When my parents gave me a round the world ticket instead of a uni application after school- my first stop was Canada to visit my uncle, aunt and cousins. My cousin Jay had just spent the summer in Australia surfing around the country with his best friend Geoff. We were the same age so it was very easy to mix into each other’s social groups.
I flew in from 35 degree weather in Australia and was driven straight to Big White, Kelowna for a family skiing trip. Why not Whistler? Because Big White’s better, I was told. Having never seen snow before, I was overwhelmed by huge snow banks taller than cars on the side of the road and snow on the fir trees just like I had seen in the movies. I learnt about snow angels and drinking hot toddies.
As I had never skied before it was my cousin Jay’s task to teach me. I was dressed in my aunt’s old and unfashionable full body aqua ski suit, clutching onto Jay’s ski poles as he dragged me down the green run whilst I snow ploughed. It must have been a very amusing site for the toddlers whizzing by who could all ski before they could walk, as most Canadians can.
Back in Richmond, I was sleeping under the pool table this time. Holly the Dalmatian had been replaced by Rover the vicious tabby cat who brought me birds and mice for breakfast. The pool room also doubled as the band practice room for “Public House”. Jay played drums, Geoff played violin, Wayne was on vocals and Chris on guitar.
I became friends with some of the girls, Jeanette, Kim and Dana. We went drinking at “The Keg” and had a bonfire party at the dyke. One day, we went to the beach and a field full of sunflowers.
Revisiting the killer whales at Vancouver Aquarium and the totem poles in Stanley Park was a hi light. I went to Prospect Point with its iconic view over the green Lions Gate Bridge to West Vancouver.
I went driving around town with my cousin Kate who had just gotten her driver’s license. We cruised to Dairy Queen or Tim Horton’s with pop music blaring and a couple of her friends in the back seat. We drove to the family’s holiday land at White Rock and visited the pier.
My cousin Glen introduced me to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which I didn’t like; and Maple Walnut ice cream, which I loved. We flew kites in Stevenson and went to Granville Island.
Glen was training to be a pilot and was getting his flying hours up with small plane trips from Boundary Bay Airport. He took me on a flight to the Gulf Islands. We flew over Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island and saw the point where the Fraser River meets the Strait of Georgia. We had a bird’s eye view of Madeira Park Peninsula at Pender Harbour, Capilano River and the house in Richmond.