Sometimes things happen for a reason and if Tom McEwan had made some different choices after serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force in the Second World War, the Greater Trail area would have been much poorer for it.
When McEwan completed his degree in chemical engineering at the University of British Columbia in 1951 he had offers in other parts of Canada but he and his wife Edie, who passed away in 2008, chose to come to Trail instead.
“I had offers in Ontario in chemical engineering, that’s where the chemical guys were. But neither of our fathers were well at that time and we wanted to stay closer to Vancouver, where they were,” McEwan said. “Within a month or so of being here we had a lot of friends and we really loved it. It was a nice, family-oriented community and we decided to stay.”
And stay they did.
McEwan went on to work for Cominco Ltd. for 35 years, retiring in 1986. With his beloved wife, he raised six sons who went on to become a B.C. Supreme Court Justice, two successful lawyers, an economic development officer, an associate deputy minister with the provincial government, and the former Chief Executive Officer of Sobeys Canada.
At the same time of pursuing his own career and raising children, McEwan also threw himself into helping to build and support the community he had grown to love, volunteering in health care, sports, education, elder and youth care, and religion.
Over the years McEwan served as a member of the Spiritual Care Committee of the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH), the Trail Regional Hospital Board, the original building committee and member of the board of directors of Alpha House, the St. Michael’s Catholic School’s original building committee and board of directors, a member of the Board of Advisors and the Board of Governors of Notre Dame University in Nelson, a member of Toastmasters, president of the West Trail Little League, the United Way, the Trail Athletic Association, an assistant Scout Master, and the Trail-Warfield Stingrays swim club executive.
“I just liked being here and felt I should give back. Edie was the same way, family and community oriented,” McEwan said. “I believe that part of the reason we’re here is to be concerned with others and do what we can to help. When we do that we honour the source of life, whether you call it God or Buddha or whatever you like.”
Tom has relinquished some of his responsibilities but still actively serves on the Board of Directors of the Generation to Generation Society-Sanctuary, Trail Hospice Society, the KBRH Foundation, the Interior Health Medical Ethics Committee, a grief support group which he founded and facilitated, the Royal Canadian Legion, and the Knights of Columbus.
McEwan will receive the Citizen of the Year award May 6 at a public ceremony at the St, Michael’s School Gym, at 7:00 in what is generally considered to be the kick-off for the annual Silver City Days celebration.