Doug Kydd’s first residency in Prince Rupert may have been shortlived, but it was one that would change his life forever.
“Our family came here in 1964 from Virden, Manitoba. My dad had just recently got his pilot’s licence and there was a call from the gentleman who taught him how to fly saying, ‘The streets are paved with gold in Prince Rupert, come on up here because the flying is really interesting’. Dad came up here for a job as a bush pilot for North Coast Air Services ... I attended Grade 10 and Grade 11 here and then dad was offered a job down south flying for a company called Conair, which does all the water bombing for the province, and it was a job that was tough to pass up. So he moved us to Langley and I graduated out of Langley High,” recalls Doug.
But it was during those two years on the North Coast that Doug would meet the love of his life and forge a bond so powerful it has survived the ups and downs of more than five decades.
“When I was 14 years of age is when I first met Jackie, who has been my wife for almost half a century. We met when I was in Grade 10 and she was in Grade 8,” he says with a smile.
“ In the summer while attending Trinity Western, when I was looking for work I came back up here for summer employment ... Jackie and I met up again, back then we were going steady as they called it. Then she went on to university at U-Vic (University of Victoria) and I was at Trinity Western, so there was the trips almost every week on the ferry and then we spent the summers up here in Prince Rupert where she was living with her family.”
After graduating from Trinity Western, Doug tried his hand at a recreation program at the University of British Columbia. But life on campus and in the Lower Mainland wasn’t ideal for Doug. So his eyes once again turned to the North Coast and the woman he loved.
“I was looking for what I was going to do with my life at that point, it certainly wasn’t going to be a recreation director, so I applied to get into the RCMP. I was accepted and went into training at depot Regina in December of 1972,” he said, noting he worked several miscellaneous jobs between when he applied and when he left.
“I lasted four months until I sustained a shoulder injury that literally pulled all the tendons off the shoulder. Back then the options were either you purchase and get out or you be backtrooped, which is after you heal, you go right back to square one. It took about seven months for my shoulder to heal, so four months of training, seven months of healing and then back to square one wasn’t an attractive option ... the first three months were sheer hell and I didn’t want to go through sheer hell again.”
With life in the RCMP no longer an option, Doug returned once more to Prince Rupert and decided that despite a significant distance between he and Jackie, who was touring around Europe, it was time to make the commitment of a lifetime.
“I sent Jackie a letter, which she picked up at her grandparents place in France, and it was a proposal for marriage. It basically said, ‘Why don’t you come back to Prince Rupert, we’ll get married and live happily ever after’,” said Doug.
“Jackie cut her trip short by a month and half and we were married in October of 1973.”
Recently married and looking to start a family, Doug was looking for a permanent job in Prince Rupert and took his chances with an advertisement for a professional firefighter for the City of Prince Rupert.
“ I applied and got the job and was a city firefighter for six and a half years. It was a good job and it definitely had its moments where you had to pay attention because back in 1974 to 1979, there was lots of buildings burning because there wasn’t the early warning system like smoke detectors. The warning was the flames coming out the window,” he said, noting that he enjoyed the job but determined the risk was too much following the births of his daughters Robin and Darcy.
“After a couple of really close calls, including one in the Rupert Hotel I almost didn’t get out of, it was decided that maybe I should be looking for other things to do. I didn’t particularly care for that really close call.”
Shortly after leaving the fire department, Doug was recruited to join Manulife in 1979. 36 years later it is a job he still thoroughly enjoys.
“It seemed to be a really good fit and I have been with Manulife every since,” he said.
“I like the social aspect of my job as an agent and investment advisor, it’s great, and I really, really enjoy it.”
On top of his work, Doug is no stranger to jumping head first into volunteer work to improve the community. Among his volunteer work is co-chairing the 1981 BC Northern BC Winter Games, acting as communications director for the 1999 BC Winter Games, being a past president and charter member of the Prince Rupert Golf Club, and a past president of the Prince Rupert Tennis Club, Rotary Club, Toastmaster Club and Regional Community Foundation.
But perhaps none of Doug’s volunteer positions lasted as long as his time as being the first president of the Prince Rupert Racquet Association.
“I lasted in that position for eight or nine years because nobody wanted the job because we were building the racquet centre at that time,” said the City of Prince Rupert Civic Appreciation Award winner.
“We built that back in 1981 and had a group of six people involved. We were the unit that made things happen.”
With two grown children and a grandchild, Doug says life in the city of Prince Rupert is still very appealing for he and Jackie.
“It’s a community that has been really comfortable and was a great place to raise kids ... there is a lot of really, really community-oriented and friendly people here. It’s really nice to be able to walk around this community and bump into people you know all the time,” he said.