On a Mission to Mission

Mission, Canada – Friday 10 November 2000

We depart Vancouver on the two hour drive to Mission just on dusk, and the traffic is heavy because it is :he start of the Remembrance Day long weekend. Remembrance day is taken very seriously in Canada; ever since our arrival we have noticed people wearing the red Flanders poppies. They wear these badges from the first of the month until Remembrance Day itself (like ours on 11 November), a day that is also marked by the sorts of parades and commemorations we associate with ANZAC Day.

Mission is a small community just on the Canadian side of the border southeast of Vancouver. The auditorium is part of a school, and the school has arranged a reception for the audience, complete with coloured balloons and a student string quartet. There is also a basketball court adjacent to the theatre, and several players burn off some excess energy shooting hoops before the rehearsal.

In the audience we meet Jim Happer, a British engineer now living in the area, who was born in Burnie. His father, also an engineer, was working there on the construction of the pulp mill when war broke out and he and his young family returned to the UK. Jim worked out that he was four months old when he left, and has never been back to Tasmania. He was fascinated to see the TSO postcards, many of which were photographed on the NW Coast. He is a music lover and is now keen to visit Tasmania to see his birthplace and to hear the Orchestra again. He, like the rest of the audience, is impressed by the performance.

Tomorrow is a day off in Vancouver, the first since our first Sunday in Buenos Aires, and everyone is looking forward to a break. Spirits are high for the return bus ride to Vancouver, aided by a visit to a bemused local bottle shop.

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