Dave was born in Comox, BC, on June 6, 1923, to parents Dorothy Louise and George Havard; both immigrants from London, England. The youngest of three, he had two sisters, Josephine (Benson) and Pauline Havard. When Dave was still an infant, the family moved to Victoria, where he would spend the remainder of his childhood. In 1928, his father became the manager of the Victoria Old Men's Home, and the family took up residence there, in the manager's quarters atop the facility. He attended Willows Elementary and Oak Bay High School, and graduated in 1942.
In August that same year, Dave enlisted in the Canadian Army, and completed training as an artillery signaller. In 1943 he was sent overseas, first to England, and then in July 1944, into the battle in Europe, where he performed the duties of a signals operator with a forward observations crew. It was a dangerous job, with frequent close calls, for which he earned the Military Medal, with citation for "gallant and distinguished service in North West Europe.” He participated in the liberation of Holland in the winter of 1944-45, and eventually advanced into Germany itself. He was decommissioned on January 5, 1946, and in October 1946 was awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre, for "acts of bravery in the face of the enemy”.
His experiences in the military left a lasting impression on Dave. In recounting those days, he would always explicitly emphasize the horrific toll that war inflicted on civilian populations, who often lost homes, belongings, and loved ones, as in Holland, where many people starved to death under military occupation. And he often remarked that upon return to civilian life, he was struck by the injustice that although First Nations soldiers had served bravely and loyally, they returned to a country where they were still not entitled to vote, or even to enter a pub for a celebratory mug of beer with their comrades. He maintained active life-long membership in the Canadian Legion, performed in the Colour Guard every Armistice Day, and for many years addressed high school students at Remembrance Day assemblies. He made several trips to Holland over the years to attend liberation anniversary celebrations, and was always moved by the gratitude expressed by the Dutch for the role played by Canadian soldiers in their liberation, even generations later.
After the war, Dave took advantage of veterans' credits and enrolled at the University of British Columbia. He graduated in 1950 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture.
In 1951, he arrived in Smithers, where he embarked on a 12 year career as a land inspector with the BC Department of Lands. This was physically demanding and highly skilled work, which included field work and travel throughout a vast territory of north- central BC, where roads were often primitive, and climatic conditions harsh.
In the fall of 1952 he met his future wife Rosa at a Legion dance, and the pair were married on December 21, 1953. Initially the newlyweds lived in Dave's rented bachelor cabin at Lake Kathlyn, but they soon moved to acreage purchased at the end of Newens Road, on a bench overlooking Canyon Creek, where together they built a home. In 1954 they became parents to twins, Eric and Anne, followed by Thomas in 1956, and Megan, in 1959.
By 1964, Dave, eager for a change, accepted a position as editor of the "Canadian Feed & Grain Journal" and the family moved to Winnipeg that September. Within a year, however, it had become evident that journalism - and the big city - were not the life for Dave, or the family, and so it was back to BC, this time to Quesnel, for one last posting as Land Inspector.
In 1966, Dave landed a job back in Smithers, this time as District Agriculturalist, and the family moved back to the Newens Road property. He held the post for 3 years, a steep learning curve since his education at UBC was focussed on horticulture, while agricultural pursuits in the district mostly revolved around livestock. And then in 1969, he resigned from civil service to pursue his true passion of market gardening, Rosa took up teaching full time, at Muheim School, and Dave, in addition to gardening, took over as cook and housekeeper.
For the next 30 years, Dave's skills as a gardener produced an impressive array of quality produce for the local market, relying mostly on organic farming techniques long before such practices were in vogue. For several years he wrote a gardening column
called, "The Northern Gardener," and did a radio program under the same name. In 1986, he compiled his expertise into a book entitled "Gardening between Frosts - a hands and knees look at northern gardening," which is still a trusted reference for aspiring gardeners to the present day.
Dave and Rosa moved into town in the late 1990's, and continued gardening, but on a much reduced scale. Dave was an avid volunteer, devoting many hours to numerous community projects, including the town's first tennis courts, the Bulkley Valley Fall Fair, the Smithers Museum, the Farmers’ Market, and the Old Church restoration, to name just a few. He was an avid reader on a broad range of subjects, as well as a writer, and published two volumes of personal memoirs, the first called, "Growing up in Victoria," and the second, "I Slept in a Courthouse - Confessions of a Land Inspector."
In spare time Dave enjoyed cross country skiing, tennis, badminton, table tennis, and cycling. He played the mouth organ and could recite long verse poetry from memory. He lived a sustainable lifestyle, embodying the ethos of 'reduce, re-use, and recycle,’ long before the phrase existed. He forged countless friendships that lasted lifetimes. He was a soft-spoken, compassionate person, who lived a life marked by devotion to family, service to others, commitment to the greater good, and always with an uncommon, characteristic humility, and charming sense of humour.
After Rosa passed away in 2013, Dave moved into the Bulkley Lodge, where he passed away on March 6, 2022, at the age of 98. He is survived by his four children, Eric, Anne, and Tom (Phyllis) Havard, and Megan Schlase; his eight grandchildren: Erika Havard, Erin (Lucas) Holtzman, Dandi Schlase (Matjia Erceg), Sue (Andrew) Pearce, Errol Schlase (Rachelle Onstad), Kutter Schlase, Sean Havard Young, and Magen Havard; and by his five great-grandchildren, Ronen and Bailey Pearce, Riley Holtzman, Quincy Erceg, and Milliana Havard.
The family would like to thank the staff at the Bulkley Lodge for their care and many acts of kindnesses over the years, as well as Dr. Scholtz and his colleagues at the Broadway Medical Clinic for their diligent professionalism.
A memorial gathering will be held on Saturday, April 23rd, 2:00 - 4:00 pm, at the Smithers Legion.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Central Park Building Society, P.O. Box 969, Smithers, BC, V0J 2N0
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