Lydia’s Sense of Community

Lydia with Chica & Rico
Lydia with Chica & Rico

When she dresses as a member of the Hedley Heritage Ladies, Lydia Sawicki has the appearance of a sweet gentle lady from the early 1900’s. It’s best not to be deceived by this sedate outer image though. After a recent conversation with her, I came away with the impression she has enough octane to power a heavily loaded highway rig.

Lydia learned early not everyone would agree with her goals or methods. Her parents didn’t understand the value of an education. When she turned 15, they suggested she discontinue attending school. But she loved learning and had already read all the Russian classics.

At this time she ran away from home, and made her way to Chile to work with those seeking a transition to democracy. Here she learned Spanish and obtained her grade 12. The Spanish now enables her to work from her home as an interpreter in courts, hospitals and other situations where interpretation is needed.

In addition to providing fluency in Spanish, the Chile experience gave her some useful understandings about people and how to get things done. “It was the time of the despotic Pinochet regime,” she said. “In the election, government goons were waiting for the people at the polls. The people didn’t flinch. They came in large numbers, linking arms, eight abreast across the street.” She began to understand that “everything is doable.” She learned the importance of people being connected and striving together toward a common goal.

Lydia didn’t begin working toward a B.A. until she was 33 and had 2 children and a job. After investing 5 years toward a PhD, illness interrupted her studies. “I had done the teaching and the publishing,” she said. “I just needed to write my thesis. It’s still there for me to complete, but I no longer feel I need it to do what I consider important.” Her educational emphasis was in the realm of inequality, especially among marginalized groups such as the poor, disabled, and aboriginal people. Now her life is committed to taking practical action on the troubling issues she sees around her.

Upon arriving in Hedley 6 years ago, she didn’t wait for an invitation to get involved. Hiking along 20 Mile Creek with her 2 boxers, both rescue dogs ordered from a pound in L.A., she became disturbed at the refuse dumped in this awe inspiring wilderness.

Sign painted on lid of dumped cyanide container.
Sign painted on lid of dumped cyanide container.

Something needed to be done. “I began working with others interested in cleaning up along the creek,” she said. “We set up a website, I always look for people who have the same concern and are willing to take action. Some people ask why we’re doing this, and why they should help. I tell them it’s our garbage and our town. We’re all responsible. When I know who dumped refuse I ask them to help. Some do.” To this time they’ve removed 120 discarded tires, also fridges and stoves and other furniture. It is her view that “we all need to accept responsibility for the earth and those less fortunate.”

In all her endeavours, she attempts to connect with others and use the structures that exist. When schools in Grand Forks were replacing their computers, a recycling program was begun. The schools and other donors gave their used computers to disadvantaged people. “We provided support for people taking on the technological age for the first time. Some of those people went on to become teachers and computer engineers.”

Lydia as a vendor at the Farmers Market & Sunday Fair
Lydia as a vendor at the Farmers Market & Sunday Fair

Currently she is president of the Hedley Farmers Market & Sunday Fair. For her it is gratifying that members are committed and working cooperatively. The market and fair are growing and they usually have 10 – 12 vendors. “It’s an opportunity to educate people about eating well and buying local,” she said, then added, “a lot gets donated at the end.” She is pleased that people from all organizations in Hedley are involved in the market & fair.

At the end of our conversation Lydia emphasized she thinks of herself simply as one individual working with others to make a positive difference in our community. “It is important for people to be connected,” she said. “When we focus on what we have in common and not on that which divides us, we can work together to build a stronger, more enjoyable community.”

Ceremony at Hedley Cenotaph



20150824_080459I’ve many times passed by the Cenotaph on Scott Avenue, Hedley’s main street, almost invariably without thinking about what it represents. This began to change in the winter of 2013 when our neighbour Andy English became keenly interested in it. His fascination developed into an intensive research project. In the spring of 2014 Jennifer Douglass, another local historical researcher, joined him in his quest for knowledge about the names on the Cenotaph.

Andy’s excitement about their research findings developed into a passion and he talked about it almost incessantly. One day his wife Kim said to him, “Andy, can we talk about something other than war for a change?” Jennifer’s enthusiasm matched Andy’s.

Because of their research we now know that the Cenotaph is situated at the very place where 17 Hedley men gathered on August 24, 1915, prior to leaving for Penticton to enlist in the Canadian Armed Forces.

These men were in the prime of life and all passed the physical exam. A couple of the men,  Blair Mills and Tom Corrigan, were 19. Tommy Knowles, future Postmaster of Hedley was 22. Alec Jack was 24. At the other end of the age spectrum were Joe Rotherham and Dan Devane, both 44.

The younger men were at a time in their lives when they were observing the young ladies, wondering which one would make a good life partner.

Hedley at this time was a bustling gold mining centre. There were parties and dances to attend. They were all single and all gainfully employed. There was money to have a good time.

They set this all aside and voluntarily enlisted. Some men had already gone before the 17, and others followed somewhat later. It’s easy to think they were looking for adventure. They must have heard or read about war conditions though, and it is doubtful they made their decision based on a thirst for excitement.

They must have realized they’d probably spend time living and fighting in trenches. These trenches were often muddy, sometimes at least partially filled with water. Snipers would be constantly watching, ready to shoot. At times there would be poisonous gas in the air, and enormous shells exploding around them.

This past Saturday at 1:30 pm, August 22nd the people of Hedley, and also approximately 56 descendants of the recruits, came together at the Cenotaph. This is the  place where the recruits stood 100 years ago. Corporal Chad Parsons, a Princeton Mountie in red serge was present. There was also a colour guard consisting of veterans from the Princeton and Keremeos Legion. A rose was placed for each soldier at the foot of the Cenotaph. Many of the roses were placed by descendants. A couple of elderly vets respectfully saluted after placing a rose. Tears were in evidence, especially on the faces of family members.


Jennifer Douglass and Andy English. They did the research and organized the events to commemorate the recruits and the ceremony honouring the 17 men who had volunteered to enlist at that time. The men departed in 5 vehicles bedecked with banners that read “Recruits from Hedley, the Machine Gun Town.”


Bag Piper Dave Thorpe, Corporal Chad Parsons, and a Flag Bearer leading the Colour Guard.


The Colour Guard facing the Cenotaph. Corporal Chad Parsons with veterans from the Princeton and Keremeos Legion.


MLA Linda Larson speaking about her grandfather who participated in the taking of Vimy Ridge in WWI. Several years ago she traveled there, and found it to be a very moving experience.


Art Liddicoat, age97 of Keremeos laying a rose for his father, Bill Liddicoat. Bill was 28 when he volunteered.


Moira Herold (in center of photo), daughter of Alec Jack. She placed a rose for her father.


Chris Fraser and Stephanie Malahoff. Stephanie is the granddaughter of Alec Jack. He was 24 when he enlisted. Stephanie said when he arrived here from Scotland, he threw his bowler hat and long johns in the Similkameen River. He developed a strong interest in the history of B.C.


Pat and Grace Dolden. Pat is the grandson of Dan Dollemore who enlisted in December, 1914 at age 17. He was working as a Teamster at the time he enlisted. Pat is also the great nephew of Frank Dollemore, who is one of the 17 who enlisted on August 24, 1915.


Ann Lloyd (nee Knowles) and Beverly Knowles. Daughters of Tom Knowles who enlisted at age 22 and won an award for Bravery in the Field. He later became Hedley’s longest serving Postmaster to this time.


Bill Day managed to find and borrow two authentic WWI machine guns in Vancouver. The one on a higher frame is a Vickers. The frame is extremely heavy to ensure stability when firing. This gun required a team of 6 men to move it. It was intended to be stationery. The Lewis required 3 men. Two carried the ammunition and one did the shooting. Being lighter, it was intended to be mobile.


Preparing to sing O Canada at an event in the back yard of the Hedley Heritage Museum. Almost 100 guests were present for dinner and a program.


M.C.  Angelique Wood accompanied Bill Day as he led the singing of old time tunes popular during the WWI years.


Derek Lilly reading the speech delivered by W.A. McLean at a “Smoker” the evening prior to the men leaving for Penticton to recruit. Before the speech, 6 men had volunteered. It was a rousing, inspirational speech. When he sat down, 23 year old Bert Schubert was inspired to join the 6 volunteers at the front of the room. Then others rose from their seats and joined the original group until there were 17 men declaring their intention to enlist. The program featured letters written by Hedley men from the Front.


Letters were read by the Hedley Heritage Ladies.  Censorship prevented a full account of the war experience, but readers did receive some understanding of the dangers, discomforts and difficulties at the Front. The men expressed great gratitude to the people of the town for their support, especially the socks knitted by the ladies.  It was evident in these letters that the excitement they had experienced at the send off from Hedley was now only a memory.

Relationship Breakups Can Be Messy


When our friend Maha asked Linda and me to role play a marriage breakup for her Family Mediation course, we were again amazed at how complex and messy marital separation can be. Linda was assigned the role of Jeanie, who had enjoyed considerable affluence in her home. I was Harry, product of a single parent family offering few extras.

Jeanie had been attracted to Harry for the way he lived life with reckless abandon. He had been dazzled by her pretty face, awesome figure and party girl personality. After 5 years of marriage and a set of twins, they had agreed to separate. They asked Maha for mediation.

Maha explained she wouldn’t take sides or tell them how to resolve their differences. She encouraged them to speak to each other, using respectful language. They would set the agenda and she would endeavour to keep them on track. The following is a snippet of the role playing session.
* * *

“When we got married,” Jeanie began, “my Daddy gave me $200,000 as down payment for a home. I want that money now so I can move to Vancouver with the girls. Daddy will stop sending me money every month unless I leave Harry. Anyway, I want Harry as far away from me and the girls as possible.”

“You’ve changed a lot Jeanie,” Harry said. “That night 5 years ago when we met in Iceman’s Cave, you couldn’t keep your hands off me. When I saw the Porsche your father gave you I should have known we weren’t a good match. Two weeks and we got hitched. Now your plan leaves me nothing but the mortgage. What a fool I was!” Jeanie smirked.

“I feel I need to remind you it’s important you show respect for each other,” Maha interjected.

Harry nodded, then continued. “About that $200,000, well Honey, if you think you’re going to get it all, you need to give that pretty head of yours a serious shake. The money was given to us both. You’ve never even let me look at the cheques from your father. Did that pay for the new mustang convertible?”

Jeanie ignored the question. “Daddy has a good lawyer,” she said, scarcely concealing the derision in her voice. “He’s a partner in a big law firm in downtown Vancouver. He’ll get the money for me.”

“Let’s remember to show respect,“ Maha said. “You should both get legal clarification about the $200,000. What other issues do you want to talk about today?”

“I want sole custody of the girls,” Jeanie said. “I’m going to enrol them in a very good school in Vancouver. Harry can have visiting rights on weekends two or three times a year.”

“My Dad walked out of the family when I was a kid,” Harry countered. “Do you want our daughters to experience the kind of life I had? I’ll be asking for shared custody.”

Jeanie impatiently tapped the fingers of her finely manicured left hand on the table. “You don’t have the income. I’ll talk to Daddy’s lawyer about this. He knows all the judges.”

At the end of an hour Maha suggested they meet again in a week, after they had consulted with their lawyers and given some thought to possible solutions. She stressed it was essential they continue talking.
* * *
Having observed at close range the devastation accompanying relationship break ups, I feel prior to a marital type of commitment, a couple will benefit from seeing an experienced counsellor. Such an individual could have made Jeanie and Harry aware of the deep chasm of values and perception lying between them, and the attending risks. If they had still been determined to marry, they might have obtained help before their relationship deteriorated so badly.

Even in a toxic relationship, a counsellor or mediator can help lower the emotional temperature. In some instances, such an individual can enable a couple to understand their relationship is redeemable.

Walking away from an incendiary union without seeking help may set both individuals up for further failure or heart break in the future. We may believe we can leave our baggage behind, but that is usually wishful thinking. Time, effort and patience can bring a satisfaction that comes only from a deep commitment between two people. Overcoming the bumps contributes to the excitement and richness of a relationship.

Fate of a Box Elder


Earlier in summer,  a hail and wind storm invaded our community. Last week it was serious rain and wind. Our friend, Lynn Wells, lives on “Hospital Hill”.  She’s long enjoyed a Box Elder, that is quite near her new modular home.

A Box Elder Tree
A Box Elder Tree

Box Elders grow to a considerable height, with far reaching limbs. Lynn had long prized this tree because it provided shade for a large portion of her yard. They have a fairly small root ball and generally last no more than 40-50 years, according to Hedley arbourist Travis Barck. “They’re actually a junk tree,” he said.

When the storm hit, Lynn  went to check on her bee hive  at the lower end of her large lot. She wanted to be certain they would not be in danger if the weather continued to deteriorate. Having assured herself the bees were ok, she turned and began carefully retracing her steps. The accelerating wind threatened to knock her to the ground.

Root Ball of the Elder
Root Ball of the Elder

Crouching, to avoid being blown down, she glanced up at her coveted large shade tree. It was leaning toward the house. Horrified, she watched as it slowly began tipping in that direction. Lifting one arm in the air, she desperately shouted “no! no! no!”



The Box Elder settled fairly gently on the roof. At this time, it seems no damage was done and Lynn  is grateful.  She’s a pretty easy going lady.

Lynn Wells hugging her tree.
Lynn Wells hugging her tree.

Cenotaph: A Message About Past & Present

Cenotaph at Hedley, BC
Cenotaph at Hedley, BC

Hedley is preparing to commemorate a nearly forgotten but significant piece of its history. On August 22nd citizens of the Similkameen Valley will assemble at 1:30 pm for a ceremony at the Cenotaph on Scott Avenue. The purpose is to remember the 17 Hedley men who departed from this very spot on August 24th , almost exactly100 years ago, to enlist in the Canadian military. Those who enlisted before and after this date will also be remembered. Except for the diligent research of Andy English and Jennifer Douglass, this event would have continued to languish in the dust bin of history.

Very likely all of us living in Hedley have walked or driven by the Cenotaph numerous times without thinking about what it represents. The men who enlisted were in the prime of life, holding good jobs or owning a business. Some lost their lives defending the privileges and freedoms we have today. Privileges and freedoms we assume will always be here for us to enjoy.

It is troubling that as a society we are so willing to forget the lessons of the past and be lulled into a state of complacency, blithely believing others will attend wisely to the affairs of our community and nation. The 17 men who departed Hedley that day, and those who went later, accepted responsibility for defending the well being of this nation.

Today the world is a much more complex web of politics, economics, religious dogmas, etc. Because we are not at war, it’s a significantly greater challenge to recognize the dangers that beset our pleasant way of life. The majority of us apparently are too preoccupied with our own affairs to give time to understanding the serious, sometimes hidden issues that confront our communities and our nation.

A nation is endangered when the citizens are not alert or aware. While we doze, those in power forge ahead, making decisions and laws that will impact us.

One example of this is the Conservative government’s participation in the secretive, far reaching 12 nation Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations. The government website lauds the hoped for agreement as being favourable for job creation and strengthening the economy. The website does not honestly or satisfactorily address concerns being raised by many in the 12 nations. Wikileaks reports that some MP’s have not had access to the deal, and advisors who have received the required clearance face jail terms if they reveal details of the agreement.

The Council of Canadians warns that “the U.S. is using the TPP to push for excessive patent protections guaranteed to make medications much more expensive in Canada.” In its proposed form the agreement will dictate when a company or investor should be compensated if a country’s environmental or public health policies interfere with profits. Sujata Dey of the Council of Canadians says under the TPP, Canada Post, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and other public entities would have to be privatized and become “for profit” corporations. According to Dey, “the essence and mandate of our crown corporations are being traded away in favour of private corporate profit”.

The TPP would put a screen on all environmental policies to ensure they do not hurt trade or investment. Legislators in 7 of the 12 nations have called on the parties to publish the draft text of the agreement, and allow sufficient time for legislative scrutiny and public debate. In Canada the NDP and Green Party have endorsed this statement.

Unlike the enemy that threatened the world when the Hedley boys marched off to war, today’s foes are often unseen forces. Powerful multi-national corporations want to use the Trans Pacific Partnership to control the internet, our medical system, the government’s tax system, our banking system, and much more. Fortunately in the recent meeting at the end of July, negotiators were not able to reach an agreement on the TPP, so it may still be scuttled.

The Cenotaphs in our communities are a reminder not to forget the courage and sacrifices of an earlier generation. They can also remind us that today there exist insidious forces in our midst. Forces that are committed to disembowelling our government and the institutions we rely on for the way of life we hold dear. We need to be alert and aware.

Hedley Summer Festival


This past Saturday Hedley’s main street was blocked off by cars at one end of Woodlie Park and a long trailer at the other. For the second consecutive year, citizens of Hedley and nearby communities enjoyed an outdoor roast beef dinner and street dance. Last year it was billed as a Hedley Reunion. It was a roaring success and the organizers decided to do it again, except this time it was a dinner and western dance. The event had the celebratory feeling of a summer festival. For $10 per dinner and another $10 if you wanted to dance, it really was a bargain. Last year they showed a profit and gave the money to local clubs. They plan to do the same this year.


Jay St. Germaine (Stirling Creek Ranch) & great nephew handing out horseshoes
Jay St. Germaine (Stirling Creek Ranch) & great nephew handing out horseshoes

Children and young people delighted bystanders by riding the mechanical bull.  Cowboy philosopher poet, Grant Stone, elicited chuckles and laughter with his hilarious accounts of unlikely happenings. Music for the dance was provided by the popular Okanagan group, Dale Seaman & Highway 97.

Dale Seaman & Hwy 97 found shelter from the rain in front of the  Post Office
Dale Seaman & Hwy 97 found shelter from the rain in front of the Post Office

One of the highlights of the event was Gabby’s Girls Dance Team of Langley, B.C. This troupe of talented, enthusiastic, effervescent, lovely young gals were a terrific crowd pleaser. It was evident they love what they do and wanted spectators to have a great time. Their fun loving, light hearted spirit was infectious.

Gabby's Girls Dance Team
Gabby’s Girls Dance Team

According to Kelda, director of the group, they teach and promote “line dancing with attitude”. They perform at weddings, festivals and other events. Assistant director Victoria said they have a girls’ time prior to each practise. This is a time to chat and get to know each other better. Currently they have 8 members and space for 4 more. They practise 2 hours 2 times per week. These girls know how to dazzle a crowd.

Good friends having a visit just before the rain.
Good friends having a visit just before the rain.

In spite of a heavy rain shower just as guests were at a long table filling their plates, people persevered and once again the summer festival was a huge success. Organizers Don Armstrong, Sharon Sund and Judy Turner of Hedley, and Darryl McDonald of Cawston put together a program that entertained in great style.

Organizers Don Armstrong, Sharon Sund,  Darryl McDonald (Judy Turner missing)
Organizers Don Armstrong, Sharon Sund,
Darryl McDonald (Judy Turner missing)

Politicians Are “Shopping For Votes”

Image by
Image by

After reading Susan Delacourt’s “Shopping for Votes,” I want to ask Angelique Wood what insider information the party is giving her about voters in the Similkameen Valley. Wood is the NDP candidate running hard in the Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola riding. She is also my neighbour, only two doors removed. It’s a question I hope to ask of the Liberal and Conservative candidates as well. Not having deep pockets, the Green Party doesn’t have the means to employ the expensive strategies and tactics described by Delacourt.

An award winning journalist with the Toronto Star, Delacourt provides a fascinating, but also disquieting account of how political parties endeavour to secure our votes. Her information reinforced my one cardinal rule concerning how I vote. The rule is, “I will not give my heart to any political party.”

Tactics and strategies of political parties have changed radically since the days when my parents voted faithfully for W.A.C. Bennett and Social Credit. According to Delacourt, the three major parties at the federal level now employ sociologists, statisticians, advertising experts, pollsters, and mass communication experts.

Like major corporations, they enthusiastically embrace the practise of “data mining” and “micro targeting.” The major parties all have systemized data bases which assemble contact information. Door-to-door canvassers are instructed to watch for indications of what might be important to the people of a neighbourhood. Children’s toys, camping equipment and golf clubs are examples. Canvassers may also report political lawn signs, doors slammed, a willingness to engage in political discussion etc.

Possessing this information helps party strategists make decisions about where to devote time, or what issues to emphasize in a particular riding or neighbourhood. Delacourt notes that one party sent a Jewish woman a greeting card at the time of the Jewish New Year.

Graham Fraser in “Playing for Keeps,” suggests political campaigning has become much like a corporate advertising campaign. Although politicians likely don’t consider it amusing, pollster Martin Goldfarb compared the selling of a candidate to selling cans of tomatoes.

Apparently the practises of data mining and micro targeting are just too powerful to resist. After the 2008 election, the New Democratic Party hired the polling firm, Viewpoints Research. They wanted a demographic profile of people who might be swayed to the NDP with the right marketing effort. It would be interesting to know how early socialist leaders like J.S Woodsworth, Stanley Knowles and M.J. Coldwell would view such maneuvering.

One benefit of data mining for political parties, according to Jeffrey Stevens is that “the 3 leaders, properly briefed, are able to make stage managed public appearances without falling into the orchestra pit.” One negative aspect, in Stevens view, is that “we learn nothing about which man would make the best P.M. or how he would conduct himself in high office.”

Politicians have long had a reputation for telling voters what they want to hear. Now with data mining and micro targeting, they can craft their messages with laser like accuracy to appeal to specific communities here in the Similkameen Valley. Unfortunately, too often the resulting promises come more from a thirst for power, than from a commitment to follow through.

Regarding political promises, Delacourt reminds us that before the 1974 election, Pierre Trudeau promised not to legislate wage and price controls. After the election he did impose price controls. Finance Minster John Turner added 10 cents and then another 5 cents to the price of gasoline. Delacourt goes on to say that in his 1995 budget, Jean Chretien cut health and social transfers to the provinces, a move contrary to public wishes.

Data mining tends to produce “designer policies”, whose purpose is to attract specific groups, or to please the party’s core supporters. Writing in the National Post, Attorney Edward Greenspan (1944-2014) and criminologist Anthony Doob suggest that “criminal justice policy is a product being shaped by the need to attract voters. Conservative criminal justice policy is developed not to serve public or societal needs, but to help market the Conservatives to specific constituencies.”

Although the political strategies described in “Shopping For Votes” may unsettle us, I don’t feel they are a reason to stay home on voting day. Rather, they’re a reminder for Canadians to listen with discernment and then vote in droves. It is important for politicians to understand we are alert and will be actively assessing their policies and decisions.

Emergency on the Bowron Lakes

Bowron Lakes Circuit
Bowron Lakes Circuit

When Al got a fish hook in the white of his eye on the Bowron Lakes Circuit in central B.C., our expedition needed to respond quickly to an unexpected and difficult challenge. Nightfall was only 2 hours away and we were in a remote wilderness with no means of calling for help. For me this crises became a reminder that in unfamiliar, even dangerous circumstances, we are able to call on reserves of physical and inner strength we didn’t know existed.

As Expedition Leader for the One Way Adventure Foundation, I had assigned our 3 groups of leaders and young offenders to separate campsites on a bay on Isaac Lake. Less interaction between them meant less trouble. I had elected to travel with the girls group because their workers had little wilderness experience. After paddling all day, we had just set up our tents at the Betty Wendle site when we saw a canoe racing furiously toward us from Al’s camp, paddles flashing in the late sun.

As they drew near, the 2 youths in the canoe shouted, “Al’s got a fish hook in his eye!” I called to Sandy, our nurse, “Let’s go!”

We found Al propped against a tree. He had been fishing with one of the boys. The boy’s hook had got caught on something and when he pulled hard, it snapped free and lodged in Al’s eye. I left Al in Sandy’s care, a short length of line dangling from the hook. At the fire pit, his assistant was talking quietly to the 6 boys. I told them I’d be going for help and Arnet was now their leader.

I knew there was a Rangers cabin a considerable distance ahead. This was the most dangerous section of the circuit. There was also a cabin some distance back on Isaac Lake. No guarantee of a Ranger at either point though, and night among the mountains would be totally dark. I decided to return to the cabin we had passed that afternoon.

A young man of about 20 from another group told me he was rested and offered to go with me. Concerned about the approaching darkness, we paddled hard across the bay to where Gordie was camped with 5 boys.

My volunteer paddler now lost heart and I arranged for two of Gordie’s boys to return him. Ben, a sturdy young member of Gordie’s crew, volunteered to paddle with me.

Ben was robust and resolute. Exchanging only occasional words, we paddled with determination, not sparing ourselves. Fortunately I had known that if an emergency arose, I’d need to be fit and had trained rigorously.

Bowron Lakes (2).jpg

After well over an hour of driving ourselves relentlessly, Ben gasped, “I think I see a motor boat!” The light was fading but as we drew closer, the cabin and boat came into focus. We had found a Ranger!

I explained the crises and the Ranger said, “I’ll go right away. I can’t take your canoe though. It would slow me down.”

With exhausted bodies we paddled in the growing darkness. At about 10 pm we saw the fire in Gordie’s camp.

After a brief chat, I returned alone to the canoe. In total darkness, I forgot the canoe wasn’t loaded. Higher in the water and less stable, it flipped in an instant as I was getting in. I was suddenly standing in frigid water up to my chest. Gordie and his boys rushed down from their camp and rescued me and the canoe. They loaned me clothes, including a jacket, and I set out again.

Bowron Lake photo (1).jpg

The girls had retired to their sleeping bags and had let the campfire die. It was only because I recognized debris in the dark water that I found our camp.

Meanwhile, Al, Sandy, and the Ranger talked all night, and Al became reconciled to the possible loss of his eye. By the time a helicopter dropped down to pick him up in the morning, he was understandably shaky.

A week later, back in Hedley, I saw Al. The helicopter had flown him to Prince George. Here a physician took one look and said, “Oh, this one will be easy.”

I’ve reflected back many times on this Bowron Lakes episode. Both Ben and I found unrealized physical and inner strength . I hope that for Ben, it also helped him understand he has immense potential to accomplish much more than he had previously believed.