Well Here’s What Happened…
December 12, 2019
In 1982, we received a long letter of apology — a rousing tale of a group of families’ move from Hornby Island all the way up to Prince Rupert, complete with cows, roosters and an entire “wagon train” of broken-down vehicles!
This letter was unearthed a few days ago under a pile of old files and although we have no way of substantiating the story…whether it’s true or not doesn’t really matter because it is spectacularly entertaining.
We hope you enjoy it as much as we did (the typos add to the drama)!
A New Year’s Resolution.
Apologies, well here’s what happened: what the cows and goats and chickens and rabbits and children on only half an acre of Hornby Island it was only a matter of time before we bounced off the walls. Jim gets back from logging and says him and his old lady and kids are ready to head out of town too.
Now I’m not forgettin’ about the books. God knows I take out about forty of ‘em every time the bookmobile parks in front of the Co-op. I’m getting’ to the part about the books!
Anyhow the hottest rumour is land up near the Yukon border — so we book passage on the Ferry from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert (two months in advance — Lots of time for bookmobile to come and pick up these books). We pack up the two farms and put EVERYTHING on wheels. The shabbiest caravan seen on the road since grapes of Wrath-old crippled trucks on their last journey, pulling homemade trailers that defy engineering principles.
Remember — this circus only had to make it to Port Hardy and then roll off the boat (or be towed off) at Prince Rupert: they could succumb and we’d winter wherever that would be.
But the bookmobile failed to come twice in a row because of bad weather or whatever. I didn’t know anyone on Hornby I could trust with the responsibility of returning books for me. It takes a day to drive to Courtenay to the Library. We didn’t have the time now as our tickets couldn’t be traded for a later date — we made it to Port Hardy with only two hours to spare!! I was going to package the books and mail them from Prince Rupert…but we never arrived: The were loading us on the boat when someone looked into one of our trailers and realized we had livestock. So the boat left without us: Livestock verboten!
At this point, I honestly forgot about the books for about a week, during which time we searched in vain for transportation to Prince Rupert. It became clear that we’d have to drive back there ourselves — all the way back the way we came and across to Vancouver — then Northward to the top of the Province. Our wheels weren’t designed to take another 150 miles. Everything needed to be rebuilt: It took us a month to get to Horseshoe Bay. All the cows and livestock and people to take care of while you’re broken down on the THIN Island highway with traffic whizzing by non-stop 24 hrs/day.
At this point, we would drop the books off in Vancouver where we were going to buy our Winter supplies. At our standard rate of breakdowns — 6 bad trucks and 3 bad trailers break down every hundred miles (equivalent to one old truck breaking down every 900 miles) we knew we couldn’t get to Prince Rupert by snowfall. Do you have any idea how much water even ONE cow drinks per day? Between ongoing life support problems and break downs we had little time to read anyway.
Speaking of life support problems: it is essential that the whole caravan sticks together because the animals need care two or three times/day MINIMALLY so their “barn” trailer MUST stay with and near the folks (who travel in the trucks) and the cook wagon must be with the women and children as must the bunkhouse etc. Everything gets panicky when we get separated on the road. So when Ma (who was the first to pull off the Ferry* at Horseshoe Bay) made a wrong turn and headed for Squamish instead of Vancouver, we all had to follow — hoping to catch her. That’s when the next vehicle in line ran out of gas. We finally caught ma in Whistler a day later and several breakdowns for the record. Now for sure, we’d have to mail the books. But of course, now the Post Office stopped working —everything else broke by now — so why not? We’re snowed in on the other side of Lillooet. We get to town maybe once a month (see new address) below. No water here on the side of an avalanche where we’re parked for the winter. We’re spending a lot of time with the children and livestock — lots of firewood as we have to melt snow for water. Everyone healthy — the dog had six pups but the old rooster froze to death. If we had enough dry space to unpack somewhat we could find those books. I’ll find ‘em and mail ‘em to you soon as I can even though the rate’s doubled.
P.S. Sorry- No more paper
*Ferry’s are hell: they break us up when they load us and release us at spaced intervals — always threatening to get us lost from each other!