Hello Mr. Wargon,
I feel a little bit surprised, and a little bit ashamed, that I didn’t find your blog until after I had published my piece on F. Varley. I’ve heard you had a chance to read my three-part, mixed media project exploring Varley’s 10 very interesting years in Vancouver. I hope you enjoyed and also hope i was close to accurate and true to the characters.
I was first sparked onto this project from hiking the Varley trail when living in Lynn Valley. Once I learned the trail was named for a renegade member of the G7, I dug into everything I could find about his time in Vancouver including census records for addresses, painting lists, wife and mistress, collaborators, colleagues, museum fonds, bars, school and studio locations, teaching techniques… and added my own remix’d bits to it in form of an audio podcast, free verse poetry, annotated maps and other intentions.
I was personally charmed by your NFB film and enjoyed explaining it to people about how the artist plays himself coming back from the hills, hitching a ride, buying bread and cheese and trying to find his artistic flow while a marvellous painting sits in easel behind him.
He died in 1969 and I was born in 1970 so i missed him by a year :) but I consider it a great joy to spread his story about the impact he made on the Vancouver art scene. From my vantage point, he was the original source and the first real portraitist on the west coast of Canada. When I look at his paintings I can see the lineage and the similarities between Matisse, van Gogh, Gauguin, Chagall, Munch, Tom Thomson - and some of his G7 contemporaries - but to me, he was unique and challenged himself (and his students) in more powerful and unique ways than his G7 contemporaries (not to take anything away from them).
Last week at the Vancouver Art Gallery, I had the pleasure of seeing a large exhibit by contemporary Canadian mixed-media artist Douglas Copeland then going upstairs where a few Varleys were displayed. However, I do wish Vancouver Art Gallery had a larger collection, or at least displayed more often, the paintings he did in Vancouver, specifically Bridge over Lynn Creek. I understand some of these are very delicate now and I may be the only one so fascinated.
I look forward to reading through your entire blog and sharing it with my audience. If you have a moment, I would be most appreciative of the note to tell me any comments, corrections, or colour commentary to add to my piece.
May I offer a few tips from someone who has marauded through these trails in various patterns over many years?
First, by starting the trip in Deep Cove and ending up in Lynn Valley, it makes for a little bit of a shorter trip getting home if you live in Vancouver. But either way I advise a stop at The End of the Line Café.
This location has housed a general store of some kind since the old logging days and now is filled with a ridiculous assortment of imported candies (esp. England and The Netherlands), plus a variety of chutneys to make your picnic lunch extra special, neat toys (balsa wood airplanes and sock monkeys) and decent coffee… and my favourite: trail pucks. Tell them Uncle Weed sent you. You won’t be disappointed whether you start or finish there it’s right by the trailhead.
Next, as a young Scout growing up in Surrey, we hiked along the Baden Powell trail in various parts a few times when it was still more primitive (or i recall it that way) and the houses weren’t built up so close to the trail. I remember camping along the Baden Powell trail - which seems like it would be verbotten now.
I remember one particular night sitting around the campfire at about 12 years old with the other scouts from Whalley when a mountain lion came and sat right in our camp fire circle with us. You could see his/her muscles, sinews, teeth and quickly realized there was nothing you could do except chillout and make no sudden movements. Fortunately my fellow Khaki Scouts didn’t freak out as we watched this creature, larger than any of us, including our wide-eyed volunteer scout leader. I don’t know if s/he stayed for 10 seconds or 20 minutes but it’s moment I’ll never forget.
Finally, one more transit tip. If you decide to go from Deep Cove to Lynn Valley (this was my preferred method because my house was right by the Lynn Canyon end of the trailhead and had a sauna for warming up after and autumn or winter hike) and you’re eager to get home, you can take the 210 bus.
Catch it just around the corner from the aforementioned End of the Line Café, and it’ll roll ya to the very houseline to the top of Mountain Highway, then all the way down through Lynn Valley Centre, to Phibbs Exchange, across Ironworkers Memorial Bridge and then express service through East Van (stops at Renfrew, Commercial, Nanaimo & couple more) finally ending up at Burrard Skytrain station.
Certainly not as scenic as the “three dollar harbour cruise” Sea Bus, but if you are in a hurry, and especially if you live in East Van, this can be a winner.
Great article Leah! I’m hoping your next one is a brewery tour of the North Shore with 3 stops (at least) now pouring.