Flash Back Fridays
HOW I ENDED UP AT STRATHCONA PARK LODGE
Growing up in Comox, Vancouver Island, in the 1940s and early 1950s, I had an idyllic childhood. Comox had many British expatriates in a town of 1000. There were only 50 young people from grade eight to grade twelve in the Comox High School, and the school did not have a gymnasium. There were no television sets, so most young people spent their free time outside. My friends and I rode our horses for miles in every possible direction.
As long as we were home for meals we could go wherever we wanted. When the British couple Lieutenant Colonel Jack Thorne and his wife Josephte moved to Comox I began to train for competitive riding. The Colonel, as we called him, knew a lot about training horses and riders. In addition, he was a marvelous horseperson and story teller. I did well in the shows, winning trophies in jumping, hunter-hack and equitation events. I also learned a lot about how to feed horses and get them fit for jumping and other events. My interest in human nutrition and fitness is rooted in these early activities. I would go to almost any length to win. Every possible morning I would get up before school and exercise my horses. If it was winter, I rode on the sandy beaches in Comox. Perhaps this toughened me and is the reason why I continued to try hard when the Lodge seemed like a hopeless proposition.
My father, Wallace Baikie, was of Scottish ancestry and although generous with me, had some frugal habits. Born in 1902, he had been a young man during the depression. He had been in the logging and lumber business and knew how to work hard.
Our family was taken out each year to pick enough wild blackberries for the winter. My dad would shoot a few grouse each year and one deer as well. Extra trout were frozen in lumps of ice so that they would stay fresh. He hated waste. During the years after he had retired from logging, he would get very upset when he saw the present habits of logging companies who cut down and sell the best trees, but in the process, cut down the smaller trees even though they were not what their buyers wanted. Loggers lay waste to large tracks of land (this is called clear-cutting); later burning large quantities of wood including trees that could have grown bigger. Logging waste could have been useful for other things such as for building log cabins or wood pellets for stoves. Dr. John Ross, a friend, tells of seeing my dad, whom he considered a comparatively wealthy man, collecting bent nails in a Fishing Camp bucket from around the Lodge so that they could be reused.
Upper Campbell Lake was my father’s favorite place to fish. Most long weekends, especially in the early years before I became horse crazy, I would end up in a row-boat trolling for rainbow, cutthroat or Dolly Varden trout with my father and sometimes my mother, younger sister or brother. I was not keen to fish and hated to worm the hook or to kill a fish. I remember one day my dad put me on a large stump to read rather than fish; and I was perfectly happy. Family friends would accompany us to the Sutherland’s cabins where we stayed. When I first saw the original Strathcona Lodge, I was enchanted! The log interior of the big main room was stunning. My dad and I had rowed to the west across Upper Campbell Lake from our rental cabin. The architect of this masterpiece was a Norwegian, Jack Earsland. On its original site on Upper Campbell Lake Strathcona Lodge was 54 x 32 feet. Jack Phillips, a carpenter, logger and guide, helped to erect this beautiful log building.