Boom(ers) or Bust

Boom(ers) or Bust

According to most authorities, the term “baby boomers” means you were born between 1947 and 1966. I was born in 1947 and am apparently at the leading edge of a huge chunk of population who are considering what to do in our “golden years”. I love what Iʼm doing and where I live, but over the years, Iʼve moved and changed careers many times.

My last, and final, move was from Manitoba to Vancouver Island back in 1996. Say what you will about Manitoba, I truly enjoyed my years there. The cold rarely bothered me. I could dress for it and grew to enjoy the challenge of surviving temperatures hovering near where nitrogen freezes, let alone my fingers and toes. The geography and geology is astounding. Every year we turned up seashells while cultivating reminding us we were farming an ancient lake bottom. The escarpment marked the edge of the lake and much of the land was the sandy edges of the long gone lake. We drove over rises in the road called moraines, formed by glaciers hundreds of thousands of years ago.

My brother came for a visit and after driving several miles somewhere north of Popular Point he asked if I knew where we were. I gave him my estimate of miles east and north of Portage, but he waved me off. Looking out over the vast expanse of fields and with a stone serious look on his face he said, “weʼre on the fringe of civilization”. Iʼd never thought about it that way, but there wasnʼt much north of where we were and this was certainly where many of the settlers had stopped just a few generations before. Earlier that year, Iʼd been invited to take a flight in a small plane owned by a neighboring farmer. Itʼs a whole different world from above and I was mesmerized. I noticed a two parallel tracks that ran all the way to the horizon from field to field. It would be interrupted by a road, but then continue and easily visible whether the field was potatoes, flax, or barley. The young pilot asked me if I knew what it was. Iʼd never noticed it from ground, but from the air it was easy to spot. I guessed abandoned railroad tracks. He smiled and told me it was an old wagon trail that connected to the famous Chisholm Trail. Amazing!

Although I had lived in the Lower Mainland for 10+ years in the 1970-80ʼs, I never set foot on Vancouver Island. I knew there was a ferry, but had no reason to take it. Instead I moved myself and my family to Manitoba for the opportunity to manage a couple of large farms in the Portage la Prairie area.

My wife at the time had a sister getting married on Vancouver Island and we drive across the prairies, over the mountains, across beautiful British Columbia, onto the ferry and arrived in Nanaimo in the rain.
The next day, my in-laws from Duncan suggested we go to the river for a swim. I was astounded by three things in particular. There were ripe blackberries surrounding the swim site and I probably ate more than the average bear would have. Two, the water was crystal clear. I donʼt think the rivers in Manitoba are polluted, but they sure arenʼt clear. The third joy, perhaps the biggest…… there were no mosquitos. Itʼs hard to describe prairie mosquitos to someone who hasnʼt experienced them. I had become acclimatized to the weather, didnʼt do much swimming, but never did get used to the hordes of mosquitos that were an integral rite of Springʼs arrival and the constant drone that filled the summer evenings.

After living on the island for the past 15 years, the water in the rivers and ocean are still crystal clear, and the berries come back year after year. But one of my greatest joys is climbing into bed and not listening for the tell-tale drone of a mosquito in the room…. waiting for me to drift off to sleep so it can fulfill itʼs blood lust. Did I mention there are no poisonous snakes on the island? Is it really the paradise so many Islanders brag about? Itʼs not Bali, but itʼs pretty darn nice.

Whether youʼre a Boomer or not, if youʼre looking for a safe, beautiful place to spend a few weeks or months every year taking a break from the harsher side of the Prairies, do yourselves a favour and check it out!

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