In Loving Memory

Editor’s Note: This piece is in response to a special request we received after a tribute that appeared in ‘Larry Berrio’s Ontario – Installment Two’ which you can read here.

Facebook post - Norm Hein - 20 November 2015:  “To you from failing hands we throw the torch. Be yours to hold it high...”   Most of you have known that I was ill this summer and unable to enjoy our local talent: Jo Po, Lori Paradis, John Maki, Larry Berrio, Andre, Rod Bazinet and Vic Theriault.. On Nov 1st, I was hospitalized for five days. That's when life hit me in the face with a big black cast iron frying pan. I was diagnosed with stage four liver cancer, they used the words un-operational, not a suitable candidate for chemo. Before I go too much further, I'm feeling fine and no pain. When the pain commences, you will notice truckloads of medical pot being delivered to my house. I also promised Wally that I will be attending his 75th birthday in July (way out of the timeframe the doctors gave me). Time changes all and it's now time for my brothers and sisters to take the torch: STOP, STP, SSRU, Action Sudbury and The Freedom Riders Motorcycle Association of Northern Ontario, Inc.  Hold it high and proud like I did, LHR. Luv Normie."  

“Facebook is an interesting thing; it has changed the way we communicate,” mused Jim ‘Skid’ Robinson. “I think we almost broke it as news of Normie's passing spread across the world, and condolences started to flow back.” 

And so began the flood of stories from people who counted Norman Carl Hein (known as ‘Normie’ by family and friends) as a friend. If there’s one thing that came through very clearly in the emails, letters, Facebook messages and texts, it was that Normie was loved by many, and that he lived his life very much ‘out loud’.

Normie and his friend Sandy (Jim’s wife) at a train pull in Capreol in 2003

“If you asked Normie, he would tell you he was just a good old boy from Eganville,” laughed Jim. “If you let him go on a bit—and he always did—you would learn something that even Stephen Hawking does not know: Eganville is the centre of the Universe.” 

Jim knew Norm for over 35 years. They were Nickel Riders (and then Freedom Riders) together, and he was the one who drew Normie into the world of organized snowmobiling, a universe where Normie thrived and excelled. 

“We were members of Action Sudbury together. We spent a lot of time in meetings and a lot more sitting around bonfires. He was at home in any situation and pretty much with any person. Saints & sinners, cops & crooks – he seemed to know everybody and everybody seemed to know him. He gave loyalty unconditionally and got it back in return. When you got him, you got his friends. And he had so many friends.”

Normie and Jim on a motorcycle run in North Bay in 2004 

Claude Aumont, Strategic Partnership Coordinator with the Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation, was one of those people. “Normie was a personal friend and a tremendous strength in ‎the Sudbury Trail Plan. His full contribution to the sport is a tribute to the kind of man he was. He will be missed.”


Vassie Lumley agrees. “One thing that stood out the most about Normie was his dedication and love for snowmobiling and the Sudbury Trail Plan ,” she fondly remembers. “He slept with the radio beside his bed in his home (and during his last days) so that he could be in constant communication with all the groomer operators in the system. He was in touch with his guys ‘til the end.”

Norm and Vassie February 13 2015 READY

Normie’s love of snowmobiling was an inspiration to many. He ran operations for the Sudbury Trail Plan, the largest integrated regional snowmobile association in the province, for over 20 years. Under his watch, STP was a leading force how to manage trails. He was co-founder of the Snowmobile Trail Officer Patrol - and the sole author of the proposal that defined how a STOP Officer could be created.

Before his research, the Province had no idea that it could appoint volunteers as Special Constables and Provincial Offences Officers. “Imagine the surprise at the Mayor’s and Citizens Task Force on Snowmobiling when this burly biker-looking dude laid a volume on the table,” Jim recounts with the hint of a laugh. “It cited chapter and verse, describing which different pieces of legislation could accomplish this (the appointments). And all the research was done before the Internet existed.”


“Most people don’t know that the loveable mascot that Vassie and I have had on the back of our bike for the last 15 years was named after our (his and wife, Vassie) friend,” shared Don Lumley. “We will continue to ride with Normie…”  He paused. “Normie had a great sense of humour and loved to kid around and tease people. Sometimes, he would start a harmless rumour about something just to watch it make the rounds and see where it would go. He was a biker, a sledder, and a lover of music, but most of all, he was a truly extraordinary and remarkable person… loyal and generous to a fault.”


The list of organizations for which he volunteered for was long and varied: Canadian Special Olympics, National Summer Games, S.K.I.P, Operation Red Nose, Sudbury Santa Claus Parade, Operation Life Saver, Wellness Days, Arrive Alive Bottle Drive, Canadian National Boxing Championship, MCTV/Lions Club Christmas Telethon, Grad Extravaganza, Sudbury Rocks Marathon, Salvation Army Kettle Drive, C.P.Holiday Train and many more. In 2003 Norm was the recipient of The Outstanding Achievement Award for Voluntarism in Ontario, which was presented at a gala held in Science North.


Normie got to see firsthand just how much he was loved and appreciated at the two Music for the Soul benefits that were held just weeks before his passing. Larry Berrio was one of the performers, and his memories of Normie are as special as their friendship was deep. “Being the kind of guy he was, Normie gave all the money raised in his name to the Maison Vale Hospice.  He was so happy to be part of the presentation where we gave the $4,000.00 to the facility. We lost him just two days later. He is missed so much already.”

Love. Honour. Respect. Three words that Norm lived by, and it was those qualities he garnered from everyone around him. A true northern treasure, may he rest in peace.


Remembering Normie

To read Jim ‘Skid’ Robinson’s blog post and tribute to Normie, click here

To read Normie’s obituary, click here

To leave a tribute or message of condolence to Normie’s family, click here

To share your own story or photo in memory of Normie, click here

To visit Normie’s facebook page, click here

About KimberleeAnna "KAT" Taplay

KimberleeAnna Taplay (more widely known as "KAT") is an empty-nester and newly-minted class M rider who has a game plan, a "BikeIt" list, and a VStar with a full tank of gas. KAT is happiest when she and her ride —Ruby— are exploring country roads and wandering from event to event and destinations throughout Ontario. Whether travelling alone, alongside her mentor, or joining small groups along the way, KAT will be chronicling her travels and sharing both her adventures on the road and her moments of quiet reflection about everything it means to be a part of the motorcycling world.

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