Passed away in Cowichan District Hospital in his 90th year. Bert was born in the small pioneer town of Strome, Alberta (Camrose country) to Margaret (McAllister) and Bion Eldie Seward. Although growing up during the depression Bert said he looked back on the happiest childhood a boy could wish for.
Bert’s foremost skills were as a carpenter and builder which he learned at an early age from his father, but his working life was varied. In July 1943, age 16 he attended a war emergency class in sheet metal and fitting at Edmonton Technical School and from there went on to aircraft repair. For the last six monthes of 1944 Bert worked on his uncle’s oil well rig in Turner Valley. January 1945 saw Bert, age 18 in Vancouver where he joined the Merchant Marine, sailing aboard the S.S. Adelaide up and down the BC coast as a fireman and oiler. In November 1945 he returned to Alberta and worked at horse logging in Winfield for the winter. In 1946 Bert’s family moved to Hope, BC, where he joined them in 1947 and threw himself into the life of the community: engaging in building of every kind, joining in the fire department and projecting the movies at the Hope Theatre. It was during this time that Bert became a founding member of the Westwood Race track in Vancouver where he ‘tested’ his TR3. He was away for one year, March 1951 to March 1952, at Ocean Falls as a pipe-fitter.
In 1962 Bert married Elta Davies. Their son David was born in 1963. Two or three years later they moved to Prince George where Bert took part in building the Peace Power Dam, working with forms and concrete in winter weather. In 1967 Bert, Elta and David moved to Vancouver Island and built a beautiful waterfront home in Mill Bay. Bert was for many years the builder for Island Shake & Shingle, Lake Cowichan. He was lucky to be a little late for work on the morning of the big explosion in 1970. In his last years, before the ‘official’ retirement, Bert enjoyed being part of the team at Driver’s Industrial Installations.
In retirement, Bert travelled to Arizona and California, to the Cypress Hills in Saskatchewan and the Turtle Mountains in Manitoba, towing his airstream trailer behind his much-loved red Dodge diesel truck.
Bert was a man of many interests: music, astronomy, photography, native birds, history and horses which he learned to handle as a boy. He had taken up prospecting and spent time with his sluice box in the BC Interior with friends Bud Bond and Bouvier Pandi. He enjoyed two summers in Dawson City, Yukon visiting his niece Jenny and exploring the Territory.
In the early 1980’s, Bert became a beekeeper and said he took a ton of honey off ten hives in the Shawnigan highlands one summer. He belonged to the Cowichan Rod & Gun Club and hunted in the Chilcotins with Harry Driver and John Holman’s camp; also enjoyed hunting elk and fishing for trout with brother-in-law George and nephews Chris and David Kaisner in Sparwood country, East Kootenays.
Bert was predeceased by his father in 1953, his mother in 1980 and his older sister Lu in 1999. He is survived by his younger sisters Joy and June (Sparwood) and Eldie (Hope), his son David, many nieces, nephews, cousins and their children and by his companion of 32 years, Leila.
In spite of a fiery nature, Bert gave generously of his time, expertise and amazing energy to do many kind, thoughtful and helpful things for family, friends and fellow-workers. He loved to be sociable, tell a good story and join in the life of a party. He made the most of every opportunity in life with enthusiasm.
Sadly in his last years Bert struggled with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Special thanks to Eileen Dirom of Senior’s Outreach, Jenna and all her crew at Chemainus Adult Daycare, Cindy and Anna of Providence Farm Garden Club and all the nursing staff at Cowichan District Hospital, who so patiently and kindly cared for Bert.
Bert was a one-of-a-kind character. His was a bright, feisty and independent spirit. He was one of the people who helped build British Columbia.
There will be no service at this time, but a family gathering and memorial will be held in the spring or summer of 2017 in Strome, Alberta, where Bert wished his ashes to be interred.
Online condolences may be made at www.hwwallacecbc.com