Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Cordova Bay

After the long train ride from Saskatchewan and the ferry trip to Victoria, we were finally on the bus to Cordova Bay.  When my father suggested mother come to the coast, she was ready to move right away even though the rental cottage he had found was not yet available.   Dad quickly made arrangements for us to stay at McMorran's Auto Court in Cordova Bay on our arrival  and mother was soon on her way.  The small entourage which included our family plus my mother's friend Ruby from Vancouver and her daughter Carol were dropped off by the bus in front of McMorran's. We all grabbed pieces of luggage and soon were depositing them in our temporary home which consisted of a large room with a bed, kitchenette and bathroom.
McMorran's Auto Court. 1942

As the adults visited and unpacked the luggage, Carol and I went across the road and down the hill to explore the beach.   We quickly  found ourselves on a great expanse of sand which  stretched for miles.  For me, a child of the  prairies, this was somewhat overwhelming.  As surprising as it might sound in today's day and age, I had never been to a lake or even a swimming pool or paddling pool in my life, the only time I was even partially submerged in water was in the bathtub. To be walking on a beach beside the ocean was a new experience. I had seen the river in Saskatoon as we drove over the bridge, but this was different.  I first saw the ocean earlier in the day as we were crossing on the ferry, but to be close up and walking in the sand was indescribable.   As we walked along the beach, we saw islands of sand a short distance out in the water and  wondered what they were.  Coming from the flat dry prairie lands of the country to this place everything was new and surreal.  Apparently what we were seeing was the sea at low tide and there were big sandbars stretching along the whole length of the bay.  However, in 1942 I did not know about sandbars nor did Carol so we looked at them and chatted back and forth about what these might be. They were a short walk offshore and we were afraid they might sink if we walked on them, sort of like quicksand I suppose although considering our age, we had never heard of that either.  Finally, in a great show of bravery, we took off our shoes and socks and waded through the shallow water until we reached the wide expanse of wet, smooth sand.  It was beautiful and we didn't sink.  Soon we were running about and laughing when we suddenly noticed water spouts shooting up through the sand.  They were all over the place, here, there and everywhere, spouts of water shooting up about a foot in the air.  There were little holes in the sand and as soon as we went over and touched one of the holes, water would shoot up. We also noticed, as we splashed around in the shallow water that it was quite salty.  There were a lot of large white birds flying overhead, just as there had been on the ferry earlier in the day.  They were the lively and noisy sea gulls which populate the west coast.

Eventually we were called back by my parents as it was time for Ruby and Carol to catch the bus into Victoria and return to Vancouver on the evening ferry.  When I asked my father about the water spouts he explained that it was from the clams that would blow the water as they pulled their long necks down in the sand when anyone came near.

Across the road from the auto court was a large hall which was part of the McMorran complex.  It was used for dances and other activities in the community such as visiting entertainers.  The following year when everyone was issued with gas masks, we joined hundreds of people at McMorran's  hall to pick up masks for our family. On another occasion a visiting magician was entertaining and I was quite excited by his show.  After it was complete my mother wanted to leave but I told her I wanted to wait and see if the magician would give me a white bird since he had been able to make them in his top hat.  She quickly rushed me out.