Exploring Texada Island
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There is something I felt while exploring Sonoma in the Arizona heat that I did not expect to experience once again in the Pacific Northwest. It was a calming, grounded sensation and while exploring Texada Island - a northern British Columbia Gulf Island, I was struck with the same sensations. Perhaps it was the iron ore or gold reserves hidden deep in the ground, but it was clear that this Island was a magical place that produced intense vibration.
Landing by plane or ferry on Texada Island, the first thing that happens is that your cell phone reception gets spotty – probably due to the rich minerals beneath the ground. The iron ore and copper discoveries not only stimulated a boom town in 1876, but even now they bestow blessings on us by encouraging us to slow down and turn off the technology. Texada grounds you in the here and now.
Standing on the Van Anda wharf, eagles and crows fought for the prized spot in a giant evergreen. Signs with artwork explain the significance of the location – it was made famous when the Cheslakee ship sank in 1913. Tranquillity is like a shroud as I watch the gentle smoke waft from mills in the Powell River on Vancouver Island, 9 km across the water. I imagine the many ships that would have snuck off the dock during prohibition when Texada housed an illegal distillery in Pocahontas Bay that supplied liquor to the United States.
En route to the quaint Mary Mary Café (named for multiple Marys who have worked and supported it), we passed the Open Door Yoga Studio. Several devotees lounged on the porch and were so inviting that I wanted to do a sun salute. Teacher Daniel Clement was so welcoming that I wish I could have taken a class or two. Out of the same Van Anda studio works Cindy Babyn, who specializes in Sound Healing Toning. She also practices amethyst crystal biomat, PEMF technology, and tarot.
Fresh-baked treats were devoured at the Mary Mary Café, as the owner Gerry (the son of a Mary) told us about the Texada Blues and Roots Festival (http://www.texadabluesfestival.com/), slated for July 29 and 30th. Before leaving I got a peek at the island phone directory, in which his wife is listed as the town’s resident entertainer and clown.
Bob Timms runs the Texada Island Arts Council and volunteers extensively in the community. The camaraderie abounds, and it seems that everyone has at least two volunteer positions. Despite his schedule, Bob was able to find time to build a new yurt as part of his vacation rental company. This enormous decagon is filled with instruments of all kinds. Groups gather for practice or special evenings and even Cindy Babyn has run her healing workshops in the delightful venue.
The nearby marina is nestled into the shoreline, and when travellers arriving by vessel approach, Bob greets them with walking tour maps of Texada. Marked posts at each location indicate there is a place of historical significance to discover. Throughout the self-guided tour you will learn about lookout points, see mineshafts and get to visit museum. if you are lucky you will meet Mr. Pete Stiles, a former mine manager who curates this gem. Inside you will discover life during the gold rush – from uniforms, to packaged products to thousands of mining items. Opening on July 1, 2017, the simulated mine is a wonder to experience in order to fully connect the past to the present. There are still three limestone quarries on the island, producing over 6 million tonnes of limestone each year.
Just outside the museum is a mural done by children at the next-door school and famous artist and aviator O.D. Dobrostanski, or "Doby". If you aren't lucky enough to see his artistic talents on one of his covers for the Canadian Air Force magazine you can witness his work here. The juxtaposition of his paintings from early 20th century sketches with the school kids’ renditions of the same images are riveting. Just being around Doby gave me energy and spirit, and I was honoured that he spoke about shifts and stages in life, and how he was accepting these changes.
Shelter Point, with its picnic tables and concession well-stocked with ice cream, is as spiritual as it is beautiful. The huge trees form a picturesque backdrop, and in the summer there is even a sandcastle competition on site. The competition weekend also featured live entertainment, slow-pitch ball games, games and races, a beer garden, a barbeque, a pig roast, and a dance. In and around Shelter Point are easily accessible campsites and glorious hiking trails.
On a hike along the south-western edge of Texada, I finally spotted it. The 2.1 meter-wide Douglas Fir dubbed the ‘Grandfather Tree’. On a bank above the beach below, clocking in at over 600 years old, this tree was un-huggable in its girth. Locals dispute the actual name – some call it the ‘Magic Tree’ and others have dubbed it the ‘Mother Tree’. Many have said to have achieved new levels of spirituality in its presence and I had to shoot a panorama vertically in order to capture its majesty. On the beach the special flower rocks native to the island were prevalent but then something truly sacred happened. Doby found a rock with the symbol of change on it - a line cutting through the centre of an endless circle around the outside. Perhaps people are right about the powers of the magic tree. I saw peace and joy grace his face with this discovery and he excitedly carried the rock back to the car. I can't wait for my next journey back to this land of gold, 600-year-old trees magic rocks and healing.