Longtime Waterdown lawyer Peter Vance passed away Feb. 7. He was 84.
Vance is survived by his wife of nearly 60 years Margaret, his children Valerie and Jonathan, and his grandchildren Gordon and Julia.
Born John Peter Fleming Vance, he was a member of McMaster University’s Class of 1955, where he met Margaret Starr. The pair were married in 1957.
After studying at Osgoode Hall, Vance was called to the bar in 1959. He joined his father in the family practice, Vance and Vance, which was originally established in the 1930s above the old Langford Pharmacy in Waterdown.
Margaret noted Vance never intended to retire — he was forced to by his health. Until his final months, Vance worked from his Hamilton office five days a week, while keeping evening appointments at his home office.
She added many of Vance’s clients have said they appreciated the personal touch he brought to their legal dealings.
Margaret noted the pair were honoured with a Distinguished Service Award from the McMaster Alumni Association in 2015.
A life-long Waterdown resident, Vance was proud of his East Flamborough roots, as he was descended from two of the township’s founding families, the Vances and the McMonieses In fact, his great-great grandfather James McMonies was the area’s first Member of Parliament in 1867.
That family history manifested itself in the Waterdown-East Flamborough Heritage Society, of which Vance was the founding president.
“That was the source of his interest in the history of Flamborough and Waterdown,” Margaret said.
Vance was one of the co-authors of Waterdown and East Flamborough — 1867-1967, a history of the township.
Diane Woods, one of Vance’s co-authors and a founding member of the heritage society, said Vance had glass slides showing historical images of the community from around 1900.
Woods said Vance was very capable and multifaceted. “He used his talents — he didn’t keep them to himself — he used them to better the community,” she said. “He used his art, and he played his bagpipes, he did his photography. He didn’t just do them for his own pleasure, he managed to make them benefit a lot of people.”
Vance was an avid photographer and had a darkroom in their home, Margaret noted.
“He’s been taking photographs as long as I knew him,” she said, noting he often photographed auto racing. He had a press pass from the Waterdown Review from the 1950s until about 1982 to take photographs of well-known driver Don Kindree of Waterdown racing and would spend most weekends at the track.
Margaret added Vance was very interested in car racing and belonged to an auto club in Burlington. “We used to do rallies,” she said. “I was the navigator and he was the driver — when the kids were old enough, they tagged along.”
While he never used the Internet, Vance did move to digital photography and edited his photos on the computer. In later years, Vance kept busy with his camera, documenting buildings around town that were due to be demolished.
Among his other interests — including musicand sketching — Margaret noted that at home, Vance liked to cut wood. “We have a wood-burning fireplace and a lot of trees,” she said from her Victoria Street home set on three-quarters of an acre. “Over the years they have to be cut down. He liked to get out and hack at some wood — cut the wood up, split the logs.”
While Vance didn’t know one flower from another, he would keep the weeds down in the garden. “He loved to putter around outside with the clippers and saw and whatnot,” Margaret said. “What he missed most when he couldn’t do it anymore, I think, was to get outside.”
At age 45, Vance took up the bagpipes, after seeing an ad for a 10-week introductory course at Sheridan College. Margaret noted his mother Isabel was a Scottish immigrant and the McMonies family came from Scotland.
“That’s a hard instrument to learn,” Margaret said of the pipes. “The neighbours had to learn with him — because he used to do it outside.
“It was pretty bad at first,” she admitted, “but then he got much, much better, so they used to like to listen to it when he piped outside or in the garage.”
After honing his skills, Vance became a fixture at McMaster events and local Remembrance Day services and parades. He was also a longtime member of the Sheridan pipe band and owned a set of bagpipes — one of his most prized possessions — that date back to the First World War.
Vance also loved single malt scotch whisky, and Margaret added he liked to travel to Scotland. “He didn’t care for travel otherwise,” she said. “But he did like to drive, so if we wanted to go anywhere within car’s reach he was happy to drive.”
Vance joined the Rotary Club of Waterdown in 1960 and served as president in 1966-67 and 1970-71.
Waterdown Rotarian Sue Collins said Vance will be sorely missed, adding he had the club’s history at the tips of his fingers “It was just so special to have that sense of where we’ve been and what we’ve accomplished,” she said.
Within the club Vance was probably best known as the “faithful scribe.” From 1980 to 2015 he recorded the club’s happenings in the Rotor newsletter. Collins added Vance was a ‘hands-on’ Rotarian — helping out with fundraisers and helping out with Family Literacy Days or bike rodeos. “He sure wasn’t just a ‘knife and fork Rotarian,’” she said. “It was about much more than the Monday meetings.
“He was a very devoted Rotarian.”
Collins added one club member described Vance an ‘old-fashioned Renaissance Man.’
“He could turn his hand to anything,” she said. “He was very talented and very generous with his talents,” she continued. “His generosity with his time, talents and skills was surely a great gain to our club and he will be greatly missed.”
She noted it was evident Vance was passionate about Rotary’s work.
“It was all part of his passion for the community,” she said. “This was his hometown and he was all-in.”