Slypsteen’s Corner

How did we end up in Canada?

By Kobus de Villiers

“So how the hell did you end up in Canada?” He was busy turning the steaks over on the grill and took another swig of his Molson Canadian Lager.

I had to think for a minute.

“It is a long story!” He nodded, knowingly.

It all started with my great Oupa. They lived in Worcester in the Cape Province. He wrote newspaper articles under the pseudonym of Slypsteen (Whetstone) for the Cape Argus and Ons Land. He must have been good since he later became the editor of De Paarl Post.

There were some other famous members of the Viljee family too. Oom Pierre, the one that lived in the Paarl, was a Rugby Springbok and in 1931 was part of Bennie Osler’s team that toured the British Isles. Ds Marthinus Lourens de Villiers set to music the words of the then National Anthem, Die Stem.

The family were well respected and settled in the Cape. Then one of the brothers decided to see what was on the other side of the Hex River Mountains. Nobody quite knew why and it is still a topic discussed in low voices at funerals and some weddings when everybody gets together.

I do recall as a small boy on one such momentous occasion, an uncle telling someone, without realising that I was listening, that there was a sign next to the road at the Hex River pass that said: ‘Civilisation ends here.’ He furtively looked about and concluded that: “ Only those who could not read went on towards the north.”

Years later I concluded that I was descended from that brother that dared to cross the mountains. Even from a young age I had this urge to cross the mountain. On our seaside holidays I sat on the beach and instead of building sandcastles, I wondered where the ships were going when they disappeared over the horizon, wishing to know what lies on the other side of the ocean. I knew I had to go and find out.

From then on I knew that one day, when I sit in my wicker chair on the stoep of the old age home, I will have the most interesting and often strange stories to tell.

These boys spent an hour or so just rowing their kayaks. Then mom called & now they are waiting for breakfast!

There is an amazing amount of fish, seals and sea-life in the tranquil bay.

Families spend the day on their boats having a braai, drinks, tanning or rowing canoes around the calm waters.

People come and anchor their boats for the day in the sheltered bay.

View of Bedwel bay over the low tide rock pools.

Bedwell bay where the footpath exits the forest.

My wife relaxing in the very peaceful atmosphere.

Tide is high now I we needed to move our picnic onto the rocks.

Tide is coming in.

Belcara beach near our home where the parking area is and where the hiking trail starts.

We live in Port Moody, BC It is the beginning of summer and we often pack some sandwiches & a flask of coffee and explore one of the many hiking trails in our area. Yesterday we tried a new route since our kids told us there are very few people on that trail and social distancing is not a problem.

We walked from the beach near our home to Bedwell Bay. The hike is through old forest with beautiful tall trees and we suddenly arrived at the end of the bay. It is sheltered and although we were the only people on the narrow beach, the bay was full of boats. You could smell meat being cooked on the on-board barbecues and kids were paddling canoes in the tranquil bay.

Kobus de Villiers is a retired aeronautical engineer. He grew up in the Free State. After serving in the Bush War, he lived, worked, and studied in several countries around the world. He still does some consulting and builds contraptions in his workshop. He lives with his French wife in Vancouver, Canada. He shares his stories and photos with Howzit on this blog, aptly called “Slypsteen”

Kobus’ books can be ordered on Amazon.

In South Africa, you can find his books through Malherbe Uitgewers.

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