When Paul proposed marriage to me he said this: “I can’t promise that we will be rich but I can promise that you won’t be bored!” Coming fresh out of art school, I figured that was a fair proposal and I bit. The man was as good as his word and adventure has been part of my life since.
Take traveling for example. Since we couldn’t afford overseas trips to exotic countries, we explored the southern half of BC and Alberta thoroughly. We camped and stuck to the secondary highways for most of our journeys. That’s where you will find the interesting folks with the best stories. Architecture is not limited by building codes.
Resourceful solutions to needs and wants are demonstrated in ways you never dreamt of, unless you’ve grown up in such places. Did you know that the ghost town of Sandon, BC still has its century old working, independent power generator? When power goes out in the West Kootenays, the few citizens left in Sandon carry on as usual, which in reality is fairly unusual. As are its inhabitants. Made up mostly of artists and scientists, these folks regularly leave home to earn enough money to come back and do more work on the restoration of the village.
These trips whetted our appetite. When I retired in the Spring of 2008, we set out on the epic cross Canada trip, you know, the one where you think you’ll maybe find out who a Canadian really is. I also had an idea that I might find that mythical pristine place that has been unsullied by humanity and paint my brains out there. Heavy, man!
We set out in our elderly yet reliable red Savanna van (the one with the mirrors on the ceiling, don’t ask) to Sointula on Malcolm Island. Sointula is presently inhabited by artisans and organic farmers, some being descendants of the original Finnish settlers who established a commune in the early part of the twentieth century. There, we solemnly put our bare feet in the cold Pacific Ocean and officially began our journey.
I admit that we cheated a bit and drove through BC fairly quickly. We were able to visit relatives in Alberta and then stayed a couple of days in the little town of Rosebud, population of 88, where the Rosebud Dinner Theatre is located. This group started out as a summer camp outreach for youth by a church in Calgary. It evolved into an arts based post-secondary theatre school and now is a thriving organization which puts on several plays a year complete with a marvelous dinner prepared and served to patrons by the students. We have attended several of these events and can attest to their professionalism and our immense pleasure.
I’m sure you’re starting to see a trend here. Small towns and villages for some reason are places for artists of all kinds. I’m still trying to define the common denominator.
Perhaps it’s the lack of existing structure, a nearly clean slate if you will. Maybe it’s the history of the place. Who knows. I’m still trying to figure this out. Stay tuned for next week, where we’ll continue our journey and see what our Canadian brothers and sisters are up to in the near and far east of our amazing land.
See you then!