Dec 29, 1925 – Feb 23, 2018
Long time resident and well known owner of Fishermen’s Lodge for 37 years, passed away peacefully, quietly and gently in wonderful hospice care.
Al was born on a farm in the small prairie town of Keddlestone, Saskatchewan, the 5th of 6 children born to Victor and Hazel Thompson. Al had happy memories growing up on the farm. When the farm was sold, he, his younger brother Ken and parents moved to Regina for a few years and then the family moved to Nanaimo. Al stayed in Regina waiting for his call-up to the navy. After his navy discharge he joined his family in Nanaimo. Al had a restless nature in those days and saw a freighter tied at the wharf – he signed on and was off to Japan with a load of Nanaimo coal and from there to New Zealand where he left the ship, found work and got married.
He returned to Nanaimo and put down roots – and became the father of 4 children. In the late fifties, he and his family moved to Courtenay to work for Crown Zellerbach. Al was born a “people” person and soon joined the Elks Lodge and was an active member. During this time, Al went through difficulty when he became a single father of four young children. With the help of his Mom and friends, he coped as best as he could, but life had changed for them. One Saturday night, he met Pat – also a single parent and they knew they would spend their lives together. With a leap of faith and love, the families joined together and became one.
Al worked hard to earn their living and Pat worked hard as a stay at home Mom. As time went on, Al was asked to take over management of the Elks Lounge and building. Al took the job and had finally found his calling. All went well until a fire burned down the building. Al and a respected contractor drew up plans which were accepted by the members and construction began. When the lodge opened, it became the place to go! At the time, only members could use the Lounge and membership grew by leaps and bounds. Al was a well liked Manager and when he gave his resignation after thirteen years, the membership asked him to stay, but, Al was off on a new adventure and on March 19th, 1979, Al and Pat bought Fishermen’s Lodge – a former hotel which needed a lot of TLC.
Al set to work – the area was growing and many new homes were being built, a golf course opened and he felt that if he gave the locals a well managed country pub, they would come. The building was enlarged, the lounge remodeled, a patio built and a full kitchen added. Sons, Brian and Allan Jr. both came to work for their Dad. It soon became a popular and busy pub. Sadly, Brian was lost in a tragic car accident and Al Jr. became Manager and was until it sold last October.
Soon “Big Al” began to take a little time away. He and Pat enjoyed travelling. They took motorhome trips across Canada to Newfoundland to an Elks Convention. Drove the Alaska Highway twice to visit family, went to Palm Springs in February’s for a month in the sun. They visited Maui several times and then took many cruises.
Al was always a particular dresser – starch in his shirts, a crease in his pants and shiny shoes. Al loved donning his tux and white dinner jacket, relaxing and enjoying the world go by – chatting with everyone on board. In his many years at the pub, he sponsored a ball team, a ladies golf club and a men’s skin club. He hosted many birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, wakes, Halloween costume parties and Hawaiian nights. But, his favourite was the Polar Bear Swim at Saratoga Beach. Ribbons for all, trophies and bonfires and whether high tide or low, rain or snow, he was on the beach to do the countdown. He did this every year for 35 years and loved it. The Oyster River First Responders were always there and also a few of the Campbell River Pipe Band to pipe the swimmers into the water. Then off to the pub for a busy day.
The Fishermen’s motto was – “You’re a Stranger Only Once” and his staff lived up to Al’s motto.
Over many years, Al enjoyed many other activities. He was an Exalted Ruler and life member of the Elks. He was President of the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce in Expo year. Al enjoyed boating and owned several over the years. He had great fishing adventures with his chums (or so he told Pat!). He had a love of horses and owned two and loved getting out for a ride. Every October, he and Al Jr. and pals would be off to Alberta for two weeks of bird hunting. Summer was golf time and he enjoyed getting out for a round with his skin club men, his son and even his grandsons. He hit a good ball for “The Old Man” and golfed into his late eighties.
Summer was also gardening time – Al had a beautiful garden of which he was very proud and enjoyed talking to the neighbours or people out for a walk who stopped to admire his yard. In his younger years, he was an avid curler – he taught Pat to curl and with friends, they were often off to a bonspiel somewhere. He was a good fan of the Canucks, Lions and loved the Blue Jays. In winter, to pass the dreary days, Al enjoyed “Doodle Art” and for many years was known as the family artist.
Al began to experience health problems in his late eighties and wasn’t able to go to the pub much, so Al Jr. took full control of the business for which his Dad was very grateful. Al’s health never improved and he lived quietly for the past two years, loved and lovingly cared for by Pat, his wife of 58 years.
The pub sold last October and when a goodbye gathering was held there, there were many people giving him handshakes and hugs and people speaking to thank Al for all he did for his customers over the years. Al had met and welcomed locals and visitors to the area and even movie star Robert Duvall who made several visits while in the area filming a movie. He told Al that he loved the pub. Al lived a full life – his bucket list was full.
Predeceased by his parents, his son Brian and was the last of his siblings. He was a devoted husband and loving Dad – Grandad to 11 and great grandfather many times over.
Left with love and great memories are his large and extended family – Al and Pat’s kids as one – wife Pat, daughters Sheryl Rae – Robin and Angella, Allana Stevenson (Gary), Nicole and Clayton, Cathy Pearson (Rick) – Jason, Jeffrey and David, Susan Williams –
sons Allan (Robin) Trevor and Shawn, Allon Williams (Joanne), daughter-in-law Joan Miller – Christopher and Matthew. Many nieces and nephews and longtime close friends who Al was always happy and grateful to see when they visited.
The family invites all to join them on Saturday April 14, 2018 from 2-4 pm at the Elks Lounge on 6th Street in Courtenay for a Celebration of Life.
“I LIVED, I LAUGHED, I LOVED, I TRAVELED EACH AND EVERY HIGHWAY
OH YES – BUT MORE THAN THIS…..I DID IT MY WAY.”