Born On August 29, 1947, Michael Gregson of Victoria's The Writing Company co-compiled a coffee table book, The Land of Destiny, with Charles Lillard, to identify the key elements of B.C. Culture -- from The Miracle Mile to W.A.C. Bennett's 'Burning of the Bonds' -- which characterized the period of growth from 1945 to 1975.
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The Land of Destiny (Pulp $32.95)
IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT IN COMOX. An oldtimer from the timber business, Bill Phillips, leaned across the table and said to Michael Gregson. "1945 to 1975. Now that's when they had it all. That was the Golden Age of B.C." The 'golden age' of B.C., those expansionist years of more blacktop under W.A.C. Bennett, became a topic for late-night discussions in the Gregson home. If there was indeed a golden age in this province, what were its key elements? its motifs? And would anyone care to recognize them now?
Who remembers when B.C. Ferries replaced the privately-owned Black Ball ferries to provide transportation to and from Vancouver Island? (Answer: 1960). Who remembers the CCF leader who barely lost to the Socreds in 1953? (Answer: Harold Winch). Who ran the Miracle Mile in 1954 with Roger Bannister? (Answer: John Landy). The Land of Destiny (Pulp $32.95), compiled by Gregson and Charles Lillard, recalls the mostly forgotten icons of a bygone era: anthropologist Wilson Duff, the Robert Sommers scandal, Ripple Rock, the self dumping log barge, historian Margaret Ormsby, the W.A.C. Bennett Dam, Queen Charlotte Airlines, garbage gobblers on the edge of the highways.
"It's been fascinating to look back only a decade or two," says Lillard, "and realize how much of our own history has almost vanished." He cites the famous publicity stunt in 1959 when W.A.C. Bennett proudly undertook the 'burning of the bonds' to illustrate to British Columbians that his government was debt-free. Everyone that Lillard and Gregson talked to seemed to vaguely remember the event. But the authors could only find one photo recording Robin Hood-styled Premier Bennett shooting a flaming arrow at the pile of bonds. (He actually missed and a Mountie lighted the pyre.) That 'Robin Hood' photo is in the Bennett family museum in Kelowna. 0-88978-240-7
[BCBW 1991] "History"