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First Loon Lake fire chief honoured with memorial bench

El Donovan became fire chief in 1985 and helped build original Loon Lake fire hall

By Brenda Borri

On Saturday, Aug 27, the firefighters of the Loon Lake Volunteer Fire Department honoured El Donovan, the department’s first fire chief, with a memorial bench outside the new fire hall.

El was a very interesting man, and well known in the Loon Lake community. He and his wife Anita built and opened the Emerald Resort on Loon Lake in 1972. As a young man, he was a tree faller on Northern Vancouver Island, but following a serious accident he changed his career choice and became an electrician, and provided services to many Loon Lake residents.

He was instrumental in building a small cabin on the water access side of Loon Lake. Bentnail Construction was run by both El and his good friend Jim Edwards.

In 1989, El and Anita built and moved into a home on Loon Lake Road, where he stayed until his passing on March 29, 2019. Emerald Resort was sold to Ken Bellman and Faye Morrison in 1989.

El always kept himself busy, and was the first fire chief of the Loon Lake Volunteer Fire Department in 1985. The fire department bought its first fire truck from Langley, B.C. in 1985; a 1965 Ford! El also assisted in the construction of the first Loon Lake fire hall, which opened in 1989.

In addition to running the resort and being an electrician, El was an avid collector of cars. He was most proud of his 1936 Ford coupe, his Chevrolet SSR, and an old orange Ford pickup. El also took great pleasure in collecting guns, both old and new. He and Anita were often seen at trade shows highlighting firearms. El was also a sworn conservation officer for a period of time.

The current fire chief and firefighters at Loon Lake could think of no better way to honour El Donovan than to have a memorial bench placed at the new fire hall. The bench was christened on Aug. 27, with Anita Donovan coming up to be the first person to have a seat on it.

Once the new fire hall is built, the bench will sit proudly in front, honouring the first Loon Lake fire chief. Current chief Daryl Hart spoke of El’s life’s work to the small gathering, made up of members of the fire department and a few guests who Anita wanted to have there. A number of other community members who heard about the event through word of mouth also attended.

This has been a long time coming, and we are thrilled that the weather was just right and Anita’s health allowed her to make the trip.

You are missed El, but never forgotten.

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