Ernest Matthew Braithwaite
October 20, 1937 – March 6, 2018
The Braithwaite family is sad to announce the passing of Ernest Braithwaite in Surrey, British Columbia on March 6, 2018 at the age of 80.
Ernie was born near and raised in Dewberry, Alberta, the eldest son of Joe and Olga Braithwaite, growing up with his brother Lorne and sister Sharon. A hard-working farm boy, Ernie became a tenaciously competitive hockey player, which took him to play for the University of Alberta where he pursued his Bachelor of Commerce degree. At 19, he travelled to study at the University of Geneva in Switzerland and play and teach the locals hockey. After touring Europe in cool 1950s style with pals in a VW beetle, Ernie returned to Edmonton to resume his Commerce degree and meet his wife Marlene.
After graduation, Ernie worked in accounting for companies around Edmonton, ending up in the nearby oil boomtown of Drayton Valley, still playing hockey, then for the Lacombe Rockets. Meanwhile, the family was growing with Murray and Gary. Taking advantage of a vocational training program to educate teachers, Ernie returned to the University of Alberta to become a teacher. Responding to an advertised opening for a high school teacher in Medicine Hat, Ernie and Lorne set out before dawn to drive over six hours, Ernie shaved and changed into a suit at a service station, did the interview, and then they drove home. He was hired. Neil was born and the family moved to Medicine Hat.
Ernie taught business and accounting for two years. One of the speakers he invited was a securities broker. Ernie was impressed by the speaker’s success (despite modest talents) and soon moved the family to Calgary where he started in the securities business with Richardson Securities. Meanwhile he was recruited to play Senior hockey with the Drumheller Miners, regularly commuting from Calgary, car-pooling with other Calgary-based teammates. The Miners won the Allen Cup in 1967 and were Canada’s representative team in European play.
Ernie flourished in the securities business, building on his network of Commerce and hockey connections. He and Bill Grafam started the Calgary office of Cochran Murray. For many years one of the most animated Stampede Breakfast parties was in the Braithwaite backyard, complete with country band and chefs from the Three Greenhorns steakhouse. Ernie met numerous colourful people, such as Jesse Knight who flew Ernie into the bandito-lands of Mexico in search of silver, and the aristocrat-born White Russian painter Nicholas de Grandmaison, who survived German internment camps in World War I and eventually came to Canada and produced acclaimed portraits of Indigenous people that earned him an Order of Canada and burial on the Peigan reserve in Southern Alberta where he had been made an honorary chief. Ernie was a pallbearer.
Ernie soon began and then completed part-time MBA studies at the University of Calgary, later teaching courses in the program. Ernie shifted into the oil industry, working first with Sunningdale Oil. This broadened his horizon, to Dubai and elsewhere. Eventually he, Roy Gillespie and George Rostoker formed Cherokee Resources. George had been in the French army during World War II and through guile escaped a German prisoner of war camp. Ernie joined George’s annual salmon fishing camp in the Queen Charlotte Islands every year for decades. Ernie was an avid duck and pheasant hunter for a time, on one trip trading a hard-to-find 16-gauge shotgun to Warren Winkler, later Chief Justice of Ontario.
Ernie and Marlene then began pursuing their interests in horses from rural upbringing, acquiring a couple of thoroughbreds and then moving to a farm south of Calgary near Priddis to breed thoroughbreds, with plenty of rock-picking, barn-building, fence-building and haying with family labour during summer school breaks. In the early 1980s, he and Marlene bought a mare in Kentucky and moved to an acreage on Whitbey Island, north of Seattle to breed thoroughbreds.
Always a small operation, Ernie developed broad networks of participants in the horse industry, from stall grooms, to trainers, to horse owners, to stud farm owners, to track owners. A trip to the track with Ernie involved him stopping countless times to chat with someone he knew in a different aspect of the industry about how things were going for them. Ernie made several trips to Saratoga in New York State. He even studied and got a trainer’s licence, to better train his trainers.
Ernie’s relentless curiosity, tenacity and loving care of horses on the farm, combined with Marlene’s bloodstock mastery, produced over a dozen stakes race winners. Ernie and Sonny Gorescht made numerous trips to watch their horses run and often went to Santa Anita (for the Big Cap), Del Mar, Emerald Downs, Hastings and other venues. Ernie served on the board of directors of the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society.
After 15 years on Whidbey Island, Ernie and Marlene moved to South Surrey and scaled down their thoroughbreds. Marlene took up rose-gardening and Ernie was busy tending to hundreds of rose plants and very active in local lawn bowling, as a bowler and volunteer groundskeeper.
Ernie always worked very hard for his family, steering all three sons through university. Family ski trips in the mountains of Alberta and British Columbia were annual winter rituals, including an annual ski week spanning New Years at Fairmont Hot Springs with the families of Ernie’s University of Alberta Commerce friends Trimble Macor, Bruce Fuhr and Aaron Schtabsky. Many family summers were spent camping around Alberta and British Columbia, at Sharon’s lake cabin and Lac La Plonge, with plenty of bridge, cribbage, fishing, ukuleles and singing.
Ernie passed away peacefully from progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) in his final years, which is an uncommon brain disease.
Ernie is survived by his wife Marlene, sons Murray (Tracey), Gary (Silvia) and Neil (Michele); grandchildren Ross, Allison, Emerson, Cesar and Martin; his brother Lorne and sister Sharon; and many nieces and nephews and their children.
A commemorative ceremony will be scheduled for inurnment at Dewberry beside the graves of Ernie’s parents.
- Service for Ernest Matthew Braithwaite Saturday, May 26, 2018
Ernest Matthew Braithwaite
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March 25, 2018
I have many fond memories of fishing with Ernie and Ray Goddard in Haida Gwaii each fall over many years. We stayed in Georges Rostoker's trailer there and had great times and fellowship together with Georges and others. I will truly miss Ernie and the times we shared there. Keith Cooley.
Ray & Linda Glasrud
March 25, 2018
Ernie was a friend and a partner for many years, we will remember him. Thanks for all your help Ernie.
March 17, 2018
Grandpa Braithwaite was always the pinnacle of competence to me. I cannot think of a person more self-assured and confident in every situation. I remember when he first visited after we got our dog (a big, strong rottweiler with no confidence issues himself). Though they had never met, the second Grandpa walked through the door the dog was grovelling in obeisance to him, immediately recognizing his high stature in our family. Such was the aura of competence surrounding my grandfather. That visit, Grandpa gathered and burned all the driftwood and dead trees from our shoreline at the cottage, both generously helping us (as he was wont to do) by cleaning up the land, and giving us the most exciting bonfire we had ever seen (the tree branches 30ft above the pit were in danger of catching fire). My childhood is full of such memories.
I was always inspired by the stories he told, be they funny, dramatic, or inspiring. I particularly enjoyed the story of the securities broker who visited the school where he worked. It is related a lot more kindly towards the hapless broker in this obituary than when Grandpa told it, but either version exemplifies Grandpa's desire to provide for his family, and also to maximally extract success using his incredible abilities, intelligence, and aforementioned competence. I have often used this as motivation as I try to find my way through the world.
Our lives and families are all a little emptier with Grandpa's passing. The memories and stories being posted here are a great comfort to me; it is amazing to hear more of the extent of the beautiful, full life he lived. I can only hope to honour his legacy by seeking to meet such people, live such memories, and write such stories with my own life.
March 12, 2018
The passing of Ernie Braithwaite leaves a big hole in my heart. For more than 20 years, not only were Ernie and I partners in the breeding and racing of thoroughbred horses, we were the best of friends.
Ernie held the highest standards of ethics and integrity for his own behavior and respected those qualities in the people with whom he surrounded himself. He admired plain-spoken, hard working people in all of life's social strata and always stood ready to help those considered "outsiders" by race, ethnicity or religion.
Ernie formed strong opinions and loved to defend them over a drink of good scotch and a cigar. Often, after one of our long discussions, without notice I would receive a book in the mail that most certainly helped form the basis of Ernie's argument - and I loved the continuing of our ongoing debates.
Ernie was quietly generous to those in need. I only learned of his generosity from some of those who benefitted directly from his personal concern and financial assistance.
In horse-racing circles, and in all other areas of our common interests, I was always very proud to be introduced as "Ernie Braithwaite's partner" - the good-will and acceptance that came my way was always palpable.
The reverence I held for my dear friend, Ernie Braithwaite, might best be illustrated by the following story:
Once, our dear friend in common, Aaron Shtabsky, asked me, "As a Jew, if you were ever forced to flee for your life,
whom would you turn to for sanctuary?" Without batting an eyelash, I immediately answered, "Ernie Braithwaite".
Without hesitation and without any doubt, I would have entrusted Ernie Braithwaite with my life.
To you, Marlene, Murray, Neil and Gary, and to all of your families, and to you, Lorne and Sharon and each of your families, our condolences and deepest sympathy are with you. Gena and I will never forget all the wonderful moments we shared together.
Sonny and Gena Gorasht
Deirdre & Russ Allen
March 10, 2018
I am so fortunate to have had Uncle Ernie in my life. In my younger days I spent many summers with Uncle Ernie, Auntie Marlene, Murray, Gary and Neil, picking roots, shoveling horse manure and attending Uncle Ernie’s charm school - what great memories and I know I am the woman I am today, table manners and all, because of those times. Uncle Ernie had an amazing life, full of experiences yet he always made time for his family, friends and colleagues, I know he was a rock for my mom and Uncle Lorne. He celebrated Russ and I and we feel so lucky that he shared his smile, the twinkle in his eye, the good conversation, the glass of wine and his warm hugs with us. Auntie Marlene, Murray, Gary and Neil we are thinking of you.
March 9, 2018
Dear Marlene, and family: Our family thanks you so very much for such an inclusive , and thorough write up on Ernie's life. Our late father, Georges, just thought the world of Ernie. My gratitude goes to Ernie and indeed Roy Gillespie, in fact, as they were the ones that would tell me so many stories about my own Dads accomplishments, and adventures.
Ernie was always there to help anyone; imparting knowledge, sympathy, and mentoring many that would accept his invaluable real world knowledge and experiences.
His acute curiosity on so many different subjects was an amazing thing to behold. Ernie wanted to drill down to the core of the subject.
Speaking of mentoring, Ernie was the principal person that was responsible for ushering me into the realm of the financial business, as he introduced me to the then current manager at Richardson Securities. The rest is history.
I cherished the many years that Ernie would be at Dad's fishing camp the same week as I was to attend. The great fishing and camaraderie ensued, and watching feisty Ernie engaging in all sorts of discussions made me smile at the end of the day. You could also see Ernie really enjoying his quiet times as well.
We have many pictures, and videos of Ernie bringing in the big Coho. All the crew will miss Ernie.
Many condolences to your whole family from Gerard and Pam, and of course all my siblings who also spent many a time with Ernie
March 9, 2018
First Marlene, our deepest condolences on the passing of your beloved husband Ernie. I have very fond memories of my visit to your beautiful ranch on Whitbey Island and also your home in Whiterock.You were both wonderful hosts and whenever I did have occasion to speak to Ernie on the phone, our conversations were always easy and pleasant.In reading his obituary, although sad,it was very revealing to read the extent of his full and varied journey in life!! Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Take care!! Dennis & Lorraine Bayko...
March 9, 2018
I have so many wonderful memories of Ernie. What I think I will miss most, though, is his conversation. He loved to chat, and he was so interesting. I will forever remember his voice on the telephone "Hi Tracey, It's Ernie". Of course it was Ernie! His voice was very recognizable, and he would call us quite often. It was very sad when the phone stopped ringing. I will also remember how kind he was to family and friends, and really to everyone. He was always ready to help someone in need. It's a small thing, but you couldn't lay down on a couch in his home, without him bringing a blanket over to cover you up. We will miss you Ernie. :-(