“You Can Take My Picture, But Just Don’t Send It To Me”
Ahh, the wise sage of the Broughton’s, Billy Proctor. He’s one of the “must see” characters of the area.
72 years young, he was born here and working at fishing and logging before he was 10. “Lived here all my life – never went to school”. He may not have been schooled in the formal sense but he’s lived a great life here and has become an influential environmentalist. He still commercial fishes his boat (“not as much as I used to though”), has written at least three books, which we bought and had him sign and loves to chop wood. His huge wood shed is so full he’s giving wood away to his neighbors.
The other fun thing about Billy is he has a museum of “stuff” as he calls it, that he’s found over his 70 some years. Old opium bottles from the Chinese logging camps, arrow heads and stone axe heads from the First Nations people, old pictures, well you get the idea. An amazing history of this area to which he’s added immensely with his books that describe the characters he’s known (old timers, as he calls them) many of which are long gone, but with Billy around, not forgotten.
We had a chance to sit a bit and chat with him and take the obligatory picture. Of course we asked permission which is when he told us about all the people who take his picture and then clutter up his email sending it to him.
Oh, and besides the museum, he also built – entirely by hand – a cedar shake cabin that is a replica of what the old trappers lived in right down to the split log flooring and bunk. The cabin was made from one cedar tree and he did all the splitting with a froe which is a tool kind of like a really long axe. You put it on the end of a log and then whack with with a wooden mallet. I have one and I can tell you, it’s a lot of work to split boards this way. Really a cultural experience to sit in the little cabin and imagine living so remotely.
We’re at Pierre’s at Echo Bay (Billy’s is a short hike over the hill).
The nicest little spot around. We went for a bit of a hike today and saw bear scat and cougar scat (had fur and large bones in it). When we got back someone confirmed that yeah, both have been sighted in the last week. We’ve taken to attaching a large “jingle bell” to Ann’s hiking stick, so we make a lot of noise when we walk through the forest. Don’t want to surprise the wildlife.
Anyway, that’s where we are. Tomorrow we head back out to the wild to explore a small island group called the Burdwood Group. It’s a group of islands that once was home to First Nations people. Weather permitting, since the anchoring opportunities are pretty exposed the Queen Charlotte Straight and the associated weather. Probably will lose internet, but will try to post with short wave.