Goodbye to long-time Northerners
Yk's Brian and Della Lewis leaving after 35 years
NNSL (Sep 04/98) - One of the North's more colourful and outspoken personalities, Brian Lewis, and his wife Della are heading for greener pastures after 35 years.
Lewis left his native Wales at the tender age of 24 and arrived in the Baffin Island's Cape Dorset in 1963, three weeks after being married in British Columbia.
The former MLA and educator spent 10 years in the Eastern Arctic before coming to Fort Smith in 1972 and finally Yellowknife in 1974.
A former teacher, principal, deputy minister in the education department for 10 years and MLA in Yellowknife Centre for eight, Lewis feels the time is right for a change of scenery.
"Basically, we're heading off to be close to our kids in Alberta," says Lewis.
"We're going to rent a place where we can get to everybody and be free to wander around. We could end up back here, you just never know."
Lewis says he and his wife's roots run too deep in Yellowknife to totally walk away.
He says the couple will be keeping their cabin on Prelude Lake and won't become total strangers to the Yellowknife area.
"We've been fortunate people. Our time in the North has been a tremendous experience.
"Yellowknife has been one of the most interesting places in the world because of all the changes here."
Lewis cites transportation and communication as the two areas of biggest change in the North over the past three-and-a-half decades.
"We first arrived in the North in August. U.S. President Kennedy was killed in October and it was almost a week before we heard about it.
"Today, you would hear about it almost instantaneously.
"You'd also have your food in the pantry for a year at a time back then. It all came out of Montreal by boat."
Lewis says the same changes he's seen happen in the North over the past 35 years took 100 years to happen everywhere else in the world.
He says the growth of the North is, in a way, a testament to the will of its people.
"The people in the North have proven themselves to be very resilient and take the best life has to offer.
"Survival is the name of the game in the North and the people here have proven themselves to be very strong."
Lewis's wife, Della, says she's been so involved in her pottery the past little while, she hasn't really thought much about the move.
She says once she reaches Calgary, she expects she'll start to shed quite a few tears.
"It's been a very rich and rewarding experience living in the North," says Della.
"We raised a family of four children here and I wouldn't have done it any other place."
Della looks back fondly at her 24 years spent in Yellowknife and has especially fond memories of her time spent with friends at the Yellowknife Guild of Arts and Crafts.
"I met so many fine people through the guild and learned so many skills.
"What makes the North is the fine people who live here. It's hard to leave the people here behind.
"I think we'd stay if the winters were a little shorter."