Dick Hunt's Blog

May 8, 2012

Sorrento Training Center, From Its Early Years.

Filed under: Current — Tags: , — Dick Hunt's Blog @ 8:39 pm

Sorrento Training Center, From Its Early Years.
by Dick Hunt, May 8th, 2012.

This is a bit of history to which numbers of people may relate. Ruth and I and our family were the very first Campers in the just opened facility there. We wondered upon our arrival from Alberta why we were so eagerly welcomed by a large group of Anglican Youth. It was just that we were first to use the facility.  We unhooked our Travel Trailer and were getting settled in. Ruth put the kettle on to make tea and within minutes I heard a voice say to me, ‘Dick Hunt, just the man I need’.  The speaker was a Priest from Toronto who was in charge of program that week and his assistant had not been able to come.  So I was whisked away to work all week, the subject being Parish Finances. Ruth asked another family to join her for tea so they were three adults and eight children.  The  family was the Tom and Madeleine Jakeways from Vancouver, who became our very good friends.

Another summer, shortly after we arrived, the Cook for the week had a heart attack and there were scores of people to feed. Ruth stepped into the breech, took over the oversight  and management of the kitchen  and there was hardly a ripple of difficulty.  Ruth and I were both used to hard work and taking responsibility, having been born and raised in Agriculture. We had always had numbers of hired men to  feed and house when we were still ranching and they had immense appetites.  Ruth looked after all their laundering  needs and fed them well. She also did a great deal of gardening, looked after our first three children who were born during those early years.  We were in partnership with my eldest brother and his wife with whom we  shared the burdens of the day.  So we learned well how to work together.

Years later, I was recruited by Jim Cruikshank, (later, Bishop Cruikshank) , along with the Rev’d. Jack Major who had been a successful Building Contractor, to build a house for female staff at Sorrento.  We were given two helpers who had never done any building before. One was a draft dodger from Chicago, the other a Parolee from the Penitentiary in New Westminster.  They were under the jurisdiction of Jim Cruikshank for the summer. The day we arrived there was late  on the same day that David Somerville was Consecrated Bishop, in the Cow Palace in Vancouver. I arrived at Sorrento before Jack (we had both been at the Cow Palace) and I suggested to Jim that I should get into my work  clothes.  He asked me to keep my collar on until I met our helpers.  When he introduced us, I was met with hostility, as was Jack when he arrived a bit later.  I too had not met Jack before.

On Monday morning we set to at the building site at which the foundation was already poured and the joists and rough floor we completed. Jim had scrounged sixteen thousand board feet of mixed utility lumber from some of the local sawmills.  My job was to sort through that mountain and as Jack called out for materials, I found what he needed, cut it to size on my power tools and hand it to the helpers. He then used it to build a very substantial “dormitory”for the staff. We had five days in which to build it to lock up, doors, windows and roof completed. The two men who had been so hostile on Sunday evening asked us after the evening meal Friday if they could come and talk with us in our cabin and we had a delightful counselling session with them. Jim and I have been very close friends ever since. He was Rector of St. Matthews Abbotsford and in charge of the construction of both the building and the Saints who were to occupy it to  good effect.

On another summer, I was put in charge of the construction of the Cabanas which were designed to house families in very rough and ready bunks and mattresses. I recall that one of our volunteers was a Longshoreman from the docks in Vancouver.  About halfway through the week he discovered I am a Minister and he was upset with me because I hadn’t revealed my vocation to him.  We continued to work together and he seemed to forgive me. His problem was that he may have used language in my presence which was not appropriate. Later on that year he appeared at our door in Williams Lake and his first words were – “I just had to come and see you because you are the only preacher that I know that answers my questions.” He was from an Anglican Parish in Vancouver.  Working together with no prejudice on either side to spoil the process of getting acquainted is a great way of learning to appreciate each other.

We made lot’s of good friends at Sorrento over the years and Jim Cruikshank was a great organizer who brought people together in great fellowship in Christ in those days. When the large prebuilt cedar residence was assembled, one of the prime  leaders was Lance Richardson  who, when we lived in Williams Lake worked for the Highways Department and boarded with us, as did Pat Wood, (now Pat Meier),  a member of Saint Matthews, Abbotsford.  I have lost touch with Lance but he  had a long association with the Centre. He and Pat spent a winter at the center and took a  number of courses to deepen their vocation and effectiveness as leaders. I am always very happy to learn that people who have been deeply committed Christians  and have continued their growth to maturity, are still great leaders many years later.

The Lord never lets us let go of the  seed,  the Word!

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