After the sale of Athlone Travel, Elizabeth Smith, a pillar of the Oak Bay business community and past-president of the Business Improvement Association, is stepping into retirement. (Keri Coles/Oak Bay News)

A pillar of the Oak Bay business community retires

After the sale of Athlone Travel, Elizabeth Smith, a pillar of the Oak Bay business community, is stepping into retirement

After the sale of Athlone Travel, a pillar of the Oak Bay business community is stepping into retirement. Elizabeth Smith has dedicated the last 30 years of her life to nurturing not only her business but also the wider community.

While developing and running the successful travel agency, Elizabeth has also been heavily involved with the Oak Bay Business Improvement Association (BIA), including an eight-year stint as President. Her work with the BIA improved the local community on many levels through fundraising efforts and community events.

Heather Leary, who has worked with Elizabeth in the BIA for years, uses the BIA fundraiser that purchased the jaws-of-life for the Oak Bay Fire Department, to highlight Elizabeth’s devotion to the betterment of her community.

“We contributed as the BIA on a small level, and then Liz through her business and her personal efforts raised a large piece of money for that,” says Heather Leary. “But I think the summer market is her biggest legacy project. She really pushed it forward. The markets bring vendors together to sell but it also brings a number of our non-profits together. It is used as an avenue to work with partners like Kiwanis that have raised money to put towards local programs right in the community. The legacy of the market is that building of community and building business and strengthening relationships.”

Peter Wheaton, a long-time employee at Athlone Travel, agrees with Heather. “The village gets better and better every year and Elizabeth played a big role in that,” says Wheaton.

Through events like the Summer Markets, Trick or Treat on the Avenue, and the Christmas Festival, Elizabeth has steered the BIA in the direction of engagement more than advertisement.

“We really like to build community. We don’t spend our resources on advertising, we make the community a better place. We like to have events in the Village and draw people in and I think that’s the best way,” says Elizabeth.

Her love and support of community can be felt in her business as well, made evident by the loyalty of her staff – many having been there for decades. Elizabeth started working at Athlone Travel in 1986, before purchasing the business with four other women, who became fondly known as The Ladies of Athlone. From the early days of working at Athlone Travel when her children were young, Elizabeth has created a working environment that supports flexibility and family.

“We have a very flexible environment. I think it is really important to support young moms and young families and we did everything we could in that direction,” says Elizabeth.

Darryl Morriss, who has worked at Athlone Travel for 21 years, speaks very highly of his former boss. “She is an excellent employer. She is very fair, very generous, and very kind,” says Morriss. “I don’t think of her as my boss, I consider her a friend.”

When Elizabeth started to consider selling the business and retiring, she and her business partners knew they had to wait for the right buyer – someone that would care about the business and staff as much as they did. So when Maritime Travel, the 39th best employer in Canada, approached them, they knew they had found the right one.

“I feel really good about it. I feel they [the staff] are in good hands,” says Elizabeth.

When asked what she will be doing with her time now that she is retired, family is her happy response, underlined by her imminent flight to the UK to visit her grandchildren.

Fortunately, for the community of Oak Bay, she will also be returning to help run the markets and continue as a board member of the BIA. There is no doubt, her inspiring influence will continue to be felt in the Village.

Just Posted

Victoria shoppers fund Jubilee hospital cardiac monitoring

More than $40k raised over the holidays at Canadian Tire locations

Malahat snow-covered as flakes fall across Greater Victoria

Snowfall warning in effect for parts of Vancouver Island

BC Housing remains open to modular housing in Saanich, but acknowledges slow regional up take

Only one project with 21 units underway in the Greater Victoria

West Shore lands Pan Am Cross Country Cup

Event coming to Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort Spa in February 2020

WATCH: Suspect detained, Saanich Police confirm weapons threat a false alarm

Police event ends, residents return to their homes, shortly before noon, Friday, Feb. 22

POLL: Will you be wearing pink to take a stand against bullying?

Schools and workplaces across Greater Victoria and around the province will be… Continue reading

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Skier dies at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Cause of death for young man has not been released

R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse

R&B star has been accused of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls for years

More sailings coming to 10 BC Ferries’ routes

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said the sailings were originally cut in 2014

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Most Read