Visiting New Caledonia Chapter, Vancouver, B.C.

Written by: Lynn Young, President General
June 9, 2015

On Sunday, May 3, Virginia Lingelbach, Lanabeth Horgen, and I took the Victoria Clipper from Seattle to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.  The scenery along the Strait of Juan de Fuca was gorgeous with snow capped mountains peaking above the lush greenery.  The trip took less than 3 hours and we thoroughly enjoyed it.

After we cleared customs in Victoria, we were greeted by New Caledonia Chapter Regent Barbara Chaworth-Musters and her husband, Bob.   While Bob drove our luggage to the Fairmont Empress Victoria Hotel, the ladies enjoyed a carriage ride around downtown.  Victoria is known as the City of Gardens with more than 1,500 hanging baskets on lampposts.

We quickly stored our luggage and drove to Butchart Gardens.  A reporter from the Victoria Times Colonist was waiting and we had time for a quick interview before joining the chapter members for high tea.  The luncheon tea was held in the house which had belonged to the founders of Butchart Gardens, Robert and Jennie Butchart.  The view overlooking the gardens and Brentwood Bay was breathtaking!

Barbara welcomed us to the New Caledonia Chapter meeting and introduced us to the members.  Chapter members live in Victoria on Vancouver Island and in the city of Vancouver on the mainland.  They are to be commended for traveling to chapter meetings!   Virginia, Lanabeth and I enjoyed visiting with 17 of the members.

After a delicious luncheon, it was an honor to administer the oath of membership to Merna Forster, author of 100 Canadian Heroines: Famous and Forgotten Faces and 100 More Canadian Heroines. I also presented Merna with the Historic Preservation Medal for her work to preserve the history of some of the remarkable Canadian women.  She shared the story of several of the women with us and was kind enough to give me a copy of her books.  Interestingly, the most widely known female, Sarah Emma Edmonds, served as man with the Union Army during the Civil War and is buried in Houston.

I was deeply touched when Lil Heselton, Chapter Registrar, gave me her personal gold dogwood charm.  The Pacific Dogwood was adopted as British Columbia’s floral emblem in 1956.  It is a very generous gift and means even more knowing that Lil had treasured it.

After lunch, we toured the fabulous Butchart gardens which began as a limestone quarry. When the quarry was exhausted, Jennie Butchart brought in tons of top soil by horse and cart over 100 years ago and lined the floor of the abandoned quarry, creating a spectacular sunken garden.  The day was absolutely gorgeous and we marveled at the roses, tulips, pansies, dogwoods, flowering trees and many others I couldn’t identify.

Lanabeth departed for the return ferry to Seattle and Virginia and I returned to our hotel.  We had a bit of time to unpack and change before dinner in the hotel’s Bengal Restaurant with several of the chapter members.

On Monday morning, Bob and Barbara picked us up to take the BC car ferry to Vancouver.  What a lovely way to travel.

Our first stop in Vancouver was at the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coastal Art.  Bill Reid was an acclaimed Haida master goldsmith, carver, sculptor, writer, and one of Canada’s greatest artists. We enjoyed a private tour of the Gallery which is devoted to understanding and appreciating contemporary Aboriginal art of the Northwest Coast.

Barbara and Bob took us to the Granville Island market where we enjoyed fish and chips.  This huge market is full of colorful stalls, unique items, beautiful flowers and food vendors.

Virginia and I checked into the Pan Pacific hotel overlooking the harbor, mountains and skyline.  Our room overlooked a cruise ship docked in the harbor and we enjoyed watching the sea planes take off.

Barbara picked us up at the hotel and drove us to a pier where we took a taxi ferry to the home of past Chapter Regent Carolyn Kramer, not far from the site of the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010.  Carolyn and her husband live in a high rise with a stunning view of the water. Carolyn is an artist and several of her paintings were hanging in her home.  It was a pleasure to present the Women in the Arts Recognition Award to Carolyn.

After a delicious dinner with chapter members, Consul General Lynn Platt explained the role of the Consul General as well as her efforts to strengthen trade between Canada and the U.S.  Virginia and I both had the opportunity to speak to the chapter.  Barbara presented me with another charm and greeting cards from the other Canada chapters.

New Caledonia Chapter has taken a great interest in serving local veterans. They have donated funds to purchase headstones in Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver for the unmarked graves of WWI veterans in a local cemetery and cleaned and restored headstones of a Civil War veteran and Mexican American War veterans.  Following Congress, five of the chapter members will mark the grave of one member’s patriot, Robert McCormick, in Spottswood, Virginia.

Regrettably, our time in British Columbia came to an end as early the next morning, Carolyn and her husband drove us to the airport for our next visit to Calgary.

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