Archive for November, 2018

My Friend Clare

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

Remembering Clare Palmer

I’m thinking the year was about 1953 when I met Clare. I was staying across the lake with Grandma Rose when Clare came over in his little boat. He was a small blond fellow full of life and adventure.

We fished from the floats leading out to the boathouse and caught several rainbows and a big squawfish. It was a warm spring day so we took the fish up to Grandma’s sink. A few minutes later we heard her yelling. The squawfish had revived and was skittering around the kitchen floor. We dispatched it and continued fishing.

The adventure would go on for six more decades. It was about all things Kootenay boys of the day loved: fishing, exploring the country, hockey, skiing and just being very good friends.

There could not have been a better friend than Clare Palmer.

We started fishing in the early spring when the snow was still hanging on. It was the city wharf for whitefish at first then silvers at the wharf and rainbows at the boathouses, Grohman or Burns Point. Later in the summer, we fished the creeks and mountain lakes. Our Dad’s would take us to the trailheads and we would hike into the high lakes to camp and fish. Sometimes we would hitchhike to Cottonwood Lake, Apex or Hall Siding or even to Balfour to fish. The mouth of Grohman Creek was one of our favorite spots. We would boat down to the old landing then hike across the lodge pole flat to the creek, wade across and fish the mouth with flies, grasshoppers or caddis larvae – we called them “ periwinkles”. We usually caught five or six good rainbows then picked huckleberries on the way back. Once we made a pie . We forgot to add something to thicken the juice so the pie was very runny – we devoured it anyway.

In the fall, we played hockey or raided gardens. As the fifties progressed, we started to ski: the old golf course hill first then Silver King. Clare and I were among the first group to start clearing for Silver King along with such stalwarts as Clare’s parents, Danny McKay and Tom Ramsay.

We moved to California in 1958. Clare and I wrote each other a fair bit. We were back in Nelson in 1966 but I was mostly away at school so I wasn’t around much. I worked with Clare at Star Transfer for a couple of summers and we continued to fish as much as possible.

We both got married late in the sixties and my wife and I moved to the Island in 1969. I didn’t see Clare so much after that. We still fished when we could and went to hockey games when I was around in the winter months. One of my fondest memories of those times is going over to Trail for a Leafs-Smokies game in his red Comet. After the game, we drank beer at the Terra Nova and listened to Kitty Wells on the Comet’s eight track on the way back to Nelson. I think the year was 1970.

In the 70’s, Clare re-married and raised four beautiful daughters with his wife Patti. I saw less and less of him as his duties as a husband and father increased. We kept in contact though and usually managed a few visits when I was in Nelson.

Clare died September 19, 2014. I will forever miss him dearly. Words alone will never express what a wonderful friend he was.

Ted Burns

October 8/14


Clare and Jimmy Rogers, 1968


Clare at Pilot Bay


At 1024 Hoover


At Krao Lake

George Bing – West Arm Great Angler

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

Remembering George Bing – A Fisherman


Ted Burns

George Bing died on October 31st, 2010 – he was 79. I hadn’t seen George for the better part of forty years and knew almost nothing of his life since about 1970 I’m very sad to say. I left Nelson in 1969 and seldom came back for long. But I sure knew him in the 1960’s – indeed. Nearly everyone who fished the West Arm then knew George because he was almost certainly the Arm’s most successful angler.

George generally fished with bait and he usually caught lots of fish. Special regulations like catch and release and fly fishing only were more or less unknown then and catch quotas (limits) were very liberal or non-existent. On one occasion in the latter part of the sixties, two boat loads of anglers ran up the Arm to Proctor to fish for kokanee at the outlet of the Main Lake. George Bing, Frank Hufty and Dick Parker were in one boat while Gary Kilpatrick, Ken Cook and I were in the other. Someone in my boat suggested we have a “fishing contest”. George agreed and after a few hours our boat had 165 silvers on board. George Bing caught 205. Parker and Hufty got bored after a few minutes so George caught nearly all the fish himself. Everyone fished in our boat. We thought there was no way we could loose but George easily out fished three pretty fair anglers. Today’s fishers will cringe at stories like this but that’s the way it was then not all that long ago. The Upper West Arm kokanee population crashed not too many years after our bonehead contest and I can’t help but think we were partly responsible.

George also fished a lot at Grohman Narrows. He found a way to catch the large rainbows that held just where the current started to draw at the head of the narrows under the power lines. These fish had tantalized anglers for many years. People had fished at Grohman for decades but most fished downstream at the creek mouth and around the Island. They knew about the power line lunkers because they rolled and splashed like spring salmon a couple of times a day but had little success catching them. George anchored his boat above the power lines and, against all logic, sunk a grasshopper down to the bottom. I hate to imagine how many beautiful rainbows George caught at Grohman. He supplied many a summer barbecue with fine trout in those years. George was such an accomplished angler that you got the feeling that he could have sunk a hockey puck down to those Grohman rainbows and still caught a few.

Goodbye old friend. I hope there are lots of fine lakes and streams filled with big rainbows where you are – save a few for your old fishing pals.


From left: Ken Cook, George Bing with a five pound kokanee, Dick Parker and Frank Hufty


Frank Hufty, Gary Kilpatrick, George Bing and Ted Burns


George Bing and George Longden with Grohman rainbows

Nelson Daily News



Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

Remembering Gary Kilpatrick

It must have been about 1950. We had moved back to Nelson after a stint in California and were living in the little white house at 1002 Kootenay St. My first friend there was Tom Ramsay who lived in a big house at the end of the street. One afternoon he brought Gary over and the three of us became fast friends. After an initial wrestling match to determine who was the toughest, Gary took me fishing to “his pool”, a lovely spot in Cottonwood Canyon at the top of the falls near his grandparent’s house. The adventure had begun.

It was an idyllic life for Nelson boys in those days. We fished Cottonwood Creek and around the City Boathouses, raided gardens and fruit trees, skied at the old golf course hill and later at Silver King, tobogganed in the gully behind Tom’s house, played hockey at Powell’s Ponds or on the lake, had shinny games on Latimer Street and swam at the boat houses and City Wharf. When the family moved across the lake for the summers, we moved the adventure over there. Tom and Gary would sometimes amaze me by swimming over from the boat houses. Other members of the uphill gang included Fred and Vernon Goldsbury, Dick Gelinas, Clare Palmer, Gary Higgs and my old friend Harry Cox.

Gary was always a ring leader and the first to try new things – the first try ski jumping, the first to dive off high cliffs and the new Nelson Bridge, the first to get kicked out of school, the first to smoke and drink beer, the first to have a girlfriend and the first to go off and play hockey professionally. He left at 15 to play junior B in Lethbridge, played Junior A in Moose Jaw then moved up to minor pro and was drafted by the NHL. Tom, Gary and I played bantam together, Mack Macadam was our coach. Gary was big and strong by then and no one would fight him. He got me to start trouble so he could step in but players soon caught on.

In the late 1950’s we moved back to California but I usually saw Gary in the summers. I especially remember the summer of 1959. Dennis Miller had a small car and we rode around all night looking for parties and drinking beer. We swam and fished during the day. This pattern continued until well into the 1960s. The Queens Hotel was our main haunt and our gang at that time included such luminaries as Buddy Mayer, Luigi Del Pauppo and Jimmy Rogers. It often included hockey player pals of Gary`s like Jack Stanfield and Bob Plager. After a night at the Queens we would often hit beach parties at Red Sands or Taghum Beach or head over to the Purple Lantern for Chinese food. My job was to hold Gary’s teeth if a fight started which sometimes happened because drunks often challenged Gary.

Gary taught at the hockey school run by Metro Prestai where some of the players also worked. One of Gary`s students was the late Brian Spencer who had a career in the NHL. I worked on construction jobs like the Mary Ann apartments and for Clare Palmer moving furniture. In 1966 I began a lifelong career in fisheries biology as a summer student on the Kootenay Lake Project. After that, Gary often called me “ the ichthyologist. “

By 1965, my family had moved back to Nelson. I stayed in school in California until 1969 when I returned to Nelson. Pat McKim and I got married in 1968 and I didn`t see as much of Gary after that. He and his brother Allan along with Kenny Dewar and Blair Olson had purchased the Savoy Hotel and Gary married Pam Ferguson. Pat and I moved to Vancouver Island in 1969 and my visits to Nelson became less and less. Gary’s hockey career wound down in the 70’s and eventually the Savoy was sold and Gary got involved with other enterprises.

I last saw Gary in the spring of 2012. We met briefly at the Nelson Mall and swapped a few tales. He had cancer by then but seemed to be doing well. By early summer 2013, he was gone.

Gary Kilpatrick was a hero of mine and one of the best friends I ever had. It was a shock to lose him because as far as I knew he was indestructible. Here was a person who, as far as I knew, had never had as much as a cold. A person who could stay up and party all night then hike to a mountain lake the next day and never break a sweat. Rest in peace old friend……

Ted Burns

April 2014.

. Kilpatrick

Gary as a Seattle Totem – 1971.


Frank Hufty, Gary, George Bing and I at Proctor, 1965


Gary at Vimy Park in Kaslo, 1967


Bob Burns

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

Remembering Bob Burns

There are five people named Bob Burns in this family.

The first Bob Burns was one of the three lads that came over to Canada from Scotland in 1880. He is my cousin Bob’s grandfather. He lived in the Parry Sound region of Ontario then briefly in Nelson and finally in Humboldt Saskatchewan where he died in 1928.

The next Bob Burns was my father’s brother who was born in 1911 and drowned in Lake Athabasca in 1933. Uncle Bob was a geologist on a prospecting expedition when his canoe swamped. He was with two classmates from the Colorado School of Mines who also perished..

Then there is the subject of this note: my cousin Bob born in 1942 and died in a motorcycle accident in 2017.

The fourth is Gordon and Ramona Burns son Bob born in 1933. My only memory of him is how he defeated a character called the Lion who was supposed to be unbeatable. The Lion travelled with a fair and anyone who could stay in the ring for five minutes with him won one hundred bucks. Bob lived in his own space above the garage at Gordon and Ramona’s and I figured that was the coolest thing. He was a big, strong fellow (as the Lion discovered). He died in an auto accident at Christina Lake in 1959. He and his wife Irene had two boys: Gary and Gordie.

Then there is the subject of this note: my cousin Bob who was born in 1942 and killed in a motorcycle accident at Green Lake in 2017.

The fifth is my brother Robert Michael who was born in 1954 and only lived for a day.

Cousin Bob moved around quite a bit but we were always in contact more or less. He was in Nelson in the 1940’s and 50’s for at least some of the time. They lived on High Street and in Upper Fairview where as a little boy, Bob fell off his porch into a patch of stinging nettles. His Dad was Don Burns who slung beer at the Royal Hotel and sold furniture in Nelson. The war was not kind to his Dad who was a hard drinker. His mother May was a saint with unlimited patience which I am sure she needed every ounce of.

In the 1950’s, Little League baseball came to Nelson. Bob played for the Kiwanis team and pitched the first game. He was a long, tall fellow with a good arm. Bob and I rode our bikes around town and did a fair bit of swimming in those days but before long he was off to Calgary and I usually only saw him in the summers.

He and his family which by that time included his brother Doug would show up across the lake in their little Austin car and Don would unload a few cases of beer. He and my dad would sit on the front porch and down a few as Don lectured my brother Tom and I on the length of our hair. The family stayed at Lymbery’s cabins at Grey Creek and visited friends around Nelson, Ainsworth and Kaslo .

In the late fifties, Bob acquired a 1937 Chev and visited Nelson on his own in the summer of 1959. My folks had moved to California by that time and I wanted no part of it so I went to Calgary with Bob intending to join the army as he had done. I stayed with Bob’s family and got o know Calgary a bit. We visited the Kananaskis Valley and fished the Bow River but in the end the Army would not take me so it was California on the bus.

Bob thrived in the Army as a member of the Queen’s Own Rifles. He was stationed in Germany as part of a NATO force from 1960 t0 1962. In 1966 he joined the Calgary Police Service. As a rookie cop, one of his first tasks was to try and save a lady from a beating by her husband or boy friend. No sooner has he subdued the guy than the lady clubbed him with her purse and put him out of commission. In 1970 Bob got back to BC and joined the Delta Police Department. One of h is first jobs was to attend the terrible accident where a Russian ship rammed a BC Ferry near Active Pass. The ferry “looked like it was opened with a can opener’ said Bob. A lady who remained in her car on the lower deck was killed. Bob got married to a girl named Carol when he was in Calgary and I didn’t see much of him. They had two boys – Sean and Michael – who I met when they were young but haven’t seen since although Bob sometimes told me of how they were getting on.

After he and Carol split, he sometimes came over to Lantzville where I was holed up. I sometimes went over to visit Doug and him. Bob had bought a silver Corvette and we cruised around Vancouver looking for girls and drank at the Joe Capp bar on Broadway. Doug was working for DFO on marine patrols and got lots of time off so he was ready to party but our partying days didn’t last long.

Bob married Franca about then and helped start the Delta Police Band which took him to many places. He was the drum major and was really quite stunning in his dress and bearing.

Bob and Franca had a fine life together. They had two great kids – Bobby (the sixth Bob) and Michelle. They had some great houses and a camp at Green Lake. Franca was an avid hiker and Bob enjoyed fishing and hunting. The only real down incident was Doug’s death in 2007.

They had some great trips including one to Italy where they visited Franca’s family. Barbara and I went to their Green Lake Camp to cross country ski one winter and Bob and Franca sometimes rode their bike to Chilliwack to visit. Bob loved motor cycle trips and that is what killed him. They were close to home at Green Lake when a pick – up driver took his eyes off the road to reach for a water bottle on the floor and rammed into Bob and Franca. Franca was pretty beat up but recovered but that was the end for Bob.


Bob as a police band drum major.


May with Bob and I at Ainsworth.


Bob relaxing after a trip to Sydney.


Bob and I at the Blue Top Motel in Nelson.

Barbara, Franca and I at Green Lake


Doug as a grandfather.


Bob, Franca, Shannnon, Bobby, Michelle and Ryan.


Bob’s friend Les Blaney said Bob’s bike was his mistress. He loved his bike.


Big Bob and Little Ted – Chilliwack 2016.