By John McLellan
I was raised in a very stable and loving family in a modest home in East Vancouver. My father was born in Ontario and later raised on a farm in Manitoba. In WWI, he served in the Canadian Army Medical Corp in Scotland where he met my mother and they were married in Vancouver in 1919. In Vancouver my father was employed by the Canadian Pacific Railway.
I learned a lot of practical skills at home helping my father do renovations on our house. In those difficult financial times, there wasn’t the privilege of choosing a specific career path. In 1940, at the age of 15 – the opportunity came for me to enter into a five year apprenticeship as a brass molder. With my parents’ consent it seemed wise to learn a trade and earning a small wage would help out the family.
In 1943, I joined the RCAF, having a great desire to learn to fly but after a little more than a year, the need for air crews ended and I was discharged. The time in the Air Force was one of the best experiences of my life: for it taught me how to choose the course of my actions based on my upbringing and not immediate circumstances.
After my discharge, I went back to work in the foundry and was able to complete my apprenticeship. The very heavy and hot work in the foundry took its toll on my back and health so I felt that a change in occupation was necessary. I had taken a night school course in mechanical drafting and thought that I would like to pursue that type of employment. In 1946, I was fortunate to obtain employment by Western Bridge & Steel Fabricators Ltd. In their drafting department; I began learning a new trade and after seven years moved on to become head draftsman with Ornament Bronze Co. This company did multistory building cladding in both aluminum and bronze and they also had a brass foundry so my experience it that area was very helpful.
In 1956, Vancouver Architect, R. William Wilding arrived from Britain and started his architectural practice, so I began working with him in this new field doing the working drawings and writing the specifications for many different types of buildings. His practice was quite extensive, reaching across Canada and in the United States. During this period, while raising a family and being very active in the church we attended, I was able to complete my Grade 12 education. I would like to have pursued a degree in architecture, and Mr. Wilding greatly encouraged me to do so but circumstances and other commitments directed me in another direction.
After ten years with Mr. Wilding, when the economy was not at all robust, the opportunity arose for me to join a single proprietor in his real estate firm. This meant taking the BC Real Estate course at UBC and obtaining my Real Estate Salesman license. With my son, we had agencies in electrical fixtures and also did home construction and renovations. My real estate experience also encompassed residential, apartment buildings, commercial, industrial and income properties until my retirement in December of 1990.
My parents had taught me many good lessons and from my dad, who was very skillful with his hands, I learned how to he helpful and creative in the use of tools and this has always been a hobby for me. With nine grandchildren (and now three great grandsons) there have been many opportunities for me to make things for them.
Upon my retirement at 65 years of age and in relatively good health, I decided to study theology at the Northwest Baptist Theological Seminary at the Trinity Western University Campus. I pursued my studies at a moderate rate for a number of years and eventually obtained my diploma in the “One Year Graduate Program in Christian Studies”.
Life has not been without its difficulties, hard times and sorrow in the loss of loved ones, but from you youth I have witnessed and treasured the Lord’s care over me physically and spiritually.