Senators Poy and Dyck (and everyone else) were especially touched by the words of Nlaka’pamux Elder Marion Dixon, who spoke movingly of her childhood in the area. It was a privilege and honour to take part in such a moving and joyous ceremony.
Archive for the ‘The Road Trip’
October 28, 2010
(QUESNEL) The Billy Barker Casino and Hotel is hopping and we’re not talking about the slot machines or the roulette wheel here. There are over 30 people here in the lower ballroom who have come to put their collective heads together to find a way to reinvigorate the Gold Rush Trails marketing brand.
And what a crowd it is – we have folks from the rafting, hotel, heritage attraction and resort industries. We got representatives from the Regional Destination Marketing Organizations, civic and provincial government and heritage associations. We have folks from Hope to Barkerville and beyond at this Gold Rush Trails Marketing Focus Session.
The conference is a joint-initiative by the Heritage Tourism Alliance of B.C., Aboriginal Tourism B.C. and the New Pathways to Gold Society. We’re all here to compare notes and devise a strategy. It’s a high-stakes game, but the odds are in our favour.
All eyes are up front as facilitator Trevor Kier of Kier and Associates gives a detailed background of past efforts to promote the Gold Rush Trails (GRT) experience. Some great things were done. But, as Kier describes, despite its strategically advantageous location as a key travel corridor and its abundance of heritage and adventure tourism product, the corridor lost market share due to highway expansions and improvements elsewhere, increased competition and limited marketing resources.
Kier spells out how past efforts to promote the GRT experience saw tourism stakeholders across the corridor work together, first as an Alliance and then as a marketing and development Cooperative, to revitalize the GRT as a key travel corridor and attraction. Ultimately, these efforts failed largely because of an inability to attain some measure of sustainability.
A general discussion of the challenges the corridor faces in revitalizing the GRT brand is followed by a break-out session where smaller groups brain-storm ideas on how to reinvigorate the promotion of the GRTs. There are lots of ideas and a keen interest in the need for a reinvigorated GRTs marketing strategy. The people in my focus group think its worth doing – the timing seems right, the will seems to be there and it’s much needed.
There’s a lot of support for thinking big and giving the strategy a WOW factor. When we reconvene as a group, there’s a positive consensus from most participants to move forward with further discussions. Exactly what that should look like, how it should be lead and how to ensure sustainability in the process and execution remains to be determined. But it’s a good start.
The HTA and NPTGS are considering participants’ input, Kier’s comments on the session and there will be further consultations aimed at moving the initiative forward. You can bet on it.
Stephen at the 100 Mile post
(100 MILE HOUSE) The media was waiting for us up here – 100 Mile Free Press snapped Stephen’s picture right at the cairn beside the Visitor Centre as he was getting his passport stamped. It’s hard traveling with a celebrity like this. But hey, the sun is shining and 100 Mile looks pretty in the late afternoon-early evening as we saddle up and head out for the next stop on the fun-filled agenda – 108 Mile Heritage site, just up the road…
Toff and prof to duke it out in literary slugfest
Updated Sat. Aug. 16 2008 8:18 PM ET
The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — Even if the weather remains sunny at high noon in the B.C. Interior town of Lytton on Aug. 30, they will still be talking about a dark and stormy night.
Today is one of those “wow!” days for the mighty colossus that is the New Pathways To Gold communications department. The past 24 hours, in fact, have been one continuous series of “wows!” Or one long, dark and stormy night – not sure which. It all started innocently enough when our vast staff put together a somewhat amusing little release for Lytton’s Riverfest for an event that we have kicked around for months (but that never had legs until NPTGS co-chair Chris O’Connor took it and ran with it) and has finally come to fruition. You may have heard about the Great Bulwer Lytton Debate (for details, check out the news section of the main site). Well, thanks to Chris’ industry and timing and a little luck, now people all over the world have heard as well.
On Friday, Chris was interviewed by CBC radio’s “As It Happens” show. The CBC folks had mentioned the winner of the Bulwer-Lytton Writing contest on air and Chris wrote in demanding equal time, which he got. “As It Happens” is broadcast internationally via shortwave and satellite radio as well as across Canada, so Chris’ passionate defense of Sir Edward was heard from Burnaby to Beijing. It made my Friday, I’ll tell you.
That was incredible enough, but believe it or not, Saturday topped it. It started out very well when I opened my copy of the Vancouver Sun to find an article based on another press release generated by my vast staff in the Travel Section. This one was written for Sue and Darwin Baerg of Fraser River Rafting Expeditions about their upcoming four-day Lillooet-Yale rafting trip (a very special ojourney that features onboard commentary from experts like NPTGS Universities Chair Dan Marshall and Mike Kennedy). The glow from this had hardly subsided when I discovered that CP Vancouver had picked up on the Bulwer Lytton release, interviewed Henry Lytton Cobbold and Professor Scott Rice and slapped the story on the newswires. CTV.ca promptly picked it up and not only put it on their website as a “Top Story,” they had it on their all-news channel on the tellie. The item, running in the tickertape scroll at the bottom of the screen, was seen the flash by during an item on Madonna’s 50th birthday (which made for a rather odd juxtaposition, I can tell you). Our little debate on national television. It was a proud moment
So, in honour of this achievement, I have given the staff the rest of this dark and stormy night off. But they will have to be at work tomorrow all the earlier – there are people in Togo who have yet to hear the news and here in the mighty colossus that is the New Pathways To Gold communications department, we leave no stone unturned in our quest to promote the corridor communities. Do you hear that, staff? Staff? Staff…
I’m now back from the Simon Fraser lecture series. Stopped in a Mission on my way up the valley to visit Murdoch’s Bookshoppe and sign a copy for a woman who missed getting one when we sold out during the presentation at the Xa:ytem heritage site. She wanted to send it to her father in the U.K. I got there just as proprietor Brian Murdoch was closing up for the day and was able to inscribe his last copy for her — so all’s well that ends well.
It wasn’t officially part of the New Pathways to Gold lecture tour but I stopped in on my way up to give a talk at the Hell’s Gate Air Tram at the invitation of General Manager Debbie McKinney, who had organized a bicentennial event to commemorate Simon Fraser’s passage through the canyon on June 26, 1808. Events, including First Nations drummers and dancers and a Scottish bagpiper and balladeer, took place outdoors and right above the thundering rapids.
We had a good turnout in Lytton of about 20 people later that evening. It was the same day that Simon Fraser arrived at Hell’s Gate and made his portage on the ladders and suspended scaffolding he compared to a ship’s shrouds. Among the audience was a pair of British adventurers exploring B.C. They dropped in when they saw the New Pathways to Gold Poster. The lecture took place in the Parish Hall just behind the Spintlum memorial. Peggy Chute (Lytton and District Chamber of Commerce) was great.
It was a scorcher the next day in Lillooet. Probably as hot as it was the day Simon Fraser came around Pavilion Mountain and complained that the only water they could find to drink tasted like borax. I’d say 25-30 people showed up for a noon lecture at the Rec Centre. Among the audience was Bobo Jack of the St’at’imc, whose picture is featured in the book Simon Fraser: In Search of Modern British Columbia. Afterwards I was invited to the Strawberry Social put on by the Daughters of the Eastern Star at the Senior’s Drop-In Centre and was served strawberry shortcake and coffee by the Lillooet May Day queen and her princesses.
Turnout out was light at Ashcroft, but how could we have known we’d be going head-to-head with the local high school graduation ceremony? Afterwards the organizers invited me out for tea and we sat up on the hillsides while purple shadows fell on the Thompson River and the stars came out in the black sky over the mountains behind.
Drove up to Logan Lake the next day. Another ferocious scorcher. Mayor Ella Brown personally commandeered a large fan so that the appreciative and extremely interested audience could sit in relative comfort. Once again sold a couple of boxes of books, which shows that people are interested in this idea of telling the stories of their communities. The Simon Fraser book, by the way, is now available either through bookstores or it can be ordered directly from the Harbour Publishing website.
The Vancouver Sun
CRANBROOK – So, not only does Syd get to introduce Premier Gordon Campbell in his role as the Town Crier, but there’s an added bonus today. Because this is a four-hour stop, the troupe gets to perform the whole show. Well, most of the show – they have to cut the second act a bit short because, well, it is a train and they do have a schedule to keep. But it’s great to see the production unfold and go beyond the short 12-14 minute set they’ve been performing since Sparwood. And the audience, braving the hot, burning sun that beats down on this dusty concrete platform, are loving it. The Premier is upbeat and energetic as usual and very complimentary to the troupe as he poses with them in front of the train. I’m a bit sad, however. It’s my last day and I have to leave these poor, young foundlings to their own devices. How will they cope without me there to take care of them? Get them hopelessly lost? Ah, they’ll just have to cope somehow. I stand by the bleachers, watching and waving as the train pulls out of the station. The Empress gives one last blast of its whistle and disappears in a cloud of smoke and steam. Exit, stage right. Time for me to go to. Gotta take a taxi to the airport and complete the cycle of trains, planes and automobiles…
NELSON/CRANBROOK – A day off. The troupe goes shopping in Nelson. Aaron buys a funky new brim. It suits him. Funny – we’ve just been discussing hats the day before on the road to Castlegar and he mentioned how when he graduated (obscenely recently – him being so young) he and the lads from the stagecraft program all wore fedoras, there being a Ska revival in Victoria at the time. We have to drive from Nelson all the way down to Creston and then turn up the highway to Cranbrook, retracing a lot of the route we’ve covered in the train. We stop in Yahk and browse through the Old Stuff store, which is full of, well, old stuff. Really neat stuff. All sorts of memorabilia: magazines, jewelry, Native masks, comics, crests, buttons and books. The books are the major purchases, including a collection of Canadian plays that Syd picks up. They even have old sheet music, and Caitlin is tempted, but she resists. By the time we get to Cranbrook, it’s almost time for the Tony Wards, and when you’re traveling with a bunch of musical actors, you MUST watch the Tonys. It’s early to bed, though, because tomorrow is a big day: the premier is coming to town.
NELSON/CRANBROOK – A day off. The troupe goes shopping in Nelson. Aaron buys a funky new brim. It suits him. Funny – we’ve just been discussing hats the day before on the road to Castlegar and he mentioned how when he graduated (obscenely recently – him being so young) he and the lads from the stagecraft program all wore fedoras, there being a Ska revival in Victoria at the time. We have to drive from Nelson all the way down to Creston and then turn up the highway to Cranbrook, retracing a lot of the route we’ve covered in the train. We stop in Yahk and browse through the Old Stuff store, which is full of, well, old stuff. Really neat stuff. All sorts of memorabilia: magazines, jewelry, Native masks, comics, crests, buttons and books. The books are the major purchases, including a collection of Canadian plays that Syd picks up. They even have old sheet music, and Caitlin is tempted, but she resists. By the time we get to Cranbrook, it’s almost time for the Tony Wards, and when you’re traveling with a bunch of musical actors, you MUST watch the Tonys. It’s early to bed, though, because tomorrow is a big day: the premier is coming to town.NELSON – We’re here at the waterfront t park in Nelson and because of the onfiguration of the venue, the train’s stage car is open on both sides. Both the players and the band have to switch back and forth, playing both sides of the crowd, but it’s all good here in the crunchy-granola capital of the Kootenays. In fact, Syd turns it into a virtue, playing one side off against the other:
“How are you doing on this side?”
Cheers and applause from the lakeside crowd.
“Oh, this side can do better – how are you doing tonight?”
The highway side roars “Alright!”
The show is more dynamic, with everyone having to play to both sides, and it gives a really nice energy to the performance.
During the finale, there’s a little girl, barely two, who desperately wants to dance with Laura, but is too shy. Syd is dancing with a white haired senior. And the band is really on, going way over the top, singing “a loooo-oove sing!” to the train. A beautiful night. A great show. A big crowd. It doesn’t get better than this. Or does it?
CASTLEGAR – The cast has signed autographs before and there are stories floating about that some have signed people’s shoes, but today the cast signed the cast. Here in Castlegar, they take their steam trains very seriously. No, serious is not the word: passionately. The train has been stationed at Nelson overnight and Aaaron has dropped the troupe off at the station so they can be on board for the short haul down to the venue. As we drive the touring van down just ahead of the train, every vantage point along the line is crowded with train spotters, enthusiasts… words cannot describe the emotional connection these folks feel with the Empress steam train. There are enough telephoto lenses and tripods to stock a large camera shop, especially around the very best spots on the hill overlooking one of the most picturesque river crossings. There is absolutely no chance of getting lost on the way to the Castlegar event – all you have to do is follow the line of train groupies.
The event itself, right by the museum, is packed. What? Maybe 600 people? Maybe more. It’s hot and sunny and there must be 50 kids sitting right up front, dancing along with the band and the players. It’s a great show and afterwards, the troupe is mingling with the folks when a woman wearing a cast on her left arm comes up to the gang and asks if they wouldn’t mind signing her cast. Of course, they’re delighted, and in a moment or two, her once-pristine white cast is covered in signatures. The lady is beaming as she leaves and the troupe looks touched. The connection with people on this tour is incredible. They identify with the characters the actors are portraying, they exchange stories with the band, they talk to the train crew about the technical details or tell them about how they or their relatives have worked the line. It’s heady stuff. Old hat to some of the train guys who have been on the holiday train circuit for year, but you can tell they’re tickled to answer the same questions about the Empress over and over again. And by the end of the performance, the band has put the train crew in the spotlight: they’vge written a song naming each and every one of them, including Gill, who makes the sandwiches and other goodies in the dining car. Everyone here has their part, and we are literally dealing with a cast of thousands.
CRESTON: You might say that the train troupe has gone postal – in a nice way. Here on the platform in Creston, the rain is hammering down so hard it’s bouncing off the concrete. That’s when it’s not hailing. None of this would be so bad if it wasn’t for the chilling wind and the forked lightning. A gorgeous double-forked bolt lights up the mountain behind us. The thunder breaks on our ears, drowning out the the sound of the train for a split second. It’s now raining so hard that you can’t even see the towering tanks of the Columbia Brewing Company, where they make the finest Kokanee beer and in Creston, that takes some doing. And yet (and this is where the postal reference comes in), neither wind, nor rain nor hail nor even friggin’ forked lightning can keep the show from going on. The band is ready to rock and the players are ready to roll – all they need is a little break in the weather and for the lightning to move on. And believe it or not, the crowd is hanging in there. There are a hundred braves, soaked souls determined to watch the show and a hundred more have already gone through the museum car with another hundred huddled against the rain waiting to get in. Now that’s dedication.Finally, the rain lets up enough, the car doors slide open and voila! The BC150 celebration song revs up the crowd and by the time the troupe takes to the stage… well, what’s this strange glow up there in the sky? Finally, finally, a ray of sunshine as the actors mingle with the crowd and the band plays the finale, “Rockin’ the Rails.” Despite the weather, over 300 people have turned out and stayed with us. Aaron and I are soaked, but happy to be going postal (in a nice way).