Fakland’s favourite Leaf has fallen.
The Canadian flag at the Falkland Stampede is flying at half-mast to acknowledge the death of local legend Ozzie Leaf, born in 1928, who died on Vancouver Island Saturday, Feb. 11.
The former owner of Leaf’s Hardware Store on Highway 97 moved to the Island after 89 years in the North Okanagan community west of Vernon.
The Falkland Stampede announced the death of Leaf on its social media platform.
“It is with heavy hearts we wish to inform our fans of the loss of our beloved friend Oz,” said the Stampede. “He was the backbone of our community and Stampede for most of his life. A born and raised Falkland pioneer, he was one of a kind. Rarely missed a community meeting or a stampede meeting and if it was a Stampede meeting you damn well better have your hat on when you got there.”
In the summer of 2020, with help from his family, Leaf put his life’s story into words, a booklet called Ozzie’s Falkland, describing his life in the community.
Born at Vernon Jubilee Hospital, Leaf grew up with a brother, Larry, and two sisters, May and Freda, all of whom have died. He lived on a farm at Six Mile Creek, then moved with his mom and siblings to an older house on Falkland’s Tutakamin Road.
“We were brought up during the Great Depression,” wrote Leaf. “I remember fishing at the creek and bringing home lambs’ quarters (wild spinach) we picked for our dinner sometimes.”
In the lines of the nine-page booklet, we learn Leaf used to deliver newspapers and telegrams by riding his bike. His widowed mom remarried the Falkland train station manager, Ray Pake, and everyone lived in the home above the station.
He started working at Bill McClounie’s Store, quitting school at 14 to be fully employed. He later bought the store from McClounie to open Leaf’s Hardware Store.
Leaf was involved with the Falkland Broncs’ baseball team, and was the Falkland fire chief for 26 years.
He married his wife, Donna, on March 17, 1961 in Kamloops. The couple had two children, Scott and Apryl, and celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2011. Donna passed away in 2013.
In 1964, Leaf helped get a Centennial grant from the government which helped build the Falkland Curling Club.
Leaf wrote a report in 2019 on the 100th Falkland Stampede, held on the May long weekend in 2018.
“Our 100th Stampede event was one of the most successful stampedes ever held in Falkland,” Leaf said. “Excellent weather, and the largest crowd ever seen for the three-day event, one of Canada’s oldest professional rodeos.”
“Ozzie was loved by everyone, never gave up, loved our Indigenous peoples and their traditions, never missed his weekly calls to his friends here in Falkland and loved his family like no other,” said the Stampede committee. “You will be missed my friend but never forgotten and if there’s rodeos in heaven they just gained a pretty awesome committee man so they better make room at the table.”
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Columbia Shuswap Regional DistrictDeathSeniors