Richard Arthur Norwood “Dick” Bonnycastle, a publishing mogul and passionate advocate for waterfowl conservation who served on Delta Waterfowl’s board of directors, died March 8. He was 88 years old.
Bonnycastle graduated from the University of Manitoba in 1956, where he studied communications. After starting his career as a life insurance underwriter, he founded Cavendish Investing Ltd., in 1968. He also co-owned and operated Harlequin Enterprises, a company known throughout the world for publishing the popular Harlequin romance novels.
A lifelong duck hunter, Bonnycastle, of Chestermere, Alberta, frequented a hunting camp at Manitoba’s Delta Marsh in the early 1970s. He became aware of the waterfowl studies being conducted at the Delta Waterfowl and Wetlands Research Station, and soon befriended long-time Delta science director H. Albert Hochbaum.
“I got involved with Delta because I was interested in the research,” Bonnycastle said during a 2016 interview. “I liked the science, and I got to know Al Hochbaum and (Station manager) Peter Ward.”
Hochbaum and Bonnycastle became fast friends over their shared interests of waterfowl science and publishing. Bonnycastle prompted Delta’s renowned scientist friend to write and illustrate “To Ride the Wind,” a story that follows the life cycle of a canvasback. Bonnycastle published Hochbaum’s book in 1973, with a reprinting of 10,000 copies in 2008 to raise funds for waterfowl conservation.
“Hochbaum’s canvasback book wasn’t the kind of book my company (usually) published, so I had to fight to get it through,” Bonnycastle said during the 2016 interview.
An exceptionally successful businessman, Bonnycastle served on more than 50 company boards across a spectrum of publishing, investing, and other enterprises. He was a generous philanthropist for many causes, including waterfowl conservation.
Bonnycastle was involved with Delta Waterfowl for more than 40 years as a board member, honorary board member, adviser, and major donor. He was a Platinum Lifetime sponsor of Delta Waterfowl.
“Dick Bonnycastle firmly believed that waterfowl and wetland conservation must be grounded in sound science,” said Dr. Scott Petrie, chief executive officer for Delta Waterfowl. “He was a strong voice for Delta’s scalable wetland protection programs, and a very good friend to many of us at Delta Waterfowl. He made a tremendous impact for ducks and duck hunters, and he will be missed.”
Equally comfortable in a business suit or wearing a cowboy hat and boots, Bonnycastle had great affinity for cattle ranching and horse racing. He owned the Goose Lake Cattle Co., Bar TH Ranching Ltd., and Harlequin Ranch, a thoroughbred horse racing stable. His wife Kathy, who survives him, shared his interest in horses. A former president of the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society, Bonnycastle owned numerous racehorses. One of his prized horses named Gold Strike foaled Rich Strike, the winner of the 2022 Kentucky Derby. — Paul Wait