September 6, 1926 – January 22, 2023
In loving memory ~
On Sunday, January 22nd, 2023 the Bernier family lost their hero. Leroy “Roy” Alvin Bernier, fondly known as Pidgie by many, died following several months of illness in hospital and long-term care. Roy was born in Cranberry Lake, B.C. on September 6th, 1926. He completed part of his high school education and left school to go to work with his grandfather in his shoe-making business. He spent a lot of time fishing on the ocean with his grandfather as a child and that led to a lifelong love for fishing. At the age of 18, he joined the Army and moved to Sheffield, Alberta to complete his training. He told stories of the year he spent there, the experiments he participated in and that is where he began his career as a mechanic. After getting out of the Army he had many exciting jobs: working in the far north on the dredges; cutting wood for the steamships going up and down the river to the Yukon; and logging with his brothers in remote areas along the coast. It was while working with his brothers, Raymond and Arnold “Barney”, in 1952 that he was involved in a tragic plane accident where his brother Ray lost his life and he sustained horrific injuries.
He was transported by boat from the remote location on the coast to Vancouver Island, then was flown to Vancouver. After many months in the Vancouver General Hospital recovering from multiple broken bones, burns and the amputation of both his lower legs, Roy went on to GF Strong where he learned to walk on prostheses and drive again. His speedy recovery was facilitated by the love and support of his family, lifelong friend Hugh MacDonald and budding relationship with his future wife Clara. He went back to work as soon as he was strong enough, operating heavy equipment in the logging and road-building industries, in particular, the Fraser Canyon and then later in his career, the famous Bella Coola hill. In 1953 he married Clara Margaret Kelly and moved back to Powell River. Their son Kent was born in Powell River in 1954 and in 1955 they moved to Salmon Arm where their daughter Pamela was born that same year. They bought a small farm near Salmon Arm which they ran together while Roy worked as an automotive mechanic until they sold it and moved to Williams Lake where their son Kevin was born in 1963. Roy was a “Jack of all trades”, which enabled him to build his own home alongside his wife Clara.
In retirement, Roy and Clara enjoyed travelling in their motorhome to many places until Clara’s passing in 1989. In 1994 Roy decided to sell his beloved home and move to Powell River where he renewed his friendship with Alice “Pinky” Grant and was surrounded by countless family and childhood friends. In the late 90s Roy returned to Williams Lake where his children and many grandchildren lived, and enjoyed a wonderful friendship with Faye Buchanan, living in her home until June 2022 when he became ill. Roy spent many hours with his “partner-in-crime” Merv Matthews, enjoying fishing, wood gathering, and other shenanigans; as well as with Ann Cammock, especially at her home on Felker Lake. He cherished spending time with family and friends, as well as heading to the casino to take his chances at the slots. Roy’s philosophy on life was pretty much summed up by a comment those around him often heard him say… “goodie-good-good”!
Roy is survived by his sisters Vivian and Yvonne, his sons Kent (Wendy) and Kevin (Michelle), his daughter Pamela, his grandchildren Nathan, Brentyn, James (Sara), Alison (Darcy), Clara (Mark), Leyland (Deny), Cole, and Mackenzie (Andrew), as well as great-grandchildren Kylie, Harlen, Rhone, Isla, Lee, and Huxson.
Roy was predeceased by his wife Clara, his parents Edward and Mae Bernier, his brothers Raymond and Arnold “Barney”, and his sister Elaine.
Family and friends are invited to join the Bernier family Saturday, February 4th, 2023, for Roy’s viewing at noon at Cariboo Community Church, 35 Oliver Street, Williams Lake, followed by the service at 1:00 p.m. Interment will follow at the Williams Lake Cemetery. All are welcome to either remain at the church or return from the internment, to break bread and share memories at the church. A Celebration of Life will follow later in the spring.
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