Percy Emerson Dewar passed away peacefully on November 1, 2008.
Predeceased by nine siblings and survived by his grandchildren, Mark Sorley and Vicky Engel, and daughter Carol Silver. Percy is missed by his loving partner, Ilse and her family, Derek, Susan, and Gillian, as well as friends and relatives on Salt Spring and Vancouver Island.
Descended from the Scotch Whisky Dewars, Percy was born in Extension, June 5, 1919. A Vancouver Island pioneer, he spent his early years roaming the mountains behind Nanaimo. He attended school in a one room schoolhouse until grade 8, growing up in a time when there were more animals than people on Vancouver Island. He remembers walking along the logging railway with his father in the evenings and counting 80 deer in an hour. As a young man he was a regular competitor in Logging Sports and was the Canadian Champion Splicer four years in a row. Logging, cable splicing, and buying and selling property on Vancouver Island provided Percy with enough money to return to his true passion, being a wildlife guide and the tracking of cougars.
Percy was passionate about the big cats. At 16 he got his first hound and thus began his lifetime of tracking cougars, first as a bounty hunter, then as a guide, and finally, after years of observation and a change of heart, to actively work for their conservation. He initiated, funded and carried out a 6 year study tracking and collaring cougars on Vancouver Island. The results provided valuable new data about the size of the cougar population, their habits and territory, leading to conclusions greatly different from those assumptions widely held by Fish and Wildlife officers and the public in general.
Percy had a very special way with animals; including the wolf cub he raised himself. Percy always advised – “Never go out into the woods without a walking stick. If you encounter a cougar put your jacket or sweater on the stick and wave it above your head. LOOK TALL.” He had a special relationship with all his dogs, from the Blu Tic tracking hounds of his early hunting days to his Turkish livestock dogs that he successfully used for predator control in his later years at his mountain top farm.
Early semi-retirement found Percy working at Strathcona Park Lodge. He was very proud of the 60 hydro poles he installed to complete their hydro- electric project. After building 10 homes for friends and family during his life, Percy used his skills to single-handedly build a spectacular log home and livestock buildings high up a mountain overlooking Buttle Lake. His greenhouse, heated in the winter by a wood burning furnace was an engineering marvel, and the envy of Upper Campbell Valley. He grew melons and tomatoes throughout the winter. Between the gardens, greenhouse, goats and chickens, Percy was self sufficient, seldom going to town. Many young people, training at Strathcona Park Lodge, were influenced by Percy’s resourcefulness, survival skills, accomplishments and healthy lifestyle. For years Percy had a weather station at his mountain home, and monitored the weather for Environment Canada.
Percy was a quiet, gentle man with a dry sense of humor, shy with people, but always with a fascinating story to tell. His passion and appreciation of our natural environment was contagious. Now Percy is free and roaming the wilds with his favourite dog, Lou.
Thank you to the loving staff at Greenwoods on Salt Spring who cared for Percy in his last years. No service by request. Interment at Cedar Cemetery at a later date. Contact 250-549-7073 for further information. Donations to help protect the wilderness that Percy so loved can be made to the Nature Conservancy of Canada, BC Region, 300 – 1205 Broad Street, Victoria, B.C., V8W 2A4.