94 years of age. Bill was born in Robshart Saskatchewan,1916.
He grew up around horses.
His Dad Fred worked
as foreman in the Wyle Ranch that ran 2-3 thousand horses & thousands of cattle. They
supplied horses for the Armed Forces & RCMP. Bill’s Mom
had migrated to Canada with her Dad & the promise of free land. She was born in Helena Montana. Her Mom had died at any early age and she rode the roundups with her Dad at Age 10. She came to Canada to homestead
via covered wagon. She said we
didn’t have much money but we
always rode the best horses.
The family; Fred, Cecilia & 5 kids, Tom,
Clara, Bill, Frank & Marge moved to BC sometime
in the 1930s. They bought a ranch up behind Steamboat Mountain in the Columbia Valley close to Wilmer & Invermere. Bill flourished there as a kid. He hunted, fished & chased wild horses for a living. They always had food. One year he killed 9 deer to help feed several families there. He also had 50 horses of his own that he caught out of the wild.
He would point out a gully down by Radium where they had built a trap and chased a bunch of wild horses into it or tell the story of chasing a wild stallion for 2 weeks to catch him on a moonlight night with a well placed loop as the stallion sailed over the fence trap. He took a bunch of wildies he had caught over to Calgary to sell. They packed all their food and sleeping bags on a wild horse figuring to catch him at night. They never caught him until they got to Calgary.
The W.W. II came along and Bill signed up, as did brother Frank, a decorated pilot in WWII. Bill had flat feet so he couldn’t march. They put him in the Merchant Marines. He sailed around the world 3 times & crossed the equator 7 times delivering ammunition and supplies to the allies and U.S.A. His ship blew up in Vancouver Harbour, sabotaged. After the war he came home, met Mom, married and had 4 children, Gail, Gary, Richard & Jimmy.
Bill worked in various things, running his own logging operations and sawmills. Something he learned during the 30s when they had little tie mills set up to make ties for the C.P.R. He was still using horses to log in the 1950s & machines. He went guiding for Bill Romaine up in the Blaeberry in the 60s and decided to jump back in full force. Before long he had 50 more horses, a farm and a guiding business at Fortress Lake. He expanded to include Bush River, Waitebit & Blaeberry in the 70s. Bill ran the outfitting business well past retirement. He partnered with brother Rich on many an adventure such as gold mining on the Yuba River in California and a rafting business on the Bull River at Fort Steele.
His life was an adventure from beginning to end. Never a dull moment. He would come into the yard on Friday night after working all week and say, “ok boys load up the horses”. He had heard of a lake 2 days ride away but it had fish in it, so off we’d go. Another adventure. In doing so he took time out from making money to teach us how to survive and how to enjoy the things God gave us. He taught us about God’s creatures and gave us the horse. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends… but it was his time to go. The end of an era from wagons to rockets. He passed away Wednesday night at 7pm while relaxing peacefully on the couch. No pain, no misery and at home with his long time friend & partner Linda. What a way to go.
So long Dad.
A celebration of life will be held at a later date.