Emily Carr’s Oak Bay (1) — Father and the Moon


Emily Carr as a child at age four or five. Photograph by Stephen Allen Spencer (1829?-1911), 1876. BC Archives Call No. H-03313. Courtesy Royal British Columbia Museum Corporation. If the photo was taken before December 13, 1876, Emily was four — her age in the story Father and the Moon.
“Emily Carr as a child at age four or five.” Photograph by Stephen Allen Spencer (1829?-1911), 1876. BC Archives Call No. H-03313. Courtesy Royal British Columbia Museum Corporation.

Father and the moon seem part of each other as I remember that night, and both seem to belong to the night, and so did I. Father had taken us on a steamer for an excursion. The steamer ran onto a rock off Cadboro Bay. We were stuck there for hours hoping the high tide would float us off. When it did not, and the night got late, we were put ashore in row boats. Cadboro Bay was a three mile walk from the town; our home was one mile further still. Four miles, and l was only four years old. A long walk for short fat little legs.

A great moon made night almost as light as day. Father held my hand and we led the way. The others were behind. The road was long and steep. The greater part of the road had trees on both sides, and on the end of the long way was the big round moon. Hand in hand Father and I trudged straight towards the moon and talked about it as we went.

“Doesn’t she shine? lsn’t she round? How soon will we catch up to her, Father?”

“Some while yet. Getting tired?”

”No. If we touch her, when we catch up, will she burn us?”

”l think not. Would you like to be carried a little?”

“No, I am big. I wish my legs were long as yours, then we could take long, long steps together. Do you think moon gets tired?”

”I suppose, having no legs, she rolls.”

”That must be easier than walking, mustn’t it Father?”

“We will ask moon about that when we catch up. I tell you something, we have a long way to go, but nothing like as far as the moon has.”

“Poor moon, she will be so tired.”

“Mother will be very anxious, do you think you could go a little faster?”

“Uh, huh, but I am sleepy.”

”If moon would yawn as wide as that she would break in two.”

”Aha, poor moon. Can’t yawn for fear she split. I rather be me than the moon.”

— “Father and the Moon” from This and That: The Lost Stories of Emily Carr, edited by Ann-Lee Switzer. Appearing with permission from TouchWood Editions. Publisher’s This and That web-page: http://www.touchwoodeditions.com/book_details.php?isbn_upc=9781894898614.

What does this memoir narrate if not a trek along Cadboro Bay Road of a summer night in 1876? (Emily Carr was born December 13, 1871 so was four that summer.) The home they were making for, in James Bay, is more like five miles from Cadboro Bay.

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