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Churchill Wild and our staff were saddened by the recent passing of Richard Voliva. Richard first joined us as a guest in 2003 at Seal River Heritage Lodge and quickly became a friend and trusted resource.

Richard Voliva and Dennis Fast

Richard Voliva with wildlife photographer Dennis Fast

Richard had a vast knowledge of solar systems and was always willing to help whenever an issue arose for us. Richard worked designing large scale utility systems, providing feasibility studies, product specs and much more. He engineered and designed off grid systems for luxury fishing, hunting and eco lodges in the northern reaches of Canada.

Richard is remembered fondly by our own Nolan Booth and Doug Webber who have shared about Richard below.

Polar bear checking out the wings | Richard Voliva

Richard came to Seal River Heritage Lodge, North Knife Lake Lodge and Nanuk Polar Bear Lodge a bunch of times and helped us build the power systems we use today.

Richard was an amazing tech support system for me all these years and helped me through many small and large troubles with our inverters and generators at all locations. In the off season we would call each other randomly and talk about what’s new in our lives and in the world of off grid power systems. Richard was part of a race team for an electric race bike on the salt flats.

One story that is very fun was a day at Seal River when we were all working on power system upgrades. Our boys Adam and Shelby were playing in the mezz off the shop above where Richard was working in our electrical room. It was a hot summer day and the garage doors at both ends of the shop were open. Somehow a bear at the lodge got spooked and ran through the shop. It ran by Richards back at no less than 3 feet away and he had no idea. The boys saw it go by from their perch up above, but it didn’t even slow down.

Richard came out to see what the commotion was, and we all had a chuckle.

He will be remembered by all of us as a very nice man who cared about not only the people around him but also the wildlife he loved to take photos of.

-Nolan Booth

Polar bear peeking in window of plane

Polar bear peeking in window | Richard Voliva

Richard came to our lodge as a guest for the first time back in 2003 and had come back several times over a decade.

Several years ago, mid August, I believe, I was flying Richard around to our various lodges to tweak the solar systems we had recently installed.

I landed at Seal River Heritage Lodge on the runway as the final destination for the day. There were a full complement of guests watching a half dozen polar bears located about halfway between the lodge and SE button of the NW/SE runway. I parked near the SW end of the cross runway and told Richard I was going to walk down on the tidal flats to the lodge so I wouldn’t disturb the bears. Richard said he would stay near the airplane and see if he could get some shots.

Shortly after I had arrived at the lodge, one of the polar bears decided to do an inspection on the strange looking machine on the runway that he had most likely only seen in the air. He ambled up to the airplane and didn’t pay any attention to Richard who was some hundred metres off in the boonies, snapping pictures like mad, recognizing immediately what a unique opportunity he was experiencing. He got three amazing shots of the bear standing up by the airplane. One at the front with one paw on the prop, one at the side of the cowling as if checking the oil, and one at the pilot’s door looking inside the plane as if to say “Hmmmmmm, betcha I could fly this thing.” At that point Richard figured the bear had seen enough and he and one of the guides chased the interloper off.

The picture of the bear at the prop is almost as famous as the picture of Dennis Fast’s polar bear in the fireweed. We had a Christmas card and note cards made of this particular shot and it is my all-time favourite photo.

-Doug Webber

If you have a memory of Richard, we’d love it if you shared it with us in the comments.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Debra Lalonde-MacDonald says:

    Sorry for your loss. Condolences to Richard’s family and friends. .

    I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Richard during my season as Expeditor for Churchill Wild / Webber’s Lodges.

    His knowledge seemed endless and his big smile contagious.

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