A Voyage Round my Father – Part 6

After a quick visit to talk to the British Columbia Aviation Museum staff (see the previous post) I set off to search for the location of this photograph of three RAF types waiting for a lift back to base. (My dad is the middle of the three.

John Dean Park

I thought I had found it, but nowadays the road junction and its signage are far less impressive.

Dean Park 01

Saanitch and Dean Park

I continued up the road towards the park, and arriving at the car park spotted someone erecting a signpost.  “Aha,” I thought, “he might be able to cast some light on the picture.”  As it happens, he was not only a local park volunteer, but has written a history of the park and the area and confirmed that I had found the correct location.  I gave him all my spare copy photo’s from Dad’s album.  He was very interested in my pilgrimage and he advised me of a short walk that I could take if I had half an hour to spare.

Walking through this ancient forest land was almost like wandering into a location for “Jurassic Park”.  I have walked through ancient woodland in England, but it is totally different to this area.  Some pictures below:

John Dean Park 01

 

On my return to the car park, the park volunteer introduced me to a passer-by, who turned out to be an ex-pat “Geordie”, whose father-in-law served at RAF Patricia Bay at the same time as my dad.  He told me that he had a copy of the squadron photograph at home, so we drove the short distance to his house and took a look at it.  We were unable to identify either of our relatives – every man being dressed near identically does not help – but it was another unexpected bonus to my trip.

But can anyone explain this?

John Dean Park 13

Why would First Nation Cultural Activities involve the use of chainsaws?  I take part in historic cultural activities, but very few involve chainsaws, even for the evening cultural campsite conviviality.

Next post – a visit to Fort Rodd.

A Voyage Round my Father – Part 5

Having investigated my preferred option of public transport I decided to hire a car, which was a lot cheaper than I had envisaged.

I was now able to drive, within reason, wherever I wanted.  I had already discovered that Vancouver Island is a damned site bigger than expected and that I would not have time to explore as much as I had hoped.  In fact Vancouver Island is a tad larger than the mainland of Great Britain, so covering it in a week was out of the question.

So I set out to tentatively look at the area where my father actually lived in 1942-3.  My first stop was at the British Columbia Aviation Museum, which is on the edge of Victoria Airport, formerly RAF/RCAF British Columbia.  When I got there the museum was not yet open, but this place was:

Marys Bleue Moon Coffe Bar 01

The name “Mary’s Bleue Moon Café” is a tribute to the Blue Moon coffee shop that was demolished with expansion of the airport.

Here are the adverts from 1942.

Mary's

Blue Moon

Well, whatever else has changed, Mary’s Coffee Bar is still The House with the Friendly Atmosphere.  I was greeted as I entered, but was more taken aback by the decor:

Marys Bleue Moon Coffe Bar 05.JPG

Apart from the model aircraft over the bar, every wall was festooned with memorabilia in the form of photographs and documents.  I was soon moved to tears.  A selection below:

The staff here were so friendly, and so interested in my pilgrimage and what their coffee shop had added to it, that I admit to sitting in a corner and blubbing for a few minutes.

When the museum opposite was open I made a brief visit to ask permission for a later engagement and then went in search of more locations from Dad’s photograph album, of which more in the next posting.

 

 

A Voyage Around my Father – Part 4

Day three of my trip to Victoria, British Columbia.  Armed with photographs taken in 1943, some personal and some small purchased souvenir pictures, I set off with my camera around the city’s landmarks.

The first was obviously the Parliament Building.

Parliament Buildings Victoria BC

 

Totem at parliament house

In front of the Parliament Buildings is the War Memorial, seen here in 1943

War Memorial 1943

and in 2016, with the addition of 1939-45 and 1950-53.

War memorial

From there I moved on to Thunderbird Park, a small area filled with totem poles of what are now known as “First Nation” people, but which were in 1943 were referred to as Indians.  The “Patrician” of April 1943 devoted several pages to the local Indian people, including these photographs of the totems:

1943 Thunderbird Park 01.jpg

1943 Thunderbird Park 02

1943 Thunderbird Park 03.jpgMy own photographs are shown below.

The large central picture it the oldest schoolhouse on the island which. along with the First Nation house, was not yet open for the tourist season.  We have at home a wooden model of the “thunderbird” totem bought by my father.  Checking the souvenir shops I found that all modern versions are cast in resin, which somehow did not make them worthwhile buying.

The final place on my town tour was the Crystal Gardens, which in 1943 was a swimming pool, but now is part of the Victoria Conference Centre.  Again, I appear to have lost the 2016 photo, but here it is in 1943.

1943 Crystal Gardens