Alumni Profile

Shawnigan Board Member Alumni Interview: Rick Bourne ’69

Rick Bourne ’69 (Copeman’s) connected with Harriet Klumper ’09 (Renfrew) as part of an ongoing series featuring the stories that make up the legacy of Shawnigan alumni. As our selected Board Member Alumni feature, Rick shared his experiences at Shawnigan as well as his time since graduating, which has included founding the successful Langara Fishing Adventures, representing Rugby Canada as Chairman, serving on the Shawnigan Lake School Board of Governors, and most recently returning to Shawnigan as a parent.

HK: Do you have a favourite memory of Shawnigan?

RB: I think one of my favourite memories of Shawnigan would be playing over at Brentwood and beating them in a key rugby game for the season. 

I also remember a different game when we were playing St. George’s in the final at Shawnigan — this was the independent school rugby final. A friend of ours, Bob Brown, who went to Shawnigan in Grade 8 to 10 and then went to St. George’s, was the fly-half for the team. Derek Hyde-Lay told me, “Bourne, it’s your job to get Brown. Whenever the fly-half gets the ball from the scrum-half, you have got to be there and just nail him.” Whatever Derek said, I’d be like, “Yes Sir.” So I just nailed Brown all game. I gave him a really rough game. We were friends, Bob and I, but my job was to get him and so I did, and they lost and we won. He was so upset he threw his boots off the ferry on the way home. We are still friends, Bob and I.

HK: That’s a fantastic story.

RB: Another highlight would be going on the track and field tours to Europe in Grades 10 and 12. Derek Hyde-Lay was the coach, and that’s back when they had track and field tours. They were really interesting; we participated in the Highland Games and travelled all over Great Britain. I was in the 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams, but my thing was the pole vault, and I won the Inverness Highland Games in pole vault. The School record is twelve-foot-six, which I hold. They haven’t done pole vault at the School for probably 50 years, so that’s why I still probably have it!
Rick Bourne (bottom row, far left) pictured with the track and field team coached by
Derek Hyde-Lay (back row, far left)

So those would be the two memories: that great rugby game, and the Shawnigan track and field tours when we competed against these top schools in Great Britain, including Gordonstoun School in Scotland, where Prince Charles went. I met him for a brief second, shook his hand and said hello, because he was in Grade 13 and was the Head Boy of Gordonstoun. So there’s another highlight: meeting the future king!

HK: Who was your most influential teacher at Shawnigan?

RB: Probably Derek Hyde-Lay. He was my Housemaster in the old Copeman’s up on the hill. The summer just before Grade 12 they renovated and did all this work on it, and that’s when it burned down. Then they put up this trailer camp down in front of (now) Marion Hall, there on the grass by the Chapel, where we lived.

(L) The Copeman’s House fire in 1968, and (R) the temporary trailers being set up
in front of the Chapel.

He would be my most memorable teacher at the School because of rugby, as he was my rugby coach, my track coach, and my Housemaster. He was a really nice person, and a good guy. He had young kids at the time, which of course was David Hyde-Lay, who was a little rugrat running around at the time. I would go for dinner sometimes at their house on a Sunday night, when they’d invite a student over to have dinner at their table. 

Although Hyde-Lay was a rough, tough track and field guy and rugby coach, inter-House singing was something they had at Shawnigan, and he always wanted Copeman’s House to win. We would go into his living room, the group of us that were in the Copeman’s choir, and learn all these songs and hymns. Hyde-Lay was the conductor that got us going. 

HK: How do you feel your experience at Shawnigan shaped your path afterwards?

RB: Well, rugby was a big thing for me, and it still is a big thing. I came out of Shawnigan, had my first summer out of the School, and then when the fall came around, I felt there’s something missing. I’m not playing rugby. How do I get to play? 

There was the Georgians Rugby Club, which was the ex-St. George’s rugby players and some other people as well. So I ended up playing with the Georgians for a while. Then when I finally went to UBC, I started playing rugby there. 

Since then, rugby has stayed a big big part of my life. I ended up playing top-level rugby against the All Blacks and against Wales. I played for my club, the UBC Old Boy Ravens Rugby Club, which we helped start, and ended up being President for a while and helped the club continue to grow. I’m still on the board and the club will be coming up on its 50th year soon.

Rick Bourne (second row, far right) with members of the
UBC Old Boys Ravens Rugby Club and another team.

Then at one point, I became Chairman of Rugby Canada, and for about four years I traveled the world, representing Canada with the team. When they built the Derek Hyde-Lay Pavilion, I actually was there to help open it because I was Chairman of Rugby Canada at the time. It was great for me to be there because Derek Hyde-Lay was my hero. To have a plaque with my name on it for Rugby Canada on a building named after one of my heroes, it was a big full circle. 

My son Jacob played rugby for St. George’s, and my daughter MacKinley played rugby for Shawnigan. Now Jake is at UBC playing on the top team and I don’t miss a game. So rugby was a big part coming out of Shawnigan. I’m 71 years old now, and I’m still pretty actively involved in it.

HK: I think that there’s definitely a through line for a lot of people from rugby. It definitely holds onto you even after you graduate.

RB: Yeah, through my company Langara Fishing Adventures, I’ve donated trips to auction off to support various rugby club programs. Whether it’s Shawnigan, Rugby Canada or St. George’s for that matter, I’m a backer of the sport by donating fishing trips for auction.

HK: So, how did Langara Fishing Adventures come to be?

RB: We always fished with my dad. Then a bunch of us who graduated out of UBC — a lot of them were rugby players — bought an old boat that was 71 feet long, this old thing that was lying on a mud bank, and we bought it for $3,000 way back then. We fixed it up, and we cruised around on it. This was in the ’70s, and we were all ex-rugby players who would meet up and have a great time on that boat. We travelled and caught fish. I was a school teacher and had summers off, so I did a lot of fishing.
Rick Bourne (L) with a guest of Langara Fishing Lodge in its first year.

One of the guys who was a partner in the boat with me, and his family used to holiday up in Haida Gwaii, and my parents had been up there a little bit as well. We decided to start the Lodge back in 1985 as an offshoot of buying this old boat. We started Langara Fishing Lodge because I was really interested in fishing, and was always interested in being part of a hotel business at some point. I took a course at university that was sort of a tourism and hotel-management type thing, and it became a dream to run a hotel or lodge and that’s how Langara started. Now we’ve got three operations going, since we started in 1985. So it’s been 38 years. 

HK: What made you decide to volunteer to become a member of the Shawnigan Board of Governors?

RB: I always came back to a lot of the reunions, and in 1995, I was asked to serve on the Board. I accepted that offer, and I’ve been on the Board ever since through various Chairmen and Chairwomen, and various Headmasters just watching the School grow and change. It’s been a lot of fun and something that I became committed to, and I haven’t missed too many meetings over the years. I think actually now I am the longest-serving Board member.

HK: What has it been like experiencing Shawnigan as a parent, and then seeing your daughter MacKinley graduate and become an alumna herself?

RB: We gave MacKinley a choice to attend Shawnigan for Grade 8, like we gave Jake a choice too. MacKinley would get to stay at the School as a little girl when I would go over for Board meetings. Sometimes we would get the older girls in the boarding house to babysit and look after the kids. They even did a couple of overnighters in a House.

So when it came up to Grade 8, I said to MacKinley: “You’ve got a choice here, the same one I gave Jake; if you want to go to Shawnigan, this is something you have to think about. You need to apply, and you need to get accepted. So what do you want to do?” 

She did apply, and she got her acceptance letter from David Robertson saying that she was offered a spot and had to respond. After about three nights of trying to make a tough decision, when I came upstairs she finally told me she had accepted. Then within about two minutes, she was running around the house screaming and yelling and dancing “I’m going to Shawnigan! I’m going to Shawnigan!”

I was taking her there over the years from Grade 8 to 11 until COVID hit and my connection with visiting the School was limited, which was unfortunate. It cleared up well enough that they could hold the musical in Grade 12. It was great to be part of the School at the end there.

HK: She stole the show as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde! I had the privilege of seeing it last year. Then for her to be Co-Head of School and play rugby with the Iron Women… It must have been a very, very proud year for you.

RB: For sure. At the graduation dinner and dance she made a speech and it was super impressive. She was really good; it would bring a little tear to your eye.
Rick and daughter MacKinley
at the June 2022 Closing Day ceremonies.
HK: From someone who’s seen Shawnigan through multiple life cycles now, has being on the Board or being a parent changed your perspective of Shawnigan? 

RB: It was quite a unique experience: being part of the School and seeing as the same place with the same traditions while there is also definitely a lot different, especially because it is co-ed! 

I’m still really, really proud of the School and the way it’s going. There’s a lot of moving parts in modern schools. From someone who’s seen it many years ago as a student, and then see where it is now, it’s obviously different. It’s different courses and different teachers and a different way that the School is run, but I think as a board member you have to just sit back and watch it run and not meddle. You support the School to continue to be one of the best in North America. 

I’ve always felt that Shawnigan produces good people that make the world and society better. You can also be a good athlete or be a great student, but you need to be a good person. People coming out of Shawnigan are being a positive influence in the world, and making it a better place.

The interview featured in this article has been shortened for clarity and brevity.

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