What values did you try to raise your own children with?
Oh, to be honest and kind and decent human beings. Or else, mind you! I took them to plays and stuff, everything that was happening. There wasn’t much in Vancouver in those days. There was one person who produced big plays for children. She was a prof at UBC and off we went to a play, whenever there was one to go to. My kids all took it up, in one way or another. We sort of put shows together, invented them just for fun. They laid down some plywood in my room and did a show, tap dance and… they didn’t know how to tap dance but they made a darn good effort at it. I don’t remember what the play was about but it sure was funny! Everybody laughed till they split their sides!
Speaking of your kids, what was your proudest moment as a mother?
Ooooh, that’s a big one! Proudest? Have other mothers answered that question for you?
There’s a sort of big duck soup out there and I’m not pulling anything out of the pot, if you know what I mean!
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
I think probably raising my Down syndrome kid, who was wonderful. If anybody you know ever has a Down syndrome kid, don’t let them break their hearts ‘cause they’ve got a treasure.
What were some of the challenges at that time period?
Raising a handicapped kid? I think it was taken for granted when I was a child that all of them were removed into a residence. Every community had its residence where the goofs went. We used to call it Goof Hall. That’s awful. It’s shocking. I was part of the movement, even in this town, to integrate the kids into school.
In your career, what were some of the things you’ve done?
I never really had a career. I just had jobs. And then I finally took myself back to school when I was forty, which was suddenly available to me when Simon Fraser University opened. That was one of the most exciting times of my life. I hadn’t been in school a day since I was 14 and I only got in because Simon Fraser didn’t insist on my having math, because I was going to be either a social worker or an English teacher, was my assumption. So as an English teacher I would need math just to look respectable. As a social worker I wouldn’t need any math at all and they let me in without it, bless their hearts, because I’m really stupid about figures.
Anne, you spent time in the social work field, but then you got out of it – and it seems like you’ve been more devoted to cultural development – could you touch on the mindset of the time and how you were creating a cultural movement as well, with the Arts Alliance and that whole scene.
Well, there was a movement in Courtenay for an art gallery, led by a guy from the States. There was a huge amount of people from the States who were dodging the war, the draft dodgers. You’ve probably heard of them. Every second person I knew for a while was a draft dodger. Anyway, repeat the question.
What was your role in the cultural movements of the Comox Valley?
When I was out at the Hermitage, there was a guy very involved in this new art gallery thing in town who wanted me to get involved. He thought I’d be good, but I wasn’t going to when I lived way out there – but I did get involved when I moved to town, and it was really exciting because there was nothing in the “art” kind of world. The only art gallery and craft shop was run by the Arts Alliance which also ran an event called the Renaissance Fair, a hippie fair which sold crafts and had musicians. You see, this postwar generation, their parents were better off than any generation before them, probably better educated too, and the people were brought up with a lot more art in their lives than before the war – and parents were very indulgent of this postwar generation, and saw to it they got all kinds of advantages that they hadn’t because they grew up in the dirty thirties. You know about the great depression? Yes. So that was no time to be growing up. They were also very strict and very fussy in comparison to parents these days. And this generation, literally the baby-buggies would get jammed on the sidewalk. And that generation grew up to be the hippies. And there aren’t any more, because nobody else has been created in this world in just that environment. There’s a lot more people with artistic pursuits and knowledge and enjoyment than there were in the old days.
What took place at the Renaissance Fair?
Oh, music and they sold crafts and had a campground down in the forest below the fairgrounds which was notorious for everything that people shouldn’t do! But I’ll leave that to you to figure out.
What’s happened to that festival now?
It died of its own accord and the Music Fest is what has replaced it. And the Music Fest movement, I think, grew out of it, indirectly. Doug Cox swears, he’s the guy who actually runs the Music festival for the board, and Doug Cox is absolutely rude to anybody who suggests he had anything to do with the Renaissance Fair. The Renaissance Fair couldn’t sustain itself because people were growing up. They were having kids. They were taking on more responsibility. The kids all came to the fair. In fact, the last couple of years they had as many kids as we had people, not that kids aren’t people…