256 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 79 PART 2 MARCH 2021
absurdity of an 18-year-old officer who could not drive a car overseeing the
motor pool was not lost on Michael. He quickly found a willing driving
instructor and managed to avoid further humiliation. While surrounded by
the ruins of the European war, in his free time he revelled in touring the
German roads and villages on an army motorcycle with sidecar, using an
accumulated stash of rationed English cigarettes, as well as chocolate and
nylons, to barter for food and shelter along the way.
On his return to Britain in 1948, Michael earned a scholarship to Oxford
(Christ Church College), where he completed his bachelor’s degree and
master of law degree. In 1952, he was called to the bar at the Inner Temple
in London and then practised as a barrister for approximately four years in
common law chambers. While he loved the law, he was frustrated by the
daily vying for clients and briefs in chambers. To supplement his income,
he taught evening classes at the City of London College.
In 1956, having reached the “appalling” realization that despite all his
efforts it would be some time before he would earn more than a City of London
bus driver, he decided to emigrate to Canada. He arrived by ship in
Montreal. Years later he recounted his first memorable Canadian experience:
filling his morning cereal bowl with as much cream as he liked! Having
tasted nothing more than powdered milk rations throughout the war
and post-war years, this was progress!
Learning that his British legal credentials would not allow him to practise
immediately in either Quebec or Ontario and that the winters were harsh
in eastern Canada, he set his sights westward. He traversed Canada by train
on a one-way ticket to Vancouver. Within a few days of his arrival, he landed
a position at the well-established Vancouver firm of Douglas, Symes & Brissenden.
He was very much a man-about-town, driving his cherished MG
sports car and enjoying squash and tennis at the Vancouver Racquets Club.
There he met the love of his life, Joyce Meilicke, and, as he put it, he “sealed
the deal” in terms of fully embracing his newly adopted country, marrying
Joyce in 1958.
In 1960, they carried their first son, Chris, in a small crib-box on vacation
to Joyce’s aunt’s family cabin on Bowen Island, where Joyce had spent so
many of her childhood summers. Determined to re-create this oasis for
their own children, Joyce persuaded Michael to look at an available seaside
lot at Hood Point. The rest is history. The old English cottage was renovated
and expanded over the years, featuring much of Michael’s own finishing
carpentry skills in the cabinetry throughout. His sons report that until the
day he died, he always had a project on the go at the camp. One of his own
favourite pastimes was collecting coloured wood pieces washed ashore,