Family ghosts found. part 2.


Mountain View Cemetery

It seems I am attracted to uncovering the stories of the deceased in my family. The mystery of the Cherryville Cemetery was solved a couple of years ago. This time around it is the story of my Great-Grandfather, Wilfred Boucher.

20130907-085730.jpg He died in 1915 in a “hunting accident” when he was in his early thirties. According to his death certificate he was shot in the heart.

The family story goes that he moved to Hardy Island, British Columbia from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. I believe he moved because of a business opportunity. He moved there first to scope out the area and then his wife and children made their way there (as is the case in modern times). At the time of his death he and my great-grandmother were far away from extended family. Shortly after his death my great-grandmother moved back home to Coeur d’Alene. She never remarried and she lived well into her nineties. She died when I was a teenager and I have very fond memories of her. She had a beautiful spirit.

I have always had a weird feeling about the death of my great-grandfather. Whenever the story was told to me I always wondered if his death was really a murder. Just a gut feeling I have always had that I’ve never really talked about (honestly, how accidental is a shot through the heart?). Sure enough, I had a conversation with my cousin a few months ago about this and he said that my great-grandmother told him that Will Boucher was murdered but at the time there was nothing she could do about it so she left town and moved back home to Idaho.

My sister has been researching our family history and she discovered that he was buried in Vancouver BC in the Mountain View Cemetery. This was a surprise because we always thought he was buried somewhere on Nelson Island, B.C. (Or maybe even Hardy Island). Another interesting tidbit is that, according to some family lore, he was “involved in something political in Vancouver” and that is, perhaps, why he was killed. I am not sure what any of this means. I would like to research the history of Vancouver and find out what might have happened politically around 1915.

I happened to be visiting Vancouver BC this past week so I thought I’d check out my great-grandfather’s grave and shoot a pinhole photo for Pinhole Obscura. I learned that every single resident of Vancouver who has died is (supposedly) buried in this cemetery. It is completely huge and utterly overwhelming. We wandered around a bit before deciding to go to the cemetery office. Thanks to the impeccable records of the City of Vancouver, I was able to go exactly to the spot where he was buried. The office dude gave me a map and told me exactly where to go. He did mention that his grave might be unmarked though (He was looking at a satellite view of it). I’d come all that way to find his grave. I was willing to take the chance!

I wandered to the spot and, indeed, there was absolutely nothing there at all. No gravestone. No marker. Nothing.

Mountain View Cemetery

He is buried somewhere under this beautiful tree. I have to admit that I got a little bit choked up. It made me so sad that this person that we have absolutely revered in my family, the patriarch, has been buried for 100 years in a cemetery so far away from home in an unmarked grave. Damn. It makes me sad just thinking about it even now.

I wondered if I am the first family member to even visit it in 100 years?!?

Needless to say, we are already thinking about getting a headstone placed.

I am also really curious about his story. I want to fill in the missing pieces.

The Curve of Time by M. Wylie Blanchet

Books, Music, Art, Movies

The Curve of Time by Blanchet

Enjoyment is always greatest when you have enough contrast to measure it by. – M. Wylie Blanchet (The Curve of Time)

I’ve been meaning to blog more about some of the great books I’ve read this year. Some of them are kind of obscure and I feel the need to share them.

One of those fabulous books is The Curve of Time by M. Wylie Blanchet. This was a book club selection for the Women’s book club at the library. I had never heard of it before. I’m so glad I was introduced to it. It’s a beautiful book.

It is considered a memoir but I think travelogue is a more accurate description.  It is written by M. Wylie Blanchet, whose husband died unexpectedly  leaving her with five  young children.   Not a lot of detail is given about the death of her husband. The “About the Author” section states that he was “presumed dead when he never returned from a day trip on the Caprice.” The boat was found and then became the scene for the stories in this book.

The stories take place in the 1920s an 1930s. I find that remarkable. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because she was a single mom during that time period. Maybe it’s because she wasn’t afraid to go out and have adventures on a boat with her kids. Wasn’t afraid to even get into some perilous situations. I like that she didn’t depend on the help of a man to fix the boat if it needed fixing. She was self sufficient and was able to handle the work herself. Was this rare for the 20s and 30s? I have this idea that it was. Regardless, she was a remarkable woman, even by today’s standards. I wouldn’t know the first thing about fixing a boat. And going on adventures where I could potentially be attacked by a bear? Forget about it.

As I was reading this book I searched for a map of the islands around Vancouver Island so I could see where all of the islands and inlets were that she was talking about.  I felt pulled into the stories and I found myself wanting to visit the area to see the places she writes about. But it’s not just the places that make the book so wonderful. It is the characters she meets, as well.  People and animals.

As I was reading this I couldn’t help but think of my great-grandmother, Laura Boucher. It was probably around the same time period, maybe a decade earlier that she went through something sort of similar. My great grandfather, Will Boucher moved her and their five (or six?) children up to Vancouver, B.C. so he could find work (doing what I can’t remember).  My great -grandfather died on one of those small islands up there while hunting. He was shot accidentally by his hunting partner. He was only in his thirties when he died and he left my great-grandmother with their five young children, a widowed and a  single parent.  I always imagined mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of my great-grandfather. Was it really an accident? Maybe it was a murder? But that is all speculation. The result of reading too many murder mysteries.  My great-great grandfather, Laura Boucher’s dad (Ben Boucher) went up to Vancouver to help her move back down to Couer d’Alene, Idaho, where the family was originally from. And that is where she lived until she died. She never remarried.

Anyway, back to the book. It was one of my favorites so far this year. I highly recommend it. I wish I could be a bit more descriptive but I’m afraid I would spoil the wonderful stories if I did. However, if you are in the mood for a well-written memoir from a phenomenal woman, as well as a travelogue that will allow your mind to drift away to an amazingly beautiful place,  you should get your hands on it.