Posted: June 7th, 2021

Bernardus Johannes Velner, of Medicine Hat Alberta, met an unexpected, untimely passing May 31,2021 at the young age of 79.

Ben was predeceased by wife Donna, and is survived by daughter Deanna (Andre) and grandson Nathan; his son Michael (Alix), plus several brothers, sisters, and their families who reside all over Europe. Also mourning his loss are his companions, Tonka and Tula (Boxer dogs)

Ben came from Holland in 1968 to stay for a year, to seek adventure and to enjoy the freedom of the open prairie landscape. He never left, and met and married the love of his life Donna and settled in Medicine Hat to raise a family.

Along his journeys, he made many friends, and without hesitation would give the shirt off his back for them.

He had a passion for carpentry and shared his skillset and experiences with son Michael. For decades, they worked together.

A creative spark ran through his veins. He crafted artwork of nature’s inhabitants with wood inlay, stained glass, and tile and stone mosaic. Many of these works adorn walls and floors of his custom built family home. He wasn’t happy unless he was creating something!

Keeping with his Dutch gardening background, his passions were his park-like yard and museum of unique cacti and rocks. Involved with nature conversation, he was a member of Society of Grasslands Naturalists. Birdwatching and exploration of wilderness inspired numerous wordly travels He lived life to the fullest, never wasting an opportunity!

As Husband, Father, Opa (grandfather), Brother, Friend, and Mentor, Ben will never be forgotten, only loved, admired and looked up to. Rest in Peace, Ben. Your strength and kindness will live on. Our respect and love will forever be yours!!

Messages of condolences may be sent to

A celebration of Ben’s life will occur at a future date, potentially July 2, 2021. Details to follow.

2 Condolences for “BEN VELNER”

  1. miles mochoruk says:

    im truly sorry to here about your dad michael. your dad was a great man and as you know a great teacher. we will miss his great smile and sense of humour. hope your ok michael. as you know you and your family can be proud to have had such a great person in your life.

  2. Dennis Baresco says:

    Hey, Michael: So sorry to hear about your dad! Ben was a good friend, one of the best birders in Alberta, an amazing carpenter, grew cactus like no one else (!), a dog whisperer, a superb gardener . . . I could go on and on, but suffice to say he was truly a giant of a man and one who didn’t stand for any bull. I haven’t seen him since I was hobbled by a stroke in 2016, but I thought of him often. Bottom line: he was quite a character, and mere words don’t do him justice. Here’s to Ben!

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