IN the days when Gwynn McLintock was growing up, before the Lions Gate Bridge was built, West Vancouver was a village, a closeknit community where everyone knew everyone and lifelong friendships were forged.
Gwynneth, known by all as Gwynn, was born in 1932 to Kenneth and Doris Fearnside at North Vancouver General Hospital. Postcards from the time give the family's home address as Riverside, Capilano.
Riverside, purchased in 1925 by "the Colonel," Clarence Fearnside, was part of his son Kenneth's inheritance. In the late 1930s, the property, somewhat reduced in area, was purchased by Charles Winch and later by Dr.
Ethelyn Trapp. Trapp named the property Klee Wyck in recognition of her friendship with B.C. artist Emily Carr and bequeathed it to the community of West Vancouver.
For Gwynn, the idyllic setting on the west bank of the Capilano River and the fact that her home straddled the border between North and West Vancouver, was of slight importance. With brother Don six years older, there was nobody for a little girl to play with.
That changed when the family moved to Ambleside and Gwynn started school at Hollyburn elementary.
Gwynn and her pals swam at West Vancouver's beaches, from Ambleside to Dundarave to Sandy Cove.
They roller skated along Marine Drive, rode their sleighs on 15th Street and tobogganed down Taylor Way.
As teenagers at the end of the Second World War, Gwynn and her friends took what jobs they could find during the summers - filleting fish at Francis Millerd's cannery or toiling in the laundry in the basement of the Vancouver Hotel.
Gwynn's job as a telephone operator with B.C. Tel saw her through five years of university and a degree in commerce. Thanks to her father's automotive interests, West Vancouver Taxi and later, North Shore U-Drive, the first car rental business on this side of the inlet, Gwynn commuted to the University of British Columbia at the wheel of an MG. There was always room for a friend or two to squeeze in alongside her boxer, Bubby.
After class, Gwynn and the gang would socialize at the Georgia Hotel Pub, listen to Lena Horne and Nat King Cole at the Cave and the Palomar and watch the hipsters in their zoot suits and chains jiving up a storm to the big band sounds of Stan Kenton and Woody Herman at the Denman Auditorium.
Gwynn entered the working world briefly before she married in 1955. By 1968, she was a single mother with three children. Three years later, Gwynn enrolled in night school at BCIT and qualified as a travel agent.
Fred Phillips at Northwest Travel at 18th and Lonsdale gave Gwynn her start. She moved on to Atlynn Travel in Lynn Valley, purchasing the agency in 1986 and building it into a thriving business before retiring in 1998.
"Many new friendships were formed through the business and I helped many old friends arrange their travel," recalls Gwynn.
"The other agents would be surprised when someone would walk in and I'd jump up and give them a big hug. 'Another friend from school,' I would say."
One old friend was Ian McLintock, who was planning a ski trip in Europe. It was Ian who escorted Gwynn home one evening, past the army encampment at Ambleside, back when she was 12 and he was 17.
Ian returned from his ski vacation and began courting Gwynn. Picnics at the beach or Alice Lake, dining and dancing at Canyon Gardens, and the fact that Gwynn's father and her children liked him, helped.
"I only wish mother had lived to see me settled," she said.
They married in 1977, combining two households into one in North Vancouver. The couple moved back to West Vancouver in 2007.
Over the years, as a single mother and a successful businesswoman, Gwynn learned to be independent and selfreliant. Always, she valued her family and friends above all.
"I grew up in the best of times and in the best of places, though my children would say the same about growing up in North Vancouver. I'm grateful for my friends from childhood and for those I met along the way, and I look forward to the friends I haven't met yet. I feel blessed," she says.
Laura Anderson works with and for seniors on the North Shore. Contact her at 778-279-2275 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.