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...a glimpse into life on Vancouver Island, needle felting, photography, food, gardening, etcetera...etcetera
"Happiness always looks small when you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and at once you learn how big and precious it is."
Maxim Gorky

Saturday, October 29, 2011 more

One more bit on the further adventures of Saltspring Island...
After we left the old homestead, Irma suggested we go down to Burgoyne Bay
by the sea before catching the ferry.
Needless to say we found more heritage heaven on the way and
never made it down there!
As soon as we took the turn down Burgoyne Bay road, we saw this old beauty...
The lady who lives across from it told us it was probably an old storage shed for
the dairy that used to take up a large portion of land along this road.
...definitely a skilled stone mason used all kinds of bits and bobs in this creation...
We were reminded of old world buildings which always peak interest in our quest
for stories of days gone by...
 Next to this building was a curious, round roofed shed, probably
used to house tractors, plows and such...
Once again, craftsmanship, craftsmanship, craftsmanship!
All beautifully wrapped in history and mystery...
Further on down the road was yet another icon of the dairy.
We figured this one was the main cow barn where the herd was fed
and possibly milked.
Standing tall, containing the ghosts of farmhands and dairy maids...
These grand old barns are being taken care of and lovingly restored to
once again tell their tales through the words of the remaining elders
who remember a much quieter, slower time in the farming industry...
Finally, this building, surrounded by the golden days of autumn...
Needless to say, by the time we had poked around here for a while
we had missed our intended ferry and ended up on the later one.
A small price to pay for discovering another link to the pioneers
who settled here and helped 'grow' this island.
This whole farm property is a park now and has been left for others
 to explore and wonder whilst wandering.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Song for need

As some of you may know, my daughter and her partner have rescued 2 Jack Russell's in
the Toronto area.
The organization is in need of homes so I'll let the poster and the song do the talking.
Have a fantastic weekend all!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Finding great grandma's house...

The continuing saga of our adventures on Saltspring Island brought us down 
from Mount Tuam and to the pretty little church in Fulford Harbor...
This is St Paul's Catholic church.
The oldest one on the Island.
It was built between 1880 and 1885 with many old tombstones along the front and 
up the hill from here.
The materials were brought from Cowichan Bay by Indian canoes to Burgoyne Bay
and then from there by ox cart to it's present location.
Quite a feat back in the day.
I imagined little horse drawn wagons bringing 
the congregation to mass on Sunday mornings.
 Our next mission was along the Fulford Ganges road to search for the 
little house where my great grandparents homesteaded in the early 1900's.
The road meanders through a beautiful valley, rich in history of many
settlers who braved the rugged land to try and carve out a life here.
This is Bruce's Peak looking from the vicinity of the house.
Many family photos included this view, like this one of my
mom and my great grandpa Cairns...
While we were looking for the house with a few vague descriptions from my elderly aunt,
we saw this broken down house and of course gasped and had to pull over to explore...
For all of the years I've known Irma, this is one thing we thrive on!
Finding bits and pieces of times gone by.
Wanting to find out more. 
Wanting to see what lies beneath the broken bricks and weathered boards. 
Wishing the windows could give us more than just a reflection of the sky...
On this day we were the lucky ones.
As we gingerly approached the house, I noticed a man coming down the drive and he was 
kind enough to come and have a chat with us.
This is George Laundry...
...and this was his grandmothers house where he grew up.
I asked him if he knew where the Cairns' old homestead was and he said that it 
was the property next door. He remembered my 2 great uncles, 
Bill and John since they were about the same age as him.
He knew the midwife across the road, who delivered my grandma on a cold, snowy night
in December when Doc Maxwell couldn't make it
When he was old enough he went out into the world and became a physicist, married,
lived in New York and Toronto and then lo and behold, came back 
to live on the farm of his childhood.
He had an engagement that night but invited us back another time for a proper visit
to tour his place and hear some stories of the past.
The place is derelict now and he lives in a newer house up the drive,
but local people have been trying to use 
parts of the house to replace pieces of their own heritage homes
which are all but impossible to find.
So off we went down the road, past the Burgoyne Bay church...
Can't you just hear the church bell ringing through the farmlands on a Sunday morning?
Up the next driveway we found the house.
I recognized it from the few pictures I had seen and felt such a sense of connection even though
my great grandparents moved from here many years ago...
Now there is a young family who calls this little house their own and have been fixing it up.
While I was getting Irma to take my picture on the stoop, young Emily came out for chat...
Here's a (kind of blurry) picture of my great great grandpa with my grandma,
great aunt San and great uncle John (and Bob the dog) in front of the same house...
Emily and I were talking about grandparents and dogs and such
and then she told me something quite interesting. 
She was also born in this little house where all of my great grandma's children were born.
Then her mom Debbie came out and told us that Emily was born on the 19th of December.
My grandma was born on the 18th of December!
About 80 years apart. Isn't that something?
So this kind family let us intrude on their day for a few minutes, 
letting us walk around a bit and take pictures...
I will send Debbie some photos of the place when I can find a few from my mom's collection.
It really made me feel good to know that this lovely family is now creating their own history 
here on the Fulford Ganges Road. 
Bringing new stories to add to some of the old ones.
Perhaps catching a glimpse into the past of a life that in some ways is very
much akin to their own.
These places are echoes of those who paved the way for us.
The people who once lived here, as my great Uncle Bill once said,
are 'The Origin of the Species' which is our family.
They are the reason why, when I plunge a spade into the soil, I feel connected to the earth.
Or when I can peaches in late August,  I am once again taken back to the farm.
I have a mirror in my hallway that belonged to my great grandparents, 
which hung in their house here on Saltspring and every once in a while, when I pass it, I catch a shadow of a young pioneer wife and husband and hear the cluck of chickens in the background...
Jack, May and Agnes (San) 1922
Great Great Grandad Cairns, 1930
Bill, John, Agnes (San) and Marge (my grandma), 1938

Monday, October 24, 2011

In search of monasteries...but finding spaceships

This past week I spent the day with my friend Irma in search of a mystery monastery,
my great grandmothers old house and, well, just a good old fashioned adventure.
Our destination...Saltspring Island.
We left from the tiny town of Crofton on a beautiful fall day.
This is probably the largest of the southern Gulf islands, with a healthy population
of artists, musicians, retiree's, farmers, loggers, fishermen and a general assortment
of alternative life-styles.
There's a plethora of studios, galleries, shops and restaurants but that kind of 
tour will have to wait for another day.
Irma had been over there in the summer and had done some exploring along a winding
road up a mountain. Unfortunately the gals she was with weren't into seeing
what was around the bend and she had to rely on some Google Earth maps
when she got home to see what was there.
 She knew there was a Buddhist monastery up there
which looked very interesting on Google Earth with some sort of
huge round structure...or so we thought.
Near the top of the road we passed a numbered sign with colourful prayer flags but
we kept going straight and finally came to the end of the road...
...and there it was!
A spaceship had landed on top of Mount Tuam!!
Well, not really....but that's certainly what came to mind.
There were several radio towers up there but we had no idea what this monster structure was...
Turns out that 'War of the Worlds' was not upon us, but instead we later
learned that it was used as navigational equipment for ships but is now defunct.
Atop Mount Tuam (680 metres) we had amazing views of the east side of Vancouver Island and
just below us, somewhere down there was Irma's house in Cherry Point...
It was spectacular!
We were the only ones up there, besides the birds and the clouds.
We settled down on the edge of a bluff and had our picnic...
We hadn't seen each other for a few months and so we sat and chatted of our comings
and goings and daily life in each others corners of the Island.
Sadly, Irma had also tragically lost a sister years ago and so we talked of the
mysteries of life and death and the impact of such life changing events...
The wind, the clouds, the quietness upon that little mountain that afternoon
made for one of those rare days that stays with you forever
I later found out that this area is in the process of being protected as a nature preserve and I
imagine all of the little nest boxes we saw were part of the process but I also
wondered at what impact all that junk from radio towers would have on the
birds, bugs and such who make their home up here...
The search for my great grandmothers old house will be a bit long winded so we'll
save that for another day...for now...enjoy the view...