July 12, 1947 – November 7, 2014
Mike was born in Edmonton, Alberta on the 12th of July, 1947. His father, Jack, who raised his boy alone from the time Mike was young, remembered how his son was attracted to the outdoors and how he loved to swim and boat in lakes during the prairie summers.
Friendly and outgoing, Mike had a large gang of pals for whom the Whelpley home, supervised by Pops, became a gathering place.
With the exception of French, Mike excelled at school. After graduating he studied business at college and became a banker. It was in that capacity that he took a job at the Terrace Branch of the Bank of Montreal in 1974.
Mike strove to do his best at everything he undertook and would have completed what had started out as a successful career in finance had not been for the lure of the wilderness and the wild rivers that nurture it.
Mike left the bank and fattened his bank account by working as a labourer on the construction of the Methanex plant in Kitimat. Pops retired and moved to Mike’s house on River Road, which became another gathering place for Mike’s friends.
For the next 14 years, Mike explored almost every wild river from the Kitlope to the Khutzeymateen, most often alone, documenting his adventures with his camera. During that time, he worked at Kincolith and Hartley Bay for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Salmonid Enhancement Program, and contracted out to various industries as a skilled boat operator.
On one of his trips on the coast, Mike met Lynn Boettcher, who was working with the Lax Kw’alaams at Port Simpson. When he learned that she had never seen a grizzly bear, Mike arranged to take her to the Khutzeymateen Inlet to do just that. It was their first date. In 1991 they were married and with exception of the passing of his dad, the next 12 years until Lynn’s tragic death in 2003, were the happiest of Mike’s life.
On Friday, November 7, Michael Charles Whelpley, passed away. He suffered more tragic loss in his life than most men do and he bore the emotional and physical pain that resulted from it bravely and with dignity.
An intrepid explorer, master boatsman, and angling legend, the success of his life can be measured by the large number of friends he leaves behind.
At Mike’s request there will be no service. Instead his
friends and acquaintances are invited to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Voogd at 5250 Spring Creek Road on Saturday May 2, 2015.
People are encouraged to bring digital photos to share.