The Long Road To Woodstock---A Protest At The Fairgrounds
At some point in my sojourn with the station wagon full of Canadian/American hippies, we rolled into some little town out in the wilds of British Columbia. I suppose I wanted to see log cabins and miners panning for gold, but it was just a pleasant town most like any little town back in the states, with car dealerships and restaurants and more-or-less all the modern conveniences. I remember that the town was on a lake, and if you follow the TransCanada Highway (what I have mistakenly been calling the Queen's Highway) you will see a number of lakes lining the route of that highway, and towns at the head of those lakes. I have two candidates, but it could have been another one: Revelstoke (the name sounds like something Conan Doyle might have used) and Salmon Arm (that sounds more like Kurt Vonnegut). The photo on Wikipedia of Revelstoke looks familiar, but then I wouldn't have a visual memory, and anyway, much would have been changed. And Salmon Arm seems to be more of a regional government site, which was a detail that came in to play. So I don't know for sure.
I don't remember that much, except that when we pulled in to this town, my station wagon friends said they knew some people who lived there, and we immediately went looking (or they just knew where to go) for their friends. And as soon as we found their friends, who inhabited a sort of hippie house that was maybe a house from the thirties, nice enough, nothing much to remember, no hippie smells in the memory bank, the friends said, "Oh, come on, we're going to the protest. You've gotta go with us."
And we all piled in to vehicle or vehicles and drove out to what was the fairgrounds.
On the way out there, perhaps, the situation was explained to us. Perhaps it was some special day in Canada, or British Columbia, or Revelstoke, or Salmon Arm and the Premier of British Columbia, a gentleman by the name of William Andrew Cecil Bennett was going to make a speech. According to Wikipedia (very handy for this sort of thing), Mr. Bennett was "the longest-serving Premier in British Columbia history." On Wikipedia, the story continues: "He was usually referred to as W.A.C. Bennett, although many referred to him either affectionately or mockingly as 'Wacky' Bennett." I think in referring to him, my new friends may have used words like "dictator" or "strong man" or "Mussolini." However, this was Canada, so you had to take everything with a grain of coarse salt.
At the fairgrounds (actually the speech took place at the racetrack that was part of the fairgrounds complex) there was a crowd, and, we discovered soon enough, a roped-off area over at the side reserved exclusively for the protesters. Being the protesters, that's where we went (I think being dressed as hippies put us in the role of protesters, whether we actually were or were not---not sure they would have let us go anywhere else.)
As a protester, I gamely fulfilled my role, shouting "Bennett is a fascist thug," or words to that effect. It was kind of like in a play, Hamlet says, "To be or not to be." It was what was expected of me. Mr. Bennett made a speech, and I don't remember a word of it. I'd imagined he extolled the virtues of economic growth and moral uplift, and really, I'm not against those things, as long as there is due concern with the health of the environment, and the preservation of individual freedoms. Wikipedia reports that Mr. Bennett said "to residents complaining of the smell of a local pulp mill," "it's the smell of money." I'm not even sure I have a problem with that, as the smell of the local pulp mill is, indeed, the national smell of Canada, and, indeed, after a while I'm sure you get used to it.
I don't remember any untoward activity or unpleasantness associated with the protest. In fact, it may have been the most successful protest I ever attended. The sun was shining, the air was a pleasing temperature, Canadians are naturally friendly---all in all, a good time was had by all.