THE ADVOCATE 261
VOL. 79 PART 2 MARCH 2021
did, and our morning discussions about that book, wending through Middle
East history and literature, provided the early basis for a friendship. I liked
him for his intelligence and was immediately struck by his psychological
I saw that same psychological awareness in watching Mike move
throughout the office. With his retiring style, he had a way of walking
around his colleagues and clients, to see a person’s character from all sides.
In conversation afterwards, Mike would have the most insightful observations.
But where was the malice? There wasn’t any. That was the revelation.
Mike’s insights were more in the way of a humorous acceptance of human
Mike preferred things gritty. He had an interest in trains, the expansion
of the West and the hobo culture of the rails. We often discussed music: the
immortal Bob Dylan and country singer Hank Williams. We both liked the
earnest songwriter Jonathan Richman. Upon hearing of Mike’s death, I listened
to Richman’s song “That Summer Feeling” and was moved to think of
human impermanence, regret and how we live our lives by habit.
For McLean & Armstrong associates Curtis Simmonds, Rob Dumerton,
Mike and me, the financially indefensible morning trip to the coffee shop
was a refuge, a time to clown and poke fun. Mike and I got coffee most
mornings. He drank drip coffee black. One morning, I went to pay for our
coffees, and on this occasion, perhaps the third or fourth time in a row, Mike
looked at me with genuine annoyance, “Hey, let me buy you a coffee.” The
flash of irritation on Mike’s face stuck with me. He couldn’t abide artificiality
We’d all go for lunch. More money wasted. Mike had a severe nut allergy.
This greatly constrained our lunch options in restaurant wasteland West
Van. It usually meant getting sushi. We would rib Mike about how his
allergy made him more trouble than he was worth. I got a kick out of his
attitude in response, “I’ve never heard that one before. Christ, you guys are
boring.” Those were great days, and all of us at M&A felt fortunate, and we
all genuinely liked each other.
One nut-free lunch with Mike and Curtis, I had been moaning about my
lot in life, and I looked at Mike and said, “I can tell you got a plan, Mike.
You’re moving to Kamloops, you’re going to start your own law firm.” I saw
the glint of recognition in his eye. He came to my office a week later to
announce that he was joining a small firm in Kamloops where he and his
wife owned a home.
Leaving McLean & Armstrong was the wrong decision. By noon on his
first day of work, I got a text from him, “I got to get out of here”. And this is