Tuesday, January 19, 2010  
   Volume 80 - Issue 3 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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Quote of the Week
“Traditionally, Rescue has always been working in conjuction with the ambulance. We’re all in favour of helping out whenever we can.”
- Rescue Chief  
Michael Taje  
- on formalizing medical   
co-response   

 

Looking Back - John KinnearWhen I first came back to the Pass to live in 2005 I decided I wanted to reconnect to the place in which I had grown up. For ten years prior in Fernie I had formed an important connection to that marvellous town through my writing in the Fernie Free Press. The Free Press incidentally is 112 years old and still going strong. The column was called Now and Then and in total there were over 450 offerings to my readers there. Through my writing and research I came to know Fernieites as a wonderful cross section of personalities and nationalities with a rich and fascinating history.
I am thinking that the same scenario would work here. I had not lived in the Pass for 33 years and much had changed since my return. I quickly discovered that I was an expert on Elk Valley history and very weak on Crowsnest Pass history. So it was that I offered my point of view to the Pass Herald . Once I found my articles were being read and appreciated I decided to keep going. Their content had been not so much on area history, more like everything but.  Like stories on cabooses, dirigibles, hot springs, the Halifax explosion—those types of ramblings.
Many times people ask me how is it that I can keep coming up with such a variety of topics week after week.  I own hundreds and hundreds of books. Any book that deals with any facet of Western Canadian history is gobbled up. Garage sales are a gold mine for me and my basement is full of what my wife refers to as “those musty smelling things”. I have always been a prolific reader of non-fiction and prone to absorbing massive amounts of trivia on a weekly basis. Sooner or later one of those trivia tidbits blossoms into an 800 to 1000 word treatise on something.
The cross section of topics I have breached since 2005 has been mind boggling even for me. It ranged from dandelions, unit trains, rainbows, King Kong, flu virus, multiple births, cemeteries, reichmarks, chocolate to Robbie Burns. Whatever it was I always felt there was a perspective and some little known information to share.
On occasion I get feedback on my stories via a phone call or an email forwarded from the Herald. A recent article entitled “War on Our Doorstep”, that visited the spectre of a narrowly averted Japanese invasion of North America via the Aleutian Islands, drew a fascinating response. It was from none other than “War on Our Doorstep’s” author Brendan Coyle.
He had apparently caught my column on the Herald website and emailed me that he had made a recent trip to Kiska, the northern most island on the 1600 kilometer long Aleutian Island chain.
 
For those of you who missed the piece, Kiska was occupied by the Japanese in 1942 and were eventually driven off by Allied Forces. If the Americans had lost at Midway though, Kiska and another Aleutian Island called Attu that they held would have become launch points for attacks on our west coast.
According to Brendan no one had been to the island, a volcanic cone bereft of trees, since 1942, as it was classified as off limits during the Cold War and then became part of a restricted wildlife refuge after that.  The purpose of his visit was to assist a Cambridge University professor in assessing the impact of the introduction of rats to the island’s wildlife. Mr. Coyle was able to photo document while he was there evidence of Japanese artillery remains, tunnels that they dug into the volcanic rock and sunken ships and mini-subs in Kiska’s small harbour.  Brendan shared a couple of his photos with me and needless to say I was blown away.  I will undoubtedly be revisiting the Pacific War story to tell you about things like giant Japanese subs that were actually mini-aircraft carriers!!
In future articles I will endeavour to dig deeper into the Pass’ remarkable history. My old home town of Coleman has hundreds of stories to revisit. Stories of rodeos, colourful parades and hose laying competitions. Stories of hair raising fires, mine disasters, floods and winds that you measure with a chain nailed to a post. (When it’s snapping links off the end of the chain it is a high wind!)
The cosmopolitan of nationalities (46 at one point in time) that came together to build this amazingly diverse community we call the Pass have within them hundreds of stories of family legacies. And one story usually leads into another. Like the Bubniak family story I did some time back that led to the Peressini  family story that led to the piece on the Spanish Civil War (Anthony Peressini fought and died in that forgotten war) which finally led to a piece about Dr. Norman Bethune.
You know what they say about six degrees of separation.  I’m bettin’ that every time I dig into a family’s history it will reveal a myriad of connections throughout the Pass like a giant spider web.
We would do well to remember this past present interconnection we share as we struggle with the vision of the Pass’ future. We are in this together so let’s act as one and be as one and work to preserve and enhance this place our families worked so hard to build for us.
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   Volume 80 - Issue 3 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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