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  • My mother died in March, 2005, when my husband, Jim, was teaching in France. The doctors said we couldn’t get back in time. Our son, Richard, offered to be with her in these last hours and it helped to know he was there. Although she was unconscious he talked to her about the birds outside and what we were doing in France and many other things. Richard and my mom share the same birthday.

    That summer, we scattered my mother’s ashes in the ocean around Lumberman’s Arch in Stanley Park. It was just the three of us but it felt good to say goodbye in a little more formal way even though my mother didn’t want a service. And then we went to the Sylvia Hotel to toast my mom's memory with a drink and look out at the water slide at English Bay.

    Our families have many happy memories of picnics at Lumberman’s Arch and enjoying the beaches of Stanley Park and English Bay. My parents and Jim and I all grew up in Vancouver and Richard now lives in Vancouver so we all share this love of the city. Picnics in Stanley Park and swims in Vancouver beaches were ways our families could enjoy the summer that fit their very modest financial means. Parking was even free!

    My mother’s family had even fewer means as her father had abandoned the family. As the eldest of four children she had to leave school at 12 years old and help my grandmother clean houses.

    But before she had to work she often went to English Bay and Stanley Park as a young child with her younger siblings and her favourite activity was going down the slide in English Bay.

    They always spent the nickel they were given for return bus fare on chips and told the bus driver they “lost it in the sand”. I’m sure he was very used to these poor ruffians and their excuses for having no money to get home! A nickel was a lot in those days and chips at the beach was a real treat.

    We have a pied a terre in Vancouver now that looks out on English Bay and we can see all the children enjoying the slide and think of all the happy times families have had. I don’t know if you can designate a water slide as a heritage site but I hope it will always exist for the people of Vancouver.
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