March 14, 1969 – July 5, 2021
Chris was born March 14, 1969, in Whitehorse, Yukon, but he grew up in the Kootenays. He attended the two room Proctor school for his primary education after which he moved to Trafalgar and LV Rogers in Nelson.
In the early ’90s Chris completed a two-year Fine Woodworking course at Selkirk College. Honing his skills, he crafted beautiful furniture pieces: sun-burst cedar blanket boxes; a sleek coffee table set; and, when a towering juniper was felled nearby, he used the milled lumber to build a custom, floor to ceiling, wall to wall, glass-fronted bookcase for his grandpa Bob’s book collection.
There were years of good times and good friends. He constructed an A-frame home/workshop for himself on his grandparent’s Longbeach property. Enlarging it over the years he always included a pet door for a succession of well-loved cats. Chris continued with carpentry/fine woodworking, plus, he developed a successful sideline of sewing – making sails, canvas boat-tops and camo hunting gear. Word of mouth brought order requests from friends and neighbours. He rarely said no.
In any spare time Chris would tinker on his ’65 Chevy El Camino, and he created fantastic sculptures made from found objects. He admired Yukon artist Ted Harrison and painted many colourful, Harrison style, acrylics. He loved sailing and enjoyed wild catamaran rides on the West Arm or long, Kootenay Lake cruises aboard his blue and white sailboat.
He had a wonderful sense of humour and a quick smile for everyone he met. His Grandma Rusty remembers: “Every time we were together he made me feel good. He was always joking.”
Sadly, Chris’s carefree, outer disposition masked an inexplicable mental battle he fought throughout his life. It was an ever lurking darkness he could not himself explain and no amount of outside intervention brought him any lasting relief. And so, for many years, he resorted to one of the oldest forms of self-medication.
Addiction is a terrible, powerful thing. There can be such personal turmoil created by not being able to live sober, and not wanting to live as an alcoholic, that it can finally become not wanting to live at all.
Chris died in the early morning of July 5, 2021. He was 52.
He leaves to mourn, in confusion and heartbreak, his immediate family: Grandmother, Patricia “Rusty” Erlam of Nelson; father, Paul (Maryann) of Vancouver; mother, Deryn Blackmon of North Carolina; brother, James Erlam of Nelson; half-brother, Garth Erlam (Joni) of Vancouver; June Hutton (Tony) of Vancouver, and many relatives and friends in Nelson – and beyond.
As was his nature, and, as he would have preferred, there will be no public service. Cremation has taken place and the ashes will be scattered by his family. May he rest in peace.
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