Saturday, 14 September 2013

Hot Springs

When I was about 5 years old neighbors took our family with them on a drive east to Harrison Hot Springs. That location is about the last community situated on the north side of the lower Fraser Valley.

The hotel is in the left foreground and the building was erected over the springs. Whereas the majority of the 'Railway Hotels' are castle-like structures, this one looks like an apartment building.

Again - and with many thanks to Michael in Vancouver - here is a photo of the public beach at Harrison Lake. If my memory is correct, the hot springs are to the left of this photo.

I have been to Harrison Hot Springs half a dozen times with the last visit being with Linda Humchitt and her daughter. I met Linda during the summer that I worked at the Namu Salmon Cannery in 1968. She is a First Nation person of the Bella Bella people who visited with Mom on a Sunday for lunch after which we went for a drive to Harrison.

I remember being in the hot springs pool during the first visit as a child and again when I was with Linda and her daughter.

                Three photos of Harrison Lake and its glorious setting in the Coast Mountains.

What are 'Hot Springs'? Mostly they are found near volcanic mountain ranges and are 'escape valves' for the steam and hot water created by the volcanic activity beneath the surface. In the hotel at Harrison there is an enclosed pool into which the hot water is pumped ('hot' is somewhat misleading - the water is warm and has a sulphuric smell but it is not really hot - however, bathers are cautioned not to remain in the pool for too long). On the way to the hotel entry there is a pipe beside the paved walkway where water falls into a pool. One can feel the water - quite warm, and - using a cup placed nearby - sip some of the water to taste it. No - it is not the cold and crystal clear water that one finds in the usual springs.

In the days when the great transcontinental railways were constructed resorts found along the route were developed. Harrison is one of them.

Michael W. of Vancouver visited Harrison and managed to shoot this incredible photo of an osprey (also known as a 'fish hawk') flying away with a live salmon. The Pacific salmon swim up the rivers and streams in spawning season to lay eggs in the stream in which they were hatched four years before. That accomplished the salmon will then die. 

My second visit to a hot springs was over Hallowe'en weekend in 1970. The Men's Fellowship of the United Church of Canada hosted a gathering at the Banff Springs Hotel in Banff, Alberta and we theologs were invited to come along.

The conference was over three or four days and one aspect of it has remained in my memory.

This was during the Vietnam War and many young American men (who did not wish to be conscripted to fight in a conflict far from home and in the jungles of southeast Asia) fled to Canada - often with family consent. People from the United Church of Canada were in the forefront of those welcoming the 'draft dodgers' and a couple of these young men had been invited to the conference.

The idea of war and guns has always been anathema for me so I - and most of my younger compatriots - gave our sympathy and support to these young men. Not so some of the delegates from the more conservative Prairie Provinces - many of whom were veterans of World War II - so the debate did become heated.

On the Saturday evening a pool party was organized. The pool was one where the water was from the underground hot springs and what an experience to be cavorting in that warm water in the outdoor pool while snow flakes from an early October snow storm were falling!

In the mid 1980s much of my ministery was to the men and women who were stricken by the virus which led to HIV/AIDS. Some of those people I knew already while others were complete strangers.  One of the members of the congregation which I served notified me of a young man in St Paul's Hospital who was ill and, as he was from out of town, he would appreciate a visit from me.

He was a man in his 30s or early 40s and lived in an A-frame cabin outside of the small interior town of Kaslo. I visited with him fairly frequently over a few weeks and then he was discharged. My roommate, Cam, and I were scheduled to attend the Western Canadian District Conference of the Metropolitan Community Churches in Winnipeg, Manitoba. We decided to drive there and via southeastern B.C. The route would bring us close to Kaslo so I planned that we stop there. A few miles southeast of there is Slocan Lake along the shore of which are a few hot springs. One of them is named Ainsworth and our new friend led us there not once but twice!

This was neat as - unlike at Harrison and Banff - the springs were largely undeveloped. There was an admission fee and a place to change into bathing suits before stepping into the pool and then walking to the actual spring. This was in a grotto in the mountain and that was quite a spooky experience!

The tunnel was not straight but a crooked horseshoe to where it exited into a second pool. Because of the crookedness of the route it meant that part of the walk in the warm water was in complete darkness. Because it was such an unusual experience we went back on the following day for another visit.

My three visits to hot spring spas! 

Friday, 6 September 2013

Vancouver's Stanley Park

Throughout the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries the British monarch was represented by a British Royal or Noble who assumed the role of Governor General. It was his - or her - task to sign all legislation into law through the debate and vote of the Parliament of Canada . Towards the end of the 19th Century the Governor-General was Lord Frederick Stanley, 16th Earl of Derby. While many Canadians (including myself) could not name most of his predecessors - nor those who came later - we know and remember his name.

I would say that practically all Canadians know of Lord Stanley's Cup - the symbol for supremacy in the game of ice hockey.

Also, the citizens living on the West Coast are familiar with the isthmus of land extending northwest from Vancouver's West End  to a bridge connecting with North and West Vancouver. That isthmus is named Stanley Park and is the 'crown jewel' of the magnificent setting of the city.

Vancouver - In the foreground is the Cruise Ship Pier and - in the upper right - is the isthmus that is Stanley Park

Growing up in the Fraser Valley I was familiar with Stanley Park and eagerly looked forward to summer excursions there for visits to the zoo and picnics. Many years later I lived in the West End and enjoyed many a walk into the park and, especially, into the forests that clad much of the area.

From the very early days of settlement, West and North Vancouver were linked to the city by ferries then, during the 1920s, the Lions Gate Bridge was built as well as a causeway allowing vehicular traffic access to the city.

A causeway through that beautiful park would seem to be a shame but the roadway encroaches upon only a small area when compared to the total acreage of the park.

The Lions Gate Bridge at dusk - Stanley Park to the left and North Vancouver to the right.

The Vancouver end of the bridge is at Prospect Point and, to the east, is Brockton Point where there is a cannon which is fired every evening at 9:00 PM. The cannon points across Coal Harbor and eastward along Burrard Inlet. Naturally, real canon balls are not used in that gun but the sound of the 'BOOM!!!' can be heard for miles. For many a child within earshot - and especially on summer evenings - that is the signal to come inside the house and to get ready for bed.

Near Brockton Point is Malkin Bowl and, during the summer months, musicals are presented from the stage. When I was a teenager I attended a number of those performances. Not only do the cast members have to contend with the sound of the cannon but, also, the 'barking' that the sound of the cannon illicits from the seals in the nearby zoo.

One summer - during the 1950s - there was a lot more rain than usual. During that particular summer Alda and I were enrolled in swimming lessons in a park in New Westminster. Due to the inclement weather, both our swimming lessons and the performances at the outdoor Malkin Bowl were cancelled.

Vancouver city transit service to the park terminates at a loop beside the downtown entrance. While there are vehicles which take visitors further into the park, most people walk across a viaduct which spans an estuary that is named Lost Lagoon.

Lost Lagoon, Stanley Park with the north shore mountains in the background. This - and many of the other photos which I will display - are thanks to the generosity of Michael W. who lives within walking distance of the park. Also, I am posting a few photos from my personal collection - you will notice the difference in the quality of the images!

                        A view from the opposite side of the lagoon to the West End towers

While I lived in the West End of Vancouver, the only creatures inhabiting the lagoon were water birds. However, Michael has shown me that now there are others. 

                                                               Some tortoises

I do not intend to offend those who lived there first so here is a photo of some mallard ducks.

A walk which I enjoyed more than once is the seawall which completely encircles the park - but down by the edge of the water. The length of that walk? Seven miles! At high tide the gentle waves lap the side of the seawall while, at low tide, there is the aroma of salt water and of seaweed. When wearing sturdy footwear one can scramble over the rocks and look for minnows, kelp and little creatures like sea worms - not to harm but just to look (besides, sea worms have pincers which do hurt if used upon a finger!). Mussels and kelp do not have the ability to pinch - they just smell wonderfully of sea water.

Beginning at English Bay - or at Coal Harbor - one can walk to the other end in a couple of hours.

English Bay Beach looking around to Second and Third Beach. Where the residential towers end is where Stanley Park begins.

On the southeast side of Stanley Park is Coal Harbor with marinas, more condominium towers and a sea plane base - one can (or could) fly from there to the Inner Harbor in Victoria or to Nanaimo.

                                                                   Coal Harbour

This photo confused me when I first looked at it - and then the penny dropped - this is the Vancouver Rowing Club. In my orignal text I erred by identifying this as the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club as well but the latter is at some distance from here. However, some members of the Yacht Club do moor their boats near here. The following is a photo  of their moor-age. I wish to thank Victoria for pointing out my error to me - and to thank Michael W. again for the following photos. 

                                                       The Vancouver Rowing Club                    

                   Moor-age for boats belonging to members of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club

Earlier in this blog I mentioned the forested area on the west side of the park. The following are photos of the well-maintained trails that pass through there.

               One of my photos taken by Ric when he and I visited Stanley Park in February 2002

Another photo which was taken by Michael.

Below where we were when the photo of me hiking along the trail was taken is Siwash Rock - sacred to the First Nation peoples.

Siwash Rock. The promontory seen in the left background is Point Grey - the site of the campus of the University of British Columbia

 A cruise ship leaving Vancouver probably on its way to Alaska. In the background is West Vancouver and Hollyburn Ridge which is one of the local ski locales.

The boundary of West Vancouver - left - and North Vancouver - right. The bridge in the left foreground is crossing the Capilano River and, near there, is the reservation of the Capilano First Nation. For you movie buffs - that was the home of the late Chief Dan George who received an Academy Award nomination for his role in the movie "Little Big Man".

                                              The totem poles standing at Brockton Point

A single totem pole. This art is NOT whimsical but tells a legend from the First Nation culture.

At that point we encountered another visitor - only it was not there to view the scenery but to beg for food.

Instead of retracing our steps along the trail, we cut across the park and, by so doing, we went past the Stanley Park Pavilion.

The Stanley Park Pavilion which is the site of High School Proms, wedding receptions and other celebrations.

The Pavilion is set in beautiful formal gardens - and the following are a brief look at them.

                         Obviously this photo was taken during a visit in the Spring - tulips!

                             The gardens with some of the West End towers in the background

This final photo looks like it was taken at a Westin Hotel and not in the park but because of the vivid colors, I am adding it.

                        Stanley Park - I hope that I can revisit there in the not too distant future!