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William “Dinty” Alastair Moore
William “Dinty” Alastair Moore

Lives Lived: William “Dinty” Alastair Moore, 92 Add to ...

Family man, master canoeist, skilled woodworker, explorer. Born June 1, 1921, in Burnaby, B.C.; died Dec. 16, 2013, in Merritt, B.C., of old age, aged 92.

William Moore, the sixth of seven children, was nicknamed Dinty by his older siblings after a can of Dinty Moore beef stew. The name stuck throughout his life, and to many he was known only as Dinty.

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He grew up on the shores of Deer Lake in Burnaby, B.C., on a farm in a house that is now known as the Hart House Restaurant. Burnaby was mainly farmland then, and he would tell his grandchildren stories of childhood adventures such as riding his horse, Pal, or hiking up Burnaby Mountain to ski down on planks of wood.

As a young boy, Dinty was attempting to rescue his airplane from a tree when he fell and injured his right eye. He never regained full sight in that eye and his grandchildren knew the perils of running and jumping with sticks.

In 1945, he saw his future wife, Joan Sievenpiper, walking by the house he was roofing; he whistled at her, then walked her home. She was on her way to her family’s summer home on the south side of Deer Lake. That started a cross-lake courtship by canoe. He would joke that you could see the grooves in the lake from his canoe crossing it so often.

Dinty and Joan married in 1946. As a wedding gift, her father gave them a piece of waterfront land on Deer Lake. They built their home themselves and filled it with four adventurous girls. Their door was always open and their home was often filled with friends, relatives – and wild animals rescued by their daughters.

Dinty’s passions included canoeing and building canoes. He and his friends travelled some of the great rivers of British Columbia, including the Peace River before it was dammed. He told stories of encountering moose and bear and of finding dinosaur fossils. He also took his young daughters and nieces around the Bowron Lake circuit many times. Perhaps his coolest adventure, at least to his grandkids, was his role as a stunt double for Oliver Reed in the 1966 movie The Trap, canoeing rapids on the Thompson, Fraser and Chilliwack rivers.

Dinty and Joan were founding members of the Dogwood Canoe Club in Burnaby. He wanted to share his love of canoeing and the outdoors, and taught canoeing basics and safety. He also kept watch over Deer Lake, winter and summer, even performing the occasional rescue.

He taught his grandchildren to paddle a canoe, and where to find the best blueberries, huckleberries and crayfish. He showed us where the beavers lived and how to watch them quietly. He also taught us how to use tools safely, along with slingshots and BB guns.

A talented woodworker, he built canoes and furniture in his spare time. He designed a rowing attachment for the beautiful Chestnut canoes he sold. He made racing oars from yellow cedar. He made many beds, toys and bookcases for his children and grandchildren (one great-granddaughter sleeps in the bed he made for her mother).

Dinty was never ever one to sit still long. After he closed Moore Sales, a canoe and outdoor equipment store, and retired, he put his inventive mind to work for the B.C. Arthritis Society, making gadgets and modifications for everyday items to help people with arthritis.

He enjoyed word puzzles, fires in the fireplace, his workshop, curling and cribbage (he was a cut-throat crib player). He loved life, and nature, and nurtured that love in his children and grandchildren. Every canoe we paddle will carry him with it.

Samantha Agtarap is one of Dinty’s eight grandchildren.

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