Flash Back Fridays
CATHERINE GILBERT 1981
I heard about Strathcona Park Lodge through my sister, Patricia, who was going there in the spring of 1981 to work as an outdoor instructor.
I was offered a job in the office. I worked alongside Myrna and Jim Boulding. We had one typewriter and the radio phone.
I remember Jim handing me indecipherable letters to type and that he seemed to be hard of hearing. We used to tease him about his ‘selective hearing’ though, because if you said something when his back was turned that he wanted to hear about, he would turn around. Myrna appeared to be everywhere at once, always delegating and overseeing the kitchen and housekeeping. The staff sat and ate in the same place as the guests. The food was wholesome and for the most part vegetarian. One of my favourite unique Lodge foods was Loganbread.
Raphael was working as a maintenance person when I first arrived. He worked with Art (the Fart) who was called that to distinguish him from Arthur Stewart fromScotlandwho was called ‘Scottie’. Art and Raphael frequently came by the office to entertain Nancy and me and flirt. They were both pretty funny, but I still wasn’t attracted to Raphael at first.
One day, however, we were both put on breakfast duty at the same time. There we were in the kitchen together, chopping up fruit for the fruit salad, and he began telling me things about himself. He was Acadian French, from New Brunswick, with some Native, Micmac heritage in his background.
I was going to keep my distance.
It was already too late however. Something was in the air that morning and at a dance that was held in the Whale Room shortly afterwards, we suddenly found ourselves together. Our romance was difficult to keep secret, with everyone living and working in such close proximity (and I’m not too sure how hard we tried to hide it). We got serious very quickly.
One evening, when a group of us were out in town having dinner at a Chinese restaurant, I opened my fortune cookie and read it out loud to Raphael. It said: “You will marry your present lover and be happy”. He said, “Do you want to?” and I said: “Okay”. That was it. We were engaged.
Raphael and I got married on June 26th (less than 6 weeks after we first met). Matthew Swan took our photos down by the Lodge beach. That season, there were many challenges to contend with. There was a postal strike, so we were not receiving the registrations and cheques in the office that normally would have come in the mail so had to rely on the phone. The radio phone was a
strange thing to use as you had to press a button in order to talk and it echoed terribly. Putting out the next year’s brochure was a huge job. Myrna had a big table where she laid out all the photos and course information and she would solicit the help of anyone who had creative ability to help her.
Matthew Swan was often there and Myrna also had ‘Linty’ a lady from Australiahelp. Linty’s real name was Rosalind Finch and she was a wellknown artist in Australia. I recall the day she set up her easel and canvas on the Whale Room porch and painted the scene of the lake and ElkValleyin front. The guests were quite enthralled watching her deft movements. The painting turned out beautiful, shades of pale green and blue done in oil, and she presented it to
Myrna before she left.
We had no money as the Lodge was unable to pay us. I remember very clearly the day Jim called me into his office and presented me with his PetroCan gas card so that Raphael and I could make the trip home to Ontario – that was a wonderful gesture and quite typical of Jim.
Catherine Gilbert has recently released a book named, “Yorke Island and the Uncertain War; Defending Canada’s western coast during WW II.”
During World War II, one of Canada’s least known military fotresses was built on Yorke Island, BC. The fort was armed with guns, searchlights, examination vessels, and upwards of 500 men. From 1937-1945 this was Canada’s key western defence against Japanese attack.
Life for the soldiers on Yorke Island had to be self-sufficient, but there was plenty of interaction with the local population. The locals never forgot these soldiers, who sometime took shots at them, but who were also grateful for their hospitality when so far from home.
You can pick up a copy at Strathcona Park Lodge’s front office store.
Loganbread is a high protein, high energy bread that Strathcona uses on vigorous out trips. You can make it in flat pans, but we’ve found it stays fresher in a loaf.
1 qt water
8 cups whole wheat flour
1 ½ cups milk powder
2 T baking powder
2 T sea salt
2 cups honey
1 cup blackstrap molasses
1 ¾ cups oil
1 cup sesame seeds
1 ½ cups wheat germ
Preheat oven to 300 ˚F. Mix. Bake one hour. Cool. Try to keep it in a cool, dry place in your pack.