Mike was born in Doncaster, Yorkshire, England in 1930.  He was educated at Doncaster Grammar School and Durham University.  He dropped out of University to join the British Army’s Royal Artillery and was commissioned in time to serve in the Korean War.  Later on, he saw active service in Borneo and Malaya and in the withdrawal from Aden.  He was a pilot in the Army Air Corps and he also served in a Commando Artillery Regiment.   In 1969 after seventeen years in the army, he retired as a major and came to Canada.

Soon after getting off the boat, he was drawn to the North and joined the Government of the Northwest Territories in Fort Smith.  He worked in the North for twenty years and was at various times Regional Director of the Baffin Region, Secretary to the Cabinet, Deputy Minister of Local Government and Chairman of the Workers’ Compensation Board.  Mike used to say that his happiest times in the North were when he lived for seven years in Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit) and got to know people in all the communities of the Baffin Region.  But it was in Yellowknife that he discovered the joy of sailing and qualified as a CYA Advanced Level Cruising Instructor on Great Slave Lake.

Mike retired for the second time in 1989 and lived aboard his yacht “Arctic Willow” in Sidney, B.C. teaching sailing and running skippered charters.  In April 1994, he married Irene Stilwell, his close friend of many years, in a ceremony onboard “Arctic Willow” in Victoria Harbour.  He later became involved in Outreach activities at First Metropolitan United Church and took a leading role with the Inner-City Dinners and the Out of the Rain night shelter for homeless youth.  He also served as Chair of the Ministry and Personnel Committee and Co-Chair of the Management Group.

Mike and Irene had twelve happy years together in Sidney until Mike suffered a major stroke in 2006, from which he never recovered. He remained in Extended Care at Saanich Peninsula Hospital until he died. He leaves behind his beloved Irene, his stepdaughter Kerry Schaffer (Warren) and grandchildren Ian and Taya of Haileybury, Ontario; and stepdaughter Dawn Woodhurst (Ed) of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Also left to mourn is his sister Sally Cant (Peter) of Scarborough, Ontario.

A Celebration of Life will be held at a future date.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the” Out of the Rain” night shelter for homeless youth through Beacon Community Services, Victoria BC.


Condolences may be offered to the family below.

McCall Gardens


  • Charles McGee
    November 21, 2018

    Dear Irene, and Kerry and Dawn –

    We were saddened to learn of Mike’s passing. I remember him with particular fondness as my Deputy Minister in NWT Local Government, and as a sailing companion on Great Slave Lake and around the Gulf Islands. Ever the gentleman, he treated all with consideration.

    Our thoughts are with you as we offer our condolences,

    Charles and Karen McGee

  • Ronnie and Loraine Young
    November 15, 2018

    Dearest Irene, Dawn and Kerry,

    Mike and I go back along way to when he joined 29 Command Regiment in Plymouth in 1964. We then completed tours of duty together in Singapore, Malaya, including emergency tours in Borneo and Aden. We became very firm friends spending much time enjoying each others company in his bachelor pad near Dartmouth. He flew back from Canada in 1976 to Northern Ireland to attend my marriage to Loraine. Loraine and I were honoured that soon after he married Irene, he brought her to visit us in Scotland. We also spent a memorable holiday in Sidney with them. His stroke sadly robbed him of many more happy years with Irene. Mike had the patience of a saint, was meticulous in all he did, and never an unkind word ever passed his lips. He was a true officer and a gentleman in every sense of the word and his passing is a sad time for us all, but we can live with happy memories. Our thoughts are with you all at this sad time, Ronnie and Loraine, Angus, Scotland

  • David and Kate Hamilton
    November 12, 2018

    Dearest Irene and family.

    I first met Mike when he was Regional Director in Frob and then later worked for him for a period when he was Deputy Minister of Lcal Goverment. Mike always demonstrated integrity and leadership and was truly a consummate Territorial civil servant who believed in community self government. Your love for Mike was always silent and constant. Memories are important at these sad times and you have many to keep you going.

    Sending our love and prayers.

    David and Kate

  • Celia Stock
    November 12, 2018

    Dear Irene,
    David and I had known Mike for a long time, since the 1970s. He was a gentleman, a soldier and a scholar.
    We will miss the brightness and positiveness which he possessed and radiated to others. We want you to know we are thinking of you and Mike. We send you our sincere sympathy and condolences.
    En plus, he was a great sailor. Fair winds Mike and BZ.

  • Jane Waterman
    November 11, 2018

    Dear Irene

    My favourite godfather and family friend of many years. A true gentleman and a man who radiated positivity. I was sorry not to have been able to see more of Mike. I know he was much loved by you and your family and will be very much missed. May he rest in peace. With my love Jane xxx

  • Sheryl and Bob Cowcill
    November 11, 2018

    Irene, Kerry and Dawn,
    Our deepest condolences to you. We remember Mike fondly from our time in the North. In particular, curry dinners in Yellowknife. May all the wonderful memories continue to bring bring you joy.
    Love Sheryl and Bob

  • Pirjo Vanonen
    November 10, 2018

    Dear Irene,
    You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. I hope that you allow your family and friends to carry you through this sad time, and comfort you in the days to come, as you let go of Mike’s presence here on earth. Your faith and love will keep his spirit alive as you share your memories of him with those around you.
    God bless,

  • David Gladders
    November 10, 2018

    A gentleman, a pleasure to work with and know, enjoyed his company whether for work or just a friendly chat…our deepest condolences to you Irene, your family and Mike’s sister, Sally…

  • Richard Ares
    November 9, 2018

    Dear Irene, Kerry and Dawn,

    I am so very sorry for your great loss. My most sincere condolences to all of you and your families.

    From the very beginning of my days in Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit) when I moved there to work for Mike, the wonderful memories did not stop accumulating, and continued for many years in Iqaluit, Yellowknife and Sidney. The respect I had for Mike was boundless; he took on the role of being a mentor to me in Frobisher, and instilled in me the finer points of being a good leader. I have always been so thankful for his memorable friendship. A true gentleman he was.

    I always enjoyed my visits to see you and Mike in Sidney. The fish and chips and beer at the nearby English pub were always a highlight and a treat. Irene, I have always admired the unconditional love and care you gave Mike in his later years. It was amazing!

    My thoughts and prayers are with all of you through this difficult time. Please take good care.

    Richard Ares

  • Marion Schaffer
    November 9, 2018

    Dear Irene:
    I am so sorry to hear that M.J. has passed away. He was a fine, fine fellow who gave so much to so many over the years. I know you will miss him, very much, in all that you do.
    I will keep you in my prayers.

    Much love to you,

  • Donna Allen & Bernie Bauhaus
    November 9, 2018

    Irene, Kerry and Dawn, I was so sorry to hear of Mike’s passing. Sincerest condolences to all.

  • Don Sutherland
    November 9, 2018

    I had the privilege of working for Mike in the NWT. He was a good leader, and his passing is sad for all who knew him.

    My condolences to Irene and Family.

  • Marcia Ferguson-Dark
    November 8, 2018

    Dear Irene Kerry and Dawn
    So many wonderful memories of knowing Mike in Frobisher Bay and then Yellowknife and Sidney. He was such a fine man.
    Irene you made his life complete and a bonus for the girls to have him in their lives.
    Cherish all those wonderful adventures you and Mike shared together and know that although saying goodbye is so very difficult – you are a strong woman and you have strong faith and good friends to help you in your grief.
    You are in my thoughts and prayers and I am sending you love and strength. Marcia

  • Barbara O'Neill
    November 8, 2018

    Irene, Kerry & Warren; Dawn & Ed: So sorry to hear of MJ’s passing. May the support of friends and each other bring you all comfort and peace of mind.
    Grief never ends …
    but it changes.
    It’s a passage, not a place to stay.
    Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith.
    It is the price of love.
    Mike was a “rich” man based on the love and affection he engendered throughout his lifetime. As part of that early cadre of GNWT officers, he contributed to building the backbone of the territories’ development.

  • Betty Vaughan
    November 8, 2018

    Dear Irene, Dawn and Kerry,
    So very sorry to hear your sad news about Mike dying. He was so wonderful to you all! And your daily visits with Mike over these past years must have been the highlight of his days, Irene. My heart goes out to each of you now and in the days,weeks and months ahead.
    Love to you all from,
    Betty Vaughan

  • Janet Sanders
    November 7, 2018

    In our thoughts and heart at this sad time.

    Janet and Keith

  • Kathie & Daniel Adam
    November 7, 2018

    Dearest Irene,
    Daniel and I are very sad to hear of Mike’s passing. Although we all knew this day would come it still is a very sad occasion.

    Happy to hear your family has taken you under their wings. It is your time to receive care now.

    Rest in knowing you were an amazing partner to Mike
    and your care for him kept him going for much longer than he might have.

    We knew Mike as a sailor and then as your husband. What great years you must of had together, sailing the seas. Although the seas became rough for a time you still had your beautiful sunrises and sunsets. This final sunset will now give you time to process all the beautiful memories you and Miked shared together.

    Take time for yourself and remember there are many of us here that will surround you with love and prayers.

  • John Bunge
    November 7, 2018

    Irene, I’m sorry to hear of Mike’s passing, but I’m thankful that his ordeal is at an end. My thoughts are with you.

  • Lori Simek
    November 7, 2018

    Irene: my deepest condolences to you!
    You and Mike were a great duo, and enjoyed many happy years together.
    He was so lucky to have you at his side after his stroke, and your loving and positive care made his remaining time much better than it could otherwise have been.
    You have been a champion! Now I hope Mike is at peace and you are too.
    Love Lori S.

  • Sarah and Lee Berry
    November 7, 2018

    Our dear Irene,

    Lee and I were so sorry to hear about the death of Mike. You are blessed to have had so many happy years together. May our Lord bless you and keep you and your family in the days ahead with His comfort and his grace.

    With our love, prayers, and blessings,

    Sarah and Lee Berry

Leave Condolence

Type your condolence message into the box below and click "Submit". It may take up to 24 hours for it to appear. Your email address will not be published.


Search Website

Unique Family Aftercare
Service >