Ann Northrup is truly a B.C. girl.
A native of Vancouver, Ann spent summers on her family’s island, surrounded by water and nature.
That passion for nature showed itself in decades of volunteer work, including 23 years with the Vancouver Aquarium as part of its ladies auxiliary.
Ann led educational tours and helped care for the animals, building unforgettable relationships with seals and beluga whales. Ann also performed in an aquarium seal show alongside her son, Rob.
Ann left the aquarium in 1991 but was able to recently return, accompanied by her son.
The nonprofit Wish of a Lifetime Canada partnered with Chartwell Retirement Residences to give Ann a special birthday wish.
“I was on seventh heaven, still at about six and a half right now. I couldn’t believe how changed the aquarium was,” she said after the visit. “It was truly awesome; I got lost completely. It was just super.”
Ann’s emotional return to the museum started with the Beluga and Porpoise Show, followed by an up-close encounter with one of the belugas.
“The staff [at Chartwell Langley Gardens] has never seen her smile so much,” said Danielle Axton, who works at Chartwell and accompanied Ann on her wish. “In the end she was able to feed a beluga and she got down on her knees to do it; she was running on adrenaline.”
It was Northrup’s return to what could only be described as her second home. The 77-year-old had volunteered at the aquarium for 23 years, putting in more than 10,000 hours and building bonds with the animals with which she worked.
At 50, she was part of the effort that rescued, housed and rehabilitated a young sea otter after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989.
Her room at Chartwell Langley Gardens is covered with photos and albums of her time at the aquarium.