Murray Crimless

Murray Crimless passed away June 3, 2021. When we posted his death notice on our Facebook page, we received many comments related to his passing and the influence he had had on staff members over the decades of his summer employment at the camp. Murray worked at the camp between 1968 and 1973 and 1981 through 1995. I first met Murray at pre-camp in 1968. Murray had been hired primarily to use his “know how” and experience to improve the telephone system at the camp. From that early meeting, it  was clear that he had a multitude of skills and creativity and a sense of mischievousness which began to emerge over his first summer and summers to come. What follows is a collection of comments, memories and stories that we received.

Gord Fleming: Known to many as “Murray the MOK”, this man could not be made up in anyone’s wildest imagination. Bill Murray’s “Meatballs” character is as close a reference as I can think of, but this Murray was way more mischievous, way more outrageous, and definitely less…um…”risk averse”. Smart as hell too, and this was the only reason that many of us could believe that he was a teacher in the winter months.

 Ask me sometime about that night when 12 HSR staff piled into his tricked-out Bronco one summer night in 1986 and sped ridiculously down the dirt roads of the wilderness of HSR all the way to Lindsay for a special midnight showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, during which a handful of us actually got kicked out.

How Many ITs can you fit in a Bronco?

Or about the time he destroyed a K-Car with a front-end loader because he thought it would be fun. An absolute legend of camp history and an important part of my own development. Sometimes I ask myself, “was that guy even real?” Then other witnesses come forward with the same stories. I’ve already spent 30 years knowing I am never going to meet the likes of him again. In fact, I met someone at Red Pine Camp a few years ago who knew him outside of HSR, and we didn’t even need to use words to prove to each other that we knew him. The knowing glances were more than enough.

Mark Daly: I’m an IT in 73 and was on a night off in town.  Being 15, the  options were limited. I went with a contingent of staff members to see a movie at the Molou.  Now sometimes in those days we were not the best patrons of the Molou and Molly would sometimes have to come down to tell us to cool it.  On this night however Murray came to see the movie we were watching.  I forget the name of the movie but it was based on Shakespeare or someone like that. Murray came in, sat down, and said “alright you heathens I’m going to tell you what this movie is about”.  He proceeded to provide a running narrative/critique of the story that was insightful and serious. The rest of the summer was the usual high jinx with Murray but that evening was one that stands out!

Sandy Stenhouse:  Better known as “Murray the Mok”, Murray was one of the few, if not the only person to be known by his initials.  If you saw MTM you knew it was Murray!  (There is no confirmed proof that the MTM painted on the side of the tank outside of the Haliburton Legion hall was put there by Murray!!)

Murray and his family stayed in the Hemlock cabin closest to the old rifle range and the current shower house.  In the early eighties there was also a kybo just outside of Murray’s cabin.  The kybo attracted the attention of the local porcupine every night, waking Murray up.  One quiet night there was a very loud explosion at Hemlock flats.  Murray had engineered a concussion bomb and detonated it when he heard the porcupine!  No more porky!

Phil Arima got into a fight with Murray one afternoon in the hub’s dining hall.  A food fight.  The fight grew and a number of staff were involved.  The fight was so intense that water started to leak through the floor into the Administration office below, located where the Trading post now is.  As I recall (but doubt) there was reportedly three inches of water on the dining hall floor.

Murray had a grey Ford Bronco that was equipped with a siren system, an amber revolving beacon light, and a winch.  Somehow I still remember his license plate – VE3 GAD.  (He was a ham radio operator.)  In addition to screaming back to camp on the dirt part of the road, Murray’s truck (with the aid of his winch) was one of t  hree vehicles that were driven from the MOK shop past Lost Lake and onto Big Bear campsite!

 According to Murray, he was a former rally car driver (which I don’t doubt!).  Murray claimed his best time from town back to the camp was twelve minutes and thirty seconds, from the Haliburton village sign to the Kennabi gates.  I think many have tried, but I doubt that anyone could or will equal that time.  He did not try to meet that time when there were ten of us in his (officially) five passenger Bronco as we came back from Saturday night movies at the Molou!  As soon as we got past the road to Rainbow Cottages the lights and sirens came on and off we went.  The siren only stopped when he thought the camp ranger (Colin Sears) might hear it!

Murray made the local news in a unique way.  On the first Wednesday on August, the Haliburton Rotary Club would host a parade down the main street of town.  In 1981 Murray watched the parade from in front of the Molou, while lying on his side on the edge of the roadway!  A photo of this was printed in the local paper and Murray became the camp celebrity!

When the previous fleet of barges were scrapped, Murray reportedly set about to try and give them a proper “burial at sea” in the waters of Kennabi.  While I don’t know all of the details and we might never find out, only Murray knows the true location of the one barge that he sank in Kennabi.  It is said to have sank not far from the H dock, instead of off of Pittin’ Point.

Bruce Holmberg: I will always remember how his calm cool voice could cut through a crowd. “Kneel down in that canoe camper.”

Zues Stone: The first time he spoke to me was when i was a maintenance IT. He walked up to me (and I believe James Clement) and asked our definition of viscosity.. We both blurted out something wanting very much to impress. He pondered our definition and walked away saying “That isn’t it.”

Tom Parker: Murray was simultaneously the scourge of the IT’s and also a great mentor. A master of ingenuity.

 John jp Armstrong: Might have buy a pack of Colts Mild Wine dipped tip. Good memories. The switchboard and running through the woods to find the break in the line!

John Simerson: VE3 Germany America Denmark! Stupid trivial things that stick with you seemingly forever.

Richard Pengelly: Back when I was a IT, Chris Nassanger had a little TV that got no reception. Murray showed us an antenna design using coat hangers. We gave it a shot and made this massive rectangular coat hanger antenna. Grant, Chris & I hoisted it up the highest tree next to the IT cabins. Turned the TV on. Turned the fine tune knob and a faint fuzzy image began to appear of a person talking. But wait it sounds like a computer or robot. It was Stephen Hawking talking about the formation of the universe—MIND BLOWN!

Andrew Blackburn: MTM was a great teacher and a big influence on my mechanical aptitude. Still many days at work in the arctic when little things Murray taught me come back. Western Union splice on wires, keeping thumbs out of the steering wheel….. RIP Murray.

Bob Penrose: Many HSR stories contains the phrase “so we were in Murray’s Bronco…”. Rest in peace.

Marty Lockyer: Very sorry to hear. He embodied the maintenance dept for HSR for many years and he taught me a ton .. RIP Murray .. So many great memories