Archive | November 2012

Yorke Island Veteran Bernie Smith Passes Away

A well known and respected retired Vancouver policeman, ‘Whistling’ Bernie Smith died in Vancouver this Sunday, November 18. Although Smith was best known for appearing in a 1975 documentary about his beat in East Vancouver, he was also a veteran of World War II and was posted at Yorke Island. I had the pleasure of interviewing Smith for my book about Yorke Island last year.
It has been commented that Smith had a sharp wit and was a colourful character. Even over the telephone, his forceful personality shone through. At eight-eight years old, he had a very clear memory of the time he spent on Yorke Island. Smith had a unique perspective on being posted to this tiny, windswept island in the middle of Johnstone Strait. Instead of complaining about the isolation and lack of activity, he said that he had a good experience there. He commented that he was grateful for three meals a day, for his uniform and for receiving training that he later applied to his stint overseas. He also mentioned that several of his comrades, like himself, talked about joining the police force when the war was over.
I wished I could have met Smith in person, but consider myself fortunate that I had the opportunity to speak with him at all. There is a great video on Youtube of him singing a song he wrote, that is interspersed with footage from his 1975 documentary. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrVx6eleU38&feature=related
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