Where Eugene's Story Began in 1943


It is always very sad to lose a best friend -- especially one you have known ever since Grade One in school. Eugene and I were buddies all through 12 years of school in our hometown of Strathclair. We shared many of the same friends and interests: reading, music, crazy humour, pranks, drawing comic books, and sports: dodge ball, softball, track and field for Field Days, table tennis, football, Bordenball, etc. Noon hours were 1 1/2 hours so we had plenty of time for sports. Our school had no gym so most of the noon 'hours' and recesses were spent outside. This was even during many of the winter days when both boys and girls played football -- not "touch" or "flag" but full "tackle" since the snow banks made for soft landings :)

One of the many memories that come to mind as I type this -- probably the first of many tributes -- was a touch typing correspondence course. Typing was not offered in our school at that time so we both paid for the course from the Department of Education in Winnipeg.

We both had to borrow old clunky typewriters from friends in town -- very old clunky Remingtons . Since we were paying for the course ourselves we didn't feel too guilty smuggling out a few stacks of paper to type out the daily assignments that we had to send into the Department. The course, with it's endless repetitive drills was sort of boring, but we stuck it out until the end although since the pressure of preparing for the compulsory Gr. XII exams resulted in neither one of us writing the typing final. But we learned a skill that probably served us better that any of the other high school courses when we both became teachers and later when computer skills became so important.

I've featured class photos for every grade among the many photos in our
Strathclair Website in the page at:
(or Click Open)
Grade 1 ~ Grade 2

Grade 3 ~ Grade 4

It is interesting to see how Eugene changed through the years in the photos -- as did we all.
It is kind of fun. . . and a challenge. . . to ID the faces after so many decades.

Both Eugene and I were active members in Strathclair's 317 Royal Air Cadet Squadron. We both enjoyed the regular military bus trips to the RCAF base 30 miles away: CJATC RIVERS we had drill instruction, shooting range experience, use of their gym, and flights in Bell Helicopters, DC3 Dakotas, light aircraft, C-119 Flying Box Cars, etc. Eugene even took flight instruction one summer and got his pilot wings.

Another benefit from being in Air Cadets was the trips to summer camps in other Canadian Air Force bases.
Eugene attended the 1958 camp at Sea Island, B.C. in 1958


In 1962/1963, Eugene and I shared a room in the Men's Residence, Brandon College. The classes demanded much study time but we were able to let off a bit of steam on special occasions such as initiation week, Sadie Hawkins Day, weekends, etc. as shown in some of the few photos I have of that time (shown below). Neither of us were smokers or heavy drinkers but we made up for it in doing crazy things :) (Much of my free time was spent playing in bands and doing TV shows).

We found time in the fall to join the Brandon College Caps football team. This experience provided both of us the chance to visit the US for the first time when we played the Minot U team.

Eugene moved to Winnipeg the next year to carry on with his University classes and graduate with a B.A. and Teaching Degree.

Dress-Up Day  ~  Welcoming our dorm neighbour back to his room after a long weekend

Sadie Hawkins Day  ::  Dunking a Freshie during Initiation


Eugene went on to teach in a variety of high schools in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Seeking adventure, he taught school in Nigeria for a few years. While there he spent his times off travelling down to South Africa and as far north across Egypt. He shared the tales of many of these adventures with us in very lengthy letters We always looked forward to receiving these epics, even though deciphering the small tightly-spaced handwritten scrawl was often a bit of a struggle. We've saved all these treasures and will try to share them in a future page. Particularly intriguing were his tales of the times he spent with South African mercenaries.

The walls of both our Strathclair and Brandon homes display many of the souvenirs that he brought home for us from his African travels: A huge wooden ceremonial mask, paintings and murals, bowls, statues, and even sand and shells from famous beaches such as Cape of Good Hope and the Nile. Since Eugene was operating on a limited budget, he smuggled the sand back to Canada in bulging coat pockets which he later displayed in bowls.

For many, many summers, including in the year he died in 2023, Eugene worked as a crop inspector. This was very worrisome as he was still recovering from a fairly recent heart operation.

When we could catch Eugene when he wasn't visiting friends and relatives out West, Sue-On invited old Strathclair buddies and their wives to our house to celebrate Eugene's November birthday. Some of the photos from those events are featured below.

Sue-On's Special Meal to Celebrate Eugene's Birthday
with the Old Strathclair Gang and their Wives
(L-R) Eugene ~ Hant Choy ~ Kerry & Edah Morris ~ Bill
Dawn Choy ~ Kelvin & Ann-Marie Morris ~ Eugene


(L-R) Dawn Choy ~ Kelvin & Ann-Marie Morris ~ Eugene ~
Sue-On ~ Hant Choy ~ Kerry & Edah Morris ~ Eugene


Kerry ~ Hant ~ Bill ~ Eugene

So Long Ole Buddy . . .
Love Bill and Sue-On

As published in The Strathclair Review on Sep 27, 2023

Clifford Eugene Pirie of Strathclair, Manitoba, passed away on Thursday September 14, 2023, at the age of 79.
Eugene was born November 17, 1943. He was the older brother to his sister Irene, born to Gordon and Myrtle Pirie.
He received his Masterís in Education, Private Pilotís License, Air Cadet Flying Scholarship, Field Crop Inspector U of M Faculty of Agriculture, and various other certifications as he was passionate about education.
His teaching career spanned from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nigeria and British Columbia.
Eugene had a love for experiencing life. He played multiple sports, enjoyed camping, fishing, canoeing and outdoor sports.
He really enjoyed reading, traveling, photography, gardening and theatre. He donated blood over 125 times.
Wherever Eugene went he built relationships. He could carry on a conversation with anyone.
He cared for others, always lending a helping hand or giving generously. He had a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and has gone home to be with his Savior.
He will be greatly missed by his family and friends. Eugene is survived by his sister Irene Emberly (Sid) nieces Sherry Reimer (Mel) of British Columbia, Krista Friesen (Travis) of Winnipeg, nephew Lance Emberly of Portage, 7 great nieces and nephews and 7 great-great nieces and nephews.
The funeral Service was held Tuesday September 19, 2023 at 2:00 p.m. at the Strathclair Baptist Church. Interment followed at the Strathclair Cemetery. Pastor Peter Elias and Sid
Emberly officiated.


WebMaster: Bill Hillman
Bill & Sue-On Hillman Eclectic Studio