Monday, October 02, 2006

Day 21,22,23,24,and 25...Our Cross Canada Trip..East to West


















Day 21,22,23,24,25.

The first night on Vancouver Island we stayed at a great campground called Living Forest Oceanside Campground & RV Park. www.campingbc.com The next morning Ivan and Mary arrived bright and early, we followed them home, parked our RV in their driveway and stayed the rest of our visit in their home, where we were treated royally.

On our first full day on Vancouver Island, Ivan and Mary took up to the magnificent Cathedral Grove. Cathedral Grove, in MacMillan Park, in the centre of the island, is one of the last accessible forests of giant trees remaining in B.C.

It was a marvelous walk through, not only to see these great trees, but to listen to Ivan's stories. Ivan is a retired West Coast Logger (Faller), and the very trees we were seeing were just like the ones Ivan cut down during his working years.

Ivan left his home in Weldon, Albert County, New Brunswick in 1949 at the tender age of 15. His mother packed him a lunch, waved goodbye as he boarded the train heading west. The trip was eventful to say the least. Before arriving at his destination he had to find a job along the way in order to finish it. When he arrived in Nanaimo he had two cents in his pocket and a bag of pears. There along the waterfront he spent his first night under a bridge by a big tree. At that time the population was 3,500 and today the population of Nanaimo is 80,000.

Later in 1953, Ivan's brother Ralph made his way west to join Ivan, and in 1960 the youngest brother, Leon arrived. So the Parker brothers, from the little community in Weldon, N.B., helped to get the logs to the mill that were used in the expansion and growth of Vancouver Island.

In the Cathedral Grove there are 800 year old Douglas firs that survived the great forest fire that swept through the area 300 years ago. The greatest Douglas Fir tree in the park measures 3 meters in diameter, and stands 75 meters high. Six adults holding hands could encircle this tree. Other trees in the Cathedral Grove are Western Red Cedar, Western Hemlock, Grand Fir or Balsam Fir and the beautiful Broadleaf Maple. To learn more about this Grove go to www.BritishColumbia.com

The next day Ralph and Joan took Richard and I to the town of Chemainus, world famous for it's murals. In the early years Chemainus was a thriving logging town, but when the industry died so also seemed the fate of the town. In 1982 the people of Chemainus invited internationally known artists to use the town as a canvas. Today, more than 37 murals and 12 sculptures depict the town's history. Soon the tourists came, gift shops sprang up, restaurants, tour operators began businesses, art galleries, theatre festivals, antique malls and hotels. The future of the little town that wouldn't give up is now a destination for all who arrive on Vancouver Island.

Our last night on the island my three cousins and our spouses enjoyed dinner out and a leisurely walk on the waterfront enjoying our reaqainting time together. Ivan drew my attention to a big tree and the nearby bridge and said,
"Hay Sharon, see that bridge, that's the bridge I slept under back in 1949 when I landed on Vancouver Island."

I'm going to go back to visit Ivan and Mary, Ralph and Joan, Leon and Mary, only sooner then I got there this time, but the next time I'll fly.

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