Edmonton cosplayer remembered for his dedicated portrayal of X-Men character at Alberta conventions

·3 min read
Dale Kliparchuk, known to some as Canada Wolverine, died on June 25 after losing his battle with pancreatic cancer. (Mary Hutson/MKM Photography - image credit)
Dale Kliparchuk, known to some as Canada Wolverine, died on June 25 after losing his battle with pancreatic cancer. (Mary Hutson/MKM Photography - image credit)

A well-known Edmonton cosplayer is being remembered for his frequent renditions of Marvel Comics' Wolverine after he died last month.

Dale Kliparchuk, known to local pop culture enthusiasts as Canada Wolverine, died on June 25 after battling pancreatic cancer. He was 54 years old.

Now social media is being flooded with tributes to the man who was a staple at pop culture conventions in Alberta, and would rock his pointed Wolverine hairstyle and mutton chops when hitting the town in Edmonton.

"He did it out of a true love for Wolverine," said long-time friend Jenn Reay. "He really identified with the rough and gruff loner-type aspect of the character."

Among the tributes is one from Edmonton actor Mark Meer, who frequently saw Kliparchuk whenever he was a guest at the Edmonton or Calgary expos.

Meer didn't know the man well but was happy to see Kliparchuk, who would often visit his booth and was "something of a fixture" in the Alberta convention scene, he said.

"At any cultural event, whether it's a theatre festival or a comic book convention, you're going to see people again and again, especially if you attend the same one," Meer said.

"Dale was somebody who was there all the time."

Organizers of the Edmonton and Calgary expos also posted tributes to Kliparchuk on social media.

"He channelled the look and spirit of Wolverine and that'll be exactly what we remember him for," Calgary Expo organizers said on Twitter.

Reay wishes Kliparchuk could have seen the tributes, she said.

Wolverine, a well-known anti-hero in the Marvel Comics universe, first appeared in an Incredible Hulk comic in 1974. But he's mainly known as part of the X-Men.

Marvel Comics
Marvel Comics

His defining characteristics include mutton chops, hair that curls up on the left and right sides, and retractable bone claws covered in a fictional metal called adamantium. Wolverine is known as a loner who acts on his own whim.

Kliparchuk's Instagram account had over 800 photos of himself as the character.

He started appearing at conventions as Wolverine in 2014, said Reay. Kliparchuk saw parts of himself in the character as portrayed by Hugh Jackman, who played the role of Logan and Wolverine in films over a 17-year span.

Kliparchuk was initially hesitant about appearing in public as the Marvel character, but quickly embraced it after getting a lot of positive feedback at his first convention, said Reay, who also cosplays.

"He always liked geek movies and geek stuff, but he kind of looked down on cosplay and he kind of looked down on comic con as something that was for nerdier folk than him," she said.

"But as soon as he came out… everybody started taking his picture."

Submitted by Jenn Reay
Submitted by Jenn Reay

Kliparchuk later founded Heroes Unleashed, a volunteer organization where he, Reay and others would appear as comic book characters at charities or charitable events, such as Ronald McDonald House.

He made up to 10 appearances each year through the organization, said Reay.

"Anyone who'd contact us in need of a superhero, he would show up," she said.

"He really enjoyed the volunteer aspect of cosplay — getting up in your costume and making people happier."

Outside of cosplay, Kliparchuk was a born-and-raised Edmontonian who worked as a combative sports consultant. He was a vice-chairman for the now-defunct River Cree Combative Sports Commission, where he worked to bring mixed martial arts events to the River Cree Casino.

He also made constable with the Edmonton Police Service before being dismissed from the force in late 1980s.

A celebration of life event will be held in Kliparchuk's memory on July 14 at the On the Rocks pub on Jasper Avenue.

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