and then his boys started to run ponies before moving into thoroughbreds,” he said. “Today, they are champions and I always knew they would be. That’s the type of people they are. They never settle for second best.”
These sentiments were shared by long-time chuckwagon driver Gary Gorst.
“Genne was very supportive of the chuckwagon business,” he said. “I used to race wagons against Genne a long time ago. It’s hard to believe this has taken place. It’s very shocking.”
The funeral for the Nolins was held Saturday afternoon at the Compass Immanuel Church near Rapid View. Hundreds were in attendance.