A brief message on Facebook Oct. 17 sent shockwaves through the Cowichan Lake area.
“With broken hearts and love, the Martel Family regrets to inform everyone that our loving husband, father and Papa, Denis, peacefully passed away yesterday Oct. 16. We will all love and cherish the time and memories we have had with him. We respectfully ask for time to grieve as a family and let you know that there will be no formal service as requested. We love you Dad, and know that now you are at peace.”
Arlene Christie posted this tribute the same day.
“An incredible man named Denis Martel passed away peacefully yesterday in Lake Cowichan, B.C. He was our neighbour and friend. Our lives will be forever changed by the loss of his friendship, his humanitarian efforts toward his community, and by the love he had for his wife, Carol, his family, and his neighbours.
“Denis was a wonderful example of living life to its fullest and appreciating all of the beauty it beholds. Rest In peace, Denis. You will be truly missed by all of us who had the pleasure of knowing you.”
It seems she spoke for a multitude as last week, Carol Martel posted, “I cannot put into words how grateful l am to each and every one of you for your kind words, flowers, cards, food, the list is endless, at the loss of my dear husband Denis. It was such a shock for us all.
“Denis loved this town so much. He loved the lake, river, mountains, and then, of course, the wildlife, in particular the elk.
“He used to call them his elk.
“He also loved all the people in our town. He used to say if God made better than this he kept it to Himself, and he truly felt that about this town. My family and I are truly blessed to live here and know all you wonderful people.
“All my thanks and love, Carol.”
Born Oct. 21, 1950, in North Battleford, Sask., Martel is survived by his wife, two sons, Len and Chris, three granddaughters, and his brother and sister. He worked for many years at the Youbou sawmill, and was renowned for his support of the Montreal Canadiens.
In recent years, a longtime member of the Valley Fish and Game Club, he had become known far and wide on Vancouver Island for his activities for Wilderness Watch. With the growth of Cowichan Lake’s Roosevelt elk herd, he saw so many incidents of poaching, and endangering these magnificent animals that he had to take action, and spent many, many hours driving logging roads, chasing down reports that came to him in increasing numbers.
Sgt. Scott Norris, of the BC Conservation Officer Service, wrote a letter of condolence on https://www.hwwallacecbc.com/obituary/denis-martel/
“Denis Martel was a passionate crusader who was always willing to help in the fight to conserve and protect our natural heritage. Denis assisted the Conservation Officer Service almost daily and will be greatly missed by local officers and ministry staff. I can’t thank Denis enough for his countless hours of hard work patrolling the backwoods and education of Valley residents on all matters of wildlife conservation. My deepest condolences to the Martel family for their loss of such a great man and role model.”
At press time, a suggestion put forward by Lake Cowichan resident Cathy Wagner that money for a bursary in Martel’s name be collected was still being discussed.