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12 thoughts on “Condolences”

  1. I had the good fortune to work in association with Norm when I represented the Yukon government on the Working Committee charged with developing a modern system of managing placer mining under the Fisheries Act. Norm was well known for establishing sound environmental practices and supporting employees at his own operation, and his experience, integrity and reputation gave the industry influence with federal government ministers at a critical time for the industry. Norm was a model for other placer miners who have stepped forward and devoted their time and energy on behalf of the industry, and I feel honoured to have known him and watched him in action. My sincere condolences to all of Norm’s family and friends.

  2. Remembering Norm Ross
    I was lucky enough to be hired by Norm in the spring of 1988 as a rock truck driver at Ross Mining. I had recently finished university and got the job thru family connections as my relatives sold heavy equipment and Norm was a customer. Nevertheless, Norm warmly welcomed me to the operation with his wide smile and infectious positivity. I was the first female heavy equipment operator hired at Ross Mining. Norm’s equipment was in very nice condition, and he must have been at least a little nervous about what might happen at the hands of a green college grad whose only equipment experience was as pilot car driver for a piece of machinery he sent up North plus a couple of months flagging and labouring on a Yukon road construction job the winter before. But whatever niggling worries Norm might have had, he was impeccably gracious, positive and confidence building towards me. Hell, I was even sure I could do the job after spending a bit of time around Norm.
    I recall Sandy was well dressed, professional and managed to look great all the time, despite the dust, the weather and the long days. Sandy was a bit skeptical about this new kid as truck driver, and a couple of times she queried whether I should be issued the royal blue with gold lettering Ross mining coveralls given that I was mostly wearing army shorts in the truck. I am proud to report that 35 years later, those royal blue Ross mining coveralls still hang in my closet and remain in pristine condition. Together, Sandy and Norm were a styling and social couple.
    I roomed with the Cook, whose name I can’t recall (Leona?), and the only other female at the mine besides Sandy and myself. She was a great cook but downright hostile to the addition of an inexperienced female equipment operator – not me as a person, just in the role. Norm’s seasoned mining crew were openly amused at the idea of a “girl” on the crew, and they were confident they could run me off the job in a couple of weeks, a month at most.
    The dozer operator soon started to leap off his machine every single time I arrived at the dump site (about every 4 minutes); stood on his caterpillar tracks and made wild gesticulations with his hands to guide me into the spot where I should back in to dump the load. I may as well have had a Giant “N” in my window indicating I was a “new driver”. The other guys found the bulldozer operator hilarious. Various shenanigans took place as they tried different ways (some subtle, some not so much) to “haze” this unsuitable newbie on the job.
    I also had some weird habits: reading odd books and listening to disco music, jogging in my spare time on the dirt roads (moose, bear; not a great idea it turns out), and exploring the bush looking for treasures from times past. Before leaving Vancouver, I borrowed some money from my grandfather and bought a navy blue Ford 150 (the same one I used to pilot equipment for Norm up to the Yukon) and I would go on long drives all over hell’s half acre on my Sundays off. I lasted the full 8 months until October when things wound down. Working at Ross Mining was an incredible, indelible experience for me personally; it transformed my thinking about many things and prompted my future career in environmental sustainability and economic development. I had a lot of time to think while operating heavy machinery at Ross Mining, including the 769B wagon, the 988B loader (clearing the sluice box, my all-time favourite night shift), the dozer into the sluice box; and even some time on the backhoe while the operator went on shift break.
    Ross Mining in 1988 on Dominion creek was this incredible confluence of wide-open space, a beautifully designed, organized and operated workspace (was that all Norm, or did Sandy have something to do with how nice it looked?). But the thing I remember most about Norm was just how positive and lighthearted he was; and I never saw him lose his cool; or if he rarely did, he was so fast to recover.
    One memory in particular sticks out for me – we were heading back to lunch and there was a very narrow bridge to cross to get back to camp. I said “that bridge looks pretty narrow”. I had been driving for about 8 days at that point and the guys were just starting to settle down. But I was determined to prove myself, so I squinted at the two railway tie curbs of this teeny tiny bridge and gunned it across. Norm jumped out of his truck waving and yelling at me to stop, but I was already part way across and could hear an ominous crunching sound and felt the truck get a bit tippy, so thought I better just keep going. Let’s just say the bridge was damaged but the truck made it across in one piece – it was touch and go and the 769B and me narrowly avoided ending up in the drink. Once Norm realized we escaped calamity, he just broke into that signature smile and said “well, hey, normally we flag people across that bridge it’s awfully narrow” – it turns out there was just a few inches clearance on each side. I swear Norm did not break a sweat.
    At the end of the season, Norm said “I really like that Ford Explorer of yours and it’s a perfect colour – it was Ross Mining navy blue. “How would you like to sell that to me. I’ll pay you what you paid for it.” My jaw dropped and it was a quick sale and I happily took the bus and ferry back to Vancouver. I thought I had made out like a bandit! But Norm was a smart businessman. Not only did he hire his first female equipment operator with no huge calamity, he also ended up with a pristine truck delivered to the Yukon that had only been driven by a college kid on Sundays.
    Norm, you gave me a chance to do something truly different, and the experience changed my life and my thinking… all those hours spent on heavy equipment, sometimes under the Northern Lights, was truly a gift of time and thought. Thank you for being such a great boss and an inspiring model of positivity. Rest in Peace, Norm Ross.
    Virginia Weiler

    • Carl I’m very sorry for your loss; and I’m sorry I will miss Norm’s funeral as had planned to be there but got called away with work. I have posted my memories of Norm instead. Thanks for making this celebration of life accessible for those of us near and far. Virginia

  3. Well Norm it’s fitting that I’m working on a placer water license just now, I remember Stuart and I sitting down with you over some thorny problem the government had thrown our way, and again many trips on foot around the block in Vancouver when another government agency was causing the sky to fall. You were there for us “young” guys when we needed you, with support and good advice. travel well, may the bureaucrats be few the gold plenty and no pyrite in the cleanup!

  4. We will miss the visits with Norm each time we passed through Kelowna. We are thankful for “Uncle” Norm’s sound advice and support over so many years. His memory will be cherished and he will be greatly missed.
    David and Lorraine Millar

  5. I was the placer geologist with the federal government in Yukon for many years and participated in the original Placer Mining Review Committee of which Norm was one of the KPMA members. Norm was absolutely instrumental in developing a water management regime for placer mining that is still in place today. He showed incredible leadership, insights into technical and political solutions and was a great negotiator. The placer mining industry owes him a great debt of thanks for his hard work to ensure the future of the industry. Norm was also one of first pioneers that managed his placer mine in a similar manner to a hard rock mine with a high degree of professionalism. Norm was a friend or mine and I admired him. He had high standards and believed in honour and honesty. We had many great debates and lots of laughs. I will miss him very much.

  6. Hello Carl and your family,

    We will be thinking about you and your family and friends on January 4, 2023 at the celebration for your dear Dad.
    We have many lovely memories of great times with your Mom and Dad…New Year’s parties, the Chilkoot trail, and their beautiful Goldens.

    Warmest thoughts,
    Case and Christine DeVisser

  7. A remarkable life that made him the successful, fine gentleman and friend that he was since I first met him at BCIT 56 years ago, and thereafter from time to time as our paths crossed and most recently as we both resided in kelowna and would do dinner with Norm & Sandy to keep in touch.
    Rest In Peace my friend….cliff & ginette Britch.

  8. A truly remarkable man. It was a life experience to work for and with Norm. He was one of the best, if not THE best, employer that I have worked for. I learned a great deal of valuable life and workplace skills and techniques from him. There truly hasn’t been one day since that I haven’t thought about him at least once. As I remarked to another former employee, there are certain people that you encounter in life that leave a lasting impression on you, and Norm was certainly one.

  9. Norm and Sandy were fellow placer miners as we too mined during the same era on the Indian River. I am saddened to learn of both Sandy and Norm’s passing, they were a lovely couple. Our era of mining has sadly come to an end. My sincere condolences to your families.

  10. Norm was a good friend and mentor and will be greatly missed.
    Please let us know when and where Norm’s Crlebration of life will be held.
    David & Lorraine


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