Setting up camp in Canada: A picture of contentment

Uncle Dick, 1966

At the risk of further chronological confusion, today I put the blog into reverse again, this time a couple of decades back from the “Eighties Vancouver” period, to my first days in Canada.

It didn’t take long for the novelty to wear off Canada, especially as the horrors of high school began. I missed my friends, racing my bike, the English countryside, even the ticky-tacky housing estates of Wednesfield.

My extended family followed the trail to Canada blazed by my maternal great-grandfather, who first settled on a homestead at Golden, BC. My immediate family made the move in 1965, sponsored by my mother’s sister and brother-in-law, the Slaters.

It was my Uncle Dick who, perhaps unwittingly, planted my unsure feet on Canadian soil. He was, after all, just pursuing what he loved best about his adopted country, but he opened my eyes to the wonder of my new home.

One day he roused me in the middle of the night and we drove in his gigantic Ford Fairlane along the Sea-To-Sky Highway — then a narrow, tortuous track — up Howe Sound, where we launched his aluminum skiff into the “salt chuck” at Horseshoe Bay.

We watched the sun rise over Coast Range peaks I would one day climb. My fishing reel whizzed and a pink-sided salmon broke the surface of the blue sea.

Right there, I was hooked on Canada.

The same summer, we plied the dusty, unpaved road into Golden Ears Park, to camp on Allouette Lake. This English lad had never felt the kind of heat that summer brought. I swam in the glacier-cold lake, hiked, and skimmed across the water on wooden waterskis behind a motor boat. Maybe there was some fun to be had in this odd place, after all!

The following summer, the Slaters invited me along on a trip to the Interior. We drove in through the fantastic Fraser Canyon and on to Mabel Lake, where we set up camp on the shoreline. That’s where, with my Bakeliite Kodak Brownie,  I recorded the scene of camping bliss, among the canvas tents, camp cots and barbecue tackle.

Tragically, Dick’s life was cut short in a terrible motor vehicle accident, not long after this happy time. This photo reminds me of his comfort among the forests, lakes, sea and mountains of British Columbia and how he inspired me to explore the great country where we put down our roots.

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  • Wiebe de Haas - I very much enjoyed your story. I recall a camping trip I took with my father and sister, in ’58, to the Okanagan, returning through the Fraser Canyon, when the highway, in some sections was a wooden road hanging on the edge of the canyon. Parts of that road, near the Alexandria Bridges should still be visible today. I took photos of it in ’73.March 6, 2017 – 12:32 pmReplyCancel

    • Raymond Parker - Thanks Wiebe. The thing about those days is that there were many fewer cars on the roads, despite their size! Mind you, perhaps car sizes are eclipsed today by giant pickups and increased road freight.

      Anyway, as I noted, the road into Golden Ears Park was unpaved and I retain the distinct memory of the huge plume of brown dust kicked up by the Fairlane, receding behind us beyond the rear window. Keep in mind that, aside from the Riley one of my uncles owned in England, big cars were an unusual experience.

      Speaking of the Fraser Canyon, despite its enduring beauty, it’s sad to drive it now, since the Coquihalla has siphoned off much of the traffic. Another of my memories from that trip to Mabel Lake is stopping for a breakfast of giant pancakes at one of the many roadside family-owned restaurants that thrived on the Trans-Canada in those days.March 6, 2017 – 2:13 pmReplyCancel


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