Tuesday, November 10, 2015


ABC Wednesday
November 11th, 2015

First of all R is for Remembrance Day  

and secondly, the letter is R for Revelstoke

An area rich in bears  - brown, black and grizzly bear habitat.  Hence their welcome sign!

A major winter destination, Revelstoke is not one of those chic, 'cookie-cutter' ski villages.  For more than a hundred years it has been a railroad town. and before the railroad came to town it was very nuch a wild west town complete with general stores, hotels, brothels and saloons.

Originally it was called Farwell, after the surveyor who laid out the town.  However, when the Canadian Pacific Railway reached here they disputed Farwell's claim to the land, locating their station and yards east of his land and in 1886 the name of the settlement was changed to Revelstoke, to honour Lord Revelstoke, whose banking firm provided the funds to ensure the completion of the railway from  coast to to coast.


Just down the track from Revelstoke is Craigallachie, where the Last Spike was driven, joining East to West, and where there is a small railway car museum and a gift shop to draw tourists to this historic spot

When Charles' Lancaster crew visited western Canada for their last reunion in 1997 there were two or three railway buffs amongst them, and they stopped to see the Mountaineer go through and to heft the hammer representing the one which drove the Last Spike!

To get back to Revelstoke and its early years.... the town was once one of the largest and most prominent communities in the interior of the province, mostly due to its importance as a railway centre.  Steamboat traffic from the south connected with the CPR making this an important transportation centre.  The city has many sophisticated facilities, - an opera house, a fully equipped YMCA gym, and many large businesses and department stores.

The town still maintains its traditional ties with the CPR and has a strong connection to the railway industry, but today mining, forestry, government services and tourism play a strong role in Revelstoke's economic success.

It is also the location of the Revelstoke Dam, constructed on the Columbia River.

But you have not yet seen the beauty of Revelstoke.

A birdseye view.....

Revelstoke has long been a skiing town.  Norwegian immigrants brought skiing and ski jumping to Revelstoke and by 1910 several ski jumping hills had been built around the town.  Due to the heavy snowfall in the area the town is home to four heli-skiing and two cat-skiing operations with numerous backcountry skiing lodges.

In the summer these same hills are covered with wildflowers and mountain bikers.....

In the town itself the railroad aspect makes itself known in the famous Railroad Museum.

and the picturesque streets

 Revelstoke National Park, and Mount Revelstoke

How to get to this wonderful spot

More interesting Rs here, with many thanks to Roger, Denise
and their uber reliable helpers.

Sunday, November 08, 2015


So what am I reading these days while the wind blows the falling leaves, and the hazel nut tree out my window drops her skirts in a lovely crisp golden pile, and I wait for a sunny day to add them to the compost for next springs wonderfully rich rewards?

Well, at the moment I am immersed in Jeffrey Archer's latest Clifton series book - "Mightier than the Sword".  Not an all at one sitting book, but one that keeps you coming back for another chapter, - or maybe two. I expect it is going to end in a cliff-hanger, as the last one did, and I will close it with a sigh of expectation, hoping that Mr. Archer is busy writing his next tale about the Cliftons and Barringtons.  The trouble with series, when getting ancient one never knows if one will be around when the next book comes out if the author is not right (write) on the bit and sharp about the next release date.  There is something to be said for the Serial, - monthly, or even weekly!!

I find this with the Gabaldon books, - that poor child was imprisoned for three years underground before Diana relieved the suspense in her last Outlander book.......

When I am feeling more pensive I read an essay from "Irish Willow", which arrived by post a couple of weeks ago.  It is very difficult to get Chris Arthur's books here in Canada, but it is worth the expense of having the writings sent from the UK.  A reviewer, David Robinson (Scotland on Sunday) describes them as 'thoughtful and perceptive'  - 'Seamus Heaney's poetry in prose' and Kimberly Myers compares him to Loren Eiseley (who has had a place on my shelves for ages and ages) and again, Seamus Heaney, two writers who illustrate the 'physical and metaphysical connections between the animal and human worlds'.

As the years go by  I am made more and more aware of the wildlife in the Chilcoton country where some of the family live, and the connection the animals there have with the humans who live in harmony with them, mean them no harm and encourage and enjoy their company on a daily basis.

The whiskey jacks who eat from their hands, the little white crowned sparrow who spent the winter indoors with our youngest son after getting left behind in the snow and cold when the general migration left, - the deer that follow behind, and the bear family that are so at home and picnic on dandelions and lawn grass.  The chipmunks and squirrels who gather for hand-outs.   To say nothing of the beavers for whom said son cuts down trees and leaves them in available spots to be dragged into the creek (and leave the favoured aspens standing).

It holds a great appeal for me, this connection, the friendship and trust that can be fostered with wildlife, and I think, oh really, what are we but a more advanced species.....

I have also been reading a newly issued book written by a great - granddaughter of Frank Xavier Richter, a prominent Similkameen Valley pioneer.who emigrated from what is now the Czech Republic.  Much of his story is familiar to me through articles in the Okanagan Historical Society annuals, and from stories and aquaintance with the many descendants who are scattered throughout the Similkameen, the Okanagan and further reaches of British Columbia.

When Frank first came to the Lower Similkameen (1862) he established a large ranch, an orchard and a relationship with Lucy Simla, a member of a north Okanagan Indian Band, and together they had five sons, all avid sportsmen and skilled with horses.  It was a happy and prosperous union.  However in the way of the west and as the population increased many men who had raised families with Indian women turned away to marriage with white women.  Frank Richter. after his family of boys were grown, left Lucy and married Elizabeth Loudon.  To his credit he took care of Lucy for the rest of her life and acknowledged the boys in every way as his sons, and they in their turn took good care of their mother and led worthy, adventurous and prosperous lives.  It is a great tale, and I keep turning pages back and forth and making notes, and remembering Charles' friendship with these men and their families.

And always on my table, next to my journal, John O'Donohue's 'Bless the Space Between Us'......

To learn from Animal Being

Nearer to the earth's heart,
Deeper within its silence
Animals know this world
In a way we never will.

We who are ever
Distanced and distracted
By the parade of bright
Windows thought opens;
Their seamless presence
Is not fractured thus.

Stranded between time
Gone and time emerging
We manage seldom
To be where we are;
Whereas they are always
Looking out from
The here and now.

May we learn to return
And rest in the beauty
Of animal being,
Learn to lean low,
Leave our locked minds,
And with freed senses
Feel the earth
Breathing with us.

John O'Donohue