Neil Robert James McBlain passed away unexpectedly at home on Sunday, November 1st, 2020 at the age of 48.
Neil is survived by his loving and supportive parents Tony and Rachel, younger brother Gary and his wife Christa, along with their boys Ben and Matthew, his Granny McBlain, his soul mate Kate, Auntie Jean and Uncle Bob, Auntie Leta and Richard, and many other aunts, uncles and cousins in Canada and Northern Ireland. Neil was especially fond of his Auntie Brenda, with whom he had a special bond.
Neil was born on February 20th, 1972 in Belfast, Northern Ireland before moving to Canada in 1977. He was a self-taught guitar wizard, picking up his first guitar at the age of 11 or 12. Neil learned to play by mimicking the notes he heard on the radio and never felt the need to read sheet music as playing came so naturally to him. He loved playing his Fender Stratocaster or Gibson Les Paul Classic and would quote the “These go to 11” scene from Spinal Tap to describe his preferred volume. His favourite songs to play were Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin and Voodoo Child by Jimi Hendrix, two artists that inspired and stoked Neil’s passion. When playing guitar, the music came from deep in his soul and he truly felt free.
Neil enjoyed his trips back to Northern Ireland with his Dad and most recently with Kate, to visit family and explore some of his favourite places. He was so pleased to have had the opportunity to watch a football match with his beloved team, Manchester United. Neil’s nephews Ben and Matthew would always ask if their favourite uncle was going to be at the traditional Sunday night dinner at Granny’s house. He loved playing soccer with the boys in the backyard and they often tried to stump each other with their riddles. Neil’s circle of friends was not defined by total numbers but by strength of relationships. It was evident by his close friends how much they loved him.
He was always curious about the world around him and had a natural love for learning. Neil was passionate about cars, electronics, technology and music, acquiring a collection of rare vinyl records. For many years, Neil worked as a heavy equipment mechanic and service manager where he developed meaningful friendships.
It’s impossible to capture the essence of a person in just words; all of the memories and time spent together, the conversations and laughter, the experiences and adventures of which life is comprised. These are just a few of our memories of our short time with Neil.
Special thanks to friends and family who have reached out with their thoughts and prayers. Tom and Laurie Merritt, thank you for providing us with support and guidance during this difficult time.
A memorial service for family and close friends will be taking place at Merritt Funeral Home in Smithville on Monday, November 9th at 11 am. The service will also be available through a zoom link below.
If desired, memorial donations to McMaster Children's Hospital would be appreciated by the family.
In the words of Jimi Hendrix,
“The story of life is quicker than the wink of an eye, the story of love is hello and goodbye…until we meet again.”
Whenever you hear a blistering guitar solo, think of Neil.
Please click the link below to join the ZOOM webinar: