Their Satisfaction Meter Is Off The Charts

Sandie & Bill Clark and two "kids"
Sandie & Bill Clark and two “kids”

I’ve observed that when a relationship really “clicks”, the satisfaction meter often spirals off the charts. It’s that way for Bill and Sandie Clark of Hedley. They’re having a great ride together, but they nearly missed the opportunity.

Sandie’s effervescent personality reminds me of a high school cheerleader. She smiles and laughs easily and, in spite of some health issues, the lady has bounce. Before moving to the Similkameen Valley, she was raising 4 children on her own in Vancouver. In addition to a more than full time job as a paralegal, she taught computer courses and business English at Compu College 2 nights a week. She also attended SFU 2 nights per week.

Deeming the city scene unhealthy for her children, she moved to Princeton and continued her paralegal career.

When Sandie and her mother walked into Bill’s antique and gift shop in Hedley about 16 years ago, he immediately found her interesting and attractive. She, however, was too distracted to think of romance. Her sister was desperately ill. Also, she was still dealing with the aftermath of an earlier complication in her life. Discerning she wasn’t ready for an overture by him, Bill wisely invited her mother to coffee at the local Museum, hoping Sandie would also come. Mother accepted and Sandie did come. Six months later they met again and she agreed to a date.

When they began talking of a life together, Sandie had one non-negotiable stipulation. “I wouldn’t move to Hedley without my purebred Lhaso Apso dogs. My sister had left them to me when she passed away.” Shortly after, a friend from Hedley called to say “Bill is building a shelter for your dogs.”

On December 27, 2002, Pastor Graham Gore married them in the historic diminutive white chapel situated on a bluff just east of Hedley. “We’re really compatible,” Sandie said. Bill nodded agreement and added, “I wish we’d met sooner.”

Bill has the calm temperament and steady nerves that would undoubtedly be an asset for defusing bombs or clearing mine fields. Early experiences prepared him to do whatever is necessary to pay the bills and put food on the table. At age 15 he was already working part-time in a mechanical shop and was able to buy a 1949 Pontiac. For two years he participated seriously in demolition derbies and then another 7 years in the late model stock car circuit. For the next 20 years he raced quarter horses. He also drove a taxi for his father and for 25 years built compressors for Ingersoll Rand. Eventually he moved to Princeton, and then Hedley. “I was able to acquire a shop here,” he said.

Several years ago Bill and Sandie bought 7 acres with a splendid view of the Similkameen River. Their dream is to build a house here. To attain farm status on the acreage, they acquired a number of goats.

“When I was five,” Sandie remembers, “we had a goat that came into our house through the back door. It would join us in the living room, lie down on the floor at our feet, and watch tv with us.”

There have already been a few adventures with the goats. “We have 3 kids whose mothers are inexperienced and have rejected their young,” Bill said. “By the time we found them on the farm, they were cold. We took them home and put them in large bowls of warm water. That revived them.” Cassie, favoured by Sandie, lost the ability to stand so Bill made a sling to help her. She considers Sandie her mother.

“Will the goats be sold?” I asked. Bill immediately replied, “yes.” Smiling and gently stroking Cassie, Sandie quietly said, “maybe not all of them.”

Sandie & Cassie
Sandie & Cassie

They value their 60 goats for the fibre. Sandie also makes Goat’s Milk Soap. Last year she sold 700 bars.

Hedley Trading Post is "For Sale"
Hedley Trading Post is “For Sale”

In spite of being in the early 70’s, Bill isn’t slacking his pace, and Sandie, younger but contending with rheumatoid arthritis, is a full partner. In the meantime, the store is for sale and when it sells they may find time to retire. Whatever happens, there’s plenty of love for each other and also for the animals.

Former Classmates Meet at Shady Grove, Part 1

Shady Grove General Store
Shady Grove General Store

Shady Grove in Abbotsford was the ideal setting for a portion of our 3 day 55 year class reunion. We had all attended the Mennonite Educational Institute (MEI) in what was commonly known as Clearbrook, then part of Matsqui Municipality (now Abbotsford). The teaching and atmosphere of the school very much reflected the faith, culture, thinking and values that Mennonites had brought with them from Russia and several other European countries. Most of us had grown up with some version of the German language.

Mennonites were invited to emigrate to the Ukraine region in 1763 by Russian Czarina, Catherine the Great. She valued their agricultural experience and ability. Her promise of freedom of religion and military exemption was highly attractive to them. Many accepted her offer. In Russia they pretty much lived apart from the rest of the population. They established their own villages and although some became fluent in Russian, they retained German as their primary language of communication with each other. A considerable emigration to Canada, the U.S. and South America occurred in the 1880’s after the government’s military policy toward them changed. That exodus continued in ensuing decades. In many cases, they left behind virtually all their earthly belongings for the sake of their beliefs. Some did elect to remain in Russia.

My own connections with the Mennonite community and culture have become somewhat tenuous over the years, so these reunions every 5 years are highly valued events. One of the memories that I will hide deep within my psyche came as we were waiting at the entrance to the 50’s Diner, where we would have lunch. Instead of a formal spoken “thanks” to God for the food, the group sang “Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow.” Not being much of a singer, I mostly listened with a sense of awe at the wonderful 4 part harmony of many gifted, reverent voices.

Lunch consisted of traditional Mennonite “faspa”. Zwieback (buns), potato salad, farmers sausage, piroshki, platz, etc.

While eating lunch I looked around at my former classmates. Like myself, they had added many years. The dominant thought within me was “these are people of good character, people of great integrity.” Listening to some of them talk about their past, I realized that many had made a significant contribution to their community, some to their country, and at least a few had given their lives and talents to serving less fortunate people in other countries.

Shady Grove does not reflect the Mennonite heritage but it is reminiscent of the time when we were at MEI together. The owners, Abe and Elaine Suderman, have put together a phenomenal collection of classic and vintage cars, plus memorabilia from that period. It was an ideal setting for our reunion because it reminded us of the time when we were young and in high school.

Rather than write further at this time, my next post will consist of photos of former classmates and Shady Grove cars, along with comments.

Former Classmates Meet at Shady Grove, Part 2


Shady Grove Texaco Gas Station
Shady Grove Texaco Gas Station

Abe and Elaine Suderman, owners of Shady Grove, have created a credible early 20th century setting for their vintage and classic cars. There is a Texaco gas station, circa 1920’s, complete with 2 antique gas pumps, tire inflator and oil bottles. Also a General Store, circa 1890. The store is complete with a bean counter, display cases, coffee grinder, etc. Two poultry barns have been converted into showrooms for the cars and memorabilia.

Converted poultry barn has a bay & a garage door for each restored classic car.
Converted poultry barn has a bay & a garage door for each restored classic car.

We spent several hours, before and after lunch, renewing acquaintances and admiring the cars. Among the classic cars were a Cadillac with fins, a Thunderbird convertible, and a 1960’s Camero muscle car. All were cars many of us had dreamed about and coveted.

Willys Garage & Showroom
Willys Garage & Showroom

The vintage cars are even more unique than the classics. I was particularly impressed by the vehicles in the Willys showroom. I went back several times to admire the bright yellow 1936 Willys coupe. Actually, each of the Willys demanded attention.

These cars exude character. I especially enjoyed studying the grills. They don’t resemble every other grill of that time. They have the courage, you might say, to be different and distinct. During the era of the vintage and classic cars, every kid could tell whether it was a Willys, a Chev, Ford, Pontiac, or virtually any other model.


Henry Suderman, one of the 2 primary organizers of the class reunion. He is behind the parts counter in the Classic Cars Showroom at Shady Grove. His wife Rhonda (not an MEI grad) was deeply involved in preparations, including baking, for the event.


Albert and Linda Friesen, both of whom I came to know as class mates in grade 8. Linda was the other primary organizer of the reunion. For some years she has kept many of us informed when a former classmate or teacher has passed on.


According to Albert, when his dad saw his grade 8 report card, he said, “son, the best thing for you to do is quit school and find a rich woman to marry.” He did very well in sales and raising broilers in the poultry business so he didn’t need to marry a rich woman. Here he’s trying to charm a lady much younger than himself. “This doesn’t look like a Mennonite girl,” he said. Albert has always had a great sense of humour.


Alvin Siemens is a successful carpenter and builder. He appears to be in superb condition and has a Paul Bunyan hand shake. Possibly this young man has offered Alvin a great deal on one of the cars in the showroom.


John Guggenheimer and his wife Sally lived in Australia for 25 years. Sally was a prof at the University of Canberra. John was in the computer department of the country’s health program. They are deeply committed to supporting several families. Great friends. John is pointing out that this gasoline pump advertises lead as a desirable ingredient.

Dr. Art Friesen
Dr. Art Friesen

Art and Marlyce Friesen are both cardiologists. They’ve travelled to Ukraine many times to help improve conditions there. I hope to write more about their work in the near future.


Arnie and Linda Toews have given many years to Uganda. Arnie was with a University there. They don’t plan to return because it’s become too dangerous. Other NGO’s are making the same decision. I hope to have more of their story before long.



Rudy Thiessen with a Fiat he’d love to own. (I would too). He married Lois, his high school sweetheart. They are still married and very much in love.  In retirement, they are deeply involved in service to their community.


1936 Willys. Of all the cars at Shady Grove, this is my # 1 Pick. Not the original colour of course.


Another Willys that caught my attention. Great colour.


This gal is a real lady. I think most of us men paused for a long look as we walked by her. She revealed not even a passing interest in us. Like the automobiles, she’s a classic.


As high school students, most of us probably did not consider going into a restaurant that didn’t have a juke box. At that time every juke box featured tunes by Pat Boone, Elvis Presley, Johnny Horton, Connie Francis, Everly Brothers, etc. I’d like to have the quarters that went into even one of those machines.


Scooby Doo Mystery Machine. Yes, it’s the real one. Linda and I have many happy memories of watching Scooby Doo with our grandchildren.

Shady Grove has it all.

Rollo Ceccon Is Still Enthusiastic

When Linda and I walked into the former business office of 87 year old Rollo Ceccon in Princeton, he greeted us enthusiastically. Then,

Rollo Ceccon Explaining His Photos
Rollo Ceccon Explaining His Photos

with the energy and passion characteristic of the deeply committed, he urged us to join him at a photo gallery on 3 walls. There were pictures of him with dump trucks and other equipment dating back to before the middle of the past century. I understood quickly this man grasps the value of preserving a record for future generations.

“I was born in Treviso, Italy,” he said when we had seated ourselves at his desk. “In 1930 my mother and I joined my father in Canada. As I was growing up, my father impressed on me how good we have it here. If I complained he’d say ‘you should go to another country and see how people live there.’” As a father himself, Rollo would later give a similar message to his son and daughter.

He attended the Edmonton campus of Chicago Vocational

Rollo Ceccon & Friends, With His First Car, 1945 Model T Ford
Rollo Ceccon & Friends, With His First Car, 1945 Model T Ford

School, learning diesel and automotive mechanics. Not happy with his first job and the big mosquitoes at Uranium City, he quit and was hired by Minneapolis Honeywell Thermostats. Being young and strong willed, he said to his boss one day, “if I don’t get more pay, I’ll quit.” The boss said “there’s the door.” Rollo laughed when he told us, “I never did that again.”

In 1950 he bought his first truck, a 1944 3 ton Ford, and started in business. He became a fan of Ford trucks. “The other models broke down,” he said. “The 6 cylinder engines couldn’t hold the trucks back going down the hill from Copper Mountain and Blackburn. I bought 8 cylinder Fords.”

A serious accident on Nov. 10, 1954 shaped his thinking to

Rollo's Father and the Crushed Truck
Rollo’s Father and the Crushed Truck

the present time. He was backing his dump truck to the edge of a 1,000 foot deep “glory hole.” The edge broke away. He and his truck tumbled down 250 feet. A rock outcropping prevented the truck from hurtling all the way to the bottom.

The man sent down to help rescue Rollo later told him, “I thought you were dead. Then blood spurting from your head wound hit me in the eye, so I knew your heart was pumping.” Three hours later the winch of a D6 Cat hoisted him to the surface. He had 6 broken vertebrae, several broken ribs and a broken leg. Wounds on his head required 120 stitches. He remained unconscious 2 weeks. “That day my father’s hair turned white in one hour.”

Rollo Ceccon Late Summer 1956, At Work & Still In A Walking Cast, On Crutches
Rollo Ceccon Late Summer 1956, At Work & Still In A Walking Cast, On Crutches

In the hospital he was placed in a body cast. After regaining consciousness the specialist said to him one day, “we’ve done all we can. The rest is up to you.” Rollo was determined to get out of the hospital. Now in a walking cast and using crutches, he signed himself out. Four months later, still in the cast and on crutches, he was back at work.

He leaned toward us from his side of the desk, as though about to say something of deep importance. “If I hadn’t had that accident,” he continued quietly, “I would never have understood how good I have it. People helped me a lot.”

Before the accident, he had started going into the Traveller’s Café. He became keenly interested in Blanche, a pretty young waitress. “It took a long time to persuade her to go to a movie,” he remembers.

Eventually she agreed to marry him and “we tied the knot on March 2, 1957. That day I threw away my crutches and started using a cane.”

Rollo’s business was flourishing. He bought dump trucks, a back hoe, a screening plant and other equipment. Blanche did the books.

When the Hope slide covered the # 3 Highway, his was the first company on the job. “One of my machines blew a line,” he said. “Phil Gaglardi, Minister of Highways, had just landed in a chopper. He told me to remove the line and he’d fly me to Chilliwack to get a new one.”

Rollo Ceccon, Still Enthusiastic About Life
Rollo Ceccon, Still Enthusiastic About Life

Until 2013 he still owned a front end loader. Without charge, he continued to clear snow for the Legion, firehall and arena. In 1973 the Princeton Chamber of Commerce named him “Citizen of the Year.” He was also honoured by the Lions Club for his “invaluable services and cooperation.”

Rollo’s last words to us were, “I’ve had a good life and it’s still good.”

Fire Fighters Car Wash A Success

“There were seven or eight cars lined up when we started,” Graham Gore, Manager of the Hedley Fire Department told me yesterday. “We washed about 20 cars and sold 40 to 50 hotdogs. Some people came just for the hot dogs. We made about $360, which will help with the operation of the Department. For us it’s also an opportunity to connect with the people of Hedley and build relationships.” He was talking about the Hedley Fire Fighter’s annual Victoria Day car wash and hot dog sale.

Graham Gore, Terry MacFarlane, Andy English, Simon Harris (left to right)
Graham Gore, Terry MacFarlane, Andy English, Simon Harris
(left to right)

In the evening the Fire Fighters and the Trustees of the Hedley Improvement District (H.I.D.) gathered for a barbeque at the home of Andy and Kim English.

Andy and Kim live across the street from Linda and me. I went over with my camera to get a photo record of the event. The buzz of animated conversation suggested there was a great sense of camaraderie. Simon Harris, a longterm fire fighter and easily the tallest man in the group said, “if any member was to have a problem, we’d all be there to help.” Graham Gore added to this. “If anyone in the community has a problem, we’ll all be there too.”

The Fire Fighters turn out for practise each Tuesday evening. All of Hedley becomes aware of this when the siren signals the start of practise at 7 p.m. They are volunteers, giving their time and energy to making our town safe. Fire Department Chief Terry MacFarlane said, “We’re always looking for new recruits. We have several women in the department now, and we would welcome more.”

The Fire Fighters receive a small honorarium for each practise they attend. For a community of about 250 people, the Fire Department is well trained and reasonably well equipped. It has several First Responders who attend to medical issues in town and also to accidents on the highway. We are fortunate to have such a group of individuals committed to protecting us and our properties.

Bike Polo Comes To Hedley

This past weekend Hedley again enthusiastically welcomed a

Reuben  at the grill
Reuben at the grill

contingent of bike polo players. When I showed up on Saturday to get a few photos, they were still on their lunch break. Reuben Williamson, who is not a member of the group and does not play, was at the grill serving up hamburgers and smokie hot dogs. Reuben has been in and out of Hedley for many years. For him it was a brief connection with the players.

Dasha, taking a break
Dasha, taking a break

Dasha, who has played Bike Polo for a number of years, told me “I do it for fitness and social reasons. And I enjoy playing.”

In an interview with Tara Bowie in the Keremeos Review, Shannon Frey talked about how the group selected Hedley for a retreat 2 years ago. “We were looking for a good location,” she said, “and, believe it or not, we started looking through Google Maps. We need a big surface like an outside ice rink or tennis court. We saw the rink in Hedley and were able to organize it last year. It was a lot of fun and the local people seemed to enjoy it. They were so happy to have us here and we were so happy to be here. It’s a great mesh.”

According to Community Club President, Rod Moncrieff, the group

Lunch break for all
Lunch break for all

is a good fit for the town. They rent the rink, which helps the club. Also, they are well behaved and not a problem. They have plans to return next year and Rod will be happy to see them come back.

In the

An ardent bike polo player
An ardent bike polo player

aforementioned article, Tara Bowie shed some light on the sport. “Each team has 3 players,” she wrote. “Sticks are very similar to croquet mallets. Players generally hold the mallet in their right hand and brake with their left. They use regular bikes with modifications. Bikes need to have a tight turn capacity with modified gears. Protectors need to be put in wheels so balls and mallets cannot go through and cause an accident.”

Players practising techniques
Players practising techniques

They weren’t playing a game while I was there but I saw several players out on the court with their bikes. My neighbour Russ watched a game and he said, “it gets a little rough. Some of the players have scrapes on their arms and legs.” Helmets, knee and elbow pads, and big gloves are required to protect the players.

The Hard Court Bike Polo Blog states “players are not allowed to put a foot down and touch the surface of the court. If that happens, the player must go to the side of the court and ring a bell before resuming play.”

The blog also says, “light contact is allowed. Trash talk is also permitted.”

According to Wikipedia, Richard J Mecredy, a retired champion cyclist in Ireland invented the sport in 1891. Originally it was played only on grass. It is now played in many countries, including France,

Morgan, a committed observer
Morgan, a committed observer

India, the USA, etc.

Without exception, the bike polo players are a lean bunch. I didn’t notice an ounce of extra fat on any of them. They are also congenial, totally willing to engage in conversation. A welcome influx of energy and enthusiasm into our little community.

Okanagan Gleaners Feed Hungry People

The consulting firm, Value Chain International, recently reported IMG_1143that in Canada $31 Billion worth of food is wasted annually. In view of this, I’m impressed with what Okanagan Gleaners Society of Oliver is doing. The Gleaners have developed an ingenious but simple formula using unwanted food to feed hungry people around the globe.

In a 2 hour tour of the Gleaners plant, Society president Lex Haagen told Linda and me, “We’re almost 100 percent volunteer and donor driven. Except for the General Manager, we’re all volunteers.” Lex appreciates the help being given by people in the Similkameen Valley. He hopes many more will catch the vision and pitch in.

A former City of Abbotsford Fire Chief, Lex is lean and fit. He has certainly caught the vision. His enthusiasm and commitment are palpable. Observing the approximately 20 volunteers at work, we sensed an aura of determination and contentment. Intent on their assignments, they seemed largely oblivious to our presence.

We learned the Gleaners depend on donations of beans, egg

Lex Haagen holding a bag of dried soup mix.
Lex Haagen holding a bag of dried soup mix.

plant, onions, carrots, brussel sprouts , peas, potatoes, etc. They also welcome apples. The produce is chopped up, dried and stored in barrels. The apple chips are a treat particularly prized by children.

“By next April we’ll have about 900 full barrels,” Lex explained. “We will use an assembly line of people to scoop a measured amount of mix into a moving bucket. This will be transferred into plastic bags. Each bag will contain 15 to 20 ingredients and provide 100 servings of soup mix. Recipients will add their local spices. The apple chips are bagged

Jack Woods has been a volunteer since 2003.
Jack Woods has been a volunteer since 2003.


Lex introduced us to Jack Woods, formerly in the trucking business. Now 81, he said, “I’ve been coming since 2003. Two weeks in spring and two in fall.” His face suggests strength of character, his voice exudes passion.

Sharon McClennan saw hungry children when she volunteered in the Philippines. She asked, “where else can I go to help produce 21,000 meals per day for people who are starving?”

As we passed the noisy dehydrators, we needed to listen carefully as

Sharon McClennan holding a handful of spinach
Sharon McClennan holding a handful of spinach

Lex continued. “The funds to run and maintain the equipment come almost entirely from individual donors. The vegetables and apples are supplied by farmers and others. If the quantity is fairly large, we will pick up. We also use frozen product, provided by Lucerne Foods in Abbotsford. Cobs in Penticton and Tim Horton’s in Oliver donate (day old) treats for coffee time.”

The soup mixes and apple chips are distributed through established, reputable organizations such as World Vision, Mennonite Central Committee, Missions Without Borders and several others. Hungry people in over 40 countries on 5 continents have received the mixes.

At least 8 Gleaners societies currently operate in Canada. “We make good use of food that would otherwise be wasted,” Lex told us. “Each year our plant produces at least 5 million servings. To accomplish this we depend on donations of produce and money. We also need people with specific skills such as carpentry, electrical, plumbing, mechanics, and accounting.”

A note from an appreciative African aid worker describes the Gleaners impact in one village. “After the people here had been eating the soup mix for a month, we noticed they were more alert and had energy to work.”

Toward the end of our tour, Lex observed, “it’s easy to write a cheque, but there is a deep satisfaction that comes from hands on experience. Volunteers know they are personally providing nutritious food to hungry people.”

Okanagan Gleaners began operations in 1996, the vision of a small group of Christians concerned about food being wasted while others starved. “We welcome anyone who wants to help,” Lex said. “We never turn anyone away.”

Volunteers arrive from all parts of B.C. and the prairie provinces, even Ontario. Twelve serviced RV sites are available, plus tenting in the orchard. Registration is important from April to October. “In summer we get quite a few families,” Lex said. “It’s a good way for children to learn about giving to those who have little.” According to the Gleaners website, “if you can clean and chop, you can help.” They work from 8:30 to noon.

Anyone wanting more information can call 250-498-8859 or go to

Hedley Opens Its Doors For Business

The weather in Hedley this past Sunday was exactly what the yard sale vendors were hoping for. Bright sun, clear blue sky, warm air. It certainly enticed people out of their homes. A number arrived from other places, especially Keremeos.

The day began with a Pancake Breakfast at the Seniors’ Centre. This is invariably a popular event that takes place on the second Sunday of every month. For a mere $5.00 they serve 2 pancakes, 2 sausages

George Koene Flipping Pancakes
George Koene Flipping Pancakes

or slices of bacon, 2 eggs and coffee. As usual, George Koene was at the grill flipping pancakes. When Linda and I met him on our walk in the evening, he said, “I’m retiring from making the pancakes. All together, I’ve done it 7 years. It’s time for a younger person to take over”. He is in his early 80’s. I was told they had served 100 patrons. Most of the seniors on duty are well into the seventies, some in the eighties.

At noon Doug Bratt, co-owner of the Country Market, fired up his grill and served his famous burgers. The Hedley Grace Church put on a delicious potluck. It really isn’t entirely fair to subject our palettes and digestive systems to such an array of temptations on one day. However, we never object.

Mike's Exerise System
Mike’s Exerise System

Walking the streets of town was an opportunity to check out the yard sale wares and meet people. I was tempted by MikeJacobs’exercise system. Unfortunately we just don’t have the space for it. The only area that might be large enough is the 5 x 5 Hen House. I know “the girls” would be gracious and accommodating. Of course, they’d consider it a place to exercise their powers of fertilization. I contented myself with viewing it longingly.

Linda Bell & the doll collection
Linda Bell & the doll collection

When Linda and I arrived at Fred and Linda Bell’s yard sale, we were immediately entranced by their collection of dolls. They had been successful in bidding on the contents of a storage locker, and the dolls had been stashed in a trunk there. Most of them were priced at about $45, but they expected a couple of exquisite aboriginal beauties to fetch more.

Moving on from there, we found

Jill and handcrafted doll
Jill and handcrafted doll

a handcrafted doll hanging on the wall of a garage owned by Jill, a recent newcomer to Hedley.

At the Community Club we talked with T.J. Bratt, the other co-owner of the Country Market. It was now 2 pm, pretty much time for the yard sale to wind up. There were still a number of items on the tables, but T.J. said a lot of people had come in and they’d had a profitable day.

The Hedley Historical Museum had already opened for the

Jim Grey at the Hedley Historical Museum
Jim Grey at the Hedley Historical Museum

season on May 1st. Currently Jim Grey is on duty from Friday to Monday. He is essentially a volunteer but does receive an honorarium. Jim enjoys people and happily answers all questions. He also has pie and coffee or tea available in The Tea Room. This wasn’t a strong business day at the Museum, but its yard sale did turn a small profit. Jim is confident more tourists will begin coming in soon. Traffic on the highway through Hedley is definitely increasing.

It’s a delight to see Hedley awaking from its winter slumber. The lilacs are blooming. People are smiling, feeling upbeat. There is a sense of anticipation. It’s definitely spring time in Hedley.

Community Land Trust Needed Here?

Recently I received an e-mail that thoroughly mystified me. It was a copy of a grim diatribe against a concept being floated by a couple of community advocates in Hedley. As reported in this paper last week, Angelique Wood and Kim English are asking local residents to think about establishing a Community Land Trust here. The concept was first instituted in India and has been successfully implemented in a number of North American communities.

Without providing any documentation, the nay-sayer raises a number of complaints against Community Land Trusts and those associated with them. Since there is no reference to sources, we have to ask whether the complaints are based on facts or mere assumptions. The writer says, for example, “Most CLT proponents espouse anti-development and collectivist ideologies generally detrimental to any community.” This is a pretty sweeping, all-encompassing assertion.

If there is a case to be made against Community Land Trusts, it needs to be based on solid research, not on skimpy information gleaned from a negative on-line article.

I do believe a community can benefit from those who take the time to rigorously examine proposals like this. We need to know that the vision of the proponents is backed up by a thorough understanding of the needs of the community. Questions based on scrupulous research will require the proponents to explain why their idea has merit. If the questioners and proponents are willing to enter into a productive dialogue, the idea may become even more beneficial.

We’ll never make progress if we automatically throw out ideas just because they are unfamiliar. If a new concept will benefit the people in our community, why would we let a “knee jerk” response turn us against it? In spite of this nay-sayer’s rather bitter opposition, a Community Land Trust does appear to offer possibilities and, in my view, warrants careful consideration.

For English and Wood, their vision for a Community Land Trust appears to be a means to an end, not an end in itself. They speak of it in conjunction with a variety of services that would enable seniors to stay in this community. These services might include Meals on Wheels, the presence of a nurse on a part-time basis, more adequate transportation to medical facilities in Penticton, etc.

Margaret Skaar, is a longterm Hedley resident who IMG_1093contributes many volunteer hours to local groups. She would like to live here as long as possible. She says, “when moving here 25 years ago, we had a much better health care support service. This has been eroded over the years. If we want to age in Hedley, something has to be done to turn this around. To leave things as they are, we will be either a dying community or will be eaten up by a land grab with prices sky rocketing along with our taxes. We need to examine the potential of a Community Land Trust by assessing the needs of Hedley’s residents.”

A few negative agitators can put a stranglehold on an idea that could have positive potential for a community. With their bold attacks it is possible some citizens might be persuaded to agree with them. Often they speak with a note of authority. Faced with their onslaught, the proponents may become discouraged. The nay-sayer in this case concluded with the words, “We therefore suggest that Angelique Wood and Kim English care for ‘the poor’ somewhere else.”

Very likely some individuals with a negative mind-set toward improving a community honestly believe they are right. In some instances, if they are listened to respectfully, they become willing to work collaboratively with positive minded people.

When agitators are motivated by jealousy or vengefulness it is unlikely they will change their thinking. If they are not resisted, they have the potential to turn people against those who wish to improve conditions. There are times when it is not a good idea to “live and let live.” There are times when a community should not remain silent.

I don’t know enough about Community Land Trusts to recommend this as a good approach for Hedley. However, if we want constructive change that enables young families to buy homes here, and permits seniors to stay longer, we will need to listen to individuals who have positive ideas and the will to make them a reality.

Bob Enjoys His Trike


Bob, my neighbour two doors away is a committed triker. When I asked him recently about the comfort level of his trike he said “if you compare a Cadillac and an Austin, this is the Cadillac. Having the motor in the rear gives it a great ride.”

This trike has been driven from B.C. to Nova Scotia, although not by Bob. About half a dozen years ago it was owned by Rick and Jean Mackie, who also live on Kingston Ave. It didn’t have a seat for Jean so Bob helped Rick extend it by about 3 feet. It was the Mackies who made the cross Canada trip. All went well. Not long after they returned, Bob bought the trike.

Now in his mid-seventies, Bob is a likeable, comfortable man to talk with. No matter what he’s doing on his yard, he always has time for a visit.

He didn’t start out that way. “When I was 14,” he told me, “I stole a car with another guy. That landed me in court.”

Possibly the judge saw potential in this youth. “I can send you to a young guys section in Oakalla where you will do nothing,” he said, “Or, I can send you to an adult section where you’ll work.”

Without hesitating Bob said, “send me to where I will work.” For the entire 11 months and 21 days of his sentence he worked on a gym construction project.

“That straightened me out real good,” he said. “I never got in trouble again. I just wanted to get out and get a job. Four months after getting out of the can, I was talking with a guy who worked on tugs. He said I should apply. The person who took my application asked,’When can you start?’”

When Bob was 17, he began building and racing stock cars. “I had all the safety equipment, like a helmet and a parachute.”

He has slowed down some since then and very much enjoys the IMG_1066trike. His little dog, Max,  has his own compartment and rides everywhere with him.

I asked Bob about the cost of trikes. “To have one built privately would run about $12,000. – $15,000,” he said. “The price of a new Harley would be about $60,000. Bombardier makes a great machine for less. It has warm seats and handgrips.”

Bob retired from the tugboats when he was 60. “My wife was sick,” he said. “She wanted me to retire. That’s when we moved to Hedley for her health.” A note of sadness crept into his voice. “She lasted only four months.”

Observing Bob today, I still see vestiges of the once robust tug boat worker’s physique. He doesn’t need that former strength for riding the trike, of course. With a 210 hp Pontiac motor, the trike now provides the power. He is retired after all, and enjoying the quiet life in Hedley.