Long before world travel had become the normal way of life for young people, John Martin responded to that lure, travelling on his own throughout Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, besides Great Britain, the land of his forefathers.
The youngest of three children of John and Sheila Martin of Sooke River Road, John graduated from Milne’s Landing High school in 1954, when the graduating class totaled five students. He went on to apprentice as a machinist at Yarrows Limited in Victoria, and it was on completion of his apprenticeship that he began taking time out for international travel.
As his travel adventures were somewhat of a novelty at that time, John would get invited to entertain by showing the slides he’d taken, along with his amusing commentary.
Growing up on a country farm in a family with wholesome and traditional values, perhaps John became a living example of that early influence, for like his parents, he contributed his time generously towards his community throughout his life. A Boy Scout as a youngster, he enjoyed the outdoors and camping.
John married an Aussie nurse, but notwithstanding his world travels, it was in Sidney B.C. that he met Ingrid. The two were married in 1972 and made their first home on Wright Road. Two children were born, Ed “Toby” and Kristi, graduating from the same school as their dad, now called Edward Milne community school.
Throughout the years, participating in Sooke’s foremost tradition, All Sooke Day, was lifeblood to muscular John. He helped prepare the grounds, setting up for the competitions, participated in chopping and bucking and served for years as a judge. He was on the directorship of the Sooke Community Association for decades, helping maintain the hall, and working at the logging sports convention entertainment evenings that brought money into the coffers to keep the hall afloat.
Later on, when John and Ingrid moved to wooded property that fronted on the river, they built a lovely home situated where they could watch wildlife on all sides, a particular joy to them both. John was very keen on history, had listened to many tales of early pioneering life told by his dad, and treasured the old growth trees and vegetation that had stood for centuries along his riverside domain.
Within the river itself, at salmon spawning time, the waters churned with homing fish. Ever faithful to nature, John shared his river access with the Sooke Salmon Enhancement Society, and each year men in waders, trucks and nets gathered there, harvesting the next year’s supply for their hatchery.
John’s community interests extended to helping wherever he was needed, and a particular focus was helping record history for the museum. Even a year ago, while in failing health, he spent much time assisting with accurate documentation, wanting to make sure we got it right. He also particularly cherished the visits with his and Ingrid’s three grandchildren.
Jack McLeod, another nature-lover, who met John when he and Jean arrived in Sooke 25 years ago, sais, “We’ve enjoyed knowing and working with John in the church and in the hatchery. He was an all-round good friend. We just recently visited him in the care home and had a good chat.”
John is survived by Ingrid, by his son Ed (Jannie) daughter Kristi (Pierre) and the three grandchildren. Predeceased by elder brother Rob and sister-in-law Ann, he is survived by sister Beth and brother-in-law Jerry Van Ek.
A celebration of John’s life will take place on September 5 at the family home by the riverside.
Sooke Region Museum