School Biography

roy bickell

Roy Bickell was born in Grande Prairie on October 2, 1930, and grew up on the family farm near DeBolt, where his father and grandfather had homesteaded in 1928. He began his education in the one-room Edson Trail School. When the family moved to Grande Prairie in 1941, Roy attended the old Montrose School and the Grande Prairie High School.

Following graduation, Roy worked at the family lumber mill north of DeBolt and purchased his first quarter of land. In 1951, he married Noreen Katherine Coogan, and together they established a large farm on his grandfather's original homestead. In 1952, Roy started Northern Plywood north of Grande Prairie along with his father, two brothers and two partners. In 1961, the Grande Prairie mill was sold to Canadian Forest Products. Roy started a career with Canfor which lasted 37 years, including a move to Vancouver in 1984, which led to a position as the President and Chief Operating Officer.

Roy retired in 1991 and came back home to Grande Prairie. It wasn't long before he came out of retirement to work as a consultant and Vice President to Ainsworth Lumber when they established the OSB (oriented strand board) plant south of the Wapiti River.

Roy was a founding member of the Grande Prairie Hospital Foundation, Paleontological Society of the Peace and the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum. He was President of the Alberta Forest Products Association and a board member for Alberta Government Telephones. He was president and fundraiser for a large expansion at the Grande Prairie Museum.

Roy was awarded: the Grande Prairie Business Citizen of the Year Award in the mid-1990s, the Miss Isabel
Campbell Heritage Preservation award and the 2009 Volunteer of the Year award. In 2012, he was a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Roy, along with his siblings, his wife Noreen, their children, as well as their grandchildren, have all attended schools within the Grande Prairie Public School District, and their great grandchildren are following suit.

Roy pursued his passion for fossil collecting by funding his own exploration and thereby recovering one of the largest private fossil collections known.

Roy enjoyed the great outdoors, including: woodworking, running (he ran several marathons, including the 101st Boston Marathon at the age of 66), snowmobiling (in the mountains south of Grande Prairie, also from Tumbler Ridge B.C. to Anchorage, Alaska and from Ontario to New Brunswick), quadding and river boating into his 80s.

Roy Bickell passed away March 21, 2015 at the age of 84 years.

Source: South Peace Regional Archives