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David Garvie at Transfer Beach Park in Ladysmith, B.C.Rafal Gerszak/Rafal Gerszak

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In Tales from the Golden Age, retirees talk about their spending, savings and whether life after work is what they expected.

David Garvie, 70, Ladysmith, B.C.

I retired in July, 2019, at age 66 after 45 years of working in Toronto as a licensed funeral director – a profession I absolutely loved. I was honoured to help people from different cultures, faiths and communities around the world come to terms with their loss and to help them grieve.

My wife and I wanted to retire on Vancouver Island and decided the window was closing for us to do it and enjoy it. She grew up on a small Caribbean island and was looking forward to getting away from the city to return to a slower lifestyle near the ocean. I grew up in a small town in the Ottawa Valley, but I really enjoyed the city life, so I was more concerned at first about the slower pace.

A few months after moving to our new community in Ladysmith, B.C., the pandemic set in with all its restrictions. Fortunately, because we were living on a huge island, we could still get out and explore the beauty of our surroundings while complying with government and health regulations. The pandemic made building a new social life challenging at first, but now that everything has largely returned to normal, we have a constant flow of new and old friends to spend time with here in British Columbia.

We were financially prepared for retirement after years of savings and investing and with the help of a financial adviser. To date, we remain on target with our retirement plan and don’t worry too much about the ups and downs of the markets. Inflation is a concern and, because we live on an island, some expenses are greater and can fluctuate. But, overall we have managed to keep within our budget and can still afford a trip abroad from time to time.

Adapting to retirement has been a challenge, even four years in. I’m a work in progress. I’m still attached to my career. For the past couple of years, I’ve been teaching an online course at Humber College on the psychology of grieving for students preparing to enter the funeral-services profession. I also stay connected to my professional peers and take courses to maintain my Ontario funeral director’s licence, partly because I love learning new things. I’m a big believer that you should continue to grow educationally until the day you die.

I’m aware that until I can let go of my career completely, I probably won’t enjoy my retirement to the fullest. Eventually, I will need to channel my professional talents into something else that will give me a sense of purpose and well-being. To me, that’s part of retirement, to find a purpose in this new season of life. I’m confident that over time, I’ll be able to take that next step and enjoy discovering my new identity in retirement – whatever that is.

As told to Brenda Bouw

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Are you a Canadian retiree interested in discussing what life is like now that you’ve stopped working? The Globe is looking for people to participate in its Tales from the Golden Age feature, which examines the personal and financial realities of retirement. If you’re interested in being interviewed for this feature, and agree to use your full name and have a photo taken, please e-mail us at: Please include a few details about how you saved and invested for retirement and what your life is like now.

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