Hearts Love 22

John Howard Higginbotham

April 7, 1945 ~ July 6, 2023 (age 78) 78 Years Old


We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of John Higginbotham, a determined, passionate, social justice advocate, sustainability advocate and friend to many. John passed after a long, valiant struggle with Muscular Dystrophy (MD).

John is survived by older brother Don Higginbotham, former spouse Susan Higginbotham and later in a relationship with partner, Catherine Fraser as well as Anita (niece), Tom, Danielle and Brennan Adams.

John managed his own complex care which was only made possible in later years with a devoted team of loving and much appreciated daily caregivers, a house adapted to John’s accessibility needs and a mobility scooter John designed for his specific requirements. That he lived as long and actively as he did is a testament to his own personal research, his courage, and his tenacity. He was cherished for his friendly, warm relations with others, his quirky sense of humour and sharp inquisitive mind. John had a warmth of being that would melt your soul with its abundant human kindness. He drew around him a circle of friends who helped him maintain his independent living.

John had a number of interesting careers in his life. He was a high school teacher in Smithers and later Cranbrook. He graduated in 1975 from Dalhousie University to become a lawyer, practicing in Nanaimo from 1975 to 1978. He left to become a prosecutor in juvenile court in Victoria then retired in 1982. The Muscular Dystrophy, diagnosed in 1970, started to make his life as a lawyer difficult. At that point he decided to travel as he wasn’t sure how long he’d remain mobile. So, in 1982 he moved to the Comox Valley and in 1997 bought his last home, thus began his travelling adventures.

MD set a high bar that made John’s life special. Because of all the physical challenges, he became extremely creative. He had to create his own specialized kitchen utensils and counter tops, his own lift systems, all weather clothing, and a three wheeled scooter that (rapidly) got him to events in downtown Courtenay from his home at the end of Courtenay waterfront walkway. John became a most enabled person with an otherwise disabling illness.

His will to live and driving force centered around the three big issues that meant so much to him: electoral reform, accessibility, and community.

John loved to “debate” but the interesting thing about debating with John was that his idea of a debate was closer to an inclusive survey of the issues in search of understanding. One of his biggest passions was promoting electoral reform. “Why would we choose an electoral system where a minority of the votes that were cast, repeatedly elects the next majority government.” His deep belief that for a democracy to work our elected representatives have to be representative of the people who elect them.

The other passion of John’s life was accessibility, the opportunity for all people, no matter what their challenges, to be able to access all aspects of being in community. In 1996 John was the first to sign up when the Comox Valley Accessibility Committee was formed. John became the committee’s longest serving, and most passionate, adamant member.

Over the years John became famous for introducing newly elected city councillors to the realities of accessibility. Following every municipal election John would arrange scooter tours for all recently elected municipal mayors and councillors. His tours helped councillors understand the needs of mobility challenges. John’s input around the design of public facilities enabled a much more inclusive community. Accessibility at the Comox Spit, the Sid Williams Theatre and Comox Valley Art Gallery all benefited from John’s persistent “advice.”

A few words can hardly convey John’s contribution to our community. His efforts have made it possible for current and future people with mobility concerns to live a more inclusive life, and because of his perseverance and continuous efforts on behalf of all community members, we are forever grateful.

Contributions in John’s memory can be made to Muscular Dystrophy Canada and/or Greenpeace Canada. There will be a celebration of John’s life to be announced later.






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