“Myrt” left this world Tuesday morning February 3, 2004 in Campbell River General Hospital. Her last peaceful minutes were spent in the loving arms of a family member.
Myrtle McKay was born on Cockburn Island, Ontario on September 17, 1911, the daughter of Murdock and Ruth Ann (Kinch) McKay. She completed high school in Vancouver at age 15 and worked as a telephone operator for seven years. At age 18 she qualified for the Canadian Olympic Swim Team but was unable to attend the Olympics for lack of finances. She was also a member of a Canadian Women’s Basketball Championship team.
In 1937 Myrt became a Foster Mother to a family of four boys aged 3 to 9. Contact was kept with them over the years and she was considered by all to be their Mother, Advisor, Supporter and Friend.
During the war years Myrt worked again with the telephone company and volunteered as a nurses’ aide in Vancouver. In 1947 she entered RN training at Vancouver General Hospital and was known as “house mother” by the other students. After graduating in 1950 she nursed at the General for two years and in 1952 was appointed Matron Administrator at the hospital in Tofino. In 1956 she moved to Ucluelet and served as the Public Health Nurse for the area. She was appointed a Provincial Court Judge for Tofino-Ucluelet in 1970, the first female non-lawyer given the power to try adults as well as juveniles. She was proud that none of her rulings were ever overturned.
While on the West Coast of the Island, Myrt was an active community member. She initiated a swimming programme at Kennedy Lake where she was responsible for teaching hundreds of area children to swim. She became a Director for the Provincial Recreation Association and was made an honorary member in 1974. Myrt served as coroner for the Tofino-Ucluelet area for a number of years. In her spare time she was chairman of the local 1971 Centennial Committee, director of the John Howard Society, member of the School Board, member of the United Church and charter member of the Curling Club as well as playing badminton and working with a number of youth groups in the area. One of her proudest achievements was her sponsorship of an Opportunity for Youth Summer Programme in 1971 – under her direction a group of five boys built a trail in He-Tin-Kis Park. She always spoke fondly of the boys who worked so hard for the community.
In August, 1972 Myrt married Bob Thompson and moved to Campbell River. She spent many happy days fishing on the Naiscoot, playing badminton and curling. It wasn’t long before she became an active participant and leader in the community. She was active in establishing the Campbell River Branch of the Canadian diabetic Association, spearheading a day programme at the hospital, scholarships for local diabetic students and a drop-in information centre for diabetics. Myrt also saw a need for survivors of strokes and started the Campbell River Stroke Club to provide exercise programmes, speech therapy, social opportunities and support for spouses of stroke victims. She organized a group to begin the Ripple Rock Gem and Mineral Club and converted the garage on her property for use as their club house. The Centennial Park Preservation and Enhancement Society was another of her pet projects. She worked diligently to “keep the outdoor pool open” and to have the park named as a heritage site. Myrt also served on the Advisory Community Health Board, the Mayor’s Advisory Committee for Seniors and was active with the Community Policing Committee until December 2003.
Myrt never drove a car in Campbell River (her son, Len, always said that she could get lost in a phone booth) so she was very grateful to all those who helped her get to all the meetings and activities in which she took part. Into her mid-eighties she was still teaching adults to swim in return for rides to the pool. She considered it a challenge whenever she heard someone say that they couldn’t swim but had a car.
For the past fifteen years, Myrt organized the collection of aluminum pull tabs. Through the sale of them a number of needs were filled in the Community including cooking utensils and supplies for Sunshine Lodge. She was a proud recipient of the Queen’s Jubilee Medal.
Myrt was pre-deceased by brothers Jack (1941) and Lawrence (2002) McKay, and sons Andy (1977) and Lenard (1996) Hudock. She is survived by daughter-in-law Frances Hudock, son Ben Evans of Okanagan Falls, nephews Bill McKay of Washington and Jack McKay of Arizona, sister-in-law Vera McKay of Washington, godson Jim Jardine, eight grandchildren, twelve great grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren as well as many, many friends.
At her request, the only service will be a family and close friends picnic in the summer on the banks of the Campbell River where she spent many happy years.
When asked to which charity she would like to have people donate in her memory she replied, “They can give to whatever they like, but what I would really like is for them to take a Senior to lunch or bake them an angel food cake.”
The family requests that you send a favourite memory, anecdote or story about Myrt to: Frances Hudock, 1947 Pinehurst Place, C.R., V9H 1R5.
We thank the many members of the community who have helped Myrt to achieve the majority of the goals she set. Campbell River, no, the world, is a better place because of her.
Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea.