As my last week before retirement begins, I want to reach out and thank my Canadian and British Columbian readers.
I’ve had a kick ass time covering your country/province dating back to when Pierre Trudeau and Dave Barrett were running things.
Both enriched my life, Trudeau by creating Pacific Rim National Park, Barrett with the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy.
Dave could be a grizzly bear in fighting for social justice: Just ask CPR CEO who came to Victoria, not wanting a minimum wage hike that would cover chamber maids at Empress Hotel.
But I’ve also seen grizzly bears in parks that Dave, Bob Williams and Mike Harcourt created.
Shirley Barrett was responsible for earliest avalanche of right-wing hate mail, praising the “wonderful young people” who’d escaped up to Canada do as not to serve in Vietnam. “She a communist?” asked one letter writer.
“No, Anglican,” I replied.
‘Learned much about your medical system over the years. Watched great sockeye salmon runs spawn in Fraser River tributaries.
Cussed Imperial Metals for Mt. Polley mine disaster, resolved to keep the bastards out of the Cascades. Learned about Stein River from monk at Westminster Abbey above Mission.
I watched lady who was love of my life arrive by chopper in deep wilderness of Turnagain River, and we howled with wolves that night.
Our readers, to surprise of my editors, went for Canada pieces.
I watched pepper spraying at Asia-Pacific summit, but never made it up for Stanley Cup riot. Saw Bill Clinton guide a sloshed Boris Yeltsin into UBC Museum of Anthropology.
B.C. has yielded great news sources, two now gone.
One was Gwen Barlee, Wilderness Committee crusader for national park reserve in Okanagan-Similkameen country, where I’ve been buzzed by rattlesnakes, but run into mountain goats high up.
The other, Randy Stoltman, the young cartographer/photographer who found Canada’s tallest trees in Carmanah Valley on Vancouver Island. Died in avalanche on Kitlope, published marvelous book “Written by the Wind” just before he left us.
I used to be cold blooded hiker. Went into the Bugaboos with climber pals Troy and Britt. They climbed Conrad Kain route up Bugaboo Spire, named for pioneer climber, while I crawled up Eastpost.
The Banff Alpine Guide Service choppered its climbing guides up to the Cain Hut. Clients had to hike up.
Back down at parking lot, we spotted Banff Alpine Guides van, and wrote in dust on back window: “Conrad Kain got around without helicopters.”
That was then. Getting old now. I and buddies choppered into Mt. Assiniboine a couple years back. Still have B.C. places on bucket list if I get back in shape.
I realize we’re in pandemic, but can’t resist asking Health Minister Adrian Dix a question: When the hell are you going to let me back in?