April 16, 1931 – January 30, 2021
There were many contradictions to Bill Maitland: he displayed generosity and showed deep caring and kindness and he was grumpy and gruff; he complained when the house was full of visitors yet was always contributing to the stories being shared; he was a strong supporter of resource extraction and believed in conservation.
What was not a contradiction was Bill’s love of the land. A love that was passed to his children and grandchildren. Fishing, mushroom picking, getting firewood or berries, and gardening were some activities forever linked to him. It was a working-class approach that the land provides sustenance. And he took this approach in a strong belief that access to the land, and activities on it, should be for all, not just an exclusive club based on income earned or privilege.
After a life fully lived, William Birston Maitland passed away at the age of 89 on Jan. 30.
Bill arrived in the world Aug. 16, 1931 in Selkirk, Manitoba the third of four children born to Irene Agnes Birston, from Selkirk, and William Bennet Maitland from Gourock, Scotland. His father was a pipefitter in underground mining and the family moved around Manitoba in Bill’s early years.
After his mother’s death when Bill was 11, he and his younger brother subsequently moved to join their father who was based in Vancouver. Bill had stories of Boundary Road in that city being a dirt road and growing vegetables in the fields that spread east of there in the 1940s.
His early experiences of the hard life of mining on men like his father, and of shortages of food and of cash, were strong influences on Bill’s life. He definitely knew he did not want to become an underground miner.
In 1948 Bill and his two brothers arrived in Hazelton with his father, who came to help open the Silver Standard mine. They lived nearby in Two Mile for a year or two but moved to Needles on the west shore of Lower Arrow Lake in the Kootenays where his father worked in another mine.
In 1952, after working in the Kootenays and on Alcan’s Kemano project, Bill came back to Hazelton and never left. His younger brother John returned to Hazelton in 1955. He was killed in a logging accident in 1959.
Bill married Alice (Marshall) on Dec. 31, 1956 and took over the Imperial Oil Agency delivering and providing heating and vehicle fuel throughout the Hazeltons. He ran the business for many years before turning it over to Gerry Coukell in the mid-1970s. Bill logged from then until retirement, running cats, skidders and building road for local contractors.
He loved this country and made sure he could always get time to fish, hunt, pick berries, pick mushrooms and explore the whole area, especially northern parts. During the early family years he would take his children on these excursions, cementing their love of the land and their skills in being comfortable outdoors.
Bill never fully retired and was always working at something for cash or in reciprocity, but in his later years he took a number of trips driving and flying (Tuktoyaktuk, Arizona, New Zealand, Mexico) and was well known for sharing the bounty from his thriving vegetable garden and for his well-manicured lawn.
He leaves behind his wife of 65 years (Alice), two sons (Bill, Ward), two daughters (Mary-Jane, Julie), 3 grandsons (Logan, Tyrell, Craig), a granddaughter (Renee), a great granddaughter (Zedaya), along with his nieces, Bobbie Seinen of Houston, Sandy Moyles, Susan Burchill-Calloway, his nephews, Bill (Connie) Maitland of Dease Lake, Bruce (Laurie) Maitland of Ladner. Plus, crowds of Marshall, nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his siblings.
Bill endured progressive dementia during the end years of his life. His final 3 years were spent in Terraceview Lodge in Terrace, BC, and the family would like to thank the dedicated care givers who looked after him. Despite the faltering strength of his mental state, Bill was physically strong until the end. Just another final contradiction in his adventurous life.
When time safely permits during this COVID pandemic, a ceremony will be held.
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