Charles “Ken” Martin
May 2, 1949 – June 17, 2022
To many people, Ken was a fisherman affectionately known as “The Captain”. But to others he was Ken, the father, the husband, the friend.
Ken was deceased by his parents, Brian and Shirley (Leeman) Martin. He is survived by his loving wife Theresa (née Scanlan); her three children Chris (Shaunna Wachter), Trevor (Val Noonan) and Katrina (Carson Fulde); and cherished grandchildren, Deklen, Brett, Nate and Chase. He is also survived by his brother Bobby from Bella Bella, his sister Patty (Chris Shea), and his niece and nephew Christy and Jeff Shea.
Ken was a Bella Bella boy, born and raised. At the age of 11, his family moved to the North Vancouver Highlands, where he made a splash on the basketball court at Handsworth Secondary. Thanks to the advocacy of his beloved coach, Jim Buchanan, Ken was honored as BC’s top athlete in 1967 and received a full scholarship to SFU.
He tried, but those early years on the BC coast gave him a longing for a life on the water and he couldn’t see himself doing anything else for a living. For the second time in his life he was about to cause a sensation. At 21, Ken introduced the first fiberglass sole packer ever built. He called her the “Northern Princess”, built at Shearwater Marine (across the channel from Bella Bella). Ken began working for Jack Elsey of Millbank Industries in 1970. It was the beginning of an outstanding commercial fishing career.
Meanwhile, a 21-year-old Toronto nurse named Theresa Scanlan made the bold decision to begin her career at RW Large Memorial Hospital in Bella Bella. Ken took one look at her and knew he had found his true “Princess of the North”. This was the beginning of a 49 year journey.
Ken’s career highlighted his work ethic, entrepreneurship and chameleon-like ability to adapt to the ever-changing fishing industry. He started packing salmon and herring. From there he moved into management at the Pacific North Coast Native Co-op in Port Simpson. When it came time to try his hand at commercial fishing, he built a gillnet bow picker that was so well received that he built 40 more. He ended his fishing career on his beloved Miss Katrina along with his son Chris on Shumahalt. He then started a shipping company (Pacific Surface Drives) and sold and installed Arneson Drives. Ken had clients from New Zealand, Greece, Nova Scotia and from the Pacific Coast from California to Alaska. You can find this type of propulsion system on patrol, whale watching, fishing and pleasure boats.
Theresa was a Toronto girl, and Ken liked to complain about “those Easterners.” But to be honest, he knew he’d won the in-laws’ lottery. He liked to call them “his outlaws” and warned, “You don’t marry just one, you marry the whole damn lot of them!” Theresa’s parents, Bern (JB) and Clare, were the names of her seven siblings and partners, grandparents, aunts and uncles welcomed him into their large family and loved this west coast fisherman as one of their own. Some of his happiest memories are of the times he spent with this loving Irish clan.
Ken has made meaningful connections throughout his life. He and Theresa were always happy to invite new friends into the flock while never letting go of the old ones. But it was their “friendship octet” that they treasured the most. Bob and Diane Williams, Derek and Judy Stedman, and Greg and Barb Harder attended their wedding and have been a big part of their lives ever since. What a gift to share your journey with this wonderful crew. Together they raised their families, shared vacations, and loved and supported each other for 50 years.
Whether at home or on the water, Ken’s quick response to any request was, “No problem!” One of his greatest joys was sharing his happiness with everyone. The door to her beautiful home on the Seymour River was always open. It was often bursting at the seams with family, friends, the children’s friends and visitors from near and far. That’s how Ken loved it.
He was a man of simple taste who was easily satisfied. A round of golf with his buddies, dinner with his wife, watching his daughter play basketball, his sons play baseball and soccer, and then again with his grandchildren was all it took for Ken to feel fulfilled.
After more than 40 years in British Columbia’s fishing industry and his best life, it came to an abrupt end when Ken was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Within six months, Ken faced the heartbreaking task of selling his boat, business and family home. Throughout it all, he continued to face his cruel reality with courage and dignity. He found a new, manageable home for himself and Theresa at the end of Indian River Drive and, with much help from AJ Harwood, created a warm and welcoming new home. He was welcomed to the badminton court at Parkgate, where he found acceptance and friendship.
Ken went through Alzheimer’s like most things in his life: unpredictable, fast, defiant, but always with grace and kindness. In his final years, he became much less self-conscious about showing love for family and friends. He didn’t shy away from shedding a tear when he was touched by a hug from his love of 49, or a smile from his beloved daughter Katrina, or a hug from his sons Christopher and Trevor. He continued to glow as his grandchildren entered the room. He never lost his sense of humor, his love for his family and above all his love of dancing.
The Berkley Care Center was his second home for the past year. The angels at Berkley provided Ken and Theresa with a level of care, kindness and compassion his family will never forget. They also appreciated Krista McPhail and her 4W team at Lions Gate Hospital. dr Mark Seger and Dr. Jeanette Evans played an important role in setting Ken on the right path. A special thanks goes to Dr. Paul Sugar for helping navigate this final chapter.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Dr. Paul Sugar Foundation (www.paulsugarfoundation.com).
May the captain of the Northern Princess be granted a smooth passage.
Published by North Shore News from June 22 to July 21, 2022.