Three generations share a trip

Photo by Lesli Christianson-Kellow

My family had visited Vancouver Island a few times, but this time we would experience it through my father-in-law’s eyes. It had been a long winter and he wanted to see spring on the coast.

My father-in-law, Roy, grew up on Vancouver Island, at Cordova Bay Road in Victoria.

Once he was an adult, he left the island for Calgary, got married and raised a family.

One spring he decided to join us – me (his daughter-in-law), his son and his two granddaughters, ages 12 and 15-years-old on a multigenerational trip to the coast. Roy, who was 74-years-old at the time, hadn’t been back to Victoria for years and going as a group of three generations was as special as it got in his eyes.

We arrived in Victoria on a clear day. As soon as we left the airport in our rental SUV, Roy started narrating our journey and didn’t stop the whole trip. The first thing he wanted to do was visit the neighbourhood he grew up in. As we drove along the hilly roads, Roy pointed out landmarks and businesses that used to be farms and fields of sunflowers. Eventually we rounded a familiar curve along Cordova Bay Road. His childhood home, which had been sold years earlier, came into view.

Scaffolding shrouded the original tiny 2-bedroom house.

“Boy oh boy, would you look at that!” Roy said in awe.

For what was once his boyhood home was now on its way to becoming a mansion. It was under construction. Intrigued, we parked in the driveway and got out to take a closer look. No sooner had we started circling the building when a fellow came out of the under-construction house. He was friendly when he greeted us, but clearly, he was baffled as to why we were in his yard.

My husband quickly explained that this was the childhood home of his dad, and introduced Roy. The new owner’s face immediately became animated and he shook Roy’s hand and introduced himself as Raymond. He said that he had bought the property a few years ago, and then decided to add on to the home to accommodate his children and grandchildren when they came to visit. Raymond was excited when he

explained that he had heard that a family with four boys had once happily lived in the original 2-bedroom home. Knowing this he had felt it was important to keep the original ‘footprint’ of the old home since it had ‘good energy’.

With that, he told us to follow him and he led us up makeshift steps that led into the original part of the house. We found ourselves in the tiny original kitchen. Roy stopped in his tracks and looked around.

“Well, that’s where the stove used to be,” Roy said, pointing to a bare wall. He said that his mother would fry hamburgers and watch out the window while he and his brothers climbed a big apple tree that used to be in the yard. Roy’s granddaughters looked at him in awe that he used to climb apple trees. Raymond said that the room was going to be an entryway.

Then Raymond then led us through the new addition that was under construction, describing what it would look like. There was only framing in place, but Raymond explained with such enthusiasm that we were able to imagine how the finished home would look.

When the tour was complete, Raymond shook Roy’s hand again and patted him on the back.

“I am grateful that I had this opportunity to meet someone from the original family that lived here, Roy.”

Raymond invited us all to visit him when we were in Victoria again. Then we got into our rental vehicle, rolled down the windows and waved good-bye.

As we turned back onto Cordova Bay Road, Roy said he wanted to go to McMorran’s, a general store and post office, where he and three brothers would go to buy candy and pop when they were young.

As we approached McMorran’s, we could see that there was a sign on the door. It said the store was closed down and a restaurant overlooking the beach would be taking its place in the future.

We parked anyway because Roy, although disappointed that McMorran’s wasn’t there anymore, wanted to show us the beach where he had spent his days as a kid.

We walked down the steep steps that led to the beach. It stretched out in both directions. Beach houses lined up along the sand. The beach stretched out for quite a distance before waves rolled in over it.

Roy looked out over the water and then down the beach. He walked over to a tangled stack of driftwood the tide had left behind. We followed him and the girls sat down on the driftwood. He picked up a stick and poked it into the sand.

Roy said in the summertime, everyone would gather on the beach every Saturday. He’d run up and down the beach and swim in the water all day long with his friends. There would be boat races in the water. Later they’d put huge pots of water over fire pits and boil corn and crabs to eat for supper on the beach.

After a while, we slowly made out way back to the vehicle. When we got to the top of the stairs we all turned and looked out over the ocean. We stopped and picked up fish and

chips on the way to our rental house for the week. The cozy house overlooked the ocean. There was a screened-in porch for us all to gather in the evening to play games.

The adults drank beer and played cribbage.

My husband and I realized pretty quickly that even though Roy had vision problems and couldn’t see clearly sometimes, he had absolutely no problem seeing the tiny peg holes on the crib board during our nightly marathon of cribbage (which we seldom won). Plus he always saw the points in our hands that we had missed

Our time together brought us closer together as we considered everyone’s varied needs. During the day we explored Victoria’s Harbourfront, the Empress Hotel, Chinatown and Fisherman’s Wharf. We’d stop often for coffee breaks, snacks and afternoon naps.

We took a day trip to Milner Gardens up island outside of Parksville. We visited the site’s tea room and drank tea while eating scones with strawberry jam & clotted cream on a drizzly afternoon.

And everywhere we looked we saw signs of spring – crocuses, daffodils and tulips.