When Earl was a kid, the untamed wilderness of British Columbia beckoned from the pages of the tourists magazines in his Seattle home. At age 15, an opportunity to work as a farmhand for the Oknianski brothers of Tatalrose gave him the chance to escape the city - and he never looked back. Joining the ranks of true pioneers like Wilson McNeil, the Oknianskis, Moores, and Stephensons, Earl pre-empted his own homestead on what became known as Ingram (Burner) Lake. His first farming equipment was all horse-drawn and he even used a wagon to haul in a small crawler tractor, piece-by-piece.
Logging and sawmilling supported his farming habit through much of his life. He arrived at the tail end of the tie hacking era, as the squaring of ties with broadaxe gave way to the bush mills that dotted the area. His old head rig remains usable even today.
After marrying the love of his life Tina in 1968, they moved briefly to Tintagel before settling down at Francois Lake to operate a small farm and raise their son Glen and daughter Valerie. They have been fixtures of the Francois Lake community ever since.
Except for a twelve year experiment working a "family friendly job" on the ferry and a couple of supervision jobs, he spent countless hours harvesting timber and building roads, operating (and fixing) equipment including one of the first self-loading logging trucks in the area.
In 1997 he was awarded a woodlot at Tchesinkut Lake, which the family continues to operate. In 2011 he was duly recognized with the Provincial woodlot management award.
Those who knew him found him possessed of a very informed view of the world, as well as intelligent and well-spoken even if a man of few words. Curious, calm, kind, and compassionate - these words describe him well. Yes, stubborn and headstrong too. He was known as a hard-working man of his word, with whom a handshake was a binding contract.
Wilson McNeil was Earl's mentor and a father figure who helped to shape him. Earl carried on this tradition with many of us. He was someone to count on for help whenever needed, and to give quiet and considered advice about the matter at hand.
And now we carry on, as Earl would ask us to, without a bunch of fuss. Earl's life and death under his own terms reminds us of the strength within each of us to choose our own path.
Earl will be dearly missed by his wife Tina, son Glen (Miriam) and grandson Evren, and daughter Valerie (Alistair), sisters Maureen and Sue, as well as all the extended family and friends who enriched his life and were enriched by his.
As was his wish, Earl's ashes will be scattered at Francois Lake. Among the wind and waves, below the sky, rolling hills, and forests along its shores - we will look out and remember you, Earl, always.
An informal gathering in Earl's honour will be held at Francois Lake Community Hall on Saturday September 24th from 1 pm to 3 pm.