THE GENESIS AND EARLY HISTORY OF THE UVODC (1963-1966)
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John Pringle belonged to UBC's Varsity Outdoors Club in 1961/62. He transferred to UVic, and was looking forward to joining the UVic Outdoors Club. Surely there would be a sister Club on this new campus? Disappointed that there wasn't, he put up a few posters advertising a meeting for anyone interested in hiking on the weekends. For whatever reason, funding perhaps, we eventually organized as a formal club, but initially without an executive. Founding members were John Pringle, Gordon Robilliard, Terry Findlay, John Fehler, Dave Sawbridge, Sally Clark and Glenda Hawes.
March 27, 1964 (Easter) – McVane Creek and Bear Creek - the UVic Outdoors Club trip around the Port Renfrew - Shawnigan Lake loop. We rendezvoused at Muir Creek beach at 7 a.m., then headed past China Beach trail to a small bridge over McVane Creek. We parked cars and followed the creek down from the road, breaking a new trail through dense salal. On the beach we discovered a lovely waterfall, a very small cave and a somewhat small beach as the tide was high. Also, surprisingly, we discovered a recently abandoned, beached fishing boat.
An interesting side-note -- the previous weekend the Times and Colonist newspapers ran stories about the washing ashore of a small fishing boat and the subsequent search by the RCMP and Search and Rescue members to find the crew who were stranded on the beach due to the dense salal and the steep cliffs rising up to the West Coast logging road. A hue and cry went out about the need to restore the west coast trail and re-establish the telegraph line for emergencies like this. Of course we had to submit our photos showing us all posed on the boat, to demonstrate how ‘easy’ it was to get up to the road by following the creek. I'm not sure how it all ended, but it was certainly newsworthy at the time!
After exploring the beach, the boat, the falls and the cave we returned to the cars via the creek and drove east on the Renfrew Road towards Shawnigan Lake. The next stop was Bear Creek. The seriously dipping and swaying suspension bridge had a long old fire hose hanging from the underside. Gordy and John Pringle took turns swinging from bank to bank on it, Tarzan style, while others - John Fehler, Terry Findlay, Bob Cameron and Tony McCullough went searching for great slabs of slate to drop off the bridge to see who could create the biggest and loudest explosion. No one was injured - more by good luck than good sense! The bridge has since been blown up and the road closed.
Driving on, as we approached Shawnigan Lake, we found some lingering patches of snow, which meant a snowball fight to tease the girls. Sally and I were the initial targets, but we soon tired of that and slept our way back to Victoria.
Long Beach – May 2, 1964
The second major ODC trip was after final exams. We headed to Long Beach on May 2, 1964 for a celebratory camping trip. Thanks to John Pringle, we were able to stay at Peggy Whittington's Singing Sands cabins. They were rustic, but luxurious for ‘a camping outing’ and very affordable. A few years later, when the national park was established, the cabins were demolished and Peggy was most reluctantly relocated – some said to the Sunshine coast, others to Cobble Hill.
Getting there was half the fun. Gordy's old 1952 Dodge was packed to the roof top and beyond as much of our gear was strapped onto a roof rack. By the time we reached Long Beach after travelling for more than three hours on the 60 mile long gravel/dirt logging road, between Port Alberni and Ucluelet, everything and everybody was covered with a thick layer of dust. At this time the road was still a privately owned logging road and gated, open to the public for evening and weekend travel only; as enormous logging trucks plied it during working hours. Long Beach at this time was wonderfully scenic and relatively pristine with very few people living along its 14 km of white sand. Peggy and her husband had walked in from Port Alberni around 1937 and built cabins on their mile of beach front property for the adventurous tourists who had to take the MV Lady Rose from Port Alberni to reach the wild, west coast.
Later that month Gordy, Rik, Glenda, Dave Sawbridge and Pete Moore attempted the West Coast trail south from Bamfield to the Lighthouse. It was rough and overgrown with salal but we did make it the seven km to the Lighthouse before turning back. We had been advised of a cougar on the trail and saw signs of it, but as Gordy was hiking ahead with the shotgun and Rik trailing behind with the ammunition, it was fortunate that we didn’t need it! We returned to Victoria on the evening before the May 24th parade. Gordy and Dave slept on the floor of Rik’s place and the three of them got up early the next morning to a great breakfast prepared by Rik’s mom, and then entered the parade in their wild west outdoor gear with shotguns and fishing rods, and a sign on Rik's 1928 Model A Ford reading "Nitinat or Bust.” A photo was published the following day in the Colonist newspaper showing Gordy walking proudly ahead of the car, shotgun in hand with a red rose in its muzzle.
May found us back at Long Beach, once again celebrating the end of exams. Peggy's cabins were still available and we had another memorable visit, many of us sleeping around a campfire on the beach, waking up to frost decorating our sleeping bags. Apart from this, I have no record of the trips for this academic year.
On Labour Day weekend Gordy, Rik, Dave Sawbridge, Carol Marston and Glenda explored the Island north of Campbell River. The network of logging roads to Port McNeil and Beaver Cove had only just been opened to the public with access permits required and valid only from 6 p.m. Fridays to midnight Sundays. Nevertheless, this finally opened up one-half of Vancouver Island, which until then had been isolated, ‘roads’ (more like wide trails!). We were given a four-page carbon copy print-out with specific directions including mileage accurate to a tenth of a mile, indicating gates, turns, forest lots, logging roads, etc., thanks to the efforts of Alex Merriman and his wife, who travelled and documented every possible route on the Island. We made it as far as Port McNeil, camping at Beaver Cove. The road to Port Hardy was still under construction and it would be 1970 before the road was completed with Port Hardy becoming the southern port for the BC ferries Inside Passage route.
With a new set of faces joining the old guard, we made another 3-day camping trip to Pachena and the little Nitinat area in October 1965. The highlight of that trip was the ‘loan’ of two Canadian Army jeeps that the two MacDonalds, Al and Stu, had ‘borrowed’ for tooling around in, which enabled us to drive part way up Pachena Cone, with five of us actually hiking to the peak. While returning we watched bears playing with old tires at the Franklin River garbage dump.
More new faces and in early November 1965 another large group attempted to hike up Shaw Creek near Youbou, on the north shore of Lake Cowichan. It poured rain, and after slipping and sliding our way along a non-existent trail, we built a large fire, sang songs and ate our lunches. As the rain continued to pelt down, drenching us, we headed home soggy and cold.
By November 20, 1965 the UVIC ODC was large enough that we rented Holyrood House for our Christmas party. Sometime that winter there was enough snow at Spectacle Lake that five or six of us were able to go sledding on the overturned hood from Norman Robilliard's no longer roadworthy 1938 Hudson Hornet. It was not very steerable and sported ragged metal edges, but we managed to have a few runs without severing any limbs. Lots of fun!
Mid-term break in February 1966 found some of us using St. Peter's Anglican Church Hall in Campbell River as a base camp to begin our ascent of Colonel Foster. What possessed us to think we could even find the trail in February is beyond comprehension, given the snow that falls heavily in Strathcona Park. We returned somewhat chastened by our own foolishness but ended up enjoying some time at Miracle Beach before heading home to hit the books again.
By May 1966 the ODC had grown to about 30 members, with Rik Warrington elected President again and most of the 'originals' graduating. For most of us, participating in the ODC was a highlight of our student days and we are pleased to know that others have continued to enjoy the many benefits offered by the club.
Submitted by Glenda Kirk with considerable assistance from John Pringle and Richard Warrington
EXECUTIVE OF THE UVODC 1963-1966
PARTICIPANTS IN THE EARLIEST UVODC TRIPS (1964-1966)
(WITH APOLOGIES TO ANYONE INADVERTENTLY OMITED)
(Names listed in random order)
March 27, 1964 – McVane Creek / Bear Creek - Participants were John Fehler, Gordy ('hard hat') Robilliard, John Pringle, Terry Findlay, Bob Cameron, Tony McCullough, Dave Sawbridge, Sally Clark, Glenda Hawes, Pauline Boyko, Janice Todd, Karen Brown, Don Layman, and Neville Wallbank - 14 in all. I have 31 annotated photos from this trip.
May 2, 1964 – Long Beach -- John Pringle, Gordy ('hard hat') Robilliard, Terry Findlay, Rik Warrington, Glenda Hawes, Sally Clark, Pauline Boyko, Janice Todd, Dave Sawbridge, Fred Silverton, John Simpson, Pete Moore, Vicki Hadland and Betty Conway
September 1965 – Port McNeil and Beaver Cove - Gordy Robilliard, Carol Marston, Rik Warrington, Glenda Hawes and Dave Sawbridge
October 1965 - Pachena – Franklin River garbage dump - Participants were Rik Warrington, Dave Page, John Hall, Dave Talbot, Al McDonald, Stu MacDonald, John Hutchinson, Rick Senkler, David Coombs, Ian ("Brown Mouse") Lendrum, Mike Sampson, Derek Lepsac, Randy Panter(?), Joan Marshall, Linda Ley, Ann Drysdale, Pat John, Jen Carrodus, Raye Davis, Heather (?), Marg Walker, Barb Kuttner, Jean Williams, and Glenda Hawes.
November 1965 – Shaw Creek – Dave Page, Ron Read, Judy Bell, John Hutchinson, John Hall, Dave Coombs, Heather ?, Mike Dawes, Esme Rothman, Joan Marshall, Linda Ley, Christine Kendrick, and Glenda Hawes.
November 20, 1965 Holyrood House Christmas Party – Ron Mill, John Hall, Ian (“Brown Mouse”) Lendrum, Dave Page, Rick Senkler, Mike Sampson, Dave Reid, Sharleen Caton, Randy Panter, Keith Thompson, Allan Peterson, Wendy Ross, Peggy ?, Rik Warrington, Glenda Hawes, Jen Carrodus, Kaye Davis, Christine Kendrick, Pat John, and Joan Marshall.
February 1966 – Campbell River and Mt. Colonel Foster – Rik Warrington, Glenda Hawes, Dave Talbot, Mike Dawes, Liz Havelaar, Linda Ley, Rick Senkler, Joan Marshall, Joyce Chope, Jean Williams, Sharleen Caton, Ed Donald, Dave Coombs, Esme Rothman, Pat John, Gary Howarth, Judy Bell, Ann Drysdale, Dave Reid, John Hall.
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