Highway 7 is my preferred route out of Vancouver. This past summer was a doozy when it came to wildfires in British Columbia, especially where I was planning to ride in the Cariboo. So, when plans changed, I took a more regional ride with the intent of exploring the secondary road that led me to Hope, British Columbia.
I don’t have a single picture of myself working at CBC Radio. Isn’t that odd?
I spent ten years of my life working at CBC Radio Vancouver, at the CBC HQ at 700 Hamilton Street, and didn’t think to take a single picture of myself doing my work, on-air in a studio, out in the field extending the microphone to the hundreds of people I interviewed, etc.
You could say it was because I left the CBC in January 2007, ten years ago, prior to the inception of Instagram.
But the more I think about it I realize why. I was working REALLY hard. I was a freelancer. Not unlike my previous occupation, which was acting, I was judged based on what I had done last. Sometimes that was working as an associate producer on a current affairs program, sometimes it was gathering sound or interviews and editing an individual documentary or report. In the second five years of that ten year term, I was brought in regularly to cover the regional arts beat as an arts reporter for British Columbia. Incidentally, this last kind of work no longer exists at CBC Radio.
Which is the main reason why I left.
I got wind of how The Arts Report, the Toronto-produced hub of arts reports from across the country, was being phased out. I honestly couldn’t think of what I’d do if that happened. Go back to slogging along as a freelancer…piece by piece? That didn’t sound appealing. More and more work, previously produced by staff, was being metered out to freelancers. The piece of the pie was getting smaller and smaller.
But that wasn’t all. Things in my personal life were not going well. Anyone who has read the initial chapters of my first book Nearly 40 on the 37 knows what was going on. My very young son was showing all the signs to what, I now know, would be diagnosed as autism. My relationship with his mother was falling apart. Then I turned to the freedom of motorcycling to gather back my thoughts. Day rides up the Sea-to-Sky Highway or along Highway 101 up the Sunshine Coast were how I coped. The enjoyment of riding a motorcycle and, eventually, writing about the experience, would get me out into my home province. As opposed to writing a story about a place I’d never been to before, doing interviews over the phone, I could go to that place and gather the material first hand. I discovered a new way of applying the training that I had received working at CBC Radio.
Today I’m in a positive, loving and supportive relationship with my wife of seven years, Laura. My son Michael, diagnosed with autism in 2009, has transitioned wonderfully to high school and is in a technology immersion program that gives him fulfilling ways to apply his talents. I have a five-year-old son, Marc, who I live vicariously through as he sees for the first time the world around him and absorbs everything. I’m a happy husband and father.
I passed the much-changed edifice of the CBC building over the Christmas holidays. The sweeping staircase I always got a charge climbing has been replaced by a White Spot restaurant, jumbo television screen and shiny upper-floor TV news studios. I used to love passing the plaques for Bruno Gerussi, Robert Clothier and other figures that had been pioneers in the public broadcaster’s early decades as I climbed those stairs. Change is inevitable, but I do miss that old grand concrete staircase leading to a place where I was proud to work, that I had felt a connection to growing up. I will forever be indebted and appreciative of the journalism training, work and opportunities that I received at CBC Radio Vancouver, but now I’ve got to move on and make peace with the place that I blamed for dismissing The Arts Report.
Here’s the thing…as a freelancer I knew I was on the fringes. I knew that I would not be working if I didn’t pitch something really good after the story I was working on. I was never on staff, but I had a CBC Radio business card. At best, I was a contract player who could pick up the phone and preface a conversation with a potential interview subject or story contact with “Hello. I’m Trevor Hughes with CBC Radio.” Like Al Pacino’s line in The Insider if you take the ‘with CBC Radio’ out of that sentence, no one returns your phone calls…or emails.
At least for awhile.
For the last five years I’ve been using that journalism experience and freelancer mentality in the field as I’ve been travelling the province and beyond on my Kawasaki KLR650. It is paying off. People weren’t at first, but they are returning my phone calls and emailing back. It does take time, but I’m enjoying a connection with my home province I haven’t experienced before…and enjoying the ride.
It doesn’t seem that long ago I was pitching my tent in the Nakusp Municipal Campground. It was a weekend event that changed how I saw what I was doing.
Horizons Unlimited CanWest 2016 allowed me the opportunity to give a presentation I called “Riding Across Historic British Columbia”. I felt like a small fish in a big pond. Speakers were to talk about motorcycle travels across Russia, journeys to Alaska, riding across continents. I was going to speak about riding my Kawasaki KLR650 to regional places, locations of significant historical events in British Columbia’s history, but that didn’t take months to get to.
It was a standing-room-only event. There were about forty chairs set up in the ice-free hockey arena renamed “The Asia Room” for the event. I since gave the talk at Vancouver BMW Ducati to a full house. Clearly, there is some interest in riding across historic B.C, and learning about routes to get there. After I gave my talks I opened up the floor to ideas shared from the audience as to historic rides in the province. One route I heard about I’ve taken to heart, and have booked accommodation already for the July adventure north.
I’ve taken the interest I saw to heart and plan to add a historic rides section to my website and to make riding to historic locations in British Columbia a focus of my next book. Historic storytelling has been a part of my two books, but not to the extent I’m planning for my next project.
It’s interesting to me how some down time over holidays, to reflect and gain perspective, can help clarify goals and, sometimes, point out the obvious path for the new year.
My thanks to all that attended those two presentations which gave me such clarification. I’ve signed up again as a presenter for Horizons Unlimited CanWest 2017 and I’ll be talking “Riding Across Historic B.C.” in Nakusp again. I hope to see you there…
Gabe Khouth and I have been friends for almost three decades now. We met when we were actors with the same agent in the late 1980s as we both were auditioning for roles in the rapidly growing film and television industry in Vancouver, British Columbia.
I was fortunate enough to get to work with Gabe on the CBC-TV teen series Northwood. We would play friends going to the same high school. I remember with a smile how we got to play some fun comedic scenes together in a camping episode in the final episode of the series, filming in the wilderness of Lynn Headwaters Regional Park in North Vancouver.
Flash forward twenty-three years and we were still goofing around with a camera in the forest, this time at Alice Lake Provincial Park near Squamish, British Columbia while we made our Open Road MC segment about motocamping.
Gabe and I would both discover an interest in riding motorcycles later in our lives. Even though we rode different style bikes (my Kawasaki KLR650 and his Ducati Monster 696) we thought it would be an opportunity missed if we didn’t combine our on-screen abilities and our interest in motorbikes. So we created Open Road MC, a YouTube channel for anyone interested in riding motorbikes…and we make it clear it doesn’t matter what you ride, it’s that you ride in the first place that counts.
Gabe has moved on to be a series regular in the hit ABC-TV series Once Upon A Time and I’ve enjoyed seeing his success as an actor. I moved on from acting in 2005, working away at freelancing at CBC Radio before writing for a variety of magazines mainly about motorcycle travel in British Columbia, then writing my own books. Open Road MC is a chance for Gabe and I to be really creative on camera, explore different roads and avenues of motorcycling. From regional ride ideas, modifications, travel tips, bike reviews and event coverage, Gabe and I have covered quite a lot of ground over the last couple of years. We’re still coming up with ideas, getting together whenever our busy lives relent a bit for us to meet for a production meeting over a cup of coffee. Join us won’t you? And be sure to subscribe…