Valerie Haigh, née Whitley
November 27, 1926 – March 27, 2016
Val Haigh, writer and adventurer, died in Lady Minto Hospital, Saltspring Island, March 27th, after a short illness. Predeceased by her daughter Kim in 1967 and her husband Ernest in September 2014, she is survived by her 5 daughters and their partners – Janet (Doug), Carol, Anne (Russ), Susan, and Nicky (Terry), 10 grandchildren, and 6 (nearly 7) great-grandchildren.
Val was born in the small village of Ferring, England, to Tom and Violet Whitley. She grew up in England and Scotland, and in the late war years she took to the farming life, working as a shepherdess. There she met the handsome farm assistant Ernest Haigh, and after a whirlwind 6-week courtship, they married in August 1949. Three farms and three children later, they decided that the best opportunities and adventures for a young married couple were in the colonies, and when the boat for New Zealand had a huge wait, they opted for Canada, and emigrated in 1955. Ernest soon got work as Farm Manager on Fernwood Farm, and so Saltspring became Val’s home, and stayed her home, however much she and Ernest travelled in later years. They bought property at Southey Point, and Val helped with clearing the land and building two houses while raising a family, soon grown to 6 daughters. Val delighted in her family, her garden, rowing, fishing, and the parade of freighters up and down Trincomali Channel. In 1968 Ernest and Val launched “Tryste”, a home-built trimaran, and began a 30-year life under sail that included two circumnavigations (one with daughters) and numerous trips around the Pacific, a rescue at sea, and building their new boat “Truce”. In 1999 they moved ashore and settled back into their garden home at the north end of Saltspring.
Val was a wonderful, strong, kind, intelligent, wise and caring woman. She loved life and her family and friends, and always stood behind Ernest in his crazy dreams. Happy to “live to tell the tale”, she wrote many magazine articles and two books about her family and her sailing days. There will be no service, but friends are invited to drop in for an open house and tea on Thursday April 7th, 4 PM – 6 PM, in the garden at 2961 Southey Point Rd. (lower entrance).
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost