Meet a YMM Parent – Q&A with Dan Tulk
Dan Tulk is a community, family man of many talents. As the new Vice Principal at Composite High School and well-known musician for his performances at most local venues and festivals; Dan enjoys raising his six-year-old daughter Abigail (Abbey) with “my lovely and amazing wife” Hayley most of all.
He calls his daughter the “light of my life” and says her name is from The Beatles’ Abbey Road album. He describes his career in education as “highly rewarding.” And when it comes to the city he calls home, he says, “Fort McMurray is a true example of what it means to be Canadian.”
YMM Parent caught up with Dan to get his thoughts on parenthood, life in Fort McMurray and much more.
YMM Parent: Let’s first start with you as a child, what kind of upbringing did you have and what kind of kid were you?
Dan: Hmmm… well, I think I was a good kid? Maybe I should let my parents answer this question. I grew up in Fishing Village of Fortune, Newfoundland on the Burin Peninsula about four hours from St. John’s. No siblings – just me, mom and dad growing up.
I was a decent Solid B student and active in student council. I was always more interested in playing music and riding my motorcycle, then over things – some things don’t change. And I was a little quirky for sure. But I think that mostly comes from my parents supporting me and allowing me to explore life and be comfortable with myself. You might say we bordered on being hippies. He laughs.
Y: We’d love to know how the Tulk family all started. Where did you and Hayley meet?
D: We had our first date on July 18 in 1998. That seems like forever ago. I was 16 and she was a couple of years older. She still is, but she somehow looks amazingly young and I, well… do not. I was visiting my uncle, Chris, in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, and took a position at a music summer camp where Hayley was one of the camp waitresses. We began summer romance reminiscent of any 80s film. And, at the end of the summer, I went back to Newfoundland and she stayed in Nova Scotia. We continued our courtship with letters and daily phone calls with visits on school holidays. At the end of my Grade 12 year in Fortune, she moved to the Island and we got our first apartment prior to starting university together.
Y: When did your daughter come into your lives and how did you choose her name?
D: The light of my life Abigail (Abbey) Lynn Tulk was born on June 20, 2012. Her namesake is The Beatles album – my favourite band – Abbey Road and her grandmother’s name, Lynn. She was born here in Fort McMurray. My wife and I had agreed to each pick a name, I would get full pick for the girl’s name and she would get full pick for a boy’s names. She picked the name Garrison after my most played guitar at the time.
Y: Everyone has their own unique birth story. What did it feel like when you held and saw your baby for the first time?
D: It was the early hours of the morning and my wife was exhausted. I felt like I had on the front lines of a conflict for the last 11 hours. As Dr. Wong took care of business, they handed me my little girl and that was life-changing. She was the most amazing person I’ve ever met and I wrote the song “Abbey’s Eyes,” shortly after. From that moment on, my favourite time of every day is watching her fall asleep. If I could live one moment forever, in a Ground Hog Day scenario, it would be that second Abbey looks into my eyes and smiles with that look of comfort and contentment as she drifts away to sleep. I sometimes feel sad that she will grow up and those moments will stop.
Y: With six years of parenting in the books, has anything surprised you about raising your daughter?
D: Every day, I’m surprised as a parent. How does she learn so much? Why is she fascinated with Superhero Movies? How can one person be so central to everything in your life? It’s amazing how priorities change, and you become a secondary person in your own life, and you want it that way. I love how she sees the world and tries to explain it to me. I think the one that, maybe I knew, but always amazes me is a how kind and welcoming Abbey is, and all children, they just want you, everyone, to be happy.
Y: And finally, about Fort McMurray, what do you enjoy most about our community?
D: What we enjoy about Fort McMurray is a hard question to answer. I guess on a large level, I love the sense of community; I find it far less self-centered than other cities because the most of us are from far away and willing to embrace new people. I love how we get behind each other and support each other when something goes wrong and are willing to praise each other when something goes right. In a city this size, it’s amazing how multicultural we are and how all people are represented here and respected.
The reality is – Fort McMurray is an amazing community and one that we are pleased and ecstatic to call home. We are also lucky to have our family here. My parents, Harvey and Lynn Tulk, who are also active residents in the city with multiple volunteer roles. For my wife and I, it’s our adopted home, where we bought our first home, started our careers and set down our roots. For Abigail, this is her birth home and where she will always reflect back with reverence and love. Our journey here is just in its infancy and we wouldn’t want to call any other place home.
The Tulk Family! Harvey, Lynn, Abigail, Hayley and Dan.
The family of three took a trip to Disneyland in 2017. Supplied photos
Abbey, Dan and Hayley at the 2018 Hues for Humanity event. Photo by Dawn Booth