At the end of her presentation to a group of tourists at the Hedley Museum, Lynn Wells was approached hesitantly by a young woman. “Do you live here?” she whispered. Lynn assured her she did. Incredulous ,the woman’s eyes widened and she asked, “why?” Had she known where Lynn has lived, she might have been even more incredulous.
Lynn’s beginnings didn’t portend anything special. “I was born in Toronto,” she told me. “My family soon moved to a small acreage where we had a garden and an orchard.” From age 4 she pleaded with her parents to buy her a horse. When she was 10 they bought her a mature pony, or so they thought. Some months later, a vet informed them it was actually a young stallion. “I was bucked off that horse many times,” she said. It was an early lesson in staying in the game and using difficult situations to gain experience.
As a young adult, without a degree or training, she persuaded a tv station to hire her. She was trained to be a production assistant and worked on a variety of shows. “This is where I met my husband,” she said.
Her world continued to expand. “We lived in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Oakville. After working for W5, my husband wanted to move to Paris to study for 2 years.” Suddenly she was in the midst of an unfamiliar culture, among people who spoke a language and had attitudes she didn’t comprehend.
Just as she had decided years ago to continue riding the bucking stallion, she now chose not to be overwhelmed by loneliness and anxiety. “I used that time to become quite fluent in French,” she said, “and I learned to get around in the city. I became more confident of my ability to survive in challenging circumstances. I learned I could take risks.”
Back in Canada, her marriage disintegrated and she needed to press ahead on her own, with two young sons. At age 48, while employed by Canada Post, she began working toward an Arts degree at the University of Ottawa. Her manager suggested professionally this degree would have no value. By now she had developed the inner strength to say, “I’m doing it for myself.” It was a step toward the inner contentment that would in time allow her to live anywhere, including Hedley.
Another development bringing Lynn closer to Hedley was her move to Penticton. “That was to support my mother.” She began working as Executive Director for a non-profit immigration services organization. “Two years as a stranger in France helped me better understand some of the issues faced by newcomers.” She had become quite adept at writing grant applications and increased funding for the organization from $80,000 per year to $300,000.
Here she was introduced to travelling Citizenship Judge Bill Day. “We were involved in putting on citizenship ceremonies,” she said. “Bill wanted to meet the person who had organized the event. After a talk, he handed me his card and invited me to join him for coffee when I came to Vancouver.” That invitation was the first step in a coming together of two individuals admirably suited to each other.
When her aged mother required extensive home care, Lynn quit her job and looked after her the last 2 years of her life. She said, “sometimes I’d get in my car and explore. This is how I discovered Hedley. It was a bit quirky. On one of my excursions into the community, I noticed a property I really liked. There were two, not in great shape, houses on it. In time it came on the market and I snapped it up.”
When her mother passed away, Lynn moved into one of the houses and quickly became involved in the community. Today she is a member of the Hedley Historic Museum and the Hedley Seniors’ Centre. She also chairs the Hedley Improvement District (HID).
Having lived in Paris and Canada’s largest cities, and having visited Hong Kong numerous times, Lynn Wells is a cosmopolitan lady. It is in Hedley though, she has discovered an inner equilibrium, a quiet place in her soul. She likes the people, the scenery, the wildlife, and she likes to give back to her community. The incredulous young lady might not understand, but Lynn just likes to be here.