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Three Weeks in British Columbia #5 – Port Hardy





November 22, 2017

The Travelers

It’s time to pick up on our three-week exploration of British Columbia. We breakfasted in Port Hardy in the Lyons Café (we were about the only non-locals there–everyone else knew each other). Port Hardy, like Lund on the Sunshine Coast, is the end of the road. For those who wish to travel further north, BC ferries leave Port Hardy, on a regular basis, for their spectacular sixteen-hour cruise to Prince Rupert.

After gassing up, we headed back south on Highway 19 down the spine of Vancouver Island. The smoke from over 200 fires engulfing the province was at last beginning to thin out. Mountains towered up on both sides of the highway, but low visibility kept us from seeing the higher peaks. They get quite high; in fact, Victoria Peak is 7,484 feet high. The island range gets plenty of snow during winter months, but due to the prolonged dry period, we saw no snow ourselves.

We were disappointed by the sprawling town of Campbell River, as it was wrecked–at least for us–by strip-malls and unlovely development. Guess we’ll have to return another time, and perhaps we may find aspects we missed.

Highway 4 to the Pacific Coast is being discovered by the world. So much so that you jolly well better have lodging reservations made weeks ahead of time for the coast. In the summer, it seemed to us like a good share of B.C. residents had fled the mainland for Vancouver Island. But not just Canadians–there were visitors from around the world! Not too long ago, comparatively few travelers had even heard of Tofino at the end of Highway 4. And we wondered just what there was on the Pacific side of the island to make it such a tourist Mecca.

As we neared Port Alberni, we couldn’t help but notice hundreds of cars parked on both sides of the road. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to join them. At the west end of Cameron Lake is Cathedral Grove, one of the last remaining easily accessible stands of old-growth forest remaining in British Columbia. The tallest trees are protected by MacMillan Provincial Park. Though the stand is small, it is precious to all those who treasure those few remaining stands of old growth not yet wiped out by the lumber industry barons. A 0.3 mile trail leads visitors into a majestic stand of 200-800-year-old Douglas firs that rise a “neck-straining” 230 feet from the forest floor.

Next week we’ll move on to what Canadians call “The West Coast.”


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September 20, 2017

Canada is big—roughly the size of the United States, but in population, the U.S. is ten times more populous. Canada, this year, is celebrating its 150th year as a nation (still an integral part of the British Empire). Unprecedented numbers of Canadians are celebrating that anniversary by visiting their great provincial parks—free, during 2017.

Camp Hope is nestled in the mountains

Interestingly enough, I’ve noticed, in recent years, that the U.S. and Canada are gradually but inexorably merging their cultures, states, and provinces. When it’s hot in the U.S., U.S. citizens travel north; when it’s cold in Canada, Canadians travel south. In Florida, during a certain week in the autumn, it seems like half of Canada has arrived in the suddenly crowded streets. The same is true in California and Arizona. More and more, both nations are tending to refer to states and provinces interchangeably.

Canadians often feel suffocated by the omnipresent U.S. media, impossible to avoid since the vast majority of Canadians live so close to the U.S. border. And they are bombarded by U.S. media 24/7. In fact, that constant electronic blitz makes it increasingly difficult for Canadians to maintain their cultural uniqueness. Intermarriage blurs that as well: our daughter Michelle married Duane Culmore of Oshawa, Ontario, thus resulting in our two grandsons, Taylor and Seth, being dual citizens of both nations.

Thus when I was recently invited to direct two camp meeting seminars in Hope, British Columbia, we welcomed the opportunity to learn more about that great nation to our north.


In America, camp meetings have been part of our culture for centuries. In fact, most Protestant churches have a long rich tradition of holding them. Even the generally secular Chautauqua gatherings were little different from the Christian camp meetings structure-wise.

The Lodge at Camp Hope

For a while it appeared that camp meetings would be snuffed out by our secular culture, however, it’s amazing to see how many churches stubbornly refuse to give them up. It is my personal belief that the American pendulum (both the U.S. and Canada are alike Americans) has ideologically swung so far to the left that it has reached the point where there almost has to be a course correction. Especially is this true in the more conservative heartland outside the mega-cities. I submit that the continued existence of camp meetings is part of this cultural phenomenon.

Next week, I’ll tell you what it’s like to attend a camp meeting in this new millenium.