By Chris Parker
As a youngster growing up in Yorkshire, England I was privileged to have my parents ‘adopt’ a young man that came to be a foundational part of my life. In fact this young man – perhaps 10 years younger than my father – went from Mr.Wood to Uncle John within a few months. This was simply a sign of respect for someone who was a frequent visitor and dinner guest in our home…even a sleepover guest on occasion.
Mr. Wood was in fact something called ‘The Area Youth Officer’ and as such organized a variety of events that allowed youth groups in various villages to compete against each other in sports and drama. On other occasions a large dance would be organized which would unite the Youth…while on other occasions a guest speaker might be the rationale that drew everyone together. All of these activities needed financial control…which is where my father (an accountant) came in…He controlled the purse strings. For my father, this labour of love (volunteer position) was to have far reaching implications that lead us all the way to McBride, British Columbia several decades later.
Uncle John had a car, which at the time was peculiar to the shopkeepers, doctors, and the wealthy. All the rest of us travelled on the fabled double decker buses that united Yorkshire and allowed my parents to work 8 -10 miles away in Leeds and Wakefield. These old fashioned roads were not straight (more akin to a dog’s hind leg) and yet they were narrow…meaning that top speeds were pedestrian by today’s standards. It wasn’t long before the old Ford was replaced with a sleek new Vauxhall Vista Cruiser, and it was in that car that due to ‘Uncle John’s generosity I became familiar with all these windy interconnected roads that otherwise I would never have travelled.
On Sunday afternoon Uncle John would wait for us after church and whisk us off for a new adventure that took us down old roadways to visit the Dunsters, Dome Creeks, Tete Jaunes etc. of the area. Ever the historian, Uncle John would explain why a bridge labelled Holmes River Bridge was really known by the locals as ‘Beaver Bridge’. He would explain why the construction in one town was in wood while the next was in stone or brick.
We never (or rarely) travelled down the same road twice…which allowed me to see a lot of Yorkshire that I simply would otherwise never have seen.
Now that my life’s journey has brought me to McBride, I intend to travel over ‘the Beaver Bridge’ and explore Dunster…or whatever happens to end up ‘At the End of the Road.’ I will stop and talk to a farmer over the fence, visit a new or old business or stop in at a garage sale…each time bringing with me some of my wife’s wonderful baking to share over coffee or tea. The stories – your stories – that will come from those travels will be the subject for this column.
If you see a little wet eye at the end of those visits it will be because I have been able to share your time…your history…or life’s journey – it will be my privilege. And perhaps just a little corner will be remembering the joy of exploring brought into my life through ‘Uncle John.’
I look forward to meeting you when you are ‘At the End of the Road’.
Chris Parker writes for the Goat from McBride.