O’Brien, who died of cancer in 2015, played a recurring character on the original series, which ran on CTV until 2009. The Victoria native appears in cartoon form next week on Corner Gas Animated, playing the same character— Wes Humboldt, owner of Dog River’s liquor store and insurance agency — as he did on the original series. His widow, Winnipeg-based Robin Summerfield, also makes a guest appearance.
The animated episode, titled Rum Punch, airs three days shy of the third anniversary of O’Brien’s death.
In the episode, Const. Karen Pelly (Tara Spencer-Nairn) and Sgt. Davis Quinton (Lorne Cardinal) find moonshine in the woods, which ends up helping Lacey (Gabrielle Miller) and Emma’s (Corrine Koslo) fundraiser for Wes’s widow, Robin.
Ironically, Wes, an insurance agent/ liquor store owner, left his wife without a life-insurance policy.
“Mike O’Brien was a truly beloved part of the Corner Gas family,” said creator, executive producer and star Brent Butt. “He was witty, pleasant, and just an all-around terrific guy.
“Beyond being loved, he was a valuable asset on a creative level because he was naturally very funny and could deliver a comedic line flawlessly. Losing him hurt, on a lot of levels. It seemed only natural and right we do something with Corner Gas Animated to honour his contribution to the original series. Having his wife Robin Summerfield participate in the episode was a real blessing.”
O’Brien graduated from Victoria High in 1981 and obtained his degree from the University of Victoria. During his time at UVic, he was editor of the student newspaper, The Martlet. O’Brien later worked in newspapers on Vancouver Island before moving to the Medicine Hat News and Regina Leader-Post. He secured a spot on Corner Gas after making the switch to acting, but once the show was cancelled he returned to writing, primarily at the CBC.
He died of metastatic synovial sarcoma on May 24, 2015, in palliative care at Winnipeg General Hospital.
Corner Gas Animated airs Mondays on the Comedy Network. The première episode, which aired April 9, was the most-watched première in Comedy Network history.