2990 Church St., South Mountain, ON

Alvin Edwin Runnalls June 2, 1939 - January 30, 2016

Alvin Edwin Runnalls died suddenly on Saturday, January 30 in his 77th year. Alvin was born on June 2, 1939 on Manitoulin Island, the fifth child and youngest son of Effie (Hern) and Percy Runnalls.

Alvin was a gregarious, community-spirited man with an insatiable curiosity about the world. When his childhood dream of becoming a bush pilot proved unrealistic, Alvin turned instead to teaching. He went to North Bay Teacher’s College in 1961 and began his career at Meldrum Bay Rural School, teaching students in a range of seven grades. After two years, he was offered positions at Moose Factory on James Bay and Redditt in North Western Ontario, but though he was drawn to the North, he chose a job in Niagara Falls, where he felt there would be more opportunities to pursue running and road races; he had developed a love of running as a teenager. There, he met Dawn Vanhorn, a beautiful strawberry blonde colleague at Heximer School. They married on April 10, 1966, and two and four years later, expanded their family with daughters Rachel and Gretchen.

Alvin grew up on a sheep and beef farm, and farming was in his blood. Although teaching was a rewarding career, he and Dawn chose to take on a new challenge, first joining his sister and brother-in-law at their dairy farm in Spencerville, then moving to Winchester Township in 1973. They worked in partnership to build a successful dairy operation, becoming the very first couple to win the county’s Farmer of the Year award in 1991.

Alvin donated his time to so many organisations it’s difficult to keep track. He served on the Federation of Agriculture’s Executive, both locally and provincially. At various times, he sat on the boards of the Winchester Memorial Hospital, the Chesterville Historical Society, the Canadian Club, and the Dundas County Players and was Chair and Vice-Chair of the Dundas County Food Bank. He canvassed for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. He was a 4H leader and a participant in community theatre. A dedicated member of the Anglican Church, he served as warden and represented his parish at Synod. He had a passion for politics as both an engaged observer and an active participant. Alvin was enormously proud to serve two terms on North Dundas County Council, two terms as Mayor, and a term as Warden of the United Counties. And his generosity extended beyond his time; he donated so much of his income to charity that Revenue Canada became suspicious and singled him out for audit.

He was a voracious reader, always with several books and a giant stack of magazines and newspapers on the go. He also nurtured keen interests in history, geography, and current events. He had a renowned sweet tooth, which was a major influence in adopting another of his passions: beekeeping. He was a life-long Liberal and a die-hard Leafs fan; he was delighted to see at least one of his beloved teams score a major victory last year. In 1980, he revived his interest in long-distance running and participated in the first National Capital Marathon. The marathon became an annual event in his life until hip replacement surgery curtailed his ability to run in the early 90s. The arthritis that sidelined his running also forced Alvin and Dawn to make a switch from dairy farming to cash cropping—and gave him the time to run for politics instead. Over the past few years, Alvin had scaled back his farming operations, but he insisted that he would farm at least until he was 80. Although his beekeeping activities kept him busy, he had begun to supplement his sweets production, adding maple syrup to his output. One of his favourite activities was driving huge loads of corn and soybeans to the elevator at harvest time. True to his nature, he was active until the end. Last Saturday Alvin had an accident while cutting wood on his fencerows. He died instantly. His great spirit, generosity, and enthusiasm live on in our hearts.

Predeceased by sister Doris Cleary and brother-in-law Jim Scott. Survived by wife Dawn, daughters Rachel and Gretchen, and siblings Lewis Runnalls (Anne), Shirley Scott (Wes), and Richard Runnalls (Shirley).


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Funeral services to take place at St. Clare’s Anglican Church, 2:00 pm Saturday, February 6. There will be a visitation at St. Clare’s at 1:00 pm on Saturday before the service.

Donations to the Anglican Parish of North Dundas will be accepted in lieu of flowers. Online condolences may be made at


  1. REPLY
    Debbie & Ed DeCooman says

    Deepest Sympathy to Dawn & Family

  2. REPLY
    Jim and Brenda Millard says

    A kind and gentle man, Alvin was one of a kind. Our most sincere condolences to his family

  3. REPLY
    Con and Brenda Pemberton says

    Sending our deepest condolences to Dawn and Family, Alvin would always take the time to chat whenever and wherever we would meet. We shared a a love of sweets and we could drop in to purchase honey and catch up. He will be fondly remembered and certainly missed

  4. REPLY
    Mark Guy says

    To Dawn & Family,
    My dearest sympathy on the loss of Alvin.

    Alvin was a very nice, friendly man. He gave so much of his time serving his community. I always enjoyed our chats at the Municipal office on a number of topics. He was an honest hard working person and will be greatly missed.

  5. REPLY
    Maureen, Jeff Heuff & Family says

    To the Entire Runnalls Family,

    Our sincere condolences on your loss. He was such a generous man that gave and gave to our community. May he rest in peace.


  6. REPLY
    Larry Stevens says

    My deepest sympathies to you all! He was a great man! R.I.P. Alvin

  7. REPLY
    Barbara-Ann, Michel Glaude and family says

    Remembering the many get together s through WSA in years past when all kinds of great food and conversations made the time pass by quickly. May Alvin’s trust in the strength of his family, carry you through the grief and see the light and buzz of life at the end of the rainbow. God Bless!

  8. REPLY
    Brian Hamilton says

    Alvin will be missed by the OFA family My sympathies to the Runnels family.

  9. REPLY
    Mike and Kelly Scheepers says

    Dawn, Rachel & Gretchen:
    Deepest sympathy for your loss of a husband and father. You’re in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

  10. REPLY
    Randy & Cheryl Holmes says

    Our sincere sympathy to Alvin’s family during this difficult time. We feel very sad for your loss.

  11. REPLY
    Bernie & Linda Harper says

    Dear family,
    We were shocked and saddened to hear the terrible news from home here in Florida. Linda and I both thought of Alvin as one of the good guys. Please know that we are thinking of you at this difficult time, and although we can’t be with you, we’ll remember Alvin in our prayers. God bless you all.

  12. REPLY
    Allan and Angela Harriman says

    We will all miss Alvin very much. So sorry for your loss.

  13. REPLY
    Kim and Lester McInnis says

    Dawn and Family, Please accept our sincere sympathies. Alvin will be missed by his friends and the community as a whole. Know our thoughts are with you.

  14. REPLY
    Margaret and Wayne Dunbar says

    Dear Dawn and girls , We send our deepest sympathy at this time. I always enjoyed our visits with Alvin when we met anywhere and he truly was a wonderful man. Marg and Wayne

  15. REPLY
    Judy Matthews says

    My most sincere condolences to Dawn and family. Such a sudden and tragic loss.

  16. REPLY
    Patrick McCue says

    I met Alvin several years ago through the Canadian Club of Eastern and Northern Ontario. It was always a pleasure to meet/work with him. Very patient and exuding wisdom.
    We will miss him.

  17. REPLY
    Micheline Cayer says

    Our deepest sympathies on the loss of your husband and father.

  18. REPLY
    Lynden, Barb, Autumn, and Lachlyn Holmes says

    I knew Alvin from his involvement in the Dairy 4 H. He was a great teacher and someone to look up to. He always had time. Time to talk and time to listen. He was a good man. Sincere condolences to the family.

  19. REPLY
    Gord & Michelle Sissons says

    So sorry to hear about your loss Dawn, Rachel and Gretchen. I have fond memories visiting your farm in Winchester when we were kids. Alvin is one of those good people who made a real positive difference for all who had the privilege to know him. I’m sure he will be very missed.

  20. REPLY
    Sue and George Ennis says

    Through his kindness, enthusiasm and hard work, Alvin left this world a better place. It was a pleasure to know him. Dawn, Rachel and Gretchen, we are sincerely sorry for your loss.

  21. REPLY
    Jack Squire says

    I wish to offer my condolences to the Runnalls family. I had the pleasure of meeting this gentleman while attending the Anglican Church in Winchester during my occasional visits to the area, and enjoyed our conversations about life in the North and politics of the day, clearly two of his interests. I am so sorry for your loss, and also happy you were able to share life with him.

  22. REPLY
    Neil/Sharon Stewart says

    Neil and I were saddened to hear about Alvin’s passing. Enjoyed our visits when he came to canvas. He lead a very full life and will be missed. We shall keep you in our thoughts and prayers.

  23. REPLY
    Betty Hall and Vern Williamson says

    We would like to extend our deepest sympathy to the Runnalls family.

  24. REPLY
    Janet Hutt says


  25. REPLY
    Bonnie MacIntosh says

    On behalf of the Chesterville Kayak Club we extend our prayers & heartfelt sympathy to Alvin’s family. Alvin was a member of the Kayak Club for a few years.We will always remember his love & dedication to our sport & club.

    Chesterville Kayak Club President

    Bonnie MacIntosh

  26. REPLY
    Liz O'Gorman-Smit says

    Dawn, to you and your family, my sincere condolences over Alvin’s passing . I always enjoyed working with both of you on various projects in the rural and 4-H community when I was part of the OMAFRA team. My thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time
    Liz O’Gorman-Smit

  27. REPLY
    Margaret Macdonald & Ron Merkley says

    Dawn & family;
    Life can be so unfair that this accident should happen. Alvin was one of the good guys – he had time for everyone and gave so much of himself to the greater community. He will be greatly missed by all, but no more so than by you, his family. Our deepest sympathy and our thoughts are with you.

  28. REPLY
    LaRosa Mitchell says

    My deepest sympathies to Dawn, Rachel and Gretchen. What an amazing man. What a life! He will not be forgotten.

  29. REPLY
    Friends of the South Mountain Library Resource Cen says

    Alvin will be remembered not only as a literate and generous man, but as someone who always put the welfare of his community first. In his role as Mayor, his focus on the needs of the people was aptly demonstrated in his vigorous and successful support for the building of a new Library and associated Community Resource Centre in South Mountain. He was a true “servant of the people” and will be missed.

  30. REPLY
    Denis Sabourin says

    It was always a pleasure to chat with Alvin and catch up on all the goings on. He was a true gentleman.

  31. REPLY
    Rev. Sue McCullough says

    To the Runnalls family,
    Please accept my most sincere sympathy at this time. I served with Alvin on the board of directors of the Dundas County Foodbank. He was a man of passion who lived to serve his God, his community and of course, his family. I have many good memories of Alvin and his laughing eyes. I know that God will surround you with love and strength during the coming weeks.


    Rev. Sue McCullough+

  32. REPLY
    Dennis Fife says

    On behalf of the residents of North Stormont, the Administration, and members of Council I would like to express my deepest condolences to the residents of North Dundas and the family of Alvin. Over the last 18 years of my political career, I had many opportunities to work alongside and interact with Alvin. His dedication to his community, friends and family was truly inspirational. Alvin’s legacy of determination, hard work and compassion will forever leave a lasting mark on all those who knew him. He will be truly missed.


    Dennis Fife, Mayor of North Stormont

  33. REPLY
    Mike and Dawn Ouellette says

    Our sympathy and condolences to the family. Alvin was truly a man of the community and will be greatly missed.

  34. REPLY
    Rhonda & Arden Schneckenburger says

    We were heart broken when we heard about Alvin’s accident. We will always remember Alvin as a passionate, hard working man with a comment about everything, and a great interest in his community and farming. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Dawn, Rachel and Gretchen as you go on as you must.

  35. REPLY
    Jim & Joanne High says

    We would like to offer our sincere sympathies to you Dawn and your family.

  36. REPLY
    Sheila James says

    My deepest sympathy to Dawn and family. A tragic loss of a man so rich in character, energy and generosity. He will be sadly missed.

  37. REPLY
    Mack & Beth Emiry says

    We were shocked and saddened to read of Alvin’s accident. I (Mack) first new Alvin from a 4H National event in 1959 and then reconnected years later with OFA. Alvin always gave a true and honest opinion with thoughtful consideration.
    May you find strength in the faith which he always embraced.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

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