Solstice, one more time, and an FSJ Canada Day

I had flashbacks of all those many days and years commuting from Vancouver to Nanaimo while on the BC Ferry back to town. Luckily, it was a beautiful, blustery sunny day for the trip and I was able to take lots of photos of the beautiful mountains that I miss up here.

It is such a cliche to say that we take our everyday environment so much for granted, but, yes, it’s true in my case. I did not fully enough appreciate the beauty I was surrounded with each and every day.

Barb had invited me to join in a solstice cycle with the biking group she sometimes ride with and I was looking forward to seeing her and hopping in the saddle again.

On a gorgeous sunny warm evening a group of about 12 of us rode from 11th Avenue near Alma down to the beach and along to the altar at the western end of Spanish Banks just before the hill up to UBC.

Although I hadn’t gotten the dress memo, amazingly enough I was wearing just the right purple-pink attire for the ride.

Although you can’t really tell from these photos, it was a busy time down at the beach, everyone being starved for sun and sand with the very grey and damp Vancouver spring this year.

Also under the category of things not sufficiently appreciated … cycling in Vancouver! I had not been out on my bike since last September and it was wonderful to cycle on the bike paths and along the beach (although I was definitely saddle-sore the next day). Thanks so much to Pam for the loan of the bike!

Along with our cycling party, a group of three police on dune buggies were at the shrine, enjoying the late afternoon sun and slightly impeding what was going to be a slightly more bubbly toast to the solstice!

Just can’t resist those mountain photos! So much more snow on them this year than the last few years. I remember when we were at Sun Peaks two years ago and there was absolutely no snow to be seen on any mountain tops anywhere …

And freighters!

Charlie Lake is the only significant body of water in these northern parts and no freighters ply those waters, only small sailboats and kayaks …

Yet again more money is being spent on Cornwall Street; after having been turned into what is primarily a bike and pedestrian thoroughfare last year, it’s now being dug up again for a purpose that escapes me, to the ire of some of the residents.

I also took a spin around Kits and Spanish Banks and through Jericho Park on one more occasion, really enjoying the lushness of the greenery.

On my way to Beatrice’s place for lunch, I stopped in at Aberthau Community Centre, down by Jericho Beach, to look at their big empty rooms, contemplating a projection or two in their darkened space.

We enjoyed a scrumptious veggie repast in B’s beautiful garden oaisis.

Under the heading of wonderful views is the sunset from the Burrard Bridge.

Christine, Marsha, and I caught the opening day of the new Monet Secret Gardens show at the VAG; luckily, the lineup to get in was not too long.

Monet as an old man in his garden brought two thoughts to mind: Ty in the distant future and ZZ Top.

American photographer Stephen Shore did a series of Giverny garden photos in the 1980s, a set of 25 in different light conditions that are included with the Monet show. With my current mania for reflection images, I enjoyed taking close-ups of these photos with the reflection of the exhibition patrons seemingly in the background of the works.

We spent quite a bit of time looking at the enigmatic Jeff Wall image below, as you can see by our reflections in the photo.

I really love this Rodney Graham piece below, especially since it’s taken at the mouth of the Capilano River at Ambleside, a place that I spent many days at over the years. This was one of my Dad’s favourite places to walk. The photograph, although taken recently, has the colour palette of one of those old 60s postcards.

Here’s a close-up of the figure’s somewhat deranged look, as if he’s having a senior moment and can’t remember where he is or where he’s going.

Below are two samples of the work in Pictures from Here, images of this part of the world, many of them night scenes with theatrical lighting (which I love).

After a light lunch at the outdoor patio in the gallery cafe, enjoying some of the music from the jazz fest below wafting our way, we returned for the final two floors.

I really enjoyed the “alchemical lab” installation piece below, from Persistence. Here is info about the piece from the VAG website: “a collaborative installation by Vancouver-based artists Julia Feyrer and Tamara Henderson. Invoking theatre, play, myth and ritual, The Last Waves: Laboratory (2016) recycles and animates various found and fabricated objects in a capricious, sometimes disorienting response to materials. ”

While the exhibition text does not mention alchemy, that eccentric predecessor of chemistry, the piece certainly does call that up in my mind. Folks have been fascinated for a long time with the idea that worthless dross could be magically turned into gold  and alchemical labs were a staple of 15th & 16th century imagery, especially in printmaking, which it itself a kind artistic alchemy. The engraving below is by Breugel and called The Alchemist from 1558.

Here is some info about this piece: In Bruegel’s image, a dilapidated family kitchen doubles as a laboratory. The alchemist sitting at the hearth on the left appears to be placing the family’s last coin in a crucible to be melted in the alchemical process. This point is further underscored by his wife, who is seated in a hunched posture behind him and attempts to empty the contents of an already empty purse. While the alchemist’s shabby torn clothes and spine clearly revealed through his skin signifies their desperate poverty, his thick, wiry hair, also conveys an impression of vagueness and absurdity, not unlike the modern stereotype of the distracted and dishevelled mad scientist. Both the scene and figures imply that the alchemist neglects himself as much as his family in the single-minded pursuit of his occupation. The scholar on the right, in robes consulting alchemical texts, appears to be instructing the activities of the alchemist and his assistant. As if looking through a window to the future, a secondary scene unfolds in the background as the family walks to a poorhouse. This implies that they have squandered the last of their money in the hopes of achieving transmutation in the quest for the elusive Philosopher’s Stone. Furthermore, the scholarly figure and the assistant are no longer with the family, which possibly suggests that the scholar is the corrupter of those who are more foolish to work in the laboratory aspects of transmutation. In this regard, Bruegel’s print serves as a duel representation of the alchemist as both a fool and charlatan. (Dana Rehn, The Image and Identity of the Alchemist in Seventeenth-Century Netherlandish Art)

Out the front of the gallery, in the refurbished plaza, the jazz festival continued, with a large audience of people perched on the front steps eating hot dogs and sushi.

My final day of the visit saw me heading to our old stomping grounds in North Vancouver to have dinner with my family at Capilano Heights Chinese Restaurant across the street from Cleveland Dam. My nephew Aaron just graduated from the Police Academy and a very proud family saw the ceremony. Father Jess, just retired from the force, welcomed Aaron to the ranks.

Lonsdale Quay gets better and better, with new restaurants and an expanded Presentation House Gallery being built down on the docks.

The bus took me up to the dam where I spent a few moments reliving my youth as I appreciated Grouse Mountain and the greenery of the park surrounding the dam. The last time I had been here a couple of years ago during the terrible summer drought we had, the water was so low in the reservoir; not the case this year; you can still see snow on the Lions in the background.

While in Vancouver I had the pleasure of enoying Pam and Cec’s backyard, an oasis of flowers, with Pam hidden in the background sweeping up a few fallen flower heads. So nice to spend time with these folks and other good friends I was able to catch up with on this whirlwind visit and sorry to miss some of you good people this time!

And finally, I leave you with a beautiful sunset I photographed while walking back to Pam and Cec’s place that night.

See more photos here.

Back in FSJ and I’m gainfully employed once again, having accepted a position as Gallery Manager at the North Peace Gallery in the Cultural Centre here. It’s fulltime at the moment but I will be looking for an assistant soon to help out. Below is a photo of part of the main exhibition space, with changing exhibitions each month; it also has a nice gift shop carrying local arts and crafts.

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Working F/T is a bit of a shock to the system! After work this past week, Ty & I drove out to Sandra’s place and enjoyed dinner and a brew on her back deck, complete with grand kids, which Ty of course got all wound up.

For Canada Day we cycled over to 100th Avenue and took in the Parade; both of us agreed that it was pretty good. We had a great spot curb-side where we could see all the action.

Not surprisingly, there were lots of vehicles, big ones, small ones, old ones, new ones – lots of vintage tractors and cars,

small racing wagons, trick lawnmovers driven by excited riders, hot rods,

motorised toy cars – the Tin Lizzies below,

huge combine harvesters,



and a convoy of first responder vehicles with lights flashing and horns blaring.

The lowrider below, with the snazzy paintjob, is for sale – could be yours.

I managed to score a red, pointed Canada Day party hat to go with my red cycling jacket.

After about an hour of roaring vehicles and flying candy, we rolled down 100th to Centennial Park to listen to music, consume smokies, and check out the plethora of vehicles – more than 140 came out for the day, some of which looked like they hadn’t seen daylight since the building of the Alaska Highway in 1942. Almost all were in fantastic shape, with their proud owners sitting nearby to bask in the glory of our admiration.

The Famers Market was in full swing, as were the food vendors, with long lineups snaking around the parking lot of the Aquatic Centre.

Here’s two overhead shots of the site at Centennial Park by Eagle Vision Video Productions:

Happy Canada Day to you all! See more pics here. Read more about the FSJ celebration here.


Boating on the Arm

Barb and I had been talking about doing a boat trip up Indian Arm for quite a while and that fine day finally arrived. Six of us piled into Paul’s Bell Boy 6 seater for an aquatic trip up the 18 kilometer fjord that is Indian Arm, a tributary of Burrard Inlet.

I had not been up this way since High School, a mighty long time ago I don’t mind telling you. After stowing our lunches, drinks, bags, and coats, we headed away from the dock at Rocky Point, Port Moody, around 9:30, passing several waterside industrial sites that have been in this area for years.

Once past the Barnet Marine Park we turned north and cruised up the waterway, Deep Cove on our left, Belcarra on our right, passing many large waterfront homes, all equipped with their own docks for boats.

Some of these places can be accessed by road but further up the channel, one can only reach them by boat. On the west side, at Cates Park, is the site where the late novelist Malcolm Lowry worked, squatting in Shangri La on the beach, on his novel Under the Volcano. On the east side of the Arm two old BC Hydro power stations can be seen; built in 1903 and expanded in 1914 these power generating stations were Vancouver’s first hydroelectric facilities. Drawing water from Buntzen Lake high on the hills above, these two small plants still provide significant power to the city. Once past the power stations, there are no more buildings to be seen.

After a cruise of about two hours we arrived at Granite Falls, almost at the end of the inlet, a popular destination since the late 1800s when the Union Steamship Company began offering weekend excursions for Vancouver residents. The dock here is very small and only three sides are available for moorage.

One side was already taken up with two large Russian-captained boats, complete with kids, dogs, and barbecues, one held a smaller version of our boat, and the other didn’t have enough room.

We tied up to the smaller boat and made our way to the Granite Falls waterfall, a spectacular cascade of water down the granite rock face. Interestingly, quite a bit of rusty metal junk, including rope and machine parts, was lying around amidst the rocks at the base of the Falls. We wondered what it was and why it was there.

An account of the history of Granite Falls written by Ralph Drew answered these questions:

As early as 1891, the large mountain outcrop of granite rock that gave Granite Falls its
name was being utilized as a source of stone (“Kelly’s Quarry”) for constructing the
grand new buildings in the young city of Vancouver. Granite Falls Quarry was going strong in the late 1930s to 1954 producing jetty rock, riprap and rubble. Indian River Quarries (1955‒1964) operated by McKenzie Barge and Derrick Quarries Limited Co. (1957) Ltd., of Vancouver was under lease in 1960.In 1961 the rock quarry and equipment was tendered ‘For Sale’.

In 1965 the new owners of Harbour Navigation Company, Doug Emery and
Don Clark, commenced work on the Granite Falls Resort, a $250,000 marina
and lodge development to replace the derelict Wigwam Inn. Their plans included dinner and dancing facilities, beer garden, roller skating pad, picnic area and horseshoe pitches. The company vessels MV Hollyburn, MV Harbour Princess and MV Scenic made daily cruises up Indian Arm during the summer months. In October 1972 the
lodge and staff bunkhouse at the Granite Falls Resort was destroyed by a fire of
unknown origin.

In April of 1995, Premier Mike Harcourt announced British Columbia’s newest class ‘A’
provincial park, Indian Arm Provincial Park, a 9,300-hectare arc of land around Indian
Arm, more than 20 times the size of Stanley Park. Today the Indian Arm Park has unserviced plots for camping at the mouth of the river and along the shoreline. For more information and historical pictures of the area, click here

After exploring the Falls, and dipping our toes into the glacial but refreshing water, we had lunch on a concrete structure, likely originally part of the quarry, overlooking the dock. We watched several small boats come and go with day trippers from the city. Across the water we could see the backside of Mount Seymour, on the top of which snow still glistened. On the far shore, the formerly derelict Wigwam Inn is now the private property of the Vancouver Yacht Club, one of their “outposts” at the disposal of club members. After a few pleasant hours we cruised back to Port Moody along the west side of the channel, slowing down in spots to view the waterside homes and boats.

Even his hair is having fun!

See more pics here.


Lynn Canyon Park – west coast rain forest

In those long ago days back before the dawn of time, when dinosaurs walked the earth and screeching winged beasts flew hither and yon overhead, I used to walk down to Lynn Canyon Park from the ol’ homestead in North Vancouver.

That’s because, back in that fine day,  no one felt it necessary to drive one’s offspring everywhere … it was either walk or fly … and not having yet been granted my wings, it was walking for me. The walk was relatively pleasant, not least because in those far away days, not that many vehicles plied the dusty roadways. I always took advantage of the opportunity to gather cast-away pop bottles from the ditches, since my 35 cent allowance did not go very far (and my sweet tooth was even then highly developed). The old wooden high-ceilinged grocery store that formerly graced the corner of Lynn Valley and Mountain Highway had a vast array of penny candy placed in glass jars temptingly arranged on the counter near the door; when not spending my money on 55 cent packages of cigarettes (Rothmans as I remember … so long ago), I spent it on vast quantities of cheap sugar treats.

Back in the day, the Lynn Canyon Park was simply a park, not an Ecology Centre. It had no concession stands, no ranger stations, no washrooms … nada, nichts, nothing except trees, plants, cliffs, and water. And a suspension bridge. I loved the suspension bridge; higher than the one you have to pay for in Capilano Canyon (although not as long), it swings mightily back and forth to the dancing feet of folks racing across it. The first time I went with my mother to the suspension bridge was when I realised that she was deathly afraid of heights. She backed up and away from it so fast I barely had time to blink.

These days things have been upscaled a bit; there’s a concession stand that even sells beer (much to Ty’s delight). But the main reason for going there, the forest and the trees, is essentially the same as it was when I was young (Oh sweet bird of youth, where have ye flown?). On a recent dull day Ty, Christine, Brubin, and I fired up the Modo car and headed north to the canyon. Once across the suspension bridge, we walked along wide paths, some with long, steep wooden staircases, down past Twin Falls to Lynn Creek and back up again to the Lower Seymour Conservation Forest.

I used to like to wade up to my hips in the creek in my jeans, enjoying the glacial cold water on a blistering hot day. Over the many years since I last visited Lynn Canyon and now, twenty people have died in this park, some of whom are memorialised with bronze plaques such as the one above. Every year people take their lives in their hands, by going out of bounds, cliff-jumping, sunbathing in unfortunate locations and the like. Visit on a quiet day and you will be transported back to a time when the temperate west coast rain forest covered this entire region.

See more photos here. More information available here.

Vancouver Spring This and That

You can just see Ty in the shadows of these amazing flowering cherry trees in our neighbourhood – two blocks of incredible pink profusion.

Since my sister Tracey moved to Saskatoon, there has not been as much reason for us to visit the North Shore but this day, the North Shore Art Crawl called to us; we took the Seabus over to visit the Lower Lonsdale studios.

The fifteen minute crossing gave us a close up view of some of the many huge freighters in the harbour, their red shapes contrasting with the surrounding blue of the mountains and ocean.

Here you can see one of the floating drydocks of Seaspan Shipyards.

The Lonsdale Quay is nice but has never really taken off as a place to be; it’s a bit of a pale shadow of the more popular Granville Island. Too bad because on a good weather day, it’s beautiful.

A row of restaurants still line the bottom of Lonsdale and we sampled the breakfast goodies at one, Raglan’s; unfortunately, for my dining pleasure, so did a group of loud and hungover patrons, whose uninteresting conversation impinged too greatly on my consciousness …

Across the way are the newly-refurbished buildings of the old Burrard Dry Dock. These, formerly the home of a bustling ship-building enterprise, are now empty and waiting for municipal government money to be brought back to life. Beginning back in the 50s and 60s my uncle and several of my parents’ friends worked their whole lives in these shipyards.

Some of those folks may be included in this enlargement of an old photo of the workers.

Below are some pictures of the shipyards that I took several years ago, after they had been closed down and before the resurrection.

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The pier is beautiful; strangely, though, there is no life saving equipment in evidence here.

New condos have been erected here, yet, on this beautiful day, hardly anyone was in evidence. Are these places vacant, we wondered, like the ghost towers of Coal Harbour?

The rear end of a Victory class ship is still standing here, all wrapped up in a white plastic bag … who knows why.

We visited the 106 West First Street building where several artists’ studios are located. On the hallway wall are a couple of frescoes; this one shows the Lynn Valley trolley car, part of ancient history around here.

The Holland/Croft studio was the largest and most impressive. These folks have a teaching classroom set up in their space, complete with some interesting props.

Further up Lonsdale Avenue, we stopped in at CityScape’s Nude Figure show.

Strangely, for all the talk of Lower Lonsdale being revived by new housing developments, the place seemed quieter than it was ten years ago when Tracey lived here. Opus has moved, the Petrov Gallery has moved and several storefronts were vacant … not sure what’s going on over there.

See more photos here.