Herb Erickson was the Lakeland Archers’ oldest living archer. Born to a family living in a homestead on Pinehurst Lake, he was the seventh child of ten. In his childhood he was immersed in the wilderness and gained a great appreciation for the outdoors. He grew up surrounded by Indigenous boys from the Beaver Lake Cree Nation, who were exceptional archers. After repeated requests, one of his companions finally made a bow for him out of willow. He shot his first arrow between the ages of eight and nine. Thus began his passion for archery.
By eighteen years old, Herb was frequently practicing his shooting. He competed at his first provincial archery tournament in 1949. He only had a simple wooden bow, missing many elements that most of his competitors’ bows had. Even so, he astounded his competition with his incredible skill. His shooting method was not the typical aim and release method, but instead he shot by instinct. He fired very quickly, releasing an arrow seconds after the previous one was planted in the target. That 1949 tournament began a provincial winning streak lasting until 1957. That year, he began competing at the national level, and became the archery champion of Canada.
Not only was Herb Erickson known as an archer, but he was also an army veteran, trapper, and poet. In World War II, Herb enlisted in the army and was sent overseas to England. He was injured in the 1944 Battle of Dunkirk . A gunshot to his lower back left him vulnerable, and he was captured by German soldiers. They questioned him, but he refused to give up important information. Three days later, he was rescued by the Allied Forces.
After he was discharged from his duties in the war, the Canadian Army suggested that he join the travelling circus. However, Herb wanted to go home. He returned to the homestead that his parents had built and his life as a trapper. He had begun trapping at the age of sixteen; he was a trapper for 44 years and relied almost entirely on trapping for his income. During the Great Depression, Herb was able to trap squirrels and sell them for 9 cents per squirrel, a significant amount of money for the time. His peaceful, healthy lifestyle gave him time to write poetry about things that were important to him.
Herb Erickson was known as a gentle and fun person. He would commonly jump a lasso while spinning it and simultaneously playing the harmonica. With a quick hand, he did magic tricks that astounded those who watched. He used these tricks to amuse children at archery competitions. He was also a fantastic storyteller who could captivate an audience with tales of his trapping trade and the adventures he had experienced. Most importantly, he would help teach young archers and give them assistance if they needed it. His kindness, skill, and lifelong dedication to his craft has left him a hero in the archery world.
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Weber, M. (2000, April 24). The interesting life of Herbert Erickson. town and country, p. 5B.
Paul, D. (2003, June 9). The straight and arrow: Lakeland County resident still on target at 87. town and country, p. 14.
Johnson, G. A. (1999). Lac La Biche Chronicles (p. 296). Lac La Biche, Canada: Lakeland Interpretive Society.
Memento Funeral Chapel . (n.d.). Obituary for Herbert “Herb” Erickson. Retrieved from https://mementofuneralchapel.com/book-of-memories/3562945/erickson-herbert/obituary.php
Dubois, S. (2010, November 23). Nation’s oldest bow-man is Lakeland Archers’ Herb. Lac La Biche Post. Retrieved from https://www.laclabichepost.com/article/nations-oldest-bow-man-is-lakeland-archers-herb-20101123
Herb’s an old-time shooter. (2014, August 11). Lac La Biche Post. Retrieved from https://www.laclabichepost.com/article/herbs-an-old-time-shooter-20140811
Lakeland Archers. (n.d.). Profile of Herb Erickson. In http://www.lakelandarchers.ca/news-and-events/herb-erickson-profile. Retrieved from http://www.lakelandarchers.ca/news-and-events/herb-erickson-profile