Fast Forward Ruth Violet Zvaniga

We bring you this Fast Forward on the latest information we could find.

Ruth Zvaniga

Ruth Violet Zvaniga was born Sept 5, 1923 to parents Andras Zvaniga (b. 1879 Hungary – d. August 21, 1928 Hespeler) and Olga Olischewski (b.  Feb. 3, 1886 Prussia – d. Feb. 6, 1957 Hespeler).

Ruth had two siblings, an older brother Alfred and younger sister Edith. 

It takes only a quick glance at Ruth’s photo to see that there is a spark in her eyes. A joy for life and perhaps a bit of energetic mischief.

Ruth will go on to be a proud mom, grandmother, a leader in her family and in the community.

Even though Ruth moves away from Hespeler, she regularly visits with family at their trailer in Puslinch.

Thank you for your service to our country and for your time at Dominion Woollens, Ruth.  There is no doubt that you brightened our factory floor each and every shift. You deserved all the success life gave you.

Ruth Zvaniga with mother Olga

Ruth and mother Olga. c.1944

Ruth Zvaniga and brother Alfred

Ruth with brother Alfred. c.1944

Family contributions:

We managed to locate some family members in 2021. 

This memory from Ruth’s son, Jim Spencer:

Ruth joined the CWACs (Canadian Women’s Army Corps) in Oct 1943 at age 20 and was stationed in Saskatoon and later in Halifax ending up in Ottawa. While in Saskatoon she played fastball for the No.12VTS Inter Active Service League where she was a pitcher. Some of the family including Ruth during the war changed their last names to Swaniger to simplify their German names while fighting against Germany. Ruth left the army Feb 1946 returning to Hespeler.

Ruth married my Father John Robert Spencer MM. who returned to Hespeler after the war. John was a house painter who landed a job with the town of Hespeler reading utility meters and looking after the town’s parking meters. Both he and Ruth belonged to the Hespeler Legion and John was a member of the Hespeler IOOF. They had 3 children Jack, Jim and Linda Spencer and lived at 25 Rife Avenue in Hespeler. John died in a single car accident on Fisher Mill road Nov. 1 1957.

Ruth Spencer was introduced to Robert (Buck) Gerald Stinson from the Barrie area by her brother Alfred who served with Robert in the army in London Ontario. They were married and moved to London Ontario where Robert was stationed.

They had two more children Colleen and Maureen Stinson. In London both Robert and Ruth Stinson joined the Victory branch legion. Ruth joined the Women’s Auxiliary and advanced through the ranks to become the Zone Commander. It involved a lot of travel within Ontario and Canada.

To keep in touch with the family which was 95% in the Cambridge-KW. area, Buck and Ruth bought a house trailer and put it at McClintock’s trailer park on Puslinch Lake. They spent every summer there until Ruth passed away May 21 2004.Buck passed away in Dec. 2008.

Ruth had a good life until Alzheimer’s struck in her later years. She had 5 children, 15 grand children and 12 great grand kids.

Ruth, Buck and John are all buried in the Hespeler New Hope Cemetery.

Ruth with Jim and Linda
Jim and Ruth Spencer on their wedding day. The Hespeler town hall / fire hall in the background.

Ruth's Army photo
Ruth’s Army Photo

Newspaper article on John’s Military Medal

Ruth with Jim and Linda

Ruth and the No.12 VTS Fastball Inter Active Service League in Saskatoon. (Rear row 2nd from left)

Ruth and Buck’s 25th Anniversary

Ruth and Buck Stinson at Legion Awards Dinner

Ruth and Buck Stinson at the Legion Awards dinner

Ruth and Buck’s 25th Anniversary

This memory from Ruth’s nephew (sister Edith’s son Gary Seveny):

Ruth and her sister Edith were keen to help out the Canadian contingent supporting WW2 and they both signed up with the WACs (Women’s Auxillary Corps) and were separately posted to various CFB bases and were reunited at CFB Ottawa near the conclusion of the war.

Ruth married her sweetheart John Spencer in 1947. They had 3 children Jack, Jim and Linda. In the early 1950s, tragedy hit – Ruth and John, and sons Jack and Jim were diagnosed with TB (tuberculosis) and immediately isolated at the sanatorium in London, Ontario for treatment and observation. John’s was most serious requiring his right lung to be removed. Ruth and children were treated and released after months of treatment, isolation and observation and returned to their Rife Avenue home in Hespeler.

It seems that most of my aunts, uncles, mother & father worked for Dominion Woollens. Hespeler was a small but bustling manufacturing town and textiles was a major industry.

I remember as a 5 year old child, walking with my grandmother from our Adam St. home to sit on the wall across the street from Dominion Woollens to greet them at the end of the workday. They all seemed so happy and chatty as they left work. I really think Dominion was like family to them.

Ruth was a real character and joker. She was outspoken on any subject and was probably the closest thing to a feminist in her day. She dominated conversations and could speak louder than any man in a social setting. She was smart, lively and caring always for the bigger picture.

Ruth never lost sight of her time in service to Canada. She was a dedicated veteran who coalesced veterans into membership in the local Hespeler Legion. Truly dedicated to service and the grander need to represent veterans, she rose through the ranks of the Royal Canadian Legion to achieve the highest role in Canada. She had a vision and saw a need and worked diligently to be proactive to ensure that veterans received benefits and were recognized for their service to Canada.

About 1957, her husband John had a fatal car accident at the little dam (Beaverdale Road) just outside Hespeler when his car blew a tire and careened into a large tree and the steering wheel compressed John’s chest and his lung, suffocating him as he was trapped in the car.

A short time later, Ruth was introduced to her older brother’s army buddy Buck (Robert) Stinson, a career soldier and cook. They married and moved to London, Ontario where he was based. Ruth had two more children with Buck – 2 daughters, Coleen and Maureen carrying Irish names to recognize Buck’s Irish roots.

Five children never slowed Ruth down. These were her most active years in the Royal Canadian Legion and she squeezed in travel, family and homelife into fulfilment of ambitions and dreams.

Ruth was also instrumental to keep the grander Zvaniga family group (almost all located in the Galt, Preston and Hespeler area) involved in the annual Zvaniga picnic that was originally started by her uncles at Happy Acres at Little Dam then moving to Sage’s Farm near Doon, Ontario as the outing started to exceed 100 people. Ruth would stir family members into a frenzy to participate in races, embarrassing games like water balloon toss, horseshoe tossing competitions and family competitive baseball.

A stirring meal was contributed by all and topped off the picnic with euchre championships for the Schithouse Trophy running into the late evening.

Ruth was a star baseball player from her teens right into her 30s. Always active and pushing her team to many wins. In fact, she and her uncle Huntz were the organizers of women’s and mens teams from Hespeler called the Swanees. Many a trophy was celebrated over the years.