For Jim Doyle, Dec. 2 is a special day of the year. On this date, 44 years ago, Doyle came into the Town of Golden for the first time. Even though he did not realize it at the time, he had found a new place to call home.
Doyle was born in Ireland where he was the fifth son born to his parents who would then go on to have five girls as well.
He spoke fondly of his time growing up on a farm in Ireland.
“We shared everything. You had a segment of an apple or an orange, not a full one. We had hand-me-down clothes. I was the fifth boy. By the time you got pants there were no bottoms in the pockets, but that was fine. I never was hungry and my childhood was great,” Doyle said.
As he got older one of his friends put the idea in his head to move to Australia for work. The cost to immigrate at the time was about $25 Cdn. The one thing you would have to do is agree to live there for at least two years.
“I grew up on a farm in Ireland and then moved to a big city in Brisbane. But that was not for me,” he said.
Even though he did not completely enjoy the city life, Doyle would find a passion for politics during his time down under.
“Growing up in Ireland we never talked about politics. The only thing I read in the newspaper was the comics,” he said. “I went to Australia and the Vietnam War was alive and well. Living in Brisbane, for something to do on a Sunday afternoon, I would go down to speakers corner.”
Doyle said listening to people talk about issues gave him a bug for politics and he ended up becoming involved in the anti-war movement in Brisbane.
After living in Australia for two years Doyle made his way to Canada, but only planned on staying for a visit.
“I came to Canada on my way back to Ireland and got hired by the railroad. I worked in the electrical department on the coast and ended up in Golden on Dec. 2, 1968,” he said. “In my case, when I arrived in Golden, on that Saturday if I remember right, someone said hello and in big cities they don’t do that. They are fine people but they do not communicate. I am sure I wasn’t here more than a month when someone said ‘Jim would you like to curl?’ I had no idea what curling was but I ended up doing it for years and then joined the Lions Club. I got to know more people,” he said.
This type of involvement led Doyle to a realization as time rolled on in the town.
“Suddenly you realize one day that you are at home in Canada and in Golden.”
Since moving to Golden, Doyle has made up to 40 trips back to Ireland where he visits his family including his 98-year-old mother.
After his mother visited Golden, Doyle said she realized that he was at home.
“I think after that she had an easier time sleeping at night because her wee boy James was not sleeping under a bridge,” he said laughing. “I think any parents are the same. They want to know where their little boy is whether you are 10 or older.”
He also explained it was in Golden where he met his wife.
“The best thing that ever happened to me in my life was when a girl immigrated here from England as a physiotherapist. We met and we fell in love and I am happy to say it is a condition I still suffer from 30 years later. I have two wonderful boys and life is very good,” he said.
Golden is also the place where Doyle would take his interest in politics to a new level of service.
“I was elected as an aldermen for five years and then I was the mayor for nine years. I was the MLA for 10 years and then mayor again for six years,” he said. “In Victoria they used to say I was the only MLA in the legislature who didn’t speak either of our official languages.”
This is funny to Doyle who explained when he returns to Ireland people there say he has lost his Irish accent.
One thing Doyle learned about politics was that municipal and provincial governments are not the same.
“The thing I found when I went from mayor to Victoria was that as a mayor you leave your political card in your pocket. When you are in Victoria and you are sitting across from each other. You may be sitting in government and I am in the opposition. You may bring up a good idea but too often they criticize because it is not their idea. Good legislation is ripped apart, which is fine to critique it, but sometimes they vote against it because we brought it up,” he said. “At the end of the day I would say municipal government is more civil by large.”
As for Golden, Doyle has seen many things change over the years.
“The Golden I arrived in was vastly based on the forestry. We didn’t have as diversified an economy as we do today. Forestry is not as big as it was when I arrived here,” he said. “LP has done some great work and are now all over the world. CPR came in here with the shops and the ski hill have made things more diversified in that respect.”
Doyle also said the work on the Trans Canada Highway continues to be important for the future of Golden.
As for his time in Canada, Doyle said that even though he was born overseas there is no place else he calls home.
“I love this country. I became a citizen as soon as I could because I got to love this place and I am a very proud Canadian today,” he said.