The family of Dennis William Anthony Smyk, resident of Ignace, Ontario announces his passing at the Dryden Regional Health Centre with family by his side, after a several-year battle with cancer.
Throughout his long journey, Dennis accepted the multiple diagnoses of cancer and other setbacks with the same strength and optimism with which he lived.
Dennis was born on March 2, 1945 in Saint Boniface, Manitoba. He grew up in Ignace and attended high school in Fort William (Thunder Bay) and Selkirk, Manitoba.
At Teachers College in Port Arthur (Thunder Bay), he completed his education and met his future wife, Jackie. They were married in Kenora on July 4, 1970. Dennis and Jackie were proud of many collective and individual achievements, including family, their newspaper, Ignace Driftwood, and work with numerous volunteer organizations for more than fifty years.
Dennis was a loving and devoted father and grandfather who relished the quality time of family visits.
Through many challenges and trying times, Driftwood did not miss a weekly edition in more than forty years. While the newspaper is a business, Dennis also viewed it as a needed contribution to the community. Driftwood was a part of the social fabric of Ignace, reflecting its people, activities, changes and opinions.
In 2013, Dennis received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of more than fifty years of volunteer work in Ignace and Northwestern Ontario. From his teenage years as leader of the Ignace Youth Club, to his passing, as a member of several professional and volunteer organizations, Dennis continuously worked to help improve the quality of community life.
He served as a Councillor and Mayor of Ignace, as well as a volunteer firefighter and Chief of the Fire Department. He was often referred to as an ambassador for the area and was often called ‘Mr. Ignace’.
Earlier this year Ignace’s museum was named “Dennis Smyk Heritage Centre” in recognition of his contributions to the museum collection and to the promotion of area history.
Whether through work, volunteering or hobbies, Dennis brought an infectious passion to his involvement. Former students have commented on his innovative ways of teaching a lesson that helped make learning interesting. Dennis had a knack for getting volunteers on board for causes that he believed in and supported by example.
He chaired the Friends of White Otter Castle committee and served on many others. He loved Northwestern Ontario and the opportunities it provided to explore its lakes, rivers and network of bush roads.
Dennis was an accomplished writer, poet and life-long photographer whose award-winning photos have been sold as prints and greeting cards and adorn the walls of family and friends. Last year, he published his poetry in a book entitled ‘A Voice of the Shield’.
For several decades, Dennis discovered and documented over 150 pictograph sites on numerous local lakes. As a licensed avocational archaeologist, he found and investigated numerous native encampments and habitation sites from long ago and shared his findings through presentations and contributions to government archives.
His “hobby” generated the largest individual contribution to our understanding of these sites in Northwestern Ontario.
Dennis is survived by his wife Jackie, children Derek (Kathryn) of Hamilton, Ontario, Laura (Mike) Passmore of Wakefield, Quebec, Paul (Ev) of Thunder Bay and Peter (Natalie) of Thunder Bay. He is also survived by brother Dale, sister Cathy Johnson (Bob), brother Mark (Nancy), grandchildren Dylan and Zoe Smyk and Molly, Finn and Oliver Passmore and many nieces and nephews. Dennis was predeceased by his brotherin-law Peter Bawden, sister-in-law Cindy Smyk, parents Bill and Josie Smyk and parents-in-law Henry and Blanche Bawden.
A service to celebrate Dennis’ life will be held at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Ignace, at 1:00 pm on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 with Father Alan Campeau officiating. Interment will take place at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Tamarack House through the Dryden Community Funeral Home, 249 Grand Trunk Avenue, Dryden, ON P8N 2X3 Expressions of sympathy may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org subject heading: Smyk