Obituary of Ernie Bassett
Ernest George Bassett was born to parents Louise and George Bassett on July 31, 1952. He was the 6th of 7 siblings.
Phyllis, Bev, Eileen, Gary, Tom and Perci are his siblings
FAMILY was paramount to my dad, and this was instilled at a very young age. He shared a special and valued relationship with each of his siblings.
Phyllis looked onto him in a maternal way. She took care of him and always had his best interests in mind. She’s the one who knows all the family lineage and has the stories locked in her brain like a time capsule. My Dad used to love to hear of these memories and took great delight in the time they shared together.
Bev and my Dad shared the love of hockey and football together. She would often call after a Game and they would chat about the highlights. I think a favorite memory for them is when my dad dressed as Santa Clause for her children many years ago.
Eileen moved back to BC, and this made my dad very happy for her. He thought she was living the dream having a home in Paradise amongst the fruit. With every trip my parents made to the Okanagan they would make time to visit Eileen and Alec. She called often and was always checking in on her little brother.
Gary and my Dad shared an exciting youth. Together they have memories that some of us will never know. They also share a history of work experiences. The love of fishing and of outdoors and nature.
Tom is the baby of the family, and the only one that stayed in Quesnel. Together the two of them had each other. Getting into trouble and settling down. They raised their families together sharing special holidays, events and meals together. My Uncle Tom was my Dad’s baby brother, but also his Buddy. My Uncle was also willing to join my Dad on adventures.
One time my dad had an idea that “we will canoe down the Cariboo River”. Well, my Uncle told him, “The only thing we know about canoe is where to borrow one from” and so, they accessed a Zodiak from a friend. They were heading down the river with their cooler full of beer and expectations high for the scenery they’d get to enjoy from the best seat in the house. Except,… they encountered a log damn and capsized!!!!!! Wet, and feeling deflated they entered back into the town of Likely. There the locals gasped! “What were you thinking?! That river has class 4 rapids! And, the Grizzlies are prowling for the salmon run!!”
All these years later, he still wanted to repeat that trip.
Last summer they tried a bit safer excursion. They took my Dad’s 14 foot aluminum boat and floated down the Fraser River. They put in at Stone Creek on a hot August day. Only this time, … they ran out of gas. A trip that should have took them 4 hours ended up taking them 7.5 hours. But, they didn’t mind. The sky was clear, the sun was hot, and the cooler was full.
The last few years of my Dad’s life, my Uncle Tom has been a great support to my Dad, as well as, my mom. Taking my dad for a drive, beers, a toke, a walk, a bike ride or lunch. My dad enjoyed his company always has a funny story to share.
Lastly, is their sister Perci. Undeniable to anyone, Perci and my Dad had something special. He loved her dearly and felt a tremendous loss with her passing in 2006. Many great memories were made in Perci and John’s home when we were kids. Favorite places of Perci’s- The Sea Wall, Grandville Island and the CoOp became host to many of our best vacations.
My dad was born in 1952 in the farming town of Gilbert Plains Manitoba.
This established the roots of his respect and value for farming. His Dad and grandparents owned a farm in Gilbert Plain. This provided a playground for the early years of our Dad’s childhood, having access to fields and hay bales to play on, and a love for animals and nature.
At the age of 4, his family left the farm and moved to BC in search of work. They lived around the province, in Burns Lake, Laidlaw, and Hope in search of employment for George, until George went back to school and became a teacher. Imagine that! 7 children and a wife, and he went to a University in Vancouver! Times were tough, but his father had a dream of providing a better life for them. My Dad reflected on these hard times as trying, difficult, but so worthwhile in the end. He respected and valued the sacrifices his parents were trying to make. He did not begrudge these times and the struggles they had with very little money and a Dad that came home on weekends, but rather was so grateful for their sacrifice.
In 1964, George and Louise moved to Quesnel. My Dad was now the age of 12. Years earlier when their family had done the drive from Burns Lake to Vancouver, George had said that “Quesnel was the prettiest little town along the river the whole way”. He applied for work and gained employment at Quesnel Secondary
At first his parents owned a home in North Quesnel, and then they settled in Johnson Subdivision. These streets and the swamp we all know as the West Fraser Timber Park, became their playground. My dad spoke so fondly of the friends he grew up with. Foltons, Schemeneurs, Jamaeffs, Penners, Richardsons,.. these families became a community of tightknit kids. and the memories they made having access to bulrushes, puddles, ponds and creeks. He and Tom went “fishing” in the creek, but not with a line and lure. No! What worked for them, was to trap the fish as the came down the creek and then pop them on the head! There was a construction boom at that time, and the boys found this highly advantageous to supply materials for forts, treehouses and rafts. In the wintertime, the pond was a skating rink, and the hillside along Moffat Street the best toboggan hill in town. His mother would get one of the older kids to yell at the top of the hill “Dinner Time” and they would come in and be fed, still wearing their skates. She used to line the kitchen floor with newspaper so that they could have dinner with their skates on.
During the summer months, the three boys were sent back to the farm in Manitoba. The first year Tom was only 5, Ernie 10 and Gary was 15 years old. Just young kids, and yet on a 3 day voyage on the Greyhound bus headed back to help their Uncle work the farm. These summers were hard work! There was ground to turn, hay bails to lift, and vegetables to be picked, and my dad loved all of it. He not only didn’t mind hard work, he relished in it. A job well done. That sweat and calluses earned him his dinner or maybe even a paycheque. Moreover, time spent on the farm during those summers kindled a very special relationship with his Uncle Rick. Rick was like a father to my Dad. He respected this man profoundly. Instilling a love for farming, respect for the earth, for nature, things that grow, and hard work.
When my dad was 15 he quit school and went out to seek employment. His father said he had a connection to get my Dad work out at Dunkley. My Dad left on Monday morning hitchhiking his was North, only to learn that Dunkley wasn’t hiring. Instead of calling it quits and coming home, he took the initiative and continued to travel further North. Perseverance paid off! He obtained employment with the Green Lake Sawmills. When he came home the next weekend and his dad asked how work was with Dunkley. He said “Dad, they didn’t hire me” His father replied “Well, where have you been all week?!” To which he informed them he had gained employment with Green Lake Sawmills, his Dad was proud of him for pursing on and not packing it in. My dad never called it quits. He always followed through. Always seen to it that the job was done and a job done and preserved.
From the ages of 15-24 he loved a good party. My uncles and his cousins can attest to that. Together they shared many flats of beer, crown royal, late nights, laughs, mischief, encounters with police, and friendships. Many good times were had during these years. Memories (or that can’t be remembered. Or many don’t want to be remembered!!!!) Made by those boys swimming in lakes and rivers, racing cars, camping, cliff jumping. He lived a reckless and wild youth. He had a free spirit and loved a good time!
In 1976 at the age of 24 he became employed at West Fraser Mills. He worked or this company and was loyal to them for 41.5 years! He took great pride in working for West Fraser. He took pride in getting up and going to work every day. He never called in sick… even when he should have. He took pride in having a steady paycheque. He was proud that he could support his family and to give us a good life with his earnings. Also, employment at West Fraser enabled my sister and I to be employed on the weekend cleanup crew. He was soooo proud to be able to have his girls employed there also.
Lifelong friends were made through West Fraser, many of them retiring all around the time. These men, their kinship, and the Thursday Coffee Group became a healthy space for my Dad these last four years. Many of them getting my dad out for a walk, willing to drive him to Prince George and aid in anything my parents needed.
Back in 1976, he met my mother, and the greatest love story ever known was written.
Their fathers were friends. My Grandpa George and my Pupa Lars thought it would be ideal if they set their children up. It is told that George invited Evie, and Lars for dinner and a hockey game. My mom was in the kitchen not as interested in the hockey, and Ernie became WAY more interested in “checking the roast” in the kitchen than watching the hockey game! He was 24 and she was 18, and wayyyyy out of his league. But, that didn’t deter him. He knew from the first day he met her that she would become his wife. And, in September of 1978 they were married, under moms conditions “it will be my way, or the highway”. He didn’t hesitate and has never looked back. And, he often said “I’m so glad I chose her way, I don’t know where I would have ended up if I had gone my way”.
Marrying my mom came another condition, she was a package deal with her little sister. Bobby is 10 years younger than my mom, and my mom made it clear that the two of them were a duo. My Dad took her on like his own. She vacationed with us when we were little. He teased her. They “got eachother” and he loved her very much.
My parents honeymooned to Lake Louise and this forevermore has become a favorite place for them. And 9 months later, I was born in June of 1979. My sister followed just 18 months later in Dec of 1980.
With the woman of his dreams by his side and two daughters his life was complete. His life was perfect, and he let everyone know it. It didn’t bother him that he did not have boys. He was so proud to have two little girls.
He gave us the best of everything. He told us DAILY that we were beautiful that we were intelligent, bright, smart, strong and capable of anything. He taught us how to fish (with a lure and line not a stick!), refurbish furniture, run a boat, light a fire, paint, cut wood and build. He loved us like Princesses, yet raised the bar for us to become, do and be anything we desired.
He already had the perfect life, the perfect wife, the perfect daughters and then.... his daughters married perfect men. Cameron Leeson and Dennis Warren were quickly welcomed into our family with open arms. If he could have handpicked two perfect men, these would have been the two he would have chosen. These men are hardworking, caring, kind, compassionate and.... they love their families first. In so many ways, these men model qualities and attributes my Dad possessed. Hence, Brandi and I chose them. My dad raised the bar on expectations of what is to be desired in a husband and father. Our dad embraced them into our family and they become his sons. Together they enjoyed skiing, beers, camping, biking, boating, and hockey.
My mom speaks of how blessed they we that we have these two wonderful men in our lives. That are good providers, good fathers, good men. And that as parents, they had such piece of mind in knowing their daughters are well loved.
And then along came the perfect grandchildren.
Making them Grandparents.
My sister and I gave him 4 grandchildren. Chase, Jersey, Finley and Laine. They became his sense of purpose. His lifeline. His therapy. The last two being born since his diagnosis. They were his every reasons for tomorrow’s.
Together joy was shared biking, skiing, sun soaking, snuggling, walks in the stroller, story telling,.... mostly listening. My dad was such a good listener. He thought they were all sooooo talented, beautiful, gifted and exceptional. And told them such things always.
You all know this. He’s been bragging to you.
He had many many friends in his life but, his greatest friend will always be his buddy Billy. They met at West Fraser in 1976, ad have been by each other’s side since. Billy and my Dad have many adventures over the years. Many memories were made travelling together as families, and as couples. Camping trips to Haida Gwaii, Vegas, Cuba, and Mexico. As kids we got Christmas trees together, in recent years fishing trips, quadding trips and roatrips to retrieve whatever it is Bill is after next, … my Dad was always by his side. The two were best friends and loved one another in a way that few of us will ever be lucky enough to find in this life. A friendship like these two have.
My friends grew up knowing that my Dad’s best friend was also THEIR Uncle Bill.
Literally, a phone call away and either of them would drop anything for the other. Bill was the friend that would come in a heartbeat to help my dad with whatever you needed done many fun times.
My parents were also blessed with lifelong friends Fred and Vicky Remple. They had the the same age as Brandi and I and met through Pinecrest Elementary School.
Although Fred and Vicky moved away in 1988, our parents have sustained a friendship all of these years. The Remple Resort is not only where my parents stayed to access fruit, but also where friendship was built under the sun, in the pool, and on the deck.
The highlight of my parent’s summer for decades was always going to the Okanogan to be with their dear friends and to scout out fruit. Nearing the end of their vacation my dad would shop for fruit. The best prices, the best quality. And then,… by HAND he would hand pick 300 pounds of peaches. 300 pounds of tomatoes, boxes and boxes of peppers, onions, pears and apples. Talking to each one. (nope…. You’re not ready yet. … Oh yes! You’re perfect! Won’t you taste delicious.”) He talked to the fruit. He respected the earth, sun and rain that grew them. And then,… he canned! He loved canning! For years I’ve been telling him that this is not a cost-effective way to have fruit in their home, and yet… he insisted. He loved the art and skill of canning, and of making salsa, and together with my mom at his side, they were the perfect duo in the kitchen! They have this process perfected. Like a smooth oiled machine, they are a fluid pair in the kitchen. He was so proud to share a can of peaches, or a jar of salsa, and would tell you that the best time to catch fruit in the Okanogan is the 3rd week in August!
He should have been a farmer, we often thought that. He respected the earth so much, and it was in his being to work so hard. No matter how tired he was when he came home from work , he’d begin to labor in his yard. He’d mow, shovel, dig and rake until my Mom made him come in for something to eat. The flower beds were colorful and full, the lines in the lawn precise and sharp, the deck sanded and stained,… annually even though the stain says its good for 15 years!
Always finish up by sitting back with a beer taking his shoes off and looking back at what you’ve just accomplished and feeling proud. He didn’t feel exhausted, or bitter, or angry for having time to do this work but instead, proud and accomplished that he had the best life ever.
While very paternalistic about “blue jobs” outside, he didn’t shy away from cooking or cleaning. Growing up we used to be given the choice if we wanted to go to church, or stay home and mop the floors with dad. He and mom were the perfect duo in the kitchen. One washed and one cleaned. One cut and one cooked. They could slam out turkey dinner for 28 people and not bat an eye. A fluid union working together so congruently.
And good thing he liked to help cook, cause he sure loved to eat!!!! And eat he could! Our dad is infamous for his infinite appetite. The heaping plates,... repeated multiples over!!! And, we were never sure where he put it?!?!?! So tall and slender.
He smiled often and laughed robustly. His laugh was so contagious and could easily be mistaken as crying. He was a hoot to watch a good comedy with, and often the entertainment was watching HIM enjoy the show and not actually the movie itself.
My parents had a tiny home. Their first home was purchased January of 1979 for just $28,000. It was only 850 square feet. They raised us two girls in this house. That house was were love grew. The yard, the swing set, and pod were our playground. It was a childhood that storybooks are made of. The neighborhood kids we grew up with were our friends. We rode bikes, caught salamanders, frogs and even had a boat we used in the pod and we’re lucky we didn’t drown.
When the mortgage was paid off, my parents had talked celebrating with a second honeymoon. However, us kids them over, and a trip to Disneyland happened instead.
14 years in that little house, and my parents decided to build their Dream Home. In 1994 they built the home he died in on Dennis Road.
Our home was an open door for many, and he was proud and endorsed the fact that it could host many. Even in their tiny home, there was room for people to be fill their bellies, or crash for the night. He was constantly inviting people to join us for dinner and pleased that he had the space to accommodate same. My sister and I’s friends also grew up in this home, A safe place to come home to. A meal. Open arms and sound advice were also found under their roof.
It was very important to our Dad to host Sunday Night Dinners. My sister, and I, and our children still know that there’s a place we belong on Sunday evenings, and you all know you’re welcome too!
My father had so many character qualities.
The man was dedicated firstly to be an upstanding husband and father.
He was LOYAL! Fewer people can be of found of being more loyal, whether it be to his wife, friendships, his country, his employer, or even his beer… it’s gotta be Molson Canadian.
He was Patriotic!!!! Always keen to stand tall and sing proudly for the Canadian Anthem. He hung Canadian flags outside his home on Canada day. And, he even scolded me a little less, when he learned the tattoo I had acquired was that of a maple leaf.
He did not like body art and thought that bodies were the most beautiful left how God made them.
He was an Adventure Seeker!!!!!!!!! A Risk taker!!!!! Anything for a thrill! Risk taker!!! And had luck on his side! Always!
He knew how to posture so that the waterslides were the fastest,, with your shoulders back, your legs crossed. He waxed up his toboggans so they would get more speed and always looked for the steepest hill. And he threw his arms up in the air as he rode in the front seat of any rollercoaster! And he loved to hang on tight to a wicked tube ride behind the boat!
He used to own a 1973 750 Honda motorcycle and gave my mom a heart attack more than once and if that wasn’t enough reason to get rid of it, the speeding tickets were. ... whatever you’re allowed as a maximum in your life, while still keeping a current driver’s license.... that’s how many he has!
Another time she was watching him swim from Long Beach and he got farther and farther from her sight when she realized he was getting drown out rather than in. The Coast Guards had to swim out and rescue him and my mom was terrified she was going to witness his drowning before her own eyes.
I don’t think it was always easy to be married to my Dad. He constantly had my mom worried about his safety. And, he was repeatedly undoing whatever rules, guidelines and structure that were to happen in their home.
When we were babies, my mom was trying to wean Brandi from the bottle. Dad came home from town to Brandi crying, so he locked mom out of the house so that he could give Brandi a bottle of milk.
Another time, mom was trying to wean me from a soother. She had thrown them out, and we had moved on, … or in that direction. But I asked Dad, and so he just went out and bought me one!
He couldn’t handle babies crying he wanted them to be soothed. Held, fed, consoled. He did not believe that babies should cry.
And he gave his grandkids anything they desired! Ice-cream, booster juice, trips to the bakery, staying up past bedtime, one more story, money to buy treats and permission to do as they pleased.
In fact, the last sentence I remember him saying was Thursday night while sitting at the dinner table. The kids had eaten their dinner and had asked for dessert. Cam and I had thought that the day had already delivered enough sugar and had said no. My dad could hardly catch his breath and interjected “They can have as much as they want”.
A favorite memory of Dad’s was skiing in the Rockies staying in a truck and camper. They had planned this for months and when the time came for the trip the weather had turned cold, it was -26. We weren’t sure we should be going, we were given the choice
Do we still want to go skiing even in these cold temperatures, or we could take the money and buy a brand-new TV?
(we only had one TV in our home with only three channels!)
Well for us it was a no-brainer, we quickly decided that we would continue with the plan of skiing. The dream was to ski all the ski hills in the Rockies, Marmot in Jasper, Lake Louise in Banff. We were dressed really warm… but not quite warm enough we had to make many trips into the lodge to warm our toes but we quickly sucked it up and got back out there. Had to get as many runs in as possible!!!
At night, the camper was cold!!! That little furnace couldn’t throw out enough heat to warm us, or dry our clothes, which hung from every cabinet, window and bun bed. We used hot water bottles in our sleeping bags to keep warm. It was so cold, that even the food in the We had hot water bottles to keep us warm under the covers, and yeah it was so cold outside the food in the fridge on the inside froze. The story went down in history as the time my Dad took his family to see the Canadian Rockies even though it was -26 and we were in a truck and camper! All making great memories
My parents raised us with lots of camping trips. They owned a 1969 14 foot Scamper Travel Trailer. This was loaded up often as we explored the province, and it was even taken on a trip back to Manitoba one year.
1985, my parents began accessing “The Cabin” at Punchesicut Lake. This space hosted many great times over the last 3 decades for our family. The cabin gave us as kids the ingredients for the best childhood memories one could ever ask for. Camp fires, swimming, story telling, naps, hikes, building forts, frogs, fishing, boating, coloring, reading, and exploring were had by all.
For my Dad, the cabin was a piece of heaven. A tranquil place where he sought solitude and connection with nature. He also worked on many projects there over the years, And many of you might have helped. Building stairs, warfs, a new deck, and outhouses. “The Cabin” was a labour of Love.
He always wanted to bring Chase out there. Even when he was just a baby. This did not sound like a good plan to us as parents. But my Dad thought, What could go wrong?!
There’s only 38 steep stairs up a cliff to the cabin, a lake, a warf, a wood stove, a deck with no railing, carosine lanterns,
He never worried about anything. He trusted the unknown. Could always be heard saying “It’ll all work out”. “It’s all good”. “I’ve got this”.
He was expressionable. He was quick to come to tears and didn’t hide his sorrow or joy. He was affectionate. He kissed us often. On the forehead, the cheek, and many of his favorites, even on the lips! We grew up in a home where we watched parents who embraced one another with affection just because. He was often caught smacking my mom on the bum! 41 years of marriage and they still held hands on the River Walk. He held us. He hugged sooooo well. And if you weren’t laying in his arms, he was tapping your leg.
He showered us with compliments!!!! Always praising my mom, my sister and I, and his grandkids with love!!!!! We could do no wrong. Always praising us about how good, smart, beautiful, intelligent and the best fit for any task he thought we were in his eyes.
We could wake up with bed head and no makeup and he’d gaze at us and deliver bountiful compliments of beauty.
When Chase was only two weeks old, my Dad was overheard on the phone telling his siblings “he’s sooo talented!!!”
We loved us in other ways too, like being willing to play or tag along in anything we desired. Like participating in the Church Talent Show, tea parties in the kitchen when we were little and dressing up for Halloween, What other Grandpa uses their mask for radiation as a Halloween costume?!
He was resourceful!!!! If he didn’t have the skills to finish a job, he knew someone who did. One time he needed a backhoe. “Dad, where are you gonna find a backhoe?!” I kid you not, he flagged on down on Dennis Road!
He was a simple man. He enjoyed simple pleasures and didn’t indulge in extras. He didn’t need new things. He was quite comfortable with what he had. I’m sure you all remember his snake skin cowboy boots. He had those for toooo many years! And sure did enjoy to put them to use. He could always be found kickin it footloose and fancy free on the dance floor. He did have a rhythm quite his own, and it certainly didn’t follow any manual, but he didn’t care. He loved a good tune. And he loved to appreciate music with the ones he loved.
Although he was happiest at home, he loved to travel. He LOVED a sun vacation!!! Bottomless rum, sunshine, the ocean, and an open itinerary for each day!!!! Mexico, Domincan, Cuba, Haida Gwaii, Nova Scotia, Niagara Falls, Vegas, the Rockies, and the East Coast were host to some of his most treasured times
He was a selfless man who often put the needs of the family ahead of his own wants. He was happiest when we were happy. This probably will be where we should pull the greatest strength from as we move forward,… that is what he wants. He wants us to be happy. To find joy. To play.
So, as we carry on his legacy, I hope you bask in the sun, sit down in the grass and enjoy that beer, play with your babies, adore your wives, catch that fish, finish that project, drift down the river, laugh out loud to Chevy Chase, go skinny dipping, catch the last run of the day, explore something new, plant a tree, and hold eachother tight. Let him live on in each of you. For if we do, we will be better. We are already blessed for having known and been loved by such a Great Man.
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