Alan Vanderburgh identifies Judge William Ferry

Alan Vanderburgh identifies Judge William Ferry

Love of the job keeps Williams Lake lawyer going

Alan Vanderburgh has practiced law since 1958 and at 82 years old said he’s not ready to retire yet.

Alan Vanderburgh has practiced law since 1958 and at 82 years old said he’s not ready to retire yet.

“I am working so I can see my grandchildren,” he said at his Vanderburgh and Company office in Williams Lake.

Vanderburgh and his wife, Shirley, have five grown children and nine grandchildren.

If they retired to Palm Springs or Florida it would be harder to see their grandchildren, he said as he held up a recent photo of his grandchildren about to play hockey on an outdoor rink at the Vanderburgh’s Chimney Valley home.

Vanderburgh grew up in a small Ontario farming community about five miles from Niagra Falls.

He graduated with an arts degree from Queen’s University in Kingston.

Eventually he chose to study law because at the time there weren’t many career paths open for people with an arts degree, he recalled.

He attended UBC’s law school for one year, attended the University of Toronto for second year and then returned to UBC, graduating from UBC’s Faculty of Law in 1957.

After practicing law in Vancouver and living in North Vancouver where it “seemed to rain every day,” he moved to Williams Lake for the weather, he said.

“I came up here on a trip in August and it looked like it hadn’t rained in six months,” he recalled.

He was hired at a firm established in 1946 by John Cade, who sold it to Lee Skipp and Les Langley in 1956 or 1957.

When Skipp and Langley parted ways, Vanderburgh came to work for Skipp in 1961. Skipp was there until 1972 when he was appointed a judge and moved to Vancouver.

Vanderburgh did all types of law. It’s what you did in a small town, he said.

“You took whatever came in the door and in my younger days I did a lot of court work.”

He worked on criminal trials, murder trials, and all sorts of criminal jury trials, conveyancing and business law.

After a while he tired of court work because he was spending a lot of time standing around, waiting for a judge or witness. He also had to travel to do assize work in Kamloops, Prince George, “hither and yon.”

“I had a young family and I’d be gone all week for five or six weeks at a time, which wasn’t too fair to my wife,” he said. He eased out of the travelling work and spent most of his time working from his office.

“I’ve been in this office since 1968,” he said. “Different chair and desk though,” he added with a smile.

Over the years, he has had a variety of partners, and these days works with lawyers Angela Ammann and Julian Tryczynski.

“We get along quite well,” he said of the two.

He has also worked alongside legal assistant Ingrid Vickers for 42 years and Valerie Hoyland for 20 years consecutively, although Hoyland has been a legal assistant for about 40 years.

When asked if he still works full-time, he paused.

“Full time to lawyers meant going home for an hour at dinner time, going back to the office for three or four hours, working on Saturdays and sometimes on Sundays.”

Now he works 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, no evenings or weekends.

“So I guess that’s full-time for some jobs these days, but I don’t think about it as full time.”

Lawyers like what they do in almost all cases, Vanderburgh said.

“They like to give advice. They like to get paid for it, but they’ll give advice even if they don’t because that’s the way they are.”

Practicing law is fun because lawyers see different people every day who have different sorts of problems, he explained.

“You have to exercise your brain and try and figure out what is their problem. Once you do that, then finding the solutions is not all that difficult.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lake City Secondary School principal Craig Munroe. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
OUR HOMETOWN: Lifelong learning

Lake City Secondary School principal Craig Munroe got his first teaching in Williams Lake

Mayor Walt Cobb waves from atop a tractor as he turns onto Oliver Street in the Daybreak Rotary’s annual Stampede Parade. Patrick Davies photo.
Lack of funding, volunteers has Daybreak Rotary bowing out of Williams Lake Stampede parade

Club learned this week it won’t be receiving local government funding, for the second year in a row

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

Williams Lake’s Brock Hoyer films a segment of the newly-released The Way Home in the city of Revelstoke. (Ryen Dunford photo)
Brock Hoyer stars in new snowbike film: The Way Home

The film is completely free and was released on YouTube on Jan. 22, 2021

The body of Kenneth Seymour Michell was discovered Jan. 14, 2021, behind a Williams Lake business a day after he was released by a judge on conditions. (Photo submitted)
Family looks for answers after Indigenous man dies by suicide following release from custody

System does not care about Indigenous peoples, says First Nations Leadership Council

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Interior Health officially declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Creekside Landing in Vernon on Jan. 3, which was followed by the first death from the virus 10 days later. (Kaigo photo)
COVID outbreak over at Vernon care home

Creekside Landing cleared of coronavirus, despite additional death in last day

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

Most Read