All posts by Art Martens

Kazumi Tanaka, A Sculptor Of Renown

Sculptor Kazumi Tanaka

Over the past 3 years Linda and I have had more than 100 conversations for the purpose of this column. The one with internationally recognized sculptor Kazumi Tanaka last week was undoubtedly the most challenging. A resident of Princeton the past 15 years, Kazumi was born in Japan and was deeply influenced by the culture, traditions and values of that country. Now, after many years, he seems suspended between what he learned in Japan and what he experiences in Canada. “I realize I sometimes cannot synchronize my brain with yours,” he told us.

In spite of the cultural chasm separating us, Kazumi seemed at ease sitting in our sun room. He added milk and sugar to his coffee, smiled and waited for our questions.

“I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from a university in Japan,” he said. “That was just a beginning. It opened a door for me, but I needed to learn more. The sculpting is mostly self taught.”

He’s been attracted to other art forms and actually began his career doing photography, painting, and drawing. They have enriched his sculpting. “In 1981 I spent 6 months at the Banff Centre in their Winter Cycle. It was open to many art forms. One of the participants was a professor from Columbia University. He had won a Pulitzer Prize for music composition. I did a lot of painting there.” Although they worked in different mediums, Kazumi felt stimulated by this connection.

We received a sense of his international importance when he talked about a competition to participate in a prestigious Czech Republic sculpture project. “I am very lucky. I was invited to apply for 1 of 4 positions available. There were 110 international applications. I was chosen for one of the four positions. They provided my airfare, a hotel room, meals and an assistant to work with me. It was a big project and it took place in a quarry. They brought in cranes and forklifts and other equipment to assist us. This is done every year and the sculptures are on display.” He received a $3,000 honorarium for his participation.

Over the years there have been various international invitations. At a sculpture symposium in Sophia, Bulgaria he worked on a sculpture project with the highly respected professor Emil Popov. Kazumi has numerous works on display in Japan, Eastern Europe, Canada and the U.S. On a street in New Delhi, India he was surprised to see Jon Bartlett of Princeton.

Sculpture “Waiting” by Kazumi Tanaka

Kazumi`s life and work have been greatly impacted by Zen Buddhism. He lived in the Mount Baldy Zen Center, a Los Angeles monastery, for 6 years. Here he was a translator for Josyu Sasaki Roshi, founder of the monastery. Roshi lived to age 108. While living in the monastery Kazumi came to know Leonard Cohen, who was also there. “He was very kind, very decent, very educated, and very generous.”

Kazumi has immersed himself in Zen and in our conversation he referred to it many times. His focus on Zen, sculpting, photography and other art forms hasn’t allowed much time or opportunity to forge a Canadian identity. All require a measure of separation from the world.

Now 68, Kazumi seems to realize he needs to make a greater effort to understand Canadian ways and become more involved. In a community heavily sprinkled with loggers, miners, farmers and ranchers, a sculptor of Japanese birth is somewhat of a rarity. “The Dalai Lama said it’s good to understand our neighbours who have another faith. I know I should connect to your issues more. I should listen to CBC. I recently bought a small radio. I should also spend 10 minutes each day reading The Province. I should know what is happening.” Changing his ways is requiring a significant inner shift he probably hasn’t totally come to grips with.

I sensed in Kazumi an emotional and intellectual loyalty to Japanese thinking and culture. To discard what was bequeathed to him by his country of birth would be a betrayal. He said, “I am becoming neither Canadian nor Japanese. And I am not interested in integrating into the mainstream Canada but try to stay in my style or alternative culture.”

“The world is a little strange right now,” he said. “But I came to a multicultural country and I am in the process of cultural mixing. I’m not only visiting in Canada. I will die here.”

Hedley Gondola Project

Former Senator Gerry St. Germain & USIB Chief Rick Holmes

Hedley residents turned out in force last Saturday (Sept. 9, 2017) to learn about the gondola project under consideration by the Upper Similkameen Indian Band and a group of entrepreneurs, mostly from Texas. A couple of local ranchers, former Senator Gerry St. Germain and his son Jay, appear to be key in connecting the band with the Texans. The senior St. Germain has a wealth of business and political experience and connections.

Band Chief Rick Holmes said, “It’s an idea that has been talked about for at least 10 years. We are concerned for the entire community and we want people to be informed.” He told the audience he had become excited about the project after talking with Gerry St. Germain. “The band needs to generate more revenue,” he said. He had taken the investors from Texas to the former Mascot mine site and they believe the gondola concept has possibilities.

We already have contracts with the Squamish Nation,” Jack Matthews said. “Hedley is quaint and the view from the mine site is spectacular. There is still a lot of research to be done before we know if it’s feasible. We’ll have more answers in a year.”

One of the challenges for the proposed enterprise is where to situate the gondola at the bottom and also at the mine. At this time two sites are favoured. One is in the vicinity of the pump houses for the town’s water system. Lynn Wells, chair of the Hedley Improvement District registered her concern, citing the potential of pollution and other issues. The town has an easement allowing for its pumps. The land is owned by Barrick Gold.

The other site the group likes is on Lot 2900, located on the far side of the Colonial Lodge and the Gold House. I’ve been told this property is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Mines.

The business group recognizes that the tourist season here is limited, due to weather. Initially they talked about “layering.” They mentioned building a zip line and offering gold panning.

During the question period, some interest was expressed in the project, also a number of concerns. One resident drew chuckles when he said, “I don’t want people looking down on me when I’m sun bathing in the nude in my back yard.” He likely doesn’t sun bathe in the nude but his objection was understood by all.

It was apparent that one of the main issues for a lot of people was the likely disruption of the peaceful way of life we enjoy here. People were nervous about the possibility of hotels and restaurants being added to the gondola concept to make it more attractive and profitable.

Several of the business group said they want to consider the concerns of local people. Gerry St. Germain said, “I don’t want the town to change in a big way.”

At the end of the meeting I said that for the Hedley Gondola project to proceed and be good for the Band and the town, the promoters will need to win our trust. They will be under tremendous pressure to add amenities to attract tourists. This will certainly be disturbing to many residents. We came here, at least in part, to escape the noise and pace of city life. Promises about not changing the town in a big way will be kept only if the people who make them are of good character.

Jeff Lakey, Healing With Music

Jeff Lakey

Sitting under a lush canopy of green leaves in a Cawston orchard last week, I asked musician Jeff Lakey, “What has surprised you?” He replied, “I’m surprised I’m still alive and healthy.” After hearing his story, Linda and I were surprised too.

The setting was a neighbourhood gathering of orchardists, farmers, fruit pickers, and anyone living in the area. A long table was laden with tempting, sumptuous dishes. I lost count of the many people seated at tables scattered among the trees.

Jeff was there as one of the entertainers who would perform on the spacious stage. He had asked us to meet him here for the conversation we had arranged when he was in Hedley with his band, the Black Birds. As we were eating, a succession of individuals came around to greet him. Some shook hands, some hugged. It was evident they were delighted to see him. I thought there was a sense of poignant nostalgia in some of the greetings. He was one of them, and yet different.

We learned that music has been a constant thread in most of Jeff’s 53 years and has almost certainly buoyed him and kept him alive. “I play drums, guitar, strings (key board), piano, bass guitar and I do vocals.” He writes much of the music he performs and has produced 2 albums. When the first musicians appeared on stage, Jeff was asked for help with the elaborate sound system.

Now a warehouse supervisor in Keremeos, he earlier worked 10 years at a center for children with mental disorders. “I introduced music therapy,” he said. “I brought in tambourines and shakers and we made music together.” He still cherishes the memory of hearing children say, “I feel like I’m actually worth something.”

He also did music therapy at Portage. “One day I heard a girl singing in her room. She had a beautiful voice. I urged her to come out and sing for everyone. She told me she didn’t sing for people. I offered to accompany her on my guitar and she agreed. She went on to sing ‘True Colours’ at a concert in Vancouver. About 30 musicians came out of my program at Portage. I always recorded them and gave them a copy.”

Personable and energetic, Jeff has loyal friends and has enjoyed considerable success as a musician. But, it almost didn’t happen. “My dad left when I was 3,” he said. “I’ve totally lost track of him. Fortunately Mom married again. This man became my father. He was my friend and mentor.”

For reasons Jeff doesn’t fully comprehend, his life began to unravel in his early teens. “I was carrying a lot of resentment,” he recalled. “I got into drugs, anything I could get my hands on.” In 1999 his parents intervened. They brought him home to their farm.

“I continued with the drugs though and hid this for 2 years. Later people in Cawston told me they knew. They accepted me anyway. During that time I teamed up with a friend and started the Black Birds band. Then my father died at age 56. He was my rock. With him gone, that was it. I couldn’t do anything. I crashed.”

A friend came looking for him and found him in a drug house. “I was lying on the floor. He took me away from there.”

In 2001, at age 38, he understood his life style was leading downward to certain failure and destruction. This wasn’t what he wanted. Within him was a desire to do something of value with his musical talent. He entered treatment at the Cross Roads Centre in Kelowna. This cleared his thinking. It was after this that he produced the 2 albums, worked with mentally disadvantaged children and then persons with addictions. He has written and performed numerous songs. When his mother died 3 weeks prior to our conversation, he wrote a song for her. It says in part, “Images of you in my heart, keep me satisfied.”

Jeff’s life experiences enable him to write realistically about addiction and homelessness. “My message,” he said, “is that sometimes when you are knocking on a door, asking for help, people don’t understand. Keep knocking and in time someone will answer.”

Recently Jeff Lakey auditioned successfully with an all-star band in Vancouver. He’ll have a bigger stage for his message. The people in that Cawston orchard will be cheering him on.

 

 

 

Mark, A Vision For Cycling Adventure

Mark from Germany, cycling in North America

I invariably experience a twinge of envy when I meet an individual with the vision, courage and will to do something that is a significant challenge, whether it’s physical, mental, or emotional. Linda and I met Mark in Manning Park this past week, on our way to Abbotsford. He told us he had flown from Frankfurt, Germany to Anchorage. From there he had come by bike, cycling most of the way but occasionally hitching a ride with a pickup truck. I noticed that the bike was heavily loaded. Four saddle bags hold everything he requires on the way. He is hauling, food, tools to repair the bike, and clothes.

He said, “At first I carried mostly Snickers for food.| (I gathered he meant junk food in general.) Then I met someone who was eating only vegetables. We exchanged ideas and he started eating Snickers as well as vegetables. I added vegetables to my diet.”

Mark, taking a break from his cycling in Manning Park, BC.

In Frankfurt he teaches English and Spanish. He will be traveling for one year and two months. I noticed that in spite of the Snickers in his diet, he carries no excess pounds on his body. There are side benefits to his life of adventure. Upon leaving Manning Park, he planned to ride to Whistler, B.C. We’re not sure where he will travel beyond that, but Linda thinks he may have mentioned South America.

For the time being at least, Linda and I will let Mark do the cycling. We are supremely satisfied with our Hedley adventure.

In Conversation With MP Dan Albas

MP Dan Albas in my home.

When I called the West Kelowna constituency office of MP Dan Albas a couple of months ago, the receptionist said, “He’s in Ottawa. He will return your call.” I live in a community with an insignificant number of votes so I anticipated a long wait, if he actually did call. Within 5 minutes my phone rang and it was Dan, calling from Ottawa, ready to help me with a Canada Post issue.

MP Dan Albas speaking at the Hedley Cenotaph Rededication.

Last week he was in Hedley for the rededication of the Cenotaph. After the ceremony I asked if he’d have time for a conversation before he returns to Ottawa. He glanced at his watch. “Let’s do it now,” he said. He had an hour before the next event.

Sitting in the sun room of our home, I asked, “what is important to you as a Member of Parliament?” Without hesitating, he said, “people.” Then he elaborated. “Most people pay their taxes and when they have a problem, they expect to be treated fairly. Often it’s not as clean though as the rules suggest. There are occasions when they need someone to help them deal with bureaucracy.”

Dan’s political education began during his 15 years as owner of a martial arts centre in Penticton. He joined Rotary in 2004 and in 2006 became chair of the South Okanagan and Similkameen United Way. Elected to the Penticton Chamber of Commerce in 2008, he became aware of concerns about the way some senior staff were responding to questions.

In 2011 he succeeded Stockwell Day as the Conservative Party’s representative in the Boundary/Similkameen riding, At the outset of Dan’s career in federal politics Tom Siddon, former Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development advised, “You go in with your integrity. Be sure to also go out with it.” Dan gave serious attention to this counsel. Wanting to make constituents his priority, he decided to have 3 full time staff in the riding office and only a half time position in Ottawa.

MP’s typically receive calls regarding income tax, employment insurance, immigration issues, Canada Pension and Old Age Pension, among others.“As an MP I’m like an ombudsman,” Dan said. “If people have legitimate concerns, I want to know about them. We can help people understand how to navigate the systems. We give them the steps to take.

In one case we intervened on behalf of a young woman when a company refused to return her funds, even though it had not provided the promised service. She received a letter from the company president and the money. The greatest reward comes when you help someone and they feel respected and they’re proud of their country.” He does “Listening Tours” to feel the pulse of the community and establish priorities.

Dan’s ability and diligence have evidently been noticed by party leaders. He has been assigned to work on key parliamentary committees. The Elder Abuse Act was passed during his time on the Justice Committee. More recently, as a member of the Finance Committee, he questioned the decision to not allow Credit Unions to use the terms bank or banking in their promotions. This would affect Valley First Credit Union. The Minister of Finance has promised to look into the matter.

On June 28, 2017 his private members Free my Grapes bill was passed unanimously. “Liberal MP Scott Bryson asked how he could help me with this. He agreed to allow me to speak at his designated time. I wanted to get the bill passed before the summer recess.” He almost didn’t succeed because some members wanted to make speeches. Alert and proactive, Dan forestalled this. “If we stop talking,” he said, “we can pass this today.” They agreed and the bill passed. Although some provincial legislation interferes with the act, it does allow people to purchase wine for personal consumption and carry it into another province.

It was Dan’s  expeditious return of my phone call several months ago that initially led me to believe he might be an MP people can rely on to listen and actually take action. After an hour of conversation with him, I concluded he genuinely wants to represent people effectively. He returns calls, hosts town meetings, writes monthly reports for constituents, attends to individual cases, and is active on national issues. At age 40, Dan Albas has the energy, experience, vision and will to be a potent force for good in his riding and in our country.

Rededication Of Hedley Cenotaph, Part 2

The Lloyd family, descendants of Lieutenant T.C. Knowles.

The Lloyd family, descendants of Lieutenant T.C. Knowles, came to celebrate his war service. He served in WWI, finishing in the RAF. Upon his return to Hedley, he became the town’s postmaster.

Beverly Knowles & Anne Lloyd (nee Knowles), daughters of Lieutenant T.C. Knowles
Sandy Wightman (grandson of Alec Jack), Moira Herold (daughter of A. Jack), Stephanie Malahoff (granddaughter of A. Jack).

Captain Alec Jack came to Canada in 1913, indentured to the Bank of British North America in Hedley. In 1915 he signed up for war service with 16 other Hedley boys.  He saw action in the Battle of the Somme and Vimy Ridge, plus other battles. He proved himself as a courageous leader and was awarded the Military Cross. Sandy Wightman has done considerable research concerning Captain Alec Jack and the Canadian war effort. (The foregoing information about Captain Alec Jack comes from this research).

Hedley Postmaster Ruth Woodin reading a war letter.

After the rededication ceremony, there was an English tea for the public in the backyard of the Hedley Historic Museum. A number of letters written by Hedley Boys serving in Europe were read. Ruth Woodin read 2 letters concerning Walter Matthews after he failed to return from a bombing mission (WWII). The first was written by his RCAF commanding officer. The second one came from the Canadian War Office.

The following material is excerpted from the research notes of Jennifer Douglass & Andy English of Hedley.

“In May of 1944, F.O. Matthews’ squadron was involved with the bombing of key strategic sites in preparation for the D-Day invasion of Normandy on the coming 6th of June. After one such mission, Matthews’ plane failed to return from a bombing raid on the Le Mans railway yards in France. It was determined the plane was shot down by anti-aircraft fire and crashed south of Le Mans, near a village called Monce au Belin. All on board were killed instantly. A neighbouring French woman laid flowers on the site of the crash for a long time afterwards and sent news as such to the RCAF in Canada.

F.O. Matthews was killed in action on 23 May 1944. He was 28 years of age. He is buried in a collective grave with four of his crew mates at Le Mans West Cemetery, France.”

 

 

Rededication Of Hedley Cenotaph

Researchers Jennifer Douglass & Andy English

Hedley residents, Jennifer Douglass and Andy English, devoted approximately 3 1/2 years to researching the names on the local cenotaph. They discovered 2 additional names that should have been included, and these have recently been added. When Jennifer and Andy speak of the young men who were killed in action in World War I, it is as though they know them personally and think of them as friends.

During the time of their research, they developed the Hedley Cenotaph Committee and attracted a lot of interest and support in the community. This summer the unstinting efforts of the committee resulted in the refurbishing of the cenotaph, including replacement of some lead lettering. In a statement to the Keremeos OK Falls Review, Andy said, “Many people helped and donated to the restoration fund, from local Hedleyites who had known the cenotaph all their lives, to people who recently moved to the area but who recognized the importance of preserving this memorial and for what it represented. Families who had lived in Hedley but had moved away contributed, as did relatives of many of the Hedley men who served in the wars. The biggest contribution came from Veterans Affairs Canada.”

Seaforth Highlanders Regiment, Vancouver; representatives from Princeton Royal Canadian Legion Colour Guard, Keremeos Royal Canadian Legion Colour Guard, Erris Volunteer Fire Dept., Hedley Volunteer Fire Dept.

On Saturday August 26, 2017 the Hedley community celebrated the completion of the refurbishing of the cenotaph, and took time to remember the fallen men whose names are inscribed on it.

Chief Rick Holmes of the Upper Similkameen Indian Band spoke about band member Jack Lorenzetto, who was killed in World War I.
MP Dan Albas, Chaplain Sandra Lawlor, Princeton Royal Canadian Legion, & MLA Linda Larson

Duane Fritchie, Aquabike World Champion

Mary & Duane Fritchie

I suspect a lot of macho males have cast envious glances at Duane Fritchie’s Triathlon sculpted physique. It’s the type of body men’s magazines delight in featuring on their front cover. When I first saw him, for a fleeting moment I actually wondered what I would need to do to achieve that trim waist and V shaped torso.

Linda and I met Duane, a World Champion Triathlon competitor, and his wife Mary in Hedley last week. They had driven from Lee’s Summit, Missouri so he could compete in the prestigious 2017 Penticton ITU (International Triathlon Union) Multisport World Championships this past weekend. We liked them immediately and invited them to our home.

Duane began his triathlon adventure after watching a man from his community compete in a race. “I felt it was something I could do,” he said. “I was already riding my bike and running. I wasn’t a good swimmer though, and at age 31 it was a bit late to become great. Fortunately the swimming coach at the high school where I was a teacher offered to help.”

Now 67, Duane’s rigorous commitment has produced gratifying results. “My first triathlon was in Hawaii in 1982,” he told us. “At that time you didn’t have to qualify. Since then I’ve participated in about 200 competitions in places like Australia, New Zealand, England, the U.S. and Canada.” In response to my prodding he said, “In 2001 I won the World Triathlon Championship in Edmonton. My whole family was there. It was fantastic.”

I asked about his training regimen. “When Mary joined Weight Watchers,” he said, “I noticed she was shedding pounds. Following her eating pattern, I cut back on carbohydrates and added protein, mostly lean meat. My mental preparation includes visualization. I mentally see myself doing the swimming strokes just right. I set goals. I try to stay positive and always believe I’ll do well.”

In regard to what he hoped to achieve in the weekend event he said, “ My goal in the Penticton race is to place first overall, not just in my age category. I know it’s a long shot, but I’m strong in windy conditions. If there is wind, it’s not impossible.” He is definitely a believer, but also pragmatic. “I’ll still be pleased if I finish in the top 3 in my category.”

Until recently, Duane raced mostly in triathlons. With the introduction of the aquabike event, 3 km swimming and 120 km cycling, he dropped the running. “Aquabike is geared to individuals 50 and over,” he explained. “A lot of men aren’t eager to run after hitting 50. It’s hard on the joints. Aquabike makes it easier to continue competing. This event in Penticton is the first World Championship in Aquabike.”

Talking about his bike, Duane said, “Competitive racers use deep dish wheels. They’re designed to shed wind. These wheels alone cost $4,000. I have about $10,000 invested in this bike.” I observed with chagrin that the wheels on my old mountain bike bear little resemblance to the wheels on his bike.

Duane Fritchie showing the Cervelo P5 bike he rode to become the 2017 World Champion in Aquabike in his age category.

“A good bike is essential,” Duane said, “but you need people to support you. Mary is my greatest source of encouragement. When I’m riding with others, she drives the support vehicle. Also, our 3 daughters urge me to train with them. I ride 200 to 400 miles a week. Along the route, I watch for places to swim.”

For Duane and Mary, their efforts are not just about being fit, racing, or winning world championships.

“We hope our example will persuade young people and older ones to believe for more,” they agreed. “And,” Mary added, “we’re involved in enabling people with MS to ride.”

The MS involvement began when Les Gatrel, a champion wrestler and businessman, was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. “The wrestlers supported him and we worked together to get Les on a bike,” Duane said. “Initially he rode tandem with me. Now he rides his own bike, 4,000 miles in the last 3 years. Along the way, Wrestling MS was established. Now the organization provides MS patients with bikes, hope and support to help them regain balance, strength and freedom. All at no cost to them.

When we talked with Duane and Mary last Wednesday, their close bond was evident. On Saturday he finished strong overall and captured first place in his age category. We are proud to have had these world champion partners in our community.

 

Harry Explains Evolution To A Skeptic

Evolution of Man
sapientiaexamino.wordpress.com

When I met Harry in the Penticton library 3 years ago, I couldn’t avoid noticing that he possessed some of the physical attributes of a Sumo wrestler. In time I would conclude he didn’t have the aggressive thinking required for that sport. He was actually a wonderfully gentle soul. At one time a science lecturer in a small Saskatchewan college, when his third wife walked out for the final time, he had needed a diversion. After migrating to Penticton and settling into a cheap one bedroom apartment, he took up the study of evolution, something he had long wanted to do.

When Harry realized I lacked enthusiasm for his new pursuit, he quickly deemed it his responsibility to enlighten me. In spite of his zeal for the subject, he was patient. I liked Harry and decided to let him teach me, and also do my own research. On my infrequent trips to Penticton, we met for coffee at the Shades On Main restaurant. He was always waiting for me at the most remote table. This allowed us to eat the 4 Tim Hortons donuts he invariably brought in a brown paper bag.

Harry began without the usual pleasantries the first time we met. I could tell he had been totally immersed in the subject, probably rarely straying from his tiny apartment except for trips to the library. Eager to share his new found knowledge, he said, “Evolution happened over many millions of years. Natural selection is a key aspect of Darwin’s concept. It takes place slowly, by accumulating slight, successive, favourable variations. Darwin said no sudden modifications are possible.” I sensed he had memorized this for my benefit. Pausing to add more sugar and milk to his already enriched coffee, he continued, “In The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins says natural selection is the only workable alternative to chance that has ever been suggested.”

That week I checked into this and learned about the “Cambrian Explosion” which scientists believe happened approximately 600 million years ago. During this event major groups of animals, called phyla, appeared suddenly in the fossil record. Darwin knew the fossil record failed to support his Tree of Life concept which predicts a long history of gradual divergences from a common ancestor, with the differences slowly increasing.

I felt considerable puzzlement at this. When Harry came to Hedley a few weeks later, over lunch in the sun room of our home, I asked him if evolutionary scientists have a credible response. Waving a hand as though it wasn’t a reason for concern, he said, “Darwin hoped that future fossil discoveries would explain this. To this time that hasn’t happened but the research is continuing. If I learn anything more I’ll let you know.”

At our next meeting Harry showed up with his brown bag as usual. I sensed his excitement immediately. He had come across the 2001 U.S. Public Broadcasting System’s 7 part series, Evolution. “At the end of the program,” he announced with evangelistic conviction, “they said all known scientific evidence supports evolution. They also said virtually every reputable scientist in the world believes this is true.” He leaned toward me, smiling with anticipation and waiting for my response, certain I couldn’t disagree with so many scientific heavy weights on his side. I felt the heat of his massive body.

I knew he was trying to be helpful and I didn’t want to seem ungrateful. “That’s pretty impressive Harry,” I said. “I’ll definitely continue with my research.”

That week I unearthed a 2 page advertisement in the The Weekly Standard, published on October 1, 2001. One hundred scientists, many of them highly regarded professors with doctorates from prestigious universities like Cambridge, Stanford, Yale and Rutgers, had issued a response to the PBS program. Entitled A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism, it said in part, “We are skeptical of the claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

Over the next year, Harry several times countered my reservations about evolution by asking, “If there is a Designer, what is his or her origin?” Certainly both Evolution and Intelligent Design pose significant questions for which neither science or religion have satisfactory answers. Several months ago Harry fell in love again and returned to Saskatchewan. In spite of his sincere efforts, concerning evolution, I remain a skeptic.

Nickel Plate Reunion In Hedley

Former residents of Nickel Plate townsite.

This past weekend Hedley was the scene of a pretty unique reunion. Participants came from various points in the province. With the exception of one individual, as children they had all lived at the Nickel Plate townsite, high on the mountain overlooking Hedley. Their parents worked for the Kelowna Exploration Company, the entity which operated the highly lucrative Nickel Plate Mine.

The mine ceased operations in 1955, so these people are now seniors. Although they’ve had several reunions previously, some had not connected since the mining days. Bob Richards of Penticton, whose father was a foreman at the mine, largely organized the event. Now age 74, he has worked in mines himself and has also earned his living as a wrestler. Like the others, he spoke fondly of his childhood years living in the Nickel Plate community.

Bob Richards

I was one when my parents moved up,” he said. “We left when I was 12. Those were good years. The mine provided a bowling alley and a skating rink. It helped us create a ski run, and much more. I attended school up there until grade 6.”

Patsy (Williams) Ehlbeck

Patsy Ehlbeck (nee Williams), spoke of her father (known by miners as Dibbs) who was mine superintendent during the family’s years at the town site. Her parents had given the Museum a painting of the family home on the mountain. This was of particular interest to Patsy.

Garnet Graham

Garnet Graham, now living in Prince George, said “There were about 40 families up there, plus singles. My dad worked in the mine and is mentioned in Mines of the Eagle Country. It was a great place to be a kid. We had lots of freedom. Sometimes we rode our bikes to Nickel Plate Lake. I have awesome memories of that time.”

Ore was sent down the tram line in skips (ore cars) to the Stamp Mill on the periphery of Hedley. The skips were controlled by the Hoist Man at Central Station part way up the line. “There was one house at Central, and this is where our family lived,” said Carl Lofroth, now of Terrace. For this reason he didn’t have as much interaction with the children of the Nickel Plate community. Even so, there are plenty of great memories. “We had Disney movies,” he said, “and there were Chinese dinners. We went camping together and had picnics.” He doesn’t recall any quarreling. When he was 6, his family moved down into Hedley where he attended school.

Jim Munro

Jim Munro lived at Nickel Plate from age 9 to 14. His dad was the camp administrator. “Kids had the run of the town,” he recalled, “but we couldn’t get too far out of line. Everyone knew who your parents were. It was like having 40 moms and 40 dads.”

Carl Lafroth

During the open mike session, there were a number of references to riding the skip down to Hedley. “People would ride the skip down and do their shopping,” Carl Lafroth explained. “On the way down, we sat on the ore. This allowed us to have a great view of the valley. On the return trip up the mountain, the skip would be empty. We’d be lower and couldn’t see much.”

Don Armstrong provided 2 cakes. This one had a photo of the stamp mill. The other showed the trestle bridge crossing the Similkameen river.

After many laughs, the reunion group was joined by locals for an outdoor roast beef dinner hosted by Don Armstrong and assisted by Judy Turner, Sharon Sund and others, all of Hedley. In the evening the Black Birds provided music for a street dance.