March 13, 1933 – March 14, 2022
In Loving Memory ~ Miss Wanda from Romper Room passes away at the age of 89 years.
Wanda was born during a snowstorm in small house on the outskirts of Caroline, Alberta, Canada on March 13, 1933. Delivered by her aunt, Helen Kanten, when it was not possible to reach the hospital at Innisfail during the storm. Her family eventually moved to Sylvan Lake, Alberta where she and her two sisters, Colleen and Carol grew up.
During the war years, her family built and operated, Kanten’s Kanteen, a very successful restaurant on the water front of Sylvan Lake which still stands today. It was called “Pete’s At the Beach” for many years. She recalled summer days in the water, on the Boardwalk and diving.
Her father, Henry, purchased a traveling Merry-Go-Round to the delight of children visiting the lakefront which operated for number of years. One of the carousel horses that was saved after a fire that destroyed the Merry-go-Round, was completely reconditioned by Wanda and is proudly displayed in the foyer of their home today.
One of her fondest memories was sitting in her father’s lap playing along with him at the piano. It was an experience that shaped her as she both sang and played the piano all her life. As a child, she joined with her sisters Colleen and Carol to form the Kanten Gospel Singers in Red Deer. The trio performed with their father Henry, Sunday mornings on the radio. The radio announcer would announce, “Marks Electric of Sylvan Lake, presents the Kanten Gospel Singers.”
In the late 1950’s Romper Room – the children’s TV program – came to CKRD ”live” TV in Red Deer, Alberta. Wanda was selected to be the “Teacher” with the name, Miss Wanda. She was a natural on TV and with children. The kids loved her, and so did the adults.
Romper Room was her TV home in Red Deer and Kitchener, Ontario. Wanda in later years wrote a book about the dangers of children watching too much TV titled, UNPLUG, 101 Ways to Pull Your Kids Away From TV. For someone who was a TV star, it seemed like an oxymoron.
In 1963 and 1964 she was the organist in the prestigious dining room at the Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, AB. She created several singing groups over the years which she both organized and produced the musical backgrounds. An excellent seamstress, she created her wardrobe throughout her life.
It was in Kitchener, Ontario that she met the love of her life, Michael Hartfield who also worked at the TV station. They married and spent 56 very happy years together in Oregon and Arizona.
But Wanda’s greatest achievement was her family. As a mother, she worked and did volunteer projects, but was always home when her two sons came home from school. She loved being a mother and she excelled at the job.
She leaves behind her beloved husband Michael, sons, Dorian and Tristan, their wives Kathy and Shawn and six wonderful grandchildren. She is also survived by her sisters Colleen Carbol of Vancouver, BC and Carol Bradley and husband Glenn of Kelowna, BC plus many nieces, nephews and cousins.
Wanda could play just about any instrument she put in her hands. As Dorian once said, to understand Mom you have to know she is at her core, an entertainer. She has now taken her wonderful talents to the Ultimate Choir in that celestial city.