Obituary of Larry Dunn
Our Dad (Sherry, Jamie(Lana), Dale(Yvonne), Candace, & Carla(Gord)), Cousin, Uncle, Friend, Grandpa (Josh, Ryan, Courtney, Chimere, Dalyn, Garrett & Brittany) and Great Grandpa (Eli, Alden, Jacob, Nate) is dearly missed and fondly remembered by all those who knew him well.
Dad was born in New Westminster November 5th 1939. Dad was pre-deceased by his entire family: his mom and dad (Dorris and Harold), three brothers (Gary, Jim, John) and his sister Diane. Dad passed in his home surrounded by family on April 14th, 2021.
With Dad’s sickness (cancer) came the inability to do the things he enjoyed doing and it drove him crazy cause he liked things a certain way. He was always a go getter, if something needed doing he did it now. Procrastination was not in Dad’s vocabulary. This certainly held true to all the years on our H-D (Bouchie) Ranch growing up. When he asked us to do something he wanted it done now, even into our adult lives. The joke was “when I ask you to jump, you ask me how high?” One thing for sure it made all of us kids’ darn good workers, which he was always so proud of.
A few of Dad’s favourite things were to ride his quad on the road NOT in the mud; even though we explained that ATV meant all-terrain vehicle. Dad took such good care of his possessions that he ended up putting more money into them than he paid. Frazer River GM lost a lucrative customer. Dad always had well maintained machinery on the ranch and took pride in all his vehicles; which were several. He loved shopping for vehicles but rarely bought one.
Dad enjoyed ice fishing but not the act of fishing; he would just go and chat with others on the lake. Patience was not a virtue of our Dad. He enjoyed riding his pedal bike all over town with his dog Stella in tow…. Dad also enjoyed going to the pool but he especially enjoyed the camaraderie of the ladies at the pool as he did with the ladies at the Quesnel Cancer Clinic. Dad was also very fond of wrestling with his beloved dog TJ “his little buddy “and with his great grandchildren. Dad would never turn down a meal, especially if you were cooking or buying, and also enjoyed the visits which accompanied them.
We all know how frugal Dad was but not when it came to the NHL. He really did eat, sleep and breathe hockey. He had the best hockey channel and not to mention he went to 4 NHL games in four days! Not to mention back to back baseball games. Clearly not the sign of a frugal man… but we all know different as many of his friends jokingly would try to get Dad to pick up the tab.
Dad loved his home in North Quesnel and thoroughly enjoyed taking care of his yard and driveway. Not to mention his roof and gutters, in which neighbours had to shut their blinds cause they got nervous seeing an 80 year old on a ladder in his gum boots.
Dad enjoyed watching Gun Smoke, any kind of western movie and loved John Wayne. He also love to watch “The Grit Channel” all those old westerns. But you couldn’t take the country out of Dad as he thoroughly enjoyed his drives in the country where he could see ranch land, fertile soil but NOT last year’s hay still on the field which was a No No in our Dad’s eye. Dad’s freedom in the country got him into trouble in the city with the Bylaw Officers whom we are sure will be bored without him. As will Matt Thomas at the City of Quesnel, thank you Matt for understanding our Dad. Oh yes and then there are Politics & CNN which were also his favs (but NOT Trump).
Dad had many a saying…. “This is God’s Country”, “Sooo what’s up” was his typical telephone conversation starter, “So and so is like a fart in a mitt” we are still not sure what this means exactly. On the H-D Ranch while growing up “Daylight in the Swamps” was a typical good morning knock on our doors which meant get up and let’s get going. Often there was song “Oh how I hate to get up in the morning, how I would rather stay in bed”….which was clearly very annoying in the early morning hours…. During our rebellious teenage years Dad would say “Just remember you make the bed you have to lie in.” We can still hear our Dad speaking these sayings from back at life on the H-D Ranch.
We will miss Dad’s early morning phone calls, check ins, random unexpected visits, and all his opinions that were never asked for but knew we were going to hear.
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but Dad was fast to learn about Siri, the web, how to use an iPad, how to PVR with talking remote all in search of hockey, politics, news, the stock market, used car shopping and pictures of his family on Facebook; not to mention using Amazon and YouTube to fuel his passions.
Dad was cremated and did not want a service so in time family and friends will gather on their own. May you rest in peace Dad, we love you and appreciate all you have done for us over the years through all the ups and downs of life.
The Larry Dunn Story ~ Interview with Ginnie Dunn
Larry's parents, Harold and Ella Dunn, made their home in New Westminster, having traveled from Sask. They had five children, Jim, Gary, Larry, Johnny and Diane. Garry died at the age of 2. Jim was born in Sask and the other children in New Westminster. Ella had a lot of dry cleaning experience in her background and Harold, always the speculator, found the perfect location and built a laundry and dry cleaning business across the street from the Royal Columbian Hospital in the Sapperton area of New Westminster. They called it Dunn Brothers and their slogan was, 'When It's Done by Dunn it's Done Better'. The building had living accommodations for the family upstairs. Later they bought a home on Kerry Street in the same area.
The kids attended McBride School to begin with and soon transferred to St. Peters Catholic School, a tradition began by other family members. This was particularly important to their Grandmother. Larry had a large paper route during those years which included the hospital making it a good moneymaker for a young fellow. Larry saved all his paper route money, and later bought the first family cow with it. Larry was 12 years old when they moved to Quesnel. They attended Milburn Lake School until high school age and then went to Quesnel High School.
When Jim, the oldest, showed signs of becoming troublesome, Harold decided it was best to get the kids out of the city so they could learn the country life. His Grandfather knew a man named Bill Angus who had some property to sell in Quesnel. Harold and Bill drove to Quesnel to have a look at it. Harold bought the property. It was located on Strawberry Hill on the Rawling Road. When Larry bought that first cow John Flahr teased him, knowing Larry didn't know anything about cows, telling him that it was such an old cow it would die. After shedding some tears about it, Larry learned that Mr. Campbell who had a dairy where the golf course is now, had sold him a good cow.
When Larry attended Quesnel High School for 2 years he spent most of his time looking out the window wishing he was somewhere else. He particularly wanted to be helping clear land because he had been promised a horse for helping.
Harold had lots of experience working with animals growing up in Sask. During those years his Father broke horses for the Army. Larry says that Grandfather was an excellent horseman. Harold was good too. Later when the family started developing acreages in the Quesnel area, Grandfather taught them how to properly shoe a horse, since it was a different procedure required here than on the Prairies.
One year Larry helped put up the hay with horses and derek poles at Slim Dolvan's place. Larry stayed to winter the cattle alone. He turned 15 years of age over that winter.
Always wanting more land, Harold moved the family to what is now part of the Crick place on Milburn Lake and then to what they called the Darbison place on the Nazko Road. (It's been known by many family names over the years but can easily be described as the place on the big curve at 16 mile on the Nazko Road.) They had more space then and so bought more cattle. Around this time they also bought the place they called Coon meadow. The property included Baker Creek and the creek was a problem so they just used the property for hay and pasturing.
Larry worked for Harry Haliday and Fred Moxley for a time. He would ride his saddle horse and lead the work horse 3 or 4 miles to their mill and then back home again to the Nazko Road place.
While this early ranching business was getting underway, Harold and Ella went to work for Fred Beath at the Quesnel Laundry and Dry Cleaning business in town. Soon Harold was too busy on the ranch and Ella continued working in town. She never drove a car in her life and so she often stayed in town until a ride became available for her. Harold and the boys and Diane managed by themselves often. They sold the ranch after a few years and built a home on a small corner of the property. That new home then burned down. Harold and Ella moved to a cabin on Hung-Gate Meadow on the Lavington Road about 40 miles from town. They also had a cabin on Tibbles Lake.
Still with lots of enthusiasm for developing more land the family added Sandy Meadow, another large meadow further up the same road. Sandy Meadow had never been pre-empted and they were quite excited to discover it, so they staked it. Dude and Art Lavington had been using the land for years for pasture and hay and had never staked it. Of course they were upset when they learned they had lost it.
Hung-Gate Meadow was a serious bog. There was an old story that a man named Hung-Gate had broke through the bog and was never seen again. First Harold and the boys dynamited a ditch right down the middle of the large bog to start the draining. Over years Harold could be seen anywhere on the meadow with a shovel making little ditches and little rivers to help drain the property.
Larry married Sylvia Derkatch and they bought Bouchie Meadow on the Nazko Road where they built their ranch from scratch and stayed for many years. In their very early days, they built a home in town because they were both working at the plywood plant with Larry building his ranch part-time. Also it was convenient for the children going to school.
Larry began a new job at the plywood plant driving a cat and during this time he met and became friends with Eric Sargent. Eric was a speculator at heart and always interested in land. Larry by now had some ranching experience. Soon they came up with the idea to become partners in a new ranching business called 'Dunn and Sargent Ranches Ltd.' Eric bought Hung-Gate and Cutbank Meadows and others. Together they bought the Fisher place on the Blackwater Road just before Blackwater Spruce Road. At the time the Fisher place was developed only to the point of being able to handle 25 head of cow amd calf pairs and 25 heifers. Since they had bigger plans, the new Ranch had to have more hayfields, more pasture, more barns and more fences. And it all had to be done right away! Johnny was hired to manage the joint venture under Larry's direction. Many different ranch hands came and went over the next few years as these various projects were developed as quickly as possible to accommodate eventually 200 head of cattle.
Somewhere in those years, Larry had to quit his job at the plywood plant to build the ranch and Sylvia continued at the plywood plant and later developed a Forestry reforestation business. Harold and Larry along with Bill Riply and Wallace Paley built their big log house and the family moved out to the Ranch. In those days the bus ride to school for the 4 kids from the ranch was very long. They caught the bus about 7:00 am and got home about 5:00 pm.
Over about 25 years Sylvia would often say that someone should build a store and restaurant at the corner of Nazko and Tibbles Lake Roads.
Next Harold and the boys got into the logging business – while Larry continued building the ranch. Harold and Jim bought the logging truck. Johnny and brother-in-law, Bruce Friesen bought small John Deere cats for skidding (no skidders in those days). Leo Katzel drove the truck.
Sword & Kerr Mills (known also as 2 X 4 Stud Mill and later as Can-For) needed to get some timber into their mill. They made a deal to log Coon Meadow with horses and paid to use the road through the property to haul the timber. It was advantageous for the company to not open the road up to possible logging behind the property.
The new Company, Dunn and Sargent Ranches roughed out a trail straight across country from the Fisher place, 42 miles out the Blackwater Road, to Larry's home place, 32 miles from town on the Nazko Road, for their convenience moving cattle back and forth between the two ranches to make the best of their feed. One year when the time came they needed to move the cattle from the Fisher place to Larry's home place, the weather turned particularly bad, even the warmest part of the day was -40 Fahrenheit. The plan was that Johnny would drive the cattle from the Blackwater end and Larry would meet up with him coming from the other end. No phones were available. Johnny changed his mind that day so many times about whether to proceed as planned or not and finally decided it just wasn't practical. He felt positive Larry would make the same decision. However, Larry set out as planned on his Pinto horse. As he came farther and farther reaching the point of no return he figured Johnny must've run into trouble. He arrived at the Fisher place after dark, around 6:00 pm. He almost never made it. There were icicles 3 feet long hanging off his horse and Larry couldn't talk, he just stumbled into the house. Of course, Johnny was sick about the whole thing.
Larry was the first rancher in the Quesnel area to report wolf kills of his cattle. Nobody believed him. Wolves were extremely rare at the time in the Quesnel general area and unknown to bother livestock. Larry had Quesnel's new veterinarian, John Wilson, do an autopsy on a recent kill and it was confirmed to be a wolf kill. This was about 1964. Also a wolf trapper from Victoria was brought to Quesnel to make further confirmation. Over time other ranchers reported similar events.
Thinking of John Wilson, Larry remembered a time when John had just arrived in Quesnel. There had been no vet in Quesnel and ranchers were forced to bring someone from Williams Lake or Prince George for help, or take the animal to them. One day after checking a cow in labor several times, Larry knew the cow needed a cesarean or she was going to die. He had heard there was a new vet but hadn't met him. Larry loaded the cow into his pickup truck and drove to town. He had to ask around to find out where John was located. John, a young vet, had just arrived with his young family and they were living in a small cabin on Highway 97 next to Autow. John and Larry went right to work on the cow. Having no normal clinic yet, and no provisions for such an unscheduled surgery. They leaned the cow up along side the cabin and proceeded to operate with the traffic flowing by in front of them on the highway. The operation was a great success and Larry drove home with the cow and calf. John and Larry remained friends ever since.
Larry's cattle brand was H Bar D (H-D)which he inherited from his Father. Soon Larry was becoming known in the area as 'Heavy Duty' a nickname from the brand, a name that stuck for years. The name came as result of him being well known to be an aggressive man, a force to be reckoned with.
The time came in 1988 to sell the Ranch. A serious buyer had been after him to sell for a couple of years and finally he was ready.
Sylvia decided since nobody else was building a restaurant at that corner it was time for her to do it herself. Now in 2020 Sylvia is still there with daughter Carla working with her.
Larry moved to town and retired. However, he kept some property and always had an interest helping family with land development.