The plaque on the memorial cairn behind Shakesides in Mack Laing Nature Park quotes Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau and Mack Laing had much in common.
Laing carved his Baybrook property from old growth forest, then in 1923, he bought and built an Aladdin Reddi-Cut kit house. These houses are listed in the heritage registries of many cities in North America.
Mack Laing respected and loved the natural world – but he also valued people and wrote thousands of letters over his 99 years.
He traveled widely to remote areas of Canada, but when at home in Baybrook, he welcomed colleagues and friends. Like Thoreau, Mack had three chairs in his house; “one for solitude, two for friendship, three for society.”
As Thoreau says: “We should come home from far, from adventures, and perils, and discoveries every day, with new experience and character.”
Laing wrote about his experiences. He was a prolific, engaging writer and talented photographer. He gained international renown while living in Baybrook.
Baybrook was demolished one year ago, on August 6, 2015, after standing for 92 years.
As Thoreau says:
“While civilization has been improving our houses, it has not equally improved the men who are to inhabit them. It has created palaces, but it was not so easy to create noblemen and kings.”
Baybrook’s considerable historical and heritage value were ignored by our elected Council. Official offers of assistance from Heritage BC and the National Trust of Canada were dismissed without response.
Thoreau says: “They who have been bred in the school of politics fail, now and always, to face the facts.”
Baybrook was sacrificed to expediency. Thoreau has words for that too:
“There is no such thing as accomplishing a righteous reform by the use of ‘expediency.’ There is no such thing as sliding up hill. In morals, the only sliders are backsliders.”
Comox Council failed its citizens.
The sad, barren Baybrook mound is a suitable monument to the lack of foresight and understanding about what is truly valuable in a community.
The Mack Laing Heritage Society recognized injustice on August 6 2016 – to Mack Laing, to Baybrook, and to the citizens of Comox and Canada. It hopes for a better result for Mack Laing’s second home – Shakesides.