Flash Back Fridays
BOB SUTHERLAND 1974
Bob graduated from the University of Toronto in 1972 as a biologist and worked as an environmental assessment biologist in Ontario, until he met Paul Bragstad who convinced him to go meet Jim and “give them a hand”. Bob was a “can do” style of the Happy Warrior. He had a choice bunk: in with Toby Hay, or build himself a cabin. He built the upper dome. The lower dome was built by a Friends World College kid from Massachusetts and was constructed with standard two by four technologies. Bob had learned that an engineer named Jim Bohlen on Denman Island was developing a style of dome that truly reflected Buckminster Fuller’s ideas. Called the ‘icosocabin’, the new style of dome was actually several facets held together by system of nodes. Bob solved the nodes problem by using the strapping used in lumber yards to hold together the bundles of lumber. The dome is still prime staff accommodation. Bob became a senior kayak guide for Eco -Summer and for 18 years led trips all over the world including: Bahamas, Tonga, Mexico, the Canadian Arctic, Terra Del Fuego, Australia, the Queen Charlottes, and the West Coast of Vancouver Island. On April 2nd, 1983 Bob married Marie and they have three kids of their own as well as being the foster parents to many children from difficult circumstances. Bob and Marie are famous on Quadra Island because they choose to foster the kids no one else wants: kids with fetal alcohol. Two years ago there was a fuss with the Ministry of Children and Families. The social worker wanted to take kids from Bob and Marie and place them with a strict religious family who wished to adopt these special needs children. That particular adoption plan was clearly not good for the kids. The people on Quadra Island blockaded the Quadra ferry not letting the social worker and the accompanying police reach Quadra Island. After this news hit the TV, the government relented and agreed to let Bob and Marie become permanent foster parents to these children.
Bob put together the first comprehensive booklet/ brochure for Strathcona courses in1977. And Bob will always be associated with the success of Folk Weekend.
The Ballad of Jungle Jim—By Bob Sutherland
I wrote this song in the winter of ’74-75. The first line of the song places the events in the distant past of’72. I arrived at the Lodge in April of’74. Everything else in the song is based on the truth – sort of.
I was told that Jim used to drive his high school students to outdoor education programs in the bus and that Jim’s students called him ‘Jungle Jim’.
This melody and theme of the time came from a mash-up of two old 1880s cowboy ballads: The Buffalo Skinners and Diamond Joe. I sang this song occasionally at the Lodge in the ‘70s. Rob Wood remembered and liked the song so he always requests it at his and Laurie’s annual solstice party on Maurelle Island. I sang it again at Myrna’s big birthday banquet a couple or more years ago.
THE BALLAD OF JUNGLE JIM
I was up in Campbell River in the year of ‘72
I was following the birds up north. I was looking for work to do
When a friend of mine he told me ‘bout a place just west of town
“I think that they could use a hand, go up and look around.”
So I hitched a ride with a salmon guide and he told me many a tale
Of halibut and humpies, coho, cod, and whales
And he told me ‘bout a redneck guide by the name of Jungle Jim
“He runs a Lodge for hippie kids, I think you’ll fit right in.”
He dropped me off by the side of the road on a rainy April morn
I felt cold and tired and hungry as the day that I was born
I walked inside, I looked around, I said “How do you do,
My name is Bob and I need a job have you got any work to do?”
Then Jim walked in with a terrible grin and he sat down by the fire
He put a glass of scotch in my hand and he piled the firewood higher
He looked around and cleared his throat and took a terrible drink
By then I knew that Jim was primed and soon he’d start to think.
He said “This place is new, there’s a helluva crew, you’ll be in it from the start
We’ve got women here in flocks my boy, and there’s wilderness and art
There’s lots of food, if you’re in the mood you can get the hands of a man
By digging ditches in the rain I hope you understand.”
‘Cause it rained all night and it rained all day and half the next night too
Then it rained for the whole damned month of May and half the month of June
I had mushrooms growing in my beard, we drank weeds instead of tea
And the cabin lights went out on nights so dark you couldn’t see.
I tried to drive the backhoe out I wasn’t very good
So I humped a lot of lumber, tried to build things out of wood
Sometimes I guided fishing trips out on the open chuck
But Jim just laughed and swore because I never had the luck
Old Jim proved kind and he had the mind to tell me all he saw
Still he nearly drove me crazy with the waggin’ of his jaw
In the telling of this story I hope to let you know
That Jungle Jim could shoot the shit better’n any man I know
Now I’ve travelled all around the world wherever the winds do blow
And if you’ve a mind for travellin’ too I can tell you where to go,
Go up the Campbell River, little place just west of town
And Jungle Jim will shoot you a line, you might just stick around.