We have just heard the sad news that Troy Hurtubise died in a car-truck crash near his home town, North Bay, Ontario. We got to know Troy in 1998 when he was awarded an Ig Nobel Prize in the field of safety engineering, for developing, and personally testing, a suit of armor that is impervious to grizzly bears. Troy was an almost-Shakespearean character, with an added dash of Don Quixote. Troy’s bear quest, once begun, became lifelong. Now that Troy has exited life’s grand stage, one is almost compelled to say that, temperamentally, he exited, pursuing a bear.
Troy returned to the Ig Nobel ceremony the year after he won his prize, where he led a chorus of opera singers in paying tribute to his bear suit. Click here to see video of that stirring moment.
We stayed in touch, on and off, over the years as Troy pursued not just grizzly bears, but also a stream of sometimes overly-clever ideas involving electronic equipment, chemical substances, heavy construction machinery, spies, and the British Royal Family. We documented many of Troy’s adventures here, on the Improbable Research web site. Recent reports elsewhere tell of his adventures with coffee, hair, particles of dark matter, and life in general:
- “Hurtubise new invention all about plant and hair growth (VIDEO)” [Bay Today]
- “Troy Hurtubise wants Project Grizzly to roar one more time with better armour and a new movie” [Hamilton Spectator]
- “How inventor Troy Hurtubise stays awake and ‘completely coherent’ for 50 straight hours” [National Post]
- ” ‘Is the bear man supposed to work at Tim Hortons?’ ” [Sudbury Star]
The first seven years or so of Troy’s grizzly bear adventures are still on display in a documentary film called “Project Grizzly“, directed by Peter Lynch and produced by the National Film Board of Canada. Here is that film:
Here are some news reports about Troy’s death:
- “Police say ‘bear suit’ inventor Troy Hurtubise died in northern Ont. highway crash” [CTV News]
- “Police identify Troy Hurtubise as victim in Highway 17 crash” [CBC]
- “Local Inventor Hurtubise Died in Sunday Collision With Tanker” ]My North Bay Now]
- “Project Grizzly inventor identified as victim in fiery Ontario collision” [The Hamilton Spectator]
- “Project Grizzly’s passionate, plucky hero Troy Hurtubise never got his grizzly showdown” [The Star]
- The official obituary.
Troy was a most unusual person. When he heard a colorful, even fanciful, idea emerge from his mouth, he seemed to feel honor-bound to make that idea come true, no matter what. He was, until this unfortunate highway crash, a willfully mythical creature—often bound in a strange and wondrous suit of titanium, duct tape, hockey pads, and his own imagination—walking, running, and occasionally toppling over, ever eager to seek out (and if necessary collide with) his destiny.
We, and the world, will miss him.
Here are some further tributes to Troy.