Here’s to the good old days
My personal memories span over the 70 years I have called Bowen my second home which is as it is today, however, the Russell families’ connection to the island date back to the early 1920s. While that tenure pales in comparison to the Dormans, Davies, Collins, Rogers and a few others, it does qualify me as an oldie and I hope a goodie. Rather than dedicate 350 words to one historical memory let me touch on a few.
Imagine the excitement in the early 1940s when the Union Steamship coastal boats docked at Snug Cove, Millers Landing and even Seymour Bay to offload freight and human cargo. Yes, they served no less than three ports of call on Bowen Island which is amazing. Before I was born my father would “huck” suitcases from Snug Cove to Mount Strachan Lodge in Mannion Bay, by hand, for just pennies. And to think, we are now giving those useless coins to our wonderful public library for their Pennies for Pages campaign. During those early years my father would also salvage logs off of Hood Point and tow them back to Snug Cove, behind a rowboat no less, and sell them to professional log salvagers for the lofty sum of 10¢ each!
Oh the excitement of weekends when thousands, yes many thousands, of visitors (aka tourists) would disembark from the Lady Alexandra, or one of the other Steamship boats, for a company picnic at one of the many picnic grounds in or near the Cove that were always well maintained with wood for cooking and water. Yes, the welcome mat was always out for those non locals who would bring much needed “foreign currency” to the community. What a sight to see and something our current day businesses, Chamber of Commerce and the recently established Economic Development Advisory Committee can only dream and drool about. Sundays were particularly eagerly anticipated as that was the day Frank Scott would bring his troupe over from Vancouver for the vaudeville in the bandshell on the #1 picnic ground which was just north of Evan and Aird Worsley’s hotdog and fish & chips stand. In the event of rain the show would simply move to the USSCo dance hall which was located in the general area of the current Bowen Island Lodge (former CNIB). Who cared about Broadway and Las Vegas, we had it all on the Happy Isle. I believe as well, the Vancouver troupe was augmented on occasion with some fine performers from Bowen which goes to prove, our community has been blessed with performers for decades before the idea of a community hall/performing arts centre. After the show, we were off to the Teahouse, now the Dallas property, for a cream soda float!
Sadly, I do not have any photos as digital camera and iPhones were not even a dream in those days and unfortunately, I could hardly afford film for my Kodak box camera. Alas, all is not lost as the Bowen Island Museum and Archives have a wonderful collection of photos of the foregoing plus numerous other Bowen favourite places of those early days. I suggest each and every one of us make an extra effort to better understand our Bowen history by dropping into the museum building to look at some of their fascinating photos. If I’m there at the same time I would love to provide some commentary, as I recall it and my memory permits, including the beauty, cleanliness and presentation of Sandy Beach, which hopefully will be the way of the future, as it was in the past. Oh, for the good old days!