Bradford Robinson

Bradford Robinson, 67, writer, poet and carpenter, died on November 28, 2009 in Vancouver of complications from cancer. Robinson was born Alfred John Bradford Petrie on March 18, 1942 in Vancouver, B.C. Robinson was passionate about literature, classical music, politics and good conversation. He found his own literary voice in the lives of people he knew, setting his stories in the Comox Valley, Toronto, and Southeast Asia. His publications include The Rainpipe Poems (1970), Thank Goodness You Called (1971), As Far As the Music Will Go (1972), Afternoon Tea (1986), The Point Petre Notes: A Country Journal (1986), and The Walking Wife Series–A Lunch in Bangkok (2008).


In the early 1970s, Robinson became a columnist and critic for The Georgia Straight, writing under the pen name Engledink Birdhumper. He also worked for the Comox Valley Star and Campbell River Mirror and published Robinson’s Fortnightly. The Fortnightly gave him both an unfettered platform for lobbing pithy broadsides at the powers-that-be and a vehicle for publishing his novella, The Stiff in a Country Cadillac. In the mid-1970s, Robinson was a deckhand on the Sechelt Queen, a ferry that ran from Little River to Powell River. He later worked as a carpentry apprentice for Lou Klupsas, whom he credited with teaching him the skills that allowed him to make a good living for the next twenty years.


Robinson moved to Toronto in the mid-1980s. His most productive years as a tradesman, specializing in porch and stairway construction, followed. He also met and married Elizabeth Valleau, who shared his interests in music and literature. Robinson wrote a friend, “We had a truly great romance and I asked her to marry me. We had the best wedding I’ve ever been to.” In 1991, they moved to the Comox Valley and Robinson continued to work in construction. By 1997, however, work had slowed to a trickle. After a divorce, Robinson earned a certificate in teaching English as a second language, and in 2002 he moved to Thailand. There, he taught English at three schools during the next six years.


Robinson had an interest in sports, although he was not a sportsman in the typical sense. George Bowering, Poet Laureate of Canada, reports that Robinson was his second baseman in the Kozmic League in the early 1970s. Robinson also had a passion for tennis and coordinated the Wombledon tennis tournament in Comox. Under his stewardship as “Papa Doc”, the event took place annually for twenty years.


Robinson was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 and underwent surgery in Thailand. After follow-up treatment in Canada, he returned to Thailand. A year later, the cancer reappeared, however, and Robinson made his final trip home to Vancouver in October 2009. A full obituary is posted online at www.sgautama.net.