Oak Bay’s Lucy Gething penned her memoir

Oak Bay’s Lucy Gething penned her memoir

Oak Bay author reflects on a life well-lived

Canada 150 feature follows the travels of Oak Bay's Lucy Gething

Jennifer Blyth

Oak Bay News

Lucy Gething took a long and winding road to her current home in Oak Bay, but along the way, she learned how to live.

Her journey began back at her childhood home in Switzerland where she was keen to escape a rigid home life where opportunities were few.

“I am over 80 now and looking back at my lifetime adventures, which I thought were nothing out of the ordinary, I finally realize that yes, thanks to my motto of ‘Why not?’ my life was a bit out of the ordinary,” reads Gething’s opening paragraph.

Why not, indeed.

Gething’s motto took her far beyond the standard route of a single female immigrant of the post-war era.

Sparked by her brother, who yearned to be a farmer in a country where farmland was hard to come by, the two joined forces and made their way to eastern Canada in 1947 by way of a troop ship. After landing in Halifax, they made their way to a Grand Valley mink farm, through connections from their father’s fur store.

“The people were fantastic,” says Gething, who recalls teaching herself to drive tractor on the farm. “This is what I liked about Canada. They gave you a chance to do things … things I’d never have done (back home).”

While her brother decided what his future would look like, Gething yearned to see more of her newly adopted country.

A connection on an Alberta ranch drew her west where she worked and rode horses for six months. Another friend in Vancouver piqued her interest for the West Coast and she hopped another train, with a fortuitous stop in Banff, where the mountains reminded her of home.

The local community of ex-pat Swiss guides was having a party and there she would meet her future husband, Tony, recently landed in Canada from England, and making his way with a friend, an Alberta rancher, to hunt in the Rockies.

Invited along, again Gething said, ‘Why not?”

“I was a bit gutsy, I guess,” she reflects with a laugh.

She and T were later married in Banff and when her brother got his own dairy farm, they joined him in Ontario for 17 years.

Two children came along, and after many harsh Ontario winters, the two decided to head west once again, this time to Vancouver Island “because it’s warm there. We didn’t know where we were going,” she says.

Landing in Sooke, “it was nice, a little village.”

Finally near the ocean, they built a boat and sailed around local waters, sightseeing and fishing, and even circumnavigating Vancouver Island.

Tony was a builder and Lucy and her daughter would run Breakers Café in Jordan River for a time – another unexpected adventure – before Tony’s health concerns drew them into town, and to Oak Bay where they could be closer to the hospital.

Today, favourite local destinations include the beach and Cattle Point. “I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else now,” Gething says.

“I went through all those things and I don’t regret anything. I learned to live.”