Mayor Richard Atwell’s memories of Christmas past

Recollections of ‘cabin fever’ during the blizzard of ‘96

Nine-year-old Richard Atwell poses with his prize Millennium Falcon Christmas present in 1979.

Nine-year-old Richard Atwell poses with his prize Millennium Falcon Christmas present in 1979.

Before Saanich Mayor Richard Atwell was a Royal Oak resident, he was a White Rock kid.

“That’s where I would have been when I got the Millenium Falcon as a Christmas present in 1979,” Atwell recalled.

The coveted Star Wars toy is sure to be under some trees once again even though it won’t be part of the star fleet in the newest Star Wars movie. That movie, Rogue One, is sure to be a big part of the 2016 holidays.

“I’m not sure if I’ll see it right away but yes, I’ll probably catch [it in theatre],” Atwell said.

As a child, Christmas traditions for Atwell included some kind of Lego under the tree, as well as some technical building pieces with gears to build working machines. That was long before Atwell’s family moved to Sunnymede when he was 17.

Atwell was actually born in England and grew up in White Rock until he was 10. His family then lived in Kamloops until they moved to Victoria and Saanich. His parents are in the same Gordon Head house they bought in 1991.

On the Atwell table at Christmas dinner you’ll always find Yorkshire pudding, and on the coffee table, a tin of Quality Street chocolates.

“I loved that, mom makes those every year, and we do the British tradition of pulling Christmas crackers, wearing the funny hats and all.”

“The Saanich Christmas I remember most will forever by the winter of 1996, when the blizzard blew snow to the top of our door,” Atwell recalled. “It was horrible snow, we weren’t quite trapped, but there weren’t many places to go. Everywhere was closed, so we ended up getting cabin fever.”

In November 1994, Atwell gave his dad a kitten for his birthday. A month later the cat, which was bigger but not fully grown, ‘went crazy for the Christmas tree,’ and climbed to the top.

Aside from his favourite holiday flick, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, a lot of family movies would make their way onto the television during the holidays.

During the Christmas of 1992, Atwell had earned some extra money at a co-op job and purchased his mom a Sony Handycam.

“We should have all those Christmases on videotape somewhere,” he said.

If you spot some Saanich Christmas carollers this year, you might spot Atwell among them. The mayor took part in some carolling last Christmas and enjoyed it enough that he’ll likely be out again this month.

“Christmastime is just a special time of the year, and I know that people get caught up in getting presents and such, but really, it’s more than that, and the last few years I’ve really come to love the spirit of it.”

 

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

Just Posted

The University of Victoria will mark the eighth annual Giving Tuesday with its Add Sprinkles campaign which collects funds to support various student initiatives across campus. (Photo courtesy UVic Photo Services)
Nearly 150 Greater Victoria groups prepare for eighth annual Giving Tuesday

Last year Canadians raised nearly $22 million in 24 hours

Local MLA Adam Olsen, a member of the Tsartlip Nation, here seen before the 2020 provincial election, said a new report finding “widespread systemic racism against Indigenous people” in the provincial health care system does not surprise Indigenous people. (Hansard TV)
MLA, Tsartlip member says ‘silo’ approach won’t work dealing with racism in health care

Adam Olsen calls for comprehensive approach in dealing with systemic racism

A man was issued a $230 fine after refusing to wear a mask inside a Central Saanich business. (Central Saanich Police Services/Twitter)
Man issued fine after refusing to mask up in Central Saanich business

$230 ticket issued under the COVID-19 Related Measures Act

Aragon Properties’ proposed development for the corner of Cook and Pendergast streets in Cook Street Village was voted down by Victoria city council on Thursday night after a public hearing. (File contributed/ City of Victoria)
Lack of affordable housing spells end for Cook Street Village project in Victoria

Council narrowly defeats proposal for four-storey building on former Pic-A-Flic Video site

A report by investigator Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond found “widespread systemic racism against Indigenous people” in a report released Monday.
Peninsula hospital one where ‘significant work underway’ to repair Indigenous relations

Investigation finds ‘widespread systemic racism against Indigenous people’ in provincial health care

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Co-author of residential schools book condemns controversial Abbotsford class assignment

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Left to right: A screenshot of NTC nurse navigator Lesley Cerney, FNHA regional mental health manager Georjeana Paterson and Island Health’s medical health officer Dr. Charmaine Enns addressing Ehattesaht community members from Ehatis reserve in a Facebook live update. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Medical team sent to Ehatis reserve near Zeballos to guide community through COVID outbreak

17 cases, eight recoveries and no hospitalizations as Island Health praises First Nation’s response

Most Read