Before he turned to municipal politics, Rod Nichol’s career in the RCMP took him to various parts of B.C. and the Yukon. He was first posted to Sooke in 1971, then transferred to Shawnigan Lake, back to Sooke and then to Duncan. He later served in Nelson, Nakusp and Rossland.
“Then I became a dog handler, and I did the (1976) Montreal Olympics. I was there for three months on the explosive detail. And then I re-trained the dog for narcotics and went to Burnaby detachment.”
In 1978, when newly married to his wife Lynn, Nichol and his dog Lance transferred to the Comox Valley, where they received specialized training to provide avalanche rescue services.
“I was the first dog handler for Vancouver Island,” said the Saskatchewan-born Nichol, 63, a father of two boys. “I opened up the dog service here.”
He left the service in 1984 and was transferred to New Hazelton in Northern B.C., where he was second in charge. He then went to the Yukon. He didn’t mind the isolated posts.
“I liked the isolation because you had a much closer relationship with the community. I really enjoyed it. You’re not only a policeman, you’re everything. When you get transferred into these small areas, right away they say, ‘There’s somebody to help. He can be on the curling rink committee, he can be on this committee.’ You’re on all the committees for the town because you’re there and you helped. You just automatically were included in all the volunteer work.”
He returned to the Island, first in Tahsis and then back to the Valley where he served as watch commander. He retired from the RCMP on April 2, 1995.
“I wouldn’t do it on April the first.”
Switching his focus to politics, Nichol was elected Area C director in 1997 but lost his post to Kel Kelly in the next election.
“I just didn’t have the energy to fight a campaign. I was recovering from brain surgery at that time.”
During his time in office, Nichol suffered a “brain bleed” due to a mid-brain tumour that could not be removed because it was wrapped around heart and lung nerves. He underwent two months of radiation but was only given a few years to live. But year after year, he has continued to defy the medical odds.
Last year, after some prodding by a few people, he decided to run for Area B director in the fall election. He wound up unseating Jim Gillis by earning 73 per cent of the vote.
“They (campaign team) worked very hard for me,” said Nichol, an avid golfer. “We covered over 3,000 homes. We walked every road in Area B…I’m a real hands-on person.”