NANAIMO, B.C. – Mervin Ellis, a longtime leader and pioneer in the Alberta construction industry, died this month at age 86.
Ellis’ family announced that he passed away on Vancouver Island after battling cancer.
“The ACA family offers sincere condolences to the family of Mervin Ellis, who served the association for a quarter century until late 1999,” reads a statement from the Alberta Construction Association (ACA). “Merv was also key to the foundation of the Alberta Construction Safety Association (ACSA).”
Ellis was born in Prince Albert, Sask. and spent his early years in Canwood, Sask. helping his family with the local hotel. He then moved to Courtenay, B.C. in 1944 where his family owned and managed the Riverside Hotel.
After high school graduation, Ellis moved to Vancouver where he attended and graduated from the University of British Columbia with training in physical education and psychology.
After a quick stint with student teaching, Ellis joined the Department of Highways and directed road crews on the Hart Highway and Tsawwassen ferries causeway. He then started his own traffic control company, TRACO, and was the first to introduce women to the flagging role in B.C. He also developed the protocols for large load escorting.
While in Vancouver he became manager for the Pacific Trollers Association and then in 1976 he moved to Edmonton to become administrator for the ACA. He eventually became the group’s executive director, a position he held until his retirement in June 1999.
Outside of construction, Ellis was a high-level hockey coach, gymnastics champion, avid outdoorsman and more. But the ACA and Ellis’ family say his greatest joy was his children and grandchildren.
A celebration of life will be held at a later date in Celista, B.C. In lieu of flowers, Ellis’ family is asking people to donate to the Canadian Cancer Society – Prostrate Cancer Research.
They also encouraged people to continue to share their stories of Ellis online here: