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Pemberton bids goodbye to Bruce McFayden

Former councillor, forester remembered



Pemberton is saying a fond farewell to Bruce McFayden, a man who saw the valley through the early days of its development and wanted to see it through.

"His love was for the area," son Duncan McFayden said.

Born in Victoria in 1936, he leaves behind wife Jan McFayden, currently Whistler's coroner, as well as seven sons, five granddaughters, 20 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Born to Edward and Bernice McFayden, his father was a Naval Officer in the Canadian Navy, at sea for such a long time that Bruce had to be man of the house, according to the eulogy his son wrote for him.

As a young man he attained the rank of King's Scout, the highest rank a Scout can achieve. In 1952, wanting to follow his father's lead, he joined the Royal Canadian Scottish Regiment as a private reservist.

He hoped to go out and make a difference in the Korean War, but being 16 at the time he wasn't eligible. He stayed with the reserves for two years and took a discharge, thereafter graduating from Mt. View High School in Victoria.

Immediately upon graduating he sought employment with B.C.'s Department of Forestry. Impressed by his potential and work ethic, his superiors encouraged him to enroll at the University of British Columbia, where he studied the principles of surveying land.

He went on to study Civil Engineering at ICS Correspondence, attaining his diploma in 1962, and eight years later was accepted into the Society of Engineering Technologists.

He spent 14 years working with B.C.'s Forest Service before he found work with the Ministry of Environment as a Scientific Technical Officer in Flood Management. He worked on a number of flood prevention initiatives, with particular focus on protecting river banks and building dykes that could retain water.

McFayden personally supervised most of the emergency response and dyke construction throughout the Sea to Sky region. He received a Provincial Commission as an Official Scalar in 1984 and a year later was accepted into the Applied Science, Technologists and Technicians Association.

It was around this time that Pemberton started to find a place in McFayden's heart. He saw the Spud Valley as a place with potential and opportunity and he wanted to play a part in it. He retired to Pemberton in 1995 but never stopped working, being elected to council just a year earlier.

"He thought the area was going to be taking off," his son Duncan said in an interview. "(He) very much wanted to hone some of its development. There was some leadership in the area but there were some things he wanted to see brought to the area which he explored in his charitable works with the Lions (Club) up there."

While on council he worked for change, his son said. He worked after hours digging ditches for a sprinkler at Zurcher Park in the middle of the Glen neighbourhood. He helped with site preparation for Signal Hill Elementary School, using contacts with the provincial government to keep costs low.

During the flood of 2003, as Pemberton faced a torrent of rainfall, McFayden, serving as the Provincial Emergency Program Coordinator, using government contacts to mobilize equipment and stabilize river banks with rip-rap.

"He had local knowledge and a high level of interest and having local knowledge, had the ability to provide local insights in terms of what the most advantageous works to be put in place were," said Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy.

"You could spend tens and tens of millions of dollars and none of the work would get done. ...You have to prioritize things and if you have local knowledge that helps prioritize."

Donations in McFayden's memory can be made to the Pemberton Health Care Foundation, P.O. Box 310, Pemberton, B.C., V0N 2L0.