The story of Nigel Boerkamp
As written by his mom, Sue Boerkamp
Nigel Mark Boerkamp was born three weeks premature on May 10th, 1985 at St Joseph's Hospital in Hamilton.
Always a careful, cautious toddler Nigel never wanted to be far from his parents. Mom Sue called him her 'cling-on'. Never one to bother much with television or computer games, Nigel spent his childhood years in imaginative play, building all kinds of things with lego, and his teenage mutant ninja turtles and power rangers. He loved the outdoors. For fun he would run, not walk, to the back of the farm to see dad and then run back again.
Nigel spent his first school years at St Francis Cabrini School in Delhi, making numerous life long friends and being nurtured by some fantastic teachers. High school was completed at Delhi District Secondary School where he again gained numerous friends and was part of an award winning cross country running team.
Two days after graduating, Nigel embarked on his adult life, taking a job with Reid and Deleye contractors in construction, a job he loved and excelled at until his death four years later. He completed one gold standard certification course on his way to earning the rest to become a supervisor one day. He was frequently the last man left at a job, fixing deficiencies and tying up loose ends while his supervisor moved on to start the next job. He had advanced to the point that on the day he died his superiors had just hired a student to help Nigel for the summer to do the small things Nigel no longer had time for. Cleanup, fetching his tools and supplies, etc. Nigel well liked and respected his supervisor Luke. He had been working in the Kitchener-Guelph area for a couple of years and his family once asked him if he didn?t want to be transferred to a closer site so he wouldn?t have to get up so early and be home so late. Nigel's answer was 'No, I'm going to stick with Luke 'cause he's someone you can really learn something from.'
Nigel played hockey in Delhi from tyke to bantam. He was five when he started and so small his hockey jersey had to be shortened by a third just to clear his skates let alone his knees! He couldn't really skate well yet and when he saw the play even start to head back to his end of the arena, he would turn around and start to shuffle back to his end so he could get there in time! Those were great years for Nigel, brother Tony and the whole family going to games, practices, and tournaments. Many good friends were made in those years, and living on a farm and having no social life to speak of in the summer months, hockey really was the social life for the Boerkamp's for many years. Tony and Nigel loved practicing at home on the pad their Dad flooded in an old barn, on the pond or just shooting pucks in the barn. There are many patched holes in the walls of the barn to prove it. Always an avid Detroit Red Wings fan it?s ironic that it is only after his death that his team and Tony's beloved Pittsburg Penguins have met to battle it out in Stanley Cup Finals. There would be intense rivalry there and gloating from Nigel since Detroit won last year, Nigel would love it!
For a good part of his life working on the farm took up a lot of Nigel's summers and even weekends in the spring. From watering and packing plants in the greenhouse, to working side by side with his Dad and brother picking vegetables, irrigating and all the other chores on the farm, to working at the roadside market. Nigel and Tony could do it all. When the boys were older and no longer working at the market, many customers would ask about them and comment on how polite and friendly they were. Many said they missed Nigel's sweet smile. Nigel also loved his Mom?s cooking, especially cabbage rolls. But you didn't want to get too close to him for a couple of days after he had his 'fill'!
It should have been very apparent that Nigel would choose construction as his life's work because he was always working with his hands building something. When they were young, Tony and Nigel started building a treehouse in a huge old willow tree by the pond. Friends would come out to help and the boys spent many happy weekends working on that treehouse using boxes and boxes of nails and scrap wood. There are also quite a few hammers in the depths of that pond. By the time he was seventeen, Nigel and his friends had built that things into nine stories complete with bunk beds and fire pit. One night in January, Sue and one of the boys friends, Jones, noticed strange orange lights flashing and dying out then flashing again, low in the sky out in the field. There had been a deep snow so no vehicle could have driven to the spot. Jones went to investigate and a few minutes later came running back to the house, his face red with exertion and yelling 'the treehouse is on fire!' The question was how did the treehouse catch fire in the middle of winter? Nigel and his friend Keith had been up there earlier in the day and built a small fire. Apparently they hadn't quite extinguished it properly and hours later with a gust of wind blowing it flared up and started the treehouse on fire. The help of a few quickly summoned friends and Dad the fire was put out with an extinguisher, snow and water from the pond. Not too much damage was done but it was definitely an embarassing moment for Nigel and Keith.
Not contempt with just the mammoth treehouse, the boys, who were then into snowboards and G.T.'s built themselves a winter play park. They cleared trails down the steep hill at the back of the farm. Then with the tractor they built a dirt ramp and landing so they could perform tricks with their snowboards and G.T.'s. They even included a rail for the snowboarders and built a lodge complete with wood stove for hot dogs and hot chocolate. Many an enjoyable afternoon or evening were spent out there by friends and family when there was snow. Many nights it was sleep be damned, we got snow!
Nigel also enjoyed camping and would do it whenever possible. He loved being outdoors. Usually, not content to just sit around a campsite, he would entice his friends to build something, a bridge over a creek they needed or a pathway. Only in the evening would he sit in his lawn chair and then say to the other guys 'shhh you guys, settle down, just sit and watch the stars.' A past time he absolutely loved.
Of course, Nigel's biggest passion was dirt biking. It all started when he was eight and Tony was eleven and their parents bought them an old Honda 50 for Christmas. Love at first sight! Tony quickly graduated to a bigger bike, but that whole first year Nigel wouldn't shift gears and rode that bike wide open in first gear. Just givin'er down the field, it's amazing that thing didn't blow up! Nigel and Tony quickly progressed to bigger and better bikes as their skills improved. Then they were introduced to the sport of hare scramble racing by their friends Chris and were hooked. Thereafter the family social life revolved around the summer facing schedule. To improve their skills further, the boys, with Dad's help, built a trail in the back field, improving it over the years until it was the greatest thing in the neighborhood. The track included huge tabletop, jumps, a 'woop' section and many twists and turns.
Nigel idolized his older brother and always worked hard to match the great skill of Tony and Chris. But always being the conscientious and cautious rider, and not having Tony and Chris' level of risk taking, never quite reached their level of greatness, Nigel was a very smooth and steady rider and never had a serious injury in his riding career which was not the case for Tony and Chris. Tony and Chris have had some tremendous accolades in their careers. With Tony winning the Canadian Pro Championship and twice becoming the Canadian Pro Champion, Chris has won the Canadian Championship at each level and has also been a Canadian Pro Champion twice. He is also currently the Canadian Pro Enduro Racing Champion. However, Nigel has some great seasons as well, winning the Canadian Intermediate Championship and coming in second place at the expert level. He was the Canadian 5th place Pro at the time of his death and had just earned his best finish even in Pro, a third, a week and a half before he died. As diligent as ever, Nigel was practicing for his next race when he had his tragic accident.
Nigel was a happy, confident man, content with his life, when two years before his death he met the love of his life, Jodie. His happiness overflowed. Always quick with a smile or laugh, now he was smilling all the time! Whistling, dancing around the house, this from the guy who wouldn't dance! The week before he died he cam home from work and before jumping into the shower to get ready for a date with Jodie he was jumping around the house singing 'Crazy little thing called love' by Queen. Nigel and Jodie were a perfect match. He so enjoyed the trip to Newfoundland he took with Jodie and her family and the romantic getaway to Niagara Falls with Jodie on their first anniversary date. They were always busy planning things with all their friends. Concerts, parties, bowling, camping, etc. Nigel taught Jodie to ride and then she began racing as well, making her an even bigger part of his beloved sport. Nigel loved Jodie very much and would never have wanted to leave her. Everyone is so proud of Jodie for having the courage to move on and finish college and earn a job in her field despite this adversity and others she has faced with dignity well beyond her years.
Above all, Nigel loved his family and friends. He was especially close to his big brother Tony. He always looked up to Tony and they shared an unshakeable bond. They always had each others back. Nigel was very close to his cousins and was especially hooked b his youngest cousins Seth and Gemma. They were many years apart in age and even when he was a teenager and young adult he would always make tim to play with them. At a birthday party for the two kids, eight days before Nigel died, everyone else was content to sit at the table and talk. But Nigel jumped into the pool with the kids and splashed and played with them in his good shorts. Nigel always had time and patience for your children . As for his friends, Nigel and his cousin Arielle were always the 'social convenors' planning get togethers for all the combined friends who have become a very tight group. He started several friends into golf as his Papa had started him years before and they really enjoyed that activity.
From small children to people several years older, Nigel had the sincerity, empathy, compassion, patience and beautiful smile to get along with everyone. It is a tribute to the kind of person Nigel was, that since he died on a wednesday, on every wednesday since, for almost 2 years, a group of his friends, family and Tony's friends, sometimes larger group, sometimes smaller groups they get together to enjoy each other and life as Nigel would. He would truly love our 'wednesday night gang'.
Nigel has left us a legacy of loving and enjoying life to the fullest, everyone is trying hard to fulfill that legacy, Nigel.
"LOOK AT THE STARS AND I'LL BE THERE"