November 23, 2019
Peter Anthony VanKerkoerle, born 1926 in the Netherlands, died in Nanaimo on November 23, 2019. Peter is survived by his wife Anneke, son Carl and grandsons Joshua and Tyler, sister Riet and numerous nieces and nephews. Peter experienced the hardships of WW2 and was imprisoned in a forced labour camp. He witnessed many atrocities and was profoundly wounded for life. As a young man he immigrated to Canada and like so many new immigrants, worked in the bush in Northern Ontario. After a brief marriage, Peter met and married in Elliot Lake, Ontario his true soulmate, Anneke, another Dutch survivor of the war. Eventually they settled on Vancouver Island, living in Boat Harbour before buying their own land in Cassidy.
After several forestry related jobs, Peter became the head landscaper for the new campus of Malaspina College now known as Vancouver Island University. His beautiful plantings on the campus above Nanaimo are still enjoyed by students from all over the world 40 years later. He and Anneke cleared land and planted five acres of asparagus which supplied customers, pubs, and restaurants for many years. In an act of great generosity Peter and Anneke donated their beautiful home and farm to NALT as a land preserve.
Peter was something of a modern Renaissance Man. Since childhood he was passionate about nature, and a fine musician, an accomplished artist, an amateur botanist, ornithologist, and entomologist, and hardworking creative gardener.
The farm was home to many species of animals that enjoyed the protection offered in the “Parnassian Woods”. Peter was a member of the Central Vancouver Island Orchid society and was an artist who produced finely detailed pen and ink drawings of plants and animals. A major tragedy came in 2009 when the home they built burned to the ground, and Peter’s drawings, books, music and collections were all lost.
Although in their eighties at the time, the house was rebuilt to the original plans Anneke remembered.
Profound gratitude is owed to the many professionals from VIHA and the staff at Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence, who cared for Peter in his final years.
Cremation has taken place. At some later date there will be a celebration of life for relatives and friends. In lieu of flowers, please put out some properly prepared nectar for the hummingbirds and some seeds to help the birds through the winter.
Sands Funeral Chapel Cremation and Reception Centre (Nanaimo
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