August 6th 1928 – September 15th 2009
Don was born at Deep Cove, near Victoria BC, to Mary and Arthur (Molly and Togey) Layard, the youngest of four siblings (Paul, Louise, & Vivien). The majority of Don’s early life was spent at the family homestead at Booth Bay, Salt Spring Island; he had a very adventurous childhood in what was a different era on Salt Spring. The family business was Rainbow Beach Resort, where Don helped with most aspects of the daily operations, as well as enjoying the “good stuff” – sailing, fishing, hunting, soccer, and tennis. It was not unusual for Don and his siblings to row from Booth Bay, around the north end of Salt Spring, to Ganges to play tennis at the old Harbour House, and then row home again.
Don went to school at North Shore College in North Vancouver, and then, after the age of 14, on Salt Spring, graduating from the local school. He began work on Salt Spring in the logging industry.
During the war years, Don’s older brother enlisted for active duty, and he too attempted to enlist, but his older sister Vivienne caught wind of this, and revealed his true age to the enlisting officers at Patricia Bay. Consequently, he remained on Salt Spring and signed up for the Coastal Rangers instead, but was disappointed by the fact that the war never arrived on this coastline.
After the war, Don became a member of the BC Provincial Police. He was mainly assigned to Vancouver, although he did have a few stories to tell of adventures elsewhere in BC. He then went land surveying with his brother-in-law Adrian Wolfe-Milner and spent quite a bit of time roughing it in the bush, helping map out various corners of the province and the area around Great Slave Lake.
But Don’s true calling was the sea, and soon he began working on tugboats for various companies up and down the coast of BC. It was during this time that he began dating his future wife, Olive Kitchener, even going so far as to travel to Auckland, New Zealand to court her after she moved there. Don and Olive married in Vancouver in 1956. In 1958, after Michele was born, they moved back to Salt Spring and built their home on Booth Canal, where Alan joined them in 1962.
In 1959, Don moved from working on the tugs to the Gulf Islands Ferry Company, owned and operated by the Mouat family on Salt Spring, and was working on the Cy Peck when the BC Ferry & Toll Authority took the company over in the early sixties. He remained with BC Ferries for the next thirty years, working his way through the ranks, becoming Senior Master for the Long Harbour route in the early eighties. In 1986 Don brought the “Queen of Nanaimo” on its inaugural run into Long Harbour, and he remained a well-loved skipper on that ship until his retirement in 1992.
After retirement from the ferries Don continued working on boats, first with the Oak Bay Marine group, travelling to the Queen Charlotte Islands and Hakai Pass, and later with Gulf Islands Water Taxi.
Throughout his retirement years, Don remained busy; camping, fishing, and boating, as well as enjoying a very active social life with his many friends and acquaintances. He was also a volunteer for Meals on Wheels and Salmon Enhancement.
Don loved boats and he had lots of them in his lifetime! Over the years, he sailed many times in the Round Salt Spring Island race, and once in the Little Swiftsure. He had a vast amount of knowledge about the islands, and the BC coast in general. He loved reading, especially history, enjoyed political discussions and telling bad jokes.
Predeceased by his brother and sisters, and his wife Olive, Don is survived and greatly missed by his daughter Michele (John), son Alan (Pam), granddaughter Becky (Dane), grandson Tyler, as well as two nieces and six nephews and their families, and many friends.
There will be a Celebration of Don’s life on Saturday October 3rd 2009, at Meaden Hall (Royal Canadian Legion) from noon to 3pm, followed by a private family gathering at the original homestead at Rainbow Beach.
“There is nothing, absolutely nothing, half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”
Donations in Memory of Don Layard are gratefully accepted by Island Stream and Salmon Enhancement, Island Savings Credit Union, Salt Spring branch, account# 738104 for stream restoration projects on Booth Canal.