THEN AND NOW: From Wales to Alberni, an army tale

Port Alberni veteran Bruce Proudfoot was born in Porthcawl, Wales and joined the British Army as a Royal Engineer apprentice at age 15.
Bruce Proudfoot joined the British Army at age 15. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)Bruce Proudfoot joined the British Army at age 15. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Bruce Proudfoot in 2020. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)Bruce Proudfoot in 2020. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

The number of Port Alberni’s veterans of the First and Second World Wars, and campaigns such as the Korean or Vietnam wars, are dwindling. When we see these veterans in uniform, be they members who saw battle, supported their brethren or entered areas of conflict on peacekeeping missions, we see the way they are today: navy blue blazers, chests full of medals, faces lined with character.

Last year, freelance writer and photographer Sonja Drinkwater approached eight veterans of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 293 and asked them to share a photo from when they served with their respective military branch, as well as a description of their role. She then took a photograph of the veterans as they are now.

The project was so popular that she has approached six more veterans this year. They are all active members of the Legion. If you know of a Port Alberni veteran who deserves to be featured, reach out to us at


Port Alberni veteran Bruce Proudfoot was born in Porthcawl, Wales and joined the British Army as a Royal Engineer apprentice at age 15.

Proudfoot served in the United Kingdom, Gibraltar, the Outer Hebrides, Oman, Germany and Canada. When he was 25, he landed in Canada on a Thursday and joined the Royal Canadian Legion branch in Squamish on that Saturday. He went through all the ranks and eventually became the president, and later achieving a lifetime membership.

Proudfoot had been put on reserve from his post with the British Army, and moved to Squamish because he had family living there at the time. “Family lived in Squamish and informed me that there was work here. In the ’70s there was all sorts of work for tradespeople,” he said.

He worked as a steam fitter and pipe fitter at a pulp mill in Squamish until it closed, forcing him into retirement.

Proudfoot is married to Sandi Paterson of Port Alberni. He has four children and 11 grandchildren.

Before his retirement from the mill in Squamish, he and Sandi had been travelling back and forth between Squamish and Port Alberni because Sandi’s mother was ill. They decided in 2007 to move to Port Alberni full time following Proudfoot’s retirement to stay close to Sandi’s mother; although she has since passed, Proudfoot and Paterson still live in Sandi’s family home in Cherry Creek.

Proudfoot joined a Legion branch in Port Alberni and quickly became well known for his work with veterans and being the emcee at past Remembrance Day services.

He will take on those emcee duties again for the shorter, invitation-only ceremonies taking place at the Field of Honour on Nov. 11, 2020.

Remembrance Day

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria artisan Tina Neurauter, right, used to shop at Pot Luck Ceramics with her daughter from Port Alberni. Now Neurauter is selling her handmade soaps and bath products at Bibi J’s, a new enterprise in the former Pot Luck Ceramics building on Gertrude Street in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Former Pot Luck Ceramics location reimagined as Bibi J’s

Owner Helma Swinkels revives social enterprise with new name, vision

The Rollin Art Centre’s Mistletoe Market begins on Dec. 1. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
ARTS AROUND: Rollin Art Centre prepares for Mistletoe Market

Artisans and crafters are still needed for annual Christmas craft fair

‘Homelessness’ means many things to people with no permanent place to sleep. For some, the challenge to find safe shelter is greater than for others. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni mother battles to find housing for her son

Mary Elles fears her son will die on the street before he will find safe housing

Andy Richards of Dog Mountain Brewing demonstrates their new canning machine. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
BIZ BEAT: Local businesses need support during holidays

Bosley’s helping pets out during holiday season

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Picture of two swans leaving the Cowichan estuary moments before one was shot out of the sky. (Submitted photo)
Petition to stop hunting in Cowichan estuary after swan shot

Hunters blame shooting on illegal poachers

Most Read