Barber trades scissors for retirement

The cracks and the quips are never in short supply at the Len Fraser Barber Shop in Esquimalt.

That’s part of the reason why Terry McLean kept cutting hair for so long.

But after 46 years – including 31 at the Esquimalt shop – McLean finally handed over his scissors and embraced retirement after his Saturday shift.

It’ll be the people and the laughter that the long-time Esquimalt resident will miss most at the shop where he faithfully walked to work five days a week.

“It is sad because I’m going to miss this place,” he said while clipping Jean Lambert’s hair. “I wouldn’t trade my 31 years here for anything.”

“It’s amazing, this place,” said Lambert, who has been coming to the barber shop every few weeks since 1983. “(McLean) remembers who you are.”

When asked why McLean held on to his scissors at the Esquimalt barber shop for so many decades, he said with a smile, “So everyone can give me a hard time, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

McLean will be greatly missed by staff and customers alike.

“Terry is an easy guy to work with. He’s the salt of the earth,” said shop owner Doug Fraser, who has been cutting hair alongside McLean for more than 25 years.

Fraser said he “is one of those guys you can’t say a bad thing about.

“He’s one of the family around here.”

McLean actually became a barber by accident.

Originally from North Battleford, Sask., he had plans to join the navy. But McLean ended up in hospital with an injury and through contacts he met there, he soon found himself in barbering school.

“I love it,” he said. “But, you know, I’m 65 years old, it’s time for me to do something else, like golfing.

“I’d like to win the (Lotto) 649, Lotto Max, you know, the freedom plan,” he quipped.

He’s also considering volunteering part time to help fill his days as a retiree.

“I’ll just take it day by day.”

emccracken@vicnews.com