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.
I thought I had found it, but nowadays the road junction and its signage are far less impressive.
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:
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?
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
Last week I visited Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada in search of my father.
As reference material I had his photograph album, luckily in the main annotated in his copperscript hand. As a backup I had the collection of his old RAF station magazines “The Patrician” from July 1942 to February 1944.
I flew to Vancouver Airport (My ideal would have been to cruise across the Atlantic and take the Canadian Pacific Railway to Vancouver, but alas it could not be achieved.)
This picture shows why, even on the approach, I could understand my father’s wish to return to live in this beautiful place after the War.
More experiences to follow…