The Meaning of Life Membership in CPS
By Don Butt


Love Hope and Charity. We know where that came from. “The greatest of these is love”.
How about this version: Life, Hope, and Charity
Charity is giving our time volunteering
Hope is that we make a difference and live long enough to achieve 20 years of 20 hours or more of service to CPS-ECP
“But the greatest of these” is Life.
Well, maybe, but it sure feels great to have achieved that milestone: Life Membership in CPS-ECP. Requirement to pay no more annual dues is nice, but the oddest emotions happen when you are recognized for your 20 “Merit Marks*”.
Speaking personally, it was a mixture of feelings of achievement, humility, and pride, For sure you meet some wonderful like-minded people on the journey who had a measure of influence in your life. Putting it all together, while the carrot of “Life Membership” after those 20 years, is a rewarding goal to achieve (ah, free membership at last - your “pay” some call it), it pales before the satisfaction achieved for all those years of camaraderie, and just maybe saving someone’s life on the water in the process.
Oh yes, the photo: from the Squadron’s historical albums, this photo of the future three life members on A Cappella during a Squadron cruise to Salt Spring Island in 1998. Hugh, centre, became a life member in 2005, Rufus, left, in 2007 and Don, right, in 2017.
*One Merit Mark is awarded each year of volunteer service totalling 20 hours or more to CPS-ECP. Twenty years of Merit Marks qualifies one for the category of “Life Membership”.

Hugh Sproule
Life Member Since 2005

In Hugh’s own words:
It all began when I became a member of the 1st Port Credit Sea Scouts. As a Sea Scout, I could access the Port Credit Yacht Club (Port Credit, Ontario – just west of Toronto). I became a yacht club ‘wharf rat’, crewing for various members on their boats for the Wednesday night, Saturday afternoon and Sunday Morning sail- boat races. In the fall of 1949 the CPS was beginning to stretch its fledgling wings (fewer than 200 members nation-wide), and it challenged 12 of us to take the Boating Course. I was ecstatic that they would allow a teenager to take the course (cost $18.00). Except for knots, splices and very basic seamanship, the course challenged me. Everyone was surprised when I passed in the spring of 1950. I passed the Seamanship course the following year. Port Credit was granted Squadron status and became the 1st of three squadrons in which I am a charter member.
I joined the Canadian Navy as a seaman and eventually took my commission, becoming a Minor War Vessel Navigator and serving as Executive Officer of several Canadian MWV’s. It was in the late 1970’s (as a sailboat owner) that I was reunited with the CPS, in the Halifax Area. I challenged and passed the Advance Piloting exam. In the early 1980’s we moved to Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. The District Commander of the day encouraged me to become involved in the area. With his encouragement I began to revive the Bluenose Squadron. This happened in the 1985-86 season (Charter member #2).

With family locating in western Canada, we decided to follow, and landed on Gabriola in 1995. I intended to join the Nanaimo Squadron, but its Commander encouraged me to round up the CPS members on Gabriola and start a Squadron. With the assistance of four or five Island members we proceeded. There were not enough Gabriola members to form a Squadron, so with the aid of your current Commander Mike Hoeinghaus we ran our very first Boating Course and were granted Squadron status early fall 1996. (Charter member #3).
Over the years I have taught Boating, Seamanship, Advance Piloting and Marine Radio Communications. I also served as a VIND Assistant Training Officer for three years. My CPS journey has been very rewarding.
This is where Hugh’s story ends, but it is not the end of his involvement in the Gabriola Island Squadron by any means. He succeeded Arthur J. Nielsen to become the Squadron's second commander and he served in that capacity for two years from 1997 to 1999. These were the early years of the Squadron, accompanied by the inevitable challenges faced by a new organisation. To his credit, by the time he left the commander’s post, Hugh had set the pattern for the young Squadron’s many successes in later years. During his time membership broke through the 50-member mark and in 1998 had seen a 100% membership renewal rate. Also, during his tenure the Squadron had its first rendezvous and expanded its training programme by offering a BoatPro course and a GPS seminar for the first time. The Squadron’s finances achieved a sound footing. Socials became a regular part of the life of the Squadron with about three per year. The Bridge met frequently, and about one third of the membership was involved in the Squadron’s operations.
As past commander Hugh continued his involvement in the squadron through training activities, serving as membership and communications officer, participating in student and social cruises and attending the Squadron’s social events. Although Hugh moved away in 2006, he retained his Gabriola Island Squadron membership and attends its social events with his wife Jean whenever he can.

C.S. 'Rufus' Churcher
Life Member Since 2007

Rufus Churcher became a life member in 2007, having achieved his twentieth merit award. He had joined the Gabriola Island Squadron in 1997, one year after its founding. In the archival albums kept by the Squadron’s historian, he is listed as an instructor for the boating classes of the fall of 1997 and the spring of 1998. He would remain an Assistant Training Officer (ATO) for the next ten years. Rufus taught the Squadron’s first Weather Course and enrolled himself as a student in it as well, the mark of a great teacher. Rufus took the exam along with the other students. All six students passed and in part thanks to Rufus as a member of the training team, the Squadron won the CPS’ National Beldon W. Fox Memorial Award for the most improved Squadron in Canada.

Rufus and his wife Bee came to Gabriola Island in 1995, having retired after a distinguished career as Professor of Zoology at the University of Toronto and Research Associate in the Royal Ontario Museum. His wide interests in paleontology and geology led him to places as diverse as western Canada and eastern Africa. In his Gabriola retirement Rufus continued his life’s work, making annual summer trips for eighteen years to the Dakhleh Oasis in western Egypt. Rufus took many opportunities to sail on other members’ vessels. Yet, even with his abiding interest in all things boats and boating, developed during his youth in England, Rufus never did own a boat in his Gabriola days. Instead, he could be found, during the west coast boating season, in a Land Rover, crossing the deserts of North Africa, where his discoveries helped piece together the histories of plants and animals and early humans. After his retirement fifty three prominent palaeontologists from around the world published a festschrift to honour him.
In spite of his academic work before and after retirement, Rufus loved to keep in touch with the boating community. He first joined CPS in 1982 as a member of St. James Squadron in Toronto East District, and progressed through various courses, both as a student and an instructor, eventually obtaining his Advanced Piloting (AP) certification. He was elected Commander of the squadron for 1992-93.
After his ten-year stint as ATO, Rufus became the Gabriola Squadron’s Public Relations Officer for eight years until 2015, when he and Bee moved to Victoria. His job was to make the Gabriola community aware of the valuable educational work of the Squadron, which he did through articles in the local newspapers. He also collected donations from local businesses to help support the Squadron’s work.
By being active on Gabriola, Rufus raised the profile of the Squadron at the same time. He was a member of the Gabriola Land and Trails Trust Board, a Director of the Sylva Bay Shipyard School Society, an active member of the Gabriola Museum Society and a Gabriola Health Care Foundation Board member. In addition to his local activities, Rufus was a member for many years of the CPS’ Vancouver Island North District (VIND) Bridge. Because of his close association with the Gabriola community, Rufus was also a record local fundraiser for the VIND’s directory, The Roster. Year after year, Rufus led the fundraising drive, beating out much larger communities in the District.
For eighteen years on Gabriola, ten as Assistant Training Officer and eight as the Public Relations Officer, and before all that as a CPS member, instructor and commander in Toronto, Rufus is a shining example of the dedication of CPS volunteers. His love of boating and his attachment to CPS continue to be witnessed by Gabriola Island Squadron members, as he still is a member of the Squadron, in spite of having moved to Victoria and still attends, with Bee, many of the Squadron socials. Thank you, Rufus, for all you’ve done!


Don Butt
Life Member Since 2017


Don received his Life Membership in CPS at the Squadron’s AGM, held on April 23, 2017. Past Commander Ralph Hagen paid a memorable tribute to Don’s outstanding contributions to the Squadron and CPS over the years. Here it is:
So Don got his twenty-year card and pin and his life membership in Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons …. almost as long as our squadron has existed. Gabriola Island Squadron was formed in 1996 and Don was a student in the first boating course.
Not that he was new to boating. He came from the Toronto area with his boat A Cappella but had not had anything to do with CPS there. Boating in Toronto means you just need to leave the dock and head south and when it’s time to go back, turn around and head north.
Don came to Gabriola from Ontario having retired from medical practise. Time to relax and enjoy. Take a boating course. Take some pictures.
As soon as he had completed the Boating Course Don became a squadron member and got involved in the squadron’s activities. First off he was the squadron training officer as they were called then. After that he was squadron commander for 5 years. Following that he remained actively involved in the squadron’s activities such as instructing, newsletter editor, communications officer, privacy officer, nominating committee member, website support, digitizing the squadron archives of more than the first decade.
After having been squadron commander for 5 years he stepped up to the CPS’ Vancouver Island North District, where he was active in various committees and received the District Commander’s Award for outstanding service to the District in 2003 and then was district commander himself in 2008-9. During those years he continued his active involvement in the Gabriola squadron’s activities.
The various positions and activities recited are the formal ones. But there is more. Don has monitored the pulse of our squadron for these last twenty years. He has at times been in the forefront of the goings on and at other times he has been in the background or the shadows seeing to the health of the squadron.
Some people in these positions look for a camera to smile at. How many of our squadron pictures have Don in them? He is always the one behind the camera. Times like this are for the gold watch or the gold clock. Been there, done that. Got the clock in 2004 for having been commander for 5 years, a record that still stands. There is no suitable hardware for recognition of what Don has done for this squadron and for CPS. All we can do is say “Thank you Don.”
Ralph Hagen, Past Commander, Gabriola Island Squadron
Editor’s notes:
Commander Ralph himself has an outstanding career with the Gabriola Island Squadron, first becoming Administrative Officer and Secretary in 1998 and serving as Squadron Training Officer for eight years between 2005 and 2013, following which he became Commander from 2013-2015. He is the current Past Commander and Chair of the Squadron’s Nominating Committee. As such he has had a front-row seat from which to witness the many contributions made to the Squadron by P/C Don Butt over the last twenty years.




And a bit about Don’s “other life”…

After completing a BSc. in pharmacy he went on to medical school at U of Toronto, and a career as a family physician with a balance interest in people and academics. He was an associate professor in Family and Community Medicine at U of T and taught many family practice residents. He served as President of the Ontario College and later, the National President of the College of Family Physicians of Canada, and was named the 1992 Canadian Family Physician of the Year. He still consults in disability cases for a large insurance company. He delivered about 2000 babies and sang “Happy Birthday” to each of them when they were born. He and Mary still sing in auditioned choirs, and Don also plays the flute. He is currently the photographer for CPS-ECP nationally.