Brad Stroud, 2015

Editor’s note: Brad Stroud of Yorkton may not have run an oil company, or invented some new device or process. He was a humble man who was a blue collar worker all his life, much of it spent in the oilpatch, working on the Regina upgrader, numerous pipelines, services rigs, cranes, and the Fort McMurray oilsands. He was a loving, generous man, whose Christian faith led him to help others in need, anonymously but generously.

Without him, Pipeline Online would not exist.

Brad Stroud was my stepfather, and he died, suddenly and peacefully at his Yorkton home with his wife Phyllis at his side on Christmas Day. He clothed me, fed me and loved me as his own. He paid for my university, and when I failed at that, he found me work in the pipeline industry, which eventually led to my being editor of Pipeline News and then founding Pipeline Online. He helped finance its establishment, and kept us going when things were lean. Without Brad, there would be no Pipeline Online, and whatever I would be doing today, it would not be in any way related to the energy industry. Any service I have been able to provide to the industry, it has been because of him. 

This is his obituary, followed by the eulogy I delivered at his funeral on Dec. 30. Please indulge me in honouring my late stepfather, whom I loved very much.  – Brian Zinchuk, editor.

Obituary of Bradford Stroud

Bradford (Brad) Harvey Stroud, age 67, of Yorkton Saskatchewan passed away in his home on Sunday December 25th, 2022 Christmas Day.

Brad was the oldest of three children born to Harvey and Patricia (Pat) Stroud (nee Horkoft) in Brandon, Manitoba August 11th, 1955. The family went on to raise their children in Churchill, Manitoba, and finally resided in Arran, Saskatchewan.

Brad was a big brother to Barry and Susan (Nygaard) who he loved dearly and always cherished their moments together as siblings. Brad attended grade school in Arran and took postsecondary education at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and obtained a diploma in Petroleum Engineering.

Brad was a hunky bachelor until the age of 34 when his heart was stolen by a young mother of two. Phyllis (nee Marnovich, Zinchuk) came into to Brad’s life with her children, Brian and Melanie Zinchuk, who he welcomed as his own with love. Brad and Phyllis were married June 23rd, 1990. On April 7th, 1996, Easter Sunday Brad and Phyllis welcomed their daughter, Courtney Anastasia Stroud, at the wild age of 41.

Brad and Phyllis lived in Yorkton on McNeil Crescent and then later Caldwell Drive. They would go on to buy an acreage where they raised their daughter with chickens and border collies and other farm animals. Brad was at his happiest when calling out, “Let’s go feed the fish.” He would jump into the van, honk the horn, and drive to Mel’s Pond, a memorial fish pond to his stepdaughter, Melanie, with his beloved dogs running alongside. Brad had a tremendous love and connection with animals and nature and especially man’s best friend.

Unfortunately, around 2004, Brad was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. He battled losing his leg ten years ago and suffered heart complications as well, but he never lost his ability to make a nutty joke. Sometimes his humour would get him into trouble, but his heart was always in the right place. One could always count on Brad to bring a little laughter to the situation.

Anyone who knew Brad, knew of his kind heart and his generosity. There was never a time where he wouldn’t offer everything, he had to someone in need. His faith in God was integral. He will be remembered for his always saying “I’ll be going to a better place”!

Brad was predeceased by his parents, Harvey and Pat Stroud, his sister, Susan Nygaard, and step daughter, Melanie Zinchuk.

He is survived by his wife of 32 years, Phyllis, their daughter, Courtney, stepson Brian, daughter-in-law Michelle, and grandchildren Katrina and Spencer Zinchuk, as well as many nieces, nephews, extended family and friends.


Brad Stroud, Brian Zinchuk, Phyllis Stroud

Eulogy of Bradford Stroud, as delivered by Brian Zinchuk

Brad was going to heaven on the installment plan. First, he had a toe cut off. Then, ten years ago, a leg. Now, on Christmas, the bill was due and the debts been paid.

And given the amount of time he spent sleeping in church, I wonder if they have a special section of heaven for him?

Bradford Harvey Stroud was the first born of three children born to Harvey and Pat Stroud.

Harvey farmed a mile north of Arran, Saskatchewan, and Pat used to work in the bank as a teller.

Brad attended school in Arran.

Brad grew up a mile north of Arran. And my mom, Phyllis, grew up a mile east of Arran. So their farms were about two miles away. They were the same age, but not the same grade, as Brad had been held back a year in elementary school

Brad never got to attend his graduation. That’s because the train to Churchill was leaving the day before, and he had to be on it. Grandma Nelly had worked at the U.S. Air Force base in Churchill, and Brad had found summer work. His father, Harvey, had worked as a deckhand on a tugboat, the Graham Bell, in Churchill when he was a young man, and now Brad was doing the same.

Brad worked two summers at Churchill. At the end of the summer, they took the boat all the way back to the East Coast, either Nova Scotia or Newfoundland, I can’t remember which. The second summer, he joined on there, and they sailed all the way along the Labrador coast, around Quebec, and into Hudson Bay.

The Churchill River may have been the tugboat Brad sailed on as a young man. It was commissioned in 1964 for service at Churchill, Manitoba. It was built for the Hudsons Bay Company. Decades later, the tug was relocated to Halifax and was renamed Mister Joe. The white cowling on the front was meant to protect it from icing. It is still in service as of September, 2022, working around Nova Scotia. 

One of those years, Brad got his first flight on an airplane – but it wasn’t a planned trip. You see, when a big ship has to tie up to a tugboat, they can’t throw a rope 4 or 6 inches across. They throw a lead line – a small rope with a weight at the end called a monkey’s fist – a steel ball wrapped in rope. Well, Brad wasn’t looking, and a thrown monkey’s fist whacked him square in the jaw and broke it. He had to wait for hours in pain until he could get a flight to Winnipeg, where they wired up his jaw. He ate through a straw for weeks as a result.

The stern said “Winnipeg,” although that city touches no ocean. It had two 342 horsepower Cummins diesels, and was 65 feet long and 19 feet wide. That’s a really small boat to sail on a really big ocean.

I expect somewhere around that time he was sucking blended hamburgers through a straw, Brad figured life as a sailor wasn’t for him.

It was now the mid-1970s, and Fort McMurray was calling. They needed workers for this new thing called the oil sands, and Brad found work with one of the first major contractors working on some of the first big projects up there.

It was at this time he became a member of the International Union of Operating Engineers, and he played a small role in unionizing the company he was working at. I’m sure they loved that.

The union would end up playing a big part in Brad’s life after that.

Brad got into the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, or NAIT, and got his two year diploma as a petroleum engineering technologist.

Except that, for some reason, he never used that education. Not once.

Brad likely in the mid-1980s.

By the early 1980s, Brad came back to Saskatchewan and found work on the construction of the E.B. Campbell Dam at Nipawin.

He spent a couple years there in Nipawin, and then went down to Regina for the next big union project – construction of the NewGrade Upgrader, part of the Regina Refinery Complex.

He was working as a service man, doing oil changes on giant cranes

By 1987, he was a 32 year old bachelor with two quarters of land near Arran, working on the upgrader.

And that’s where he came into my life. Our lives.

By this point, Phyllis was recently divorced from Lorne Zinchuk, and had two kids in tow – a very precocious (some might say belligerent) 12 year old, Brian, and a cute little 7 year old, Melanie.

Despite the extra baggage, I do believe he was smitten.

Soon after that, Brad was coming home from work at the Upgrader, and showed up, ringing mom’s doorbell at 6 a.m. She made him breakfast. Brad sat on the couch and fell asleep a few minutes later, peacefully snoring. And I think Mom was smitten, with “the most peaceful snoring I ever heard,” as she put it. And when he woke up, he asked mom out on a date. She looked around the room, wondering who he was asking, but it was her.

On that date, they went to the fancy steakhouse, where Mom ordered a salad. And so did Brad. It was probably the only time in his life he ordered a salad, alone, on purpose.

Well, they went for a drive, and by the time they got to Esterhazy, Brad said, “Now let’s have a real meal,” and ordered some burgers, as he was starving.

Anyhow, Brad’s land was a couple miles west of Arran, along Highway 49. And one day his tractor broke down, so he was walking back to the farm. Mom happened to be driving along, and gave him a ride home. Pat couldn’t figure out who had brought him home. And no way was mom going to let her know. So she dropped him off and took off.

Three years later, they were married.

Phyllis and Brad Stroud


Now, you have to realize, when you’re already in your thirties, and a bachelor, no matter how good looking the girl is (which Mom was), there’s going to be some baggage. And Melanie and I were that baggage.

I distinctly recall, about the time of their second or third date, I sat beside Brad on the couch and said, “And what are your intentions towards my mother?”

And unbelievably, he did not run out of the house, screaming in terror. He laughed hard, instead.

At this time, Brad had a small herd of cattle at Arran. His uncle Mike Horkoff helped him out with that.

I don’t think mom was too keen on that cattle, because he sold them all to buy her an engagement ring – and a pretty big one at that. Melanie used to say that ring mooed.

They were married June 23, 1990, at Heritage Baptist Church. Their honeymoon was a Child’s Lake, Manitoba.

After the upgrader project ended, Brad went to work on the Belle Plaine fertilizer plant. This time he tried his hand as a crane operator apprentice, but didn’t pursue it much beyond that.

I kind of wonder what, he was thinking? A crane operator has to have a deft touch, like that of a surgeon. And Brad’s hands were the clumsiest I had ever seen. There wasn’t a casserole dish in mom’s kitchen he didn’t break.

The union work for major projects had dried up, so Brad switched over to what we called the pipeline board – workers who worked principally on union pipeline projects.

Construction near Moosomin in 1997 of the pipeline that was supposed to eventually become the Energy East pipeline. Photo by Brian Zinchuk, who was a worker on the project

In 1990, he worked on the TransCanada Pipeline near Whitewood. He was living in a tent. And it rained. And rained. Mom came to visit, and she woke only to put her foot in a puddle when she got out of the tent. That was enough of that, so they bought a used camper.

Which he then proceeded to pull with his 1985 half ton with a tiny six-cylinder engine.

That was the truck Brad taught me how to drive a stick in. I wanted to slam gears, you know, grind them till you find them. Well, this is the story he told me, I had since told my kids.

Imagine you’re putting your hand on a girl’s knee. Move slow. Gentle. Any rough moves and you’re going to get slapped!

I now know how to drive stick shift.

Mom and Brad bought a ready-to-move house my grandfather, Ed Marnovich, built with uncle Edward. They brought it into Yorkton and had it installed at Caldwell Drive.

The thing about pipeline work is that it’s short term, and sporadic. So in between, Brad worked at Leons in Yorkton. He spent some time on oilwell service rigs with Flint, out of Estevan. Work usually meant being away from home.

Come 1995, I wasn’t doing so well in university, and needed work. Brad got me into the union hall, and I went pipelining with him, up at North Battleford and then Meadow Lake.

It was at this time I got to experience the full brunt of his snoring, staying with him in that camper. I had to force myself to fall asleep before he did, or I could hardly sleep.

Now, I’m not sure on the timing of this, but either before the project started, on when mom went to visit him in North Battleford and before I started on the job, well, husbands and wives do what they do.

And a month or so later, mom came up to visit us. I think we were at Meadow Lake at the time. Brad had some sardines the night before, and the tin can was still in the garbage in the camper.

Mom walked in, and promptly got sick, insisting the sardines be removed. Well it turns out, she had some news for him.

For him, but not for me.

So a week or two later, I’m standing in the phone booth at the Meadow Lake Red Rooster, on my calling card, and mom tells me that Melanie’s upset, but she didn’t want to say what it was. I didn’t have time for this, so mom finally said, “I’m pregnant.”

“What!?!?” I yelled as I banged the phonebooth with the receiver.

And then I found out Brad had told his helper, and all the other guys on the crew, that he was going to be a dad. He was so excited. But he hadn’t told me.

Courtney and Brad Stroud


Skip forward about 6 months or so, and mom goes into labour. As it’s Easter, we’re all home. And Melanie and Brad as usual are arguing while mom’s having contractions. They kicked Melanie and me out, and a few hours later, Courtney was born.

Now, Brad was a great stepdad. But man, did Courtney ever had him wrapped around her finger. He spoiled her in every way he could.

When Courtney was a little baby, Brad would often take her with him to the farm. Each time he would take mom’s nightgown with him, and wrap Courtney up in it so she would sleep. It must have been his knowledge of animals, because he realized baby Courtney would be soothed by the smell of her mother.

He took her everywhere, to the auction barn, the store everywhere.

The next project had him working on assembling the last dragline to be used in Estevan. Mom brought Courtney and stayed with him, which was a new thing, I’m sure.

Brad worked with me on a few more pipeline projects. We worked all across western Canada.

One time, working near Moosomin, he fell through ice in the middle of winter, and popped right out. Angels must have been there, because he could have died.

Then in 2002 and 2003, Brad spent a few weeks in Saskatoon, taking a pipeline equipment operator training course with me.

The pipeline work dried up, however, so Brad went back to the union local he first signed up with, looking for work. And he found it, again, in Fort McMurray, working as a service man.

And one of the key things they tell you during every job orientation is to never run. Ever. (Unless something is blowing up, then run). Well, it was raining, and Brad was rushing to fuel up a giant grader. And he slipped and fell on a steel rail or something like that.

And he broke his left arm in three places. There’s something like five different ways to break a bone, and he did three of the worst.

He had to be airlifted to Edmonton, where we all gathered to collect him. I flew up to Fort Mac to collect his vehicle and things and bring them home.

For months, Brad had his hand in a trapeze, a wired contraption to keep his hand from becoming a claw. But being left handed, this severely impaired his use of that hand, basically, forever.

The company did their best to reduce their workers comp issues, so they retrained him as a safety man. (No one grows up wanting to be a safety man. Almost all are someone who hurt themselves on the job, like Brad did.)

But that meant being away from home, up in Fort Mac again. And I think he was done with that. Courtney was growing up, and he wanted to be home for her, and mom.

It was around this time they bought the acreage, on the edge of Yorkton on Highway 16. It was perfect – not in the city, but a little bit of land he could putter around in, make a bale or two,, raise some chickens, and enjoy the peace of sitting beside the dugout or on the front step.

Around this time, his mom, Pat, had aged to the point where she could no longer continue running her group home, looking after several old men who could not look after themselves.

Pat showed up with Matt, and she said, “Here’s your job.”

God provided him a job.

So Brad took over her clients, and became an approved home operator. This meant he could still earn a living, literally by being at home. And he did.

And whenever he went downtown, he would take the clients, telling people, “I’m taking my work with me.”

But while his arm took years to improve, I think in many ways, this was the happiest time of his life. That’s because after decades on the road, he was home. And he was home for his daughter. When she came home from school, he was there.

We would drop Spencer and Katrina off for several weeks each summer. And he would dance around the kitchen, singing Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and numerous other childrens songs.

Brad Stroud and Spencer Zinchuk


Brad’s health started to decline, however. He became diabetic, and that led to other things.

His toe got infected, and had to be amputated. Then, in 2012, right around the time I had my own heart attack, Brad had his right leg amputated. But despite the trauma of that, he eventually accepted it and joked about it. My kids would joke about him being peg-legged, and a pirate.

That year, Brad’s uncle Larry and auntie Darlene Williams decided they were going to sell the cabin they had at Sandy Lake, Manitoba, after 29 years of ownership. They offered to sell it to mom and Brad, and in a moment of “seize the day,” they bought it.

Over the years, we built a new deck for it, and a wheelchair ramp for Brad for when he needed that. One of his favourite things was to sit on the deck at the corner of the cabin, looking over the water. And then fall asleep.

A few years ago, in the dead of winter, it had been freezing rain, or snow, or some damned thing. And mom told him not to go outside. I’m sure he said something like “I’ll go outside if I damned well want to!” and he promptly fell and broke his leg, requiring surgery.

And during that surgery, he had a heart attack. And we found out that he had had one previously, but it had not been detected.

He pulled through.

I think Brad’s phone really had only two phone numbers in it. Sure, he might call mom about what to get at Superstore, or one of his many friends to go for coffee, but really, it was Courtney and Barry who used up all his phone minutes.

I think he talked to Barry almost every day. I honestly don’t know how Barry got any work done. Sometimes it was multiple times a day.

And that phone – man, did he love watching YouTube! But not normal stuff. It was conspiracy this and Ancient Aliens that. That and cooking videos.

There’s a few more things I need to mention.

Brad always had a song in his head. And at the oddest moment – walking through the kitchen, sitting on the couch, sitting on deck at the cabin, he would spout out a few words of that song.

It would never be a song you recognize. At least I would never recognize, although mom claims to. And he would never even finish the verse, never mind the song.

“Dancin at the zombie zoo…..

“Since my baby left me….

“Bringing in the sheaves….”

And he would do these loudly, and randomly. And NEVER FINISH. ARRRGH!

Brad loved hunting. LOVED IT. In recent years, even in poor health and one leg, he’d get into his friends truck and go bombing around Yorkton, hunting. What a one-legged man was going to do with a dead deer, I don’t know. And how he was going to shoot with wobbly hands, I haven’t figured that out either.

50th birthday present – a new barbecue.


And on the topic of food, man, was he a good cook. Especially on the barbecue. I have never, in my life, made a steak as good as Brad would do.

But he would always go overboard. Oh, some people are coming over? Well, then I’m going to barbecue some steaks. And hamburgers. And sausages. And maybe some chicken legs, too. And mealtime would come and there would be enough meat to feed an infantry platoon.

Yes, when it came to food, Brad liked it. All of it.

Indeed, his favourite hobby was going to Superstore. Every day. EVERY DAY. And dropping like $100 each time. Mom and I sat down in the Regina general hospital while he was there, and I did some math. The leaky boat of their finances was Brad shopping at Superstore!

At the cabin, there was a little flea market 8 miles down the road, a place called Rackham Hall. Every time we went to the lake, Brad had to go there. Every single time. Here’s the one-legged old man climbing those three steps to get into this flea market.

What did they sell? Junk. Nothing but junk. But he had to go.

This reminds me of a Corb Lund song, called “Hard on Equipment.”

The chorus perfectly describes Brad. It goes,

Well it’s a vise grips for pliers, and pliers for a wrench

A wrench for a hammer, hammers everything else

It just don’t seem to make much difference

I sure do like him but he’s hard on equipment

Brad would take Spencer to the Sandy Lake Co-op to buy Hot Wheels cars. And they would drive down to the dugout on the acreage to feed the fish and run the dogs.

A few years before they bought the cabin, Mom and Brad bought a 31 foot toy hauler fifth wheel camper. And to tow it, Brad bought an old, beat up Carson Welding pipeline truck. Anyone whose ever worked on a pipeline knows you NEVER buy an old pipeline truck, because they’ve been beaten to hell.

Anyhow, this was Brad’s truck for a few years until he lost his leg. Shifting gears with a peg leg doesn’t work very well. So that truck sat, and sat, and sat.

And it didn’t move at all for at least three years.

Then Katrina asked him, “Grandpa, if I can get your truck moving, can I have it?”

“Yeah, sure, whatever,” Brad said, not thinking she would succeed.

Well, with two new batteries and a hope and a prayer, Katrina got that truck going. And true to his word, he let her take it home.

And the muffler fell off in the driveway as she pulled out. As expected.

Brad and Katrina and that old Carsons truck. She’s going to be a mechanic as a result.


Brad could be a little fiery at times, but almost immediately after he would grumble and mutter and say sorry. But more importantly, he had a big heart.

Brad was very generous.

There were times when there were people in the community who needed help. And Brad would ensure an envelope of money would appear in their mailbox. No one ever knew that.

He took in three broken people – a divorcee and two little kids, and they became his own. And then he had one more.

Brad and Brian


I was his “son.”

“How are you doing, son?” he would say on the phone. As he often did, he kept talking before the phone was hung up.

There was one time he left a message on our answering machine, and he ended it with, “I love you.”

And he muttered, “I don’t know why I said that.”

And we still laugh about that to this day.

Brad, God may have gotten you one piece at a time, but you’re in his arms now.


Phyllis and Brad Stroud


Livestream of funeral.