Brother, loyal friend, adventurer, die-hard Toronto Maple Leafs fan, country boy. Born March 17, 1989, in Toronto. Died Nov. 15, 2011, in Bonnyville, Alta., in a house fire, aged 22.
Right from birth, John Bokhout was an easy guy to love. Anyone who knew him would agree that his passion for fun, his big beautiful grin, his generous heart and his incredible capacity to love made him special.
The first four years of John’s life were spent in the happy foster home of Frank and Evelyn Wismer in Toronto. Surrounded by other foster siblings, John grew into a sociable little boy who loved cartoons and being with family.
In the spring of 1993, John was adopted by Maarten Bokhout and Helena McShane of Clinton, Ont. Four-year-old John brought adventure to the lives of his four older sisters, sharing a love for superheroes, Star Wars and summers spent at the family cottage in Tobermory, Ont. John’s infectious giggle and vivid imagination were the perfect addition to his delighted new family.
Later that spring, John proudly took on the role of older brother when his younger brother, Colin, joined the family. John taught Colin how to play hockey, tease the older girls and cheer a favourite sports team to victory. As they grew older, lifting weights and playing music together in the basement became a regular activity for the boys.
John got his driver’s licence at 17 and became a passionate but terrible driver. He always drove the noisiest lemons of vehicles and seemed to put most of his paycheques into keeping his latest ride on the road. John’s most recent vehicle was a car he had purchased for $50 in Bonnyville, Alta. It was held together by bungee chords and could just get into town and back for groceries.
Unlike his older sisters, who were desperate to live in the big city after high school, John embraced the country life. He worked as a chicken catcher for three years in Blyth, Ont., and loved the camaraderie that came with being part of the catching crew.
Nevertheless, by last spring, he was restless and wanted a change of scenery. With his family cheering him on, John moved to Alberta in search of work and adventure with two other hometown friends. He started work with Rockwell Drilling Services and loved the challenge of his new job. He was so proud to call home and share his successes at work and his ability to transform his life.
John died early in the morning of Nov. 15 when his house caught fire. He died before his planned Christmas visit home and before his family could see him coming into his own as a man. He died on the cusp of so many great things to come.
On the day of John’s funeral, one of his childhood friends said, “You know, John just couldn’t get enough of us. He loved his friends.”
Now that he’s gone, we’re realizing we couldn’t get enough of him either.
By Jessica Bokhout, John’s sister.