By John Moorhouse
Special to OsoyoosToday
Grant and Darlene Dixon brought along lots of memories of the Alberta oil patch and prairie wheat fields when they moved to Penticton a few years ago.
Now they’ve created another fond memory by donating $30,000 to help provide medical equipment for Phase 2 of the Penticton Regional Hospital expansion.
Grant grew up on his parents’ grain farm near the rural community of Hamiota, Manitoba about 80 kilometres northwest of Brandon. Although Hamiota has a population of only 800, it is home to a full health centre serving the surrounding district.
After high school, Grant continued working on the farm but headed to Edson, Alberta, each winter to work as a heavy duty mechanic at gas plants, well sites and other industrial facilities.
It was in Edson where Grant and Darlene met. Darlene grew up in Edson and became a teacher. She taught several years in the local junior and senior high schools, then worked for NorQuest College as an instructor/administrator. Darlene retired from education in 2010. Grant operated the farm in Manitoba for 35 years, before deciding to retire in 2016.
The Dixons have two children. The family would vacation in Penticton each summer while son Tyler attended the local hockey school and later became an original member of the Okanagan Hockey Academy, graduating from Pen-High in 2005. Tyler went on to play Junior A hockey in northern Ontario.
After his hockey career, he attended the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) and took Architectural Drafting. He later attended UBC-Okanagan and graduated with distinction in Civil Engineering.
Their daughter Ashley obtained her private pilot licence after graduating from high school. She then went on to graduate from the aviation program at Mount Royal University in Calgary. She spent four years as an aviation instructor. Currently she is a commercial pilot flying a Boeing 737.
The Dixons recognize the benefits of the PRH expansion.
“When we came here, finding a family doctor was difficult,” Darlene said. “If you have a good medical facility, it’s going to hopefully attract more family physicians.”
The Dixons are members of the Penticton Yacht Club and are Club members for the Penticton Vees. Darlene and Grant volunteered with the 2016 BC Winter Games and look forward to volunteering with other community events.
Construction of Phase 2 of the $312-million PRH project, including a major upgrade to the Emergency Department, is due to get underway soon and be completed by 2021.