March 8, 1929 – July 1, 2021
Richard Morley (Dick) Bradley of Whitehorse and formerly of the Pelly River Ranch passed away peacefully in his sleep on July 1, 2021, in Whitehorse at the age of 92.
Dick was born on March 8, 1929 in Lacombe, Alberta, where he and his three brothers and two sisters grew up on the family farm. He had a natural aptitude for farming, mechanical work and machinery, and took part in events such as ploughing competitions. He also pursued his agricultural interest in studies at the Olds School of Agriculture.
Dick saw that the opportunity to have a farm of his own in Alberta was limited, so he jumped at the chance to join his brother Hugh and two partners in purchasing the Pelly Farm (now called Pelly River Ranch) in the central Yukon in 1953. On April 17, 1954, Dick travelled along a section of the Old Dawson Trail from Minto and arrived at the Pelly River with a load of farm supplies, including a tractor. This was the beginning of a new adventure for him as a pioneer farmer in the Yukon, a role he was perfectly suited for. His head, hands, work ethic and common sense enabled him to analyze and tackle any situation that arose.
Locally called “the Farm Boys”, Dick and Hugh stayed to make their life at the ranch after the other two partners left to pursue other interests. From their childhoods in Alberta to farming in the Yukon, the two brothers ended up spending the better part of 60 years living and working side by side. They had a remarkable bond, their respect and liking of each other always evident in their words and actions.
In the 1960s Dick and Hugh were joined at the ranch for a few years by their younger brother Ken and his wife Dorothy and sons Jordy and Dale and daughter Gwen. With Ken’s able assistance, the Bradley brothers built what is now the Pelly Ranch Road from Pelly Crossing, providing better access for the ranch, Selkirk First Nation citizens’ fish camps, and the Fort Selkirk restoration project.
Dick along with the other Bradleys was very generous in sharing their farming life with others. They hosted many visitors, including some notable ones such as Governor General Roland Michener and Pierre Berton. They also opened their doors to a number of “summer kids” who spent time at the ranch. Dick was very patient with young people and took the time to teach them about the many aspects of life on the farm.
Dick and Hugh were always proud of their relationship with the local people of the Selkirk First Nation, and particularly with Danny Roberts of Fort Selkirk. Danny and others helped with harvesting the crops during the early years of the farm, and in 1995 a number of First Nation people helped to save many buildings from a potentially devastating grass fire.
In 1973 Dick welcomed his wife Marjorie along with her son Glen into the Bradley farming family. In 1990, after Dick had spent 36 years at the Pelly River Ranch, he and Marjorie moved to Whitehorse, where he took on various types of employment until retiring. During these years he maintained a continuing connection to the ranch, returning often to lend a valuable hand to Hugh and their nephew Dale, who had taken over Dick’s partnership.
In 1999 the Bradley family was honored to receive the first Yukon Farmer of the Century Award. This recognized the Bradleys’ role in the Yukon’s agricultural history and initiated the annual Yukon Farmer of the Year award. A tribute to them in the Yukon Legislature included the following: “the Bradley family has gained the respect of the agricultural industry through their ability to rise above hardships, while maintaining a positive attitude and having a sense of humor. Through the thick and the thin, they have succeeded in finding ways to make things work”. A better description of Dick Bradley and his life would be hard to find.
Dick spent almost three of his final years at the Whistle Bend Place continuing care facility in Whitehorse, where he passed away. The family would like to thank the staff at Whistle Bend for the care and support they provided to him.
Dick was predeceased by his wife Marjorie, parents Morley and Margaret Bradley of Lacombe, AB, sister Alva and brother-in-law Ed Chalmers of Lacombe, AB, brothers Ken of Whitehorse, Jack of Calgary, and Hugh of Pelly River Ranch, and niece Gwen Franks of Dawson City.
Dick is survived by his stepson Glen, sister and brother-in-law Mary Ellen and Ed Ironside of Qualicum Beach, BC, sisters-in-law Dorothy Bradley and Wenda Bradley of Whitehorse and Pat Bradley of Calgary, nephews Bruce Chalmers of Whitehorse, Jordy (Lyn) Bradley of Clayhurst, BC, Dale (Sue) Bradley of Pelly River Ranch, Steve (Crystal) Ironside of Nanaimo, and niece Una (Brad) Holowtiuk of Calgary. Dick is also fondly remembered by TC Franks, the husband of his late niece Gwen, and his great-nieces Heidi, Megan, Taylor, Kendra and Kahlan and great-nephews Scott, Ken, Austin and Jude.
Special mention must be made of the relationship and bond Dick had with his great-niece Megan. For 15 years he shared his home with her, which greatly benefitted both of them in many ways. They both were heard to say that they didn’t know what they would have done without the other. It was a very sad day for Megan when Dick had to leave the home they had shared and move into Whistle Bend.
Dick’s ashes have been joined with Marjorie’s and the family will gather to bury them beside Hugh’s ashes on a hill overlooking the Pelly River Ranch and the beautiful Pelly Valley.Obituary
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