“O WHAT A LIFE”
Continuation of excerpts from the diary of John Barclay MAYON on his 1939 visit to his 80 year old mother for the first time since they emigrated from Liverpool UK in 1910, he to Sydney and his mother to Vancouver BC.
Friday, June 30
Victoria BC passengers making preparation for landing tonight. 10am Land now sighted Cape Flattery is now seen on the USA mainland. 11.30am now entering the Straits of Juan de Fuca, Washington coast to the mainland. Vancouver Island on the port side. Beautiful sight sailing along the coast and a beautiful sunny evening. Many bays are being passed, houses are easily discernable. Mountain sides are lined with Douglas Firs. Arrived Victoria BC 6pm. Met on arrival by a nephew and niece – our first meeting. Went to their home, had tea and took a walk seeing as much as possible in the short time to hand. Saw landing place of King and Queen to Victoria, Federal House of the Parliament of BC, the Victoria Hotel, the Empress in its wonderful setting, the green trees being wonderful. Cedars, Douglas Firs, Maples, Hemlocks, English Hollies and Hawthorns. Back to ship, sailed for Vancouver 11pm. Before leaving, talked over the phone to my people and heard by mother’s and brother’s voices once again after close to 30 years.
Saturday, July 1 – Dominion Day
Up early to see Vancouver from the Narrows. Arrived 7am. Wonderful welcome, met by my people, what a reunion. Home to breakfast and did we talk. I’ll say. First impressions of Vancouver very nice. The setting is wonderful, the mountains as background and evergreen trees surely make a fine picture. Visited golf links in evening, did not play, just a caddy. Plus fours not unpacked. Home to tea. At night, drove through City, went through the famous Vancouver Hotel – cost 13 million pounds, most gorgeous. The interior is marvelously finished and furnished. To describe it aptly one should say a Palace. Had first glass of beer on Canadian soil in this hotel. Very different to home customs. Home again. Bed 12pm after a marked day in my lifetime.
Sunday, 2 July
Spent morning quietly. In evening went for wonderful drive around the mountain sides. Stood by chalet were King and Queen viewed Vancouver – almost on mountain top. Although summer, the mountain tops are still snow-capped – a glorious sight. The scenic drives are beautiful.
Tuesday, 4 July
Later in the day went over to New Westminster – much older town than Vancouver, situated on Frazer River. Great lumber industry, salmon canneries and mixed farming. Enjoyed pleasant trip around outlying parts. Visited the grave of my sister in a beautifully situated cemetery “Ocean view”. Sad thoughts, but pleasant memories. The outlay is beautiful, headstones – just a marble slab risen a couple of inches above the ground, the whole place just resembling a beautiful park and anyone passing by would not know anything different. The burial system is very reverent and scientific and quite a method. My travels through Vancouver and impressions will be given in a general way. As in any new country, one can spend many weeks visiting all the beauty spots. The Frazer River runs many miles inland and most of the industrial undertakings are lined along its fronts on both the North and South sides. Huge lumber mills are to be seen, also paper manufacturing plants and many canneries. Went through one salmon cannery out in New Westminster and saw the whole operation from the ships’ holds to the tin – a very fine spectacle and highly scented. Booms of large logs can be seen all along the banks of river- surely a great industry.
I had to pleasure of spending 35 minutes in the air, flying over Vancouver, the mountains and surrounding districts. The view was magnificent and I feel indeed fortunate to be one who has seen this fine country from land, water and air.
The mountainous background of Vancouver gives it many scenic drives and one can take these drives many times and enjoy them more and more. The streetcar system is run under a flat rate – one can travel any distance and transfer tickets are used. 12 miles for 7 cents is possible. The inter-urban trains run in conjunction with street cars – but travel much quicker along their own tracks through outlying districts. The railway stations are built low to the ground and the trains are composed mainly of large Pulman type cars. These rail systems are of enormous length, running across Canada and the USA. 14 Pulman carriages and Observation car are not unusual. The residential areas, avenues, streets, etc are minus fences, the avenue effect with ornamental trees and open gardens are very pleasing. Stanley Park, mostly in its natural state, and occupies a large area and its timbers are very fine. Vancouver has many bridges of a very fine nature, making the City easily accessible from all outlying points. It contains many fine buildings. The Marine Building and City Hall are very prominent. The city gardens are lovely – its beautiful climate accounts for most of this. From June 30 to August 5 was spent in the City and surrounding districts visiting many old friends and meeting new relations. After 30 years of separation, one sees many changes. British Colombia will always be, to me, a memory of a beautiful country.
To be continued.
Don’t forget to contribute your memories and also any old photographs that you would like to see published in this magazine’s “AS WE WERE” section.