It is with profound sadness that Mike’s family announced his unexpected passing in LaVerendrye Hospital on January 27, 2023, due to complications of his old enemy – diabetes.

Mike was born in Fort Churchill Manitoba Military Hospital March 8, 1957 – the first child of Marilyn Matchett Bell and Ivan Bell When he was six months of age, the family returned home. Fort Frances was home to Mike, and where he spent the rest of his life. He grew up carefree, with all the kids on River Drive, before starting his working years in the paper mill here.

He had a great, life-long passion for fishing. With his paper route earnings as a kid, the first thing he bought was a fish tank full of of fish. A standing family joke was that he could catch walleyes in any mud muddle. The cabin on Little Turtle Lake in Mine Centre was his happy place to spend time, whenever he had the chance. He spent countless time as a boy, then as a man pursuing his love of fishing and enjoying the surrounding lakes, which he knew like the back of his hand.

Portaging and safaris into remote lakes and secret fishing holes with buddies was what he would call a good day. He made a lot of his own fishing tackle and collected recipes on anything to do with preparing, smoking, pickling and cooking fish. If you were lucky enough to be invited over, you may have enjoyed one of his walleye fish fry’s or his chicken Kiev made from scratch. He was the first one to tell you he didn’t do desserts.

When he was 35 years old, he was struck down with a number of debilitating strokes due to a very rare genetic syndrome Moyamoya, which caused life-long problems with mobility and vision. He spent the rest of his life with his vision markedly impaired, dealing with 40 per cent peripheral bilateral blindness. This stole a great deal of his independence. He could no longer drive, and one of the hardest things he had to do was give up his new Harley Davidson, which he so prized. He kept many memories of road trips to places such as Sturgis, South Dakota and other wild rides on his Harley.

He was a determined fighter, with a goal to get back to his job. He was able to do that some six years later, with the full support of his Doctor, Dr. John Nelson. After 29 years of work in the paper mill, he retired in 2014.

Friday nights at the Legion were a time to socialize with many friends. He was always quite lucky with winning tickets for the meat box and other draws. He took a lot of ribbing from the guys each time he won. Mike had a wicked sense of humour, a quick wit, glib tongue and quick come-back. His dry comments and observations could be very amusing and entertaining. His friends often said that he had missed his calling in life – he would have been a hilarious stand-up comic.

Mike is survived by his mother, Marilyn Matchett Bell; brother Lindsay; sister-in-law Lesley, niece Jastra; aunts Cora Thompson Schorsch of Chicago; Naida Wolff of Thunder Bay; Carol (Jack) Booth of Devlin; uncle David H. Bell of Fort Frances, and his Schorsch, Wolff, Booth, Bell, Fults, Gushulak, Bodnarchuk and Flinders cousins. He especially greatly valued the close friendship of his best bud, Mark Faragher. Their friendship went back decades together. Mark was always there for him.

Predeceasing him were his beloved father, Ivan Bell in 2016; grandparents William and Ruth Bell; Andrew and Grace Mudge Matchett; Uncle Gordon M. Bell in WW2 France; Uncles Larry Thompson of Mine Centre; Carl, Lindsay and Vernon Matchett; aunts Lois Flinders and Lillian Schmelzle; aunts Patricia McCuaig and Marie Bodnarchuk, special cousins Clay Flinders, Diane Fults; Martin Bell and Andrea Booth Silander.

Honouring Mike’s wishes, there will be no services. His final resting place will be with his family in the Matchett Plot, Riverside Cemetery, Fort Frances, Ontario.

Mike – you have crossed over your last portage. You have cast your last line. Now it’s time for a well-deserved rest. You will be so greatly missed by those who love you.

“May the holes in your net be no larger than the fish in it.” (Old Irish blessing.)