Mary Isitt sits near the memorial that has sprung up in honour of Robert Schram, whom many as Mr. Beads for his artwork. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Mary Isitt sits near the memorial that has sprung up in honour of Robert Schram, whom many as Mr. Beads for his artwork. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Sidney, Saanich Peninsula mourn the death of Mr. Beads

Bead artist Robert Schram was a familiar, well-loved figure in Sidney and beyond

Residents in Sidney and across the region are mourning the death of Robert Schram, whom most simply knew as Mr. Beads for his artwork.

News of his death, shared widely on social media, sparked an outpouring of sympathies. The most visible expression appeared just outside the Sidney Museum and Archives where a memorial includes flowers and a card. Standing at the centre of this memorial is Schram’s old chair where he beaded, a photograph, flowers and an old red baseball cap – resting in place of its former occupant.

A long-time friend said Schram died Saturday afternoon of unknown causes in the home where was staying, adding that police are not treating the death as suspicious. Schram was said to be 57 and close to celebrating another birthday, according to his friend.

Originally from Ontario, Schram has had a history of institutionalization and addiction, having lived most of his adult life on the streets with stays in Toronto and Vancouver before coming to Sidney some nine years ago, where he also lived for most of the time on the streets, before finding shelter.

If Schram found himself living on the margins of society at large, he was nonetheless a part of Sidney’s community, striking up conversations and forging friendships through his beading, which could earn him $300 and up per design, as he told the Peninsula News Review in an interview from 2016. “I do anything, anything anybody asks me, all different types of pictures,” he told the PNR at the time.

RELATED: The man behind the beads on Sidney’s Beacon Avenue

That community of friends now mourning Schram’s death includes Mary Isitt, who had been working with others to get him into housing since she found him very sick at the end of November.

“We just managed to get him into a boarding house in Sidney just before the last snow storm,” said Isitt, who last month cited Schram’s personal struggles as an illustrative example of the larger issues facing the homeless in the community.

“Our homeless population is here to stay and we need to come up with rapid solutions to provide them with shelter and other necessary support,” she said in a letter to council.

Isitt, who kept an eye on Schram for the last two years, described him as a person who was pleasant to everyone.

This appreciation of Schram’s humanity appears widespread. “In spite of his challenges, he tried hard to be positive,” wrote Nichole Bengtsson on Facebook. “He always did say hi and he was part of our community.”

Standing near the memorial, Isitt said a lot of people looked out for Schram.

“Such a good soul,” she said. “Hopefully, he has gone to a better place.”

The Peninsula News Review has reached out to Sidney/North Saanich RCMP for comment and will update this story accordingly.


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Eli, left, Brent, Lindsay and Ava Wilson. (Photo courtesy of Lindsay Wilson)
West Shore families share experience in raising a child with autism

Two families reveal some parallels, but circumstances are different for everyone

Kit Thornton, chief aquarist at the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea, plays with Wanda, the female Giant Pacific octopus currently residing at the centre. The centre will release Wanda back into the wild next month. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
An octopus named Wanda will soon say goodbye to Sidney

Wanda’s personality is ‘complete opposite’ of previous octopus named after Dr. Bonnie Henry

Hamels Fabrics & Quilting is set to open on April 6 in Sooke. The shop is located at 2044 Otter Point Road. (Mark Martins/Pixabay)
Fabric and quilting store opens doors in Sooke

Shop is filled with all kinds of ‘bright, bold and cheery’ designs

Saanich Fire Department on the scene after a car crashed into the Walmart in Uptown. (Photo courtesy Dan Wood)
PHOTOS: Saanich firefighters free trapped workers at Uptown Walmart

Incident reported as explosion after driver rammed through wall

Tiny packets of carrots ready to be distributed in Victoria. (Submitted/Victoria Seed Share)
Free Victoria seed sharing collective bags work experience funding

Fully volunteer run Victoria Seed Share will get a boost from provincial grant

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Organ donation form from BC Transplant. (BC Transplant)
POLL: Have you registered as an organ donor?

They number 1.5 million strong and growing. But their numbers still fall… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 6

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Librarian Katie Burns with the Fraser Valley Regional Libraries poses for a photo in Chilliwack on June 18, 2019. Monday, April 12, 2021 is Library Workers’ Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 11 to 17

Library Workers Day, That Sucks! Day, and Wear Your Pyjamas to Work Day are all coming up this week

Nanaimo RCMP are asking for the public’s help in identifying the man suspected of being involved in a stabbing. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo RCMP trying to identify stabbing suspect who wielded rusty knife

Stabbing followed argument between two men at Port Place Shopping Centre April 1

The inside of the Campbell River Community Centre gymnasium has been marked off in order to facilitate the public flowing through the clinic as they receive their COVID-19 vaccination. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell river Mirror
Leftover vaccines go into arms, not down the drain: Island Health

Immunization plan comes with built-in options for any unused vaccines at the end of the day

A man wears a face mask past the emergency department of the Vancouver General Hospital. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
Calls for stricter action in B.C. as COVID-19 variants projected to climb

Jens von Bergmann says the province has taken a ‘wait and see’ approach when early action is needed

Vancouver’s park board general manager issued a new order Friday restricting tents and other temporary structures from being set up in Strathcona Park after April 30, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver park board issues order to restrict tents in Strathcona Park

The order issued Friday restricted tents and other temporary structures from being set up after April 30

Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning says the players who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 are recovering and the team still intends to play a 56-game season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Canucks players ‘mostly on the other side’ of COVID outbreak: general manager

The athletes have had a “whole range” of COVID-19 symptoms, said team physician Dr. Jim Bovard, but no one has needed to be hospitalized

Most Read