Flashback Fridays


“Who are you,” asked Jim when he met me in the hall. I told him that I was at the lodge to teach a week long pottery workshop. “You will be staying much longer,” he said. And I did, I stayed for a year and a half. I did some art workshops and cooking. I may have worked for room and board, I can’t remember being paid. Sarah, my two year old daughter, lived with me at the lodge. I have many fond memories of the place and the people that were ‘family’ and community to me at the time. There were good people, good times, good food, and good accommodations. Strong principles of contributing and co-operating were valued.
I recall trips to “the Old House” restaurant in Courtenay for Lodge celebration dinners, usually after getting government funding to build something new. We would pile into the ‘crummy’ (a dodgy vehicle as I remember) and a great time was had by all.

Roy, Bonnie, and David

I remember when an enormous ‘drum’ like furnace was installed in the main (office) building in the lounge area on the second floor. The large main window had to be removed and this huge monstrous drum furnace was lifted up (with a block and tackle type contraption) to the second floor. Whilst in mid air something snapped and the furnace dropped onto the vehicle below. It looked like a cartoon event. I still see the wheels flying out sideways under it. It punched a hole the size of a  pie plate in the 1/2 inch steel plate in the Fargo truck box, parked below and the rubber tires were bulging. Not to be defeated, the crew carried on and finally had the furnace installed in the big room. The stove later had to be moved because it didn’t draw properly. I remember the big Christmas sleep-over in the Hi-Bracer lounge; also the time that Harry the cook went missing after taking a boat out onto the lake. After a passing driver dropped in to alert us, a search party was sent out only to discover an empty boat circling out in the middle of the lake with the motor still running. Harry was later discovered sleeping in his cabin! After leaving the Lodge I went to work at Cold Mountain Institute on Cortes Island, one of my tasks again was baking the bread. I recall a bit of friendly competition going between Jim Boulding and Jim Sellner. Jim B. was certain that people could learn everything they needed to know to survive in the world, at Strathcona Lodge. Jim Sellner would say that sometimes we needed to concentrate on the inner self.

I remember Myrna’s insistence that we eat only the best food, and we always did. Baking fresh bread became one of my tasks, and the kitchen was a fun place to hang out. I baked bread for many years and still produce yogurt and granola pretty regularly.
I met Don, my husband of thirty years during and after the ‘lodge years’, when I was working at Cold Mountain on Cortes Island.

Bonnie (left) baking bread.

Don and I returned to the lodge for many visits, and Don earned the name ‘meal a week’ from Annie Boulding. She obviously felt he needed to put on a few pounds, which of course he would if he stayed a while! Jim Boulding arrived one day on the beach near the main building at Cold Mountain, in a helicopter, and delivered a still hot loaf of bread to me in the kitchen. Maybe he was trying to show that the Lodge bread was the most delicious, even with a different baker. That was tough to top!

I recall that during the time I was at the Lodge most anyone was welcome to come and stay, if they were willing to work at whatever needed doing. Some just found themselves arriving there on an adventure; some stayed a short while others stayed a long while. Most, if not all, left richer than when they arrived. We were required to be open and honest, and to challenge ourselves at new tasks, with new people, in new situations. Myrna and Jim led by example, and, it seemed to me, their family life was pretty much ‘lodge life’, communal for better or worse. There was always new challenges, and they were met head on, with the feeling that “it would get done”; building new buildings by hand, collecting wood to heat numerous buildings, feeding and housing hordes of school kids, constantly repairing and maintaining equipment.