Dennis and Brenda Horwood are sad to be leaving Kitimat and the house they’ve lived in for the past many years, but they know they’ll be back to visit the community they love. (Clare Rayment)

Dennis and Brenda Horwood are sad to be leaving Kitimat and the house they’ve lived in for the past many years, but they know they’ll be back to visit the community they love. (Clare Rayment)

In Our Valley: Dennis and Brenda Horwood

The Horwoods have had many roles in the community over the years, and will be sad to say goodbye.

After 43 years in the community, Brenda and Dennis Horwood are saying goodbye to Kitimat and beginning the next part of their life in the Vancouver-area.

Both initially from Victoria, B.C., they moved up to Kitimat when Dennis was offered a teaching job.

“We sort of thought, you know, we’ll go for a couple of years, get some experience, and then leave,” Dennis said. “So that didn’t happen, we’ve been here for over 40 years.”

They ended up really liking the community, because of the easy walking access and the large number of services and sports available, especially once they started having children.

“It’s a great place to raise a family,” Brenda said. “Once you’re anchored in the community…you tend to not go very far.”

However, the children are all grown up now and living in the Lower Mainland, and Dennis and Brenda decided that the time had come to move, to be closer to their kids and grandkids.

“It’s going to be tough to leave Kitimat, because it’s been a good part of our life,” Brenda said. “Developing great friendships with people and connections, but you know, we need to move on before we can’t move — literally!”

Dennis taught at Nechako Elementary School for over 30 years, originally as a science teacher, and then moving around between subjects and classes throughout the years.

Brenda trained as a nurse and worked for several years until the kids started coming along. Once they were all a bit older, she went to work at Nechako Elementary, as well, as a nurse, dealing with children’s special medical needs.

She worked there for 12 years, until both she and Dennis retired in 2009.

After retirement, Brenda bought a heavy-duty machine to look after sail, upholstery, and other issues with their own sailboat, but ended up doing a lot more once other people found out about her skills.

“People found out I could fix their rips and tears, and whatever, so it ended up getting into a business,” she said. “It’s a good retirement job.”

“You become a fisherman’s friend right away if you can fix their boat,” Dennis said, laughing.

Brenda worked out of their basement and backyard throughout her retirement, and has only recently started to stop, because while Brenda enjoyed the work, it often interrupted their own plans and was starting to get too stressful.

“My hands are starting to complain, my eyes too,” Brenda said.

“And your husband!” Dennis added.

Brenda learned to sew when she was young, but honed her skills over the years as a mother.

“I just had to fix things and alter things, as a mother…you know, make costumes and such for your kids. So, I just sort of basically taught myself,” Brenda said. “But I also had a mentor in Terrace, which was a big help.”

Brenda did jobs for the Fire Department, Search and Rescue teams, and her first major job was with Rio Tinto. Most of the time, it was tarps and boat sails.

“People think we’re really rich, because we have all these boats that come into our driveway!” Dennis said.

“A different boat maybe every month!” Brenda added.

But over the years, Brenda worked on everything from golf carts, to hats, to motorcycle seats, and one time a Rolls-Royce.

“That was scary because the material came all the way from England!” Brenda said.

“I didn’t even know there was a Rolls Royce in town!” Dennis said.

Dennis, along with teaching over the years, is very invested in the naturalist community.

“He’s known as the bird man here in town,” Brenda said.

Dennis has written several books over the years, including a guidebook of Haida Gwaii, with a fellow naturalist in Smithers, and a book on the birds of Kitimat, which was sponsored by Kitimat Museum and Archives. As well, he’s written many magazine and newspaper articles, including for the Northern Sentinel.

Because of their knowledge and love of nature, the Horwoods started a Naturalist Club here, which now has 30-plus members and tries to find new and creative ways to help members get the most out of nature.

“We used to offer boat trips down the channel, and we bring in a few specialists — like a mushroom guy came in one year,” Dennis said. “Different things like that. Bird walks. We try to diversify it.”

Along with the Naturalist Club, Dennis and Brenda were leaders of the youth group at the United Church for 20 years. They met with the youth weekly, as well as taking them skiing, camping, boating, and on other outdoor adventures.

“We did that through the church and met all kinds of great kids, and we still have contact with many of them,” Brenda said.

“We’ve always been church people,” Dennis said.

“We met through the Church, actually, in Victoria, so we just carried on that commitment to help raise up kids,” Brenda added. “Just realizing there’s a big need for somebody other than parents to help guide kids, you know? It takes a community to raise children.”

The Horwoods were heavily involved with Cross Country Ski Club in Kitimat too, as their son was a competitive cross country skier and Brenda was part of the executive team. She was also an executive with the swim team, as their daughter was a competitive swimmer.

“Between the ski club and the church and swim club, you know, we were just pulled in all directions of work,” Brenda said. “But it was good. You gotta be involved with your kids. That’s really important.”

Dennis and Brenda are sad to leave Kitimat, but know that the community will always be a part of them, through the great friends and memories they made throughout the years.

“We still will have that bond to Kitimat,” Brenda said. “So we’ll be back. I’m sure.”



clare.rayment@northernsentinel.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alexander Ericksons award-winning piece, The Provider, on display at the Kitimat Museum and Archives (Photo Frieda Design School)
Kitimat Museum and Archives host Freda Diesing school art exhibition

Local Kitimat art exhibition from students of the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art

Security has been stepped up at both Kitimat General Hospital in Kitimat, pictured here, and at the Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace. (File photo)
Stillbirth reaction leads to more hospital security

Staff, physicians facing threats and harassment

Workers at Kitimat General Hospital were presented with a large variety of food packages in appreciation of the last year of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The donations came via local Epicurean representative Kerri Weightman who collected money for the purchases. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
Hospital workers receive food donation

Workers at Kitimat General Hospital were presented with a large variety of… Continue reading

(Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Murder charge laid in February 2020 stabbing death of Smithers man

Michael Egenolf is charged with the second-degree murder of Brodie Cumiskey

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. seniors aged 90+ can start to sign up for vaccination on March 8

Long-term care residents protected by shots already given

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. transgender inmate to get human rights hearing after being held in mostly male jail

B.C. Human Rights Tribunal member Amber Prince on March 3 dismissed the pretrial’s application to have Makayla Sandve’s complaint dismissed

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Friday, March 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau holds firm on premiers’ health-care funding demands, COVID-19 aid comes first

Premiers argue that the current amount doesn’t keep pace with yearly cost increases of about five per cent

Most Read