An Elizabethan epitaph – Ashcroft Cache Creek Journal


I recently had the opportunity to go to Whistler, something I haven’t done in over 20 years and that was the last time I was there. I was curious to see how the place had changed since between then and now the city has hosted a little thing called the Winter Olympics, which you may have heard of.

The town – or at least the touristy part of it that I saw – was as I remembered it: a Swiss alpine village designed by someone who had once seen it in a travel documentary. I have to say that it was the spotlessly cleanest place I’ve been to in a long time: there wasn’t a single piece of rubbish to be seen anywhere. And despite the frankly extraordinary number of dogs about, I hardly saw a sign of Doggy-Doo. Whether this is a tribute to the dogs, their owners, the municipal workers, or a combination of the three, I can’t say, but it was noticeable.

What didn’t quite stand out were some of the shops that lined the main (car-free) town. Whistler must have an extremely detailed sign ordinance prohibiting flashy, garish, and oversized signs, and while it does wonders for the overall look of the place, some of the signs were so tastefully small and unobtrusive that they were almost invisible. When I returned to Ashcroft, I mentioned to someone else who had been there that I had visited the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and they confessed that they hadn’t even noticed. I almost didn’t see it either, but if there’s two things I’m good at sniffing out in a weird place, it’s a) cafes and b) artisanal chocolate shops.

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The drive down the Duffy Lake Road was certainly interesting. As I mentioned, it’s been more than two decades since I last took this trip, so I may have erased it from my memory. Didn’t see much as I drove and focused on the steep and winding road; What little I noticed was certainly pretty, but I was more concerned with navigating the hairpin turns and steep descents. Not a road for the faint of heart or for anyone who can’t remember the last time they serviced their brakes.

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I didn’t spend much time in my hotel room, nice as it was, but when I was there I usually had CBC Newsworld on in the background. Last week they seemed nonstop on the aftermath of Queen Elizabeth’s death, from the various memorial services to the procession to London’s Westminster Hall and, of course, The Queue, that mile-long queue of people patiently awaiting an opportunity to walk past the Queen’s coffin and to pay their last respects to the only monarch most Britons have ever known.

The services were very solemn and I can imagine that for many people it would all have been a bit over the top and/or religious. They brought back childhood memories for me of sitting in a pew at Kerrisdale Presbyterian Church and listening to the elaborate language of the King James Version of the Bible and listening to traditional hymns while holding the hand of my maternal grandfather, a church elder.

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I was glad they used the King James Version for the Queen’s services, for its beauty is matched only by the language of Shakespeare; hardly surprising, since it was commissioned in 1604 and published in 1611, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and during a period when Shakespeare was writing plays such as Othello, King Lear, Macbethand The stormthe last of which us the lines “We are such stuff / as dreams are made of, and our little life / is rounded off with a sleep.”

It is a fitting epitaph from the reign of the first Queen Elizabeth for the second queen of that name. Goodbye ma’am and thank you for your decades of dedicated service.


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