Like many readers, I was moved by Terry Farrell’s July 8 story about the demolition of his childhood home (Commen-Terry: Losing part of my childhood). Without doubt, there were tears in his eyes, as he shared with us the painful loss of a building that held the memory of his mother. The message that Terry so eloquently conveyed is that a home is far more than a physical structure. It is the embodiment of the memories of the people who occupied it.
Terry’s story made me reflect on the enormous pain that the people of the Komoks First Nation must have felt watching their homes destroyed and their lands taken from them. That pain lingers to this day.
My thoughts also turned to the controversy surrounding Mack Laing’s home.
Although I am not a member of the Mack Laing Heritage Society, I do feel empathy for their cause. Since moving to Comox, I have gotten to know Mack Laing through his writings. He was an amazing and lovable character. Mack’s stories have filled me with respect, admiration and even affection for an important B.C. pioneer. Mack was not simply a person of historical significance to the Town of Comox or the Comox Valley, but his work and his contributions extend far beyond Comox to British Columbia and to Canada.
Like Terry’s childhood home, Mack’s home, Shakesides, was built 70 years ago. There is nothing architecturally significant about Mack’s simple wood-frame home. It is also unlikely that our friends at BC Assessment would assign much value to it. However, its value from a cultural heritage perspective is very significant. It is the embodiment of the man whose hands built it. One might argue that the spirit of Mack Laing continues to occupy it.
We must acknowledge that there are deep emotions attached to many of the buildings that make up our community. Before we bulldoze our heritage, let’s pause to consider not simply the loss of a building but the loss of the memories and history embodied in that building.