Mike Jiggins passed away peacefully surrounded by family July 10 at the age of 80, but not before leaving behind a legacy in Parksville Qualicum Beach.
Mike was a carpenter by trade but wore many hats including that of an entrepreneur, politician, loving father and husband. He designed and built Parksville’s iconic 36-hole mini golf course; served as board chair of the Regional District of Nanaimo; became the president of the B.C. Association of Private Care; created the Arrowsmith Golf Course and raised five children along the way.
And like all good stories, Mike’s started with an adventure, a little bit of cash and a whirlwind romance.
Mike was born in 1933 in England, where he married his best friend, Joan, in 1953. The couple sailed from England to New York with $60 to their name; traveled by train to Montreal and then Calgary where they settled and had their first three children.
In 1960—after a short stint in the Kootneys where the family owned and operated the Skookum Inn in Windermere—they moved to Victoria where they welcomed two more children into the family. Additionally, Mike started a business venture called Shawnigan Building Supplies, which had branches in both Victoria and Sooke. He became the president of the B.C. Building Supply Dealers Association and the president of the Canadian Building Supply Dealers Association.
In 1972 Mike and Joan packed up their five children and moved up Island to their favourite vacation destination—Parkville—with the intent of semi-retirement. However, not all things go as planned and the couple took on the project of expanding the French Creek Resort, which they later renamed Camelot based on Mike’s love of history and ties to Great Britain.
After running Camelot for three seasons, Mike and Joan decided to undertake something completely different and purchased Arranglen Lodge Long Term Care Facility in North Qualicum.
While Mike had no experience in this industry, his youngest son Patrick said his father “would read everything about a new line of business before taking it on.”
Mike eventually became the president of the B.C. Association of Private Care. And together, Mike and Joan, expanded Arranglen from 26 beds to 86 beds.
Mike also played an avid role in regional politics serving on the RDN board as a board director representing the Deep Bay/ Bowser area in 1982-1983, and later took on the role of board chair in 1986-1987.
“He (Mike) was just a person you could trust,” said friend-of-40-years and political peer George Holme, who currently sits on the RDN board. “You knew if he was your friend he was your friend for life—he just cared about people.”
Holme said he remembers Mike for “his signature pipe” and constant smile.
In 1987 Mike designed and built what is now known as Paradise Sea Side Resort, bringing the first 18-hole mini golf course to the city which was later expanded to a 36-hole course and a motel was added next door. The iconic piece of Parksville reflects Mike’s larger-than-life dreams, enticement with golf and ability to create something monumental from the ground up.
Patrick said his father was “absolutely taken with Disneyland” and recalls playing mini golf in Anaheim, California after spending the day at the well-known theme park.
“He (Mike) was probably so interested in Disneyland because he was a finishing carpenter and could see himself building something like it,” said Patrick, adding the inspiration for Paradise Sea Side Resort was largely based on prints his father bought from Disney.
Though Patrick candidly describes his late father as “an average golfer,” Mike had a keen interest in building golf courses and undertook another project in 1992 spending four years building what is now Arrowsmith Golf Course.
“He (Mike) used to always tell us kids we need to learn how to golf,” said Mike’s youngest daughter, Angela Jiggins. “He said more deals are made on the golf course than anywhere else.”
In 1996 the doors to Arrowsmith Golf Course opened and the Jiggins family still owns it today.
Patrick said the best piece of advice his father ever gave him was: “if you’re going to do something, do it to the best of your ability, and you can do anything.”
Over the many business ventures, Patrick said his parents “employed thousands of people in the community” including all their children and some of their grandchildren.
Mike—an only child—leaves behind five children of his own, 13 grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren and two loving dogs, Lacy the Pom and Magnolia.
“As busy as he was, he always had time for the kids,” said Angela, who describes her father as “kind, generous to a fault, a family-man and first-and-foremost a gentleman.”
But more than anything, Patrick said his father “loved our mother most of all and would do anything for her—that was one of the last things he told me— to look after her.”
A Celebration of Life for the late Mike Jiggins will be held at Arrowsmith Golf and Country Club Friday, July 25 at 2 p.m.
In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to the B.C. Cancer Foundation.