Premier John Horgan made an appearance during Langford’s annual Christmas Light Up Celebration at Veterans Memorial Park Saturday night. Families enjoyed hot chocolate, hot dogs, crafts, music and shopping while waiting for the 19th annual Island Equipment Owners Truck Light Convoy to pass by. Spencer Pickles/Black Press

A John Horgan Christmas story

One Horgan rule, ‘no holiday decorations until Dec. 15’

Growing up in the Horgan household, Christmas wasn’t the happiest time of year.

It was the holiday season when little John Horgan, then 18 months old, lost his dad to a brain aneurysm. Though it didn’t really affect baby Horgan, it affected his mom and three elder siblings.

“Christmas was a tough time because it reminded us of when he got sick, it was a sad time,” said Horgan, entering his first holiday season as B.C.’s premier, a role he assumed on June 29. “Our Christmas turkey was given to us by the church, we had neighbours helping with food, [and really] Christmas was not something in the early years that was special to me.”

It was a far cry from 2017, where the Christmas spirit is so strong in the Horgan family, he’s enacted a house rule, no Christmas decorations until Dec. 15.

“We have the Dec. 15 rule at our house largely for [my son Evan]. He’s the guy on the roof putting the lights up as of Dec. 1, so we had to curb his enthusiasm,” Horgan said. “But I think back to how sad Christmas was in my formative years, and how it became better with Evan, who was born on Dec. 31 because his birthday followed.”

However, there were some good memories, Horgan said, such as the first present of the year, a parcel sent in the mail from his aunt in Ontario.

And time changed things, eventually for the better.

By Grade 9 Horgan was failing multiple classes at Reynolds secondary and was showing up at downtown pool halls instead of class, he said. He had height and showed athletic promise, and that’s when he had his fateful moment with Reynolds basketball coach John Lusk. It was Lusk who pulled Horgan aside and helped put him back on track.

“He helped me realize I had more potential, and since then Reynolds has a special place in my memories,” Horgan said.

By Grade 12 he was the president of student council and captain of the basketball team. Being president of student council was about getting more student dances, and wasn’t the true start to his political career, he said, although he clearly knew how to turn on the charm.

“I got in because I got appealed to everyone,” Horgan recalled. “I liked Star Trek and could hang out with the nerds. I was in sports, I was involved in drama, I was making sets for school plays, and I could hang out with [the smokers].”

During those Reynolds years Christmas got better at home, Horgan said.

“My [siblings] and I used to go up to the BC Hydro right of way in Cobble Hill… We’d cut a handful of old trees from under the transmission lines, enough for all our different houses.

“Then we’d all descend on our home on Genevieve Road [a small Saanich street between Rogers and Lily streets in north Quadra], with all my [siblings’] kids,” Horgan recalled. “It was a fun time, we’d all go caroling to neighbours, door to door raising money for charity. We had depended on others in the community to help us out and were mindful of that, giving back.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This was the line-up outside Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre at around 2:30 p.m. Saturday. The short-up line speaks to the high number of votes, which have already been cast against the backdrop of COVID-19 by mail or in advanced voting. Voters, however, unanimously praised the safety measures in place, as well the convenience of the polling stations. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
‘Slow’ turnout at polls across Saanich North and the Islands

Peter Mason, district electoral officer, expects about 10,000 ballots to be cast

Drive up voting is popular with Victoria-Swan Lake voters at the Craigflower elementary polling station. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Drive up voting popular at Craigflower polling station in Victoria-Swan Lake

Nearly 13,000 mail-in ballots were requested in the Victoria-Swan Lake riding

Oak Bay High voting station was slow and steady for the provincial election day, Oct. 24, 2020. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Early voting reduces election day turnout in Oak Bay-Gordon Head

An estimated 15,918 mail-in ballots requested in Oak Bay-Gordon Head

Polls close at 8 p.m. in the Esquimalt-Metchosin riding. (Katherine Engqvist/News Staff)
VIDEO: Esquimalt-Metchosin candidates reflect on campaign as polls close

An estimated 12,000 mail-in ballots were requested in the Esquimalt-Metchosin riding

Barb Wright and Cynthia Vance at the District Electoral Office for the Langford-Juan de Fuca (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Polls now closed in Langford-Juan de Fuca

An estimated 12,120 mail-in ballots were requested in the Langford-Juan de Fuca riding

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson,  BC NDP leader John Horgan and BC Green leader Sonia Furstenau. (File)
B.C. VOTES 2020: Climate change and sustainability promises from the parties

Snap election has led to a short campaign; here’s the lowdown on the platforms

Conservative member of Parliament Michelle Rempel Garner, left to right, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen arrive to hold a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No-confidence showdown over sweeping Tory motion on government handling of pandemic

The Conservative motion is to be put to a vote Monday and has the support of both the Bloc Québécois and NDP

Most Read