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Walter MacKay Draycot. A short biography

In December 1983, at the age of 100, Draycot produced the Christmas card below for distribution to his friends and relatives. War is the dominant motif. His experiences as a marksman and photographer during the Boer War and World War One filled him with horror and continued to haunt him until his death. After his discharge from hospital in England in 1918, Draycot dedicated his life to peace. Christmas card, 1983. North Vancouver Museum & Archives - click on image to enlarge In his short autobiography, published in Early Days in Lynn Valley, he is a loyal, talented and energetic soldier, as well as a sketcher/writer who has fulfilled his duty to his country. The paragraph on World War One (quoted on the following page of this short biography) is one of the longest in Early Days in Lynn Valley.

Draycot was born on 24 February 1883 in Belgrave, Leicestershire, England. He attended schools in Derby and Liverpool. His short autobiography does not include details of how he earned his living after leaving school. It does, however, record that he took part in the Boer War between 1901 and 1904, where he served as a member of the 60th Rifles and Engineers. As the second son, he could not inherit from his parents; he thus decided to emigrate. Responding to a recruitment campaign by the Canadian Pacific Railway, Draycot arrived in Canada in 1907. Railroad work was harder than he had expected, however, and after only a few months he decided to set up business as a farmer/merchant in Fort William, Ontario. In 1910, he sold his 147-acre farm and used the proceeds to fund an eleven-month trip to England. It was during this period that he began to research his family history – a passion which remained with him until his death in 1985.

On returning to Canada in 1911, Draycot settled on the West Coast, as he found the mild climate particularly congenial. His first home was on Vancouver Island, where he ran a shoe-repair and taxidermy business. Later the same year, he visited Lynn Valley, on Vancouver’s north shore, which became his home until his death in 1985. His autobiography describes his first impressions of the Valley:
There were the snow-capped and forested slopes of mountains, the rivers in which hundreds of salmon cavorted, trees of astounding height and girth, waterpools and the pools below were alive with leaping salmon, deep rock canyons that beckoned the venturesome, skidroads, and the main Tote-road, ‘V’ shaped flumes whose running waters floated shingle-bolts down to Moodyville area; bears, deer, cougar, racoon and the delightful squirrel. The ‘baldheaded’ eagle and smaller birds, guillemots, gulls, herons and passerines.i

i Walter MacKay Draycot, Early Days in Lynn Valley (North Vancouver, BC: District of North Vancouver, 2000), 26.

Next: Biography - Part Two
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