He was born in Nova Scotia and grew up in Ottawa, but Sandy McRuer considers Port Alberni home.
McRuer was born in paradise in 1952, he says. “Paradise, Nova Scotia, it’s actually a place.”
One of three siblings, McRuer’s father was in the Canadian Navy so the family moved around. They next lived in Longdon, England then to Halifax before finally settling in Ottawa.
“I remember the people who lived on our street, playing road hockey and and I even remember our old phone number,” McRuer said.
A young McRuer attended Manner Park public school then was a day student at Ashbury College School for three years before attending Rideau High School, where he graduated in 1970.
McRuer counts former Ottawa Roughriders quarterback Russ Jackson and New York Islanders defenseman Denis Potvin as high school alumnus, he says.
McRuer never looked up to heroes or role models growing up but he did take note of those who were into the counter culture and new ideas. “They were mostly obscure local people so I don’t think you’d know them,” he said.
McRuer was a bit of a lost soul after graduating from high school. “I had no idea what I wanted to do and it took me a long time to figure that part of life out,” he said.
He tried environmental studies in university but it didn’t hold his interest so he dropped out, went back to Ottawa and took a year off to regroup and work.
McRuer liked the environment so he went back to school, this time in New Brunswick, where he studied forestry, a program he graduated from in 1980.
He left university broke and drowning in student loans. He went back to Ottawa and worked for a year before heading west, where McRuer heard there was opportunity.
He ended up in Vancouver, where he lived in a rooming house and bused tables before taking a job opportunity in Campbell River, where he lived for three years.
Another job opportunity came up in Port Alberni with the ministry of forests and McRuer jumped at the offer. “At first I thought it was dingy here, but I liked the proximity to Nanaimo, the Pacific Rim and to the mountains,” he said.
He’s been here ever since and will likely live out his life here, he said. “The community grew on me and I don’t think I’ll ever move — this is my home.”
McRuer operates his own business — Rainbird Excursions — is an avid birder and is active in the community. He created a 300-member Facebook group that was regarded as having some influence on the recent civic election. “I’m glad I did it and I think there’s room for more of it,” he said.
McRuer isn’t much of a movie goer, he says, but he appreciates movies with intrigue and drama, and liked Source Code starring Jake Gyllenhaal.
McRuer is reading Landing Page Optimizing For Dummies, and his favourite book is Lord Of The Rings, which he read a long time ago, he says.
If he could have dinner with a historical figure it would be Alfred The Great, who as an English Saxon king.
“The Lord of The Rings (books) are based on legends from that period of time,” McRuer said. “I think it would be fascinating to talk to someone from that period of time.”