The Dryden Observer

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Peter Vincent Cortens – February 11, 1953 – September 18, 2018

It is with overwhelming sadness and grief that the family of Peter Vincent Cortens announces his passing after a long, hard fought battle with cancer.

Peter was born at St. Boniface Hospital Winnipeg, Manitoba February 11th, 1953 the second child of Jack and Byrnece Cortens. He was raised in Winnipeg, Kenora and finally Dryden when his father moved here to work and open a practice as an accountant.

Peter loved the outdoors and was hunting and fishing with his brothers and friends from an early age. He breezed effortlessly through school and skipped two grades so that he was fortunate to then have two groups of friends.

He attended University of Calgary at age 16 but wasn’t quite ready so was employed at a variety of jobs from herring fishing in B.C. to surveying in waist deep snow near Sioux Lookout. He fell, he says, into becoming a carpenter when he began working for Mayotte Construction and later was an independent contractor with his friend and partner Siegfried Bendlin.

He and Siegfried also tried a brief career of commercial fishing. When his first son Benjamin was born he decided to go back to school and become a dentist at age 33 so that he didn’t have to leave his family to work construction.

He graduated in 1992 from the University of Manitoba having had two more sons while there and opened a practice in Dryden and his fourth son was born during the first year of his practice. He was an excellent dentist and was appreciated by all his patients, which included his family.

In 2011 he decided to close his practice and worked as a contractor to the North Western Health Unit where he provided dental service in the Healthy Smiles program to low income families and underserviced areas.

You could sometimes find him in the Smiles Ontario mobile dental bus and sometimes at health units with dental facilities but no full time dentist. He was ‘the Guy’ for Silvana, Dawn, Randy, Lara, Ange and Charlene as he made it all work. He loved his work and worked until he was forced to retire last month due to ill health.

Peter was also a multi-talented individual with many interests. One of his great loves was music and took lessons at a young age for violin, he could also play harmonica, guitar, ukulele, and trumpet. He was in many local bands over the years, the latest being Pass the Pineapple with Rick Smith, Jim Gee and J.B. Hewitson.

He volunteered and was a regular at the campfires at Troutfest. He performed at many venues over the years and was delighted to provide the music for his son Benjamin’s and daughter in law Michelle’s wedding.

People were always surprised by his energetic, enthusiastic and entertaining performances because Peter was very humble, always downplaying his talents and abilities. He was a quiet person with an infectious smile and great sense of humor and he loved to tell corny jokes especially those from the Cortens family repertoire.

His greatest love, of course, was his family and friends. He and his wife Heather took their children camping and fishing often and when they were older, hunting. He and ‘the Six Amigos’ his brother Mike, his friends Jeff Dingwall, Lenny Kusnick, Greg Hutton and Alvin Capovilla made the May long weekend a poker, sauna, and food and drink tradition (extravaganza)-with a little fishing on the side.

‘May long’ was sacrosanct and everyone knew not to plan any weddings or baptisms or special events that weekend.

His parents camp on Coney Island was one of his carpentry triumphs. He modernized and expanded an existing older cabin turning into a wonderful home for his parents. Many happy summer holidays and family reunions have been spent there with his parents and his brothers and their families.

In 2005 he, his brother Michael and Jeff Dingwall purchased property in Eton Rugby which included a cabin and became the ‘Deer Camp’. Great times hunting, building 4×4 trails and singing around the bonfire were had by family and friends.

This past year he became a grandfather to Gweneth and Emrik when Patrick became engaged to Charity and although his time with them was short he loved them immediately and did as much with them as he could.

In September of 2015 he was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer and began a hard fought but ultimately fatal battle with the disease. He would like to remind all his male family and friends and men reading this to please look after themselves in this regard as the disease is curable/ manageable if caught early.

Peter was always there when needed and never had a negative thing to say about anything or anyone. His brothers always referred to him as St. Pete. He was a gentle soul with a huge heart and will leave a huge hole in the lives of his wife Heather and of his family, friends and anyone who knew him.

Peter leaves to mourn his passing, his wife Heather, his sons Benjamin (Michelle), Adam (Sarah), Daniel (Holly) and Patrick (Charity) and grandchildren Gweneth and Emrik. His mother Byrnece, his brothers Philip, Michael (Wendy), David (Julie), John (Dympna) and Andrew (Caroline) and good family friend Margaret. And many nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews will miss their Uncle Pete.

He was predeceased by his father Jack and his sister Catherine, his father-in-law Peter Louttit and his sisterin-law Tat-Siang.

A Funeral Mass was held on Friday September 21st, 2018 at 1:00 in St. Joseph’s Roman Church with Father Al Campeau officiating. Interment followed in the Dryden Cemetery.

If family and friends desire donations made by made to the DRHC Oncology Unit or the DRHC Foundation through the Stevens Funeral Home, P.O. Box 412, Dryden, Ontario P8N 2Z1. Condolences may be posted at

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