One of the more colourful characters in our collection of upstanding and interesting Lake Cowichan citizens (and former citizens) is Walter Tipton.
A man who seems to forever be in possession of great energy, a never ending supply of many good ideas and the get up and go to tackle almost anything, pretty much describes Walt.
After an interesting conversation with him recently, one has cause to stop and remember the many interesting people who have given a large part of their lives to the betterment of our community. Walt is certainly one of these people. Although he no longer lives in town, he spent many years here in Lake Cowichan — arriving in 1948 with his wife Mavis and infant son Rodney.
Walt served in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corp. during the war years prior to his marriage to Mavis Martin in Saskatchewan in 1945. After leaving Saskatchewan the family arrived in Duncan where they spent a few months before moving to Lake Cowichan. The twins, Wayne and Wendy were born here in 1950. As a new arrival, Walt soon found employment with Western Forest Industries lumber mill (Honeymoon Bay) operating a crane, later a carrier driver and then as foreman. He left the mill in 1972.
During his early years here he was very active in boating and outdoor [motor, engine] repairs. (See page 8 for more on Tipton’s Outboard business) The couple, who raised their family in the child-friendly Hundred Houses neighbourhood, were heavily involved in the formation of the local Water Ski Club as well as great contributions to other groups and organizations.
A man of his word, Walt has always been hardworking, smart and fair-minded in all his dealings, business or otherwise. Much of the success of Tipton’s Outboards is — in this writer’s opinion — a testament to that. Retiring several years ago, Walt still maintains a connection to his business including Tipton’s Gas Bar (opened in 1976) known then as Tipton’s Mohawk Self Serve Gas Bar.
“It was the first self-serve gas bar in town,” recalled Walt recently. Mohawk (a brand of oil & gas products) wasn’t happy about him wanting the name Tipton in front of the company name Mohawk. “It just wasn’t done like that then but I insisted and did it anyway.” Later, he leased the gas bar to Norm and Vickie Brooks who operated it for 20 years before retiring. It is presently operated under lease to Jay deGoesbriand (also the local pet store owner).
Walt still retains a strong interest in local and civic affairs, politics and life in general. With the passing of Mavis last year, he now spends most of his time in Duncan, although he recently joked that he is “homeless”.