Author Tags: History

Susan Safyan moved to Wells from Los Angeles in 1980 and lived there until 1985. She returns to visit her friends in Wells every year and has dedicated herself to collecting and preserving their stories. Safyan works as an editor for Arsenal Pulp Press in Vancouver, BC.

According to her publisher:

In the late 1960s and '70s a small group of idealistic young women and men, self-described as "volunteer peasants," moved to the tiny town of Wells in British Columbia's Central Interior. These hippies, with their waist-length hair and handlebar moustaches, long paisley skirts and gumboots, rusted cars and worn sofas, brought with them a Canadian version of the continent-wide back-to-the-land movement, the sexual revolution and the privilege of personal freedom. All Roads Lead to Wells: Stories of the Hippie Days (Caitlin 2012) tells the story of these young settlers, their migration, their values, the unexpected friendships forged between the town's old-timers and newcomers and the inevitable clash—occasionally violent—of generations and cultures.

Built during the Depression, Wells nearly became a gold-mining ghost town like nearby Barkerville, but thanks to the influence of the "back-to-the-landers" it has evolved into one of BC's renowned arts-based communities. All Roads Lead to Wells tells their earthy, poignant and revealing stories.

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
All Roads Lead to Wells: Stories of the Hippie Days


All Roads Lead to Wells: Stories of the Hippie Days (Caitlin 2012)

ISBN 13: 978-1-894759-76-2
ISBN 10: 1-894759-76-1
8" x 7", 272 pages, paper
60 colour photos

[BCBW 2012]

All Roads Lead to Wells: Stories of the Hippie Days (Caitlin $26.95)
Article (2012)

from Sage Birchwater

After susan safyan edited memoirs for the 25th anniversary of the Vancouver Folk Festival, she twigged to the fact that she could do the same thing for Wells, near Barkerville, where she had lived from 1980 to 1985.

The memories and photos she collected on her returns to the Cariboo over an eight-year period now comprise All Roads Lead to Wells: Stories of the Hippie Days (Caitlin $26.95).

Like a high school annual for an entire town, it’s a fascinating and intimate chronicle of how back-to-landers mixed with rancher-types to make a remarkable community, one that has since evolved into one of the foremost centres for the arts in B.C.

“I loved those amazing, end-of-the-road stories,” she says, “from the days when the town’s population was still around 300.”

All Roads pays tribute to oldtimers such as Lucky Swede and Fred Ludditt (author of Barkerville Days); then tells how Wells’ “first hippies” Brian Humber and Dale Ruckle established Filthy Larry’s Leather Shoppe in the late ‘60s as the area’s first “head shop” and hippie hang out.

Initially newcomers with long hair encountered resistance from the old guard; then things kind of mellowed out as the hippies were integrated into the community and took on roles of responsibility.

All Roads Lead to Wells reflects what was happening in the macrocosm across North America. Most of the experiments at communalism splintered and disappeared, but there has been a residue of idealism that survives.


[BCBW 2012]