Martin Whiteley

February 23, 2022


Martin Whiteley was a force to be reckoned with.  He was the first born of 4 siblings to Tom and Edna Whiteley in Blackpool, England.  Throughout the whole of his life, the force he emitted was one of positivity, a zest for learning and exploring, and connecting with good people.

If you had the privilege to meet Martin, you were probably listening to a good story, or drinking a liquid libation of some sort. You might have heard him singing one of the many edited versions of a rugby song, including such classics as, “When a man grows old and his * grow cold and the tip of his * turns blue”. Or you may have heard Martin starting a story with “Have you heard the one about…..?”  to a well-told joke. Martin loved his catch phrases like, “You look well, have you been ill?” or, “You didn’t know I could sing like that did you?” or, “That was well brought up - why weren’t you?”.  

Maybe you shared one of many sailing adventures or sat by his side as navigator or driver during an RAC rally race. Martin loved anything motorsports. He was especially fond of F1 and his travels to the Isle of Man to see the TT races with Colin. In his youth, he put many a rally car through a dry-stone wall or into a famers outbuilding.  Don’t worry, he always fixed what he broke. His devout love of boating began in the Lake District in England. From building his first boat with his dad Tom to later building his own fireball racing dinghy, he was hooked.  Since then, his love of sailing and boating took him on many adventures and misadventures, even after his misspent youth was nearly cut short when he sunk a powerboat on Lake Windermere.

Martin was never one to shy away from new experiences. Perhaps you were there as he skied the slopes of Whitefish, Banff, Jasper, Silver Summit and Fort McMurray. You may have been with him on a trip back from Australia, or sailing down the Suez Canal, enduring a camel adventure in Cairo, sitting on the nose of the Sphinx in Egypt, or when he was chased by the authorities for getting too close to the pyramids. While working in Greece, he found himself one evening after curfew in the wrong place at the wrong time and had a machine gun pointed at his head due to Papadopoulos’s military coup d’état in April 1967.  Maybe you were one of his poor companions eating horrible ketchup kraft dinner on a canoe camping trip on the McLeod River or portaging on the Red Deer River, or perhaps you were there to help him pull a buffalo out of a dugout in good ‘ol northern Alberta.  It was always about the adventure, fun and friendship for Martin. 

As a budding engineer, Martin’s ambitions for new career opportunities took him from the heat of Greece to the frigid temperatures of northern Alberta one January 1974. It was there he met Charlotte while working for G.C.O.S, now Suncor, in Fort McMurray. Years later they married, bought a house, built a fence, developed the basement, started raising a family only to move, buy another house, build a fence, develop the basement and so the cycle goes.

Retirement brought Martin and Charlotte to Vancouver Island. Through the eyes of his friend Rob, “Martin was an accomplished sailor, owning several boats throughout his life. For many years he sailed on Ghost Lake outside of Calgary on his Hunter 23.5 sailboat. As the lake can be a challenge to sail, his skills were put to the test, but he always enjoyed the day’s sail and would gather with friends afterwards to share sailing stories and create memories. In 2003 he and Charlotte purchased a Beneteau 361 sailboat and moored it in Ladysmith. From this home base they explored the local waters, having gone multiple times to the San Juans, the Broughtons, Desolation Sound, the Gulf Islands, and the Sunshine Coast. In 2011 they sailed around Vancouver Island for the ultimate West Coast sailing adventure. They were also involved with the Ladysmith Yacht Club. Martin became the Commodore in 2015, leading the Club through its 30 th anniversary. He always participated in the club’s opening day Sailpast, dressing up his boat and the crew, to make sure everything was shipshape. One year after leading the Sailpast, Martin had an absolutely perfect docking, only to realize that he docked in the wrong spot. He then did another prefect docking in his own slip. Martin took many solo trips on the boat, with Herring Bay on Ruxton Island being one of his favorite spots. He also took part in many “amigo’s cruises”, sharing good times, camaraderie, and his love for boats and the ocean with friends.” Thank you, Rob Smolka, for sharing.

Martin was a strong role model and a hands-on kind of dad, supporting his daughter Kim and son Colin through school clubs, education and career decisions and many miscellaneous adventures.  His ability to provide meaningful life experiences for both his children and grandchildren is admirable. He will be remembered by his grandchildren for their trips in the Audi TT to pick up A&W, sailing and jumping off grandpa’s boat in Ladysmith Harbour, building models of cars and helicopters and swinging in hammocks beneath the pergola he built. Martin could fix anything and loved working with his hands especially woodworking and in retirement build many beautiful pieces of furniture, cabinets and other items with maple and walnut. He passed on this can-do attitude and skills to his children.

Martin was not a religious man but had clear values and views.  He believed in hard work, being kind, seeing the humor in things, and didn’t expect someone else to fix his mistakes.  His mantra was “firm, fair and friendly”. Martin was a sponge for knowledge and found ways to connect based on all his vibrant and dynamic life experiences.  He never told you how to think, just gave you the food for thought.

Ironically, the company where Martin trained and gained certification as a design engineer was the place where he was exposed to asbestos leading to his diagnosis of mesothelioma.  But he did not bear ill will.  He said he was grateful for the training to do the design and project engineering work that he did in his thirty-three-year career with Suncor Energy. The prognosis was such that Martin faced his battle with courage and was determined to live a full life, and live a full life he did.

On February 12, 2022, Martin passed peacefully at home, his family by his side, surrounded by love and admiration. Charlotte, Kim and Colin extend their enduring gratitude to the selfless and compassionate home care team in Ladysmith, and to Dr. Potts who was with Martin and family throughout the journey.  We couldn’t have wished for a better team.

Martin was predeceased by his father Tom, his mother Edna, and his brother Robert in England.  He is survived by his wife, Charlotte, his daughter Kim (Nolan and grandchildren Ella and Jackson), his son Colin (Stephanie), his sister Lis (Chris), brother Ian, and nieces and nephews, Dave, Rachel, Maegan, Devin, Shawn, Anthony, and all their families.

No service will be held at Martin’s request.  A gathering to share in joyful stories and give a toast to Martin’s life is planned for a later date in the spring. 

“Oh Sailor

pick up all your defeats

like pebbles beneath your feet

and fling them all into the sea!


Sniff the air

look how the birds fly

Adjust your ship's mast 

and sail away

in search of newer victories!”

― Avijeet Das


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