From Ontario’s Rugby Hall of Fame to a new life at Island View

Mike Fisher's life story is one of passion, adaptability, and community. His journey from a small town in northern England to the vibrant community at Island View retirement home encapsulates a life rich in experiences and achievements.

Growing up, submarine construction, emigrating to Canada
MichaelBorn in Barrow-in-Furness in England’s northwest, Mike's early years were shaped in a working-class environment, where - thanks to his father and the area’s culture - he developed a strong work ethic. His career began in an industry that was the heartbeat of his hometown: submarine construction.
Possessing this expertise eventually led him to emigrate to Canada in 1973, a move that marked the beginning of a new chapter in his life. "I emigrated to Canada to refit some of the submarines that the Canadian Navy had purchased from England. That’s how I got to Canada," Mike recalled.

Coaching rugby in Ontario and taking his team worldwide
In Canada, Mike's passion for rugby union reignited after enjoying playing during his youth in England. "In my teens, I played rugby union in England. I wasn’t a big guy so I wasn’t that good but I understood the game. And I like to teach," the 76-year-old shared. This passion led him to coach the Ontario club the Bytown Blues, shaping the lives of many athletes.

"I took them all over the world, I took them to New Zealand in 1977 and set up a trip to Kenya," he said, emphasizing his commitment to the development of the team. New Zealand - as any rugby fan knows - is arguably where the world’s best players hail from, so Fisher was very satisfied his Bytown Blues won three of their six games Down Under.

Coaching philosophy and further achievements
Mike's coaching style was unique and highly effective. Rugby was not an especially popular game in Canada when he began coaching so he adapted the basics of the game to the strengths of Canadian athletes. "I took all the wrestlers, the basketball players, and the hockey players... we refined the game to their talents," he explained, highlighting his approach to nurturing talent.

After coaching the Bytown Blues for 20-odd years Mike took over another team called Eastern Ontario and with this team, he won a National Championship. He also became a selector for the team but his biggest success was guiding Eastern Ontario to a remarkable and unforgettable victory over a well-paid professional team, Bath from England. "We beat them... we surprised them," Mike recounted, a hint of pride in his voice for this notable achievement.
Mike was inducted into Ontario’s Rugby Hall of Fame about a month ago for the accolades he received as a coach. He didn’t know it was happening, his former players, some of whom went on to play for Canada, made the recommendations on his behalf. “I didn’t realize how much I affected their lives,” he said with surprise, a few weeks after getting the award.

mike 1A loving family life and moving into Island View
Beyond his professional sporting life, Mike's personal journey is equally compelling. He spoke of his family affectionately, mentioning the close and friendly relationship with his ex-wife, and the strong bond he shares with his two daughters and grandchildren. This sense of family and community has been a constant in Mike's life, shaping his decisions and experiences. Choosing to live at Island View in his later years was a decision influenced by his family, particularly his daughter (pictured above). "My daughter actually kidnapped me and sold my house," he joked. “I was in a big house and it was getting a bit too much for me,” he added. 

Island View offered him a new community where he could continue his life with independence and support. "I get on with people, I’ve made friends here,” he said of his daily life at the Arnprior residence. “I take the opportunity to go on the local buses, or wherever I need to go, and my daughter comes and picks me up quite often. And my rugby players show up too, I get surprise visits. The Bytown Blues are like a family.”

Hobbies, good food, and good people at Island View
Mike also engages in his hobbies at Island View. “I’m an artist and I like to make axes,” he continued. So keeping busy in his golden years isn’t an issue for this very active and busy English-Canadian senior (pictured below . Since arriving at Island View in the spring of 2023, Mike has enjoyed the sense of community and the quality of life. "Food is available three times a day and it’s good," he noted, acknowledging the comforts of his new home. “When I lived on my own I didn’t eat that well but here you eat very well.” He also values the friendly staff, adding, "The people that work here... they're trying to make you happy."

mike 2“The net cost of living here is low and the quality of people here is high”
Mike (pictured left after his fellow residents heard of his award) has advice to those considering retirement living. "If you can afford it financially... it's the best place to go," he advised. “You really don’t have to spend too much because everything is provided. The net cost of living here is low and the quality of people here is high, that’s the way I look at it. It’s not a bad way of living compared to living alone in an apartment. Everyone knows everyone.”

He appreciates the all-inclusive nature of the home, from meals to health care, which simplifies life for residents. Reflecting on his life, Mike's story is one of embracing change and finding community in every stage of life. From the rugby fields of Canada to the supportive environment of Island View, his journey is a compelling narrative that resonates with those at the crossroads of retirement. Mike Fisher's story exemplifies that retirement living can be a continuation of a life filled with passion and purpose.

Related Posts