Family Stories Project
We asked each other why family stories were important, and this began an ongoing discussion of the meaning of heritage. We recognized that much of the heritage of Sea Island, a small island part of Richmond in British Columbia, is held in those stories. The Sea Island Heritage Society's motto says it all, "A life not documented is a life that within a generation or two will largely be lost to memory".
The Society invites former and current residents and relatives to tell their stories of family life on Sea Island to ensure it is not lost to memory. Think about your response to a few questions like "Why did your family come to Sea Island? What were the circumstances, reasons?", "What stories/memories do you have of life on Sea Island – of neighbours, friends, school, sports?", "What pictures do you have – of your house, birthday parties, gatherings, photos of those memories, family pets, clubs and groups?" There is no right or wrong way to tell your story.
List of Family Stories in the Collection
With the assistance of past and current residents of Sea Island, the Society has documented the family stories of a number of Sea Island families. Many stories are in progress like the Marles, Lidkea and Long family stories, and some are pending approval from the respective families. The Society has newspaper clippings, research notes and photographs for over 275 separate families, all waiting to be compiled in a family story.
Here are excerpts from some of the family stories kept in the Society's Collection.
Janet Etches wrote that by 1969 when the Etches family was expropriated, they were ready to leave. Too much travelling every day for Jim, too much grass to cut, now the boys were gone. Nevertheless, the Etches family left the Cora Brown subdivision with tears in their eyes. The Etches looked back on the marvellous sunsets in the west on summer evenings, the lifetime of friendships, and much hard work to turn that bleak, bare landscape she first saw into a garden with trees and flowers. The ditches and the river were all part of the Etches' family life with happy and sad memories shared.
The Etches family moved in February 1969 with snow on the ground. Took many of our small plants for our city garden. Over the years, they looked forward to the reunions, to see the friends with whom they had shared so much in the Cora Brown subdivision.
Mildred Hingston recalled that their son David started school in 1963, a week before his sister (Cathy) was born. The Hingston family roots were really down as far as roots of the trees they planted in 1959. It was reassuring to look out their kitchen windows to watch their children as well as the others going to school, playing at recess, noon, and most days after school. The schoolyard was their playground for their growing years and they put it to good use. Kites were flying high, tennis and badminton were played, roller skaters were a blur as they spun round and round the school on the pavement. Age didn’t seem to make any difference to the children of this part of Richmond. For the most part they played happily with children of all ages.
During this time in the Hingston family’s lives, they were involved in many community aspects, from the Parent Teacher Association, Victorian Order of Nurses, Hospital Auxiliary, Board of Directors of the Community Association and coaching sports. Their children were fortunate to grow up in this healthy environment, made friends for life, had a small school with good teachers and parents who kept an eye out for each others’ children. It was indeed a marvellous place to live!
Grant Thompson remembers that he spent much time on the old Dinsmore Bridge where he learned to swim, (also how to smoke, play poker and other things that kids learn). Grant does not recall anyone using swim trunks when swimming here. It was easy to see if anyone was approaching and get dressed before they got to the part of the bridge between Pheasant and Dinsmore Islands that they used. The only other place to swim was the Oak Pool which was new in the 1948-49 era and was an hour walk across the Marpole Bridge to 57th and Oak Street in Vancouver. It cost money to get in and was always crowded so most of the Burkeville kids swam at Dinsmore. There were some industrious older boys that would scrounge up a plank and some spikes and make a pretty good diving board that was probably 15 feet or more above the water at low tide.
Sea Island was a great place to grow up. Grant remembers that there was never a dull moment, always something to do and someone to do it with. In fact, there was little time for school, homework or chores for that matter. There wasn't even enough time to get in trouble.