John Raymond Bolhuis 06.11.1952 - 09.15.2017

During the early morning hours of Friday Sept 15th Ladner legend “Big John” passed away peacefully in his sleep at his lifelong home on Westminster Avenue in Ladner. His doctor believed him to be in good health and his death was entirely unexpected. Cause of death was a heart attack.

John was a big man, 6’ 7” and 240 pounds, a lovely gentle giant. Brain damaged from birth he always considered himself a young guy right up to his 65th birthday in June of this year. He was a kind, compassionate and loyal friend. He lived all his life in Ladner and was well known by a very large cross section of this welcoming community.

He was an avid sports fan and car enthusiast. In spite of being unable to read or write he could identify almost every vehicle he saw by make and model. Going for a walk with John was always a treat as he would recite stories about various buildings we passed along the way and the people he associated with them often going back to his very early years.

John had an exceptional memory; he could recall the names of most everyone he met, conversations they’d had in the past, the names of their pets and the type of car they drove. The highlights of his year were the annual May Days events and the Quilt and Car Show. He had a huge collection of miniature cars and could tell you who gifted most of them to him. During the annual car show a selection of his cars are always displayed in the window at Angela’s Boutique with a sign “Big John’s Little Car Show”. I’m confident that tradition will continue so be sure to look for them next year.

John had a wonderful sense of humour which was thoroughly enjoyed by those who got to know him well. Although not related by blood or marriage he was an important and much loved member of the Blaney family of Ladner; Jim, Micheal, Pauline, Lea, Tyler, James Jr, Kathy, Kary, Jacquie and Les. Jim was his full time in-residence caregiver, Pauline took him with her 3 times a week to walk her dogs at the dog park. Les was his court appointed legal guardian and close friend for over 40 years. He was also a much loved member in the Friendship Coffee House at the Ladner Christian Reformed Church ( on 54A Street and the Cedar Park Church on 45th Avenue. The members of those congregations looked after John exceptionally well. John loved everyone unconditionally and this love was reciprocated by those who got to know him.

John was predeceased by his parents Henry & Hilly and his dear Auntie Bartta some years ago. His only other local family was his older sister Shirley who died in October 2004. Following Shirley’s passing Les Blaney became John’s court appointed legal guardian (Committee of Person & Estate) and looked after his personal & financial welfare and the maintenance of his home. The known family members are all distant cousins, aunts and uncles in Holland and a few of the same elsewhere in Canada and the USA. In February 2017 John was visited by his cousin Rients Miedema from Holland. Rients and several members of his extended family subsequently sent John postcards and chatted with him on Skype. John really enjoyed getting to know his Dutch family and occasionally would say a few words in Dutch himself during their conversations. He would then discuss these meetings for weeks after.

As Scottish poet Robert Campbell once said; “To live on in the hearts of those we leave behind is not to die.”
Big John is greatly missed but he will live on in the hearts of my family and in the hearts of many others who loved him.

A Celebration of Life was held 11:00 AM, Saturday, October 14, 2017 at the Christian Reformed Church, 4594 - 54A Street, Ladner.

Please consider making a tax deductible donation to a disability association or to the Ladner Christian Reformed Church Friendship Coffee House which for the past 25+ years has provided weekly comfort and joy to a large number of disadvantaged folks in our community. John was a charter member and had been a regular attendee for over 25 years, picked up and dropped off every Friday night by his friend Terry Westerhof, a member of the congregation. Reading and clicking on the image below will assist you to find the specific drop down menu to make a donation, large or small, which will help the Friendship Coffee House group to carry on and expand their operations. Thank You!

Clicking on the above image will take you to the online donation site then scroll to bottom of the page. Thank You!

Ladner Christian Reformed Church has a YouTube slide show for John's Celebration of Life at

CBC radio conducted local interviews for a 7 minute radio broadcast:
Scroll to the Oct 5th episode, move the slider a bit more than 3/4 along to minute 2:18:40 in the broadcast.

CBC also has an online tribute at

Sept 9, 2017 - the last photo taken of Big John, resting on a stool during a visit to "Day on a Farm", Westham Island

big happy guy

Clownin' around

John loved those old cars

John with his friend Micheal Blaney (Jim's son)

John & Jim Stimson

The big guy makes it look like a clown car for sure

happy times at Ladner May Days, big guy got the first ride before the fair even opened

Micheal Blaney's 22nd birthday Aug 2017, John, Jim Blaney (John's full time caregiver)

Micheal & John, good buds

Pointing out his LOVE sign, there was always lots of love in John's birthday cards

Les Blaney & John about to fly over Ladner on his 64th birthday

looks a bit nervous but he was a great flyer, big grin the whole time

navigator in position, had the back seat to himself and enjoyed the views

flying with the eagles over Ladner

looks out boys, the foreman is on the job

best friends, John and caregiver Jim Blaney

in front of Angela's Boutique during the car show, some of John's cars are displayed in the window

In the North 40 off leash dog park with Pauline & Jim Blaney and Jim's friend Robin (shown)

John and "Photobomb Pauli" at the off leash dog park, 3 times a week every week of the year

The Engineer, Ladner May Days 2017

hanging out at home with the ever present cup of coffee, tea, lemonade, juice.

John and pilot Kyle at Pacific Flying Club, Ladner. He loved this picture

Site host: Les Blaney, 604-946-1133 email: