Wearing a straw hat adorned with a Canadian flag and a tie that was made to match, Peter Ridley was the first person to greet me when I arrived at the Honeymoon Bay Community Hall.
He had a sparkle in his eye that welcomed conversation, and before I knew what was going on, I had been filled in on the previous night’s grand fireworks display, the population of the little town, and the names of half the people gathered at this year’s Honeymoon Bay Canada Day ceremony. I also had the pleasure of meeting Irene, Peter’s wife of 51 year. She told me not to believe a thing he was saying.
The Honeymoon Bay Citizen of Merit award is presented every Canada Day to a member of the community who is always eager and willing to help with volunteer work that needs to be done around town.
When this year’s winner was announced, I was not surprised to see Peter take to the front of the crowd to accept his reward — but he was.
“I’m really, truly honoured, proud and very surprised about this,” he said while delivering his acceptance speech. “I’m very proud to be a citizen of Honeymoon Bay, and the people are so friendly and easy to get on with here — it’s just miraculous.”
Peter and Irene have lived in Honeymoon Bay for five years. They shared their 15th anniversary as citizens of Canada with the country’s 146th birthday.
Peter was born and raised in England. After leaving school at the age of 15, he became a line draftsman for shipbuilding — this was one of Peter’s favourite jobs while working in England. Before moving to Canada, he worked for British Leyland, the makers of the Austin Martin and Jaguar.
“I was drafting small parts,” said Peter. “I was just making door handles and other small bits; I never got to design the car body.”
When the company Peter was working for went bankrupt, he and Irene packed up all of their possessions, sold their house where they lived for 28 years, and raised four children, then made the move to Canada.
The couple first lived in Esquimalt, where they stayed for 15 years.
“I was a janitor in School District 63,” says Ridley. “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know. The head custodian was somebody I knew, so I received a part-time job and worked my way up to working there full-time.”
When the time to retire was upon them, the couple decided to move to Honeymoon Bay, where they now own a half-acre property and plan to stay for the rest of their lives.
Peter has always been a member of the Honeymoon Bay Society, but he had to leave the group this year because of health reasons. Though he is no longer a director of the society, he is always out with the work parties, helping in whatever way is possible.
Wear receives bursary
Another award that is given out every Canada Day by the Honeymoon Bay Society is a $500 bursary, and this year, Jordyn Wear was the recipient.
Wear has lived in Honeymoon Bay her whole life, and she attended Lake Cowichan Secondary School.
She is currently going into her third year at Vancouver Island University, with a goal of getting her Bachelor of Arts with a major in English.
“I’m hoping to get a career that involves writing, but not only that — I want to help people with their writing. Maybe teaching or editing, something like that,” said Wear.
When she is done school, Wear plans on trying her luck and searching for a job in Vancouver or Victoria, but says she will always come back to Honeymoon Bay.