Vancouver Reunions

Voyageur meets Douglas Coupland's "Golden Tree" in Vancouver.

I had arranged the trip to B.C. in advance to be ready to accept a deluge of Vancouver-area school bookings that never materialized. But it was all worth it just to be able to spend some time with my dear friend and radio documentary collaborator Paolo Pietropaolo, his amazing wife Natasha Aziz and their unbelievably perfect children, Mela and Tasio. Apart from getting to spend some all-too-rare and much needed quality time with them, it gave me a chance to meet some of their friends and immerse myself - however briefly - in their East Van community. And being there in Vancouver for Remembrance Day meant that I got to experience the Vancouver Police Pipe Band playing at Memorial South Park - one of the city's oldest cenotaphs.

Some great meals, some great coffee, some great cocktails, some great walks. It was the usual Vancouver experience. On a forest loop walk near Spanish Banks, Paolo and Natasha's friend John Irving - the Director of Engineering for the city of Richmond - told me about Douglas Coupland's latest public art installation at a new development at the corner of Cambie St. and Southwest Marine Drive in South Vancouver. It's a 43' tall construction of steel-reinforced, gold-painted fibreglass in the scale-sized mirror image of a beloved Vancouver landmark - an 800-year-old hollowed out cedar that was a meeting place for some, a hazard for others and a symbol of the city's relationship to the ancient nature that it inhabits. In fact, it has nothing to do with the legendary Golden Spruce of Haida Gwaii - part of which forms Voyageur's resonant top - but the comparisons would be inevitable so I just had to visit.

I had the good fortune of meeting Doug Coupland at a dinner at the home of our mutual publisher, Scott McIntyre, back in 2009 - and, while we had a brief correspondence thereafter, I haven't spoken to him in years. I consider this visit to Cambie and SW Marine something of a reunion!

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