June Cameron (June 10, 1929 – July 24, 2016)
With her children around her, June Cameron passed away peacefully July 24, 2016, at age 87, after suffering a severe stroke while sitting on a bench with her son Ian, watching the sun set over quiet and scenic Como Lake above Port Moody. Her last words were “I’m almost ready to go back to Cortez.” June always spelled Cortez with its original “z” and pronounced it “Cor-teez” as did the early pioneers. June’s family history on the island goes back to 1917, when her maternal grandparents, Alfred and Florence Hayes, moved to the island with their seven children.
The indomitable June Cameron spent much of her life navigating the BC coast, living for many years aboard her boats with her beloved dogs Susie and then Daisy. From early childhood cruising with her parents, spending summers on Cortez Island, she went on to an illustrious competitive racing career in several Vancouver racing series, as the first woman skipper of her own sailboats, a San Juan (Saffron) and C&C (Juno), with all-female crews. June grew up in Kitsilano in Vancouver and spent her childhood summers on Cortez Island. She obtained a master’s degree in special needs communication from the University of British Columbia. After raising her children and teaching for many years, June replaced her last sailboat with a Maple Bay 27 cruiser (Camosack II), and lived aboard, writing articles, painting and discovering the beauty of the Pacific coast. She spent six years living on her small cruiser, researching and writing her first two books. Eventually she came home to the neighbourhood of her happy childhood summers when she purchased and renovated a cottage on Cortez Island overlooking picturesque Cortez Bay, known in early pioneer days as Blind Creek.
June was the author of three books: Destination Cortez Island: A Sailor’s Life along the BC Coast, her memoir of early summers on Cortez and a tribute to the pioneers of Desolation Sound; Shelter From the Storm: A Sailor’s Life of Havens, High Seas, and Discovery, about her sailing racing days; and 26 Feet to the Charlottes: Exploring the Land of the Haida, about sailing north to Haida Gwaii, all published by Heritage House.
June painted boats and coastal scenery, in both watercolour and other media, many of which hang in private collections internationally. She created art cards from her paintings and included her artwork in frequent articles she wrote for Pacific Yachting and Western Mariner magazines.
She explained that she never really settled on her philosophy in life until she wrote it down near the end of Shelter From the Storm: “I had decided that I wanted to learn to handle my boat well, to develop as an artist, and to become a writer. From this I have learned that each time you accept a challenge and master it, the next one seems less of a threat, so that life opens up in front of you as a series of capes to be rounded…and as long as I keep setting new goals for myself, life will go on and be lived with vigour.”
June was a staunch and generous supporter of the Cortes Island Museum from its inception. She contributed historical information to the Archives and items to the Artifact Collections. Whenever the Museum had questions about early times or people on Cortez Island, June was generous with answers and explanations.
June’s presence is missed by her family and her many friends on Cortez Island. She leaves behind her faithful canine companion “Daisy.” A celebration of June’s life will be held on Thursday, November 10th, 2:00 pm at Manson’s Landing Hall on Cortez Island.