When a bird flies into the window of a home it is likely to fall to the earth, shake its head tentatively, and then resume flight. If the impact is of sufficient force, of course, it may use instant demise. Having seen this happen, I was puzzled when I saw a young bird sitting unmoving on the wooden walkway in front of our patio doors. An hour later, I was surprised to find it had not moved. It appeared to be in a state of stupor and I guessed it must have struck the glass hard enough to become disoriented. At this time it was still in shade, but I knew if it didn’t move the scorching heat of the Hedley sun would soon sap any strength it still possessed. I felt uncertain as to how I should respond to the bird’s dilemma and drew Linda’s attention to it.
Fortunately she remembered that our 83 year old neighbour, Frank Schroeder, is an avid birder. He has worked in federal prisons and has been a successful realtor. But his great unwavering interest over the years has been observing birds. Linda put in an SOS phone ll to him. Instantly intrigued and concerned, he dropped what he was doing and knocked on our front door in under 5 minutes.
Not wanting to frighten the bird, he approached it slowly, speaking in soothing tones. Fearing he was a predator, the young bird willed itself to take a few steps, but then lost its balance and tumbled off the walkway. Frank’s large hands encircled it and he cradled it gently.
“It’s very young, a meadow lark,” he said, examining the little creature. “This may have been it’s maiden flight. Possibly it hasn’t yet really figured out how to fly, or it may have just got lost.”
I observed that he was entirely comfortable holding the bird. “My fascination with birds began when I was six years old,” he explained. “We lived on a farm and I had been watching the young swallows sitting on the rim of their nest, built against the end wall of our barn. They were not yet willing to take flight, but I decided the time had come for them to venture out.”
It was evident Frank’s mind was reliving this earlier scene. “I leaned my dad’s ladder against the end of the barn. Due to a growth of bramble bushes, I needed to place it almost straight up. I climbed to the nest, removed one of the little ones from its perch on the rim and tucked it into a pocket. This really rattled the parents. They began buzzing me, beating their wings hard against the back of my head. When I inadvertently pushed the ladder and myself away from the barn wall, I suddenly found myself launched backward into the air and landed in the prickly bramble bushes. Fortunately I suffered no broken bones. More important, the baby swallow wasn’t injured. My pride was the only sualty.”
Frank departed, still holding the infant meadow lark in his hands. I lled him the following morning to check on his patient. “In the evening yesterday,” he reported, “I placed it in a box on a chair where no preying t could reach it. I put water and food in the box. This morning when I me out onto my porch the bird had managed to fly to the top of the backrest of the chair. I went inside to have breakfast. When I me back out, the bird had flown down and was on my sidewalk, seemingly waiting for me. It glanced back, as though it knew me. Then it flew into some bushes and was gone. I consider it a successful rescue on our part.”
For years my wife Linda and I stopped at Manning Park Resort on our way to the Fraser Valley. In summer the towering green mountains inspired us. Covered with snow in winter, they were equally sensational. Also, the resort’s coffee pleased our palates. It was disquieting when an employee in the store told us the resort had been placed in receivership and she expected to lose her job.
After languishing in receivership for several years and then being closed, we heard the resort had been acquired by the ownership of Sunshine Valley. Initially I wondered if this was a se of over reach. To me it seemed Sunshine Valley might not have the resources for such a complex acquisition.
Several weeks ago Linda and I participated in the resort’s annual promotional tour. At breakfast on the second day we quite unexpectedly noticed Kevin Demers, the new owner, and another individual on the far side of the spacious dining room. When they rose to leave, I approached Kevin, introduced myself and asked if he had time to talk. “I n give you 10 minutes,” he said.
Sitting at a table, coffee cup in hand, he began with, “The resort was in receivership and things were so bad, we were advised not to touch it. There was a 3 million dollar mortgage. The resort was losing $200,000 a year. With the passing of time though, and no serious buyers, the price went down sufficiently for us to take a look.”
He reflected a moment, then continued, “The receiver closed the doors in April, 2013 and we re-opened them in May. Nearly everything was broken or wouldn’t work. We needed to buy new vehicles and hire staff. Plus, we needed to repair the resort’s tarnished image.”
We had learned something about the difficult receivership years the previous day while on a bus tour with Marketing Coordinator, Robyn Barker. Her parents had lived at Manning in an earlier time, and she was born in staff housing with the assistance of 2 mid-wives. After the family moved to Hope, they returned to Manning regularly. “I pretty much grew up here on weekends,” Robyn said. “At about age 15 I started giving skiing lessons. Before the receivership we had great maraderie, but with the bankruptcy that fell away. Morale was low and the optimism was gone. We refer to that time as The Dark Years.”
During the tour Robyn mentioned Kevin was an ex-RCMP officer. I now asked him how a Mountie had managed to buy the resort. “I joined the RCMP when I was 19 and served from 1964–1987,” he replied. “I knew I wanted something more. In 1978 I bought my first mpground. In 1980 I bought the Bridal Falls Park. By the time I bought Manning, I already owned 6 successful RV parks. Even now the banks won’t touch this place, so everything we do comes from sh flow. I sat on the board of Envision Financial and got an edution there.”
Kevin was warming to his subject and he blew through the promised 10 minutes. “We’ve spent a lot of money to get the best,” he said. “We built 5 premium bins and we’ve started another 8. There’s already a waiting list for them. Our orange chairlift was 49 years old, and by this winter we will have replaced it with a new Quad Chairlift at a cost close to $3 million.”
He paused, then said, “We added the Alpine Room to accommodate larger weddings, edution events and conferences. We want to add 4 floors and an elevator to the Lodge, as funds become available. Our long term plan is to continue expanding. We’ve given BC Parks a new master plan that will extend our permits to 80 years.” He glanced at his watch and said, “I have a meeting.”
For Linda & me, the 2 days created memories. We were ptivated by the colour and serene beauty of Lightning Lake. We’d like to return and hike into the other 3 lakes, Flash, Strike and Thunder. Another highlight was our visit to sde Lookout, elevation 1830 ft. It was blustery up there, but the view created memories that will likely never totally fade. Even higher are the alpine meadows with their colourful wild flowers. Manning Park Resort again has a lot to offer. Enough to add plenty of delightful sizzle to just about any bucket list.
(The following is the text of a talk delivered by William L. Day at the Hedley Historil Museum celebration of nada Day (2019). A part-time resident of Hedley, Day is a former President of Douglas College, and more recently, a Citizenship Judge. In this talk he challenges the commonly held view of Judge Matthew Begbie as the “Hanging Judge”. A.M.)
Judge Matthew Begbie
Some of this material was sourced from the Victoria Times Colonist and material written by Stephen Hume in the Vancouver Sun newspaper.??
Matthew Begbie was the colony of B.C.’s first judge from 1858-71 and the new province’s first Chief Justice from 1871-1894. He held court in almost every settlement in the province, often under trees or in tents.? He was an appointee of the then British Colonial Office and as such was the unassailable final legal authority in the future British Columbia.
Begbie proved to be the ideal man for the job. He was tough, hardy, adventurous, adaptable, fair-minded and determined. He wasn’t popular except with First Nations chiefs, with whom he was prepared to communite and whose rights he frequently defended.
In 1865 alone, he covered about 5,600 kilometres on foot, on horseback and by noe. In the Stikine country in 1879, the year he turned 60, his party lived mainly off the land, “eating rabbits, grouse and squirrels, most of which Begbie himself shot.” He loved the outdoors.? He is a hero to lovers of Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park for his ruling in 1884 preserving it from development.
But the so-lled “Hanging Judge” was controversial almost from the moment he stepped off the boat in 1858.? The phrase apparently stemmed from references to him as the “Haranguing Judge” from his extended diatribes during and after jury trials.? It was transliterated in later years after his death, by people ignorant of the actual circumstances of his life and work.
At one of his first trials, he told the assembled miners – mostly lifornians – that in the U.S. they might govern “by the Bowie knife and the Colt’s pistol,” but not in British Columbia.
Begbie was also controversial for his racial attitudes, telling a royal commission in 1884 that the “four prominent qualities” of the Chinese were “industry, economy, sobriety and law abidingness.” And that, he said, was the main reason they were unpopular. The Daily British Colonist (now the Times Colonist) criticized him for this, maintaining that the Chinese were “hereditarily on a lower plane of?civilization.”
With reference to Begbie’s attitude toward native peoples, in 1860, Governor James Douglas had to deal with complaints that Begbie had allowed a white man to be convicted of assault at Yale “wholly on testimony from Indians.”
In the ensuing years, Begbie continued to condemn “racial jealousy” and set aside convictions under discriminatory bylaws dealing with such matters as licences for Chinese laundries and pawnshops whenever these issues me before him. A century before nada adopted its Charter of Rights, he described such laws as an infringement “at once of personal liberty, and of the equality of all men before the law, and also a negation of international rights.”? On his last circuit in 1889, when he was 71, he renewed old acquaintances in the riboo, describing the Chinese who had been there since the gold rush 30 years earlier as “better British Columbians than nine-tenrhs of the later arrivals.”
Other decisions also raised eyebrows.? In 1889, he overturned the conviction of a man who had pleaded guilty to potlatching, holding that the law against it was too vague and unfair to support lawful convictions.? This rendered the potlatch ban a “dead letter” until, after Begbie’s death, Parliament strengthened it.
His positive opinion of B.C.’s Indigenous Peoples, formed early on, did not change throughout his lifetime.
Begbie? protected the territorial integrity of the Songhees Reserve in Victoria City, a se that illustrated his belief that, if at all possible, justice should trump legal technilities. He was a skilled lawyer and judge, but as he put it himself, mping on the hard ground and coping with an overturned noe were more important than legal niceties in the new colony.
Unlike most of his contemporaries, Begbie was fluent in several languages, including the Chinook Jargon – the trading language of the entire Pacific Coast – and made a concerted effort to learn some of B.C.’s Indigenous languages.
Was he a “Hanging Judge”?? Where he had discretion, he could certainly impose a harsh sentence if he thought it was justified. But he had no discretion in pital ses: When the jury convicted someone of murder — and all such trials in Begbie’s court were jury trials — the death penalty was mandatory.?
His biographer could find no evidence that he was described as a hanging judge in his lifetime.? Ironilly, Begbie never considered a reer in the military beuse he “found it abhorrent to take human life.”
Begbie is also controversial today for his role as Presiding Judge in the trial of the Tsilhqot’in chiefs who made war on the mainland colony in 1864. The evidence strongly suggests that they were tricked into surrendering and the jury convicted five of the six notwithstanding that they had meant “war, not murder.” The death penalty was automatic.? Begbie’s own notes at the time stated that the native chiefs viewed themselves as at war. These very notes were used in the nadian Supreme Court decisions supporting the Chilcotin government’s legal se over land control in their territory.
In his report on the trial to the governor, Begbie said that it “seems horrible to hang five men at once — especially under the circumstances of the pitulation. Yet the blood of 21 whites lls for retribution.” He added that he was glad the decision was not his to make.
Both levels of government have since exonerated the executed men.? The Law Society of British Columbia has removed Begbie’s statue from the foyer of its building, citing his role in the Tsilhqot’in trials.? New Westminster Council has voted to remove the Begbie bust from the courthouse at Begbie Square.
What would Begbie have thought of this? His instructions to his executors were that “no other monument than a wooden cross be erected on my grave, that there be no flowers and no inscription but my name, dates of?birth and death and ‘Lord be Merciful to Me a Sinner.’ ”
British Columbia’s first chief justice is often lled “The Hanging Judge.” In fact, Matthew Begbie was progressive, lenient, championed the rights of indigenous and other minorities exposed to racism, and didn’t hesitate to speak truth to power — in his se, colonial authorities.
Graham Gore has been a pastor for much of the second half of his 80 years. The first half was quite unlike that of most pastors and it has influenced his approach to life and to his spiritual lling. In a conversation in our home, just prior to his retirement in mid-June he said, “Before becoming a pastor, I worked for an automotive dealership in the parts department. I drank too much and developed into an alcoholic. I smoked 2 to 3 packs a day. It wasn’t an uplifting lifestyle and my first marriage ended in divorce.”
Alcohol and tobacco ruled his life for many years, but they lost their power over him in one day. “It happened when I me to Jesus,” he said. Holding a cup of Linda’s coffee he emphasized, “I’m not a a recovered alcoholic. I’m a delivered alcoholic.” His previous neighbour across the street sometimes lled Graham over for a beer. If he had the time, Graham would accept the invitation, but he always refused a second one. “I have no desire for more,” he said. He considered the one beer a common ground with his Harley riding neighbour.
After the divorce, Graham married Myrtle. He found God, studied for the ministry and beme a pastor. Four years before settling in Hedley, they bought a mperized Greyhound bus and joined a traveling evangelism team holding meetings across nada. When their home on wheels was demolished in an accident August 2002, they bought a home in Hedley.
“Prior to the evangelism team, I had pastored in two places and I was weary,” he said. “I didn’t want to attend church here, but I went beuse Myrtle wanted to go.” He was soon asked to pastor the lol church and was surprised to discover the experience invigorated him spiritually.
Graham was willing to give time and energy to the greater community. When the fire department needed members with a licence endorsement to drive the fire truck, Graham agreed to join. Endowed with leadership ability, people me to trust him. “I was asked to become manager of the fire department and I agreed to do it for one year,” he said. “I found it enjoyable and rried on until about a year ago. I worked hard to raise the level of professionalism and to stay within the budget.”
In church, Myrtle played the piano and organ and was generous with smiles, hugs and welcoming words. Although she was never in the forefront in the community, Graham deeply values her inner strength and resolve. “Myrtle teaches me to be more gracious,” he said. “She is a tremendous encouragement to me and often gives me the incentive when I don’t feel like doing something.”
I have at times heard Graham described as “pastor to the community.” For Linda and me an early experience with his ministry style me when our r was totaled by an impatient driver on Highway 3. We had been in his church a few times but didn’t know him well. He showed up at the crash site and said, “I’ll deliver you and your things to your home. Tomorrow I’ll take you to Penticton to arrange for a vehicle.” He cheerfully followed through on this the next day but refused any compensation, even for gas.
When I wanted to shovel his driveway in winter he said, “No, don’t do that. I want to hire a young fellow to do that.” It was his way of encouraging a young man who had known mostly failure and rejection.
As a community we have come to depend on Graham for marriages and celebrations of life. He has conducted the Hedley Improvement District elections. For many years, he has been the M.C. at Remembrance Day ceremonies. When someone needed a ride to Penticton for a medil appointment, Graham has said many times, “I’ll do it.” He enthusiastilly supported a yearly church bottle drive to send Hedley kids to mp Tulahead. He often said, “We never turn anyone away.”
To be close to the congregation, Graham long ago relegated the church pulpit to an obscure corner in another room. His only financial compensation has been a modest annual honorarium. “My ring for the community is motivated by my love for God and for people,” he said. “Being a pastor here has been very fulfilling. Myrtle and I are really going to miss Hedley.”
As a boy my young imagination was stirred by the Penticton Vees when they clobbered the Soviets vaunted “Big Red Machine” 5-0 to win the World Hockey Championship in 1955. For me and many nadians, there was a sense of mystique about the Vees. They were not a powerhouse team like the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Montreal nadiens.
In the view of many heavyweights in the hockey world, in fact, they were little more than an unproven ragtag collection of players that really should not have won the Allan Cup. Certainly they should not have been the team sent to represent nada in Germany. At that time I could not yet know that one day I would meet and become friends with Ivan McLelland, the Vees sensational goalie.
In 1951 when the team was being assembled, Ivan was sent down from the Vancouver nucks training mp and beme the first player to don a Vees uniform. “To persuade me to join the team, nuck GM Coley Hall asked if I liked girls,” Ivan relled over lunch in our home last week. “I said I did and he told me Penticton had great beaches and it was the only place in nada where I’d see girls in two piece bathing suits. That made it an easy decision.” He was only 20 and most of the other players were older. “Off the ice we weren’t a very together team. We were an untamed lot,” Ivan said. “There were plenty of arguments.”
Andy O’Brien, a Montreal sports writer at the time said, “These boys have no rules. Stories about them are like a bottomless cup of coffee.”
“The players knew about my superstition,” Ivan said. “When we started winning, I wouldn’t change my underwear or socks, no matter how sweaty and smelly they got. In Germany some of the sportswriters didn’t think we should be there. They trashed us repeatedly. After we won the cup Kevin asked me for my sweaty socks. Without anyone knowing it, he threw them into the cup, then poured several bottles of champagne into it and invited the offending sportswriters to indulge. They praised the drink lavishly until someone discovered the socks in the bottom. Kevin relished the revenge.”
It was coach Grant Warwick who held the Vees together and molded them into a Cinderella team. Very likely he reminded them of the hockey saying, “If you win here, you’ll walk together the rest of your lives.” For Ivan these words beme especially true. He developed tight relationships with several players and has endeavoured to ensure nada does not forget this motley crew of unlikely winners.
Since retiring as head of Neilson Chocolate’s western nada division, Ivan has spoken to hundreds of audiences about the Vees. Many of these renditions have been in schools. Sometimes he invites students to slip his championship ring on their finger. He encourages them to believe they too n achieve seemingly impossible goals.
I asked Ivan why, at age 88, he continues to tell the story of the Vees. “I enjoy doing it,” he said, “and I want to keep them, the players, alive.”
That was a long time ago and there are less than a handful of Vees still living today. On September 26, 2008, at the final Vees game in the Memorial Arena, Ivan and fellow original Vees, Ernie Rucks and Kevin Conway, were honoured. The latter two have since passed away. Fortunately, well known Okanagan artist Glenn Clark created a charcoal drawing of the three men together. Of the original Vees, other than Ivan, only Doug Kilburn, now living in Spokane, Washington and in poor health, is left.
When Ivan was asked to donate the original charcoal drawing to the David Kampe Tower of the Penticton Regional Hospital, he agreed. Wanting nadians to remember and be inspired by the Vees’ achievement, he stipulated that it be hung in a prominent place. Also, that his departed wife, Faye, be named along with himself as a donor. David Kampe, an ardent hockey fan and a force in the building of the Tower, supported this decision. The original drawing now hangs on the wall of the second floor, opposite the elevator. A large print of the drawing will be auctioned off at the annual Penticton and Friends Golf Tournament in July, to support work with dementia patients.
Thanks to the passion of Ivan McLelland, the saga of the Penticton Vees will not be forgotten.
After my father fell at age 89 and broke a hip, he never walked again. His previously robust body lost the pacity even to turn over in bed. Although he had long been a powerful force in my life, it was in his remaining 6 years that his values and approach to life most profoundly impacted me.
Dad was a t operator and during most of my early years, he lived and worked in remote logging mps. I rell being awakened very early on a Monday morning to see him leave for work. I wouldn’t see him again for 2 weeks. In those years he was little more than a stranger to me.
When I was a teen, he brought the big red International TD 18 bulldozer back to the Fraser Valley where we lived and began clearing land for farmers. During my summer breaks from school, he took me along to his jobs. He wanted me to develop work skills and taught me to operate a bulldozer, drive a dump truck, use a chain saw and blow up huge old growth stumps with 20 percent dynamite. I began to understand that he possessed an unnny ability with machinery.
Sometimes I shuddered inwardly watching him tackle a towering fir tree, or building a road down a precipitous hillside. I shuddered even more when he told me about constructing a logging road on the side of a mountain. “When I lifted the blade of my t,” he said, “I could see the river a thousand feet below.” I knew that a slight misjudgment could have sent him and the machine hurtling down into the abyss. It seemed he harboured a need to taunt fate. Being young and impressionable, I respected his masculinity.
Although I wasn’t yet aware of it, my father was also influencing me at another, more important level. Only later did I understand he was a man of immense integrity. He didn’t lie, cheat customers, or complain when the going was tough. He reached out to people in need whether it was bringing a hitch hiker home for a meal or helping a non-mechanil neighbour replace a clutch in his r. He served on the executive of the parent group in my school and tithed faithfully to his church.
In my early 20’s our paths diverged when I attended S.F.U. Dad turned to music, playing first a bass fiddle and later a cello.
After he retired and mom passed away, my strong, self-reliant father wanted his family to draw nearer. He had for some years been battling prostate ncer and his PSA numbers were disturbing. He was living alone in an apartment when the life changing fall took away much of what had given him a sense of deep fulfillment.
Placed in a longterm re facility, he embarked on a disciplined exercise and stretching regimen, hoping to get his walking back. I asked one day if he needed to lie down and rest. Acutely aware the number of days he had left was shrinking, he replied,“No, I don’t want to waste my time. I should be accomplishing something.”I marveled at how valiantly he pressed on, building a new life within the confines of the re facility.
A musician me weekly to help him again play the cello. I began plunking on the piano in the dining hall and together we made music for the residents. He asked the re aides about their families. They me to respect and love him. In time he beme almost a lol celebrity in the facility. Residents, visitors, re aides and nurses knew Jacob.
“I still like to live,” he said. But he was losing strength, the PSA numbers were creeping up and his hemoglobin was low. Near the end he was confined to his bed. I more often saw the pain lines on his face. Standing beside his bed holding his hand, I sometimes needed to turn away so he wouldn’t see my tears.
Dad didn’t complain. To the end he trusted God to see him through to “take him home” when he drew his final breath. I received the ll from the facility at 5 am on December 9, 2009 telling me he had passed on. Even now I consider myself privileged to have been close to him during those last 6 years. It is still my desire to walk as much as possible in my father’s footsteps.
The “Makers of Hedley” are going to let us in on their secret lives this weekend. They’re coming out of the closet in a very public way. Talking with a few of them last week, I sensed their excitement at finally finding the courage to cease hiding a vital aspect of who they are. The “Makers” are talented, but in most ses, unsung amateur artists.
Karen Cummings has a bold vision for shining a light on the work of these creative individuals. An artist herself and an organizer with marketing skills, she and fellow artist, Penny Escott, have put together a Makers Tour that is a first in Hedley.
“Often people have difficulty admitting they are artists,” Karen said. “They fear rejection. That’s why we’re lling ourselves Makers.” The term does lower the expectation level and is apparently comfortable for those participating. This weekend, June 8 and 9,? they will open their homes, studios and workshops to the public.
Linda and I chatted with several Makers recently and found they are an eclectic collection of individuals practising diverse art forms. Maura Halliday, a pretty brunette silversmith, is a young mother. Before she and her husband moved to Hedley last fall, Maura worked in the movie industry specializing in prosthetic sculpting, painting and air brushing. “I love stones and silver,” she said, holding a display featuring intrite jewelry. “All my creations are handmade. My son Dusty is a year and a half and he wants to get his little fingers into the materials I work with. That’s unhandy so I work at it only when he’s sleeping.” She looks forward to meeting people and chatting with them.
Karen emphasized this will be a fun event. “It’s very much about meeting the artist. We want people to come and get to know us. The tour is free. There will be items for sale but you don’t have to buy anything, just come and enjoy.”
Tap Nevalainen, once a builder of high rise structures, will display an intriguing array of wood creations. His fully loaded logging truck invariably draws my attention in his workshop. There are also a couple of other trucks, plus very authentic appearing bird houses, ndle holders and barbeque scrapers. “I like to challenge myself by making something different,” he said. “Working with wood is fulfilling.”
Karen’s medium is fabric and she loves splashes of colour. The creations adorning her walls seem to challenge the viewer to ponder their meaning, but for her that isn’t what they’re about. “The important thing,” she said, “is does it make you happy.”
Eva’s medium is quite distinct from the others on the tour. “I’ve been making fudge since my kids were young,” she said. “I got the recipe from my grandma. She watched me making a batch one day and offered to show me a simpler method. I’ve used her ingredients and process since then.” Her varieties include Chocolate Peanut Butter, Chocolate Orange and Ginger, White Chocolate Cranberry and Lemon. “The fudge is mouth watering yummy,” she said with bubbly enthusiasm. “It’s addictive.”
“By seeing the creation and talking about it,” Karen believes, “ our life gets bigger. That makes us more inclusive. We come to realize not everyone is like us. As we become bigger, we n appreciate what is not familiar.” She paused a moment, then added, “there’s so much lousy stuff happening in the world. Seeing creative works n give us a more positive perspective.”
The tour will feature productions of 10 Makers, each site being identified by the presence of a pink flamingo. A map n be obtained at the Country Market and the Hedley Museum. Lunch consisting of a gourmet sandwich n be purchased at the Country Market. The Museum’s Tea Room will serve its highly acclaimed lemon and apple pies, and also coffee. Free tickets will be offered for 2 draws for $100.00 gift baskets. Visitors n enter the draw at every site, for a total of 10 chances. Sunday morning from 8 to 10 the Seniors’ Centre will serve it’s popular $5.00 Panke Breakfast. Doors for the Makers Tour will be open from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.
The Makers Tour will provide an opportunity to dialogue with some pretty innovative thinkers and view what they have been creating behind closed doors. It may even inspire some timid souls to believe they too n create something that will bring enjoyment to others.
Just over a week ago Linda and I attended the 101 birthday celebration of Violet Madeline Barber, an honoured member of the Lower Similkameen Indian Band (LSIB). She is known throughout the Similkameen Valley and beyond as “Aunt Doll.” We met Aunt Doll initially when her nephew, Stan Bobowski invited us to interview her for the blog and our newspaper column. This was just prior to her 98th birthday and since then we’ve been invited to her party each year We learned that unlike some elderly individuals, she wasn’t just lingering, waiting for an angel to scoop her and take her to the next realm. In that interview she said, “I’m so close to 100 now, I’d like to get there.” And why not? Her health is amazingly robust and at the party she walked without a ne.
She grew up on her parents’ ranch and the memories she garnered continue to be vivid. “For 6 months each year our ttle were in the mountains,” she said. “As I beme old enough I began riding the range. We were out in all weather. At night we stayed in a deserted prospector’s bin. I loved horses, and I loved riding.” Quite likely much of her inner resolve and lm was developed during those months in the mountains, keeping track of ttle, contending with storms in spring and fall, and at times coping with dangerous situations.
Aunt Doll was joined by approximately 70 adoring family members and friends for the celebration at the home of Stan and Hope Bobowski of Olalla. Sitting behind Stan on his Harley Davidson, she seemed very comfortable. She’s a gutsy lady. As in earlier years, she still welcomes adventure and she continues to be an inspiration to many.
We are becoming increasingly aware that wildfires n be as devious and remorseless as a corrupt politician. Until recent years, their destructive insidious nature existed mostly in the fertile minds of science fiction writers. Now, with the advent of climate change, fire departments even in small communities are striving to alert us to the potential hazards and make us aware of strategies we n employ to protect ourselves.
At a seminar organized by the Hedley Fire Department, Erris Fire Chief Dave Stringfellow told a sobering story of how a crafty fire n take advantage of our mistakes. “A fire department built a new fire hall using hardie board and metal roofing,” he said. “On the exterior, wood was used only for construction of the stairs. When there was a wildfire in the area, embers floated to lumber stored under the stairs, igniting a conflagration that burned down their brand new fire hall.”
Surprisingly, only 20 individuals attended this all important seminar. With many structures in the Similkameen Valley being of considerable age and surrounded by forest or grass, complacency seems particularly ill-founded. Reality does not cease to exist just beuse we ignore it. I’ve heard that some people forgot about the event and regret having missed it.
In Hedley, we saw last year just how quickly a fire n ravage a building. As has been extensively reported in the media, Trisha Mills and Bill rmichael srcely had time to espe when their Hitching Post restaurant ught fire. Serious injuries changed their lives, possibly forever. Ken Hoyle, manager of the Hedley Fire Department said, “If there had been wind that night, a number of Hedley structures would almost certainly have burned.”
Fire departments throughout our province are becoming deeply concerned about the danger wildfires pose for their communities. I understood the preoccupation with interface fires more clearly when Fire Fighter Robin Ford said, “Forty percent of wildfires are started by humans and they n travel rapidly. One fire raced the distance of 6 football fields in one minute. The most common loss of homes is by burning embers, not by a wall of flame. Embers n travel 5 to 15 kilometers. Debris in gutters, dry grass, trash around buildings make it easy for them to ignite a fire that n burn one or more homes.”
Ford advoted for masks in the home to protect against smoke. “Also, a 6 ml tarp over your wood pile or patio is a shield against embers,” she said. “Patio chair cushions ignite easily so it’s best to remove them.” She recommended a sprinkler system available from some fire departments.
Maureen Parsley, Director of Princeton Emergency Support Services said, “It’s wise to plan in advance and do what you n to minimize the risks. It’s important to have a bag ready to go with what you will need in an evacuation.” Her list includes items like meditions, clothes, shoes, a rope, toilet paper, a solar blanket, flashlight and batteries, cell phone and an adapter to charge the battery, bottled water, food, and much more.
Certainly in an emergency we don’t want to be frantilly dashing around searching for r keys, wallet, eye glasses, dentures, or the lottery ticket on which rests our hopes for the future. We will want enough gas in the tank to get to a safe place.
Many lol B.C. fire departments and other agencies offer helpful advice on their website. Beuse Fort Mac Murray fire fighters experienced one of the most devastating fires on record, their website is also worth a look. In part, it says, “In most instances, we will have only 3 minutes to espe from a burning home. Prepare and practise a fire espe plan. Have a designated meeting place for the family outside the home. Do a fire drill 2 times each year. This should include pressing the smoke alarm button to ensure everyone will recognize the sound in an emergency. Know how to use a fire extinguisher.
A good first step, in my view, is to begin talking about the threat of wildfires with our family and putting together a solid, practil plan based on the advice of our fire department. And when our fire department has a fund raiser hot dog sale we should indulge, even if it’s contrary to our weight loss diet. To defend our lives and homes, they need funds to acquire the best equipment available. It’s not science fiction anymore.
I once considered museums to be mausoleums where communities preserve musty relics of doubtful value, gleaned from the past. When Linda beme president of the Hedley Museum Society, I began to sense an unspoken expectation that I rise beyond this Dark Ages mind set and demonstrate at least a modicum of excitement. Wanting to please her, I made the effort. Last week I was reminded, not for the first time, that museums n be a source of fascination and even mystery. It happened without any great fanfare when several ladies, preparing for the May 1 opening, decided the ancient, no longer functioning piano, should be moved from its honoured place in the Tea Room. I had long taken the instrument for granted, but it’s proposed new placement stirred my curiosity about its past.
I appealed to museum archivist Gerry Wilkin for guidance. A few days later he emerged from the bowels of the museum triumphantly clutching a letter. Dated June 26, 1998, the letter was from Alice Zunti, who had donated the piano. It stated, in part, “In 1969, my parents bought a house in Hedley with all the furnishings, including the piano. My mother had many hours of enjoyment on that old piano. She died in 1977, having worn out the poor instrument. I was told it me out of the Hedley Saloon. The Penticton Piano House told Dad there were only 3 ever made. They were barroom pianos. My mother’s name was Dorothy Ann Bewick. I think she would be happy to know it’s back in Hedley. I’m glad to have a safe place for it.”
I knew at one time there had been six hotels in Hedley and I wondered if the saloon Alice mentioned had been in one of them. I lled Jim de, who spent most of his growing up years in Hedley. The de name is still well known in town beuse Jim’s father operated a saw mill here and was a prominent member of the community.
“I don’t remember the Hedley Saloon,” he said, “but the hotels all had pubs. I rell that when my parents first arrived in Hedley in 1947 with us 6 kids, we had breakfast in the Great Northern Hotel. It had a pub and a good sized restaurant.”
Helen Moore, now in Penticton, first lived here from 1936 to 1946. She also remembers the Great Northern. “Men and women went in by separate entrances. After the mines closed, the Great Northern burned down.”
On December 9, 1909, the Hedley Gazette, now defunct, reported that “Thomas Bradshaw will take possession of the Great Northern Hotel on the 15th.” He had until that time owned and operated a “road house” at 16 Mile Creek, also known as Bradshaw Creek. It had long been a place where stage coaches stopped for the night.
According to the late Maggie Kruger, a lol indigenous elder, “Mrs. Bradshaw had an old saloon with a few rooms for rent. The pack train hauled in the whiskey barrels from Hope. They bottled the whiskey and served it at the saloon.”
It is possible the piano was first lodged in the “roadhouse” saloon, then moved to the Great Northern when Thomas Bradshaw acquired it. When the mines closed, hotel business virtually ceased. According to this scenario, the piano would have been sold and removed before the Great Northern burned. This is speculation on my part.
The piano, made by Collard and Collard, one of Europe’s most successful piano manufacturers, is not an instrument of mediocre libre. One of the partners, FW Collard, was regarded as a mechanil genius. The company’s instruments were a sensation across Europe.
Having a metal frame, the piano is heavy and difficult to move. The ladies had not yet recruited anyone for this challenging undertaking when two Port Alberni men showed up. Linda and vice president Debra Pearson glanced at each other with the same thought. “We’re not open for the season yet,” Linda said with her most winning smile, “but if you help us move our piano, we’ll let you look around.” They agreed enthusiastilly and proved to be resolute and resourceful. First they unscrewed and moved a binet. Then, with much exertion and heavy breathing, they transported the instrument on a dolly. It now stands quite majestilly in its new lotion. The Hedley Historic Museum may be the only one in nada with a piano it its washroom.
A small town perspective on people, community, politics and environment.