After five years of rambling around 102-room Government House, wearing the 40-pound vice-regal dress uniform and getting used to everyone saluting the heck out of him, Chilliwack's Steven Point is done with being the Queen's representative in British Columbia.
Point stepped down last week to make way for newly appointed Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon.
The Times caught up with him during his last few days at Government House to ask him about his time as L-G.
What will be your fondest memory of your time as L-G?
"I suggested that they start an aboriginal army cadet corps in Duncan for the kids there, and they did start one, and so I was invited to the review of that, and just seeing them, all the kids there with the parents and all their uniforms on, it was one of the best moments because it's going to carry on. You can give an award or open a bridge, but to see something like that start for the kids, it was just one of the best things for me. I felt really good about that."
What unique Steven Point impression did you make on the position of L-G?
"Oh golly, I don't know. One of the things that we did was I created a little guy named Ike. He's a native kid with Indian sweater on, and he just gets himself into different scenarios. I had a cartoonist draw him up in three different pictures that kind of related. And we put them on the Internet and asked the public schools to download them and have the Grade 4s write me a story. And so I began to get these stories in the mail from kids from all over the province, and I would read them through at night here."
What was the best part of being L-G?
"I think working with youth has been probably the best. The literacy campaign was the other thing that we did. We brought books out to isolated communities."
What part of being lie did you find most challenging?
"It's just the driving back and forth. It's a long ways from Chilliwack to Victoria, and we've probably spent a thousand trips going back and forth, 500 on a limousine and 500 on our own car. That's where all our grandchildren are. All our kids are there for birthdays and things like that. You kind of get lonesome over here for your kids."
Were there any protocols around your position as L-G that surprised or amused you?
"Everything that we did from a day-to-day basis was learning and new. After being sworn in, we were at the reception, and I was being introduced: 'This is the brigadier general, this is the rear admiral, this is the colonel.' All these generals were standing around with their full-dress uniforms on and they were all saluting me. And I'm going, 'Holy crow!' And it dawned on me that, of course, Queen is the head of the military in Canada. And I'm the Queen's representative. The rear admiral said, 'Your honour, these are your ships here.' And I go, 'My ships? Oh. Really? Can I take one out for a spin?'"
Did you salute them back?
"Yes, in uniform I did. I had to learn how to do that again. I had to wear a sword when I was wearing the full uniform of the lieutenant-governor and they salute differently. I had to learn how to salute with a sword. And whenever I was in that uniform everyone was saluting the heck out of me. That was part of the job I had to get used to doing."
What was the most unusual gift you received as L-G?
"I did as lieutenant-governor get a mask from a hereditary chief up on the coast for our literacy campaign. He said to me, 'Would you dance it too?' It was a carved mask . . . That was really a wonderful gift. I got a sword from the navy, a real sword to go with the vice-regal uniform, and, oh golly, the list goes on. I got an unusual gift from an African delegate because as lieutenant-governor, of course, I meet with all of these international representatives that are here in Vancouver. I think I got a horse tail. It's a very significant thing in African culture."
Who are some of the most recognizable people you've met during time as L-G?
"In the first few months we did meet the Queen. We went to England and they presented Gwen and I to Her Majesty . . . . There's a lot of protocol. You bow as you enter the room and you bow again after a few steps and then you bow again. We sat down and we had an interview with her for about 15 minutes . . . . We talked about the job. She said this is a very busy position. She said, 'Don't let them work you on Sunday. I never liked working Sundays.' We met the Pope within a week after that."
What was it like living at Government House?
"It's kind of cool. There's 102 rooms here. There's four floors and a lot of time I'm here by myself. Gwen had to keep working in Chilliwack and stay with the kids, and I'd come over by myself, so it's kind of scary. Like an old house, it's creaky. Then you've got security here, but that's it. And I'm kind of walking around and looking at all these guys here on the wall. It's kind of cool, but after a while you go, 'I really want to go home.'"
Do feel you learned more about Chilliwack in your official capacity?
"It's a learning curve to see how government works, to meet the veterans, to meet all the Rotarians. All these organization are just doing great work in the community. I've learned an awful lot. The Rotarians in Chilliwack, I'm a member of their club now as well as the Kiwanis. I'm an honorary member there. I've met so many people that I hadn't met before, so it's been a great experience.
What are you looking forward to most when you time as L-G is done?
"Sleeping in my own bed every night, getting up and making tea and having my own food, and being able to just get up and leave. When you're here, they lock the gate at nine o'clock, and if I've got to go anywhere, I gotta tell them and they gotta go open the gate, gotta wait for me to come back."