Stewart (“Stew”) James Earnshaw died suddenly and unexpectedly on the Winter Solstice, December 21, 2021, at home in Nanaimo, BC, at the age of 56. Stewart was born in Middlesbrough, England, on February 9, 1965. His family immigrated to Montreal, QC in 1969 and then relocated to Halifax, NS in 1972. During childhood, Stewart’s family moved to various cities in Canada for his father’s work, including Ottawa and Calgary, and they became Canadian citizens in 1980. Stewart successfully completed general military training with the Canadian Armed Forces in the summer of 1982, but he did not pursue a military career like his big brother. Stewart’s family returned to live in Halifax a few times, and this is where he launched from childhood into adulthood.
Stew traveled as a young man across Canada and overseas with his guitar on his back and had many adventures in England, Greece, and Israel, to name a few. He eventually settled in Newcastle, England, where he made lifelong friends and attended many a music festival. He played some gigs, too. Stew married in 2001 and moved the following year to Parksville, BC, where his children were born. Stew loved taking his children into nature to play, explore and learn, and he endeavored to teach them respect for others and all living things. Stew’s children were captivated by his bedtime stories made up on the spot and loosely based on his real-life adventures. Stew was a big kid at heart!
Stew trained as a chef in Canada and Europe. He worked in prominent kitchens on both continents and in long-term care facilities in Nanaimo. Stew loved to share his culinary creations. His lasagne was one of his kids’ favourite meals, and his “Stew Burgers” were a hit at many a BBQ!
Stew started working for Shaw Communications as a technical service representative in the mid-2000’s, progressing to a supervisory position in 2011. In this career, Stew gained the respect of his colleagues who regarded him as a friendly and positive person who was full of life, laughs, and always ready with a warm smile. During his last 5 years, Stew trained on the job as a carpenter and builder and learned quickly. He was passionate about building beautiful things, particularly out of cedar. Stew grew strong and lean, and he took great pride in the projects he completed with the crew at Tidalwest Building Projects Ltd. One of his favourite projects was “the point patio” at Pacific Shores Nature Resort in Nanoose Bay, BC.
In 2017, Stew was thrilled to play guitar and sing in his friend’s band, “The Relics”, until his friend’s passing a few short months later. Meanwhile, Stew and Ann’s relationship grew, and he became a core member of her house band of musical friends, “The Willy-Nilly Band”. Stew and Ann’s “pandemic bubble” was full of games, laughs, a lot of love, and making music together. They were committed to living out the rest of their lives together, knowing how happy they would be.
Stewart was a devoted and loving father to his children, Zoe Olivia and Haydn James, of Parksville, BC. Stewart was a loyal son to his father, James (“Bert”) Albert Earnshaw, of Parksville, and he was a loving partner to Ann Rinehart of Nanaimo for over 4 years. Stewart was predeceased by his brother, Andrew, in 1998, and by his mother, Mary, in 2011.
Stewart will be remembered as a person with integrity and humility, who had unwavering love for his children, his family, his friends, and his “honeybunny”, Ann. Stew shared his music and joy wherever he went, and he will be dearly missed and never forgotten by all whose lives he touched. There will be a celebration of life in the spring or summer of 2022. In honour of Stewart, please consider donating to the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada or the Nanaimo Conservatory of Music whose goal is “enhancing lives through the transformative power of music.”