Herbert Norman (Bert) Irvine was born in Yorkton, Saskatchewan on November 8th, 1919. When he was two years old, he moved with his family to Barrhead, Alberta and it was there that he learned how to trap with his uncles Allan, Wes, Norman and Fred Reed (his mother’s brothers). The call of the wilderness was irresistible for Bert and so, at 15, he quit school and moved to Hash (Iosogen) Lake to trap with his uncle and aunt, Wes and Dorothy Reed. Bert became a well-honed bushman over these years, learning not only from Wes, but from the Chipewyan and Cree, whose languages he mastered. When he wasn’t on the trapline, Bert spent time with his family in Barrhead, learning carpentry skills from his dad, David Irvine. When the Second World War broke out, Bert walked the 150 miles from Hash Lake to Grande Prairie to enlist, but on his arrival he was told to wait for “his call”, so he walked back to Hash Lake. After a brief stint in the Army (which he found not to his liking) he enlisted in the Air Force and was stationed at Rivers, near Winnipeg. It was there that he went to a dance and met Mary and it wasn’t long before they were married. Linda and June were born during the next few years in Winnipeg where, following the war, Bert tried living the city life, working for Baldry Engineering — interspersed with forays back to Alberta and his trapline. Encouraged by his brother, Stan, who had moved to Vanderhoof to work on construction of the Kenney Dam, Bert moved his young family to Vanderhoof .in July, 1953. To support his family, he bought a McCullough power saw and went falling for awhile and also worked with Oscar Sweder at his sawmill west of town. But it wasn’t long before he bought Tom Taerum’s trapline in the upper Nechako country. The early years when the whole family lived out on the trapline were happy ones. Dewey (Mark) was born in 1956 about the time my dad acquired his guiding territory and Rick was born on October 5, 1963, again at the height of the busy guiding season. Bert’s abilities weren’t confined to trapping and guiding. He was a Jack-of-all-trades.— carpenter, plumber, log-builder — you name it, he did it. For the majority of his life he was his own boss, living his life as he wanted to live it. Bert liked people and he loved kids. He was very straightforward and honest; he didn’t beat around the bush, people always knew where they stood with Bert. Bert and Mary lived at their place on the upper Nechako until Mary was stricken with ALS in 2007. Bert continued to live there on his own for a few summers, living his winters with daughter June and her husband Denis, before moving into Riverside Place. Bert passed away at the Stuart-Nechako Manor on November 22nd, 2014.
Our family wishes to extend its sincere thanks to Dr. Campbell and all the staff at the Manor for the very compassionate care given to our dad, especially during the last very difficult months of his life.
Bert will be fondly remembered by:
Sons: Mark (Cindy), Rick (Martina)
Daughters: Linda (Lloyd), June (Denis);
Grandchildren: Jason Reierson (Tanya) Lucy Reierson, Nadine Sims (Gordon), Neal Wood (Lucy) Kim Wood, Russel Wood (Natalie), Lisa Irvine, Vicky Irvine, Steven Irvine (Keli);
Great Grandchildren: Janine Johnson, Michael Johnson, Calvin Johnson, Britni Reierson, Andrea Reierson, Ava Wood, Ellis Wood, Ethan Wood, Finley Wood, Leah Irvine, Jay Irvine, Colton Irvine, Alexander Irvine and Dylan Irvine.
Bert also leaves to mourn, brother Davie Irvine of Wetaskiwin, sister Marguerite Pelletier of Campbell River as well as many nieces, nephews and cousins in both Alberta and B.C.
Bert was predeceased by his wife of 66 years, Mary; brothers Stan and Bill; great- granddaughters April and Holly; great-grandson Zachary Irvine; brother-in-law and sister-in-law John and Joyce Simcoe of Winnipeg.
Bert will also be fondly remembered by his devoted friend of the past two years, Eva Klassen.