Friday, July 28, 2017

Summers in Mission

When I was 12 my family moved from Burnaby to the town of Mission, BC. It was about an hours drive up the Fraser valley across the River from Abbotsford.

When we first moved there, it was a bit of a culture shock for me.  I came from Burnaby, which was essentially a part of the greater Vancouver area.  Mission was so small that when we came from the Abbotsford side at night, from the other side of the river you'd only see a handful of lights on the hills of Mission.  You'd walk along the downtown stretch (all 4 or 5 blocks of it) on a Saturday morning and almost always see people you recognized from school. That almost never happened in Burnaby!

The day we moved there it had hailed and the hailstones, way bigger than what I'd ever seen in the lower mainland, looked like snow piled up on the ground and about a quarter inch in diameter! It was late fall and we had moved to a street that was essentially the hill up the side of the valley into the mountains.  I thought I'd never ride my bike again, but I soon got my legs for the hills.

I turned 13 before my first summer in Mission.  Being inland, when it warmed up, it was usually warmer there than in Vancouver, so it would start getting nice and warm about April or May.

Antoon, Mom and I on the porch of the house in Mission - I'm 13 here and wearing my swimsuit

Then, as it began to warm up that first Summer in Mission, I began to make discoveries.

I discovered was that if you were willing to ride your bike for about 20 minutes up the hills, you would arrive at a lake on the side of Dewdney Trunk road. I never knew what the park was called when I was a boy, but looking it up now, it's called Bear Mountain park.

Bear Mountain Park North of Mission on Dewdney Trunk Road
The little lake had a raft and a pole you could use to push it around. The next sunny day, I put my swimsuit on under my shorts, rode my bike up to the lake, pulled it into the bushes, pulled off everything except my swimsuit and took the raft for a spin.  I only jumped into the lake once. the reeds at the bottom made it hard to get back to the surface, which was a bit scary, not to mention yucky!

I would spend an afternoon there, poling the raft around the lake, then climb up the hill behind it and go exploring on trails, or slosh through the swamp where the water ran out of the lake, all in nothing but my swimsuit and my bare feet. I was absolutely delighted!

It didn't take long to discover other places to play. There were creeks, that usually had muddy spots where you'd pretend it was quicksand. Or you'd swim in a pool in the creek, or go fishing there.  I missed my friends in Burnaby, but there were so many fun things for a boy to do with all that forest, and lakes and creeks and mountains all around.

One of my favourite places was Mount Mary Ann.  The first time I discovered it was with a friend, who showed me a mining tunnel that ran horizontally into the mountain at the bottom of the crag. Nowadays they have it boarded up for safety reasons, but back then it was a kid's paradise to play in. It had a moss-covered rocky crag that you could climb, with a pit in it.

Aerial View of Mount Mary Ann with the rock crags that I used to climb on. The mining tunnel was at the bottom among the trees on the lower right.
I loved to climb on those crags in the summer time. I'd wear just my shorts and ride my bike there.  I'd hide my bike in the bushes and go climbing up the rocks. Then I'd sit on the rocks and feel the sun baking my skin, cooled a bit by the breeze that blew down the valley.

I remember being stopped on my bike there one day, catching my breath after climbing the Stave Lake Road hill, and a little yellow finch flew onto my handle-bars.  I froze and didn't move, just watching him so close and so cute, not wanting him to fly away!

I had always loved the outdoors, but Mission was were I developed that love into a lifelong enjoyment of camping, hiking and adventuring!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Summers in Burnaby

Summer was my favourite time of year.  As soon as it started to get warm I had a desire to take my shoes and socks off and lose my shirt.  It was fun to run around the yard in just shorts and feel the grass under my bare feet, but there were lots of other things a little boy could enjoy in a Burnaby summer back then.

When I was 9 and 10, my older brother Tony became a Playground Supervisor for the Burnaby Parks Board at Lobley Park in Burnaby.  I would walk there with him, and as soon as I got there my shirt and shoes would all come off and I'd spend the entire day in my bathing suit.  Tony and other teens would lead fun arts and crafts, and we'd go splash in the wading pool and play on the playground.

The park had lots of trees (still does) so you could always find shade to play in, and back then it had a full playground with monkey bars, swings, teeter totters and a merry go round.  Many of the trees are still there, though the playground is gone and the wading pool has been replaced by an expanded firehall.

Lobley Park today


I'd also go with my friends to the local swimming pools. There was MacPherson, which cost 15 cents, or once I was a bit older (9 years old), I was allowed to go to Central Park pool which was only 10 cents.  We'd ride our bikes there in just our bathing suits (no helmets, and bare feet) with our towels over our shoulders.  Going to MacPherson there was a hill with a dirt jump we'd go over.  If it was Central Park, we'd go as fast as we could down the main trail, then jam on the back-pedal brakes to see who could make the longest skid mark. Both pools are still there are largely unchanged.
MacPherson Pool today

Image result for Central Park outdoor pool in burnaby
Central Park Pool today

We also often went to Stanley Park. Our favourite place was Second Beach because it had a playground. I often had a friend tag along. We'd load the station wagon up with a bunch of us in the back (no seat belts back then).  We wouldn't even bother with a change of clothes or shoes. We'd go in our bathing suits and bring a towel. Nothing else required. Some pictures below of one of our Second Beach excursions:

Me and my friend Shawn at 2nd beach, play fighting. Note the sand on our bare feet.

Posing with my mom. Very sandy bare feet!

And with my dad - I'm doing bunny ears on him!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

My First Cub Camp at Mount Seymour

Last weekend I drove our scouts up to Mount Seymour and dropped them off at the parking lot for a weekend camp.  This brought me back to my first cub camp.  It was held at Mount Seymour in the snow. The scouts came with toboggans and hauled our gear in to the cabin. I recall having cold feet when I arrived at the cabin.

I also still recall the awe when I got to the cabin and realized that the snow was three times my height!  I recall running around in the cabin. Burnaby region still owns that same cabin. Our scouts had to use a different cabin because the Burnaby one was waiting for some repairs, but you get off at the same parking lot, shown below.


I joined cubs in 1969 and still have my membership card for 1st Burnaby Southview pack, which met in Maywood School:




Within a few weeks of me joining, the previous Akela, Al MacLean retired and I got a new female Akela by the name of Beth Reynolds.  Female Akelas were rare at that time, but I didn't care as long as I got to go camping! That's what I was in it for.  And my Akela didn't let me down!



I'm glad I get to volunteer and help another generation of young people have the joy and character-building experience of camping!  I usually just work with the cubs, but then, most of these guys were my cubs just a few years ago, and they needed a driver for the Friday departure, and I'm always glad to help!

From the pictures I got to see of the camp, it looks like they had a great time!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Camping at Weatherhead Creek

When I lived in Mission, I used to go camping constantly.  As a 15/16/17 year old teen, I'd plan a camp and invite a bunch of my scouts along with. Most of them were younger than me, though I'd often get Gordon to come along, and he was two years older.

One of my favourite areas to hike in was this area around Davis Lake Provincial Park.

When I did camping as a part of wilderness hiking I traveled light. No tent, just a fly sheet, ground sheet, and some rope to hold it up.  I'd point the open end of this shelter toward the fire, and we'd generally have a couple of dead hemlock saplings that we'd broken or cut down that we'd put across the fire. It would burn through at the middle, and we'd reach out of the sleeping bag to push the two ends in as they burned away. We'd talk, plan our next adventures and tell jokes by the fire light, occasionally pushing some ends in to keep it burning.  Eventually we'd fall asleep, to awake in the morning when it began to get light.

Just past the end of Davis lake, possibly still in the park area was a creek that ran past the road called Weatherhead creek on the old topographic maps.  There was a rough logging road that ran down up along the ravine that the creek cut through the mountains (it was a sizable creek), and I recall trying to hike up it with some of my scouts (to see where it led and what interesting discoveries we'd make up there, of course...)

We did this one time, and one of my scouts, Raymond, brought a little transistor radio with him.  We had crawled into our shelters, with the embers of the fire still glowing.  He turned on CKLG and we listened.  I remember that no one spoke as we went through several songs. I clearly recall two songs that we heard that night. They were Dreams by Fleetwook Mac and Miracles by Jefferson Starship.

Music has always meant a lot to me.  There was something about those two songs that really felt like magic that night.  To this day, hearing either of those songs takes me back to Weatherhead creek, under a flysheet, with my young scouts, me still in my teens and with a fire glowing just outside my shelter.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Translink Compass Beta: My card arrived today

I was accepted a week ago into the Translink Compass Card Beta program and the card arrived today.

The card is pre-loaded with $100.00 of pretend concession fares.  I have to have valid fare to use the transit system, but they want me to "tap in" and "tap out" with the card whenever I use Skytrain or Bus, so that we can validate that the system is working correctly.  The actual test is due to start next Monday, so I'll give you some updates then.  They also gave me a bunch of little handouts if anyone is curious, as I'm also a Compass Ambassador!

Stay tuned for more updates.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas when I was Little

I was just looking at some pictures that my wife put up on her blog and it took me back to when I was little.  I've dredged up a few pictures from the past.  I'm a little unsure of the timing, but from what I'm wearing and from Margaret's size and age, I'm pretty sure that this is mostly 1965.  This picture is not Christmas, but it's a clue. Note that Margaret is having her 3rd birthday (November of 1965), I'm 6 years old in this picture.


Here are a series of pictures of us around our Christmas tree, in the dining room of our house on Imperial Street in Burnaby.






One of the highlights of the year was visiting a friend, we called "Miss Lydia".  This was probably after Christmas, and I'd had a haircut.

I got the honoured spot on her lap.  I got this army helmet (with a first aid symbol on it, indicating I was a medic). I loved this helmet and for years, I'd wear it, riding my bike around with my toy guns, playing war with my friends.



I used to add my toy plastic animals to the manger scene.  My mother never minded, in fact it might have been her idea.  She caught me playing with them, here. 


Playing with open toys under the tree.


I remember all these toys.  I loved the monkey, the train and the tractor with the trailer that it would pull.  I recall that the steering wheel actually turned the front wheels.


This wasn't actually Christmas, I think it was the following January, but you can see that we had some serious snow.  I've got my little-red-barn lunch-box with Dick and Jane sitting on the fence and Spot running. I did a little hunt on the internet and couldn't find it anywhere. I'd love to find a good picture of one.



Update: I found a good picture of one:



Finally, for fun, I threw in a much later picture, from 1969, when I would have been 10.  I believe this was another visit to "Miss Lydia's" place, as I don't recognize the furniture.


So that's my little trip down memory lane.  I hope that this stirred up a few of your own memories!

Hope you're having a Merry Christmas and that you have a Blessed New Year in 2012!


Sunday, September 11, 2011

1960s Summer Fun

When I was a little boy growing up in Burnaby, there were a lot of fun thing that we did in the summer.  Summer was this glorious, long time when we all played together, went to fun places and did fun things.
Often we just did things as a family. The picture below shows my dad playing with two of my sisters and myself.  It always seemed that the summers were longer and hotter when I was little.


Here's a picture from when I was really little (2nd from left) in a park.  We probably had a picnic lunch. We were always doing this.



Stanley park was a great favourite. Here we are at lost lagoon feeding the ducks. (me on the left).




Then there was Lynn Canyon.  We loved to hike in it, pretending we were soldiers, or explorers.  Note that pine cones were always grenades. (me front row, right.)





But there was no treat like swimming in the summer. I think some summers I practically lived in my swim shorts. We'd go to McPherson pool for 15 cents admission, because it was close, or once I was 9 years old, we would sometimes go to Central Park pool, which was only 10 cents.

Sometimes we'd lay on the cement deck after swimming, and feel the hot, rough concrete under our soft tummies, baking them dry as the sun cooked our backs.

When I was really little, we'd go to Lobbly Park. It was just east of Nelson street, and one block in from Kingsway.  The park is still there, and I recall Antoon (my oldest brother) was the playground attendent when he was 16 and 17, (I was 9 and 10).  I remember climbing over the fence with a friend to explore an abandoned house in the next lane.  We had to climb on a garbage can to get onto the high fence, we'd lay across it, the hot rough wood on our bare tummy, then slide down the other side.

One of our favourite swimming holes was Stanley Park's 2nd beach.  Here's a picture of me with my friend Shawn goofing around near the playground.  If you look close you can see the sand caked on our bare feet.  Now this was living! (me on the left).


I'm sure that summer is just as fun for children today, as it was for me way back in the 1960s.  But I suspect that we had a bit more freedom to roam, a few more places to roam without adults interfering, and it just seemed a bit safer to be a child then.