Flash Back Fridays

CHANGING OF THE GUARDS or The Birth of the Friends of Strathcona Park By Marlene Smith, 1985

It was in the fall of 1985 when Myrna asked me to go and visit Jim upstairs; he wanted to talk to me.

I was a relative newcomer to the Strathcona Park Lodge scene. My experience in teaching mountaineering in the European Alps, including teaching rock climbing, map and compass, crevasse rescue and guiding made me fit in real quick. Jim had been battling pancreatic cancer for a few years. The regression of his cancer through diet and the use of various herbs most certainly were of great interest to me as a veterinarian engaged in western medicine and studying Traditional Chinese Medicine! Sadly enough the cancer had returned with great vigour and aggression, something I would learn in the future is not uncommon in aggressive forms of cancer.

I wonder why Jim wanted to see ME!

When I entered Jim’s room I reflected back on his strong presence in the Whale room talking to school groups on the importance of the wilderness and what nature could teach us! In a short flash I was back again on the trail near the bog in a downpour. Everything was wet and the participants of our small group of dedicated students looked like wet cats or rats! Suddenly Jim stopped and told us to make a fire here and now. Those who could not get a fire going and get a can of water boiling within 1⁄2 hour were doomed to die of hypothermia! Dan MacKinnon next to me smiled and whispered he had done this before and we would pal up together! I learned within 10 minutes about the pitch stick, about how to find dry wood and how to get water boiling within 20 minutes! And how to survive in the wilderness!

I smiled with this thought in my mind and looked at Jim. He looked at me attentively as if he was trying to catch my thought!

He then explained to me that his time on this earth was limited and that he was at peace with this. However there was one task Read more