Louise Baur has lived in View Royal since her father built a house on Eaton Avenue using timber he milled himself on his property near Courtenay.
Her father, a veteran of the First World War, suffered from what was called “shell shock” in those days, likely Post-Traumatic Stress
Disorder, and had moved the family to a farm in the Comox Valley to escape the stresses of city life.
The Great Depression made farming a hard go, however, and soon the family, along with the teenage Louise, moved back to the city.
Since then Baur left for periods of her life, but always returned to View Royal.
She is now the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her substantial volunteer work in the community, particularly her work with the View Royal archives.
The award is given to Canadians to honour significant contributions and achievements. In total 60,000 are being issued in honour of the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the throne.
“I feel honoured, but there are so many people in Victoria, and everywhere, who do so much volunteering,” Baur said. “But because I’m older, 85, I’ve had time to do a lot more than most people.”
After a career as a teacher, including 23 years at Camosun College teaching English as a second language, Baur settled into retirement with plans of travel and gardening. She did that but found herself with still a lot of time on her hands. She decided to fill that void by giving back.
“That’s when I discovered volunteering,” Baur said. “Altogether volunteering is a very satisfying sort of thing to do. And you meet so many remarkable people.”
For three years, Baur volunteered with the breakfast program at L’École Shoreline Community middle school, serving toast and jam to students.
From there she went on to volunteer with a reading program at View Royal elementary. The “Reading Grandmas” worked with Grade 4 students to encourage literacy and the joys of reading.
Baur got interested in history while volunteering with the
Canadiana Costume Museum, which has since closed. That interest led to volunteering with the View Royal archives, which Baur helped to get up and running in the early 1990s and has been working since.
“I didn’t know that I liked history,” Baur said. “It just interested me to see the story of how this community, our neighbourhood, started, and how it grew.”
Baur was presented her medal at the View Royal town council meeting on Nov. 20.
“It’s an honour, but I always think of all the other people. Everybody does something, it’s got to be a way of life, certainly when you retire,” Baur said. “It feels good to be out and meet people and feel you’re part of a group; that you’re doing something useful. It’s horrible to feel useless.”