PENINSULA ZOOMERS: You can go home again

Peace Arch News columnist April Lewis searches childhood stomping grounds in Calgary.

There’s no place like home…

I would agree with you, Dorothy, especially when home includes acreage next to the Elbow River in Calgary.

However, I wasn’t wearing any red sparkly shoes when I returned to seek out the bucolic country of my youth, 54 years after saying goodbye.

My initial reason for going to Calgary was to experience The Greatest Show on Earth, also known as the Calgary Stampede. I had such pleasant memories of the parade, which I would watch perched atop the Canadian Pacific Railway station where my dad worked as a police inspector.

This was followed by celebrations at the iconic Palliser Hotel, followed by an exciting day at the fair and chuckwagon races.

I wanted to relive that experience again.

The CP station is now a construction site as far as I could tell. The Palliser Hotel remains where I left it, dwarfed amongst the skyscrapers.

The fair was a plethora of culinary cardiac-on-a-plate offerings. The only ones that touched my lips were the mouth-watering mini donuts.

So off I went to the chuckwagon races.

It was a hot and humid evening as the races got underway, with the pounding of the thoroughbred hooves resonating in my ears. Such excitement!

The next morning, with a map in one hand and a GPS in the other, I set out to try and find my childhood home, which I knew had burned down and no longer existed. It was a huge log house similar to the Cartwright family homestead on television’s Bonanza.

Like the Cartwrights, we lived without electricity or running water.  In the late 1950s, we were pioneers in a modern world.

As I quickly discovered, the idyllic country of my childhood was now sprawling city limits with endless rows of cookie-cutter houses dotted on either side of the highway.

Undaunted, I proceeded, looking for any telltale sign which would lead me down memory lane.

I remembered twin bridges over the Elbow River as I crossed over a modern single span.

As I continued down the highway, no longer just a road, I remembered a riding academy on my left, situated directly across from our driveway.  The massive elk antlers either side of the academy sign have left an indelible picture in my mind.

I see a sign with elks’ antlers etched on it.  It reads Elbow Springs Golf Club. I drive up to the clubhouse to make enquiries as to the history of this posh club.  The manager tells me indeed it used to be a riding academy, at which point I burst into tears.  An outpouring of emotion for which I am totally unprepared.  I had found what I was looking for… or had I?

Can one go home again? What is home or rather, where is home?

My Calgary friend says, “Home is where my bed is…where my stuff is.” Another says “Home is all about family.”

For me, Home is where the heart is sums it up nicely.

My heart is in South Surrey.

And so is my home.

April Lewis is the local communications director for CARP, a group committed to a ‘New Vision of Aging for Canada.’