My apologies for not posting this earlier. It turns out I could drive, photograph, edit the images and write the blog during our two-week journey across Canada. But at the end of many long days I wasn’t able to put it all together and post it. I now have the time to assemble the pieces and I will begin to send these out on a regular basis.
North to Vancouver, and then East…
Ellen and I started our Canadian Library Road Trip by driving nine hours straight to the edge of Eugene, OR in our new Prius. Northern California was absolutely beautiful despite the 104-degree temperature outside. Mt. Shasta was stunning against the brilliant blue sky. Even in August, the higher reaches were still blanketed with snow after our heavy snowfall winter. California was able to dodge the bullet of drought this year as the slow Sierrian snow melt keeps our rivers full. Even the mighty Sacramento River was brimming with water as we crossed over it near Redding.
One of the great benefits of living in the digital era is the invention of the podcast. Some of our favorites include The Daily, FiveThirtyEight Politics, The NPR Politics Podcast, Pod Save America, The Argument and Up First. I think you can see a theme developing here. Our son Walker helped develop some of this list. Please send us your suggestions as well. We are all ears.
After a quick visit with our friends Kenny and Margo Helfhand, we had to make a stop at one-of-the-greatest-bookstores in the world – Powell’s Books in Portland, OR. We continued on and finally arrived in Seattle to stay with our friends Peter de Lory and Kay Kirkpatrick. Peter is an old friend and great photographer. Kay is a public librarian by day and a wonderful public artist the rest of the time. Their wonderful house was filled with books and photographs. Of course, we felt instantly at home in their cozy house.
Our trek continued north to that wonderful country with great healthcare called Canada. We just made it in time to our first appointment at the Central Library of Vancouver. This is considered one of the great libraries in Canada and is featured in many books as one of the great libraries of the world. We were given a fascinating tour by a young librarian who showed us every part of the library. We were exhausted at the end because there was so much to see and absorb.
We ended our day by staying with one of my former Stanford students Dionne who lives in West Vancouver. An added treat and a great birthday present was meeting her parents again who were visiting from India. Bunny and Vickti live in Mumbai and he is a retired pilot for Air India.
The next morning, we made a beeline back to Vancouver. Our destination was the néća?mat.ct Strathcona Branch Library. It was located in the East Hastings area of East Vancouver which has been called one of the poorest postal codes in all of Canada. Like our home of San Francisco, as Vancouver has boomed the widening income gap has displaced many people and swelled the ranks of the homeless. Even coming from San Francisco, we were astonished by the number of people living on the sidewalk. The area felt very chaotic and we found out later that it was considered a very dangerous place. Fortunately, we found a parking spot right in front of the library. The librarian explained that the neighborhood desperately needed a library and it opened two years ago. It was obvious that it was well used and well loved. The Native American name of the library was an effort to provide hope and pride to the Native population. Tragically, a large percentage of Vancouver’s homeless population are First Nation people. This place is an example of a library as healing.
We spent the rest of the afternoon at the University of British Colombia’s Museum of Anthropology. This contains one of the world’s finest collection of Native American art and artifacts. Ellen and I had recently spent some time during our Fulbright in Greece, Italy and Israel going to see extraordinary museums and collections. But we were entranced by the collections at this museum. I began to see the importance of the Indigenous culture to our understanding of Canada. We hoped to see more of it as we visit libraries across Canada.