On June 15, 2018, Barney Maher passed away in his sleep.
He is survived by Ellen, John, John Eric (Eloise, Nicholas, and Aurora), Neil, Britta, MaryBeth, Young Jeff, Stephanie, Ron, Heather, Cameron, Motes, Kathleen, and Claude.
He was predeceased by his wife, Lois.
Born in Manchester, England on Nov. 27, 1922, young Barney Maher immigrated to Meaford, Ont. on the shores of Georgian Bay. As he grew into his teens, Barney exhibited some characteristics that would remain central to him for the remainder of his life. Athletics, be it baseball, hockey, or fishing for steelhead trout with the family collie, were paramount to his weekly activities.
Barney was part of the “Greatest Generation,” joining the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1940. He would finish his military service five years later serving most of his time with the RCAF #10 Recon Squadron based in Newfoundland.
Barney rarely spoke of his war experiences except to say the screech was great but those bombers were always so darn cold.
Following the war, Barney enrolled in the University of Toronto, graduating with a degree in physical education. Barney taught for several years in the Forest Hills area. It was during this time that he met, Lois Langford, his future bride.
Casting an eye for a different adventure, the young couple, with daughter, Ellen, in tow, headed for Hay River, N.W.T. Amongst his favourite activities, Barney camped and floated his big freighter canoe on the many rivers around Hay River searching for giant pike and artic grayling.
Soon MaryBeth and Ron would make a trifecta of kids.
In 1959, the family moved again, settling in Fort Frances, Ont. Jeff and Kathleen soon arrived and then things got really busy! Teaching phys. ed. and eventually becoming athletic director, Barney quickly established himself as an affable mentor. He always was able to make kids feel they were always unique.
Barney became “Mr. Muskie." He was the founder of Muskie hockey and he would carry that passion with him for more than four decades. The culmination of that labour of love was the All-Ontario Champions in 1986 and 1989. Barney strove to run a first-class program and he always wanted the "Muskies” to represent all the positive themes of sports.
Upon retirement in 1980, Barney looked for new challenges. He soon founded the Muskie Blueline Club and helped establish the local chapter of Ducks Unlimited Canada. He was president for 25 years, helping raise money for DU. He developed close bonds with many people in the DU community, especially Bob Grant.
The cabin on Swell Bay and the acreage on Highway 601 were part of his very active life. For more than 40 years, Barney spent countless hours on Swell Bay fishing, hunting, and canoeing. Lake life suited him. Being outdoors and around nature, be it watching, listening to song birds or waterfowl, or gardening was something that brought great joy to Barney.
He had a special affinity for dogs, especially Labs. And to say he was their best friend was ever so true.
Barney loved living in Fort Frances. His weekly trips to Safeway and Canadian Tire were his way of getting caught up with others. All one had to do was stop and listen and if he was in a store, no matter where you were, you could hear him laughing or talking.
He always believed that one should give back to his community and he followed that creed. He gave more than he took.
Barney's life was blessed with wonderful friendships. As he aged, Larry Fontana, Terry Ogden, Robbie Ogden, Louie Quesnel, Larry Cousineau, Tom Mosbeck, John Anderson, the Spences, the Mitchells, the Greens, Mary Lynne and Dave Bondett, and Rod and Pepper Hinrichs all did amazing gestures of friendship to help Barney.
Although Barney lived in Winnipeg for the last two years of his life, he developed friendships with many of his care givers, and fellow residents Ken and Bill. He enjoyed interacting with them, loved sharing jokes and high-fiving people.
A life well-lived, Gramps! You were the greatest. Thank you!
Kath, Claude, MaryBeth, Young Jeff and Steph, you hoisted him on your shoulders the last few miles and you carried him home. Motes, you were also a key member of Barney`s team. Unbelievable job. As a result, his living in Winnipeg was so much more enjoyable.
A celebration of life for Barney will be held on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018 from 3-5 p.m. at La Place Rendez-Vous. We hope to share tears, laughter, and lots of Barney stories.
In lieu of flowers, in memoriam donations can be made to the Muskie Blueline Club or the Canadian Wildlife Fund.