Skip navigation

Saturday April 11, 2015

STEN EIRIK (GUSTAFSSON) (HORNBORG) March 23, 1952 - April 1, 2015
It is with loving memory we celebrate the life of our brother, father, husband, uncle and friend. A life truly lived and cherished. Sten's love for his family and passion for the arts led him to many places and he touched the lives of many people wherever he went.

Sten was born in Sundsvall, northern Sweden to Karl-Fredrik Gustafsson and Eva Maria Hornborg. He spent his childhood in Sweden, where he developed a passion for the arts at an early age. He inspired his brothers, Alf and Lars, and their friends to stage dramatic cowboy games, in which he somehow always managed to dodge every bullet, just as his fictional heroes did. In 1964 his family moved to Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia. He often invited his parents, brothers and friends to watch 8mm monster movies in his basement theatre, complete with snacks and milkshakes. He attended Kings College School in Windsor, Nova Scotia to finish high-school, and there he met his first wife Andrea Lynn (Stephens), who was to become the mother of his two sons, Jude and Joel.

In the summer of 1969, the family moved back to Sweden, and Sten began to study drama/theatre/film at the University of Lund. In 1973, he returned to Canada to pursue stage acting where he worked with Mermaid Theatre, Neptune Theatre, Halifax Independent Theatre, Stratford Theatre Festival, Festival Theatre in London, and continued his studies in drama, creative writing, directing and acting in many university productions at Acadia University. He was musical - he played violin at an early age, and later guitar, singing and song-writing. As well, he built a house in Wolfville together with Andrea, and co-founded and operated Sureline Bus, a local transit service which eventually became what is now Kings Transit.

During the 1980's, he returned to working with theatre in Sweden, not only in production, but also in teaching Drama at Vimmerby Folkhögskola, Kalmar Lšnsteater, and direction with Norrby Theatre in Northern Sweden. In 1987, he returned once again to Canada to work with Neptune Theatre's Young Company and launched a career in acting for TV and film which took him from Wolfville, to Halifax and eventually Toronto. Sten worked a variety of part-time jobs to support himself as a 'starving artist,' during which time he met his second wife, Stephanie Frontin-Eirik, who he married in 1995. Sten's love of music and writing also inspired him to write a number of poems, screenplays and musicals, as well as publish two novels, the most recent being 'The Intended: a Pirate's Confession' (2014). Remarkably, he also managed to find time to obtain his Masters in Psychology at the Adler School, which then became the other side of his working life as a psychotherapist.

In his final years, Sten rediscovered directing, and in 2011 launched Scarborough's only professional theatre company: the Guild Festival Theatre. Sten and Stephanie, through the Guild Festival Theatre, also partnered with the City of Toronto to implement Speak like a Champion, a voice and speech-training program for youth and young adults with special needs.

Most recently, Sten directed 'Living Curiosities' for the Drama Dept. of the University of Toronto while awaiting medical treatment. Performances were met with great reviews, standing ovations and a personal visit from the playwright. At the same time, he was in preparation for a promising upcoming season at the Guild Festival Theatre. Sten passed away very suddenly at St. Michael's Hospital as a result of complications from early chemotherapy treatment for Burkitt's Lymphoma. Everyone believed there was so much more to come from Sten's life.

Sten is lovingly, admiringly, and tenderly remembered by his wife. He cared for his aging parents in Sweden during their final years, visiting them regularly and staying for several weeks at a time, talking, listening and remembering, meanwhile supporting them in their daily lives. He was a family man of incredible generosity who always urged his sons to follow their hearts, and his actions inspired them to pursue their own dreams. Sten had a perpetual ability to play like a child and an imagination beyond this world. He also had a way with words - from the cowboy stories of his childhood to meticulously crafted historical novels and academic journal articles on psychology. He was an admired 'Farfar' to his grandchildren and the best bedtime storyteller ever! So many people have been touched by this busy and varied life that it is hard to believe that Sten is no longer here. But he will always be with us!

Sten was predeceased by his parents (Fred and Eva), and is survived by his wife (Stephanie), his brothers (Alf and Lars), his sons (Jude and Joel) and his grandsons (Anders and Rowan). Sten also has a loving extended family in both Canada and Sweden.

There will be a small private funeral for the immediate family on Friday, April 17, 2015. On Sunday, April 19, 2015, there will be a Celebration of Sten's life at the Scandinavian-Canadian Club, 91 Stormont Avenue (Bathurst & Lawrence) between 4:00 and 9:00 p.m. There will be music, pictures and mementos of Sten's experiences, and plenty to eat and drink, but no scheduled ceremony. We just want to get together and remember him and all that he has accomplished, by sharing our happy memories of Sten! Feel free to bring a food contribution to the Swedish 'smörgåsbord' if you wish. One complimentary glass of wine and a cash bar available. We hope you can join us there.

As well, a number of memorial gatherings in both Canada and Sweden will take place in the late spring and early summer.

The family are asking that in lieu of flowers, donations to Guild Festival Theatre are made in memory of Sten. Cheques should be made payable to Guild Festival Theatre and include donor's name, address and, if possible, e-mail address for the tax receipt. Please mail the cheque and information to: Janet Heise, 118 Catalina Drive, Scarborough, ON M1M 1K8. Charitable number is 81748 5295 RR0001. Tax receipts will be issued for donations over $20. Overseas donations can be made via wire transfer to: Guild Festival Theatre, Account: 61382 0013617; Swift Code: NOSCCATT; Scotiabank, 3041 Kingston Rd., Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, M1M 1P1.

Back to top