Lawrence Burns

Would you find it easier now or did you find it easier back then?

Good question. I appreciate very much the modern advances we’ve made. I think it’s caused a whole change in everybody’s attitudes, we expect things to happen. I don’t appreciate when the power goes out and it’s “oh, I can’t cook. I can’t watch TV. I can’t use my computer” and all the rest of it, and yet we kinda don’t understand why and how what the problem is. But overall, I have to admit that I enjoy getting in a car and not getting on a bike and going down the road when I’ve got sore knees and all the rest of it. I rode a bike a lot, I delivered papers and pretty near rode a bike to do everything over the years, but I appreciated it when I got a car.

I had my first car fairly young. I was never that well off that we got new cars, but modern technology, you’d be crazy to say it wasn’t an advantage. Sometimes I think it spoils us and I don’t know where it’s all going to end. I was over at City Hall the other day, and I asked something about a certain part of town. And the girl shows me on the computer the house that I’m talking about because it’s satellite and all the rest of it. You know all about that, I imagine.

My kids, I have a pretty good picture. That’s my grandson’s wedding. I never went to university so I don’t have degrees or anything like that. I had two daughters and Darlene, the one with the family on Back Road, she’s a nurse. She’s teaching nursing at Camosun College now, and she just got her PhD last November. Her husband teaches high school, got his Masters degree this year. The bridegroom there, my grandson, he’s just got his Master’s degree, and his wife’s got her Masters and the girl on the right in the purple dress, she’s in Edinburgh right now getting her Masters in botany and diversity and I don’t know… I go down there and they’re talking about all these big words. They’re not flaunting it. Just conversation. And I say, “well, I enjoyed the fire truck. It was good…” And then, the girl on the left of her father there, she’s a nurse working in Vancouver. The youngest one, he’s in his third year university, so they’ve all done well. And then my other daughter hasn’t married and she had her Masters in music, is a music teacher. I am really thankful to the Lord for what my family is and how they care for me and look after me.

So, modern technology, I appreciate a lot of it because I had a new knee in June and my nursing daughter was up here, she could do her work preparing for college on the computer here, so that was great. Otherwise she would not have been able to be here or I would have had to go to Victoria to recuperate. So definitely we live in an era with some real advantages to it, even though I haven’t kept up with it. But I like the electric heat.

I am thankful for the education and what it has meant to my daughters. You might have run into my daughter. Heather was music director for Youth Music Camp for the last two years. She works in a college in Victoria and teaches music at home and has different musical things she puts on.

Mr-Burns-4-copyMy wife, I lost her, she passed away June, coming up three years ago, I’ve been blessed over the years very much. And I like Courtenay. In some of what you call pivotal times where you’ve got decisions to make. What am I going to do? Am I going to go to school anymore? University? All that. You guys are so blessed now. You still have a goal. And that was only one sad thing about my two daughters. I would have liked to have had them living here but they got jobs someplace else. But they are close, they’re only in Victoria. So then you have young people like you, you’ve got to go where the jobs are, you know. There isn’t that much room here.

Mr-Burns-8-copyBut I think Courtenay has been good to me and I’ve tried to be good to it. Over the years I’ve devoted my whole life to doing things for Courtenay because I like Courtenay. But always when it came to deciding, when all my friends were going to university, I’m going to stay in Courtenay, stay with my dad, work with him and that was good. When he sold the garage, that was my livelihood, what am I going to do? Every job that I could have got at that time, I would have had to leave Courtenay, so I stayed in Courtenay and worked in another garage and when decisions came I always decided on staying here. And that’s why I’m still here and hopefully I’ll be here till I go.

One of the things I never cease to be thankful for, the vision that caused these pioneers to come. My grandfather for instance, he was a baker by trade, and the only tools he had when he came here was a carpenter’s saw and an axe, and he didn’t know how to use either of them. He went out in the bush and hacked out a place to live, and produce. I don’t know how people lived without a refrigerator. They made butter and sold butter and they had to take it once a week to Cumberland. How in the world? Then all those pioneers that have come here, building the roads… Now we go up with a plane and say “oh yeah, there’s a place we could build a road down there” – but no planes then! It amazes me when they came out here with the railway to think that they hacked through the mountain, but maybe about a hundred yards down there was a place that could have been easier, and they had no way of knowing that. So I appreciate what we’ve got now. I can get in the car and drive to Calgary and know this is the best route and I’m going to be safe doing it. Thank god for those people that made that possible for me and I think that’s good when we have young people thinking that way.

One hard part of my job was when young people who I’ve had to deal with over the years, are lighting fires and doing things they shouldn’t. I was walking down the river walk one day and this kid was riding down on one of these skateboard things and, SCREECH, he stopped and turned around, “Mr. Burns!” I said “yeah?”. “You used to be the Fire Chief. Remember me?”. Well his face kind of looked familiar but I’ve seen hundred of kids. And he said “Boy, I’ll never forget that time you got me on lighting that fire”. And then I twigged on who he was. Just to think, he could have carried on down and never said hi to me, but it brought tears to my eyes, him saying that.

So, that’s the satisfaction that maybe I’ve been able to contribute a little bit to the lives of people and helped to straighten them out as they needed to. Thank you.