An Excerpt from Bowen Island 1872-1972

The below excerpt is from Bowen Island 1872-1972 and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the Bowen Island Historians.

During the summer months the Canadian National Institute for the Blind operates a recreation and training centre on Deep Bay. The three acre property was purchased from the Union Steamship Company and a modern lodge constructed at a cost of $150,000. Captain M. C. Robinson, at that time director of the C.N.I.B. for British Columbia and Alberta, was the moving spirit behind the whole project. He himself had been blinded at the age of eighteen during the First World War.

In the years before the opening of the centre, groups of blind vacationers had already enjoyed fishing camps on Bowen, sponsored by the Fraternal Order of the Eagles. The new building was handed over to the C.N.I.B. in October 1962. Ron and Joan Hamlin, the first managers, took over the work of furnishing and preparing for summer visitors. The lodge has twenty double and three single bedrooms, a combination lounge and recreation area opening onto a broad patio with an outdoor fireplace, a kitchen run by the C.N.I.B. catering service and a separate hobby building.

A winter works crew sent by the Department of Recreation and Conservation felled trees, levelled the grounds, built camp sites and picnic shelters with brick stoves, blacktop paths across the lans and down the vine-covered bank to the beach, constructed a sea wall and a wide promenade, chained logs together to make a safe bathing area within the bay. Two gardeners came from Vancouver Parks Board on weekends all through the spring and summer and prepared lawns, planted shrubs and flowers. A few amenities especially for the blind were added — embossed room numbers on the doors, circular guards around supporting patio timbers to prevent one from bumping into them, pebble squares in the blacktop to mark turns and adjoining paths. But otherwise the place was designed on the assumption that blindness is no hinderance to enjoying any holiday activity from pitching horseshoes to rowing a fibreglass boat.

The lodge was opened on June 1, 1963. The afternoon was grey and cheerless but one of the gardeners had obtained from the Union several rhododendrons in brilliant bloom on the hotel grounds and and planted them where the ceremony was to be held and an eleven-foot totem pole was presented by Fred B. Brown for Union Steamships. The 200-pound locomotive bell, destined to be the dinner bell, was rung. It had been donated by the C.P.R.

Three weeks later the first group of guests came on a twelve-day vacation, and each summer since then there have been five or six such vacation periods as well as two orientation courses for the newly blind.

Appendix 2 The C.N.I.B. Lodge on Bowen Island from Page 172-173 of Bowen Island 1872-1972