We Remember

RAYBOULD, Vilven John

March 12, 1939 — December 3, 2020

John passed away peacefully in the early hours of December 3, 2020, at Brandt’s Creek Mews in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.

He was predeceased by his father George and mother Amy, sisters Mary and Jean, and brother George.  He is survived by his wife Heather; sons Tim (Jody) and Simon (Caron); grandchildren Jasmine and Miles; nephew John Jr.; and nieces Helen, Christine, Barbara (Laurie), and Caroline and their children.

John was born in London, England, just prior to the Second World War.  His father, George, was Managing Director of Rassell’s of Kensington, one of the first serve-yourself garden centres in England.  While living ‘above the shop’, John enjoyed his early morning visits to Covent Garden to buy fresh flowers along with the fun of selling the mulberries that grew on a tree situated in Rassell’s garden square.

In his early years, John was evacuated from London during the Blitz and upon returning he developed rheumatic fever.  As a result, he needed to be in a wheelchair for many months and, as such, it became his job at the end of the war to warn his family of ‘buzz bombs’ (unmanned rockets).  John also remembered fondly being pushed up to Kensington High Street by his Dad to see the lights come on again in the department stores after the war.

Growing up in Kensington proved just the place for a boy who was not so keen on sports but fascinated with history.  It was pure joy for him to have almost all the great British museums within walking distance, and he soon developed a life-long passion for collecting and display.  Throughout his life, John was also a prolific writer, a great reader and lover of newspapers.  His letters, often humorous, could frequently be found on the editorial pages of the national newspapers.

John went to Westminster City School until his father retired to rural Devon, where he attended Tavistock Grammar School – a complete contrast to the urban, all-boys school, in Westminster.  From here he won a State Scholarship to University College London where he took a degree in History and developed a life-long interest in World’s Fairs, especially that of the first, the Great Exhibition of 1851, held in Hyde Park. The so called ‘Crystal Palace’ was then moved to Sydenham, where it remained a popular venue until it burned down in 1936.

In 1961, John married Heather Spyers, whom he had, somewhat appropriately, actually met at the Belgium World’s Fair in Brussels in 1958.  In 1964, the young couple immigrated to Vancouver, in Western Canada, where their two sons, Tim and Simon, were born.

In BC, John initially worked as a researcher for BC Hydro, before moving to the then Employer’s Council of BC.  However, he spent most of his professional life working for free market ‘think tanks’, both in Canada and then back in England.  He was a founding member of the Fraser Institute in Vancouver and later marketing manager for the Institute of Economic Affairs in London during the Thatcher years.  Running Churchill Press, John also published the autobiographies of Professor Donald Denman and Baroness Jill Knight, MP.  John, himself, authored the very well-received book, Hayek: A Commemorative Album, which was published in several languages.  And in 2006, he was honoured to be awarded a special “Fisher Lifetime Achievement Award” by the Atlas Foundation of Arlington Virginia for his contribution to the cause of economic liberty.

Following health problems, John ‘retired’ and, in 1998, he and Heather moved back to BC and to the Okanagan.  Despite his myriad of illnesses, John continued to actively participate in the local community of Westbank, where he and Heather lived together for nearly 25 years.  John worked with his son, Tim, on projects related to Indigenous self-government and reconciliation.  Locally, he was also instrumental in the founding of the Friends of Westbank Library, and he and Heather enjoyed putting up numerous displays there from their collection of Victoriana and other interests.  They also gave many talks illustrated by their collections and contributed articles to magazines such as The Ephemerist and Picture Postcard Monthly.  The last of which was as recently as 2019.  In his later years, John was particularly proud to have supported his daughter-in-law, Jody Wilson-Raybould, and watching her become the first Indigenous Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.

John was certainly one of a kind.  He was a font of all knowledge.  Somewhat eccentric and very special.  He was loved and he will be missed.

In light of the COVID-19 restrictions, there will be no formal service at this time but there will be a celebration of John’s life in 2021, both in Westbank and then in the UK where we will scatter some of his ashes on the site of his beloved Crystal Palace.

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