Michael Rouse
Michael Rouse

Obituary of Michael Joseph Rouse

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In Loving Memory –


On Wednesday, May 17, 2023 Michael Joseph Rouse, 84, passed away after a valiant year-long battle with cancer. He is mourned by Odette Rouse (nee Brunet), his wife of 52 years. He is survived by sons Joseph William Sutherland Rouse (Sherry Berg), Denis Dubois (Edith Dejonghe) and James Christopher Rouse (Lenise Fitzpatrick), sister Elizabeth (Nancy) Rouse, and grandson Sebastien Dubois. He was predeceased by sisters Maureen Scott and Lynda Simpson..


Mike was born April 10, 1939 in Belleville, ON, to Joseph Rouse of Bancroft, ON and mother Elinor (nee Allebon) of Lister, ON. He was raised on a small farm in the hamlet of Smithfield, ON, where he attended a one-room village school, and graduated from East Northumberland Secondary School in nearby Brighton, ON. He graduated in 1962 with a Bachelor of Science in Forestry from the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, NB and completed his Masters of Business Administration at McMaster’s University in Hamilton, ON in 1966.


Mike began his storied career in forestry, lumber, and pulp & paper at Domtar in 1962, where he worked mostly at the company headquarters in Montreal, QC.  While at Domtar, he rose to General Manager, Lumber Division, and General Manager, Ontario Woodlands.


He met Odette in 1972 in Montreal, and they married in Pembroke, ON in 1976. The family was soon joined by Odette’s nieces Sophie Hall (nee Desormeaux) and Marise Bond-Moran in the family’s first home in Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, QC.


Following Mike’s dream to live and work in the Canadian Rockies, he and Odette moved their family to Cranbrook, BC in 1981, where he took the position of Vice President, Operations for Crestbrook Forest Industries. When Crestbrook was acquired by Tembec Inc. in 2001, Mike was appointed as that company’s Senior Vice President of BC Operations, a position he held until his retirement in 2004. In retirement, he was appointed annually by the BC government to the Columbia Basin Trust’s board of directors between 2003-2009.


Mike was an avid and skilled outdoorsman, fisherman and hunter, passions he and Odette passed on to their sons and extended family. Many lasting family memories were made at Club Dorset (“The Camp”), a cooperative hunting and fishing preserve maintained by 11 families of younger Domtar managers in the Beauce region of southeastern Quebec. Mike’s love of the outdoors was one of the main motivations for settling in the East Kootenay, where he and Odette white-water canoed, hiked and camped at every opportunity.


Mike and Odette purchased a working 315-acre, 50-head cattle ranch and hay farm on St. Mary’s Prairie near Wycliffe, BC in 1984. Sited midway down the valley of the St. Mary’s River, the farmhouse boasted stunning views of Mount Fisher and the Steeples Range, as well as the St. Eugene Mission on Ktunaxa Nation lands. The farm was host to Mike and Odette’s many large barbecues for their Crestbrook/Tembec colleagues and friends from Cranbrook and the region.


Mike was never happier than when he and Odette were doing chores around the ranch, from cutting, raking and bailing hay to attending to late-night calving emergencies in sub-zero February weather. Besides farming and outdoors activities, Mike was an avid reader of history and literature, ending most evenings in bed with a book and a cuddle from one of their cats and dogs.


He and Odette traveled the world. Highlights include traveling up the Amazon in a rickety riverboat for a stay in a floating farm community, hiking up stairs on the Great Wall of China, eating sushi in Tokyo, and lounging on beaches in Cuba, Hawaii, Vietnam, and the French Riviera, among many others.


In condolences sent by family, colleagues and friends, the word “giant” is commonly heard. All remember Mike as a strong, warm, witty and generous friend, colleague and family man.


The family wishes to thank the doctors, nurses and staff of the East Kootenay Regional Hospital and Joseph Creek Village, as well as the Cranbrook Kimberley Hospice Society. Special thanks to Terry and Hilary Segarty, and Bryan and Trudy Clifford.


A Celebration of Life will be held in July at the family farm. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Cranbrook Food Bank Society.


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