Point paddles into the sunset

His Honour Steven Point glad to be heading home after five years in Victoria as Lieutenant Governor.

Outgoing British Columbia Lt.-Gov. Steven Point became emotional upon launching his dugout canoe on Ross Bay Beach along Dallas Road in 2010. It was the same location where Point found the log from which he carved the canoe along with renowned artist Chief Tony Hunt. The ceremony, and Point’s reaction were fairly typical of the down-to-earth lieutenant governor.

His Honour Steven Point may look on his years in Victoria with satisfaction, but he’s up front that he won’t miss living in the stately Government House.

“This is fancy, but you’re also in a jail here,” he said with a chuckle. “The gates are locked and there’s security here all the time.”

After five years as B.C.’s 28th lieutenant governor, Point is eager to return to his home with his wife, Her Honour Gwendolyn Point.

Over his term as the Queen’s representative in British Columbia, he’s accumulated “too much” mileage travelling to Chilliwack once or twice a month to visit family.

“It’s nice to go home,” he said. “Our grandchildren are there, all our kids are there.”

Once back, he hopes to resume his post as a provincial court judge – “Knock on wood,” he said, with another soft chuckle.

Among locals who got the chance to know him, Point has garnered a reputation for being warm, funny and down-to-earth – and for being a great storyteller. He particularly had a knack for drawing in young people with tales from his own youth.

“Talking to kids is not easy,” he said at his office, before his departure ceremony Nov. 1 at the legislature. The best way to engage them is to talk about your own life and make sure you don’t come off as too important, he added.

“They ask all sorts of questions. They want to know if you sleep in a golden bed. It’s very funny.”

In particular, he inspired aboriginal youth, as B.C.’s first aboriginal lieutenant governor.

“We get a lot of excitement when we get out to First Nations communities,” Point said. “I think it gives a lot of pride to the kids.”

The children also write him letters.

“His Honour personally responded to literally thousands of letters back of forth,” said Michael O’Connor, who got to know Point well as president of the Government House Foundation. “He takes the time to talk with everyone.”

The role took a bit of getting used to, however.

“I think it was unexpected when he was asked (to take the job) and he had to think about it. I think he was a bit apprehensive at first (but) I watched him become more relaxed in his role,” O’Connor said. “He is very engaging with people of all walks of life … and he makes everyone relax.”

Victoria MLA Carole James has attended many events with Point.

One of her favourite memories of him happened just a few months ago, during a ceremony dedicated to a new totem pole outside Government House.

“He saw that some of the little kids were having trouble seeing,” James said. “He said, ‘this event is about the future and supporting tradition, so I want to ask all the children to come on up to sit on the rocks …’ It was like watching the pied piper.”

When it came time to pull on the ropes to raise the totem pole, he invited the kids to join him in pulling.

“For me, that said it all,” James said. “He brought a human side to what can be seen as a reserved, formal position.”

Point also accomplished many good deeds for the province during his appointment.

Chief among them is his literacy program.

“That’s worked out to be a great thing,” Point said. The program started by bringing books out to communities, but as more partners came on board, it expanded to bring whole libraries to towns with no road access.

Settling on literacy was a bit of a process of elimination for Point.

As the Queen’s representative, “you can’t comment on poverty. You can’t comment on education,” he said. “The programs that you can be involved in have to be outside the political arena, so I decided to do literacy, which is a pretty neutral kind of thing.”

While Point has not been free to speak his mind on political issues he has held political power.

It’s a role Canadians don’t understand well, said Point.

On top of attending ceremonies and hosting dignitaries, the lieutenant governor holds real power, he said.

“Most people are unaware that the government cannot introduce its own money bills,” he said. “(The Premier) has to come to the Queen because it’s the Queen’s money.”

Prorogation is a good example of that power. Two weeks ago, Ontario Lt.-Gov. David Onley faced criticism for agreeing to prorogue parliament at the request of outgoing Premier Dalton McGuinty.

Point wouldn’t comment on Onley’s decision, but said, “If the lieutenant governor has to make a tough decision, he doesn’t have anybody to talk to – not even the Queen.”

He called it a heavy responsibility.

“When you step into these shoes, the buck stops here.”

rholmen@vicnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID Creations opens at the Art Gallery

Rental and sales exhibition features works by 34 local artists

Daniel Lapp’s West Coast Kitchen Party

Join BC’s highly renowned fiddler and folk artist Daniel Lapp for a… Continue reading

Emily Carr show wraps up Canadian Tour at Royal BC Museum

Fresh Seeing opens with exclusive addition of T’anuu

Antimatter festival adapts

Hybrid model brings 100 films

Nanaimo singer Elise Boulanger releases her new single, ‘Cigarettes et rosé’ on Oct. 11. (Photo courtesy Laura Baldwinson)
Nanaimo singer releasing new single inspired by overheard conversations

Elise Boulanger to unveil ‘Cigarettes et rosé,’ accompanying ukulele tutorial video to come

Lee Porteous will be one of the performers at the Duncan Showroom’s storytelling event later this month. (Photo Submitted)
Duncan Showroom hosts storytellers series

Monthly shows will be broadcast live on YouTube

The 2020 City of Victoria Youth Poet Laureate Neko Smart will give up her seat for the next young poet in January. (Contributed/ Jeremy Loveday)
Nominations open for Victoria’s 2021 Youth Poet Laureate

Honourary one-year term reserved for region’s emerging poets

Joëlle Rabu and Nico Rhodes present No Regrets, a live-streamed and in-person show featuring the songs of French singer Édith Piaf at the Port Theatre on Oct. 17. (Photo courtesy Vital Image)
Nanaimo mother-son duo pay tribute to Édith Piaf in Nanaimo

Vocalist Joëlle Rabu and pianist and arranger Nico Rhodes present ‘No Regrets’ show Oct. 17

Local poets Ian Cognito and Pat Smekal are releasing their latest collection, ‘Old Bones and Battered Bookends.’ (Photo courtesy Literacy Central Vancouver Island/Image by Jacques Gamelin)
Nanaimo area poets release anthology on aging

Ian Cognito and Pat Smekal present ‘Old Bones and Battered Bookends’

The Arts Alive sculpture Winds of Time by Linda Lindsay which sat in front of the Pharmasave on Oak Bay Avenue in 2019 has been purchased anonymously and will be mounted in the King George Terrace parking lot. (Photo from OakBay.ca)
Winds of Time breezes onto Oak Bay lookout

Donor bought Arts Alive sculpture for Oak Bay lookout

Campbell River author tries out new genre for upcoming trilogy

Kristin Butcher kept her book grounded in real world, with some fantastical elements

Nanaimo psychedelic rock band marks 10th anniversary with new release

Moths and Locusts’ new LP ‘Exoplanets’ includes recordings made over the last 10 years

Most Read