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Mar 23, 2011

Kirk Wipper lays down his paddle

Kirk Wipper, Canadian camping icon and Godfather of the Canadian Canoe Museum died last Friday. March 18th.   Kirk's death was not really a surprise, as he was 88 years old, but the way he died was startling.   Kirk choked to death while eating.   There is great sadness over his death across the country.   I only met the man once.   I was introduced to him by my friend, Mike Ormsby, a year or so ago, and the short time I spent in his company was a warm, mind-expanding and unforgettable experience.   I will leave eulogizing him to the thousands who are more capable than me.   Many already have and by simply typing Kirk Wipper into Google you will learn of the man and his accomplisments in detail.   Below, is a photo I took of Kirk (right) and Mike (left) on that memorable day that I met Kirk in his home.

Mike Ormsby and Kirk Wipper
Mike Ormsby was a student and employee of Kirk for several years and their friendship lasted until Kirk's death.   Kirk's home near Peterborough, Ontario, was decorated with many items reflecting a Canadian natural history interest.   I took a picture of one such item: a table-top carved by Basil Self, which hung in a commanding position above a fireplace.   It is pictured below, left.   Kirk thought this Basil Self carving was a wonderful work of art. 

Basil Self was a carver and furniture-maker of some repute many years ago, in King Township, where I live.   I am quite familiar with the piece of work pictured here.   The design was extremely popular  among collectors of Basil's work and he produced many versions of it for appreciative fans.   My own brother has a similar version in his Parry Sound home where it serves its intended purpose as a table.   I must say that Kirk Wipper's use of the carved table-top is an inspiration.   It hung like a huge  a coat-of-arms in a baronial mansion, with a uniquely Canadian outdoorsy flavour.   My condolences go out to Kirk's wife, Ann, especially. and to the thousands of people who regarded this man as  as a teacher, an enviromentalist, an inspiration, a champion and a friend.   Please comment if you wish.
BtheB      (Photos by BarrytheBirder) 


Mike Ormsby said...

Barry, thanks for posting this....Kirk was an amazing guy....and much has been written about him since his death....including by me....but I thought I'd share a quote that's been posted on his memorial website:

You have to do what you can, do your best with what you are. And you have to believe in wilderness. If you do that you can’t go wrong. – Kirk Albert Walter Wipper b Grahamdale, Manitoba, December 6th, 1923 d Peterborough, Ontario, March 18, 2011

Glad you got to meet Kirk....

There is a memorial tribute at the Canadian Canoe Museum on May 1st....see the Museum's website for details if interested.

NOTE: Oops!!! I originally posted this comment on 'Maple Syrup or Petimezi ~ take your pick'....guess I thought it was 'sweet' of you to post this on Kirk (sorry couldn't help myself for being 'punny'....or falling into a 'Wipperism'; Kirk was famous for poor puns LOL LOL).

Anonymous said...

Basil Self was my Great Grandfather and I wish I could see more of his carvings outside our family heirlooms. I'm having a hard time locating them. If you have any knowledge, please pay it forward. xx PB