Category Archives: Tour of Powell River

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.

 

Habs Bike: Trying To Be Nine Again (I Want A Time Machine)

I found this old 1959 Orilla bicycle licence on eBay recently and I knew I needed it. I needed it because I would’ve had one of these for my bike way back then, and who knows, maybe it’s mine! In 1959, there were about 15,000 people in Orillia. Maybe 5000 of these were kids, and maybe 1000 of them had bikes. Not everybody went by the rules and bought a licence plate, which cost a dollar at the police station. But I did, and my bike was important because I had this massive paper route.

So I figure my odds of this being my old plate are about 1 in 500.

I also didn’t buy this plate just because it brings back memories. I bought it for my bike, a bike I bought as a twisted piece of yellow junk and spent over a year restoring and painting. I’ve posted pictures of this before, but it wasn’t quite finished then. It especially didn’t have my new licence plate on it.

And yes, this is Canada and that’s my palm tree. I have a bunch of them in my yard. They can grow here on the Sunshine Coast, north of Vancouver, and I think all of you should move here so you can have Canadian palm trees too and we can all watch the Habs together.

 

Big Game For Habs Fans In This Neck Of The Woods.

habs

 canucks1It’s the game I looked for when the schedule was released last year. Sunday night, February 15th in Vancouver, when the Habs visit.

Where I live, in Powell River, up the coast from Vancouver, cars fly Canucks flags from their car windows and antennas. People wear their Canucks sweaters. The Canucks are the team people want to see on TV in bars. The local Canadian Tire stocks only Canucks merchandise in their hockey section. The sporting goods shop keeps a Canucks sweater in their window. They like their Canucks here. It’s the way it should be.

The usual patter between me and co-workers goes something like this. They ask me how the Canucks did last night, and I answer, “No idea, how bout those Habs?”

I find most Canucks fans here quite civilized when it comes to the Habs. Oh, the majority dislike them immensely but they somehow manage to not really come out and say it.  Or maybe they’re just being nice to me. But I know they can’t stomach the Habs. It’s in their DNA. It just slips out of them sometimes when they’re caught off-guard.

My good friend Gary Lupul was a Canuck player in the 1980’s, and he once introduced me to Richard Brodeur and Orland Kurtenbach from the Canucks alumni at a beer company thing saying, “This is Dennis, he likes the Habs.” And they kind of laughed. Kind of. It seemed like they disliked the Habs too. (Gary passed away almost two years ago. One of the best guys you’d ever meet.)

There are indeed a handful of good Habs fans in Powell River. But we’re just a small island in a big sea.

I’ve been waiting for Feb. 15th since the beginning of the season. Montreal was going to roll in and destroy, and all my Canucks friends would be eating crow and grudgingly admitting the Canucks have a ways to go before they become a team like the Habs. Then, like a bad dream, everything went south for Montreal. And the Canucks are starting to play well. And so Canucks fans are a happy, confident bunch, and us Habs fans are just a shell of our former self.

Sunday night, go Habs. Win this game. Do it not only for yourself, and not only for your fans everywhere, but also for us poor souls in Powell River who have to put up with Canucks fans on a daily basis.

Gaston And His Beautiful Models (Some Naked)

There’s a lot of great blogs out there, and what many of these bloggers do is post beautiful, half-dressed ladies, often posing in hockey sweaters and not much else. So I’ve decided to do this. You’ll notice that some of them aren’t even wearing clothes.

 

Are you ready? Ladies and gentlemen. Presenting …….Gaston and his beautiful models!

 

Gaston Wears His Habs Sweater On The Hawaii of the North

 Just north of Powell River lies Savary Island, called the Hawaii of the North for its beautiful beaches and tropical climate. All you do is drive north to the end of the road, 25 minutes away, hop in a little $11 water taxi, and presto, you’re there. It has a dirt road, a few cars, several dozen houses, but these houses have no electricity so generators, solar/wind systems, or propane are needed to enjoy those hockey games in the evening. Bluesman Colin James and family have a place here, and the word is Kevin Costner does too, but that may or may not be true.

 All I know is, the beaches are outstanding.

 So after Gaston’s recent ferry ride fiasco, he told me one night he’d like to get away for awhile, away from everything, and I suggested Savary. It’s not far, it’s relaxing, and I figured it was just what the doctor ordered for the little beastia.

 I drove him up to Lund and waved goodbye on the water taxi. He needs this rest and relaxation, I figured. Things haven’t been going well for him on the tour lately.

 The next day, Delores, a Savary Island local, showed up at my door a litle hot under the collar, and handed over a sickly Gaston to me. It seems he refused to take off his Habs sweater in sweltering temperatures and suffered a massive dose of sunstroke. Delores also informed me that Gaston crashed a womens’ beach volleyball game, propositioned the players, peed on a campfire during a group sing-a-long, threw sand in a couple of 90 pound weaklings’ eyes, stole a bottle of moonshine, drank most of it, and then lit it and set a big tent on fire.

 And in his drunken stupor, he proposed to Delores and tried to seduce her by singing old Mel Torme standards with no pants on.

 Now he’s got a hangover.

 Why do I put up with Gaston? Because he loves the Habs. Because he comes from a screwed up family tree. And because I need him for the tour.

 I took a photo of him when Delores showed up at the house. Here it is. Someday I hope he grows up.

 

The Tour Sailed Along Nicely Until Gaston Got Kicked Off The Ferry

The ferries are the only way to leave Powell River (except for small and expensive planes), and so I thought that for this part of the tour, I’d have Gaston take a ride to show you the ins and outs of ferry culture here on the west coast.

 I wasn’t able to go along, so I left strict instructions to Gaston to (a) get some good pictures of ferry life, and (b) don’t embarrass me in any way, shape or form. Gaston told me to stop fretting and not be so silly, so I sent him on his way. It’s time I began to trust him, I told myself.

 The pictures were quite good, I thought.

  Here’s Gaston up top as traffic gets loaded on.

I thought that was good, and I was proud of the little bugger.

 

Gaston snuck into the galley for this photo of the ladies working hard. It’s been a long time since I felt this good about Gaston.

 And then it happened. Gaston started complaining that his meal should have been free seeing that he was an official photographer. He threw his lemon meringue pie around the cafeteria, noisily slurped his clam chowder without using a spoon, tried to pinch women as they walked by, and loudly, so all could hear, blamed me for the grizzly decapitation of LaBois.

 The ferry finally docked, and Gaston, with orders from the bridge, was unceremoniously given the boot.

 When I drove out and picked him up, all he said to me in the car was that he couldn’t help it, the girls gave him a woody.

I knew I shouldn’t have left it up to him. Never again.