Andrew Mitchell

Andrew Smith Mitchell, 28 Jul 47 – 6 Nov 20

Andrew Mitchell Obituary (2020) – The Times Colonist (


Andrew has been visiting the park since the mid-80s. I first met Andrew in September 2002, shortly after he retired from the Forest Service. Within a few years he became a regular walker on the Alec Road, Merrill Harrop Trail, every morning. Imagine that… must be over 5,000 trips up & down.


Andrew leaves behind four amazing women:

  • Wife Janet (69) married for 45 years
  • Daughter #1, Jennifer (41) who lives in Ontario
  • Daughter #2, Laura (38) who visits the park every day
  • Daughter #3, Heather (34) who lives near Oak Bay


A retired Professional Forester, a wonderful family man, a major park volunteer and true friend . . . I am writing to report my best friend, Andrew Mitchell has passed (73).


On 10 Nov 20, I placed the second set of flowers at the signpost, and walked the Harrop Trail for the first-time knowing Andrew was gone (my heart was wrenching). The night prior there was a wind and some branches fell, this was the first change that happened of which Andrew has not seen. And sure enough, WOW, I encountered his wife Janet, youngest daughter Heather with friend Joseph, and middle daughter Laura. A hundred feet away, I let out, “Hello Andrew”, just as I have done for years. Felt so good, and the greeting was warmly received by family.


Every time I worked with Andrew on a specific project, I jokingly asked, what is your middle name…


Smith, he replied.


I always asked, who was Smith.


Smith is my Grandmother’s maiden name [1875–1949].


The conversation naturally continued into getting to know each other. We averaged a day or a project working together about 2-3 times a year, and we walked together weekly along the Merrill Harrop Trail. One time I mentioned that traditional Foresters sign their memo’s using their initials. I asked, how does A.S. Mitchell Arbutus Grove sound? And Andrew laughed. The topic was just for laughs, as we expected him to live another 20+ years.


I am 46, Andrew 73 (27-year difference); and I can say he was my best friend. Three times over the past decade, my wife Touria telephoned Andrew expressing concern that I was late and may be hurt in the park. Twice, Andrew left his home in the dark and drove to Alec, Thomson, Carmanah and Dunsmuir, looking for my car. Turns out I arrived home as he was driving. One time, I found him at Alec Road at 5:30pm sitting in his car, engine running, radio on, waiting for me. It was mid-December, misty wet, and he showed that he cared for me. Not just cared for me, but clearly understood the fullness that goes into the levels of volunteering we undertook.


I made it up to him…. I responded to an invite to receive a box of squash he grew in his garden… The box was so incredibly heavy, it could not be lifted; my back seat was filled. Andrew was much more than a Forester, he was a family man, gardener, cook, an excellent father to the girls, and fully cared for the family.


We shared and agreed over many conversations concerning trail standards in parks. He fully understood trail gradient and always referred to the leading US National Parks trail standards. Once, I arrived at Alec Road, the rain was so heavy (all-day type) that I withdrew and went to his home for a visit. We sat together and drank many cups of a white tea (Janet, I need to know the name?)… His kitchen table was purposely built, very thick, wonderful, warm, and so large that I am sure it cannot be moved, lol. Andrew was the guy to open his door and say, “come on in”. I think I arrived a dozen times, and never once did he show awkwardness, rather it was a full welcome. He was a genuine man, a true real guy, a man who knew and understood everyone, and welcomed friends.


My wife Touria reacted to a remark I made about Andrew kicking a stone out of the trails surface. She said, “Stop, I would get on my knees and kiss his feet. He is wonderful and cares for Laura.”


The morning of Andrew’s 70th birthday, I planned a meet-up with Andrew at the Alec Road trailhead. My two sons, Amir and Sami came with me (ages then, 6 and 4), and we gave him a gift and a fantastic send-off for his walk with Laura. In-hindsight, I am so glad I made the effort to express my love…


Andrew: hundreds of people are thinking of you and will miss you. I am sure everyone who knew you will think of you every time they walk the parks west-side Alec Road Trail. We have your thinking, and friendship continuously in our minds … LOVE


In 2006, Andrew and myself met with BC Parks, and Andrew volunteered to undertake several trail renovations over the coming years. These are the larger projects which Andrew initiated and accomplished. They were well done, solid, and will be in place for many decades to come:

  • Slektain Trail: placed soils over roots, raised stretches, and installed lower-side trail supports;
  • Barret Montfort Trail West: removed tripping hazards and graded the trail surface;
  • Barret Montfort Trail East: re-established the trail level by re-digging the initial cut and installed edging supports;
  • Woodward Trail: removed tripping hazards and re-established trail levels;
  • Surveyors Trail, east trailhead: added flat stones to reinforce the water bars;
  • Surveyors Trail, Canyon, east side: installed a wide rip-rap staircase and rerouted the trail up and around a stump. This was his largest project. My only involvement was in the finishing (this is Andrew’s flagship project);
  • Surveyors Trail, Owl Hollow: installed a large pipe and raised the crossing approaches;
  • Duck Pond: removed the two old 12” culverts and established a proper outflow channel with a 12’ start to the channel;
  • Merrill Harrop Trail: removed tripping hazards and placed clay soils over roots;
  • Merrill Harrop Trail: Built two stone walls to support the trails lower edge (2018);
  • Merrill Harrop Trail: gathered the rocks and built a 60’ stone wall to support the trails lower edge (2020), this was Andrew’s last project (3 Oct 20);
  • For 15 years, monitored the Merrill Harrop Trail, West Viewpoint Trail, Valley Mist Trail, Illahie Trail and Woodard Trail. He tended to fallen debris and cleared many smaller trees; and
  • Andrew was a seasoned Forester at heart. Through conversation Andrew provided concepts, information and true interpretation to regulars and visitors alike.


Before I cry, I need to state that Andrew was a wonderful person on all levels, family, friends and gave to the park he loved. He was my park-friend, a major volunteer, and I relished our weekly encounters in the park.


From Andrew’s family private stories: a few months ago, in conversation a family friend pointed upwards to God, and Andrew added, “God is everywhere around us.”


Andrew Smith Mitchell: so-long my friend, so-long! Sending my LOVE. I am looking forward to our future friendship!

Andrew’s Service (13 Nov 20). . . was amazing and so perfect. One of the takeaways for myself was that Andrew was truly a caregiver in all ways: family, through his professional career standing up for the environment, he advocated for the disabled, and cared for parks. From L/JDP, Dan Backan and myself were Pall Bearers, along with his brother William Mitchell, and friends Victor Dove, John Stephans and Joseph Sheppard.


I was flabbergasted to hear the Scottish bag pipe, and to learn he won a heavy lifting medal at the Scottish Universities’ Championship. —- We love and will miss you Andrew!

LOVE from US

Update: 16 Nov 20 – It is very hard to say so-long to a friend. After listening to much music… my heart leads me to this. I’m hoping you can play high-volume and tend to your kitchen or office and think of Andrew.

A major park volunteer and friend – thank-you Andrew!

MITCHELL, Andrew Smith July 28, 1947 – November 6, 2020 Andrew is survived by his wife of almost 45 years, Janet and three daughters, Jennifer (Kaarlo) Hinkkala, Laura, and Heather Mitchell. He is also survived by his brother William (Courtney) Mitchell and sister Mary (Bill) Cant. Andrew was beloved by his family and community. He was dedicated to helping his daughter Laura. Andrew was born in the manse at Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. His father, Andrew, was a Presbyterian minister and his mother, Jane (nee Sutherland) was a nurse. He climbed many mountains with his father and older brother including Scotland’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis. At the University of Aberdeen, Andrew was awarded a heavyweight lifting metal at the Scottish Universities’ Championships. He completed his degree in forestry and immigrated to Canada soon after, finally settling on Vancouver Island. He worked for private forestry companies, then at UBC, and then for thirty years with the BC government as a forestry engineer. He, with Laura, was a long-time regular hiker at John Dean Park and was beloved by all the other regulars. He took pride in doing restoration work on the park’s trails and sharing his informative views on sustainable forest practices and restoration. Andrew also built the timber-frame kiosk at Dominion Brook Park. He was an avid gardener, carpenter, and homebuilder. Andrew built three homes. His first was a prefab up island. He then designed and built two homes in North Saanich. His wife, Janet, worked with him to build the second home. The third house was a timber frame that Andrew built over several years. Andrew was dedicated to his family and stood up for social justice and ecological conservation. He enjoyed reading and Scottish country dancing. Andrew lived simply in the example of Jesus throughout his life. He was intelligent, caring, and had outstanding character. He will be dearly missed. May his trails be a lasting legacy to all. A private outdoor green burial service in Royal Oak was held on November 13.To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.

Published in Victoria Times Colonist from Dec. 6, 2020 to Jan. 5, 2021.


  1. Christine Penwarn
    Posted November 10, 2020 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    I had the pleasure of having many conversations with Andrew in the years we crossed paths on the Merrill Harrop trail. He was always a fountain of information and such a genuine person, considerate, kind, intelligent and hard working. He cared about the park and was always working on the improvements and maintenance the trails needed. I admired his dedication to his daughter Laura, making sure she got her hike in every day! The summer before last he asked us if we liked cucumbers, we said yes and the next day we found basket full in our truck parked at the entrance to the trail 🙂 I am very sorry for his family’s loss and the loss of his daily presence at the park, I don’t think I will be able to hike the trail without remembering Andrew.

  2. Posted by Jarrett
    Posted November 10, 2020 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jarrett. Thank you for the note. It’s very sad to hear of Andrew’s passing.

    Andrew provided many years of valuable service and important contributions. Several of us in BC Parks, including myself, were fortunate to accompany him on hikes through ȽÁU,WELṈEW̱/John Dean and Gowlland Tod.

    Take care.

    Andy Macdonald, Regional Director, BC Parks – West Coast Region

  3. Posted by Jarrett
    Posted November 10, 2020 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jarrett,

    I’m so sorry to hear this news. I only met Andrew a few times but I know he had a tremendous amount of passion for the park.

    He will be missed. Ian Rowe.

  4. Posted by Jarrett
    Posted November 10, 2020 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    HI Jarrett,

    I’m so sorry to hear this news. Please pass our condolences onto the family. I know Andrew did a lot of good work in the park.

    Thanks for pulling together a list of the projects he worked on in the park.

    Regards, Maureen Dale

  5. Posted by Jarrett
    Posted November 10, 2020 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    So sorry to hear! Complete shock, I hiked with him last week. Thanks for letting me know.

  6. Posted by Jarrett
    Posted November 10, 2020 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    I am grieved to hear of Andrew’s passing. He was ahuge force for positive developments in John Dean Park. We will miss him.


  7. Malcolm
    Posted November 11, 2020 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    So sorry to hear of the passing of Andrew! He was always a delight to run into on the hill and full of wisdom. We had some good conversations over the years.

    He will certainly be missed.
    Our condolences to his family.

    Malcolm & Lisa

  8. Helene Dizy
    Posted November 11, 2020 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    I too was one of those that felt it was my lucky day when I met Andrew while hiking in John Dean Park. We always had great conversations – certainly never boring! He always gave me the impression that he would speak with me as long as I wanted to speak with him.
    He was certainly one of a kind!
    I’ll really miss him!

  9. Posted by Jarrett
    Posted November 12, 2020 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jarrrett, That was a beautiful write up on Andrew. I learned so much more about him.
    I sang along with tears in my eyes to the hymn below. Just excellent.

    All the best, Tracy

  10. Pam McCorquodale
    Posted November 12, 2020 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    I was deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Andrew. I remember when Andrew, Laura and their little dog would walk up Dunsmuir hill into the park. Andrew was always gracious, kind and so patient and caring towards Laura. The work he has done in the park will be remembered by those of us who know just how much effort and time he spent fixing up the trails. Over the years we had many chats when we met along the trails and I’ll miss seeing and talking with him.

    Andrew can only be physically gone but never the life lived and the memories shared.


  11. David Gill
    Posted November 14, 2020 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    I was so shocked and saddened to hear the news of Andrews passing . He was a man who would always take the time to stop and share his views on the park, forestry practices, and politics, and would alway listen to mine . I would have to say, he was a man who had learned the art of listening and compassion .
    His dedication to his daughter Laura seemed super human to me , every day he would be there with her .
    I last spoke with Andrew on the day after the storm on Friday, he was unusually later than usual, and didn’t have the same cheerful demeanour, upon asking him if he was feeling ok, he told me he was not feeling well, a testament to his dedication.
    I too will not be able to hike those trails again without thoughts of Andrew, of the power of such a humble man.
    Andrew, may you forever be walking in the forest in the sky with god.
    Greatly missed,

  12. Jarrett Teague
    Posted November 14, 2020 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Jarrett’s Facebook (14 Nov 20):
    I just leaned my best friend Andrew Mitchell has passed away, age 73. We spent 18 year together working at John Dean Park, and lastly along the Harrop Trail. Andrew gathered the rocks we used for our recent trail raise (video below), which we installed on 3 Oct 20. I can’t believe he is gone…. Sending my LOVE

    Ben Stewart – Sorry to hear his passing. My condolences.
    Charleen Renshaw Souliere – Deep condolences
    Jeremy Martin – Really sorry to hear that!! my thought are with you and his loved ones!
    Jesse Shepherd – Sorry Jarrett
    Rene-Mathieu Valliere – Sorry for your loss to you and his family
    Echo Pearson Symmons – sorry to hear of your loss, Jarrett.
    Samantha Eburne – sorry for your loss Jarett. Thinking of you…
    Aaron Popejoy – Sorry for your loss.
    Steven Georgieff – My sympathies
    Richard Douglas Popejoy – My deep sympathies Jarrett
    Kevin Lushaw – Sorry to hear of your loss.

  13. Joy douglas
    Posted November 15, 2020 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    A beautiful tribute to a wonderful man. Close friendships are rare and greatly treasured. Hold close the memories and celebrate you know a great soul.

  14. Anni
    Posted November 16, 2020 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    Sorry to hear of the loss of such a fine man in our community, and with condolences to his family and yourself.
    Wishing you and yours well,

  15. Andrew's Nephew
    Posted November 16, 2020 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    I just read your incredible note about my uncle, and namesake, Amdrew Smith Mitchell.

    I live in the US and was unable to cross the border for the service yesterday.

    What you wrote meant the world to me. Andrew was an amazing man, father, husband, and in my case, uncle (I am his brother William’s son).

    If you are ever in Colorado, please reach out to me, I would love to meet you.

    Andrew Mitchell

  16. Andrew's Daughter
    Posted November 16, 2020 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for sharing these memories of Dad building paths in John Dean. This was something he took great joy and pride in doing! We are thankful dad had the help of a true friend when he did this valuable conservation work. I hope you are able to continue maintaining these walkways and protecting this sensitive ecological area from erosion, fire risks, and other considerations.

    Thank you,

  17. Grace Atkinson
    Posted December 5, 2020 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jarrett. Great chatting with you today. Thank you for letting us know about Andrew’s passing. Such a tremendous loss! We spoke with Andrew often. Loved his Scottish brogue. Thanks to you, Andrew and all the stewards who keep the park pristine.

    Anne and Grace.

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