On August 3rd, Andy picked me up from work at 2, and we were on the road again- destined for the McMorland Family Reunion in B.C. The reunion happens every 3-4 years and gathers the McMorland clan. The last reunion was held in 2014 on Vancouver Island- this time we were going to Whatshan Lake in the Kootenay Mountains of British Columbia. The first night we got as far as Regina, about a 6 hour trip, and a one hour time change. Andy’s sister Elaine and brother-in-law Dave met us there. They were driving from Ontario. After breakfast, we travelled to Moose Jaw and did the tunnel tours Passage to Fortune (depicting the treatment of Chinese immigrants in the early 1900’s) and Chicago connection (showing Al Capone’s bootlegging activities during prohibition). Both tours/reenactments were very well done, we were done by about 12:30, and then it was back in the car for another 6 hours of driving. I took pictures of the fields and elevators that we passed by.
We reached Strathmore Alberta by 7 pm. We were meeting one of Andy’s cousin’s here, who wasn’t coming to the reunion, but wanted the McMorland cook book she had ordered.
On Sunday morning, after breakfast, we were back in car and heading west. We went through Calgary, and then were into the Rocky Mountains.
We travelled through Banff, Yoho, Glacier and Mount Revelstoke national Parks. There was a fair bit of traffic, cars, trucks pulling campers and motorcycles on the road, as it was a long-weekend.
Once we reached Revelstoke, we started travelling south between the Selkirk and Monashee mountain ranges. About 50 Km out of Revelstoke, we encountered the Shelter Bay ferry, that took us across upper arrow lake. Here’s our car cruising on the ferry.
Another 50 Km, and we arrived in Nakusp, where we had a reservation for the night. In the morning I walked along the lake, learning about the history of the town, and came across these lovely gardens.
After lunch we were back on the road travelling about 60 Km to Fauquier. We needed to stop at the golf course, to confirm our booking for the family golf tournament on Wednesday which Andy was organizing.
The 8th hole runs along the road where traffic waits for the ferry- I saw this sign posted there….
Once we were done, we got in line for the Needles ferry to take us across the lower Arrow Lake. Since it was Monday of a long week-end, we waited for 2 ½ hours and 5 crossings before we made it on the ferry. The capacity was only about 30 vehicles and if trailers were being pulled, this reduced the number of vehicles per passage.
We ended up being the first car on the 5th crossing- we easily found the gravel road off the highway and made it to Whatshan Lake by 3pm. Families were just starting to arrive.
The 204 acres facility called Whatshan Lake retreat is operated by the Doukhobor Heritage retreat society to have the beauty of the land preserved in perpetuity and be a place where people can gather in peace and harmony. The place has a full kitchen and dining room as well as an outdoor stage. It has 5 cabins that sleep 10 people in bunk beds, and 3 cabins with 8 bunks, as well as a kitchenette. There were also 38 campsites with water and power and another 150 un-serviced sites. We had opted for one of the kitchenette cabins- Chip Monk 6 that we were sharing with Elaine, Dave and their daughter Caitlin, who had flown in from Guelph.
Andy’s daughter Erin, Jason and Jack along with her brother Graham were nearby in the camping area in their tent trailer.
Once most of the family had arrived, there were about 65 people in attendance. There was happy hour, and the working teams were named and their tasks were assigned for the week. (My group had to clean up after breakfast on Tuesday and was responsible for preparing lunch on Thursday.) Following Monday dinner, we were asked to sign up for either the intelligent team or super hero team. We later learned, on Tuesday, that we had signed up either for the Irish or Scottish team, and that all the activities during the week would be tabulated for a trophy to be presented on Thursday night.
After meals, there were activities that could be participated in, like crib, board games, poker etc, or people could go from site to site to visit with family members. There was also a hockey game, baseball, bean bag toss and swimming to keep people occupied.Everyone participated or cheered on the group. On Tuesday afternoon, my friend Colleen, came for a visit. we had brought a couple of things that I had been storing for her in my shed, since she had moved away from Winnipeg.
We also had the fun-facts quiz, where each family member had submitted a fact, and other members had to figure out which of the 65 people present belonged to that secret fact. Not an easy feat—an example of one fun-fact was “I had shot my mother”. Our team wasn’t able to make all the matches. On Wednesday morning, a golf tournament was planned in Fauquier and there were 6 mixed teams with 5 family members on each. Team left early for the ferry, as no one was sure what the traffic might be like. Lunch was barbecued burgers right at the golf course. That afternoon I went for a swim in the lake, as the temperature was approaching into the high 30’s. Golf prizes were given out at dinner. Here’s a picture of the top team.
That evening was also the family bid auction, silent auction and 50-50 draw. Each family was asked to bring something for the auction; the money raised went towards defraying costs of the reunion. Our contribution was a family tree pillow featuring the original 11 McMorland siblings.
Another project to raise money was the family cookbook which I had put together along with family trees; I ended up selling 70 copies, which had a $300 profit for the reunion
On Thursday, it was again a hot day, with lots of smoke in the air from the forest fires burning across British Columbia. As lunch was one of my group duties we were busy part of the morning preparing for lunch. In the afternoon, we visited with other family members around the campsite and started packing the car. Dinner was slated for 6:30, and family pictures along with a group picture were scheduled to be taken at 6:15. Here’s the McKendrys
Dinner was BBQ roast beef with potatoes and Caesar salad- a wonderful meal. It was announced by Matt that the Irish were the winners of all the competitive games.
On Friday morning after a breakfast of leftover, we started saying our goodbyes, and left at about 8:30, we wanted to make the 8:45 ferry across to Fauquier. We retraced our incoming drive, going north the Revelstoke and then turning east towards Alberta- it was hot and smoky- the temperature in Calgary that day was over 40 C.
We made it as far as Strathmore and spent the night. In the morning we travelled just over an hour north to Drumheller and the badlands in order to visit the Royal Tyrrell museum.
Here’s Andy trying to pet his new friend…
We spent almost 3 hours there touring the different displays. Leaving we headed South again to connect up with the Trans-Canada Highway and then East, I saw several combines in the field harvesting, giving me an indication that I would be busy with samples once I returned to work. We made it as far as Moose Jaw and spent the night; temperature were well into the 40’s as well. On Sunday morning after breakfast we continued eastward to Winnipeg, arriving home around 4:00. Then there was the job of unpacking and laundry. I had taken Monday off, so didn’t have to return to work until Tuesday. A great vacation! The next reunion is slated for 2022, and will be held in Manitoba, so less travelling for us.
The smoke from the fires in B.C. have reached us in Winnipeg, and we haven’t seen much blue sky for almost a week.