Thanks Dad, for giving us so many life experiences.
An active and busy man, Dad was always on the go. Working, farming, hunting, building houses and farm buildings, dynamiting stumps to clear the land, burning slash, bulldozing snow from neighbours’ driveways, gardening, camping, canoeing, swimming, skiing, and lending a helping hand to neighbours. I can still hear echoes of he and Mrs. Jensen yodeling to each other on the ski hill of Forbidden Plateau where we skied most Sundays for more than 20 years.
Dad spent his childhood years in the Peace River area of Alberta, helping his parents and sisters, Cosby and Elizabeth. His father, Frank Pottage, was one of the first Lawyers in Alberta. Dad tells stories of his youth about packing up his own horse and rifle and camping in the backcountry with a friend for days at a time.
A young tail gunner in WW2, he was shot down over Germany, and was hidden for several months from the Nazis by a Dutch family. Later, Dad sponsored them to come to Victoria, and we often visited them. He wrote a book about his experiences and was always so grateful to have been taken in by these kind people.
Dad met Mom in Victoria where they married in 1947. Together they worked in Ocean Falls and then in Victoria. Dad helped out surveying the Stein River Valley in 1949 by packhorse.
In 1951, our parents made a huge decision, which was to shape our lives. They moved to a wild, untamed land, some of which is now Miracle Beach Provincial Park.
This land was then owned by his father Frank Pottage, who donated land to establish the park.
Dad and Mom built and operated a resort, store and small campground at the edge of the park, and started a family – Murphy, Gaileen and Larrie. Around 1965, a true pioneer, Dad homesteaded and cleared half of his 300 acre farm for raising hay and beef cattle. The remaining forest he carefully maintained for timber and wildlife. Our parents remained on the farm until just a couple years ago. Thanks to younger brother Larrie and his wife Bernadine who moved back to the farm decades ago, it allowed our parents to live there as long as possible.
Dad and Mom moved to the Comox Valley Seniors Village – Mom in 2010 where she still lives, and Dad in early 2011. With Mom having dementia, they had to live in separate areas. Dad came downstairs in his wheelchair to visit and hold Mom’s hand almost daily, thanks to the caring staff taking time out to make sure they could spend time together. We kids are so grateful to the care giving staff at the Village. Our parents’ stay there has been a wonderful part of their life journey. Mom, who felt a bit isolated on the farm, now has friends and companionship… and yes, love, from the care givers. Dad, although very reluctant at first, learned to accept, and then really appreciate life at the Seniors’ Village. He always had a heart-felt “thank you” for anyone who helped him. He would giggle and point towards Marco and tell me, “Watch this!”. Sure enough, Marco would often come by a few minutes later, bringing Dad a banana or cookie. It made his day!
And a very special thanks to 2 exceptional care givers, Lynn and Burdett, who were there when Dad needed extra attention. They really cared for him, both went over and above their regular expected duties. They made him feel special, and like part of a family. And thanks to so many of the other daily care givers – too many to name, but we are so grateful for your care of our Dad.
Dad, we’ll miss you – enjoy your new spirit life with the butterflies, and with your many friends and relatives who passed before you. You’ll always be with us. Love you.
From the 3 kids: Gaileen, Murph and Larrie, and Junita, wife of almost 65 years.