Saturday, 13 February 2010

FYI: 'The Man Who Refused to Die' - launched Buffalo Airways

"...Mr. Gauchie launched Buffalo Airways, which he later sold to one of his pilots..."

RT @Northern_Clips: Meet 'The Man Who Refused to Die' Bob Gauchie launched Buffalo Airways, which he later sold #YZF #NWT


By Tom Hawthorn
Special to the Globe and Mail
January 14, 2009


Bob Gauchie pilots his wheelchair along the pathway of a hospital garden, where a thermometer records the noontime temperature as a tolerable eight degrees.

The instrument can go as low as -50, a temperature unknown to the city, but not to Mr. Gauchie.

"I don't suffer from the cold," he said, "but I hate snow."

Once, he endured a trial beyond the experience of any surviving human, a test of will so dreadful that people called him the Man Who Refused to Die.

His survival was described as a wonder and his story appeared on the front pages of newspapers across Canada and around the world. But even the miraculous comes with a price.

"I'm starting to get paid back for it now," he said yesterday between sips of hot coffee.

The former bush pilot has arthritis and diabetes, and can find it difficult to take a deep breath. he is no longer able to walk, partly due to the loss of toes on both feet.

A handsome man whose wispy hair falls across his forehead, he wears a brush mustache and a forearm tattoo. he celebrated his 81st birthday last month, an accomplishment for someone left for dead in the Far North some 42 winters ago.

Born in Edmonton and raised in Barrhead, Alta., he joined the military at age 17 as war raged overseas. he married a pretty young woman from Saint John, and took a job as a truck driver. it was his dream to fly, however, so he re-enlisted with the Royal Canadian Air Force, becoming a pilot while based at Cold Lake, Alta. he left military service to become a commercial bush pilot with Northern Mountain Airways.

He fought fires, hauled freight, delivered prospectors to isolated claims.


After several months of recovery and recuperation, Mr. Gauchie launched Buffalo Airways, which he later sold to one of his pilots. he learned to fly helicopters.

His home today is a room in the tidy Mount St. Mary Hospital in downtown Victoria. it is more spacious than the cockpit that once served as his home for two months.

To this day, he does not eat fish.

2009 CTVglobemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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