A tribute to the legendary Doug Anakin
Letter to the Editor
When I first heard the news that Doug Anakin had died, I was deeply saddened of course, but also, I’m supposing like many others, there was some feeling of disbelief, in that one always had the impression that Doug would somehow keep going forever. He just had that aura; of someone that even time couldn’t possibly stop.
I think I first met Doug over 20 years ago when I first arrived in the Columbia Valley, and it was one of those magical days of very early winter when the lake freezes over just about perfectly. I had strapped on my long blade skates and headed towards Fairmont down the middle of the lake. Somewhere en route, I met Doug decked out in a faded red parka with some sort of ancient life jacket on top, coming back from the south part of the lake.
He had the biggest smile and an unabashed enthusiasm for talking about just how great it was to be out there skating, and how he was considering ‘doing another lap’ round the lake as it was such a beautiful day.
It wasn’t long over the following months and years to keep running into Doug in various places about the valley: on the lake skating, on the Nordic trails skiing, up at Panorama shredding his umpteenth run of the day. On the biking trails, on the hiking trails, in the pool doing laps. And always, always with a big smile, an unbridled enthusiasm for being out there exercising, and a willingness to stop and chat for a bit before eagerly taking off to resume his activity, as he usually had explained there was already a next one planned for later in the day, and he had to keep going to keep on his schedule.
I soon came to realize that if I was meeting Doug spontaneously ‘out there’ in all these differing valley places, usually more than a few times a season, then I must be doing something right, as this clearly was a fellow who we all aspired to do at least a fraction of his outdoor pursuits.
And notably, with Doug, his athletic pursuits were never with just grim-faced determination to complete the journey, but with such upbeat optimism/enthusiasm and interest in what his fellow travellers were up to and doing as well. Especially kids, he was always asking about the kids, and what activities they were getting up to as well.
It was hard not to feel that this man was indeed something special amongst so many other ‘mature’ athletes and enthusiasts that we have living here in the valley. Folks well into their 60s, 70s, and 80s doing incredible things and still fully enjoying the mountain/valley life. I believe that Doug was a legend among them.
And though there are many who doubtlessly knew Doug better than I did, it’s impossible to not think of him as a good friend, and someone I believe was truly living the best life he could. He skated, skied, hiked, biked, swam, golfed etc. into so many peoples’ lives in the valley, just by being out there, constant motion in exercise, smiling and stopping to chat and give encouragement to keep it up.
I think his legend will live on for a long, long time.
Editor’s note: It is readily known in the Columbia Valley but for the benefit of readers elsewhere, among Doug Anakin’s many accomplishments, he helped win a gold medal for Canada in the four-man bobsled competition at the 1964 Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria. He was 89 when he passed away April 25.
Lead image: Doug became a fixture at Jumbo/Glacier Resort opposition rallies, always playing his banjo and singing. Ian Cobb/e-KNOW file photo