Blaine resident Graham Hunter spent a life in the Royal Canadian Air Force and working as a commercial pilot. But it was only after being forced to retire at the age of 60, the standard age for pilots, that he said he really started living.
That’s because for Hunter, it’s all about community. Specifically, he said, helping Blaine become increasingly self-reliant and being part of a network of people who help each other in hard times.
“For me, community involvement starts with retirement,” he said.
“I spend a lot of waking moments thinking of ways to improve or create a community that is self-sustaining and interesting and be a place where people want to live so that when people visit, they want to come back later.”
At 66, Graham has a schedule that has the momentum of a snowball rolling downhill. It includes sailing, woodworking, exercise, gardening, and volunteering with several local organizations.
He is a boating safety teacher with the Bellingham Power Squadron, teaches classes regularly at Bellingham Technical College, has worked with the Blaine Sea Scouts and the Blaine Gardener’s Market as well as volunteered with the Blaine Coalition for Historic Preservation, the group working to restore the train depot. He also works as a sailing instructor with the Blaine Community Sailing Program.
“It’s sort of like all these experiences in through life and I’ve just gotten to the point where I can use them in the places I want to use them,” he said. “I’ve realized that volunteering brings added value and interest to life.
“That, and every time you get involved to do something you realize there are more interesting people out there in the community.”
Hunter moved to Blaine in 1976 after real estate prices in his hometown of White Rock, B.C. became cost-prohibitive.
He later met and married his wife, Donna, and the two built a log home in east Blaine.
After retirement, he was forced to choose between continuing his flying hobby or taking up sailing. But after seeing Blaine’s waterfront and considering the expenses of flying, the choice became clear.
“You look at a place like Blaine and look out at the marina and you say, ‘That settles it, that’s what I’m going to do in my retirement,’” he said.
Hunter added that since moving here, he has gained an appreciation for the tight-knit nature of the Blaine community.
“It just has so much to offer in terms of waterfront and that small town feel,” he said. “White Rock has that as well but nowhere near the tight-knit community. Of course, most people realize that is an asset and a liability. But we’re a tight-knit community that is also open to new people.”