Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Travel Tuesday: The Summer of 1966

British Columbia motel and campsite 1966
Entrance to a motel and campsite in British Columbia, 1966

It’s the last week of August. With summer vacation almost over (at least for BC schoolchildren), I got to thinking about the summer of 1966. That’s the year my family took a vacation to the beautiful province of British Columbia. It was the first and only time we went on a cross-country trip as a family. The next time we went west, some 13 years later, it was to live there.

It was an unusual vacation for us, because we generally didn’t stray far from home in the summer. Dad liked his home, and didn’t care for the fuss and stress that came with the planning of an extended holiday.

But, for some reason, he and Mom decided on just that: a nearly month-long vacation across Canada to the West Coast; a journey of about 3760 km (about 2340 miles) from our home in Timmins, Ontario to Vancouver, British Columbia. Together, they organized the gear we’d need, including the pop-up camper, the kind that someone has to crank open and everything just seems to “pop” into place. (The camper was brand new. I think Dad bought it from the local Canadian Tire store, where he liked to shop.)

One very early morning that August, my sister and I were woken by Mom and walked-carried to the car to begin the first part of our journey. It’s been 47 years since that trip, so there’s lots I don’t remember, but at least I still have the photos my parents took to help keep alive some of the memories.

We stopped at campsites along the way for the night. I remember loving being outdoors, enjoying the campfires and spending time exploring with Dad. (My sister Marianne being a bit younger than me, preferred to stay near Mom.) One night, we went to bed as usual. We had a bit of a fright the next morning when we couldn’t find Marianne. It’s as if she had disappeared overnight. We looked for her and called out her name. Suddenly, we heard a muffled voice. It seems that Marianne had slipped into a sort of pocket made by the camper’s canvas wall and slept there comfortably until the next morning.

The days were long, but we took time to visit a few of the provincial capitals (Winnipeg in Manitoba, and Regina in Saskatchewan). In Alberta, we visited the Calgary Zoo and enjoyed the beauty and natural wonders of Banff National Park, set in the majestic Rocky Mountains. After we crossed into British Columbia, it took only a few hours before we saw the mighty Fraser River as we made our way down the Fraser Canyon. We then stayed awhile at my Dad’s brother Ray’s property near Hope. It was the first time my sister and I met our cousins Jenny and Leo. After visiting some of the tourist sites in Vancouver (including Bloedel Floral Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park), we made our way to North Vancouver and took the ferry to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. We must have visited Victoria, the provincial capital, but there aren’t any photos showing what we did there.

Yvonne and Marianne Belair at the Saskatchewan border 1966
Marianne (right) and myself at the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border

Jacqueline Belair at the entrance to Banff National Park 1966
Mom at the entrance to Banff National Park

Maurice, Yvonne and Marianne Belair at Lake Louise 1966
Dad, Marianne and I at Lake Louise, Banff National Park

Jacqueline, Yvonne and Marianne Belair on the Columbia Icefield 1966
Mom, Marianne and I on the Columbia Icefield, Banff National Park

Fraser Canyon point of interest sign British Columbia 1966
A point of interest sign in the Fraser Canyon, British Columbia

Jacqueline, Yvonne and Marianne Belair in North Vancouver 1966
Mom, Marianne and I at the ferry terminal in North Vancouver

Ray Belair and family 1966
Uncle Ray and his family (Jenny, Leo and Emily)

I think our return back home must have been uneventful, because there aren’t any photos documenting that part of our journey.

The summer of 1966… so long ago, and yet, not quite forgotten.

Coyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

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