Linda Burwood doesn’t take kindly to junk mail. While rifling through her mail last month, she nearly tossed a notice letter from Jean Crowder’s office in the bin before noticing it was addressed to her personally. She tore it open, read the letter, and discovered to her surprise that she’d been named by Crowder, MP for Nanaimo-Cowichan, as a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Burwood said she felt “honoured” by the award, adding that it wasn’t until she read the letter to fellow Ladysmith Legion Auxiliary (LLA) members that the significance of the award sunk in.
Medals are awarded in recognition of community contributions and public service and 25 years of service with LLA comprises an essential part of Burwood’s service career.
Burwood said she joined the LLA in 1988 as a means of joining her husband, William, in the Ladysmith Legion band. William played snare drum and Linda played the glockenspiel, a percussion instrument similar to a xylophone.
Linda’s involvement with the LLA quickly moved beyond music, however.
“When I first started, I was helping with general stuff,” Linda said. “Catering and that.”
She then took on the responsibilities associated with managing “ways and means,” she said, organizing the LLA’s teas and bazaars.
Next came a four-year term as the LLA’s treasurer, followed by “three or four years” as secretary.
Linda was then asked to serve as president to ensure that all of the officers’ positions — commonly referred to as “the chairs” by LLA members — were filled, allowing the LLA to retain its charter.
Due, in part, to limited recruitment, LLA officers are recycled through “the chairs,” meaning Linda is now serving her third term as LLA president.
In addition to her many roles on the LLA executive, Linda said she’s served as sergeant-at-arms for several years, acting as flag-bearer during ceremonies and parades.
Alongside her involvement with the LLA, Lynn assisted with the Miss Ladysmith pageant. Their daughter, Bonnie Lynn, was crowned Miss Congeniality in 1989, Bill said, adding that he considers their involvement with the pageant a rewarding time for the family.
Linda volunteered as a Brownie leader, or “Brown Owl,” for ten years as well, Bill said, working with girls aged eight to 12 living in the Cassidy area.
More recently, Linda’s taken to teaching the finer nuances of line dancing to local students on a weekly basis. Linda said she donates half of the drop-in fee she charges for dance lessons to the LLA. Originally, she requested that they direct the funds towards the Lodge at Broadmead, a seniors home in Victoria offering healthcare services to veterans. She still donates half of her proceeds to the LLA, leaving it up to them how the money is spent.
Linda and Bill sold their business, Burwood’s Electric Motor Service, to a long-term employee in 2006. She’s fully retired, and Bill has one year left to serve with the Canadian Forces Reserves before he joins her.
They live on five acres of forested land near the airport, Linda said, and the country life seems to suit them well. Bill, who Linda described as “a real bush man,” loves to hunt, fish and shoot. He cuts and stacks firewood, too. Meanwhile, Linda tends to vegetables and flowers growing in her greenhouse and yard.
“I love to garden,” she said, adding that her favourite flowers — roses and pansies — are often feasted on by hungry deer.
Linda and Bill can their own fruit and vegetables, including Linda’s famous “dilly beans.” They pick their own blackberries, too, transforming the wild fruit into jams and home-made wine.
They travel occasionally, Linda said, visiting their granddaughters in Alberta “two or three times a year.”
Last spring, they visited Europe on a guided tour of First and Second World War battlefields in France and Belgium with Jack Patten, a Legion member and hobby tour guide from Nanaimo. It was a captivating experience for the couple, with sites like Vimy Ridge and Juno Beach leaving a marked impression on Linda.
Bill, meanwhile, thought the Blockhaus — a bunker in northern France built by the Germans during the Second World War as a launch site for V2 rockets — was the highlight of the trip.
“A lot of it was amazing,” Linda said. “You hear about all of these places,” Linda said, “but to actually go and see it, it’s overwhelming.”
According to the Governor General of Canada’s website, the QE II Diamond Jubilee Medal was created to mark the 60th anniversary of the beginning of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. The medal “serves to honour significant contributions and achievements by Canadians.”