Growing up on Gabriola. What will our children tell us it was like?

Jane Reddington

Sounder Staff

Tuesday, June 7 2016

I can see the branches of the cherry tree moving around in our little orchard. It’s seven in the evening and I haven’t seen my daughter for a little too long. She said she needed to get up the cherry tree to find some yellow cherries and I’m guessing that’s what she’s doing now. 

I see a foot coming down, steadying her on a branch that’s long since been cut off, and it makes me smile. When I was nine years old, like she will be in a few weeks, I used to love to climb trees, especially the cherry tree in my parents’ backyard. It was wonderful to get as high as I could and sit looking out at the world from a perch that seemed so tranquil. I could feel the wind across my face, and I knew each branch and which one would help me get to the top.

It makes me think that I am forever grateful for our decision to move to Gabriola and raise our children here. I spent some of my childhood growing up in West Vancouver. That was the early 1980s and we often rode our bikes out until dusk in the summer with the boys next door. 

It was a time of exploring creeks, camping in the backyard, going to Ambleside to the beach and feeling very safe in the world. Gabriola has been a safe place to raise my children and for them to have a childhood that means lots of sunshine, bouncing on the trampoline and biking to school. 

They get their candy at the Co-op, like I used to at Mac’s, nickels bought a lot back then. There were no loonies or toonies, we had bills for each of those and a brown bag full of candy was golden. I liked Big League chewing gum, gobstoppers and fizzy candy that exploded in my mouth. 

In a lot of ways, I think we’ve been able to give our children the childhood we had by moving to Gabriola. My partner was raised near Lighthouse Park and there could never be enough time playing in the forest or near the water. We were blessed. We are still blessed. 

With fruit trees in our garden, grass to run barefoot in and lots of downtime to lie around and be bored, and in their boredom, they find new games to play, the joy of growing plants in the greenhouse, and come summer, plunging off the rocks into the ocean.

I wonder sometimes how many places in the world are like this, giving such freedom to the young, not locking doors, safe without alarms, we are at once part of the modern world but so much part of the old world, where birds and deer and garter snakes hold wonder. 

I think about how my children will view their childhood. I hope they will look back and see the light streaming in, their socks and shoes long forgotton and warm beds at night. I hope they will give me the thumbs up on this time in their life. And as parents, I think that’s all we can hope for, when it’s all said and done.