Tag Archives: History

Picture This! (WYLD)

We've been doing Outdoor Education for a while now.  I don't know when this photo was taken but I do love looking at all the faces and gear and realize how much things have changed.

We’ve been doing Outdoor Education for a while now. I don’t know when this photo was taken but I do love looking at all the faces and gear and realize how much things have changed.

Flashback Fridays


Vancouver Sun (Date of publishing unkown)

If you are looking for a wilderness holiday, a place away from the city concrete and the urban unrest, consider a week-long vacation at Strathcona Outdoor Education Centre on Vancouver Island. This unique lodge offers a family adventure program that will appeal to children as well as parents. You will have an opportunity to explore a piece of the Pacific coast in the area of historic Friendly Cove.


Young and old alike will be introduced to the 6,000-year history of the Nootka Indians. Participants travel via the vessel, Uchuck III, to spend three days in this area of the west coast of Vancouver Island.

After this experience you take an overnight canoeing trip to the Wolf River.  Here you can enjoy the mountain scenery of Strathcona Park and learn wilderness camping skills. Or, you can choose to stay at Strathcona and take a series of day trips which would take your family on a trail hike; a boat ride to Friendly Cove; learn canoe strokes and take a short ride; visit Quadra Island to study Indian culture; practice sailing in a small craft on Upper Campbell; fish for trout in local waters, or everyone can try his or her skill at rock climbing or rappelling.  Families who have teenagers may be interested in the canoeing, kayaking, coastal and alpine backpacking, and white water canoeing trips offered at the Strathcona centre.  If you feel really adventurous you may choose the 13-day safari which takes you on a west coast canoe camping venture and alpine hikes. You are accompanied by professional guides and all food and equipment is supplied.


Flashback Fridays

Flashback Fridays

The following is a brouchure from an Introduction booklet produced for the 1989-90 season.

Read more

Flashback Fridays


Judy writes to Myrna the following:

I’m just enjoying remembering and sharing with you, especially because you of all people know what I’m going on about. It’s good for me to finally have all of these memories down in writing. I heard Erin, my daughter and her friend laughing hysterically, last night, and found out later that they were reading my emails to you. Erin loved the insight into the goings on at the Lodge.

The year was 1974. I was 18 and landed at Strathcona Park Lodge right out of high school for some high adventure before having to hit the books again for 4 years. Jim and Myrna were awesome parents . Myrna, I apologize for every grey hair I gave you. And for every hair that Jim lost during my tenure in the water tower. Strathcona was turning point in my life, a milestone that I look upon fondly, and always will.

Jamie Boulding (left), Judy Balaban (centre), Josie Boulding, Elisa Jackovich, and Gillian Sellner (left to right)

And I thank you both for having me with you for those 4 months, and for all of the wonderful memories I will carry with me forever. Strathcona, back in the 70’s, was a slice out of the 60’s. I’m sure everyone who was lucky enough to experience the Lodge culture at that time walked out forever changed. The cast of colorful, talented, egotistical characters that floated through the Lodge was dazzling.

There was Harry the cook, who built the biggest bonfires in the world with 20′ logs all piled up like a teepee; and who also saved 4 or 5 of us from drowning in a canoe during a pelting rain storm on Buttle Lake. I’m not sure why there were 5 people out there in a canoe during a storm.

Harry taught me how to make yogurt, and a million other earthy, wholesome, healthy things. I use that recipe and your granola recipe to this day. I loved it when you and Jim would get up early and make cheese scones for breakfast for a treat every so often. I loved the peanut butter and that incredible home made bread that was available all day, any time, right beside the big coffee urn in the main lodge.
I loved it when the big macho mountaineerconstruction guys (there were about 4 of them who hung together: the name Kreiger comes to mind. I think he was the leader….) would get all bent out of shape when yet another meal was vegetarian and there was no meat in sight. I remember having a whole ‘staff meeting’ about how “the guys who do the work around here can’t live on vegetables. WE NEED MEAT!”! I loved the organic garden and the big compost heaps that were the love children of Linda and the really thin vegetarian fellow from Ontario, who wore Buddhist type clothes and a weird hat. He was the one that ticked the macho mountaineer construction guys off the most. Linda loved working all day long in that garden and brought in baskets of veggies to Harry to create something with. Right out of the 60’s.

Harry in the kitchen

I loved going into town to the Overwaitea store to do the shopping for Harry. I think you let me do that 3 times, and your instructions were, just buy everything that looks good. And lots. I have no idea what the bill was, but I remember pointing to whole boxes of produce, meat and dairy stuff and saying “that, that, that, that, that, 2 of those, 5 of those, that”. Somebody filled the van up with everything I pointed at, and off I went to the liquor store for Jim before heading back. I think I had to buy him a bottle of scotch or something. I never did see a bill. Had to be HUNDREDS!! HUNDREDS!! And that was only for one week!! — And I remember buying a big fat bologna for Jim. He enjoyed onion and bologna sandwiches. I never had one, but boy did he make them look good.
The food, and the kitchen at Strathcona made a real impression on me, and I think everyone. It truly was the heart of the Lodge. There was a lot of construction going on at the time, and a really sweet fellow by the name of Jim Jacek was walking from one building to another and tripped and broke his femur. Just like that. Jim J. was used to walking all over those mountains, and it was so hard to fathom that this horrific accident would happen to him on flat ground. This was one of the few times I got to see Jim Boulding. fly into action. He had him bandaged (the bone had protruded through the skin) and thrown into a van and on the way to the hospital before anyone even knew what was happening. I happened to be standing there and had the dubious privilege of being tossed into the van and being told to hold the leg still while Jim Boulding. roared full blast along the forty-five km (thirty mile) drive into Campbell River. Jim Boulding. was a little tense by the time we got there and zoomed into emergency and he started yelling at no one (because there was no one there!!! (in emergency!) about what a lousy excuse for a hospital this was. Nobody in emergency, and this was an emergency. He grabbed a gurney and lifted Jim onto it and started pushing him through the hospital, (slowly and carefully), all the while commenting very loudly about what a lousy hospital this was. A nurse finally got in there somehow and took over and wheeled Jim J. into a room somewhere. He had to be flown into Victoria by helicopter, because, I guess Jim Boulding.had been right all along…….

Jim and his broken femur.

Jim had many facets to his incredible being, and I loved them all. Especially his take charge, get mad, get out of my way, “you’re an asshole and I don’t mind telling you” aspect of himself. He made me laugh, he made me cry (because I made him really mad once, more than once actually, but I really remember the once…). I admired his capabilities, his love of the earth and passion for preserving it, his sense of humor, and his big and generous heart. I was so very saddened when he passed over to the other side. And I’ll look forward to seeing him there one day. Because I know I will.

I was just remembering the “staff meetings”, as you used to call them. They were really funny. They weren’t meant to be, but looking back, they were. More often than not, grievances would be aired, usually by you (Myrna), but then, a lot of other people would get in on it.
You were always having to tell us how to dress and behave when a new group was coming in for a course. The sauna, and surrounding area, was a worry for you, because nobody wore any clothes there. Your concern was that the reputation of the Lodge was going to be such that people would not sign up for courses. You told us to wear bathing suits when “visitors” were on the premises, and so we did. But the word was out, and in fact, the visitors were coming in droves, not only for the fabulous courses that were offered, but also, to be able to run around naked. In no time flat, respectable people who had never walked around nude in their lives, were enjoying this newfound freedom, while all of us were fully clothed. There were always those who were disgusted and offended, and they would invariably complain either in person, or in writing. One or two. But like I said, we were dressed!

Note from Myrna: This was not the only instance of nudity at the Lodge. My mother, Myra Baikie, was sitting on her deck one day, down by the boat dock, when the middle-aged maintenance man came, stripped down, and dove into the lake. My mother was livid, and told me, “It’s not as if he had anything to be proud of.”

A group of guys from Strathcona Lodge high in the mountains

There was one meeting where you reamed off a whole list of us by name’ and the objectionable habits we had that you didn’t want to see practiced while ‘company’ was there. I was enjoying your speech until I heard MY name come out of your mouth, and you said that you didn’t want me wearing my stupid overalls that were 5 sizes too big for me. I had no idea that you didn’t like my overalls, and quite frankly, I was crushed. I can’t remember who else you picked on, or why, but we all laughed until we heard our name, and little by little, the laughter stopped. Josie was usually asleep in your arms at these meetings. You would rock her, back and forth, gently and sweetly, as you let us all have it. Apart from all of the less than socially acceptable idiosyncrasies of many of us on staff, there were a number of impressive people as well, who sort of helped to balance the whole presentation. For the most part, they were the “Resident Experts”, some of whom had undesirable habits as well, but whose talents and accomplishments dazzled audiences enough that their shortcomings were not only overlooked, but in most cases, not even noticed.

Cute as a button, Bob Sutherland

There was Bob Sutherland, the resident ornithologist, who was as cute as a button, as well as a wonderfully talented musician, who did more entertaining and back-packing than ornithology. I don’t think Bob had any bad habits. There was a resident writer, who didn’t teach any courses, kept his real name a secret and shingled roofs for you. He had some dubious habits, but it’s always good to have a resident writer on staff. Michael Rewald, another really nice fellow with no bad habits to speak of, our resident climbers (who all had bad habits that everybody noticed) and visiting artists, and expert water people, visiting multi-talented experts who really earned their money! There were fabulously talented people who were a joy to be around and who enriched the lives of those who listened, and basked in their wake. This was the true beauty of being a part of Strathcona Park Lodge. I loved the opportunity of being surrounded by passionate enthusiasts who loved nothing more than to share their discoveries with those of us who caught their spark and
Bob Sutherland—cute as a button
wanted to learn more.

Flash Back Fridays


I was there from May-August 1981, working on an unpaid internship from Queen’s University Faculty of Education, specializing in outdoor education. I could not have found a better internship experience!

In June of that year, I led a group of grade six students and their class teacher on the standard overnight canoe camping trip down Buttle Lake. We chose to camp on the shore of a small bay off the main lake. After unloading, we began to set up camp. Looking up the lake I noticed that the sky was getting dark and it was raining at the north end of the lake. It was late afternoon and the students were granted permission to practice paddling their canoes around the bay. The teacher and I collected firewood and began to set the campfire. The skies grew darker and closer. The kids were still paddling around the bay. All of a sudden a hundred foot waterspout appeared out in the lake. We quickly called for the paddlers to return to shore, grabbed all of the loose equipment and battened down the hatches. The waterspout headed directly toward us, then moved right into the bay and began to swirl about, sucking up water and blowing with violent winds. There were still four boats out on the bay, struggling with the winds and choppy water. One canoe made it to a safe landing on shore. The second canoe almost made it but capsized in shallow water. A third capsized in deep, rough waters while the waterspout caught the fourth canoe and set it spinning and eventually capsizing. Children were screaming and crying. The teacher was freaking out. She and I quickly jumped into a canoe and paddled out to rescue the capsized boats. We boarded the first two kids and paddled the other two to shore. The last two were standing waist-deep in shallow water. By this time the waterspout had blown itself out. Everyone was fine, although the swimmers were a little chilled. We quickly lit the campfire and the teacher made hot chocolate. Within thirty minutes we were all sitting around the campfire, warm and dry, recalling the exiting event with relish. By the time I got back to the Lodge two days later they were calling me ‘Hurricane Bob’, an appellation that I endured for the rest of that summer. One Saturday night Jim Boulding invited a bunch of us with nothing else to do, down to the waterfront to play kayak soccer.

Canoe jousting, like kayak soccer, is a rough sport

There were about a dozen of us, mostly decent paddlers, but a few, like me, novices in a kayak. In kayak soccer as in regular soccer, boats are used to move the ball across the goal line. We each grabbed a boat and the game began. Early on, someone passed me the ball and I began to paddle like hell towards the opposite goal line. All of a sudden Jim was beside me in his kayak. He reached out and put his hand on my shoulder. I anticipated a supportive shove towards the goal line, when suddenly he flipped me. As I sputtered to the surface, Jim was paddling away with the ball. He turned to me and said with a grin, “Welcome to kayak soccer, Strathcona style!”

And then there was the story of Jim Boulding’s paddle. Jim asked me to lead an ocean canoeing trip out of Kyuquot Sound. While comfortable canoeing on fresh water, I had never led a trip on the ocean before. Jim decided to hire a floatplane and fly me over the route. A bunch of us had been to town the night before, so I was feeling none too chipper the morning of the flight. Fortunately there was a good supply of barf bags. The flight was a great idea, but it did not help much once we were out on the water.  Just prior to the trip, Jim offered to lend me his paddle for good luck. Jim’s canoe paddle was a behemoth. It stood a good 6 feet, with a large fibreglass blade and a beautiful T-type wooden handle. It had an amazing draw. It may have been the right size paddle for Jim, but it was way too big for me.  The trip put out of Kyuquot Sound in mid-July. We were a group of seven, in three canoes. We paddled down the west coast of Vancouver Island, camping at pristine, isolated beaches along the way. We took our time, appreciating the scenery, the weather and the water, enjoying life in the moment. On the morning of the fourth day I got up at 4:30 AM to check the water. The waves were crashing in, threatening a hard put-in. I was scheduled for a pick-up at Tahsis in two days, and we had no more time to spare. I asked myself what Jim would do, and immediately knew the answer. We put in at 6:00 AM and luckily all three boats made it out beyond the surf. But that was just the be- ginning. By 8:00 AM the waves were huge as we attempted to round the cape into Nootka Sound. Each time I was in a trough all I could see was towering water all around me, and each time on a crest, I could not see either of the other boats. The shore- line was rocky with no safe landing and there was no margin for error. It was scary. My bowman was barfing over the side every two minutes.  Somehow we made it around the cape and headed eastward into the sound. By now we had a tailwind and were practically surfing. I was ecstatic that we had all made it through the rough water and into a strong tailwind. In a momentary lapse of control, I lost my grip on my paddle and quickly watched it float out of reach behind the boat. I could not believe I had just dropped Jim Boulding’s paddle! I grabbed my (by now use- less) bowman’s paddle and tried to swing us around but it was hopeless paddling solo into the wind. I called to one of the other boats and fortunately one of them was able to paddle back and retrieve the paddle. We rendezvoused on a nearby gravel beach and after camping there for the night finished the trip into Tahsis the next day. I never told Jim that I almost lost his precious paddle, but I was sure glad that I could return it with simple thanks.  Myrna, my long summer at Strathcona Park Lodge was a formative experi- ence in my life as an outdoor educator and I am grateful for the opportunities for growth that it provided. I am grateful also for the opportunity to have worked with you and Jim, pioneers and successful entrepreneurs in the field of outdoor education.

Flash Back Fridays

Written March, 2009. As recalled by: Clive L. Justice, PhD, LmBCSLA, FCSLA Landscape Architect and Amenity Forester (ret) Garden, Ornamental Plant and Rhododendron Historian.

Some memories of our involvement in Strathcona Park Lodge


In the early 1960s, on the recommendation of Wallace Baikie, father of Myrna, and with husband Jim Boulding, our firm Muirhead Justice Landscape Architects were given the task of producing a site and landscape plan for a property on the logging scarred and denuded shoreline of a man made lake. The lake had been created by damming the Campbell River and the dam’s large backup waters formed in what was the Elk River Valley. The flooded lake extended south from the dam all the way to the boundary of Strathcona Provincial Park . The Lodge site viewed the mountain across the lake at about two o’clock, as they say in artillery terms.The Lodge site lay just outside the Park boundary.

Below the gravel roadside at the top of the site was a two storey log fishing lodge that had been floated up as the water rose from the valley below and positioned with heavy logging equipment near the road side. It was set on a new concrete basement below the main Lodge with access onto the site on the lakeside. This beautiful relocated log lodge had been featured in a book let published by ‘Sunset Magazine’ titled ‘Cabins and Beach Houses’ when the building was at its riverside valley bottom location, in the 1930s. The rest of the steeply sloping site down to the lake edge was occupied with scattered wooden cabins: the remains of a floating logging camp that had been used during the clearing of the new foreshore by Baikie Brothers Timber Company. Bunk houses from the floating camp had been bulldozed up and located off a double S curved road- way that wound back and forth down the site. Much of the site vegetation was trashed into slash, as the D-8 Cat did the site development work, creating the road and dragging the buildings from the rising waters into position. It took a great deal of faith and foresight to visualize an environmental oriented tourist facility there amongst the gravel, large rock s and exposed hardpan. The Bouldings, Myrna and Jim, were teachers; Jim was a great big outdoor sportsman and salt water fishing guide; Myrna had her mother’s good look s and the smarts of her dad. They both shared the vision of founding an environmental ‘Outward Bound’ type school centered at the Lodge.

The logo

However, there was a lot to do before that could be realized. Our first job was to survey the site to find out where everything was located. At this time, the Bouldings lived at the Lodge with at least two of their kids (and a very large Siamese cat) so they could give us meals and accommodation as we were 30 miles from Campbell River. Harry Webb and I set to work . It rained continuously while we measured and took floor elevations of every cabin and site feature referenced to the relocated lodge. We would work out in the rain for an hour or so then come in to the Lodge basement laundry room soaking wet to throw our wet clothes into the dryer drum powered by a diesel generator, change into borrowed dry clothes and go out into the rain for another hour of measuring, then in for another change into dry clothes. The rain never let up the whole week end and we ran the dryer continuously. I was used to heavy continuous rain as I came from the island but Harry, who was from Ontario and was urban oriented, was ill equipped for outdoor survey work and he hated it. At the time there was only the two of us and a secretary in the firm. He never returned to the mid-island ‘wilderness’ again. He did, however, design the logo for the Lodge signage and stationery; a modified salmon in aboriginal carving style. Harry much preferred working at the drawing board than being relegated to rod or chainman. Later on, our new firm member, building architect John Vincent, who also qualified as a landscape architect, prepared detailed plans for extensive additions to the Lodge: bar, gift shop, kitchen, etc. and interior and exterior renovations and up- grading of the logging camp cabins as rentable accommodations along with site re- vegetation and landscaping. Sadly, the beautiful old log main Lodge burned in 1973 and was replaced with a more suit- able structure, but the ambience, quality of craftsmanship and heritage of the original  Road from the Lodge in the 1960s was lost and could not be recreated.

Original Lodge layout as suggested by Muirhead & Justice

One morning, much later on one of my site visits, I was driving back to Campbell River via the twinned gravel logging and copper ore haul roads, traveling on the upper road, when I swerved and slid over and down the bank between the upper and lower roads. As I was about to turn over; I opened my driver side car door and pivoted on the point of the bottom of the door and landed upright onto the lower road. I liked to think my quick thinking and presence of mind had prevented the car from rolling over so I could proceed on my way undamaged. I was also lucky as here was no traffic due to a temporary halt to the mine concentrate haulage. The copper ore was being extracted and concentrated from a deposit located within Strathcona Park beyond the Lodge site near Myra Creek in the Park. The concentrate was hauled out by truck and shipped from Myra Creek which flowed into

Road from the Lodge in the 1960s

Buttle Lake in Strathcona Park, to a dock in Campbell River, a 120 mile round trip. The irony was that Myra Creek was named after Myrna’s grandmother, Myra Cliffe. A surveyor, Jimmy King, was staying at the Lorne Hotel in Comox when he sat Myra, a little six-year-old girl, on his knee and told her that he had named a creek and a mountain after her. Myrna’s mother, Myra Baikie was a smasher, one of the most beautiful women I have set eyes on. Many of us fell madly in love with her but no one dared challenge her husband as he almost always won his event in the annual logging sports days: log rolling was his specialty.

Myrna’s mother and grandmother, Myra Baikie (nee Thomson) and Myra Thomson (nee Cliffe) - on the bank of the Campbell River, 1908

However there was nothing romantic about mining in a public park . It became a cause celebre for the environmental awakening on the Upper Island and influenced the Clayoquot Sound confrontation and the Haida Gwaii Lylle Island logging ban. Truck s of concentrate passing the Lodge 24 hours a day turned the tide and the Lodge became a symbol of environ- mental concern, restoration and recovery.

I couldn’t believe my eyes some 35 years later in May of 2005 when I returned. I was co- leading with Parksville/ Qualicum Milner Gardens manager Jim Cadwalader a tour of American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arbo- reta (AABGA) delegates to Nootka, and we stayed overnight at the Lodge on our way to Gold River and Nootka Sound. When we stepped off the bus nothing was recognizable to me. Our accommodation was hidden among a jungle of garden trees and shrubs; the large dining room perched high up overlooking thick masses of garden shrubs and trees. You couldn’t see a building or the lake for foliage; bank s and rocks had been converted to rockeries with alpine plants and berried ground cover of viburnums, cotoneasters and native kinnik innik , with trails and garden walks between. The large high up dining room was oriented so windows looked out into a garden of foliage and flowers, and the outdoor deck at the end faced the distant natural forested landscape of Elk Mountain in Strathcona Park, viewed across the wide stretch of water.

Rose Baikie, Myra Thomson and Wallace Baikie on hike to Buttle Lake

Reginald Farrer author of the two volume ‘The English Rock Garden’ would have described the rockeries in glowing terms as would have critic John Rusk in. William Robinson author of the ‘English Flower Garden’ and the ‘Wild Garden’ would have approved. It’s too bad I didn’t know about it or I would certainly have included the Strathcona Park Lodge garden in my Post Retirement Doctoral Dissertation, ‘The English Garden Legacy in western Canadian Ornamental Gardens 1888 to 1999’. I would have described the transformed site with high praise