Bruce Burch
Bruce Burch
Bruce Burch
Bruce Burch
Bruce Burch
Bruce Burch

Obituary of Bruce Burch

Bruce Franklin Burch

A resident of Chatham, Bruce Franklin Burch passed away peacefully surrounded by family on May 21, 2024 at Chatham-Kent Health Alliance at the age of 93.

Born in Newmarket, Ontario on March 12, 1931, Bruce was the son of Leonard and Sarahann (nee Winger) Burch.

Son-in-law to Melville and Viola (McKim) Johnston.

Beloved husband of 70 years to Eileen “Johns” Burch (nee Johnston)

Survived by his children, Randall (Arlene) Burch, Roxanne St. Pierre, James (Cheryl) Burch and Janene (Greg) Medd.

Loving grandfather to Jennifer, Stephanie, Jeanette, Ryan, Renee, Victoria, Graham, MacKenzie, Taylor and Hunter.

Great grandfather to Cale, Caydence, Dominic, Liam, Hailey, Nathan, Harlyn, Lennon and Quinn.

Survived by sisters-in-law, Eula Goodhead and Estella Burch. Predeceased by Donald (Edith) Burch, Eileen (Howard) Newton, Leonard Burch, Alberta (Neil) Turnbull.

Survived by brother-in-law Ross Johnston. Predeceased by Grant (Margaret) Johnston, Keith (Margaret)Johnston and sister-in-law Gail Johnston.

Loving, “Uncle Bruce” to several nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews.

Bruce was a loving husband, kind father, son and son-in-law. He was the most amazing Grandpa, Papa, PopPop and friend. He had so many nicknames through the years, Bruster, Brucie, Pops and Boss. Bruce was a loving and caring man, but stern, to the point and firm on his decisions. He was very kind and compassionate, a big teddy bear with a big bark. He definitely had a way of making you feel comfortable. Bruce was a big tease and loved to test your ability to understand his humour, throwing you a wink followed by a smirk, just to let you know he was teasing. He could make you laugh and cry at the same time. He was an incredibly funny man and would fill the room with laughter without even trying. He had the biggest smile.

Bruce was, as he would say, “a man of many talents but master of none”! There wasn’t a job he wouldn’t attempt, cutting down a tree, chopping wood, fixing a toy, building something out of wood, mechanical, electrical, plumbing (even though it often had to be repaired), fixing a snowmobile or tinkering with the water pump. He never gave up. He was a big story teller, some of which were true but most would make you wonder if he was making it all up….he would just smirk and leave you guessing. He loved to play games, board games and cards. He lost at every single one, but always came back for more. He was the biggest supporter of any activity the grandchildren participated in and was often spotted carrying his lawn chair across a soccer field, being certain not to miss a game. He went to countless dance recitals, built castles and bird houses at the school, attended track and field meets, anything he could do with the kids. Grandpa never missed an event and would rearrange his plans to be there.

Bruce had the most incredible talent for creative detail. He loved to work in his workshop and there wasn’t a project he wouldn’t attempt. He would draw anything you described and build it perfectly from just that description. If it wasn’t right, he would just start over. “He never had scrap wood unless you had scrap money”. Bruce never had a piece of wood that he couldn’t make into art, but he let Johns do all the final touches (staining and varnishing). That was the job he liked, the least. Bruce has filled many homes with his beautiful pieces of wood made in “The Wee Woodshed”…tater bins, clocks, hope chests, beds, armoires, end tables, harvest tables, bars and bowls. He loved to make knickknack toys, rubber band guns and then proceed to start the rubber band battles.

Bruce spoke with joy of his childhood growing up in Newmarket, Newton Robinson and Mono Centre. His childhood conversations always included blueberry picking, his family picnic trips by car, working at his parent’s store and his love for the Johnston farm in Caledon.

Bruce graduated with honours from Orangeville High School in 1950, even though school wasn’t his thing. During his years there, he played rugby on the school team, cut hair for 25 cents at lunch break and met his beautiful Eileen. After graduation, Bruce worked for Ontario Hydro building power lines through the western provinces before returning to Ontario to join the Ontario Provincial Police in 1953.

Bruce married the love of his life Eileen on September 5, 1953 at Knox United Church in Caledon. Together their careers had them living in several towns, traveling miles and miles of highways and making life long friends along the way.

Bruce and Eileen started their lives together in Oakville where Bruce worked at the Oakville Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police. Bruce was a Constable and spent hours patrolling the QEW before transferring to the Simcoe detachment. Together, Bruce and Eileen built their first home in Simcoe, where they raised their four children. Bruce worked in Simcoe until 1967, when he was relocated to Essex County, landing in rural Cottam and building their second home together. Bruce continued his career stationed at the Essex Detachment. While living in Cottam, Bruce promoted to Corporal and took a position at the Belle River Detachment. His career continued as a Corporal while taking two summer postings in Grand Bend, where he was the Detachment Commander. He enjoyed his summers there and loved the camaraderie with the men. Lots of his stories would revolve around his summers in “The Bend”. Bruce returned to Essex and eventually promoted to Sergeant and then to Staff Sergeant before beginning his final posting in Chatham in 1982.

In preparing for retirement, Bruce and Eileen purchased bush property in Orillia in 1987, which they cleared and built a home designed by Eileen. They lived in Orillia until 2008, when they moved to Chatham and bought their final home.

Bruce enjoyed every second of his retirement. They spent countless hours travelling the highways, going on trips with friends, out West, out East and down through the USA, but their true love was for “The Cabin”. They always wanted one place to call HOME, so in 1970, while working full time they designed and built a cottage or “cabin” as Bruce called it, on Little Kennisis Lake in Haliburton Highlands. “Burch Point Paradise” became their favourite place to be. He always worked til noon then enjoyed his boat rides for ice-cream, dock visits with friends, tinkering in his workshop, snowmobiling, boating, water-skiing, tubing, tobogganing, carving walking sticks, card games, horseshoes and anything they could do with their grandchildren. There were many parties, sing songs, regattas and luaus. He had his own language that only some would understand, bailin’ suits, mashed widows, guzintas, horney, schmit house, Mr. Shi thead and “Good enough for this place” to name a few. The friendships made at the cottage are ones that will live on forever at Forget-Me-Not Lane.

In honouring the wishes of Bruce, there will be no funeral and cremation has taken place. A private family celebration with be held at a later date.

In memory of Bruce, please consider donations to the Heart and Stroke Foundation or the Alzheimer Society.

Online condolences may be left at

McKinlay Funeral Home

459 St. Clair Street, Chatham



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