Excerpt from a great book about a bygone era. Email Pat if you wish to purchase a copy
"After the Village Faire," Dan Clemens recalls, "we went straight on to the Mission Pleasure Faire, which was the largest and most successful of the Crafts Faires that we put on. We had somehow got the land, about forty miles east of Vancouver for the summer." Ian remembers that, "we got federal permission to stage a Faire on land that was designated to become a federal penitentiary. Then, when we applied for our municipal permit, we got turned down. We were completely stunned. We all just sat there.
But Al handled it well; he just walked up the aisle to where the Mission municipal officials were sitting and said, 'the Prime Minister's Office will be in touch with you ...' The local authorities were just reacting the same way they had in Langley. They were all worried about hippies raping their cows and all that crap. And they had voted, and it was completely against their municipal charter to revote on any issue, and we were just stunned. We were just sitting there, but Al was confident that he could get them to reconsider."
As Alan Clapp recalls, "One person on council, the school principal, changed his vote so that we were refused permission. We went to our lawyer and put together some kind of a writ. Then we went to Secretary of State Hugh Faulkner and told him what was happening. He was the one who originally helped us get the land on which the federal government was thinking of building a prison. Then we went to provincial Highways Minister Phil Gaglardi, whose brother had something to do with Mission; he was an alderman or something. Then we went to the principal of the school. His own students went to him and asked what the hell is he doing? Why did he change his mind and vote against it? We put an incredible amount of pressure on the city council so that, a week later, they called an extraordinary meeting and passed it."
The letter authorizing permission from the regional director of the Canadian Penitentiary Service read: "Permission is granted for the Deluxe Group members, namely: Alan Clapp, Dan Clemens, Ian Ridgway, Ray Clarke, to enter the penitentiary property in the Mission municipality and that they have permission to take old lumber and shakes from the unusable small barns which have no value and are destined for destruction."
"Al Clapp was a partner with Deluxe on all of the Pleasure Faires," Ian explains, "and because Al was the director of BCTV's News Hour we were able to get press conferences. We did shows at BCTV and built sets and helped with a bunch of things. At one time I was hired as the props man for a show that was going to be produced in their CHAN-TV studios called Story Theatre that was going to be shown on the CTV network. Al helped get me that position and I went around collecting all these props, but then they decided to go in a different direction and that was the end of that. Al liked the things we did and he had a good position in the media that none of the rest of us had, so that really helped to get things off the ground."
Many media people, like television reporter and print media journalist Alan Garr, who worked with Al Clapp at BCTV, were aware of the synergy that was going on within Deluxe. As Garr recalls, "two men were primarily responsible for those delightful fantasies in wood and wilderness: Dan Clemens and Ian Ridgway." "Through all those Faires,' Clapp testifies, "there was one guiding light, and it was Dan, it was his vision that held the thing together. Ian was the builder and framer who could translate Dan's ideas into actual wooden structures."
"The Mission Faire was probably better than any of the others,' Ian suggests, "because it came right after the Village Faire and we spent so much more time planning and building the Mission site which, like the Langley Pleasure Faire, was to be on Labor Day weekend. We found ourselves spending the whole summer at the Faire site, dismantling barns and building things."
"They gave us nine barns to rip down,' Dan sums up, "which we reconstructed into a sixty-acre village." During that long, hot summer of '71 the organizers, their families, and volunteers bonded while they built the sixty-acre village. For some of them it must have seemed as if they had been transported into some idyllic realm where they were, as Joni Mitchell sings in her song Woodstock- camping out on the land and getting their souls free.
"Being involved with the Mission Faire was awesome because we were living on the site for three or four months before we opened the gates,' Galen remembers. "Dad had such a great crew. The women that worked in the kitchen were awesome. That's why that Faire was so successful, because we had such an amazing crew." Galen also remembers the zip lines that were built from some of the towers to provide rides for the kids. "Building that Pleasure Faire was just months of play and Chris Patterson was there filming all of us as we built our village. Jason, Heidi and I became close friends with Chris's kids Fiona and Fraser. I was doing a lot of babysitting that summer, and I had my own booth at that Faire. I brought shells over from Long Beach, from our trips over there, and I made necklaces and sold them. I think I made thirty bucks over the three days, which was a lot of money for a kid in those days. Being there was an awesome experience,"
"While we were setting up the Mission Faire," Ian recalls, "we were meeting with all these various characters that would come out to the site and tell us that they wanted to set up booths and things- guitar builders, dulcimer builders, candle makers... They would say, 'we're the Banana Brothers,' or 'we make carrot juice, and we'd like to build a booth,' and Dan would say, 'how about over there?' And they would say, 'yeah, beautiful, okay!' Then all of a sudden along comes this guy from one of the islands. I forget exactly which island he claimed to be from. He told us he was the 'vanguard of the contingent from this island', so he needed a huge area. 'We've got this big school bus and we're going to build all these other things... And we've got all this other stuff coming in. So we need this very cool, strategic place...' So Dan and I said, 'okay, fine.' His name was Christopher Oakes, and, to us, he looked like he had come straight down from Heaven to have a good time. I saw this angelic aura. He had this incredible curly hair that was sort of like a blond Afro. Deakin was the same. He had a blazing orb of golden-red hair. Together, Deakin and Ray Clarke sort of looked like two of the Furry Freak Brothers and I remember that Deakin was on a cover of The Georgia Straight.
"So there he is; this new guy who originally was from the Bahamas. His name is Chris Oakes and he just sort of conned his way in. After a while we decided that this guy doesn't have a big contingent, he just has a big ego. He just instinctively knew that claiming territory was a good way to get in there. And once he was in there we became brothers, instantly. He was the grandson of one of the richest men in the world, Sir Harry Oakes, who had discovered gold in Ontario, built the town of Oakville and then had been driven out of the country by the huge taxes they were charging him. He had moved to the Bahamas to become the benevolent gentleman farmer who built the airport and some of the roads, and planted lots of trees and loved nothing more than to get out on his tractor and get in the dirt and do things. Chris had inherited Sir Harry's Knighthood but he didn't consider it worth mentioning. He seemed to live on the dribs and drabs of the inheritances from various members of the family. The bulk of Sir Harry's fortune seemed to be in the hands of uncles who had huge amounts of it whereas Chris's side of the family only seemed to have a few paltry millions. When Chris first came to Canada, he worked as a janitor in Toronto, and then his next portion of the fortune trickled down and he seemed to be thoroughly enjoying it. He had bought a beautiful bus and a Toyota Land Cruiser, and had been traveling around the country. So as we got to know him we learned his real story. No more people came from any island, but he built some stuff and we helped him build some more, and he had a thoroughly good time at our faire."
Chris remembers their meeting slightly differently. "I picked a place and went and told them that was where I was going to be," he recalls. "I told them I was with the 1148 crew, which was the hippie family that called themselves the Gypsy Traders ... Dev, Gilley, John Ritter, and a whole bunch of people who had the Home Free Commune up on Quadra Island. I was living in the house at 1148 West Seventh in Vancouver and the commune on Quadra and I had been at several events that Ian was at before we actually met in person, which took place at the Faire site in Mission. I remember drumming in a circle with him at the Cates' Park Faire but we never got to talking until we were all out at the Mission Faire site in the summer of '71."
Playing music together would lead to a lifetime friendship. "Chris was always into playing music,' Ian recalls. "He had a dulcimer and some hand drums and he made a lot of friends that summer. He could pick up any instrument and come up with songs and rhythms. When he got a guitar, I would show him a chord and he would play it for five years and make a million songs out of it, all because I showed him this shape one day. But he won't learn all the proper major and minor and seventh chords, so that he could play normal songs like everybody else. He is a musician with a soul that enables him to make music out of almost anything. He'll come up with songs for every occasion. He's always been good at that."
"Before I came to Canada," Chris recalls, "living in the Bahamas I was used to the sort of festivals that they have every year in the Caribbean, and most of the acts that played in America like the Beatles and the Animals and so on would end up coming to the Bahamas. But there is a looseness to all the music that gets played at carnival time, and I had some friends that were working in bands and studios there, and when I came to Canada I made more friends that played music and put on these festivals that became very special events in all of our lives. Millions of Canadians travel to the Caribbean in the winter to get that special flavor because the climate is warm and the rum is cheap and there is always music being played. Drums just kept turning up in my hands and I remember some great drum jams. There was a drum-maker at Mission and I remember pounding on cedar congas and some of those sets of clay Moroccan hand drums. Then after the Faire was over I got my own set of congas from a juice maker by the name of Cherub who had them made at Sweeney Cooperage in False Creek, which I still have in my possession to this day.
"The Mission Faire was a great event in all of our lives. I arrived about three weeks before the Labor Day Weekend and we all experienced some special events together building the craftsman's village, preparing and eating meals together, and playing music. There was the stage that Ian built over at the creek that had a special resonance. Having Joni Mitchell come and play was special. Wherever you went in the craftsmen's village there was music being played. The month of August 1971 was totally a magic month for all of us that were living there and working together to build the village and put on the event. And I remember Ian building his gypsy wagon in the parking lot while we were doing the big cleanup. That was a far out time because the Faire was over and there was just a small crew of people left cleaning up. That to me was probably the most magic time of the Faire, other than when the Faire was going full throttle. When it was all over and done there was this core group that just didn't want the Faire to end, so there we were cleaning up the site. In some of our minds it hasn't ever ended- it's still going on."
"Before I moved up to Canada,' Debbie Delight recalls, "Dan and Wendy Clemens visited Laguna Beach, then, in September of 1970, Ken Davenport and I and six other girls moved to Vancouver. We were all leatherworkers at that time and we lived in the Europe Hotel in Gastown and in a house in Mission." The young Americans sold their crafts in shops in Gastown Square and English Bay, and Debbie remembers that the first time she experienced snow was while she was living in the triangular Europe Hotel. "All the streets and cars in Gastown were covered in snow," she recalls, "and Ian came by and took me to the north shore where the forest was really magical... This was just after Robert Altman had been there filming McCabe & Mrs. Miller and I remember visiting the squatters' houses at the inudflats where people like Ian, Kita, Dan, Wendy, Helen Simpson, Paul Spong and Pete Choquette were living." After she attended the Deluxe Pleasure Faire in Cates Park, Debbie began to find herself spending more and more time hanging out with Alan Clapp.
"There was going to be a low security prison built in Mission," she remembers, "and Al pulled some strings and got the authorities to let us use the land for a Faire on the Labor Day weekend. He invited me to go with him up to where Joni Mitchell lived in Halfmoon Bay on the Sunshine Coast. She was building a house up there, which was really marvelous. She had a walk-in fireplace in her kitchen and a big pot of soup simmering away. And Joni was really into playing her dulcimer at that time; she literally played it the whole time we were there, she scarcely put her instrument down. I remember it was a fun weekend going up there with Al and visiting Joni Mitchell. She gave me a little antique stove and showed us some needlepoint she was working on. We told her about the Faire that we were putting on, but we didn't really get a commitment from her at that time-she had some scheduling situations or something... Then, the day before the Faire was to open, there she was in Mission! Our house was right across the road from the Faire site and she visited with us there and then went over to the Faire site where we all ate dinner.
"Mostly I worked with Al, Dan and Ian. When the Mission Faire came along a lot of the people who had come up with us from California had already moved back down there, so we had lots of space for people to stay in the White House while they were getting organized over at the Faire site-while they were planning everything and beginning to build... It was a really big site and there were a lot of small, abandoned farms in the area where it looked like people had just walked out the door and left the plates and silverware on the table... I went up to Halfmoon Bay with Al and then he asked me to help him get some of the local permits that he needed to secure and I ended up sort of becoming Al's assistant. It was really neat. It was fantastic how he handled all of the media issues. It was a pretty effective campaign that he ran at that time, And it was a lot of fun sitting around the kitchen table figuring out the next move that had to be made. Helen was such a pragmatist. She kicked us all in the butt! She really did. She had an incredibly down to earth view of everything. I remember when I first arrived in Canada and met Helen she said to me: 'You know, you can look around you and think this looks an awful lot like the US, the people look the same, they kinda talk the same, but nothing is the same. Never take it for granted.' She was so right. Meeting Helen and working with the Deluxe crew was definitely a life-changing experience for me!
"I had a lot of fun at the Mission Faire. I was on some kind of media mission, handling the reporters and film crews that showed up and dealing with special guests like Joni Mitchell. That was primarily what I was doing with Al. He coached me on doing that. Joni just hung out with the rest of us. She is really just a down to earth person and she was saying, 'wow, these people have come all the way out here to hear me sing...' And she went down there and it was just the most magical evening you can imagine in your whole life in that big old barn with all the candles where the crew ate their meals. That night she crashed on a sofa at the White House and the next day she performed on the stage that Ian built."
After this first event working with Deluxe, Debbie was convinced that if you put your mind to it you could accomplish anything you set your sights on. "Deluxe," she says, "was this whole mind-bending positive belief system where the group could accomplish amazing things."
"Thor and I were building an art gallery at Brackendale at that time," Mike Malcolm remembers. "And we heard that there was going to be a Pleasure Faire at Mission. I knew Dan from the West End and he told us what they were doing at Mission and we decided to become involved. And we had a real good time being there that weekend. I liked what they were doing. I liked the living there nature of it. It was a good healthy exercise in how to put on a crafts faire. They called it a "pleasure faire" and it was just that. It set the style for putting on crafts fairs. So, the Mission Pleasure Faire set a good example for generations to come and there are fairs and rock festivals allover the Pacific Northwest to this day. But the Pleasure Faire had other aspirations. It was a complete experience. It went beyond the 'craft fair'."
Many visitors that weekend, including reporters from several newspapers, would say that their lives were changed when they walked through the gate. Mingling with the crowds browsing the crafts booths among the roving minstrels and festively attired children, people sensed they had entered an enchanted realm.
"You have to consider what was going on in the bigger picture at that time," Malcolm suggests. "Things like putting an end to the Vietnam War; things like that. So everything that the hippies were doing at that time was real. The Pleasure Faire was definitely an attempt to extend our purported freedoms."
Mike Malcolm was one of the up and coming abstract painters of his day but the posters he designed for the Pleasure Faire were rustic, pastoral scenes rather than the usual psychedelic posters of the era, again setting a trend and a style for crafts fairs in general. They were widely imitated just as Bob Masse's psychedelic rock posters were up and down the west coast. Created before the event itself, just like the sketches of the towers and turrets that Dan Clemens had made for Ian to build from the old barn wood and gingerbread, these posters actually captured the spirit of the fair visually even before Malcolm set foot on the land and erected his geodesic dome and began displaying the artwork that he and Thor had brought along to sell. The zip lines that were set up as a ride for children were strung from the turrets and towers and the kids laughed with joy as they soared over the booths and domes and throngs of people. An enchanted moment in time, indeed, made real by the wood fire smoke and the smell of barbecues and by the women who wandered bare breasted in the afternoon sunshine.
"It was back to the land,' Mike points out. "Back to nature. I brought an assortment of things that were product of my twisted mind at the time, paintings and sculptures and so on. We were the same crew that hung out around the piano and played music while I painted at my Western Canvas Shop on Fourth Avenue- the crew of musicians and painters and characters that became the Brackendale crew when Thor and I got the Brackendale Art Gallery up and running. Our 'booth' was a geodesic dome with this artwork strewn around and everyone just grooving. It was the 'spirit of Brackendale' that we brought to the Pleasure Faire. That was what we set out to do. And I think we pulled it off pretty successfully. Our mandate was to foster and further the aspirations of indigenous artists and to demonstrate that art and music mixed together can be a lot of fun. But it went beyond that. Music and art in the early seventies were a way of life at that time. We thought we were involved in changing the world."
Like Ian and Dan, Mike Malcolm saw himself as a catalyst. The way that you spread the alternative lifestyle that was emerging in the new age was by example. Pleasure Faires presented families of hippies on display being real and carrying on their gypsy lifestyle in front of an audience. There were many converts.
"The Mission Pleasure Faire was our generation putting it out there, putting that lifestyle out there," Mike sums up. "This is the way we think people should gather and apply themselves to their art, their crafts and their music."
Toad Hall ski bum and traveling crafts fair road manager Bodie MacNeill was one of hundreds of fellow gypsy travelers that showed up at the Mission Faire and became lifetime friends of the Deluxe family. The first day that Bodie spent at the Pleasure Faire site he met most of the Deluxe family members, but it was Ian that made the most indelible impression of all. As Bodie recalls, "In the spring of '71, I was in the mountains near Squamish building a log house when I met Ron Sayer, who had this idea of a traveling crafts faire. I signed on as road manager-stagehand-etc and had the time of my life, ending the summer at the Mission Pleasure Faire. I met Ian, Ray Clark, Dan and Stump in the big barn that had been renovated to resemble a castle. Ian was so nice and accommodating (as were Ray and Dan) making me feel like one of the gang right away and impressing the shit out of me because one of them was sharpening a hand saw, which was something that I had never seen done before, and they all just seemed so cool hanging out there. Of course, having done time myself as a kid in British private schools in Bath and London, I was captivated by Ian's wonderful English accent. That same night, we gathered around a fire, and, lo and behold, what a ride to the core of the existential reality of the Mission Pleasure Faire, and, yes, I was glad I was sitting down. I was Bo' back then, and knew Davy Longworth from our youth in New West and some of the Lunchets and Mike Malcolm's crowd and the High Flying Bird crew, who were the band for the first hippie dance I threw the previous year, but this was my first real intro into the Deluxe world. Ian was a beatnik-hippie, and that to me was the apex of the apostrophe, the place where it all came from in my twenty-one-year-old fascination with beatniks being in transition to the prankster/hippie scene we all embraced. Ian always showed a dignity and respect that was so important to setting a pace, so to speak, although, like with many experienced hipsters there was always that mischievous laugh with the teasing edge that endeared him to us all."
One of the most important functions that the Deluxe Pleasure Faires served was that sense that Be-Ins, rock festivals and crafts fairs were, as mentioned in the first Be-In manifesto in San Francisco in January '67, "a gathering of the tribes..." So, they helped the subculture become a bona fide West Coast community. This community already had its own newspaper, The Georgia Straight, and would soon have other publications such as Howard White's Raincoast Chronicles, Gerry Gilbert's BC Monthly, and the new age healing magazine Common Ground that also kept community members in touch with each other. But in the early days, the Deluxe Pleasure Faires, and the spinoff crafts fairs that began to pop up in the interior of the province and on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast, were the hippie equivalent of what First Nations potlatches had been to native tribes.
"Dan always felt that he was a catalyst," Ian explains. "We all liked to think of ourselves as catalytic in bringing the hippie families together, and that was what would happen at the Deluxe Pleasure Faires. Our Faires were not just a bunch of separate shopkeepers and artisans-that component would be there, too, but by the time we got around to the Mission Faire, the main thing would be family participation. At Mission the Banana Brothers family was tucked away in the bush with their bar, the Out to Lunch Bunch had their bar set back from the main crafts booth areas, and the Coast family's bar was hidden away in the bush somewhere else. They had their legitimate crafts booths and stores, but they also had these other activities, and we looked on all of these people who did things together as 'families'. That's what we called them, and they were families, in as much as they would say, 'we're brothers, man!'"
This concept of hippie families was very real in those days. This wasn't merely a label that got applied later on. The hippie families in the Bay area, which were widely chronicled in Rolling Stone magazine, often began as rock bands or with people living together in inner city communal houses or rural communes, however, that was not the only way that these family associations formed. The Deluxe family came together in the late sixties at the Maplewood Mudflats and the people that staged these early Pleasure Faires stayed in touch and did things together throughout the seventies and eighties. Many of them are still in touch with each other forty years later, and everybody who was there at the Mission Faire has one or two very special memories.
Ian's special memories of that Labor Day weekend in the summer of '71 center around the arrival and participation of Joni Mitchell. As he recalls, "in the barn where we all lived while we were building the Mission Pleasure Faire site, we all had our little areas. I remember one night looking down on the stove and Mitzi Gibbs' candle chandelier from up top where Kita and I lived, and there was Joni Mitchell singing The Circle Game. And there were people, wall-to-wall, all around her and we were all joining in on the chorus. That was one of the most powerful musical events of my life. It was just so beautiful. Joni singing this song for us, and us all joining in, and the only light was candlelight coming from this crude, wooden chandelier that Mitzi had gotten from somewhere. I will never forget all the faces turned toward Joni and all of us feeling the same magical feelings. That was pretty cool.
"There were so many things that happened at the Mission Faire that were just perfect, and because we had such a good, long, lead-in time, the tribes had more time to gather. We had the house in the town of Mission that we called the White House, where there was electricity and hot running water, where Debbie Delight and her California leatherworker pals from Topanga Canyon and Laguna Beach were living. That house became our headquarters, and, during the weekend that the Faire was on, we used the White House as a place to get away from the Faire site. That's where Joni Mitchell stayed and slept on the couch and hung out with us. I remember that when she arrived she was driving her gull-wing Mercedes. Joni sat up half the night with us. She crashed on the couch and walked down to the Faire the next day. I was riding by on one of the shuttle buses that we were using, and I was able to point out to all the people on the bus that there was Joni Mitchell walking down to our Faire.
"Joni walked around our Faire for a while, visiting with people at the craftsmen's booths and listening to the bluegrass music that was being played by these wandering musicians, and Roger Leatherhair said to her, 'I just made this incredible leather coat, here, it's yours.' And a little later, Denny Garcia said, 'try my guitar...' and there she is playing his Dobro. And she comes and sits on a straw bale at the side of the stage, where the Perth County Conspiracy had just finished playing their set. They were all still standing around, Cedric Smith, and his band mates, while Joni was singing and playing on our little stage that I built. Those are memories that I will never forget. I can still see it all as if it was just yesterday."
"People have told me," Dan recalls, "that being out there at the Mission Faire was a glorious moment in their lives. The sun shone, rain fell, people died, babies got born-everything happened, but after the people left, the municipality burned the village down. They were worried about it because school kids came there to play, people came to walk and to ride horses, and the municipality didn't want it to become a park. Now, there is a maximum-security prison that has been built there, but it was such a beautiful piece of land with great vistas of mountains around, and it should have become a park.
"They could have kept our buildings and let it grow, but that would have meant lots of work and things weren't happening that way. After that, we began looking for a permanent Pleasure Faire site, but we didn't find one. We had built a complete frontier town for McCabe & Mrs. Miller, but that was just a temporary illusion for camera crews. We had seen what magic moments our temporary villages could create. We had rebuilt restaurants and nightclubs and put on concert events, but what we really wanted was to build a village that was more permanent. In the fall of 1971, Deluxe spent three months working with the Gold Dust Twins Settlement Society on the Bralorne Project, which was a proposal to rescue a mining town in the coastal mountains from abandonment."
Spurring on the society's bid to take over the mining town was the fact that the most likely fate for the town was being burnt to the ground because there was no longer seen to be any economic endeavor to provide employment and wages for townspeople. "The Bralorne project," Ian recalls, was something that came out of an interview that Al Clapp did with Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau, where Trudeau said: 'if young people want something to do, why don't they go north and set up a community?"' And Alan Garr remembers that, "Clapp seized on that comment (that Trudeau made), isolated it, and pushed it for all it was worth on News Hour."
"A lot of things went back to that interview and that comment," Ian continues. "That's how we got permission to use the penitentiary site in Mission, and that's how we all became involved with rescuing this abandoned mining town. They were just going to burn the whole town to the ground-that was the plan; that was their economic way of dealing with it, and that's why we started this Gold Dust Twins Settlement Society. All these guys came out from Rochdale College, the experimental student-run university that had been set up on Bloor Street in Toronto, and worked with all the local guys, all representing their various groups right down to Tibetan refugees, craftsmen, and these doctors, lawyers and architects. Paul Spong was involved, and we all went up to Bralorne several times. Our headquarters was the bar of the hotel, a totally functioning bar, where we all sat around with this guy Harry Swain, who was the head of the CMHC, the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation ( which later changed its name to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation). Harry was there because we were trying to get the CMHC to become involved, and they were definitely interested because he had met with us on several occasions."
The abandoned mining town was situated sixty miles west of Lillooet on the mountainsides of the Bridge River Valley; the climate was alpine and not particularly conducive to farming, but some of the residents had maintained small vegetable gardens. What really interested the counterculture organization that wanted to save the town most was that the site was set in wilderness far from the urban sprawl, and the authors of the proposal believed there was a valid opportunity to establish a craftsmen's community that would be: "a meeting place for craftsmen, artists, scientists, philosophers, saints, poets, as well as a place of pilgrimage for the young nomads looking for Canada."
The town consisted of one hundred and seventy houses, several hotels, a mining company administration building, a general store, a hospital, post office, bank, fire hall, cafe, movie theatre, telephone company office and an outdoor pool. Its resources included a sawmill, a steam heating plant connected to town center buildings, and a water-powered turbine generator. No doubt, this seemed like a promising opportunity to finally realize Dan Clemens' yearning to establish a permanent village with similar goals to the Deluxe Pleasure Faire villages that had been built and then torn down or burned down. Ian Ridgway was a member of the Gold Dust Twins Settlement Society, which was headed up by the architect Mo Van Nostrand and included Al Clapp, Dan Clemens, David Adair, Al Hewitt, Michael Goldstein, Mark Osburn, Phil Tait, Colin Thompson, Dave Wetter, Claudia Wilimovsky and Dr. William Wine.
"Just the drive up there through Lillooet and onto the dirt road that leads through the Bridge River Valley to Bralorne," Ian recalls, "was interesting. Searching through the town and assessing the situation was like traveling back through time-from the modern hotel. and bar and the modern houses to the older houses to the old hotels, all the decades when the gold mine was active and things were built, and then inactive and then active again ten years later. The peak boom period had been in the thirties when the rest of the world was suffering from the great depression but the Bralorne mine was producing more gold than anywhere else in western Canada. One of the oldest hotels was the one that Glenn Lewis was interested in. It was just a big, funky old building that could have been in any cowboy movie. It was 'way back into the hills, and then even further back was the sawmill. We were playing around with the logistics. Looking at the houses and what shape they were in. And we were saying, 'okay, we've got the bar and the houses and all these old hotels, and the sawmill...' which we were definitely interested in the mine, not so much, at that time, although we would have probably figured something out. While we were checking the town out, we were finding treasures that had been left behind. I remember picking up this beautiful, old denim coat in the sawmill, and wearing it for years and years, and I also found a classic black satin cowboy shirt that I wore and passed on to one of the ladies. There were good pickings. We were finding stuff in abandoned buildings. We weren't sure if we were really going to be in there. It would have been a real trip to develop the abandoned mining town, but in the meantime we were just looking around and discovering these layers of time as the original settlement expanded in the thirties and then again in the fifties. And as the building continued, the town was moving beyond the narrow part of the river valley and beginning to spread out onto the flat land. And when the gold ran out the company that owned the town decided to burn the town down, which is where we came in. As soon as we showed interest in it, though, all of a sudden they put a value on it and other companies became interested. It would have been fun to see how Dan would have redesigned Bralorne; we could have brought in building materials from all over the place."
Al Clapp's initial meeting with Minister of Municipal Affairs Dan Campbell went well, with Campbell going as far as suggesting that their plan might possibly qualify for the Provincial Job Opportunity Program. And Clapp and Gold Dust Twins' lawyer, Mike Harcourt, walked away believing their goal was within sight. A second meeting, this time with officials representing the company that had operated the mines, went well, too, and a price of $121,500 was suggested, with a $25,000 down payment. There was some concern expressed about how the society was going to police their community, and how they were going to deal with transients and squatters. On the national scene, however, alarm had already begun to spread about the way things were turning out at Rochdale College in Toronto, which was being deemed a social experiment gone very wrong. On the other hand, the most serious obstacle that the society seemed to be facing in BC was securing a CMHC loan to pay the mining company, and that loan appeared to be in the bag. Then word came down from the prime minister's office that they would not be receiving the support they needed to get the CMHC loan and establish their crafts community. It was another disappointment in a series of disappointments-this time, however, someone had set fire to their paperwork, not the town, which was sold off to the first bidder. Dan Clemens was crushed. "Hundreds of people were prepared to move there," he told one interviewer. "Perhaps that was the defining moment when the heady enthusiasm of the sixties turned into the tough-minded experience of the seventies."
There was some immediate good news: the buyers, the Whiting Brothers' Marmot Enterprises, did not plan to burn the town to the ground, as had originally been planned by the mining company, they planned to develop the area into a destination resort and make use of many of the existing facilities. Of course, the sad news for the craftsmen and town planners was that there were plenty of destination resorts being planned and constructed but there was no permanent village for artists and craftsmen on the horizon. "Underlying the whole thing was a real belief in, and yearning towards, the spiritual value of community," Mo Van Nostrand summed up. "It was this sense more than anything else that gave the group its energy, and it is towards this sense of community that we are moving-and which more than anything else motivates people to try these ventures."
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Added to Library on December 27, 2019. (1884)
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