Condolences pour in for Ruth Masters

Local politicians reflect upon one of the Comox Valley’s most beloved personalities

Rarely did a politician in the Comox Valley serve a term without some kind of correspondence from Ruth Masters. She was well known for keeping local political authorities on their toes, regarding all things near and dear to her heart.

Condolences and sentiments from local politicians have been pouring in since her passing.

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Comox Valley MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard:

I was very sad to hear of the passing of my multi-faceted friend, Ruth Masters. She was larger than life in her staunch defence of wildlife and the environment. It was empowering to see a woman, short in stature, but tall in conviction, standing up for what she believed and drawing us into action. She was very supportive of women – “we broads got to stick together” – and I benefited from her support and example through the years. Without natural borne children, her generous spirit netted her a loving family of friends who supported her so well through her final years.

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Comox Valley Regional District director Edwin Grieve:

I guess I can say, having grown up in the Comox Valley, that we have had some amazing individuals whose passion and dedication to our community set the bar so incredibly high for those who followed. Names like Sid Williams, Herb Bradley, Bob McPhee, Art Hobson have all passed away with Ruth Masters now the last to go.

Ruth, along with these others, were all members of the Comox District Mountaineering Club, which trails and cabins in the mountains and back country in the 1930s and 1940s. Later many in this group helped develop the Forbidden Plateau ski hill.

Many of the mountains, lakes and features bear names that were proposed by Ruth and others to the “Mapping and Survey” branch in Victoria.

Ruth, herself, hand-carved many of the cedar signs that still delineate the trails to this day.

It was also the CDMC members who lobbied in defence of environmental causes including a movement, by the government of the day, to remove mining and timber resource areas from protection in Strathcona Park.

Ruth Masters received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal from CVRD board chair Edwin Grieve in 2012.

The “Book of Remembrance” that rests in the Museum was lovingly compiled by Ruth in tribute to the Comox Valley servicemen who gave their lives for their country.

Pictures and stories gathered by Ruth ensure that their short lives will never be forgotten. She herself served in the Canadian Women’s Service Corps.

It was my great honour, as chair of the Comox Valley Regional District, to have been able to present Ruth with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal on behalf of the Governor General of Canada.

In her usual self-effacing manner she snorted, “I feel like you are parading me around like some prized heifer.”

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Comox Mayor Paul Ives:

We, at the Town of Comox, mourn Ruth’s passing. For many years, and long before it was a popular thing to do, she was a champion of environmental protection and enhancement in the Comox Valley and beyond. I met her for the first time when Comox Rotary was looking to build a roller blade hockey rink in the so-called Little Woods across from Comox Rec Centre. She was adamantly opposed to loss of trees in that area, and long story short, the project was eventually built during my year as Comox Rotary president in 1998/99 at a site next to Highland Park. Ruth was not only a champion of the environment, but also a very dedicated volunteer and community supporter. Whenever someone she knew well had passed away, she played a tune in tribute to that person on her harmonica at the celebration of life for that person. I know that we will miss seeing her, but will remember her spirit and dedication to our community.

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Cumberland Mayor Leslie Baird:

Ruth Masters was a fearless advocate for wildlife and the environment for decades. She demonstrated, wrote letters to elected officials, and donated 18 acres of land to the Comox Valley Regional District for the Masters Greenway and Wildlife Corridor, which provides habitat and a wildlife corridor for many threatened and endangered animals. In addition to leading by example, Ruth had excellent advice for the generations to follow her. She encouraged people to take action when they see something wrong, and to stick to their guns. Hers is a legacy to be proud of.

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Courtenay Mayor Larry Jangula:

I feel that Ruth was a very unique and special person who was very dedicated to saving nature and animals. She was not afraid to step forward and be counted when push came to shove. I also greatly admire the fact that she was also a distinguished World War II Veteran.

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Courtenay Councillor David Frisch:

It saddens me to hear that Ms. Ruth Masters has left us. Her character always stood out as one of integrity and leadership, and I am constantly reminded of her ability to contribute to the health and well-being of our community as I walk and jog through her donated trail network high above the Puntledge River. Her spirit certainly lives on.

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Courtenay Councillor Erik Eriksson:

When Ruth donated the land that became Ruth Masters Greenway, someone told her she could have sold the land for a million dollars. Ruth said, “What would I do with a million dollars – sit on the beach in Hawaii?” My wife Beverley and I visited with Ruth once a month for the last three years. I recounted that story to her many times and it always got a chuckle. We will miss Ruth. She was a very good person.

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