John Dechaine
John Dechaine
John Dechaine

Obituary of John Alfred Dechaine

It is with great sadness we announce the passing of John Dechaine, a longtime resident of Dawson Creek, British Columbia. John passed away peacefully with family by his side at the age of 76 years.

     John Alfred Dechaine was born October 12, 1945, in St. Paul, Alberta. Or was it October 14? My Memere and him debated this issue for years. He was #7 of 14 children born to Alfred and Jeanette Dechaine. He went to school in Mallaig, Alberta, and decided at the age of 16 that he hated school. He completed his grade 9 and my Pepere told him that it was work or school! He said the house was getting full, and moved up to Whitehorse, Yukon, with my Uncle Paul and Aunty Gloria in 1962.  In 1963, my cousin Paula was born, and my dad loved the fact he was an uncle. He loved Whitehorse and got hired on with Canadian Freightways.

     He met my mom at a few house parties, and they hit it off immediately. They were married September 1967.  I was born in 1968 and Theresa in 1970. In 1972, my dad was offered the manager position at the Freightways in Dawson Creek, so he and my mom made the decision to move to Dawson Creek.  In 1975, my dad wanted a change and to become his own boss.  My mom was very leery of him quitting his full-time job with benefits.  My Dad decided he would go out after supper and on weekends and try selling powdered milk door to door.  It was the nastiest shit out there.  After much discussion with my mom, he quit his job in 1976 and they opened the Pop Shoppe!

     The Pop Shoppe did very well and as kids, it was super cool to have any flavor of pop we wanted at home. The Pop Shop eventually got into joke gifts, catering, a wedding shoppe, mini golf, and then into the promotional advertising business, which my sister and her husband own today.

     Our family spent many years camping and that’s how my dad met Rudy Klawon. In 1982, he and Rudy went into business together to open a string of convenience stores in the area. In 1983, my dad opened their first convenience store in Dawson Creek on 17th Street. The Redwood Husky. He was so proud and worked so hard to make sure his motto of “friendliness, cleanliness and service,” was achieved. He was a HARD ASS. In 1984, he built the Redwood Husky in Pouce Coupe.

     In 2002, my dad asked me to come work for him and manage the store. He said maybe I’d even meet a nice guy from Pouce. Anyway, he played Cupid and introduced me to Tim.  Tim and I now own the store.  Dad, Rudy and my Uncle Leon, as a silent partner, opened a total of 6 stores.

     He was very busy, but he was always there for us.  He was a tough dad; we couldn’t get our ears pierced or wear makeup until we were 14.  We did not receive an allowance.  If we wanted something like Jordache jeans or contacts, we had to work for them. Also, he forbade us to wear legwarmers, so we snuck them to school. He called them “ugly golf pants,” ha-ha, which is totally ironic as he became a golfer over the years.  He cosigned for our first car loans and told us if we missed one payment, our car was his!

     We had chores at home and many of our friends thought our parents gave us what we wanted but we had to work for it. They taught us to not live beyond our means and that you have work hard for nice things.  He wasn’t a man who said, “I love you,” or, “I’m proud of you,” a lot; we just knew.  My first dozen roses was delivered to me on my graduation day, the card said, “I didn’t think you’d do it… but I’m proud of you. Love, Dad.”  When we worked for him at his stores, we both worked extra hard, so it didn’t look like we were, “the Boss’s daughter,” or got any special treatment. He was harder on us than any other employee, but he was fair.  These past few days, we have heard from numerous people that he was the best boss they ever had, and he taught them work ethic. He mentored many nieces and nephews who came to work for him over the years, many who told us they feared the “wrath of Uncle John.”

     God, I remember wanting my cousin Mario to bootleg for me and he made me meet him at the dump so my dad wouldn’t know.

     My Dad made time to take us for Sunday drives to the Creemet in Pouce for ice-cream or to the Kingsland Restaurant for Chinese Food and Shirley Temples.  My parents travelled a lot in their early years and made wonderful memories with my Uncle Leo and Aunty Corrine, the Klawon’s, Spurrill’s and Mettaurer’s.  They spent almost 9 years going to Arizona in the winters.

     I learned at a very early age that everything my dad did was for my mom, my sister and me.  He taught us the meaning of “family,” and made sure that we went back home to Mallaig at least once a year, where we stayed at Uncle Ted and Aunty Madeline’s or other relatives and got to know our cousins who we are very close too right to this day. He made it to every niece and nephew’s weddings that he could. If he was in Edmonton or Calgary, he would call them and take the “poor college students,” as he called them, out for dinner.

     He loved hockey and was a goalie for many years, he was busy but donated his time to coach minor hockey and later as an assistant coach for the Dawson Creek Kodiaks and the Dawson Creek Canucks.  He was a very political man and volunteered his time for the Social Credit Party which became the BC Liberal Party.  He made sure we knew the importance of voting and we passed that onto our own children.  He was a member of the Dawson Creek Kinsmen Club for over 25 years.  He loved this community.

     My parents loved to entertain.  They had numerous house parties, birthday parties, BBQ’s, etc.  My Dad was an amazing cook, and his greatest pride was BBQing a good steak, medium rare because we didn’t have an option… except for my grandma and Tim; they were the only ones he’d cook a “boot sole” for.  Then my grandma would get his goat by asking him for ketchup!  He was a strict Molson Canadian beer drinker, bottle only.  If Tim or Gerry offered him a Bud, he told them he didn’t have a hold dirty enough for that shit.

     My Dad was never seen without a smoke in his hand.  For God’s sake, he had an ashtray in the bathroom when we were little so he could smoke while he shaved!

     In 1993, his first grandson Brenden was born. He was so damn happy to have another boy in the family, as he was surrounded by women.  My Mom taught him early to put the toilet seat down because he was outnumbered… and he did it for his Schoodie and his girls.

     In 1996, my dad set a record for becoming a grandpa to 4 grandkids: Justin, Layne, Jillian, and Jordan.  Scott was born in 1998.  He loved them all unconditionally.  His family was his life!  In 2003, he accepted Chelsey and Stephanie into his fold like they were his own.  His true and sincere love for his family showed through the countless photos we went through.  In 2000, my dad wanted our children to know their family roots and asked if he could take Brenden, Justin, and Layne to Bonnyville/Mallaig for a week and Scott joined after he got a bit older.  We were like, “heck yah!” Well let me tell you, he let them get whatever they wanted to eat or drink but it was a strictly ran show… once the boys got back and told us all about it, Gerry came up with the name, “Boot Camp,” because that’s how he ran it!  I mean really, what sane man strikes out solo with 4 snotty little boys without any women to cook or clean?  My aunts stepped up, I’m sure ha-ha.  He did that for 6 years!  My boys still have memories of him, “flicking,” them with his finger if they misbehaved or when he was napping, and they would hide his smokes.  He felt bad for doing so much with his grandsons and not Jillian and Jordan, so he took them to their very first concert, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. When they hear, “Fishing in The Dark,” they always think of him. As he got older, Dad mellowed down quite a bit. He showed more patience and understanding and was certainly less judgmental, but he could still cheat at marbles.  He developed vascular dementia in 2017 and became quieter and quieter.  Imagine; my dad always had something to say… he was a tease.  My kids remember him taking his time eating his Christmas Eve dinner because the kids knew when he was done, they could open presents.

     My parents’ love for each other was unconditional.  Mom used to call him her “Johnny Angel, “and he’d reply by saying, “well I’m the closest thing to God!”

     My Dad could have had a staffing of 50 people, but he couldn’t do any mechanic, plumbing, or electrical work of any kind. So, my dad fixed everything with duct-tape and wasn’t too proud to call in the professionals for the job.  When my mom passed away in 2018, my dad was devastated, as we all were.  Telling him of her passing was, by far, the hardest thing I have ever had to do.  My sister and I knew we would do everything in our power to look after him.  Thanks to his care workers, Velvet and Joelle, we were able to keep him home for almost 4 years.  A special thank you goes to Ron May, who stopped by everyday for coffee.  Even if he didn’t say much, he was happy you were there.  To his coffee buddies at McDonald’s, he looked forward to those mornings more than you will ever know.  Even when he didn’t talk anymore, you still made him feel included.  Finally, to Tim, Gerry, and our children; you have been our rock throughout these past few years, and we love you dearly for it.  Dad is with Mom now, having a Molson Canadian and a smoke or 20.  We will miss you Poppa, but I look out and see our family and friends and know they are here for all of us…

     Rest easy.

A Celebration Of Life for John was held at Reynars Funeral Chapel on Thursday, March 31, 2022 at 1:00 pm. Pauline Haycock officiated.

For friends so wishing, donations may be made in memory of John to the Dawson Creek & District Hospital Foundation, 11100 - 13 Street, Dawson Creek, British Columbia, V1G 3W8.

Very Respectfully, Reynars Funeral Home & Crematorium

A Memorial Tree was planted for John
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Reynars Funeral Home & Crematorium
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