Category Archives: Tour of Powell River

Seeing The Island Sky

Below, the Powell River Kings on board the Island Sky ferry at Saltery Bay, south of Powell River, where I worked until recently. (Although the last few years were on shore working the ramp and selling tickets).

The BCHL Kings were on their way to Nanaimo to face the Clippers and were being serenaded by the ship’s first officer. At this writing, the Kings lead the Clippers two games to one in Island Division playoff action.

The BCHL is wonderful hockey and a host of players end up with hockey scholarships throughout North America.

Many go beyond too.

Brett Hull played for Penticton, Carey Price stopped pucks for Quesnel, Sens forward Kyle Turris starred for Burnaby, and most importantly of course – Scott Gomez dazzled with South Surrey.

Thanks to Beatnik for sending me this. I was there when the Island Sky was a brand new ship having just arrived and it’s nice to see it again. I had worked on two other ships prior to the Island Sky – the Queen of Tsawwassen, which is now in retirement, and the Queen of Chilliwack, that sails the inner passage to Prince Rupert.

Two Months Now In Montreal

It’s been two months exactly since arriving in Montreal, and you bet it’s been a big change. Coming from a city of 20,000, up the coast from Vancouver, where I could bomb around town, stop at the grocery store, get some gas, go to the dump, stop at the license bureau, make my dentist appointment, and buy socks at Walmart, all in an hour or two.

That’s not the case in Montreal. We’re talking a couple of days for this kind of thing. It took me most of one day just to get my driver’s license and new plates here.

In Powell River, traffic jams mean five cars at a traffic light. Montreal isn’t quite like that. Not by a friggin country mile.

You hardly ever see a detour sign in Powell River. In Montreal however……….

I used to get upset with slow drivers on the Sunshine Coast. In Montreal, I want to slam my brakes on the next person who tailgates me when I’m already 20 kms. over the speed limit, get out and pound his or her windshield with a crowbar.

Montreal has sports talk radio, which is the first such thing I’ve heard since I moved to Powell River from Calgary 18 years ago. I listened to CBC in Powell River.

It was 99% English there. I’m living in St. Hubert now, which is 99% French.

Most Powell Riverites cheer for the Vancouver Canucks. In Montreal, it’s another team. :-)

The view’s better in Powell River, with the ocean and Vancouver Island just across the way, with fishing boats and tugs going by. However, if you’ve ever seen some of the Montreal women walking around, you might ask yourself what’s better.

From my deck in Powell River I could hear sea lions barking. I’ve yet to hear one sea lion in Montreal. Although I saw a deer on Cousineau Boulevard recently.

More often than not, strangers walking past each other in Powell River smile and say hello. Not so much in Montreal.

I’ve noticed that some shopkeepers in Montreal aren’t overly friendly. Then I remembered that some in Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, and yes, even Powell River, aren’t either.

I’ve yet to see any loggers or fishermen in Montreal.

It would be ridiculous to compare smoked meat between the two places. But the prawns in Powell River are sensational.

Beer’s slightly cheaper in Montreal, but taxes are higher.

Montreal’s downtown is fabulous and I’d love to live in the heart of it. Powell River doesn’t have a downtown. Just some shops here and there. And of course the Walmart in the mall, which isn’t really the downtown but probably is.

Luci and I grew palm trees in our yard in Powell River. Ain’t gonna happen in Montreal.

Everyone in Powell River talks about not being able to live away from the ocean. I can, and the St. Laurence suits me just fine.

Montreal gets some serious winter. Powell River dips a few degrees below zero, but it rains non-stop for four or five months. I’m not afraid of Montreal’s cold and snow. I grew up with it in Ontario. And I drove semis in it for 20 years.

The bottom line is, both places are great. I have an excellent hockey-related job. And I’m living in the home of the Montreal Canadiens, the team I’ve loved for about 57 years now.

Maybe Luci and I will end up back on the West Coast, in beautiful Powell River. But right now I’m focused on my job at Classic Auctions, which is a big learning curve to be sure, and also on living in Montreal, which I’ve wanted to do for much of my life. And Luci is embracing the whole idea.

You might ask yourself, why would he do this at his age, leaving a tranquil place with everything pretty well under control, and just take it easy instead? It’s because I’m restless, always have been, and if I turned down a chance to work at the best hockey auction house on the planet, I’d regret it for the rest of my life.

Two months now in Montreal. I can’t believe it.

 

 

 

 

Habs Woodstock

The video below shows where I’ve hung my hat for the last 16 years. It’s a terrific place. Way too many Canucks fans but great anyway.

Powell River sits at the top of the Sunshine Coast, 120 kilometres north of Vancouver, with the Strait of Georgia, also known as the Salish Sea, also known as part of the Pacific Ocean, in our backyard, so to speak.

There are also some Habs fans here, and I suppose now is as good a time as any to mention what my wife Luci came up with. We’d like to have local Habs fans join us some night at TC’s Pub for beer and talk. We can trash Gomez, for example. We can slander the Canucks. We can toss the around the idea of whether or not Brad Marchand’s brain should be donated to science. While he’s still alive.

I think it could be the most fun any of us could ever have with our clothes on.

I’m going to start putting the word out. Like now. Heck, maybe it’ll get so big that those of you from other parts will make the trek out here. Sort of like a Habs Woodstock, with you arriving in your Volkswagon vans, whooping and hollering, blasting Annakin Slayd and wearing Habs sweaters.

Powell River might never be the same again.

 

The Eagle Has Landed

I thought we might hear an announcement of a new Habs coach today but it hasn’t happened. I don’t know why I thought it would be today. Maybe I was just trying to will it.

So I figured I’d take a picture of something and babble on about it, but when I tried, I found the batteries in the camera were dead.

Now I’m ill-prepared, and because I’m feeling fairly lazy as well, I’ve decided to take the easy way out and show some pictures my stepson Denis took when he was in Powell River. He was watching an eagle fly away, but then he noticed it coming back, and he took pictures with this really nice camera he has. He snapped away, and the eagle came to rest on a tree branch with a fish in his mouth, which he (the eagle, not Denis) promptly ate.

 

 

The Little Sports Bar

For a short while in the late 1990′s my buddy and I owned a little sports bar in Powell River, and although it was a struggle, we were proud of it.

At least we were proud of it when we weren’t losing our minds.

It all began when I was living in Calgary and happened to visit my old friend Steve in Powell River after my marriage had exploded into smithereens. At one point during a beer and wine session while sitting at his kitchen table, we found ourselves talking about how we could do a few things differently in our lives. I mentioned that I had this great sports collection that would probably look mighty fine in a sports bar, and he looked at me and I looked at him, and light bulbs went on in our heads.

Shortly after our little kitchen table talk, we were eating in a little restaurant nearby and I said to my friend that this cozy little place would be perfect for a sports bar. We looked around, nodded out heads, and that was it. I went back to Calgary to drive truck in ice and snow again.

Not long after, my buddy phoned me and told me the little place we’d been in was now up for sale, was cheap like borscht, and before we could say “I didn’t mean it”, we had bought ourselves a little fifty-seat joint.

We didn’t know how to run a sports bar. He was a construction worker and I was a truck driver. But we did it anyway. It was his idea to call it Kane’s, and so it began. Originally it was Kane’s Sports Bar but with the BC archaic liquor laws, they had us change it to Kane’s Sports Bistro because we weren’t allowed to have the words “bar” or “pub” in it. We were only granted a B license which meant kids could come in, and grown-ups had to eat something while drinking. (these laws have since been changed).

I put my collection on the walls, we set up three big televisions, and away we went. We had no idea. Unfortunately, the old adage that says one must be in business at least five years before making a profit seemed absolutely true in our case. We could see success still a long way off, and we lasted less than two years and finally sold it. By that time I was beginning to pay my rent with a credit card.

But in that short time of being pub owners there were big highlights. Frank Mahovlich and Red Storey came in while on an oldtimers tour, and Frank came back later that night for dinner with his niece, who lives in Powell River. On another night I closed the doors and drank beer and talked until early morning with Jeff and Steve Carlson of the Hanson brothers. We had closed-circuit boxing matches, hockey parties, soccer teams coming in early to watch big games from overseas, and the local junior team aired post-game radio shows out of our place.

I was new in Powell River but because of the pub it didn’t take long before I was on first-name basis with most of the town.

It’s still going. The owner moved it to another place, asked if she could keep the name which I agreed to, and so Kane’s Sports Bistro in Powell River carries on. Minus all of my collection, which I took back home with me, of course.

There was also a silver lining from having this little place. The publisher of the local newspaper was a regular and asked me to write a regular column for his paper. And because my name was out there from the pub and then the newspaper, I was eventually hired by BC Ferries because they knew I had a good relationship with the public.

It was a great experience, but all in all, unless you’ve got a ton of dough and don’t have to be there all the time like we were, I’d suggest sticking with a job where you actually get paid. Running a pub is more work than you can imagine. I was exhausted and broke. Completely stressed. While people watched the big games on the TV’s, I didn’t have time because I was running all over the place. The bills never stopped coming in. My partner and I had begun to quarrel. I wasn’t sleeping properly, and because I had unlimited access to the beer dispenser, I was drinking too much after hours.

Other than these little things though, it was great.

London, Paris, And Powell River At Her Mercy

Travellers in London and Paris weren’t the only ones held hostage by Mother Nature lately.

High winds forced the ferry that delivers folks back and forth between Vancouver Island and Powell River to tie up until it was safe to sail, thus stranding people trying to get home for Christmas.

It was a mess. I know because I’m a ferry worker, working just south of Powell River on another route, and we heard all about it.

The ferry terminal in Powell River was littered with cars and people bearing gifts with nowhere to go and stuck until further notice. Hundreds of people. Many waited all night and through the next day. Anger and anxiety cropped up. The boys in blue were called to maintain peace and good will.

Some finally took the long and winding road south to Vancouver, crossed over in more stable waters, and headed back up the Island, an island they could see just across the water when they were stuck in the parking lot, before they made the decision to go the long way around.

An hour and a half journey on one ferry became a twelve or fourteen hour ordeal involving three ferries - two to Vancouver and one more to Vancouver Island.

One fellow, flying from Edmonton to Comox with plans to ferry over to Powell River to visit his dad, found out after arriving that the boat wasn’t sailing and decided to grab a cab down to Nanaimo to get another sailing across to Vancouver. The taxi ride cost him $200.

Late Christmas Eve, after two days of waiting, the winds finally died down and the ferry started up. It even sailed an extra sailing at midnight to make sure everyone going home for Christmas actually got there.

There are a lot of people in different parts of the world, including the slightly isolated little town of Powell River, BC, who aren’t happy with that old broad Mother Nature right now.

We Made It Because We Were Thirsty

Hobo’s comment in the comments section of  Wouldn’t a Beer Go Good Here about moonshine we made has brought back a flood of memories. And it makes me wonder why about a dozen of us aren’t dead now. Or brain dead.

It was in Powell River in 1970 in a smelly old shack we called home, and many days and nights were spent creating a mash and then cooking it in an old pressure cooker. There would be no hillbillies from the Ozark backhills who would make a finer moonshine than what we were making. Because I don’t know what they put in their’s, but in ours we had cigarette butts, pot, beer, bread, banana peels, apples, and maybe a few household appliances too.

We made enough moonshine to fill a large crock, and you could hear it making noises if you put your ear to it. And it smelled as bad as it tasted. But what parties! Powell Riverites wanted to get to know the Orillians because we had the best parties and the strongest moonshine.

It almost makes me weep with pride.

A couple of months after that I came down with mononucleosis and the doctor said I probably got it from living in filthy conditions. Eventually I made my way back to Orillia.

Below, in this grainy old photo, some of the Orillia boys pose in front of the dump we called home in Powell River. That’s Hobo in the front with the jean jacket and long red hair. I’m not in this photo for some reason. Maybe I was busy stirring the moonshine mash.

Peggy Was A Good Gal

I live in Powell River, have for 15 years, but I was here a couple of times before, the first for just a year in 1970. At that time a friend had called me when I was in Orillia and said it’s so beautiful you have to get out here. So I did.

Then more Orillians came. Then more.

Two months after I showed up, there were 35 Orillians in Powell River, all living in various filthy little pig pens around town.

There was also a sort of den mother named Peggy, from Bracebridge, who was a few years older than us and who was mature and lovely and and I really liked it when she’d answer the door topless. I remember a party on a remote island up the coast where she walked around with a tray of hallucinogens that people picked off like hor d’oeuvres.

Kind of like our mom except for the hallucinogens and topless part.

Twenty years later I was standing on Sparks Street in Ottawa when a group of Hare Khrisna’s came rambling down, singing and chanting like they do, and there was Peggy. We chatted briefly, she said she was really happy, and off she went, singing and chanting.

There Will Be No Monkeys Climbing This Tree

I suppose monkey trees aren’t tremendously common. I’d never seen one until I came to Powell River, and I thought they were cool, so we bought a little one about a foot tall. Now, three years later, it’s nine feet and is still fairly young. So I’m expecting my monkey tree to be a towering defenceman. It’s already about the same size as Hal Gill with Brian Gionta on his shoulders.

I’m told they’re called monkey trees for a couple of reasons – there’s not a monkey in the world who would be able to climb it because of its sharpness, (it’s tricky even touching it) and also because the branches resemble a monkey’s tail.