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Viens, Bernard (B.J.)

The sun has set on a long and productive life. Our loving father, grandfather, great grandfather and great great grandfather Bernard (B.J.) Viens passed away on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2008, at Fort Macleod at the age of 96 years.
Dad was born in North Hatley, Que. where he spent the early years of his life. A few years after losing their mother in the 1918 flu epidemic, Dad and his siblings moved West with their father where they helped him to establish a homestead in the Peace River country.
During the Great Depression, Dad worked at various farm jobs before he found himself in a single men’s work camp in B.C. It was there that he commenced his life-long passion for learning and self improvement. He worked hard and gained his high school equivalency as well as his journeyman’s certificate in electricity and radio technology and subsequently earned his Master’s ticket in electricity.
Dad met and married Mom in 1937. Together they raised seven children. Dad joined the RCAF in 1941. After his initial training in St Jean, Que. where he placed first in his class, Dad was assigned to the British Commonwealth Air Training Program base at Fort Macleod where he was responsible for the maintenance of the electrical systems in the Link trainers used to train pilots from all over the world for instrument flying. Dad often spoke of the evening when he first stepped off the train in Fort Macleod. A gust of wind blew off his uniform cap and he had to rush to catch it before it disappeared. He jokingly said to a fellow airman that he hoped he wouldn’t be in Fort Macleod long if the wind was going to be that bad. Little did he know that he would spend almost all of his remaining years in Fort Macleod.
Following the war Dad and Mom decided to make Fort Macleod their permanent home. Dad loved Fort Macleod and saw potential in the town. Initially, he opened a radio repair and farm equipment shop. He then built a furniture store on Main Street and introduced the first televisions sets into Fort Macleod. Once again the building bug struck and Dad and Mom built the Sunset Motel and Trailer Park, and Royalite Service Station. Later on they built what was to be the third A&W in Alberta.
Over the years they added a coin-operated laundromat, a radio and television repair shop, appliance sales and repair and finally mobile home and recreational vehicle sales lots.
Dad finally retired in the late 1980s but his story doesn’t end there. Mom passed away in 1984 and Dad married his second wife, Juliette in 1987. Together they moved to White Rock, B.C. and later to Ottawa, Ont. Dad returned to Fort Macleod in 1997 and built the first of two more houses for himself.
Dad never stopped learning and focused on painting, a hobby which turned into a passion for him. He was self-taught through hours of study and experimentation. He briefly opened Studio Bernard where he sold his paintings. After moving from his rented studio, Dad constructed his own studio at the back of his house and spent many hours pursuing his passion for painting, often accompanied by his good friends Don and Maria Rishea.
During this time Dad also taught himself Spanish and took an interest in computers, sending his daily journals to many friends throughout Canada. Due to failing health, Dad decided to move to Lethbridge in 2007 where he remained until his final illness when he returned to Fort Macleod. Dad is survived by six of his children: Laureen (Glen), John (Donna), Paulette (Cliff), Denise, Paul (Liz), and Gisele (Wayne); as well as 17 grandchildren, 27 great grandchildren and two great great grandchildren. He was predeceased by Mom (Laureanne) in 1984 and his eldest daughter Colette in 2000.
Dad is also survived by his second wife, Juliette in Ottawa and his last remaining sibling Marie Jeanne as well as numerous nieces and nephews and friends.
A service of remembrance will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2008, at Christ Church Anglican in Fort Macleod at 1:30 p.m. Dad’s ashes will be interred next to Mom in Union Cemetery, Fort Macleod.
The family want to particularly thank the staff of the SDU at the Fort Macleod Hospital for the loving and respectful care they extended to Dad in his final days. Their many acts of kindness will never be forgotten. We would also like to extend our gratitude to Rev. Noel Wygiera for ministering to Dad’s spiritual needs during his last illness. The family would also like to recognize the help and companionship so freely given by Don and Maria Rishea, Lomai Woods, the Palmer family, the McKay family and numerous other friends who made it possible for Dad to remain in his own home until 2007.

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