Brian Kovacs

Obituary of Brian Raymond Kovacs

On March 20, 2023 our dear Brian lost his hard-fought battle with brain cancer.

As Brian requested, there will be no service. His ashes will be interred at the Pinawa Cemetery.

Brian was born January 6, 1960 in Orillia, Ontario and moved with the family to Deep River and then to Pinawa where we all grew up. It was here he earned his reputation as a bit of a prankster, entertaining and sometimes exasperating teachers and fellow students alike.

His joie de vivre and love of adventure took him out west, living at various addresses and doing whatever it took to keep a roof over his head and food in his belly. After spending time in Vancouver, he made his way to the Sunshine Coast where he finally settled down in Robert’s Creek and Gibson’s Landing. He began his career as a carpenter doing framing and finishing work under various contractors while honing his woodworking skills and eventually came into his own as a finishing carpenter. His fine workmanship and attention to detail resulted in jobs across the province, and even on some luxury homes out of the country.

His love of fine woodworking led him to start his own business, Knotorious which provided a variety of handcrafted and useful boxes, charcuterie boards, cutting boards, frames, trivets, etc. These featured his wood fracturing techniques, and he enjoyed selling his creations online and around the local markets.

In addition to his passion for woodworking, Brian also taught himself blacksmithing, knife making, candle making and even mixing a variety of oils and “substances” to create a surprisingly effective balm for easing pain. He was generous with his creations and would give things away if someone showed an interest. His more active pursuits were rock climbing, hiking, and curling. He enjoyed nothing more than catching and making a meal of fresh prawns and link cod. But his favourite remained pickerel from his home province of Manitoba.

Living a somewhat hermit-ish life in a cabin in the woods, he was joined by his feline friend, Louis. They were well suited to living together, both being independent, bachelor types. Then, over a decade ago, Brian met his one true love - the beautiful Zoe! She became his constant companion, very popular at a variety of his job sites.

They enjoyed long walks on the beach, hikes - usually up a mountain, and overnight camping trips together. They had an amazing bond and Brian credited her for seeing him through some of his darkest days.

Most of all, what has always defined Brian was his kindness and generosity. He would tirelessly help his friends and family work on home projects where his skills were needed. When he'd come home for visits, there would be lists of projects and people vying for his skills and knowledge. At his own home, he would welcome all visitors with his special brand of hospitality, acting as chef, host and tour guide. After his passing, a niece, Lorie, left a small statue from Brian's home at one of his favourite woodland spots as a tribute to his time on the coast.

After moving back to Winnipeg, his hospitality continued, even when he was quite weak. He would leave a cooler of iced drinks outside for the post delivery people in summer, chase down the garbage truck drivers to give them a case of beer for New Year’s, and he baked many batches of cookies for all to enjoy.

Brian will be missed by his brother Will (Val); his sister Karen; his brother Wade (Penny); eight nieces and nephews; six great nephews and nieces; and by many friends and more family.

He was predeceased by his parents, Bill and Dorothy Kovacs.

Many thanks to the extraordinary staff on the palliative care floor of the St. Boniface Hospital for their kindness, patience and skill.

Because he spent most of his life on the coast, some of you probably know more about Brian's exploits and escapades that we do.

Please feel free to share any stories of his adventures (and misadventures) on this page as I think we would all enjoy reading about them.

Just a message from Wade:

My brother Brian moved away from home more than 40 years ago. Distance kept us from getting really close, but we did keep in touch through phone calls and visits. When he told me that he was moving back to Manitoba about 2 and a half years ago, both of us thought this would be the time for us to reconnect through the things that we enjoyed mutually, curling, fishing, camping, even thought of building a houseboat together. Needless to say, life didn’t turn out like we’d planned.

He was diagnosis with glioblastoma, the severest form of brain cancer, with a grim outlook. He underwent surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and then alternative natural treatments. All of this left him pretty depleted physically, but he also found a renewed sense of purpose, believing that what he was going through was going to benefit others, especial kids, with a cure.

During this time Brian was able to bare his soul and we both started listening to an album on healing by Alana Levandoski: si=v1VhC9LXSJ2kgK1CWXARvA

This led to some good conversations about deeper things.

Throughout his life, Brian dealt with a lot of depression. He tended to isolate himself as a means of self protection, thinking no one loved him or really cared about him. During his illness he started to change, as he found himself being surrounded by people in his community as they came around him with meals, rides, dog sitting, money, and encouraging words. He was overwhelmed by this show of love and caring, saying, “Maybe I’m loveable after all.”

When Brian found himself too weak to even pack himself up and move out to Winnipeg after his treatments, the people in Gibson's Landing in B.C. came together and packed up Brian’s 40 years of belongings into a moving truck {which someone payed for} gave him a cooler of food for the trip and an old friend from his past (Don) drove him and Zoe and his whole life out to his house in Winnipeg. I teasingly told him that the people of Gibson's must really want to get rid of you - they weren't going to let this cancer stop you from leaving their town!

Brian threw himself into his alternate treatment with the same zeal and 150% effort he put into anything he did. This treatment, along with the effects of chemo and radiation left him without a lot of energy, unable to eat solid foods, and emotionally drained. It definitely led to anger, which some had to carry, but he also had huge amounts of empathy, compassion and generosity for others as many can bear witness to. Boy are we humans a complicated paradox.

Brian wanted physical healing so badly and I often reminded him that the healing that was the real miracle was how he was able to start on the journey of self-discovery and emotional healing, seeing himself as someone lovable and someone who had something to offer to others. Even in his state with low energy, he threw himself into candle making, and I now know way too much about the differences between hemp wicks and wood wicks, soya candles, beeswax candles and palm oil candles ... He was definitely on a mission. He wanted everyone to have one of these beeswax candles in their car because this is Manitoba, after all, where you can get stranded in winter and freeze to death without it. He made “bud balm” to help heal sore muscles and joints. He also loved to make his mom's cookies, giving generously to everyone from nurses to postal workers. In the end, Brian had gone from a recluse at the end of a dead end road out in the mountains of BC. to a guy surrounded by two old farts in his front yard for coffee in the morning and a glass of wine in the evening. He was known down at the radio station where he shared the stories of his life and joked with the DJs. Thanks to Catherine Gowryluk an old friend from Pinawa, he now had a Facebook community with whom he shared his stories and got positive feedback and encouragement, which he was quick to offer to others as well. His time on FB gave him a connection when physically he was too weak to do much else.

One friend wrote to him the week before he passed: "Your life's been quite a ride. What you have fought for in the last 2 years has not been in vain. We do not always know what our true purpose really is in this world, our intentions may be noble but we are not always in charge of the end results. There is a higher force who is in control of the outcome. Will always remember you as an adventurous, talented, kind and caring soul.”

So many of the things I had wanted to share and do with Brian to restart our relationship never materialized - no big fly-in fishing trips, no camping, no golf, no live Jets games, no time spent celebrating around huge meals together. The list is long and the losses are many. But there were also the times, during this journey we were on, that allowed us to talk about who we are and who we wanted to be at a deeper level. And I sometimes wonder if we'd even have gotten to that level in a relationship if he hadn't been sick.

Apparently, Brian referred to me as being religious so I might as well wear that monogram today. In my belief in an all loving God, we are invited to see the living Christ in others, in our friends, in the stranger, and even in our enemies. I just want to thank everyone for being that for Brian, by revealing Christ to me in the way you loved him, affirming who he was as a person. I appreciate the encouragement and love you had given him on his journey, whether through listening, by sending cards, by commenting on FB, long or short phone calls, meals on wheels or on foot. You all gave this part of his life meaning and purpose. My brother wasn't perfect and definitely sometimes let his despair and anger get the best of him, but there were some great glimpses of what a healed Brian looked like. I'm going to miss him.

On one of my visits to the hospital closer to the end, on a foggy morning, I wrote this poem - Here’s to my little brother.


A Holy shrine, where the living are dying and the dying are finding life.

Not many pilgrims on the path this foggy early morning Responding to the ancient call to care, love, heal.

Is this where the holy dwells?

Raspy breath over crusted lips, translucent skin covered with purple wallpaper.

A hidden enemy plotting our demise.

In every laboured breath. Is this where the holy dwells?

Adventures shared, adversity endured, mistakes made, chances taken,

Victories lived, bridges burned, feeble attempts at love. Despair, deep hurt and death.

Is this where the holy dwells?

Fingers touch and peace prevails.

Each breath is now a duet, sharing a holy hymn of thanks.

Encountering the living God in failing lives, now resurrected.

This is where the holy dwells.

Thank you all for the kind words and support to Brian and all our family.

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