Confessions of a Former Pack Rat

Last week I took some time off work and escaped to Vancouver Island for nine days. Much of that time was spent wearing stretchy pants, watching HGTV, sleeping in late, stuffing my face with all kinds of food that’s bad for me (my skin was hating me for doing so), drinking beer, BBQing, baking and catching up with friends. I managed to squeeze in a day of going through old boxes with my mom and aunt, hoping to find a lot that could be given away or recycled.

I discovered far more spiders and mice than this city girl is kosher with, but also learned that apparently I used to be a major pack rat. I saved everything from tees to receipts and even hotel shower caps. However, among the overstuffed boxes laid a few gems and memories that I thought I’d take the time to gratuitously share with you all.

My summer of 15. Taking trips to Vancouver, sans parents, was always a thrill. We never had shops like Underground in Courtenay. Plus, I knew I’d never get to see Trainspotting if my parents had anything to say about it.

When I did find myself in the city with one or both parents, a Vancouver Canucks’ hockey game was almost always on the agenda. Anyone raised in BC will certainly remember the 1994 playoffs and the legendary roster.


The Grizz

Apparently there was also a NBA team that called Vancouver home at one time…

I also found my old diary…

Dear Diary

… and somewhere in the boxes was my baby book.

I’ll never forget my first concert. My dad took me to see U2’s Zoo TV World Tour at BC Place when I was 11, and I still remember the butterflies I felt while stepping off the Skytrain. I was crushing on Bono – hard.

There’s no better way to hear Achtung Baby than live and loud.


(Yeah, I don’t get it either.)

These belonged to my mom and aunt when they were little girls and got passed along. Somewhere there’s a hipster dying to own them.

Remember a long, long time ago… about 24 years ago? There was a little exhibition along the waterfront at False Creek in Vancouver and people came from far and wide to share in the cultural experience. Expo ’86 brought the world to our slice of the planet for five months in 1986, bringing with it iconic legacies that are still part of Vancouver in 2010.

I went through a phase in junior high where I collected everything and anything I could get my hands on from the world fair. At one point I even found a stuffed, life-size Expo Ernie (the official mascot), but he sadly succumbed to dirt, dust, mice and water damage. A few items remained in near-mint condition.

“Something’s Happening Here” played during the evening fireworks display. What I wouldn’t give to be able to digitalize the tape and play it here for you all. It’s the epitome of “epic”.



Though I was incredibly young at the time, I still have a few fond memories of the trip I took with my family across the water and into the colourful, musical, creative gates of Expo ’86.


Purple velcro shoes? Check.

Somewhere in the memorabilia boxes from Expo ’86, I also found a ton of buttons. I suspect the aquarium buttons were from way back when it was still okay to keep whales and dolphins in captivity. Oh wait…

Last, though certainly not the least, comes one of my most treasured pictures. For reasons unbeknownst to me, at one time there were lions and tigers (yet not bears) on display at the Driftwood Mall in Courtenay. My dad paid to have a Polaroid snapped of me holding a tiger cub. I’m guessing that he’s not so cuddly and cute anymore (and hopefully not still in captivity either).

While more than half a dozen bags and three or four boxes were bound up for the thrift store and recycling bins, I’m not cutthroat enough to get rid of any of these items. Who knows when my eighth grade medal for basketball sportsmanship will come in handy?

I’m once again fundraising for the BC-SPCA’s Paws For A Cause, aiming to raise $2,000 by September. As of today, I’ve already reached 20% of my goal and have only a little more than a month left! Please consider donating to my effort and support this worthwhile cause.

2 Comments on “Confessions of a Former Pack Rat

  1. Wow.. some great relics! I am a flea market hound, as you may know. That Expo 86 mascot would certainly find a home in my, umm, home. The Expo 86 map is great too.

    You found some really great stuff (photos, show tickets etc). The photo of you on the bike – definitely! I hope you frame and display some of it in your place. These types of things bring warmth and personality to a space!

  2. I went to the 94 playoffs! Oh what an awesome treat to see them play with such an electric crowd!

    I remember portions of Expo. We came over from the island to check it out.

    Your birthyear makes me feel old 😉

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