Tanner Sinclair had zest for life

The 27-year-old father and husband, who died in a knife attack in the early morning hours on Tuesday morning, left a legacy of adventure and will be remembered for his indomitable spirit.

Tanner Sinclair’s thirst for exhilaration was never quenched.

The 27-year-old father and husband, who died in a knife attack in the early morning hours on Tuesday morning, left a legacy of adventure and will be remembered for his indomitable spirit.

Born and raised in Pincher Creek, Alta., a quiet community approximately 200 kilometres south of Calgary, Sinclair’s burning desire to overcome obstacles was evident from a young age, his father Brent said.

“He was always willing to tackle challenges and learn from them,” he said.

“As a young kid he took up mountain biking and downhill skiing. You could say he was a real adrenaline junkie.”

As the owner of a successful outfitting business, Brent began taking his son on big game hunting trips and exposing him to the vast wilderness of southern Alberta.

Tanner was only three years old and being carried around in a backpack the first time he accompanied his father on a hunt.

“He must have been on 50 to 60 successful sheep hunts,” Brent said.

“He was incredibly mature for his age and that was partially because he was around so many people from different backgrounds all the time.”

One of those people was a New York City resident who hired Sinclair to take him out on a ram hunt back in Nov. 2008.

When Louis Onorato heard about Sinclair’s death, he set up a memorial page on a bowhunting forum to share his thoughts and experiences about the man he spent a few special days with.

“We were worlds apart: he was from Alberta and I was from NYC and he was to be my guide in the Canmore Bow Zone,” he told the News in an e-mail.

“At only 21 years old, Tanner was wise for such a young age. Our goal was to hunt bighorn sheep with archery gear and I recall Tanner telling me of past sheep hunts he was on, and how he had helped 28 other hunters take sheep.”

It’s very important for hunters and guides to get along, Onorato added.

He knew the two would work well together because Sinclair “had a way about him that made other people comfortable in his presence.”

On the first day of the hunt, Sinclair spotted a legal ram and named him, a common practice among sheep guides.

Over the next few days, the pair tracked that ram across the harsh landscape of the Canadian Rockies.

“Mother Nature can be tough in those parts with winds upwards of 100 km/h and white-outs, but that never broke Tanner and in fact, he seemed to be enjoying the challenge,” Onorato said.

On the fifth day, they spotted their target and positioned themselves on a downhill slope for a chance at shooting it.

With Sinclair giving advice and watching closely through a pair of binoculars, Onorato pulled back his bow and fired a shot into the beast.

“I can honestly say that Tanner was more excited than I was; he shook my hand and after taking some pictures and video, hiked the ram back to the base camp,” he added.

Their friendship continued for some years after that as they wrote to each other and talked about future hunts they would go on together.

Sinclair’s passion for hunting and the wilderness knew no bounds.

Craig Hann became friends with Sinclair about 10 years ago, when they both worked for Hann’s brother in the construction industry in Pincher Creek.

“That kid never stopped,” Hann said.

“We’d spot a ram at four in the afternoon and he’d want to go after it even though it was like a four hour hike. Nothing scared him, I know that much.”

After Sinclair moved up to Whitehorse in 2012 with his family, the friends kept in touch and talked to each other often, despite the distance.

Hann said Sinclair offered invaluable advice to him.

“I actually got an elk job near Canmore last fall and I was on the phone with him, I think four times a day,” Hann said.

“I was wondering where to go and what to do, and Tanner knew exactly where to go to hunt them.”

A year after moving to Whitehorse, Sinclair penned a letter to the editor for the News, decrying ATV usage on nearby mountains for its negative effects on sheep populations.

Despite not being a hunter anymore, Sinclair cared deeply about his surroundings and the way people treated the environment.

He suggested an alternative to people who wanted to enjoy the great outdoors.

“For those who want to pursue wildlife that lives high on the mountains: save your money on your ATVs and invest in a good backpack and a good pair of boots,” he wrote.

“Get out there and hunt the right way. Respect the territory you call home and earn that set of sheep horns and meat that few people in the world have the privilege to enjoy.”

A fundraiser (http://www.gofundme.com/bo3z98) for Sinclair’s family – wife Whitney, who is expecting their second child and daughter Keele – was created on Wednesday.

By Friday morning, more than 345 people had donated $61,000.

Tanner’s cousin Pamela Key started the fund with the hopes of alleviating the immediate expenses incurred by his family, adding that Sinclair didn’t have life insurance.

“It makes sense to make a donation for Whitney and their babies in lieu of flowers,” she said.

Also, Alberta Treasury Branches has opened a trust fund for the family in Pincher Creek that anyone can donate to, according to the Pincher Creek Voice.

Contact Myles Dolphin at


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