EDO NYLAND | 1927-2017

Our greatest Friend Edo, passed away on August 13, 2017, age 89½.


Edo and residents founded the Friends of John Dean Park on May 10, 1984. Between 1984 and 2001, Edo steered the Friends Society and physically volunteered throughout the park.

Edo’s involvement at John Dean Park spanned 33 years:

1984-2001 era | Friends leadership & major trail volunteer (18 years)

2002-2017 era | Friends advisor & executive member (16 years)


Edo was born in Amsterdam, Holland on December 22, 1927. At age 13 he became a member of the Netherlands Youth Group for Nature Studies, where he established his own Garden of Edo, which held more than 300 types of wildflowers. His high school years occurred during the German occupation, and during this time he followed the war effort and learned. In 1947, while studying botany at the University of Amsterdam, he was required to complete two years of military service (1947-49). Much of that period was spent with the Medical Corps at an Army Hospital in Djakarta, Indonesia, where he assisted ophthalmologists with eye operations. In 1949, Edo was decorated for action under fire in West Java. “I helped with the evacuation of wounded and gave medical aid under fire; and experienced first-hand the degrading fanaticism, brutality and decadence of atrocities committed on both sides of this tragic conflict.”

After his military experience he returned to Amsterdam, where the military paid veterans to attend specialised training. Edo took a cabinetmakers course, and upon completion headed for Canada, arriving April 1952, age 24.

Edo attended the University of Alberta for his first year of Arts. Then he studied Forestry at the University of British Columbia, where in 1957 he was awarded a B.S.F. degree in Forestry. Between 1957 and 1968 he was a District Forester for the Whitecourt Forest in Alberta. In 1968 he was promoted to land use specialist at the Alberta Forest Service head office in Edmonton. In 1971 he was appointed Regional Manager of the Federal Yukon Lands and Forest Service, based at Whitehorse, Yukon. His main tasks were modernizing and building of the Yukon Forest Service, which included staff training, fire prevention and aerial fire suppression, supervision of road, bridge, airstrip and seismic line construction activities of many oil and mining companies, environmental protection, inspection of private recreation facilities, timber disposal, and silvicultural etc.

At age 55, Edo and Elizabeth retired and relocated from the Yukon to North Saanich on Vancouver Island. It was the autumn of 1983 when they discovered John Dean Provincial Park and first explored the trails and viewpoints. They adored the impressive stands of old-growth, however Edo observed: A pervading air of neglect in the garbage along the main road and the deterioration of the facilities and trails. Having had worked for years in the area of land-use, Edo clearly understood the importance of preserving natural places. A year later, Edo and residents founded the Friends of John Dean Park.

The overall history of the Friends is essentially the story of Edo’s park protecting endeavor. He has truly safeguarded this provincial park. The great question is: What would John Dean Park be today if Elizabeth & Edo didn’t retire to North Saanich? The answer is: the worst case circumstance of his top 10 accomplishments . . . He truly set an example for our community, and I hope my writing serves to inform the future of what’s needed to properly care for our parks and protected spaces.


A PERSONAL MEMORY & FAREWELL – Summer 1988 is when I first met Edo working along the Barret Montfort Trail East (south end), and soon after I joined the Friends. Between 1989 and 2000 we spent hundreds and hundreds of day’s together working in the park. Our first major project together was building the Slektain Trail between spring 1989 and autumn 1990; and summer 1991 we renovated the Thunderbird and Lookout Trails. One of my earliest and proudest memories of us together occurred January 1992 when we responded to a major rainfall and drained water from the West Viewpoint Trail; this adventure inspired my commitment of creating and maintaining the drainage channels throughout the park. In 1993 we repaired the southern stone pillar; in 1995 I spent many afternoons next to his basement woodstove painting trail signs and listening to Vicki Gabereau on CBC; in 1997-2000 we spent countless days together removing the central ivy at Illahie; and on many occasions we left the park and headed to the Nyland’s front patio where we basked in the sun and relished Elizabeth’s delicious European foods and tea and Edo’s own honey.

Edo and I spent every weekend throughout 1997 to spring 2000 together removing the 80 year-old ivy surrounding Illahie. Then suddenly I joined the fulltime military and disappeared for a while (age 24). In hindsight, I very much needed a professional fulltime career, and wasn’t aware that this would be our last project and time together. And when in August and September 2002, I returned home on post-Afghanistan leave, I learnt Edo was no longer physically involved in the park essentials; this meant I was alone on the volunteer front. During this leave period I solely focused on Illahie which I believed canceled out some mission related stresses, and as before I fully prepped the parks drainage channels for the winter.

That Christmas when I visited Edo and Elizabeth, we had a great visit and meal; Edo thanked me and renewed our friendship. Having had spent 11 major years with Edo in the park, I now feel the value of his gradual withdraw from the park, otherwise I’d be totally saddened.

During my high school era and early 20s, Edo appropriately influenced my lifetime objectives and I`ve thanked him for encouraging me to commit to a carrier with the military. I also remember the amused jests of the park regulars of the 1990s, “Jarrett is Edo’s side-kick”. Actually, I also felt he was mine. He had the truck, tools, knowhow and we shared the required initiative . . .

After 29 years as best-friends accomplishing so much together, rivals on the Friends executive and treasuring one-another’s talents, it was a tremendous honour to pay a final visit to Edo’s home in Sidney with my wife Touria and our three kids. At age 89, Edo was proud of me, and I was proud of him! We laid back in his comfy chairs w/tea and recalled our adventures and times together; both of us needed that, and we got it . . . I’ve lost the most empowering elder of my life, an amazing giant of a charter whom I’ve gained much wisdom . . .

The Saanich Peninsula communities have lost their opportunity to access Edo. Fortunately, they’ve gained awareness towards the necessity of taking on projects and caring for our parks.


Edo – you are the best!


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