Thursday, July 26, 2012


Many years ago, on one of many visits to Salt Spring Island, a friend here introduced me to Beddis Beach, on the south side of the approach to Ganges Harbour. It's been a magical place for me since that first visit -- I've swum in the ocean there, I've walked along the water, I've sat on a log and knitted there. I had a long conversation one afternoon with some Salt Spring old-timers who have a boat here at the marina (Ray and Elsa -- Ray is in his 70s, and was born here) about how drawn I am to this little corner of Salt Spring Island -- they love Beddis Beach, too.
Last year, just after we moved here, I bought a book of Salt Spring 'pictorial' history for 50 cents at a garage sale. As I was thumbing through it, a photo caught my eye -- because it could have been my kid brother. Or my son with darker hair and a beard! When I read the caption underneath, the description was of Salt Spring's first schoolteacher -- a Mr. Raffles Purdy. Here he is staring out at us from the past:
I remembered, then, that the Salt Spring street map showed a Purdy Lane off Beddis Road -- I started looking for it, then, but never could find where it was supposed to be, according to the map.

Anyway, a few weeks after reading the book, I was again chatting with the boat owners here, and told them of this weird experience of seeing the uncanny resemblance to my brother in the old photo of Raffles Purdy. I mentioned that Purdy was my family name, and Elsa said, "No wonder you're so drawn to Beddis Beach -- that's exactly where the Purdy family farmed!!"

Just wait -- it gets weirder. The other day when I was driving along Beddis Road hoping to catch a glimpse of that cruise ship, the World, I pulled over on the side of the road at a point where it looked like I might get a view out over the harbour. There were two men standing there chatting as I stepped onto what I thought was a public boulevard -- they started staring at me, so I politely asked, "Sorry, am I on private property here? I just hoped to take a photo." They told me that indeed I was on private property, but I was welcome, anyway, and could take all the photos I wanted.

As I was taking photos and chatting with these two guys, I mentioned that I was surprised they hadn't seen my van along there before because I'd been looking for what the map called Purdy Lane for a year. Did they have any idea where it was?

The response?

"You're standing on it, ma'am."

Turns out I 'just happened' to pull over AT the original Purdy family estate (Beddis Beach is just a bit further south) - and was talking to the husband of the Purdy grand-daughter who now owns it! Purdy Lane has grown over long since, and he was mowing it when I pulled up!

That's him on the left, and you can see part of the house behind him.

So I have no idea what the family connection is here on Salt Spring Island -- I just know there clearly IS one!

1 comment:

Esther V. said...

Truly amazing! Why not put up the Purdy Lane sign again?
VERY interesting blog. Thanks for sharing.