John passed away peacefully on July 31st at the Pines care home in Burns Lake, he spent his last days surrounded by his children, grandchildren and loving family.
John was born in Ski, Norway. He moved to Canada with his parents Ruth and Justin Johnson when he was three years old. They lived in Trail and Mission, finally settling in Bella Coola which had a Norweigan population. John grew up in Bella Coola helping his parents with fishing and living off the land.
John left Bella Coola when he was a teenager and started his working career on the Queen Charlotte Islands as a logger. During the WWII John worked in the logging Industry logging airplane spruce for the bombers being sent overseas. During his logging career John got his captains papers for the tug boat industry. This changed his career and started his love of the sea.
In the early 40’s John moved to Prince Rupert and broke into the fishing industry with his uncle, finally making enough to get his own boat. John was very successful at fishing during the 1950’s and he was able to have two very fine seiners built by Matsomoto shipyards in Vancouver: the Northern Dawn and the Silver Bounty. Two of the finest examples of wooden seiners for the fishing fleet on the west coast.
John and his first wife adopted a little girl in 1953 and when he met his second wife Peggy he adopted her two children and they had a growing family with the addition of three more boys in the 1960’s.
John fishing career was very succesful and he became very well known on the west coast. He was one of the first skippers to venture into the Bering Sea after halibut. When he returned to Prince Rupert with his ship loaded to the deck with halibut he was considered a hero by hi fellow skippers. John achieved some of the biggest tonnages ever recorded on the west coast on the herring, salmon and halibut fisheries. During the 1970’s he even fished for a time on the east coast on the Canada 100, a herring seiner out of Port aux Basque. The Newfoundland fisherman all wanted to meet this west coast Captain who caught so many fish. John continued to fish well into his 60’s.
John always wanted to be in farming and owning his own ranch. During the late 1960’s John bought a ranch in the interior of the north west near the town of Houston, they built a motel and trailer court and ranched cattle during the 1970’s. He also built his log house on his ranch which at 5000 square feet was one of the largest log homes in the province at that time. John loved to operate his farm equipment and he always had big projects on the go. The more people he had working and the more equipment he had running the happier he was. John was a hard worker his entire life. He instilled his work ethic in his children with stern fatherly advice like “there’s no such thing as can’t” and “the world doesn’t owe you a living”. He used to say he was a jack of all trades, master of none. However, the people who fished with him would tell you he was a master at that profession.
After John’s wifes’ passing in 1985 John continued to run his motel cooking breakfast for his customers. He was famous for his pancakes and all the b.s. that would fly around the coffee shop .
John was struck down by a massive stroke in 1997 and he went through a long period of rehabilitation and medical care, he finally settled at the Pines care home in Burns Lake in 1998 where he was able to travel with his family out to his ranch and around the Bulkley Valley.
John is predeceased by his parents Justin and Ruth Johnson and his wife Peggy Johnson. He is survived by his six children Carrie (Rick) Vanvalkengoed; Patti (Rob) Wright; Rick Johnson; John W (Monika) Johnson; Mike (Victoria) Johnson; Tom (Nicole) Johnson; and 18 grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren.
John was a hard working passionate Canadian who will be missed by his family and many friends.
Captain John, the Ancient Mariner is at the helm of his ship and he’s headed for the fishing grounds.