Community mourns music-loving, hard-working family man
By Sue Tiffin
Justin Daniels’s family said the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 20 would have been like any other work day.
Justin, a 37-year-old talented carpenter, would have been “awake at the crack of dawn, shower, dressed, breakfast, pack his lunch and out the door to head to the job site for 7 a.m.,” wrote his sister-in-law, Brianna Christopher, on behalf of his wife, Michelle, to the Times.
Instead, at approximately 8 a.m., a multi-vehicle collision occurred on Hwy 118 near St. Peter’s Road in Algonquin Highlands, involving four vehicles including a cement truck that rolled into the ditch, shutting down the road until that evening. Justin died at the scene. Police said the cement truck driver was transported to a Toronto-area trauma centre with serious injuries. The cause of the collision remains under investigation.
Though newer to the community, the accident and news of Justin’s death sent shockwaves through the county.
“Justin was a gentle man with a huge heart,” his mom, Valerie Kulla, wrote to the Times. “He was kind and generous.”
His only sister, Deanna Daniels, said the loss is devastating, that he was a one-of-a-kind person.
“This is not going to be a little loss that is felt for a little time,” said his sister. “This is not somebody who just went to work and went home. This is somebody who’s been out and, he did everything for everybody.”
She said her brother – eight years younger than her – was generous and giving.
“He was such a good man, he would do anything for anybody, anytime,” she said. “He would never let you down. You could call him at 3 o’clock in the morning and he’d get up and come and help you with whatever. It didn’t matter who you were, you didn’t have to be family, you just had to need.”
Justin leaves behind his wife of 12 years, Michelle, and three children, who his sister said were “his whole world.”
“Justin had an enormous love for children,” said his mom. “Everything he did was to provide a good life for his family. He was happiest when he was spending quality time with them.”
Numerous friends and family members describe him as being a devoted family man, always engaging with his kids – 12-year-old Peyton, nine-year-old Cameryn and four-year-old Addison.
“Justin had a love for his guitar and up until the night before he passed, he was spending time with Peyton teaching her how to play, he loved having dance parties with his girls while being smothered in kisses by Cameryn and building Lego creations with Addison,” Christopher wrote to the Times. “The family loved being outdoors having bonfires, taking the dogs for long walks, adventures to new locations and even trying things outside their comfort zone. Justin made his ladies feel safe when he was around and was able to calm them when needed.”
He also loved his work, with family describing him as hardworking and proud of his craft.
“Justin loved to work and loved to keep busy,” said Christopher. “He could be found working on a job site, in his garage, cleaning his truck, gaming, or spending time with his girls.”
“He could make anything,” said Deanna. “I remember I told him I needed a new table, and I had an idea and said, is it possible? And he said, anything’s possible with wood ... It’s the most beautiful table I’ve ever seen.”
Justin, Michelle and their family had moved here from Apsley in March 2018 to be closer to his work. Justin’s mom and her husband have lived here since 2002, owning Oakview Lodge and Marina for 14 years before moving to Little Hawk Lake.
His mom said they were in South America when her brother called to tell her about the accident.
“Everything from that day is a blur,” she said.
“Justin’s loss has been a shock to everyone that knew him,” wrote Christopher.
“You could meet him for five minutes and you’d never forget him,” said his sister.
The community has responded to support Justin’s family using an app called Meal Train, which helps friends and family to provide meals daily, while counselling teams were available at the girls’ school to help support students after the accident.
A celebration of life and reception will be held at the Haliburton Legion on Saturday, Nov. 30 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The family has asked that friends and family refrain from sending flowers. To those wishing to help support Justin’s family, the family asks that the community call Brianna at 705-977-1172 to make arrangements until a bank account in their name has been set up, or through the Justin Daniels Celebration of Life fundraiser on Facebook.
“All the love and support from the community has been amazing and is appreciated more than words can express,” said Christopher, on Michelle’s behalf.
Further details about the accident and those involved have not been released.