August 13, 2016
When you live surrounded by the incredible natural beauty and life force of the Gulf Islands on Canada’s west coast, celebrating the preservation of these amazing spaces is poignant and very meaningful.
Gulf Islands Driftwood — Penders Edition
April 19, 2000
Upbeat event celebrates saving of Brooks Point
by Tanya Lester
Close to the end of Gowlland Point, if you walk south on a trail through the woods near Kloshe Road, in a matter of minutes you will suddenly find that the world has opened up around you.
You are in a rolling grassy meadow spotted with trees which tapers off into huge rounded slabs of rock before they slope down to a sandy beach with giant logs washed while by the beating waves, hugging against its sides.
Along the trail you could find the almost extinct red maids flower, The birds around you provide a natural symphony of music. Looking out across the ocean, you might spot whales. If you took a boat out onto that water and dove deep into it, the marine life would be a multi-coloured feast for your eyes.
This is Brooks Point on South Pender Island.
Last Saturday over a hundred people clustered into the Bedwell Harbour Marine Resort restaurant where they boisterously celebrated the three and a half year “journey” that the Friends of Brooks Point (FOBP) took to raise the$765,000 needed to declare Brooks Point a Capital Regional District (CRD) conservation area and park.
For FOBP, the ups and downs involved obtaining the funds were as numerous as the knolls across Brooks Point meadow.
It all began when Allan Brooks, who died quietly at his home at Black Creek on Vancouver Island on February 3 after the purchase was finally made, shared a vision about conserving the point forever.
An accomplished biologist, teacher and naturalist with a master’s degree in zoology from the University of Toronto, Allan Brooks, with his wife and biologist Betty Brooks, had already significantly contributed to honouring the natural beauty of the islands by establishing the Pender Island Field Naturalists.
In the Brooks Point Update newsletter, which is mostly written and edited by Paul Petrie, Brooks was described as a man who loved hiking, camping, travelling and exploring, “usually in his tweed hat with his binoculars at the ready.”
Wildlife painted Robert Bateman, in a fax message available among the photographs, videotapes and literature about Brooks Point displayed at Saturday’s reception, outlined his long friendship with Brooks who “kind of took me under his wing” when Bateman was a young man. He pointed out that Allan Brooks Jr was the son of wildlife artist Major Allan Brooks who “had been my hero since I was 12 years old and had become serious about painting birds.”
“In the late ’70s and early ’80s my wife Birgit and I would have almost yearly camping trips from Ontario to the Pacific coast with our kids,” Bateman continued. “Alland and Betty always made us feel like members of the family when we cruised in. I am really glad that our family has those visits as part of our psyche…the deep-seated Brooksian influence, so to speak.”
Bateman is among the many donors who have contributed to ensuring the conservation of Brooks Point.
Others who ensured the acquisition of the point include Brooks himself, who donated one of the three lots that the property spans, the Pender Island Conservancy Association, the Trust Fund Board, the CRD, Wildlife Habitat Canada Fund, Mountain Equipment Co-op, Land Conservancy of BC, Habitat Acquisition Trust and Nature Conservancy of Canada.
Time and time again when members of the FOBP handed posters, featuring a photograph of Brooks Point taken by professional photographer Kevin Oke, to representatives of organizations that financially supported the project, there was mention of how one or the other had come through “in the dark days” when FOBP members feared they would never complete fundraising.
In an interview after the toast to the Brooks family, Betty Brooks made reference to the $160,000 donation from the Nature Conservancy, for instance, which was made possible by an anonymous major donation and ensured the land acquisition.
Betty Brooks said her husband referred to this lady as their “guardian angel.”
During the ceremony, Petrie mentioned all the people who dropped spare change into the Saturday market jar, donated items for the auction, tasted wine on Pender, and contributed music and art to fundraisers.
Petrie himself read a poem called Rose Hips which was written by FOBP steering committee co-chair Robert Dill, and presented with a photograph in which the “rose hip bush at the heart of the point” is clearly viewed.
After the ceremony, I dragged my 12-year-old son away from the delicious finger food prepared by FOBP members and we headed to Brooks Point. On the way there, we ran into Miriam Thorn of Victoria, her son Martin Thorn from Salt Spring Island and his two children.
Miriam Thorn remembered different places where she took photographs from which her art developed. Marin Thorn recalled visiting “Uncle Allan” and coming down to the point where he rode the ponies, owned by socialist and conservationist Eve Smith who was a neighbor and friend, over the meadow hills.
Mother and son were excitedly animated as they recalled the delightful, “fairytale” world they experienced on Brooks Point in days gone by.
This is the reason why dedicated people such as those in FOBP work to conserve an area such as this. It would be absurd and even cruel for our descendants to not experience the natural surroundings that we have enjoyed.
When it was Betty Brooks’ turn to speak at the April 15 celebration, she quoted from a letter she had recently received from Scott Sutcliffe of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
“If we do nothing else in life but preserve a bit of our natural heritage, we have accomplished a mighty deed,” she repeated.
Om the newsletter, it is written: “Allan’s legacy on Pender will be long remembered. As Allen would often say when finished a conversation, ‘Well, there we are’.”
Tanya Lester is the author of four books, a blogger, a psychic who specializes in tea leaf reading and tarot as well as psychic channeling and mediumship, is a house sitter and a reiki master. Her website is at teareading.wordpress.com Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org . Her phone number is 250-538-0086.