We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at NairnChyz-Wolkowski Funeral Service Ltd.
JOSEPH HENRI RIEL (HARRY) BOUCHER
It is with profound sadness and a lifetime of wonderful memories that we announce that passing of our Dad. Harry passed away peacefully on the evening of June 1, 2022 at the age of 81 at the Birtle Transitional Health Centre.
He is survived by his children Carla (Robert) Boucher Leasure, Veronica (Brent) Havelange, and Curtis (Theresa) Boucher; grandchildren Chelsea and Talon Murray, Tessa and Steven Havelange, Lane and Luke Boucher; great grandson Liam Chorney; brothers and sisters, brothers in law, sisters in law, Rosalie Dreilich, George (Thelma) Boucher, Elmer (Rose) Boucher, Irene (Ron) Wilson, Robert (Annette) Boucher, Corinne (Rene) Le Devehat, Wilfred (Shirlene) Boucher, Pat Sutherland, Annette (John) Walkof, Jim (Corrie) Boucher, Cathy (Gerry) Pestun, and Anna (Bill) Fast. Also survived by many nieces, nephews, great nieces, great nephews, and cousins.
He is predeceased by his parents, Agnes and Joseph Boucher, first wife Valerie (Orr), second wife, Frances (Ellchuck), niece Sherry Dreilich, brothers in law Albert Dreilich and Donald Sutherland, sisters in law Marion (Onofrechuk) Boucher and Ursel (Bakus) Boucher.
Harry was born December 9, 1940 in the RM of Ellice at the Bittner Place in the Assiniboine Valley; he was the sixth child of Joseph and Agnes Boucher. He was baptized Joseph Henri Riel Boucher, but became know as Harry once entering school, as no non English names were permitted. In 1942, the Boucher family moved to the Broomfield farm, which became the Boucher homestead. He grew up as one of thirteen children, and is the first one to pass on. Life was busy on the farm, and he and his siblings learned how to work hard, play hard, and pray hard. We’ve heard lots of stories of some of the mischief the Boucher kids (usually the boys) got up to!!
Dad attended the Baldwin Country School to Grade 6 and then Binscarth School to Grade 9. He left school then as was customary for boys in that day and age. He then worked on the Nelson road construction, paving the road from Foxwarren to Binscarth. In 1956 he went to trade school and took a welding course. After that he worked for Cornell Motors in Binscarth as a mechanic and welder. In 1962/1963 he worked in Thompson for International Mines and Chemicals. Dad received his millwright papers in Thompson. Dad also took a blacksmiths course in Saskatoon while he was in his sixties.
In 1963 he married his childhood sweetheart, Valerie Orr, and began their family in Binscarth. First came Carla, followed by Veronica two years later, then Curtis two years after that. During that time Dad worked at the Potash Mine just across the boarder in Saskatchewan. It was also in that time that Mum and Dad took in their first foster children; two brothers. Through the years they took in several foster children, some staying only weeks, others years. He developed an allergy to the salt in the mine. Dad moved his family to Calgary after finding employment there. Another foster child, this time a baby only days old, joined our family. They tried to adopt her after having her in their care for a year, but were declined as they already had 3 healthy children. Dad’s heart broke.
In 1973 we moved back to the homestead as Grandpa and Grandma were retiring. Dad began farming with his brother, Elmer. He loved farming, loved working the land, loved having cattle, chickens, turkeys, horses, dogs and cats. During that time, we, his children, thrived. He taught us the importance of hard work, the value of finishing a job we’ve set out to accomplish, persevering even when thing get rough, and never giving up. The firm foundation he provided for his family included having empathy for others, giving to others when they need help, volunteering for our community to make it a better place, and just doing the right thing. He rewarded his family after long days in the fields pulling roots or picking stones by having a bonfire wiener roast in the valley, swimming and playing in the river and creeks. Play always followed hard work, but the work came first.
Mum and Dad opened up their home to foster children, friends, family, neighbours and strangers. Living in the country, the door was never locked in case someone walking home or to town needed to stop for a rest, or to get out of the elements, or needed help of any sort. Family and friends were welcome to stop in anytime for visits, meals, parties, and vacations at the farm.
Dad loved to volunteer. He coached his son, Curtis in hockey for years, and continued on coaching for teams even though he didn’t have any children on the teams. We have had lots of his former players comment that they learned so much from him, about hockey and about life. He was an active Lions member for years; a master pancake maker and flipper!
Dad taught 4-H as well, for his kids and for other kids after we were done with the program. He shared his love of woodworking with his 4-H groups, and then later with the students of the Binscarth School as part of their Vocational Arts program. He guided many a student to complete woodworking projects that gave them such pride in themselves, as well as passing on nuggets of life lessons along the way.
He taught a college course, Introduction to Welding, at Major Pratt School in Russell, with Assiniboine Community College. He was instrumental in updating the metals shop at Major Pratt afterwards, advising on tools and equipment to make the shop more modern and updated.
Dad was very athletic and active in his younger years, He did some running, boxing, and wrestling. We always looked up to him as he was such a big strong man who, in our eyes, could do anything.
Dad loved the outdoors, in all seasons. He was a fisherman, a hunter, a birdwatcher, and loved riding around exploring the valley and the PFRA. He loved hosting outdoor activities with his children, grandchildren, family and friends. He was an avid gardener with vegetable gardens that thrived, and flower gardens and display areas that were admired by everyone who visited.
Dad took his First Responder Course in the early 80’s. He responded to many calls over the years and got great satisfaction in helping those in need. It was so like him to help. Often, he picked up hitch hikers on trips, or stopped to help fight fire; anytime he saw a situation that needed people to help, he would step in.
In 1985 Dad subdivided up the homestead from the farmland and sold the farmland. He then started his own company, B & B Contractors with his son Curtis. They worked together for many years as contractors, then as a maintenance crew for Patterson Grain. When Dad retired, he didn’t really retire. He continued to be a contractor for family and friends. He offered advise anytime it was asked, and sometimes even when it wasn’t asked of him. Dad always had an answer to any mechanical, carpentry, gardening or random question. He’d jump in to repair anything that was broken. He also worked welding at the Asessippi Ski Resort for 15 years.
His wife, our Mum, Valerie passed away in 2004 from cancer, breaking Dad’s heart. He met and then married Frances Ellchuk in 2006. They spent many hours in the gardens, travelling, bird watching and sightseeing. They loved doing everything together. Dad and Frances sold the homestead and moved to Binscarth in 2014. Sadly, Frances passed away after a brief illness, breaking Dad’s heart yet again.
Music was a big part of his live. He played the trumpet, the bagpipes, the drums, and was honing his skills on the guitar. He loved to sing and yodel, entertain as often as he could. In Calgary, he was part of the Regimental Pipes and Drums of the Calgary Highlanders. He was a member of the Binscarth Village Singers, and sang with the choir at his church, St. Joseph the Worker Roman Catholic Church. He also performed on stage with the Vagabond Theatre Drama Club and The Strachclair Drama Club in musicals. He participated local jam sessions that gathered in different communities on Sundays. He sang and yodelled in talent contests as well. He shared his love of music with his children, encouraging us to sing as often as we can. He loved dancing, turning heads when he and Mum hit the dance floor.
Aside from his family, one of the things he was most proud of was his Metis heritage. He was an active member of the Manitoba Metis Federation in Binscarth and St. Lazare. He was proud of the fact that he was born into one of the original families of Ste. Madelaine. He felt honoured to attend Ste. Madelaine Days every time they celebrated. He always had and awesome suntan, thanks to his Metis roots!
Dad was known for his sense of humour. There wasn’t a waitress anywhere who could escape his jokes! He’d often answer the phone with “Hi! This is me. Is that you?” Or, stump someone on the phone by saying, “Geez, you’re looking good today!” He was full of jokes and one liners, and had a booming laugh that was easily recognized and totally contagious.
Dad was a Boucher at heart, and like all Bouchers he felt love deeply. He was a bit of a baby whisperer, who could calm any fussy baby moments after cradling them in his arms. He as free with his “I love you” after any visit or to end a phone call. He was a gentle soul who passed his strength and his softness to his children. He fought many health battles, rarely complaining, always having a kind word or a joke for his caregivers.
His faith was very important to him, baptized Catholic, and raised his children in the Catholic Church. He made every effort to attend Church weekly in Russell and in St. Lazare.
Dad’s declining health led him to list his home in Binscarth for sale late in 2021. He then decided it wast time to move to a personal care home. He resided in the Birtle Transitional Health Centre until his passing.
Prayers were held for Dad in St. Lazare on the evening of June 8, with his funeral being the morning of June 9 in St. Lazare. In accordance with Dad’s wishes, cremation has taken place. Dad’s ashes were placed alongside Mother’s in the Binscarth Cemetery.
Dad’s children, grandchildren, and great grandson were always his most cherished and proud accomplishments. We love and miss him dearly and hold close the memories of hour generous, intelligent, reliable, caring, charming and thoughtful father. There are no goodbyes for us. You will always be in our hearts.
In his memory, if friends so desire, memorial donations can be sent to ECCC C/O Russell Health Centre Bag service #2 Russell, Manitoba, R0J 1W0