Business & Personal History
Rusty is a third-generation local who has lived in West Kelowna his entire life. He has seen West Kelowna grow and change from its early agricultural roots to the city it is today.
The oldest of four children, Rusty grew up on the family’s cattle ranch, and like many who grew up on a family farm, he learned how to work at an early age. Rusty was involved in sports as a youth, and he learned how to be a team player. As a 4-H member, he learned public speaking skills, learned to do by doing, won a Provincial Championship, and was given many life skills. Rusty attended school in one of the six classrooms at Westbank Elementary, served as student council vice president, and later graduated from Mt. Boucherie Secondary.
After attending Okanagan College academics for one year he worked on the oil rigs in Alberta before returning home to log the family ranch. This paid for a two year working holiday in Australia, South East Asia, India, Nepal, New Zealand and the Pacific Island. Political systems, resourcefulness self-reliance, independence and dealing with bureaucracies were valuable lessons learned on this life altering adventure.
Along with his brothers Chris and Cam, Rusty formed Ensign Bros. Sand & Gravel Ltd. in 1982. In May, 1983, Rusty suffered a broken neck while playing rugby for the Kelowna Crows Rugby Club in Edmonton. The resulting spinal cord injury rendered him a quadriplegic. There was no more arguing between the brothers as to who was going to do the office work.
The company Ensign Bros. Enterprises grew and eventually employed over 20 people in many capacities. Diversifying from the original sand & gravel business to excavation, trucking, road building, snow plowing, demolition, forestry, ready-mix, site servicing, site preparation, private and public works projects. The original gravel pit is now developed into a 19-acre industrial park that now employs over 100 people with quality jobs. Over the past thirty-five years, the family developed part of the old farm into Shannon Heights Developments
residential subdivision. This included bringing sewer and water, to the then existing unserviced Shannon Lake area, building important road connections and dedicating the seven acre Shannon Way Park.
The family has been good corporate citizens over the years, contributing to many local public projects, sports teams, and worthwhile organizations. The family has the only operating cattle ranch in West Kelowna and just planted their first five acres of grapes last year.
Business memberships past and present include:
BC Cattlemans Association
BC Ready-Mix Association
BC Stone Sand Gravel Association
Greater Westside Board of Trade
BC Forest Safety Council
Canadian Federation of Independent Business
Urban Development Institute
Rusty has a twenty-two-year-old daughter, Kersty. He’s very proud of her graduation in June from UBCO as a registered nurse. Rusty’s son, Louis, thirty-three with a family of three, is an accomplished boiler maker, working around the province building and maintaining important infrastructure. Rusty Ensign will work hard in collaboration with local jurisdictions to strengthen the local economy.
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