My name is Nikki Reimer. I was an only child for six years.
In 1985, after suffering through four miscarriages, my mother got pregnant, and on January 19, 1986 I was sent to my grandparents’ house because my mother went into labour. We spent half the day at mom and dad’s and then went over to Baba and Dido’s house. At just after 6:32 p.m. my dad called to Baba and Dido’s to let me know that I had a baby brother.
As I would tell my father later, my heart turned over.
His name was Christopher John Joseph Reimer. John after John Reimer, my dad’s dad, and Joseph after Joseph Cherwoniak, my mom’s dad.
On February 21, 2012 I got another call. Via my mom’s cousin, via my husband.
My beautiful, talented, sweet, smart, amazing, lovely, handsome, wonderful brother died in his sleep at the age of 26.
This is for him.
Chris passed away unexpectedly and peacefully in his sleep at his home on the morning of Tuesday, February 21, 2012 of a possible heart condition. Chris Reimer was an adventurous and curious musician and composer whose talent was buttressed by generosity, compassion, empathy, gentleness and modesty. Chris was unwaveringly dedicated to his family and friends. An old soul with an acerbic wit and a twinkle in his eye, his talents also included drawing, writing, photography and entertaining his friends with such antics as his innovative and accurate Bill Cosby impression.
Born and raised in Calgary, Chris was close to immediate and extended family. He showed an early interest in music and performance. His career began as a member of the Yalenka Ukrainian dance company at the age of three and Youth Dance Unlimited at the age of ten. Chris started playing guitar at the age of eight and drums at the age of twelve; he played in concert and jazz bands in junior high and high school, and also began working musically with other like-minded friends in junior high. This early ‘jamming’ led to the formation of a number of bands.
Chris’ love of music was all-encompassing and his talent was a genetic gift from his father and through generations from both sides of the family. Surrounded by encouragement he strove to hone this raw talent and create his own voice. His creative outlets included designing and building effects pedals, recording and producing other groups and creating his own music. In addition to guitar and drums, he also played cello, bass and piano. He was a member of the bands Veritas, Beneath These Idle Tides, Azeda Booth, Women and Gold. He also played with San Francisco band The Dodos. Chris also developed a body of compositions of ambient music; friends hope to produce and release this music in the coming months.
Touring and performing took him across Canada, the United States, and many countries in Europe playing in venues including the Prima Vera Festival, SXSW Festival, Sled Island Festival, the CMJ Music Marathon and, in November 2011, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, in which he appeared with Neko Case and The Dodos. Chris’ defining personal characteristic was his gentle and giving nature. This was most strikingly evidenced by his joy in caring for his Baba Anne Cherwoniak’s physical and emotional health during the two years leading up to her death from ALS. He would lift her spirits, move and feed her, and was present at her last moments. Chris was also a supporter and friend to his mother Joanne, encouraging her own artistic forays and providing compassion and gentle nudging.
In the past year and a half, Chris received much love and support from his girlfriend Rena Kozak. They were musically and emotionally connected and made a great team.
Chris was predeceased by his grandparents Joseph and Anne Cherwoniak, and is lovingly missed by his parents Tim and Joanne Reimer, his sister Nikki Reimer and his brother-in-law Jonathon Wilcke, his girlfriend Rena Kozak, grandmother Vera Frey, innumerable extended family and friends.
The celebration of Christopher’s life will be at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 29 at Knox United Church, 506 – 4th Street SW, Calgary, Alberta.
The family is planning to set up either a music scholarship or bursary in his name; details will be announced on this memorial blog once it is ready. In lieu of flowers, donations for this fund may be made directly to Tim Reimer.
58 responses to “CJJR, 1986 – 2012”
I am so sorry for your loss. Your brother made an incredible music, which made a huge difference in my life. He will be sorely missed.
Thank you Jason
I am sorry to here about your brother Chris please know you and your family are in my thoughts x
( was nurse from Dr Metherells office )
Seriously can’t get over how crazy this is. I spoke with him in late 2010 after a show in Columbus. I’m sorry for your loss. It was a collective loss for all of us. I’m glad you created this page. Thank you for sharing the love of your brother.
He was a beautiful musician and such a generous and humble guy. He will be remembered and missed.
I sending all my love to you and your parents Nikki. Chris was very important in the lives of so many people. He brought love and touched those he knew including all of those in my family. We are devastated for your loss.
Very sorry for your loss. J Zubot
Nikki, I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t find words how incredibly inspiring and talented musician Chris was. We’ve never met but I’m pretty sure that he was a greatest guy in the whole world. I’ll be miss him. Rest in peace, Christopher.
I’m sorry for your loss. I didn’t know Chris but I know so many in this community loved him and his music… and it’s so hard to make sense of how a tender young man has to leave us now. May peace somehow find all who are grieving.
This is devastating your brother’s music continues to be an inspiration and a solace in these bleak days and he will not be forgotten by me anytime soon.
The people who knew him should know how far Women’s music has gone in changing this world. I know how much its influenced me, and I just want to show support to Christopher Reimer’s loved ones. In this day and age, artists never truly know how far their music has spread, and this is me paying homage to one of my favorites. Thanks for you time
Daniel Reginald Henderson
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Loved his music. Terrible loss. Rest in peace.
He will be missed.
your brother’s music and guitar playing still amazes me to this moment. stuff that inspires me and pushes me to play better. such sad news to hear this morning as i woke up. my condolences are with you and your family. rest in peace, christopher.
This is terrible news. I’m sorry for your family’s loss.
we lost a great man today.
i’m not a person who knew christopher personally, but he helped make two complex pieces of sound that no one else will ever be able to reproduce. may his soul rest peacefully.
i can’t even tell you that no one is the same as you.
The music that Christopher made changed my life for the better. He will forever be remembered. RIP.
I remember Chris as a very charismatic and likable person.
He was strongly committed to artistic performance from a young age.
My strongest memory involving Chris involves spending an afternoon with his father at a bingo hall when I was in high school. We were fundraising for Chris’ dance company (I believe it was Decidedly Jazz). Nikki was supposed to go but she took ill the day before and I was asked to fill in. We went to his rehearsal later in the afternoon to pick him up. It was a beautiful sunny day.
I have always been proud to be a friend of the Reimer family. My heartfelt condolences go out to them.
How unexpected and saddening.
I never knew him, only his music through Women,
proundly sorry for your loss, not to mention ours
This is incredibly heartbreaking news. I’m so so very sorry to hear of your loss. I hope you are surrounded by loved ones in this sad time. We’ll remember your brother fondly always.
R.I.P. Chris. Loved seeing Women many times, and most recently saw Chris supporting Dodos across Canada.
Chris always seemed like a very intelligent, yet funny and humble musician.
Nikki, very sorry to hear of the loss of Chris. I am one of those lucky enough to have met him when we played a show supporting Women in London, uk. They were all kind and friendly people who had time for others, especially those who were inspired by their music of which your brothers talent was obviously a huge part. He has left behind a strong following of people who love what he did, something which most musicians will only dream of achieving. It’s a terrible shame he had to go so young. Look after yourselves, rest in peace Chris.
Chris’ music made a huge impact on me. I’m sorry for your loss. He will be missed.
Nice guy. Met him a few times (through Morgan) when he and Mike were playing with Azeda Booth. They had some great times and created some magic evenings on stage. He was always laid back, and always chatted for a few minutes. I know that other musicians held him in high regard for the music he played. Without any real fanfare, he helped make a musical mark on peoples lives. His star burned pretty bright….
Setting aside my own selfish mourning, for the reality of not getting to hear more beautiful music created by your brother; I sent to you, and your family, warmth and strength through this terrible time.
I can tell you that today (and on many, many days in the years to come), I will play the Women records, *loudly*, and will be ever-grateful for the beautiful (and wonderfully challenging) sounds that Christopher took large part in creating. I only got to see them perform live, once, but Christopher’s playing and singing was a beautiful thing to behold.
This is so sad.
Chris was one of the first people I ever interviewed, and still the nicest. So friendly and patient and encouraging.
My thoughts are with him, his friends, and family.
It can’t be said enough: Your brother’s music was an inspiration.
I am terribly sorry for you and your family’s loss. He was an incredibly talented, unique and inspiring guitar player and I am sure that the same thread was woven throughout his approach to the rest of his life.
I’m so very sorry, Nikki. I hardly know you and didn’t know your brother, but I can imagine, probably badly, what a stinging loss you’re feeling.
Terrible loss. Condolences for the family. R.I.P. Chris
I’m so sorry for your loss, and for your family’s loss. I don’t know if it means anything, but I remember hearing the first Women album from a friend just after it started getting attention, and being utterly spell-bound by it. I was lucky enough to see them play Newcastle in the September of 2010, and it was a remarkable performance. I dug out Public Strain this afternoon in tribute – it’s still a magnificent record. Your brother made some beautiful art that touched a lot of people, all over the world. Christopher, you’ll be missed.
What an amazing musician. Sad to see him go.
I’m so sorry for your loss. Women was one of my favorite bands ever.
I’ve never met the guy but I can say that the guitar work for Women was always incredible and unique. R.I.P Christopher. Seemed like a great guy. ‘Public Strain’ will forever be one of my favourite albums ever.
Thanks for this. Me, I didnt know him, but I love his music. As it stands it overpowers the thought of never hearing him play anything new. I wish his life and your memories will serve you and his other loved ones in a similar way.
I am really saddened to hear that such an amazingly talented and honest musician has left us. To you, Nikki, and to your family and all friends and fans, Chris will be missed dearly. I adore WOMEN, and I consider it some of the best real music produced in the last two decades –Viva Chris! May you have pie, kisses, liquor and sweet lullabies wherever you rest.
Guitarist for one of the best bands of the past decade, can’t believe it.
So sorry for your loss, and for every music lover’s loss of this incredible artist.
This is a huge loss, yet we can take solace in the fact that Christopher, during his brief existence in physical form, was able to achieve greatness and create something eternal. He did not really die – he ascended to a higher plane of consciousness.
My daughter’s heart hurts over such sad news and my heart hurts for her and your whole family Nikki So young and talented, keep your family close and warm with love. Our condolences The Zoratti’s and Wysocki’s
I’m saddened by the loss of a great guy and a great musician.
I was lucky enough to spend time with him and even luckier to be a fly on the wall as Mike and him would jam on various occasions.
My love goes out to you and your family.
Just wanted to leave my most sincere condolences to you and your family and Chris’s friends. I lost my father to cancer a few years ago, obviously a different situation but i know how much the loss of a loved one hurts. He made wonderful music that I listen to every day, and is a big part of my life. Thanks for sharing this wonderful blog.
I have some vivid memories of hanging out with Chris at the back of Mrs. Macfarlane’s music class behind all the percussion instruments. We were laughing and goofing around most of the time rather than taking the class seriously. I remember him being such a genuinely kind, talented and super fun guy. He will be missed. My prayers go out to you Nikki and your family during this difficult time.
my heart goes out to you and your family and of course rena / all his closest friends…i cannot say enough about chris- i loved him like a brother and he always made me feel special every time i saw him (he was one of the few people who really understood me i think ) – i was always flattered that he thought anything of me at all and am so thankful that i got to spend some time with him /reconnect before he left us – worked with him and rena the night of his passing and at the very least got to hug him goodbye/tell him i loved him (one last time, if i only would’ve known ….i was booking a gig for us the morning i got the call )…..
it was an honor to of known chris, let alone tour/make music with the man- (and all the ‘women’ lads of course, despite the tougher times it was always magic to watch those guys play together and filled me pride and joy…i’ll cherish those times forever). he was a true champion and will never be forgotten. r.i.p. my lovely friend.
I love Women and saw Chris play with them many, many times. I’m so sorry about your loss, he was an amazing musician and way too young. R.I.P. Chris.
Chris’ music will continue to bring meaning to my life.
Women music is honest and will remain with us as something especial, like a needle in a haystack. Very sorry for the loss Nikki. terrible and unexpected
I will absolutely never forget this amazing dude. His was an incredible subtlety.
I’m very sorry for your loss. It seemed to me that Christopher had a great future ahead of him as a musician… Coincidentally, I ordered the Public Strain LP on Monday. I had been keeping up hopes to see Women live someday, as I didn’t catch them last time they were in Europe…
His music will live on. This is all very sad. I hope we all can move on one day…
Nikki, I am deeply sorry for you and your family’s loss. I first knew of Chris through Women, who I saw perform in my hometown of Regina, SK in late 2008 and again in May, 2009. In the summer of 2009 my parents traveled to Alberta for a Reimer family reunion. Their names are Jeffrey & Dodie Reimer. They met Chris (and quite possibly yourself) at the reunion and arrived home with the amazing news that the guitarist for one of my favourite bands is actually my second cousin. Eventually, Women came to play in Regina again, and after the show I made sure to speak with Chris and introduce myself. I was proud knowing that a member of my extended family was such a talented musician, and I am glad that I had the chance to meet him. My most sincere condolences, he will be truly missed.
I was highly regarded by our son Javi, he only had good things to say about him and his music. Ours thoughts are with you, your family and all his friends.
It was this monday that I was telling my girlfriend about seeing Women play in Amsterdam, and that afterwards I told the guitarist that I liked his playing and that he gave me a hand and asked me my name. That was the most positive reaction I had ever had from a member of a succesful band, when I made him a compliment. I read about the bad news on wednesday, and I felt sad. I am very sorry for your loss.
Cousins Warren and Neil insisted we go to the Women/Liars show in Ottawa, where I was lucky enough to meet Chris. We shared drinks, stories and a few shots. It didn’t take long to realize we had friends and interests in common. I was left with such a great impression that Warren has continued to let me know Chris stories, whether it’s performing on Jimmy Fallon, or just the special relationship he had with his Grandma. We only met once, but he was the kind of cool that meant you would never forget him. Rest in peace Chris, you and your family are in my thoughts.
Just found out. No words can explain how I felt when I discovered it. I never met your brother and I never got to see Women live. I did buy a ticket to see them in Florence back in november 2010 but then their european tour was cancelled. I kept repeating myself “You have to see them live”. As a musician your brother had “that something” that’s been able to deeply touched me. I writing from Italy, that’s where I am from. Your brother’s magical essence got here as well.
I am so sorry
God, I’m so sorry. I just saw your tweets, wondered, went to your timeline…. I’m sending love and warmth, shedding a tear so that maybe you may shed one less. I wish I knew what to say. It’s so deeply wildly unfair to lose someone so young, but fair isn’t in the rules. Grieve how you need to. This site is a beautiful tribute. Well done.
I’m so sorry for your loss.
I found out today of Chris’ passing. I knew Chris roughly five years ago in a brief moment of passion and intimacy. Though we never kept in touch, occasionally I would run into him when he passed through on tour, always a smile and a laugh. He was a very good soul. Sorry for your loss.
It is hard to look up to anyone the way I looked up to a musician like Chris. Before his passing I was eagerly awaiting to hear more from him. He was a true talent that you rarely see in people ever. I am so very sorry.
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