Surprised by an Electric Trike

November 26, 2014
November 26, 2014

Jon on his electric trike.

I’m always delighted and intrigued when I encounter someone doing the unusual. Last Thursday Linda and I were sitting in our car on the parking lot at Skaha Lake, drinking coffee and eating sandwiches. A cool breeze was blowing off the lake and except for an occasional warmly bundled walker, no one else was at the beach. When an SUV pulled up near us I became curious.

Two boys got out of the vehicle and opened the rear door. They were actually in the middle years, but I call them boys because I quickly learned they were there to have fun.

They pulled an electric trike out and the bigger one mounted it and began racing around on the parking lot. He was obviously enjoying the ride. When he handed the trike to his friend, I went over and asked him about it. I learned that his name is Jon and he is age 50. His friend Craig is 45. Usually it’s only young children who ignore the cold and play anyway.

Jon was the owner of the trike and he was happy to talk about it. “It cost me $1600 U.S.” he said. “The charge takes 3 hours and then it will go about 30-45 minutes. Top speed is probably 20-25.” I didn’t ask if that was kilometres or miles but watching, I think it may be the latter.

“The first time I rode ,” Jon said, “I tipped it and scraped quite a strip of skin off my buttocks. My wife considered that pretty hilarious.” In retrospect he seemed fine with this. Maybe not so much at the time.

As we chatted, Craig braked hard, turned the front wheel sharply and instantly reversed direction. I wonder if he scraped any skin off his behind the first time he tried that fancy little maneuver. While Craig continued to press the limits with the trike, Jon told me a little about himself.

He had just returned from Rio. When I asked if he’d been on a holiday he said, “No, I have a 3-4 year contract there to drill impossible wells. I recently completed a 3 year contract in Malaysia. I mostly do consulting now, telling the operators how to do it.”

Turning my attention back to the trike, I asked Jon if he ever rides on the street. “Only late at night when there’s no one else out there,” he said. That’s wise. The trike is so low a driver might think it was a shadow streaking along.

He has two sons, ages 3 and 6. The older boy is eager to ride, but at this time he still has to settle for a spin sitting on Dad’s lap.

I clicked a few photos and Jon handed me a helmet. “Want to have some fun?” he asked. I didn’t attempt Craig’s quick turn around trick, but for a few minutes on that awesome electric trike I experienced the sense of adventure I often felt when I was a boy. Thanks Jon and Craig, for reminding me of what it was like to be young.

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Ukrainian Friendship

November 22, 2014
November 22, 2014

Richard in his back yard near the Similkameen River

When Richard Lubiak of Hedley was born in 1937, his Ukrainian homeland was already in crises. He and his mother were among the fortunate ones who escaped the escalating danger.

Richard called recently and said, “I have a story you might be interested in. Come for coffee”. Over a cup of delicious brew in his home near the Similkameen River he told his story. It’s a story of war, turmoil, and love for Ukrainian culture and people.

Richard began with a brief outline of a chaotic period in Ukrainian history. The Russians had a stranglehold on much of the country. They imposed collectivization of farms, imprisoned and killed millions, and engineered a devastating famine. Ukrainian men joined various militias to fight occupying powers.

“In the midst of all the turmoil and violence,” Richard said, “two soldiers in the Ukrainian Army became friends. They were fighting the Bolsheviks. One was my future step-father. The friend was Mr. Nesterenko, an artillery gunner. They fought against the Bolsheviks for the Czar, then against Russia and Poland.

The Ukrainians’ plight deepened with the advent of WWII. In June, 1941, Hitler began his drive toward Moscow by invading Ukraine. Initially many saw the Wehrmacht as liberators. Some joined Nazi units.

“The region where my family lived was under Polish rule and here the Germans were good to us,” Richard said. “It didn’t take long though, for people in other areas to decide they were only slightly better than the Russians.” The Germans forced Ukrainian men to work very hard. They pulled children off the streets and sent them to Germany to work.
Approximately 10 million Ukrainians were killed.

“When the Russians started pushing the Nazis back,” Richard said, “the retreating army destroyed everything the communists had left when they were driven out.” Fearing Stalin’s troops, about 2 million Ukrainians fled with the Wehrmacht.

Richard was 6 when he, his mother and other relatives, hid in a root cellar behind German trenches. He was lying on his grandmother’s lap when a Russian bullet hit her in the abdomen, killing her.

At this time, Richard’s father was in one of the militias, fighting Russians and Poles. Because his mother was a nurse, the Wehrmacht took them along.

“They put us in a Displaced Persons camp” he said. “Our people kept the camp clean and organized. They set up schools.” He still feels pride at the way Ukrainian people responded to difficult circumstances.

For 11 years his mother looked for his father. Eventually the Polish Red Cross informed her he had been executed by the Russians.

“In this camp mother met my step father. They were married and in 1949 we emigrated to Toronto. There was a substantial Ukrainian community and an Orthodox Church.”

In the upheaval of the war, Richard’s step-father had lost contact with his friend, Mr. Nesterenko. The man had emigrated some years earlier. It was a moment of great joy when they met again in the Orthodox Church.

“Our families spent a lot of time together,” Richard recalls, “the Nesterenkos had two children. Often we went to their cottage at the lake.”

When Mr. Nesterenko died, the families drifted apart. “I didn’t see them again. In 1958 I married Margaret, a Ukrainian girl, and in 1979 we began a new life in BC.

Richard sold cleaning products and Margaret ran their janitorial business. For 9 years they also operated a B&B in Princeton. In 2007 they moved to an idyllic setting just east of Hedley. Sadly, after a heroic battle with cancer, Margaret passed away this summer.

An avid reader, Richard continued their practise of visiting the Hedley library each Thursday. On a white board showing whose book requests had come in, he was astonished to see the name Nesterenko. Remembering his step-father’s friend, he made inquiries and learned that Natalie, the daughter of the friend, was a resident of Hedley.

Richard Lubiak and Natalie Nesterenko Visiting in the Hedley Library

They met the next day and for both it was a moment of profound joy. The Ukrainian culture is deeply rooted in them and they will have much to talk about in coming days.

The 2 Ukrainian soldiers could not have known that some 60 years later their friendship would bring about another friendship, in possibly the most unlikely of places.

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November 22, 2014
November 22, 2014

By Art Martens

“Imagination is greater than knowledge, because knowledge is limited and imagination is unlimited. ” by Albert Einstein

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“The Girls” In Winter

November 19, 2014
November 19, 2014
“The Girls” fluffed up in the hen house

“The Girls” fluffed up in the hen house

Probably due to the mountains surrounding our little community, summer nights sometimes remain quite warm. According to Linda’s online research, hens don’t have sweat glands. Not wanting “the girls” to suffer from the Hedley heat, in spring I removed the insulation from their little home. We appreciate their golden brown eggs and I do whatever I can to accommodate their needs and desires.

The girls are terrific troopers and this summer, when people were moaning about being hot, they took it in stride. They didn’t complain even when the mercury rose to 40 degrees C above.

Now that the mercury has reversed itself and plummeted

downward, I have needed to again respond to the seasonal change. Just before the current cold weather (-15 some nights), I put the insulation back into their home. I’ve heard of chickens losing their feet in very cold temperatures.

I had laid up a stock of fresh grass for this season. A few weeks ago I began spreading some on the floor of an apple box. The box was in their house all last winter and they laid in it faithfully. In spring though, they simultaneously began boycotting the box.

When they deviate from an established pattern, they invariably catch me off guard. I attribute such changes to boredom and an understandable need for stimulation. Not having anyone willing to share Frequent Flyer points, they can’t go to Mexico or Spain. Laying in a different location seems to alleviate the boredom. I think they derive great pleasure from watching as I search for eggs. Sometimes I need a few days to find them.

With the onset of cold weather I hoped they would exercise some common hen sense and resume laying in the box. Fortunately they did. Of course their incessant scratching quickly sends the grass flying and I need to replenish it almost daily. I keep in mind that scratching is in their DNA and try to exercise patience.

When frigid air from the north invaded our valley, the girls decided

Ice forming on 20 Mile Creek

to take a sabbatical from laying. At least I assumed that was behind the sudden dearth of eggs.

Until now they had never all agreed on a “work to rule” campaign at the same time, so I was a tad suspicious. One day I searched their domain with the thoroughness of a prison guard looking for drugs. I checked the outdoor laying box they used in good weather. I looked behind the ever bearing raspberry shoots and the lilac bushes against the neighbor’s 6 foot high fence.

Concealed in a secret place under the lilacs, they had laid up a store of 11 eggs, tightly bunched together. It has been colder outside than in our fridge, so the eggs were in perfect condition. Unfortunately, the girls now seem disgruntled at losing their impressive stash. Maybe they were planning a lavish breakfast for themselves. Anyway, whatever their reasoning, it’s back to one egg a day.

I give the girls full credit for being hardy. Much like children, even on the coldest days, they prefer to be outdoors. One thing has changed though and I doubt that they understand. In warmer weather, just about every time we looked out the rear windows, we saw the girls scratching the earth as determinedly as diamond miners drilling into rock. Now the ground in their compound is frozen solid. I can’t push a shovel into it and the girls can’t scratch beneath the surface. This has cut them off from one of their favourite culinary delights. For the insects it’s a blessing.

Yesterday I observed Miss Lonely Hearts for a long minute, unmoving as a statue. It’s just the beginning of at least 3 months of uselessly standing around, wondering why this circumstance is being inflicted on them.

For the sake of their mental equilibrium, I may have to invest in a 60 inch smart tv. I’ll set it up in the house though, and they can enjoy their favorite programs through the window.

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Elections Expose Community Fault Lines

November 16, 2014
November 16, 2014

section of the San Andreas Fault (photo from Quake Basics)

Elections have an uncanny and inconvenient capacity to expose community fault lines. This once again became evident prior to last week’s municipal vote. Especially in larger centres like Vancouver, Surrey, Abbotsford and Kelowna, the vitriol at times flowed as freely as beer at a bartenders convention. Ambitious politicians flayed at each other with verbal clubs in media ads, a plethora of letters and brochures in our mail boxes, public meetings etc. There was the usual frenzied competition to persuade us by putting up enough signs to construct a few homes. Even in Princeton, Keremeos and usually quiet, peaceful Hedley, cracks were revealed in the political and social fabric.

We have come to accept that politicians will heatedly espouse opposing views as to what is most beneficial for our community. When the skirmishing between leaders becomes personal and continues after the election, we have reason to be concerned. Leaders at war with each other are not able to focus on creating a safer, healthier, more vibrant community.

We cannot do anything about fault lines that exist below the earth’s surface. By examining our motivation and changing our thinking, we can do something about fault lines in the fabric of our communities. For the sake of the people, it is essential that leaders develop the maturity, wisdom and will to work productively with those who hold differing views. We grow stronger as a community when we do not permit diversity of outlook and ideas to divide us.

Wise leaders, whether in politics, business, a profession, etc., consider the ramifications of their attitudes, words and actions. They choose to work constructively with others, sometimes even with those who have radically different ideas.

This will almost certainly mean overlooking slights, harsh words, possibly even physical injury. It may also require forgiving. Josh Billings has said, “There is no revenge so complete as forgiveness.”

Politicians could benefit from studying carefully the inspiring example of Nelson Mandela. For much of the 26 years of his imprisonment, he was held in the infamous Robben Island Prison. He was compelled to do hard labour in a lime quarry and was permitted only rare visits from his wife Winnie and their 2 daughters. He longed to be at home with his family and to continue his struggle against the government’s policy of strict dehumanizing racial segregation. It grieved him when he received reports of his people being shot while demonstrating against Apartheid.

When the government realized it could no longer cling to power, Nelson Mandela was released. Elected to the position of President, it was expected he would wreak vengeance on the minority white population. South Africa was in danger of degenerating into a bloody civil war. Mandela’s thinking, decisions and actions would determine its future.

While in prison he had made a conscious decision to not become bitter. He chose to rise above the pain and loneliness of his lost years. The understanding and philosophy he developed during the difficult years of confinement enabled him to forego punishing those who had kept his people in virtual slavery. He understood that for the good of all citizens, black and white, he must rise above anger and bitterness. He needed to enlist the skills, experience, and cooperation of the former masters. To this end, he appointed F.W. de Klerk, the former president, as his first Deputy President.

The politicians elected in the Similkameen communities last Saturday don’t need to deal with issues that could destroy their community and bring death to many. But there are important matters to grapple with. Many of these were raised in the race to win. Will the winners shut out the losers now or will they respect them and listen to them? Will the losers adopt a fifth column role, always seeking to undermine and sabotage those in power?

Whether there is animosity or a spirit of cooperation will to a great extent be determined by the level of maturity and good will demonstrated by our leaders, both winners and losers. Societal and political fault lines do not have to divide our communities.

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Send in your Blog or News Article

July 21, 2014
July 21, 2014

If you are a resident of Hedley BC or are interested in submitting a blog or news article related our town, past or present, please contact us providing the text of your article.  If you have images please send them along with the name of your article in the heading to

Down the Hedley Nickelplate Tram Line for a Party

July 21, 2014
July 21, 2014

The following account was told to Ruth Woodin of Hedley, by her father-in-law Barry Woodin. He was battling cancer and near the end of his life. He evidently never lost his sense of humour. She says he was more of a father to her than her own father ever was.

Barry and Jean Woodin were in their early twenties and just married, ready to contend with any challenge life would present to them. Barry applied for a job at the Nickel Plate Mine near the peak of Nickel Plate Mountain. He was hired and they moved into one of the homes on the mine site, about 6,000 feet above sea level.

Ore cars on exhibit at Hedley Museum

Ore cars on exhibit at Hedley BC Museum

It was a delight to them when they learned that each Saturday night the mine provided a tram down the mountain to the Hedley town site. Workers and spouses could catch a ride in empty ore cars. The ore cars were small, not equipped with seats, and not comfortable. It was simply a means of rapidly descending the steep mountain to enjoy an evening of partying in a more civilized setting. The ride down the mountain in what was essentially an open metal box was not for the faint of heart.

On their first Saturday at the mine, Barry burst through the door of their home after work and said, “hurry Jean, I don’t want to miss the tram!” Jean was doing her hair and pampering her face. “Leave me alone Barry,” she said. “I’ll be ready when I’m ready.”

After working in the mine all week, Barry was eager to get away and have some fun. “The tram won’t wait for us,” he told her. “If you aren’t done with your prettyin’ in time, I’m going on my own.”

Maybe she didn’t believe he’d go without her. Or maybe it was a young bride’s way of asserting herself. We can only guess at her reasoning but she wasn’t ready when it was time to leave. Barry had not been bluffing. “Good bye Sweetheart,” he said. See you later.”

He found a party and danced well into the night. Then, in the early hours of the morning, the tram rattled noisily back up the steep grade of Nickel Plate mountain, returning the weary but satisfied partyers. When Barry arrived at his front door, he fumbled with the latch. The door seemed stuck. Had he had one drink too many? After fiddling determinedly with the latch, leaning against the door, speaking to it in terms I won’t repeat here, he paused to consider.

Former Tram Line on Nickel Plate Mountain

Former Tram Line on Nickel Plate Mountain

After a moment of reflection he understood the problem. Fortunately, even with the cold mountain air nipping at his face and bare hands, he saw the humour in this. “She’s locked me out,” he said with a chuckle. “Well, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.”

He went to the mine workshop and found an axe. Returning to the house, he began chopping at the rear door, which was also locked, until there was a hole large enough for him to squeeze through. Before going to bed he hung a blanket to cover the opening. It would remain in place until he was able to find another door.

In spite of this incident, and probably at least a few more, Barry and Jean remained happily married until his passing at age 52.

When Barry finished telling Ruth this little story he said with a wink, “she was never late again.” According to Ruth, Jean never disputed any of the details of Barry’s story.

Art Martens –

Hedley Fire Department 100th Anniversary Celebration

September 20, 2012
September 20, 2012

When: Labour Day Monday – September 3

9:00 am Fire Truck Demonstration behind Snaza’ist Centre

9:30 am Watch how we do clean up after a practice at a the Hall

10:00 am- 2:00 Open House including historical displays

11:00am – 1:00pm Hot dogs (by donation)

11:00am – 12:00pm Children’s Activities

Come and see what it’s like to put out a fire!

For information call Graham at 250-292-8444