Thursday, June 8, 2023
June 8, 2023

Viewpoint: Listen to the old-timers


I have been looking through my Victoria phone book dated 1940. There is a small section for Ganges; Miss FM Aitkens was the local agent. Phones were generally usable between 7 a.m. and midnight.

There were also instructions for using the new dial telephones, which I found riveting. Running through the names I was amazed by how many were still here 25 years later when I showed up, and remain here to this day. Akerman, Beech, Bond, Caldwell, Cunningham, Hepburn, Howard, Layard, Lee, Mouat, Murakami, Patterson, Ruckle (the Ruckle property was always open for the use of everyone, long before the family gave it to the province as a park, probably the most generous act to occur on the island since it rose out of the salt chuck), Toynbee, Wood, to name a few.

Those were the days when logging, hunting and fishing were not yet sins but rather a way to keep the family fed. Loggers wore their caulk boots into the Harbour House beer parlour. The wood plank floor was a sight to behold. I often wonder what would have happened if some poor fool had wandered in sporting a man-bun.

Not in the book were others who I think were here in the ‘40s, but phoneless, but definitely present in the ‘60s when I came to the island. Marcotte, Byron (not commonly known is the fact that all male Byron babies are capable of operating a backhoe from the moment of birth . . . fascinating!), Cudmore, Reynolds and so many more . . . all still here.

Now we have another election on the horizon and some of these names are appearing on signs. “They want to clearcut Salt Spring!” some people say. Really? I highly doubt this. Even if they wanted to, how the hell could they do it? But this sort of crap makes great propaganda when a valid argument is not ready to hand. It’s a Trump thing; tell a lie often enough and it soon becomes an “alternate fact,” well on its way to becoming the truth in the eyes of those who want it to be true.

I hate to break it to you, folks, but these are the working people, the ones who keep the wheels turning. To me they represent a giant step back to a time when common sense was much more common, before so many other people came to save us from ourselves.

Jamie Harris has been ruffling feathers as an islands trustee, so he’s obviously on the right track. The focus of the four on the red posters is what is good for everyone, especially the workers who can’t find a place for their family members to live. Many have already left the island, leaving businesses short-handed and unable to keep up to demand.

I can picture some upper-crust resident rising in the middle of the night: “EGAD! My toilet is faulty! My kingdom for a plumber!” Sadly, there could be no plumbers left on Salt Spring. He would have to get one coming from the city, assuming a ferry crew was available.

A little accountability is a wonderful thing. The Local Community Commission with the right people might be the cure for what ails us. With the wrong people, another potential logjam. Listen to the old-timers.


  1. Hmm…while the sentiment has some value…actions speak louder than words.

    One of the four is responsible for the safe harbour intitaitave which is anti housing disguised as environmental stewardship.

    I agree the clear cut criers are seriously deluded folks.

    And slates have no place in municipal politics …so elect independents and leave the slates and endor$ed candidates behind.

  2. I am one of the oldtimers. I grew up there & my parents lived there for 40 years. I left because of jobs & college. As far as I am concerned nothing has changed. The youth need a rec. Centre. Need housing for service people & live in dumps. There needs to have many changes for the island to be attracting workers, not just rich people buying homes


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