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It is with profound sadness we are announcing the passing of Barry Dawson at the age of 86 at the Portage General Hospital after a short illness.
Barry was predeceased by his parents Henry and Elsie Dawson, step mother Bella James, son in law Ron Gulewich, great grandson Casey and the love of his life, his wife, Arlette in 1991.
Left to treasure every memory is his daughter Vicki (Roland Cote), grandchildren Jamie Cote (Ashley Darling), great grandson Jesse, step grandchildren Tanner, Kylie, and Lexie, grandson Brandon Cote, great granddaughters Bailee and Maci, grandson Jordan (Lacey) Cote, great grandchildren Ayven, Lowic, and Cashus, daughter Michelle Gulewich (Arnie Manweiller), grandsons Riley Gulewich, and Kristian Manweiller, son Randy Dawson (Vivian McRae), grandsons Grayson Butler and Evan Dawson, brother Doug (Marg) Dawson, as well as many nieces and nephews and friends he considered family.
Barry was born in Portage to Henry and Elsie Dawson in 1936 and lived on the family farm in a two-room house north of Portage with his older brother, Doug.
He was educated in Portage Creek School and attended PCI. His first job was at Narvey’s Menswear. He then worked for CNR in BC where he travelled across western Canada. In the late 50s he was employed with the Federal Government. The majority of his work life was with the Department of Transportation as a Surveyor and Soil Sampler to prepare northern Canadian runways. This job took him across the north to Lynn Lake, Churchill, Arctic Circle, Rankin Inlet, Inuvik, Eureka, and to the farthest north you could go in Canada, Alert NWT.
In 1967 he married the love of his life, Arlette Reid and became a father to Vicki and Michelle. In 1970 they had a son Randy.
Barry continued to work with the DOT and run the family farm until the early 1970’s when he decided he would farm full time. He continued to farm until early 2000’s and then moved into Portage in 2007.
He loved to travel, even by himself, in his pride and joy his 1957 Chevy convertible, with power windows and a 45 record player! His car was so important to him he transported it by train when he worked up north, He traveled through many parts of the United States and Florida and also took his mom and dad on some of his travels. Barry and Arlette also enjoyed travelling to Florida, England, and the Bahamas to name a few. Many family trips were also taken to Western Canada, BC, and the United States. He was a member of several car clubs and was called many times over the years to drive his 57 Chevy in parades, festivals and other events. Barry also had a Pilot’s license and loved to fly his plane, the “Areonca Champ”, taking Vicki and Michelle for fly over’s. He was also an avid curler and belonged to curling clubs in Portage and Winnipeg.
A good part of Barry’s life was spent in his car, how he loved to drive and would put on thousands of km a year not really going anywhere. He loved just looking at crops and scenery. Everyone knew him because he drove many miles through Portage with his little blue and then red car. He had his route and always checked on what was going on in the area and reported to his family and friends on who was building what and who had the most flowers in their yard. He never missed travelling through Island Park at least 5 times a day and always had a “goose count“ and would feed them along with the deer. He also would drive through the cemetery to check on Arlette’s grave every day. He loved and missed her so much.
He had other routines before Covid such as having “meetings” with his friends at Tim Horton’s. He would often take his grandchildren with him and they would sit and listen to the “meeting.” He would often say “these kids aren’t good to take to the coffee shop, they are ready to go after 3 or 4 cups”. Depending on the time of day you always knew where you could find him. He never had a bad word to say about anyone and was so accepting of bad and good. How he loved his grandchildren Jamie, Brandon, Jordan, Riley, Kristian, Grayson, Evan and all his great great-grandchildren who were so special to him. He was their “Grampa, Papa, and Grandpa D”.
He was the most kind human being you would ever meet. He would literally give you the shirt off his back. Anyone who knew Barry knew how kind he was and how he would do anything for anybody, even a complete stranger. When someone stole his car outside Tim Horton’s, he said “I wish they would have just asked, I would have given them a ride.” Which is entirely true. He would drop everything to help someone out, whether it be driving someone to a place they needed to be or buying a cup of coffee or giving money to someone homeless or down on their luck. He ALWAYS thought of other people before himself. He never had a harsh word for anyone. He never gave a spanking even though there were times it maybe had been warranted. He only had kind words, advice and showed patience.
Everything was always an adventure. At Easter he would dye the chickens different colors. He would go out and hide the Easter treats throughout the yard and make rabbit tracks so you would have to follow the tracks with the skidoo to find the treats in the bush. He would often bring a “surprise” home from his up north work. It always involved some sort of game where you had to choose behind curtain #1or curtain #2 to get your surprise. Christmas Eve involved him being on the 2-story farmhouse roof ringing sleigh bells so that you would think Santa had arrived. He also took his children on a jet ride to see the Christmas lights over Winnipeg. Weekends involved skidooing and having wiener roasts at the huge snow drifts along the creek (The Canyons) and canoeing on the Creek. Sleigh cutter rides pulled by the skidoo because the horse Nathan wanted no part of it.
Barry always made an “adventure out of the farm work whether it be shoveling grain, burning field stubble, cleaning out the horse stable and chicken coop, or riding on top of flax straw in the back of the 3 ton truck then proceeding to make a fort with the flax straw. Creating memories was so important to Barry and these traits have been passed along to his children and grandchildren.
He always had a soft spot for animals and NEVER killed anything. The 500 chickens had to be transported out at the end of the season. The turkeys and geese died of arthritis and old age. There were always, dogs, cats, Nathan the horse, along with the occasional stray the kids would bring home. He accepted them all.
Anyone that knew Barry knew he had the most amazing memory and loved to tell and share his stories from all his adventures. You would laugh at some of the shenanigans he found himself in. He was also very musical and played the piano, accordion and harmonica by ear and had the best rendition of “Turkey in the Straw”.
He was also very “frugal” which usually involved eating a packed lunch from a cooler on trips across Canada, having lunch with the Grandkids which consisted of a knife, jar of peanut butter and crackers which were eaten in the car in a parking lot.
He also was an incredible father. If you were choosing someone to be your dad, he would definitely be your first pick. Thank goodness he chose us. Barry was “One of a kind” and simply irreplaceable. He is going to be terribly missed by everyone that that knew him. Even though he had a severe heart condition he never let it slow him down. It’s ironic that a man with such a big heart would die of heart disease, it had to be so worn out from it being used so much. The only thing that makes your loss bearable is that you and Mom are now reunited.
We have a wonderful Dad
We want the world to know
Your not the one we always had
But we really love you so.
(Written by Ann M. Collier for Barry’s daughters to be entered into a Father’s Day contest, 1967)
A private family gathering will take place. In lieu of Flowers, donation can be made to either St Boniface Cardiac Centre or PAWS, 121 12th St NE, Portage la Prairie, MB R1N 4A2. To share your stories of Barry and to leave messages of condolence for his family, please visit www.ronaldmoffitmemorialservices.com
Ronald Moffit Memorial Services in care of arrangements.