John Marcus "Mac" Tipton - Remembrances

John Marcus "Mac" Tipton
August 30, 1933 - December 22, 2009

Mac Tipton

Eulogy for Mac by Jake James

Mac Tipton.

Good Afternoon, when Isabel asked if I would write a eulogy for Mac I was both honoured and touched. I will offer my thoughts and reflections of Mac for the few years that it was my privilege to know him.

I met Mac shortly before his 70th birthday. At our first meeting, at Luxton Fairgrounds, by the blacksmith club that he helped to build, he was already in failing health, though he still swung a hammer in earnest from time to time. In what seems to be true Mac fashion he immediately invited me to visit his home and forge, and thus was I introduced to the Tipton family. This meeting, and Mac's generosity is one of the reasons I am now living in Canada, and the kindness both he and Isabel showed to a total stranger I shall always remember.

Almost every day since that time I have shared lunch and tea with Mac - half a cup, black, with a spoon and the right cup - and among talk of blacksmithing, black powder, the native flora and fauna, or identifying the procession of little brown jobbies at the birdfeeder, I heard the memories of a lifetime reflected, as Mac recounted his youth and his adventures. Almost all of the stories took place long before I was born, many in places I will likely never visit. Though much of the detail, I must confess, washed over me, the pictures he painted with his tales were fascinating, and entirely different to anything I have experienced.

The conversation often started something like this:
"d'you remember old so and so from up on the Alaska highway?"
"Not really Mac, but never mind."
"Well this one time we'd been…"
and so the story would unfurl. It feels almost like I have seen BC from top to bottom through his eyes, for Mac surveyed more of this province than most of us will ever see.

Much of Mac's life was spent closer to home, and one memory of his, which he recounted often, took place close to where we all sit today. It was of his first meeting with Wallace Helgesen, as teenage boys, as Wally was driving a team of horses down Metchosin Road. It is a memory that conjures up a scene from days long gone, but made me think often of the changes that have taken place during Mac's lifetime, reminding me that not so very long ago this was still the wild western edge of Canada.

Whether it was surveying the wilderness, farming here in Metchosin or making and shooting black powder guns I think Mac lived a life as close to that of his pioneer forefathers as he could. His love for history and the heritage crafts were an obvious sign of this, my own relationship with him was forged on the hot coals of the blacksmiths fire, and many others have bonded with him over a ringing anvil, or the thunder of a black powder meet. With his trade as a gunsmith and blacksmith, I am never surprised to meet people who Mac has done work for, and everyone has always a good account of their meeting, and a fond memory of the craftsman himself.

In the last few years he could no longer make it out to enjoy the din of the forge, but was a voracious reader, his days filled with the ripping yarns of Hornblower and his ilk. Mac once told me he would have loved to have stood amongst the cacophony of a great naval battle, and I can see him, eyes twinkling on the quarterdeck with the smoke billowing around him and cannon shot flying overhead.

The frustration he must have felt though, in his final years would have been great: For someone who earned his living, and enjoyed his hobbies with the work of his hands, to have that taken away would seem unbearable. For me it is a sadness that I got little time to work side by side with Mac, but though we didn't share much time at the forge, there were many occasions when I would come to pick is brain over one problem or another and he rarely failed to have the right answer to hand. I would like to think Mac was able to take vicarious pleasure in my work, bound to his chair though he was.

Throughout all this time, as he became more and more infirm, Mac remained remarkably positive. He was always cheerful when receiving visitors, every Monday entertaining the students from Pearson College, or talking with my kids and slipping them a cookie when they came by to visit.

For a man who was used to the ever changing horizons of the BC wilderness, he still took great pleasures in the view from his window. Though the horizon changed but a little from season to season, the comings and goings of the birdlife were always a topic of conversation, with many a lunch time spent searching through the Cannings bird bible.

I will remember Mac as a friend. Through his reminiscences I feel as though I knew him far longer than I really did, and I am thankful I had the chance to get to know him at all.

Mac lived a life true to all that I, in my romantic imaginings would picture of the Canadian west, and in his passing he shall leave a hole in the fabric of that tale.

We will all miss him in our own ways, but most importantly he will be missed by his family, as a grandfather, father and husband.

Mac Tipton
- by Skip and Alva Kennedy

Isabel and Mac started doing the newsletter in Feb 1997 and did the job for 9 years. Mac was born in Edmonton August 1933. That fall, the parents took Mac on their trapline, and lived in a one room cabin for the winter.

TheTipton's moved to Colwood in 1946. After graduating from Belmont High School, and the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, he went to work for the BC Government as a Survey Technician and worked in all corners of the province.

He and Isabel married in 1959, and by 1963 were living in Metchosin. Mac moved to a job in the Legal Surveys Office, Surveyor General's Department, where he stayed till retirement.

He was interested in everything from needlepoint, to sheep, gold panning to black powder shooting, history, geography, politics, gardening, but his first and lasting interest was metalwork and gunsmithing. In retirement, he took up both blackmsithing and black powder shooting, and spent many happy hours in his workshop buildiing guns and fixing just about anything.

Mac was very generous, and helpful... anyone could ask any question, and he would give a helpful answer, as he was very knowledgeable on many subjects. His younger son, Marc, predeceased him, but Isabel, Jennifer and John will miss him greatly.

Memories of Mac Tipton
- by Derry Cook

Just a note to express my sadness at the passing of Mac Tipton.

Mac and I met when he and I were demonstrating at a fair in Luxton during the late 1980’s. Mac was very sympathetic when I picked up a piece of red hot steel that had been lying beside the forge!

We formed a lasting friendship despite the fact that for the last 16 years we have lived 500 Km apart.

As a younger man, Mac was a surveyor in the Yahk, Moyie area (25 miles from where Pat and I live today). I will miss our conversations about all things metal; I will miss him, period!

Mac Tipton at Production day
Mac Tipton with Don Startin at Vancouver Island Blacksmiths Association - Production day