Dave Hardy, chopping a wood pile in Cumberland

Dave Hardy, chopping a wood pile in Cumberland

Dave Hardy, in Cumberland

I bought a house and moved my family from Comox to Cumberland in the late 1970s. The village had become an enclave for a new wave of artists emerging from the newly formed Comox Valley Arts Alliance, and others in search of affordable housing.

One of the first people I met there was a commercial fisher named Dave Hardy. He had a trawler moored at the Government Wharf in Comox (I can’t remember the name of his boat) and worked local waters. He was a kind person. When my father visited from Minnesota, Dave  offered to take him on as deckhand for a day. It was an experience my dad talked about for years.

I walked by Dave’s house one late-summer day and found him working on an enormous pile of logs in his yard. He heated his house with wood, as did many in Cumberland. The way he trimmed his beard always made me think of Abe Lincoln, but better looking and living the west coast lifestyle.

George Le Masurier

Decafnation | Jan. 27, 2017

Group of singers at the Renaissance Fair

Group of singers at the Renaissance Fair

Singers at the Renaissance Fair

The Comox Valley Arts Alliance was formed sometime in the mid-1970s. I joined the organization soon after it was founded. During my lunch hours, I left my desk as editor of the Lifestyles section of the Comox District Free Press, and walked down McPhee Avenue to the Arts Alliance building. I hung out there often, and played chess sometimes with reporter Brian Belton. I also once hung my first one-man photography exhibition there.

I’m fuzzy on when and where this photograph was taken, so maybe readers can provide more reliable information. I captured this image at one of the Comox Valley’s Renaissance Fairs, which I think were promoted by the Arts Alliance. The scene is typical of the new cultural events happening in the 1970s. People sang, danced, created art and where just there.

I don’t know any of the singers in this photograph, so maybe readers can add some names and a better recollection of this event.

George Le Masurier

DecafNation | Jan. 27, 2017

Molly Guilbeault, ready to work at Leung’s counter

Molly Guilbeault, ready to work at Leung’s counter

Molly Guilbeault, at Leung’s

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, I often slipped into Leung’s Grocery store at the top of Fifth Street in Courtenay, B.C. for a Denver sandwich at the lunch counter. There was something addictive about those sandwiches. Maybe it was the grease or the extra fresh onions. But I was hooked. I’d even take my toddler daughter there on weekends. She wasn’t a fan of the Denver sandwiches, but she loved their classic milkshakes.

On one particular Saturday, my daughter and I were sitting near the street end of the long 1950s-style counter playing eye-spy. The shelves behind the counter were jam-packed with stuff for sale: cigars, metal cigarette lighters, cribbage boards and other games, jigsaw puzzles and, of course, a display of fine pies. There were little signs tacked up everywhere with clever sayings.

While we waited, my favorite server stepped behind the counter. As she got ready to start her shift, Molly Guilbeault picked up a chrome napkin dispenser from the counter and used it as a mirror to apply her lipstick. I grabbed a picture at that moment. It’s still one of my favorite images.

George Le Masurier

Decafnation | Jan. 27, 2017

The Bench — scene from early Comox Valley youth football

The Bench — scene from early Comox Valley youth football

The Bench – early valley football

My high school football career in Paynesville, Minnesota, where I grew up, was less than remarkable. I think I hold the school record for the longest negative punt (don’t ask!). Football is big there. Kids start playing right out of grade school. I don’t believe there was any youth football played in the Comox Valley when I moved here in 1974.

But one day I came across these footballers, though I can’t say when or where. Perhaps some reader will know.This might be the beginning days of the Comox Valley Raiders, which is a well-run youth football program and part of the B.C. Provincial Football Association.

I like this photograph because despite the rag-tag equipment and a make-shift bench in the middle of nowhere, you can tell that these kids feel like football players. They’re wearing the gear. Getting dirty. I especially like the footwear of the boy standing on the left and, of course, the middle boy’s hair style.

George Le Masurier

Decafnation | Jan. 27, 2017

Social Studies 1.21.17

And you thought Trump’s inaugural speech was weird?

Incoming vice-president Andrew Johnson — ill with typhoid and probably still drunk from consuming the medicine of the day, whiskey — game a rambling speech in 1865 that bragged about crushing the Confederate rebels while President Abraham Lincoln sat horrified and speechless.

Ulysses S. Grant brought festive-looking canaries to his inauguration, oblivious of the -26C temperatures. About 100 of the birds froze to death. Richard Nixon didn’t do well with birds either. He had a toxic bird repellant misted over the parade route to avoid untimely droppings. Instead, the route was littered with dead pigeons.

And finally, William Henry Harrison gave the longest inaugural speech on record, more than 8,000 words, on a cold, rainy day. He caught pneumonia and died a month later.

What’s going on up in Cumberland?

Courtenay and Comox water system users issued another boil water advisory this week due to high turbidity in Comox Lake, its single source of water. The advisory warns that silt flowing into Comox Lake may negate the system’s disinfection process.

The primarily root cause, however, is the Village of Cumberland’s outdated dam water system, which allows excess flows into Perseverance Creek and causes the turbidity in the lake. Because Cumberland hasn’t fixed its antiquated dams, users of the water system are going to have to pay more than $100 million to install a new water filtration plant.

Meanwhile, Cumberland’s sewage treatment system continues to pollute waterways that flow into the Trent River and into Baynes Sound through the Trent River estuary. The village opted out of sewerage system planning with the Comox Valley Regional District, insisting beyond hope that it can secure funding to build it’s own treatment plant and discharge system.

Feels like Cumberland only wants to be part of the Comox Valley when they benefit exclusively.

Christy Clark Liberals wasted $2.6 million on lawyers

The B.C. Liberals spent $2.6 million on legal fees to defend Christy Clark’s unlawful legislation that attempted to prevent teachers from bargaining class size and support staff rules. But after 15 years in the courts, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favor of the teachers. That money could have funded the hiring of 57 new teachers, or almost one extra teacher for eache of the province’s 60 school districts.

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