William Sigurd “Bill” BOURNE
William Sigurd Bourne, better known as Bill Bourne, born March 28, 1954, died April 16, 2022, after losing his battle with cancer. He has been cremated and his ashes will be spread in a private ceremony. Friends and fans are invited to celebrate his life in whatever ways they see fit – Bill would be honored and humbled by your regard. He never took it for granted.
His facebook page and other online resources are filled with wonderful, heartfelt tributes from fans, fellow musicians, and collaborators, of how he touched their hearts and souls with his music and down to earth presence, and inspired, soothed, and forever changed those he met over the years. He truly was an Alberta and Canadian Icon, who lived his life on his terms and did what he loved for the majority of it. In the last few years, he was constrained by the pandemic and his own health challenges, but he continued to play when and where he could.
To his family, he was just Bill, dad, brother, uncle, and friend. Bill grew up in central Alberta in a musical family. His parents, Alfred and Iris, were farmers and musicians and they instilled in him a love of both. His maternal great grandfather, Stephan G. Stephasson, who emigrated to Markerville, Alberta in 1889, was an Icelandic poet, whose homestead is an Alberta Historic Site. Bill was always proud of his Icelandic heritage and was inspired by the beautiful poetry of his grandfather. He was the middle child of two older sisters, Marie and Margo, and younger brothers Tom and Jim.
He left home at an early age to go to Toronto, after being inspired by the music of such troubadours as Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell, and Bob Dylan, to seek a measure of what they gave to the world, but soon moved back to Edmonton, which was primarily his home base for the remainder of his life, although he did live for a time at his family’s homestead near Penhold with his wife, Dorothy Campbell, who he married in 1979 and with whom he had two children, Patrick William Bourne (1983) and Emily Jean Bourne (1985). The couple divorced in 1995 but remained lifelong friends and co parents. Bill never remarried. He was the proud grandpa to Isobel Grace (2009) and Loic Omer (2015).
His family fondly remember a man who loved his children, loved life, and always tried to be an honorable and truthful man. He loved fly fishing and gold panning, although he seldom had the time or inclination for it in later years; he was a master craftsman and mechanic and assisted his family with various home renovations over the years. Nothing made Bill happier than doing something with his hands and his quiet pride in doing it as well as he could, shone out in his happiness to do for others. He could fix literally anything and kept the various vans/motorhomes and cars he had over the years running for far longer than he should have been able to. To his kids’ dismay, he loved to explain exactly how he did that – despite their cries of “Dad we don’t care…”.
In spite of his wonderful stage presence, and the accolades he was graced with over the years, he was in large part a private and humble person and was often uncomfortable with the trappings of musical life and the schmoozing that went with it. He preferred to let his music speak for itself but would adopt various personas to find a degree of separation and comfort – el JoJo Rynde comes to mind as well as that Irish guy.
Till his last day he was a man who didn’t want to leave this life, still feeling that he had things that he wanted to do and offer to others, but in the end he did it with vulnerability and grace, holding hands with his children who surrounded him with love as he went “into that good night”.
So please don’t weep for Bill, but love each other, and dance and celebrate. It’s what he would have wanted.
Bill you will be missed by so many people .. thank you for including us in your musical journey
We are here for Love ❤️
Your fans, which I am one of many, will dance and celebrate in your honor forever. Your music was a song of my heart and reached my soul in so many ways. You will be missed.
Sending my best wishes to family! Bill has touched my soul through his wonderful music 🎶
Thank you Bill. For the music and the memories. May the living rythme rule our soul and we continue to dance the night away.
I met Bill in 1977, and we were friends until he died. Many collaborations and experiences shared.
He’ll always live in my heart. Condolences to all the family.
Fair thee well Bill. 💔
Bill, you will be sorely missed. You brought so much joy through your music and presence. Condolences to the family. Bill was a gem, one of a kind.
I had the great pleasure of meeting Bill at Festival of Friends where he played with Alan MacLeod. At one workshop stage the played with Brent Titcomb and Valdy. Years later we became friends and I saw him play a few more times. He was such a caring man. Canada has truely lost one of it`s great musicians. God bless my friend.
Miss you and your wonderfully warm presence so much already friend. So grateful to have all the beautiful music, and the memories you provided. You will live forever in our hearts, and in the songs as we continue to sing them.
I will be forever grateful for the beautiful music and wonderful stories. I grew up in Red Deer, and Bill was a constant in the pubs & bars there when I was in art school. , and in surrounding towns. Years on, fond memories of Markerville “Cream Days”, where Bill would always play. I am saddened that now 30 years later, with his music a constant in my world here in Edmonton, , that I won’t see him play again. 💔💔💔 Fly on, Bill. Thank you for your gifts that you selflessly shared.
Thank you Bill for all your gifts.
Such a lovely, kind soul. Shined love to the world. Talented in many ways. He is already much missed.
Meegwetch Billy Bourne for coming to see my show at the Commercial one February winter night despite the -40 weather. It was a meaningful effort for us knowing you were in the audience. Have a safe journey to your ancestral home!
We’ll miss you ole buffalo
Bill was a hero to me and an inspiration. I’ll keep playing as long as I can and keep thinking of bill when I do. Deep condolences to his family and friends.
Thank you for healing my soul at times and never minding when I called you “Billibong”. It was nice to chat from time to time and talk of our shared love of a peaceful, kind, fair world. You have been a one of a kind heart and soul in this world. 💕 My deepest condolences to those who are missing their precious person, Bill.
Condolences from Russ Bannister and family in Red Deer. I have known Bill since the mid 1980’s. So sad to have this happen to a great guy. He will be missed.
I saw him many times and that haunting wail of a voice gives me chills just to think of it. To his family: thank you for sharing him. My life has been better for his presence in this world.
Dear, dear Bill. Your quiet inspiration is a gift to all of us. Thank you for gracing us with your presence.
Thank you for the music..thank you for being a wonderful human..Farewell Bill..❤
I’ll burn a candle for this great man and rejoice in the music he left for us. He touched so many with his love and kindness.
Our condolences too Bills family, I’m pretty sure he’s at peace and free to fly, playing for the angels on the other side.
It’s never easy to say goodbye. Trust and know he’ll be there for you when you cross over.
We love you Bill and will miss your presence here. It was always a pleasure to see Bill such a big warm hugs and so much love.
Rest easy 💗♥️❤️❣️
To Emily and Patrick, As I noticed through the years, it hasn’t been easy for you; to go anywhere with your Dad meant being interrupted by strangers. You were forced to share him with the entire world. Many mistake such hardship as privilege. As you already know, as great a musician as Bill was, he was moreso an especially and phenomenally honest, fair, gracious and caring human being – and even more than that, he was your Father. You deserved a lot more of him than the public allowed you to have. It makes my heart swell to see these beautiful pictures you have shared of your very private family life. I wish you deep healing, deep blessings, and the peace and happiness he has always wanted for you. Whenever he said either of your names, his voice conveyed his deep love, concern and affection for each of you. I wish deep peace and love to you and your inner circles.
Bill, it was an honour playing with you on stage and I will never forget your kindness and humility. I will always cherish our moments together and I hope to see you on the other side soon. May your soul travel on to new adventures 🙏🏽🌹😢
Honoured to have met him .. it was like we were old friends immediately… that was Bill’s way. Fabulous musician, mentor, and human being. Until the next time Bill.
Thank you Bill for all your gifts and thank you to to the one writing this beautiful tribute.
I met Bill in 1979 in our band kitchen in Brittany, France (NaCaberfeidh/Rare Air) with a few of the Tanahill Weavers. He cut a muscular Icelandic figure, man-handling that bouzouki. I met him a few years later at the Borealis festival in Sudbury with a bass drum on one foot and and an acoustic guitar playing organic blues. I was transfixed by his music. Last time I saw him he was sitting below my window in Kensington market on the patio at Lolas picking a borrowed acoustic guitar and sipping on a glass of red wine. He greeted me with that honest casual wistful smile of his… like it is just expected that you bump into people. A man of light. God bless Bill Bourne.
So grateful I saw Bill live in a little club in Toronto. I wore out that Bourne and MacLeod cassette. What a wonderful legacy he has left us. I will Dance and Celebrate, as Bill sings in the heavens. Thank you, Bill, for being.
I met him in 1978. He and his then musical partner Jim Morison drifted into the hotel my brother and I were playing in Jasper. They had a few hours and decided to introduce themselves and see if we wanted to jam. There was no one like him. Sitting next to him on a workshop stage was thrilling and humbling, to see how at ease he was and how connected he was to the magic he was so effortlessly pulling out of thin air. Always gracious and interested in the people around him at a festival. So hard to think he’s not on the planet anymore.
Thanks, Bill, for the beauty and inspiration!
soo sad we will miss him. Ali and Brian J
You are a Canadian Icon, you have inspired many, and you will never be forgotten. Thank you for playing our little venue here at our Barn in Morden MB and we enjoyed sharing our home with you. Rest well my friend.
From February to November 2002, I found myself pursuing my academic future in Australia and feeling profoundly homesick for Canada in general and my hometown Folk Music festival in particular. I picked up a copy of “Sally’s Dream” after hearing you play in Brandon MB in the summer of 2000, and that CD became the de facto soundtrack of my Australia experience as I wrestled with the demands of a Masters program on the other side of the planet from where I wanted to be. I remember listening to “Summer at the Circus” and “Seven Angels” repeatedly while dropping huge tears on the South Bank of the Brisbane River. Your tunes meant a huge amount to me then, Bill, and mean even more now. Thank-you, dear gentle sir, for all of that. Peace and honour to your memory, and deepest condolences to your kin.
Love you Bill. See you down the road.
I first heard Bourne and McLeod on CBC radio and was hooked on the music and that distinctive voice. At the North Country Fair I heard that voice coming from a workshop tent. It was like a magnet. I was and continue to be drawn to that voice. I watched every music festival to see if Bill would be there. It didn’t matter who else was on the program, if Bill was there, it was worth the travel. The small tents, the big stages, the intimate Demmitt Hall, the performances were always hypnotic. Bill’s soul came through and made us better human beings because of it. The world is a sadder and darker place without him. Safe home, Bill.
Rest in peace . bill
You lived your dream Bill and thank you for welcoming me, my family and friends into your wonderful and beautiful world. Thank you Marie, Margo, Tom and Jim, Dorothy, Patrick and Emily, Isobel and Loic for sharing your brother, husband, father, dad and grandpa with my family. Forever Truly Bound.
Jim Hay and I played with Bill in 1976-77. The three of us were almost continuously on the road from Taber to Kamloops to Fort Mac and all points in between in Bill’s beat up panel van. It had a hole in the gas tank, so we always tried to arrive at a gig with no gas left. Although our trio never had an official name, we made good music, mostly because Bill was such a perfectionist and we practiced all the time, or so it seemed to Jim and me. But we’d go to bed and Bill would go to his hotel room and keep playing. RIP, Bill.
Farewell, beautiful soul and friend, till we meet again someday, somewhere.
Wherever you are, you will always be in our hearts. Thank you for all the love you gave us. Your light will shine on through your music.
Bill, the stars sang sweetly while you were here and sing even more sweetly now that you are there.
Bill, thanks for sharing your genius with us all! It made life beautiful!
I first saw Bill at Summerfolk as I started on my journey into the world of “lyrics & strings”…He was such an inspiration to me, through his work with Bop Ensemble, as I continued on…then I had the chance to thank him personally just a couple of years ago. He smiled, shook my hand and I could feel the warmth in his soul. Thank you Bill, may you rest in eternal folk.
In a wonderfully serendipitous event, my late husband and I stopped in to a pub on Gabriola Island for an evening of good music and food several years ago. We were treated to Bill and his cohorts entertaining as The Bop Trio. It was more than lovely. This past summer, 2021, Bill and a partner sang at an outdoor concert at SSUC. Again, it was awesome. Shine on, Bill.
Emily and Pat.. thank you for the years and years of sharing of your Dad with the rest of us. Thank you for sharing of his diagnosis as well with the fund. It gave me and so many others an opportunity to send our bundled up love for Bill back to him in these last few months. My heartfelt condolences for the space he has left in your lives as a dad, friend, grandfather. I hope you are weathering this time surrounded with love and fond memories and feel the support of the community who loved Bill.
I am very saddened by the passing of this beautiful,kind songbird love bucket of a human. Bye Bill, it was always so nice to smile at you snd see your gorgeous smile in return.
Farewell, Bill. I remember when I asked you to teach me how to play some blues riffs on the guitar, you said, “You’re making me play stuff I haven’t played in years, thank you.” I certainly will dance and celebrate as I remember you.
Sending heartfelt condolences to Bill’s children and family.He loved you dearly.
Deepest condolences to your loving family …I adore Bill’s beautiful mom Iris and I hope she is comforted during this time of grief . I met Bill 30 years ago by my loving father Stephan Benediktson , Iris’ brother . I loved hearing his music with my mother Adriana . My first musical instrument was a clarinet which Stephan gifted me . Bill inspired me lots through his music talent . I then went on to play piano and I gifted the clarinet to him . I am thankful for knowing Bill . May his beautiful Spirit live forever . Deepest condolences Iris.
So many great and wonderful memories. Playing at the Rip Van Winkle lounge back in 1976. You’ve been our dear friend ever since. Even played at the house our wedding night We will always dance and celebrate on your behalf. Cheers! Alex and Edna MacIntyre
Bill and I were both born in Red Deer, and a day apart, 13 yrs apart and I’d often sent FB messages to Bill for the spring time and our Aires birthdays. While, I take this all with a grain of salt.. like a true Aries.. Bill left this physical presence on the day of the first full moon of the astrological year. Known as the Pink Moon, it reflected the the beauty of the spring bloom it illuminated. The April full moon in Libra was said to hold the attributes to help achieve harmony and balance through accountability, an honest conversation, and reflection. This moon was also ruled by Venus; and thus any and all work done under the full moon in Libra works to introduce beauty and collaboration back into your life.
Even in departure, Bill Bourne is a blessing and a gift. I’ll sure miss Bill and his angel wings.
I am diminished. There are people in our lives about whom we cannot recall the first time we met, they are just a part of the magic we encounter, always there, forever a blessing to us. Bill was one such person for me, his sweet smile and his music easing the rough times and brightening the wonderful times. We will continue to dance and celebrate our lives, keeping the memories dear, so that you will remain with us forever.
I can’t believe this is real. I am so sorry Bill. I talked to you on Facebook on March 16 about the open stage you used to run at the Brick and Whiskey. Rest easy my friend. You were always so supportive of me and my music. I will carry my memories with you close to my heart. I know you are playing at a dusty saloon in the sky now.
Bill, you will always be a shining light of love and music in our lives. With much love and respect
After hearing Bill as part of Tri Continental we got to see him at Vancouver Island Music Fest in Courtenay. He sure told a good story and was such a presence. Thank you for the great music.
Miss you Bill…Gone up to where the buffalos roam..your soul is safe and cozy anywhere you land. So grateful for your presence here. What one person’s heart and love can accomplish…So grateful to have met you..I really hope to see you when I go up…
May he rest in peace, that was my dad’s 3rd cousin I can remember when he performed in my home town
Bill you got back all the love you gave out , we owe you more though as you shined bright.So grateful to have felt your heart..
I was at the Edmonton folk festival this past weekend and thought several times how great it would be to see Bill play. On Sunday at the close of the show, Bill’s name was mentioned along with other musicians, that would no longer grace the main stage. My heart fell. During my younger years at art college in Red Deer, I would see Bill play at the pubs and bars around town. He was one of those fellows, you felt you knew all your life. Thank you Bill for the great memories. I think of you,I think of the “Old Buffalo”.