Let’s Celebrate the greatest place on earth

Trent Ernst, Editor

It’s time to celebrate the fact that we live in the greatest place on earth.

No, not Disneyland. And not Tumbler Ridge, specifically, either.

No, this coming Monday is BC Day, a time to celebrate life in this place we call home.

The holiday is a mere decade older than Tumbler Ridge itself, having got going in 1974. In the face of such long-time celebrations such as Christmas and Easter, it is a mere babe in terms of holidays.

BC Day was brought in by Dave Barrett when he was premier of the province.

Though he was only in the seat from 1982 to 1975, many people consider Barrett one of BC’s best premiers.

And it’s hard to argue the point as you relax and take a day off during the heart of summer, especially when there was nothing there fifty years ago.

Sure, he and his government created the Agricultural Land Reserve, ICBC, and the BC Ambulance Service.

Barrett is responsible for the introduction of question period and Hansard transcripts of legislative proceedings.

And he had the brilliant idea of outlawing the practice of charging people to go to the bathroom. He banned corporal punishment in schools. And he created the Labour Relations Board.

As an import to BC (I was born in Saskatchewan, but have now spent more time here than I did there), I am still in love with this province.

It was a love affair inspired by the scenery around Tumbler Ridge. It was, in fact, the moment I first saw Kinuseo Falls.

It was back in 1988, before the Murray Forest Service Road was built.

Back then, the only way out there was by jet boat, or via a long, extremely rough four by four road that could only be traveled when the water on the five or so creek crossings was low enough. We chose the latter route up, myself, my best friend from my hometown of Waldheim, who had come up to Tumbler Ridge with me, his girlfriend who I was secretly in love with, and the rest of her family. Back then there was no graveled trail, and no viewing deck above the falls. At the end of the road, it was a short, rugged climb down to the opening at the base of the falls along an almost non-existent trail, bushwhacking and scrambling down a cliff almost as steep as the falls themselves.

I loved it. I followed the path down to the base of the falls, and when I got there, I just stood and stared, enraptured. I could feel the water shaking the ground beneath my feet, feel the cool blast of mist against my face.

I had visited the mountains before, and had spent most of my free time exploring the bush around Tumbler Ridge, but this was something else. This was raw. Rugged. Untamed. This was a place that few people had ever seen before.

On my way back up, I deliberately ignored the trail, and climbed straight up the cliff, parallel to Kinuseo. Maybe nobody has ever been this way, I thought. Maybe my feet are the first human feet to touch this ground. For a teenage boy from Saskatchewan, it was an exhilarating thought, and it was at that moment that I fell in love, truly in love, with my adopted province.

The experience was a watershed moment for the teenage Trent, and I began spending as much time as possible in the outdoors. At the time, I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know there were such things as Forest Service Maps, or recreation sites, or trails. I used to just drive around looking for interesting places to go, hop out of the truck and start bushwhacking. Sometimes, it was magic. Most of the time, I never got to my destination.

It was only after moving down to the Lower Mainland that I discovered things like maps and guidebooks, though at the time even Charles’ first book was not even a gleam in the good doctor’s eyes.

I began to write for newspapers in the Lower Mainland, and writing feature articles for provincial and national magazines. More importantly, I started writing for a company called Mussio Ventures, and over the course of the last 15 years have written about nearly every trail, lake, paddling route and provincial park in the province.

I, unfortunately, haven’t had the chance to visit all of them, but I have written about them, thought about them, researched them. And while Tumbler Ridge is still the place that warms my heart the most, I must admit a fascination with the other destinations around the province. The arid landscape of the Okanagan is considered ugly by some, but I find it fascinating. Vancouver Island may be due for a major earthquake and may sink into the ocean, but its warm, wet climate has given birth to one of the lushest landscapes this side of the tropics.

The Kootenays are home to three of BC’s National Parks, and, while I love the Northern Rockies, there’s something to be said for the jagged peaks of those mountains further south.

And the Vancouver area was home for the better part of a decade, and still holds a piece of my heart.

One could spend a lifetime exploring the province and not discover everything there is to know about it. And that’s one of the reasons I love it so.