River Sidley

Raised so far


Born April 6, 1992, River Sidley of Rossland, BC, passed away suddenly on December 9, 2014 at the Bamfield Marine Science Centre, on the shore of the Pacific Ocean. Although he left us far too soon, River has etched a permanent place in the hearts and minds of many people. He was in his fifth year of a bachelor of science degree from UBC Okanagan, and had found his life passion at the Marine Station. Through the creation of the River Timothy Sidley Memorial Award the family wishes to honour his beautiful life.

River was born on a stormy, snowy April day to eager parents — Louise from Toronto and David from Ketchum. He was named after the Columbia River as seen from the Trail Hospital overlooking the river. They had settled in Rossland six years earlier for love of the mountains and skiing and were ready to raise their son in the Kootenay paradise.

Nineteen months later River became a loving big brother to his sister Sage. From day one River and Sage were best friends, and they helped each other to grow into thoughtful, well-adjusted adults. They especially enjoyed their time together in Kelowna at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus, where River studied biology, with a focus in zoology, for four years.

River had a curious mind and was constantly asking questions. Watching Planet Earth, reading about the cosmos, or following his favourite international soccer teams online were River’s idea of a good way to spend an evening. Along with his lively mind, River had a loving heart. Throughout his life and after his passing, many people from all walks of life have shared stories about our kind and caring River. At eighteen years old he looked after his uncle Tim (who suffers from mental illness in Toronto) so his grandma Lorna could go on a holiday. With his beautiful smile and engaging wit, River could make even the shiest among us feel at ease. He had a great sense of adventure and loved to make people laugh. When you were with River, you knew it was going to be fun.

River loved to ski. He skied so effortlessly, watching him was like watching water flowing. He had great respect for the natural world. He learned to hunt and fish, and as a child and young man he camped more days than most people do in a long lifetime. In the wilderness he would hike/bushwack, snorkel, dive for sunken rocks, skip flat stones, jump off cliffs, swing on ropes, climb trees, and build amazing water courses in the sand. He was an accomplished soccer player and played on several teams at home and UBC-O. River was playful, and a hard worker too. For five summers he worked at the Fochuk family’s vineyard in Trail. The pride he took in his accomplishments at SOAHC Estate Wines was obvious when he took his family on personal tours of the lush fields of grapes on the ATV.

River loved his Kootenay home, but he was a traveler too, taking trips to Halifax, Quebec City, Toronto, Tofino, Denver, Palm Springs, Florida, Maui, and Equador. He drove twice across Canada and went on many road trips throughout British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. In grade ten River went with his Aunt Mary, Uncle Keith, Aunt Debbie, Uncle Tom, and his cousins Ryan and Matthew to the Galapagos Islands, where he discovered his enduring love for the ocean.

Before starting the Fall program at the Bamfield Marine Science Centre in September 2014, River drove with Louise to Bamfield to fish and visit the school. If anyone were to design a playground specially for River, it would be Bamfield: a phenomenal research centre for serious and rigorous academic study, beautiful beaches and tidal pools, rainforest flora and fauna, a close-knit community, boating, surfing, tree-climbing, rope-swinging, and soccer — and a wonderful group of people to share it with. River had found his place there and was making plans to return.

River was born in the mountains and died watching a storm come in by the sea. He will be forever missed.

The impact of your support

The River Timothy Sidley Memorial Award Endowment Fund supports the River Timothy Sidley Memorial Award.

This Award will be given to a fourth or fifth year standing UBC, Okanagan Campus student applying at the Bamfield Marine Science Centre Fall Program.

The Bamfield Marine Science Centre is a shared campus of the Universities of Victoria, British Columbia, Alberta, Calgary and Simon Fraser. Perched on the west coast of Vancouver Island, it provides access to a remarkable diversity of marine, terrestrial, freshwater and cultural sites of the North East Pacific basin. With 3000 square meters of modern laboratory space, it can support research in almost any field of study.

While attending BMSC, River studied seaweeds, ecology, and ocean animals. His final paper was entitled, Metacarcinus gracilis Walk Sideways Because They Have Nothing To Look Forward To: A Comparison Of Feeding Rates Between Native Metacarcinus gracilis And Carcinus maenas Under Differing Flow Regimes. River and his partners, Neil Waters and Dickson Wong, analyzed the significance of native vs. invasive species of crabs collected from the Pacific Ocean.

The greatest loss is River’s potential. He found his passion at the Marine Station and, it is through the River Timothy Sidley Memorial Award, the family wishes to honour his beautiful life through passing on this potential to future students. The goal of the fund is to fully fund a student attending the BMSC Fall program.

The Sidley Family would like to thank all those donors who have made generous gifts to honour River, with a special thanks to those who have made multiple contributions to the award.

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