Posted On March 2, 2019 By In Top Stories With 298 Views

Rewiring: Using Past Skills to Build New Lives

by Nancy Wood – 

These three dynamic women recently moved to Vancouver Island and are doing things that are interesting and inspirational. They have built on former skills in creative ways and developed new skills as part of their retirement or, as one woman calls it, “rewirement.”

Erin Davis. In 2016, after a 30-year career hosting Toronto’s pre-eminent morning radio show, Erin Davis and her husband Rob knew it was time for a new chapter, not so much about retiring, but “rewiring.” 

As relatively young retirees (Erin is 56), they moved to North Saanich, not just to rewire but also to heal. In 2015 their only child, Lauren (also a broadcaster), died suddenly at age 24. A new bride and mother of a seven-month-old, she passed peacefully in her sleep of undisclosed causes (coroners suspect but were unable to completely blame the drug prescribed to augment breast milk production). After returning to the air, after 15 months, Erin left CHFI and was approached by publisher HarperCollins an effort to make their shattered lives meaningful. Even though Erin has been writing a daily journal, enjoyed by 3,000+ ( the request to author a book was daunting, especially on a very raw topic.

Erin dedicated months to writing the manuscript. In February of this year, Mourning Has Broken: Love, Loss and Reclaiming Joy was published to critical acclaim and notable sales. Erin is currently on the book tour.

In addition to travelling (including numerous trips to Ottawa to visit four-year-old grandson Colin), Erin has been building on skills from her broadcast career, refining and reconfiguring them. She is now a popular public speaker and emcee, nationally. Rob built an in-home sound studio and from there, Erin records for Disney, talking books (including her own), ads, and more.

Erin and Rob hope the next chapter in their lives is fulfilling and productive, (whether in the new professional work or their work as Rotarians), healing and nurturing. One step they took towards the latter was having a bench dedicated to their daughter in a most peaceful setting at Sidney’s Iroquois Park. 

Gael Hannan. Gael loved her home city of Toronto, but its busyness, noise and traffic started to wear her down.

She and her husband Doug were self-employed, making them somewhat portable. Gael’s a writer and public speaker on hearing loss issues. Doug had been raised in Sidney, his three older children lived on the coast and their youngest, Joel, planned to move west after university. Gael’s sole goal was to live somewhere beautiful – the Saanich Peninsula got her vote!

Gael still feels the same amazement as when she arrived in 2015. On her first day in her home office, she watched three deer meandering down the rock cliff into the backyard woods of arbutus and Garry oak. A sign from the universe to Gael: “You did the right thing to move here!” 

Gael is an internationally-renowned advocate for people with hearing loss. Her creative approach uses humour and drama to illustrate life with hearing loss and the need for better communication access. Since moving, she has worked with local hearing loss groups and is regularly invited as a keynote speaker. Her talks are funny and enlightening.

Gael has a large following for her weekly articles for and other organizations. Her first book, The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss, was published in 2015. Gael was tempted to take a break from writing, but most writers don’t retire: they keep writing because they have to; it’s what they do. 

The demographics of Saanich Peninsula means that more than 50% of the population has some degree of hearing loss, making them what Gael calls “my people.” As a cochlear implant and hearing aid user, she also knows it’s not always easy keeping a sense of humour with some of the daily frustrations. As Gael says in her book: “If you can’t laugh at yourself, I’ll be happy to do it for you.”

Celia Guilford. Moving to Sidney in 2016, Celia wanted a change from her life which was split between Manitoba, Indonesia and Pakistan. She liked Sidney’s charm, walkability and proximity to the ocean and airport. 

She fell in love with the Island while taking her Master’s Degree in Human Security & Peacebuilding at Royal Roads. Celia has worked to support vulnerable populations in conflict and post-conflict environments.

Once on the Peninsula, Celia “rewired” to pursue her passions. She continued contract work with HumanitarianHR, focused primarily on the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse of refugees in refugee camps.

Celia’s other passion is creativity – she is writing a book for girls (about all the things she wishes she knew by age 13), and she opened a Sidney studio, a hub of creativity where she transformed silk and wool into luxurious clothes that are works of art. Part of the profits go to humanitarian work for refugees. (

At press-time, Celia had just made a major decision. Heeding a request from her daughter who now has two young daughters. Celia is heading back to the Prairies to be more actively involved with her daughter and granddaughters.

In asking for tips for settling here, Celia’s said “get involved and throw yourself into lots of new things.” She found that between being a member and a volunteer with Peninsula Newcomers, joining art groups and getting to know her neighbours, it was easy to build a great group of friends quickly. Celia’s positive energy, her willingness to help and her bright ways will be sorely missed in Sidney. And we have a feeling she will be missing Sidney!



Your West Coast Culture. A magazine about the people and places that make the Saanich Peninsula the little piece of paradise we call home.

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