Life’s journey may take us to many places, but for one Kitimat resident, a journey across Canada found him in this small community.
Sean Kyle MacGillivray, 33, was born and raised in Charlottetown, P.E.I. As of 2016, Charlottetown’s population was 36,094, while Kitimat had a population of 8,131. The journey for MacGillivray was one that took him everywhere before finally settling into the small community of Kitimat.
MacGillivray found himself moving around the Maritimes at a young age due to his father, Shawn MacGillivray’s work. They moved to Moncton and Fredericton in New Brunswick, and eventually back to P.E.I. His father worked for Loblaws and climbed his way through the ranks before finally owning his own No Frills.
Sean worked at a Superstore at a young age pushing carts and stocking shelves. This went on for most of his high school life before he decided to explore other career options. Sean went to university in hopes to be an architect, but at the time he realized it wasn’t the right fit for him. Following this realization, he landed himself a job in construction. He continued to explore his options and he considered joining the RCMP.
“I wanted to become an RCMP officer, but I kind of wanted something to set myself apart. I think back then it was quite competitive to become an RCMP officer, so I went back to school to be a commercial diver,” said Sean.
The commercial diving course was a year-long and he graduated with an unrestricted service-supplied diver ticket. Sean found himself working in the diving industry, however that was not his intent. For a few years, he found himself in the Maritimes working on ships and bridges.
Sean was looking for a bigger opportunity so he and a friend drove across Canada to B.C. to look for diving work before ending up in Squamish. He spent the winter skiing and working before landing a job in Mission. He then moved to Burnaby to be a little closer to the job.
“I started diving in drinking water tanks in the Lower Mainland. We’re cleaning water reservoirs for different municipalities in the Lower Mainland, and actually all over B.C.,” said Sean.
The move proved fruitful for the young man touring B.C., he met his wife Vanessa, who was living in Nanaimo. Sean worked for about another year diving in the area before moving back to Charlottetown, P.E.I. with Vanessa.
Sean’s father had moved from working corporately for Superstore to owning his own No Frills. That gave Sean an opportunity to work with his dad. At that point in their life, Sean and Vanessa purchased a condo and stuck around the city for a few years. During that period Vanessa was working at a Scotiabank in Charlottetown.
The opportunity then arose in November 2015 for Sean to own his own store, which opened on Dec. 4, 2015.
That was another big move for Sean and again moving across the country with his wife was a big life decision. Neither Sean nor his wife had any knowledge of Kitimat and found themselves having to look it up on Google Maps to make sure they knew where it was. Upon arriving, they were surprised at the size of the town, which was significantly smaller than Charlottetown.
“When you get here you’re like ‘this is small, what do you do after work,’” Sean said.
For a young couple, the prospect of moving to a town as small as Kitimat was quite the shock. However, first impressions are not everything, and now if you were to ask Sean what he thought of the town he would tell you he loved it here. Since arriving and opening the store his family has grown. Vanessa and Sean had two kids and also added two dogs to their family.
Sean and his family now enjoy the greener side of Kitimat, finding themselves enjoying nature and getting out more often.
“We’re really happy to be here, it’s a great place to raise kids, there’s tons of green space, they can do things in this town that they can’t do in most other places,” he said.
Sean has found himself taking up fishing and he still likes to travel in his spare time when it’s possible. He also keeps busy running his store with his wife. If you were to ask Sean now he would say he loves the small town that he ended up in and intends to stay as long as possible.