Brian Croft
Painting the History of Vancouver and British Columbia

220. Open Late

Limited Edition Watercolour Giclee Print, (unframed) sn150, ap15, pp8

14 x 21 (inches) sn $240, ap$270, pp$300

From a Watercolour painting by Brian Croft

It was in the 1880’s and 90’s that folks really began arriving in the area. Eventually called Otter, it was a place no more than the intersection of Yale road and a rutted wagon trail from the States called Otter road. They struggled there mostly on foot, all looking for the same thing, a piece of land, a place to call home. Otter was high ground and tough land to settle. They cleared trees, stumps, and rocks uncovering land good and bad. They scratched out a rough road here and there to get about and when something big was to be done they did it together.

Together, in 1922, they did something really big and created the Otter Farmers Institute; Straight to the point, they wrote the first bylaw on the books, “….improve conditions of rural life so that settlement may be permanent and prosperous”.

The Institute, always a practical place, sold what they needed: stumping powder to clear more land, seed for the new land, feed for stock, hardware, fuel, turpentine and paint. Later, in the mid-thirties, groceries and other goods were introduced. Gradually the Institute became an important focal point for rural families for many miles in all directions.

My watercolour pigment washes a late winter evening just before Christmas: snowballs mixed with mischief, Mom inside buying secret things to bake and Dad loading the truck. That fresh patch of snow straight-ahead is a space I left for you; Drive on in!

Occasionally our world shivers in that chilling wind, uncertainty. But up the hill, on the high ground called Otter, a door still shines its welcome warmth onto the snow, held open by Canadian pioneers who saw a future both “permanent and prosperous” and made it come to be.

Brian Croft