August 9, 1964 – March 4, 2022
You may have known him as Boo, Bandido, Bernie, or Bernard, but there was no mistaking his warm smile or easy laugh especially when he connected all the dots and shared whatever his muse was with you. Family, friend, fixer, fisher…his life was a fusion of all these parts set to the music he loved. He was kind, thoughtful, hardworking, and generous. He always cheered for the underdog and he brought out the muse in all of us.
Where to begin? The year was 1964 in a small fishing village on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. It was there that a particularly special crop of young lads was born to families busy with the day to day ebb and flow of town life. They were also ignored by older siblings and it was in this blind spot that they thrived. Tofino was the ultimate playground with one road in and out, surrounded by the sea.
It was also in the days when cats, dogs and kids roamed free: free to build forts, ride bikes, raid blackberry patches, and fish from docks until the sun went down. These special early friendships and stories would last a lifetime with many, many more being added along the way.
It was into this setting that Boo first arrived, having gotten the name because when we siblings called to him in his crib he only knew how to make the sound “boo” so Boo it was from then on.
Shortly after he turned three our family would begin lengthy driving trips each fall to sunny Mexico, returning in April in time for father Alf to prepare for the West Coast salmon fishing season. Our mother Phoebe, a nurse, was quite the trooper, gamely agreeing to what would become half a lifetime of Mexican camping trips.
Bandido loved Mexico and all his new amigos. They loved him too and took great pride in teaching him the worst of the worst Mexican swear words which he would gleefully repeat to anyone who would happen by.
We all remember the grey station wagon, the trailer, and finally the big green bus we travelled in across the thousands of miles. As we got older the Mexican trips to Chimulco, a mineral hot springs, and Barra-de-Navidad, a small fishing town, would pause, and we integrated back into Tofino life.
It was also in this time that there would be a trip to Denmark with brother Leonard where they went to meet all the Danish relatives and sight see Europe. But mostly life was about high school. We all knew that Ucluelet Secondary School for Bernard was about taking shop to keep his car running so he could escape to concerts and a place to plan parties for the weekend. High school was also the place he would meet his future wife Janet Strom.
They, like many young couples who grew up on the west coast, were restless wanting other experiences. They opted to move to Victoria where Janet worked in Government offices, then to Langford and finally to Shawnigan Lake.
The small, quiet community on the Malahat had everything one could ever need: a hockey rink, a big lake for fishing, and a city with occasional concerts just down the hill. Bernie, as he now called himself occasionally, started to work less on the ocean and more on land in various jobs.
He and Janet settled into the small, community and family life with the arrival of sons Dylan in 1992 and Jaimie in 1995. Bernard loved being a dad. Dylan and Jaime were the center of his world and he set out to outfit them with every yard sale toy you could ever imagine much to Janet’s dismay. Those early Shawnigan years were busy young family years for them.
Later there were trips to Cuba and a new hobby of fixing anything with an engine for he had time to fill as a single dad. He also enjoyed his work of twelve years running an excavator at Lake Wood Estates and never, ever mentioned retiring.
Bernard loved the water but fishing was his passion which he shared with lots of ocean going pals. He didn’t love the kind of fishing that put food on the table as in dragging, gill netting or deck handing. No, it was the one-on-one thrill of the chase from small boats like Derf or Fred that would fill his days.
He enjoyed paddles across Shawnigan Lake, the derbies with Doug, and the days spent salmon fishing with buddy Mark filling up soul brother Darcy’s canner and freezer for the winter. All this set to favorite tunes curated with pal Jack. These were the things that would float his boat.
Now we all know there are secrets in the world of fishers: the time, the place, the speed, the lure, and the luck, but the edited stories were shared freely with friends and with gusto over steaks and plenty of beers.
So Boo, maybe you’re out there somewhere……laughing, listening to your favourite tunes and wearing your favourite fishing hat in your favourite fishing spot. We hope so, because we all know that if the fish are biting you won’t be far away….
The family: Phoebe, Leonard, Leah (John)
Sons: Dylan, Jaime and their mom Janet.
Godfathers: Scott Gibson, Jack Tieleman, the Hansens
Special thanks: Tammy-Lynn and Dave Donaldson
You, his friends: Too many to count and too many to mention.
If you wish, please make a donation to the Tofino Salmon Enhancement Society.
Please join us for a Celebration of Life: Tofino and Ucluelet friends
Saturday, May 14, 2022, 1:00 – 4:00, with guest speaker at 2:00 followed by open mic.
The Shore, 368 Main Street, Tofino.
No need to RSVP for the Tofino event, just drop by. Sorry, there is no parking at the venue.
Please join us for a Celebration of Life: South, Mid-Island and Mainland friends
Saturday, April 23, 2022, 1:00 – 4:00, with guest speaker at 2:00 followed by open mic.
Ramada Duncan Hotel, 140 Trans-Canada Highway, Duncan
RSVP Required for the Duncan event by April 8 to the event page.
An invitation event page will be sent out to Bernard’s Facebook friends soon.
If you are not on Facebook please ask a friend who is to submit your name for you.
We don’t want to miss anyone.
For those who can not attend we will try to post pictures post event to Facebook.
Mask wearing appreciated. Due to the uncertainty of Covid we will post any changes to the Westerly News `events’ section and on Facebook.