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Humans of Campbell River: Flower Bob

Humans of Campbell River is a collaboration between Destination Campbell River and Bluetree Photography. Showcasing the stories of those who call our coastal community home. Each week we deep dive into a new story and the connections between people and place. This week we’re sharing the story of Flower Bob.

I was named after my great uncle on my mom’s side. ‘Gruncle Bob’ is what he made us call him. He lived in the woods keeping bees, growing his own food, and tapping maple syrup every spring. He was also a teacher. He passed away recently and I’ve been thinking about him often. He gave me much more than just my name. I think a part of his open-minded, adventurous and kind spirit has led me to where I am today: keeping bees, growing flowers and veggies, and teaching kids.

I was born in Victoria. A love of nature was engrained in me early on. My mom taught me how to fish from a row boat, my dad taught me to paddle a canoe. I’ve never been able to stay away from the ocean for too long.

I began to grow things because of my grandma from Nanoose Bay. Every summer was filled with eating snap peas and sun-warmed raspberries fresh from the canes. Every winter she would put my siblings and I to work collecting seaweed after big storms to feed the garden for next year’s harvest.

As a kid I wasn’t very interested in the stuff boys were supposed to like. I was more fascinated with figure skating than hockey. I would choose my sisters’ barbies over my trucks in a heartbeat. I knew I was different than other kids, and it didn’t bother me. Later on I learned the hard way to hide this part of myself so I wouldn’t get hurt. Now, as a teacher, I think back to those moments a lot. I hope I can make a difference for the kids who feel like they need to hide who they are.

Humans of Campbell River

I was bullied a lot in middle and early high school. I was lanky, awkward, and and easy target because I acted ‘different’. One thing that kept me distracted from this was getting out into nature. I spent a lot of time either preparing for or going on outtrips with my dad and friends. The Island is filled with so many outdoor adventures. Kayaking, canoeing, and hiking became passions. Over time I grew more comfortable in my skin. I began to work at a summer camp leading kids on trips through the Southern Gulf Islands, Strathcona Park, and the Island’s Western coastlines. Working there was safe enough for me to act and feel like my true self. I worked with friends that built me up and appreciated me for who I was.

After leaving the island for a bit, I soon was drawn back and started my teaching degree at VIU. I hoped I could make school a little bit easier for a new generation of kids who just wanted to be themselves.

Flower bob
Humans of Campbell River

I landed my first teaching job on Quadra Island. I couldn’t have asked for a better community to begin my career. I was able to share my love of the outdoors, and get kids excited about the world around them. I have since moved over to teach in Campbell River. I try to ignite respect and love for the place where we are lucky enough to live.

This year we started our first elementary ‘rainbow club’. It was for lgbtqia+ students, families and allies at our school. The goal was for kids to feel connected, supported and safe. I was surprised at how many students showed up. The meetings were largely driven by the students’ own questions. I was just there to make sure they got accurate information and age appropriate resources. The kids brainstormed initiatives and took action to help make the school feel safer for everyone. It was pretty cool to witness it all happening!

It makes me think what school would have been like if I had a rainbow club growing up. I honestly think I would have been too scared to go. But I think I would have felt more safe just knowing it was there. Simply by having the club at our school shows that lgbtqia+ students and families are valued and welcome in our community.

Humans of Campbell River

I have never felt more at home than living in Campbell River. It was the small things that I noticed at first; like how strangers start conversations in grocery store lineups. Everyone seems to be connected by some small degree. People genuinely care about each other.

When I first arrived here I quickly found like-minded people who love the outdoors. The friends I met my first year here now feel like family. About 4 years ago, my partner Graeme and I moved from an apartment in town to a home near the Oyster River. I don’t think we’ll ever leave. Potlucks with neighbours, campfires on Saratoga Beach, after-work river dips, and Saturday nights at the speedway have made me confident that this is where I am supposed to be putting my roots down.

We started to transform our property as soon as the first summer came around. We renovated the house to make it our own. Outside, we created space for a working garden, chickens, fruit trees and bees. I fell in love with growing flowers and have been exploring new varieties to grow every year since. Every summer I put up a small stand selling flowers as a hobby. I like to think it brings a bit of joy back to the community I’ve come to love. There’s truly no other place I would rather be than here in Campbell River.
Thanks for getting to know a little about me. If you see me around town, say hi.

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