COFFEE WITH: Chamber of commerce point man retires
Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce executive director Mike Carter fell in love with Barkley Sound when he first came to the Alberni Valley and that’s exactly where he plans to spend more time now.
Carter is retiring on Friday after eight years with the chamber.
“I’m going to spend more time in the Barkley Sound, renovate our house and I plan to be seen more often at the golf course,” Carter said.
The retirement caps off a working career in Port Alberni that has lasted more than 40 years.
The married father of two was born in March 1948 in Richmond-Steveston where he grew up and went to school.
Carter had one brother, who has since passed away and he credits him with being his role model while growing up.
“He was a bull of a man who had a big heart and was deadly honest,” Carter said,
He cites PE as his favourite course in high school but had other ideas about his educational goals. “I wanted to be a nuclear physicist; at least that’s why my mother told me to say,” Carter said.
He wasn’t far off the mark as he went to the University of B.C. starting in 1966 and eventually earned credentials in math and physics. Carter could perform complicated equations but he also listened to Vancouver radio religiously, and really wanted to be a radio announcer.
He went to the Shuswap after university for 10 months. “I think I heard the worst radio I ever heard then,” Carter said. “I still remember it: ‘You’re listening to CKXR, the first voice west of the Rockies.’”
Carter left the Shuswap and went back to the Lower Mainland where he enrolled in the broadcast journalism program at BCIT.
He got a job with CJAV in Port Alberni 1972 and arrived in the Valley during what was a different time. “This was a happening place and it was really a beehive of activity,” Carter said.
Carter toured the Valley but it was a trip down the Alberni Canal on the MV Lady Rose that convinced him to drop anchor. “I just fell in love with the Barkley Sound and I knew in that moment that I never wanted to leave,” he said.
“I swore I would spend as much time there as I could.”
Carter split his time between the radio station and the lab at the paper mill. He also worked as a commercial fisherman, which comes as no surprise considering his favourite movie was The Old Man And The Sea.
He left radio for good in 1986 and worked for the city for 10 years as the manager of Alberni Harbour Quay.
Carter sat as a director on the Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce while quay manager, and he was later recruited to become its manager in 2005.
“It was a good fit because I worked with other organizations and directors before, and I’m a people person,” Carter said. “I can say I’ve enjoyed coming to work every day.”
Pulling together the chamber’s “yellow jacket” ambassadors program was a win, Carter said. But the accomplishment that most stands out is the building of the new visitor centre, which opened two years ago. “A lot of sweat equity went into raising $1.5 million. But we accomplished that and got it done.” Carter said.
Carter is leaving the chamber but is staying on with the Maritime Heritage Society, and is helping with the Russian hockey team that is coming for a challenge game in early April.
And the first day of his retirement? “I’m going to head down to Harbour Quay and buy veggies for the week then get to ripping the carpet up at home,” Carter said. “We also have a float home down the canal and I plan to spend more time there.”