They bid farewell to Whistler icon John R. Taylor March 8, reading his "personal" prayer and his Creed on life which made him the subject of many Whistler controversies.
He died peacefully on March 1, 2002 at UBC Hospital of heart failure. He was 84.
His life as lawyer, politician and sportsman was indicative of those who attended the funeral at Ryerson United Church in Vancouver: Member of Parliament and interim Official Opposition Leader John Reynolds; Jim Robson, former play-by-play announcer for the Vancouver Canucks and other dignitaries. And there were Whistler nomads and hard-luck types as well.
Taylor saw a vision of Whistler when he first came here more than 30 years ago and decided, with the financial help of retailer Ben Wosk, to acquire the 180 acres at the base of Whistler Mountain, known today as Creekside.
His controversial style began with fights with the first mayor of Whistler, Pat Carleton, and continued through Hugh OReillys administration, with court cases along the way. He argued zoning, planning and highways. He also donated the land for the Alpha Lake Park and the BC Rail train station. His offbeat style was to encourage what some considered "slum housing" so as to encourage council to rezone rundown areas of his large holdings in Creekside.
"Call it what you may," said one Whistler low-income resident, "John was a champion of the underdog. He didnt make any money on the small rents he collected and most of us were always late paying. You either hated John or you loved him."
While continuing his development of small subdivisions at Creekside, he and his wife of 60 years, Kathleen, proceeded to build and operate the Whistler Valley Tennis Club for decades, where a yearly membership never exceeded $99. Lessons for children were free. Another Whistler veteran, Tony Kingsmill, was instrumental in the clubs inception.
Taylor was an accomplished tennis player and lifetime member of the Vancouver Lawn Tennis Club, where he competed for the club championship on numerous occasions. His first love, however, was hockey. His father, "Cyclone" Taylor, had played for the Vancouver Millionaires when they won the Stanley Cup in 1915. A graduate lawyer, John acted for the Vancouver Canucks Benevolent Society for many years on a volunteer basis. He was a member of Rotary for more than 40 years and served on countless committees.
Johns personal hockey career was interrupted by the Second World War when he joined the army. He quickly attained the rank of Captain and was appointed general manager of the Canadian Army hockey team, which toured Europe and Canada to boost moral.
Following the war he resumed his legal career and ran for Parliament. He was elected for two terms as the Member for Vancouver-Burrard, representing the Progressive Conservative party. He introduced in the House a bill which led to the formation of Sports Canada as we know it today something he cherished as a lifelong achievement.
Taylors Creed, one of mixed philosophy, was recited at the service:
"When faced with a mountain, I will not quit!
I will keep on striving, until I climb over find a pass through tunnel underneath;
Or simply stay And turn the mountain into a gold mine with Gods help."