Shakesides must be saved

April 22,

We have been residents of Comox for 27 years. During that time we have regularly walked down Brooklyn Creek to ‘Shakesides’ then along the waterfront to Filberg Park. (our out of town guests love it).

Over the years we often wondered who the tenants were and how ‘Shakesides’ in that lovely setting got more and more unkempt and forlorn looking, while the plaque of 1983 proclaimed that in 1973 the home and the beautiful land had been left in trust in perpetuity.
(and the lovely quote from Thoreau). It seemed like trust misplaced.

We were aghast and furious when “Baybrook” was savaged. Now, the 22 April edition of The Echo page 2 has put us in fear and trembling regarding the fate of “Shakesides”, and sent us scrambling to become better informed.

Imagine looking that dear near centenarian in the eye and saying: “You left us a nice nature park, an old house and lofty wishes. But you failed to leave us ENOUGH MONEY!”

It is interesting that in the same edition of the Echo  we’re told that Canadian Tire demolished store #1 and built store #2 in 1999 and now have store #3 in 2016.

Can us ‘non commercial’ citizens led by a heritage respecting town council in this, our ‘Village by the Sea’, take a leaf out of Campbell River’s cherishing of Haig Brown and generously support The Mack Laing Society in its efforts to fittingly memorialize naturalist Mack Laing and provide our young folk with opportunities to engage nature as much as he did?
April 23

In Richard Mackie’s 1985 book Hamilton Mack Laing: Hunter-Naturalist, Mackie quotes from Laing in regards to a 1922 trip to the “gullery” at Mittlenatch Island and its bird “song” as follows:

“Oh it was a Wagnerian symphony of the birds, a chorus of lost souls crying out from some realm of the damned where the sweetest sound  that echoes from the portal is a chorus of wailing. It was a savage, cruel place this nursery; discord was more than phonic; strife was in the air…I came down from the nursery full of the wonderment of it all  this savage nursery where bickering and quarrelling and disaster and death were the order of every day apparent on every hand that colossal selfishness of Nature that makes one ponder on the meaning of it all.”

Soldier on. You have “nature red in tooth and claw” on your side. Be selfish on our behalf.  Ignore the chorus of the unnatural lost souls who encourage the ‘Village By The Sea’ to become ‘Heaven’s Waiting Room’, long to put Marina Park in the shade of a monstrous apartment block, and believe “THE NEW LORNE” is an apt name for the proposed monstrosity at Comox Ave and Port Augusta. Fat chance!

April 30

I’m all for politeness and courtesy and conversation and discussion to solve problems and of course ‘respect’: a feeling of deep admiration for someone elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.

I’m not a lawyer and I’m not party to all the ins and outs of the historic and contemporary conversations surrounding our illustrious national treasure Mack Laing. But I do know it is written in bronze for all the world to see that in 1973 he gave “in trust in perpetuity” the home and land round Shakesides.

Am I wrong in assuming that the town officials who received that trust, and their successors, have a legal duty to respect the wishes of Mack Laing for whom many of us feel deep admiration, for his abilities, qualities, and achievements?

And surely legal duty must trump ‘compromise’. “Compromise”, I think, has caused the ‘trust’ ball to be dropped heretofore.

As Richard and Despard sing in Ruddigore “For duty, duty must be done; The rule applies to every one,”

Bob Stiven

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