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OTHER VOICES: We fondly remember the Klee Wyck of our youth

As young girls, growing up in West Vancouver in the 1950s, we had the good fortune to visit Dr. Ethlyn Trapp at her beautiful home, Klee Wyck, situated on an acreage on the banks of the Capilano River.

As young girls, growing up in West Vancouver in the 1950s, we had the good fortune to visit Dr. Ethlyn Trapp at her beautiful home, Klee Wyck, situated on an acreage on the banks of the Capilano River.  

Our father, Robert Spray, was the Chairman of the West Vancouver Parks Board at that time. He had befriended Dr. Trapp and entered into discussions with her regarding the future of her estate, upon her death.

Dr. Trapp recognised the importance of preserving the land and grounds in perpetuity, for the enjoyment of future generations of residents of West Vancouver.  

In 1960 an agreement was reached to pass the property on to the municipality of West Vancouver, to become a park and cultural centre.

As part of this process and in light of the friendship that developed between Dr. Trapp and our father, we were invited, as a family, to join her for tea on several occasions.

We spent lovely afternoons wandering through her beautiful garden and home. We were introduced to her extensive art collection, including many works by Emily Carr and the Group of Seven, which hung in her dining room and living room and hallways. As young girls, we were profoundly impressed by seeing such an amazing collection of Canadian art.

We were very fond of Dr. Trapp and loved our time with her. Six decades have passed and we have both cherished our memories of Klee Wyck and assumed it was valued and cared for by the municipality of West Vancouver.

A totem pole donated to the municipality lies decaying on the Klee Wyck property - file photo Mike Wakefield, North Shore News

A visit to the property about 10 years ago was shocking.  

It looked like an industrial maintenance yard, with quonset huts and machinery occupying the entrance to the property, sadly neglected gardens and, worst of all, the rotting remains of the beautiful home that once housed Dr. Trapp and her extraordinary collection of art. By that time the house had been emptied of all the elegant furnishings and artwork and was being used as studio space for local artists.

Understandably, Dr. Trapp's collection of artwork was bequeathed and relocated to the Vancouver Art Gallery and possibly the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. To see the house being used as an artists' studio seemed like an appropriate use of the building. But what was not appropriate was the sad condition and general disrepair of the property.

Dr. Trapp left her lovely home and acreage to the district of West Vancouver with the understanding and belief that it would be appreciated and preserved, in perpetuity. I think our father, Bob Spray, and Dr. Trapp would both be horrified to see what has become of the wonderful gift that West Vancouver was entrusted with.  

We would like to urge the municipality to recognise that this is a shameful outcome to what should have become a beautiful park and cultural gathering place for future generations.  We understand from articles we've read that Dr. Trapp's home is sadly beyond saving, but we would like to express our very sincere hopes that the grounds may be returned to their original beauty.  Surely the municipality of West Vancouver should take responsibility for allowing this to have happened and take the necessary steps to correct their mismanagement and provide the resources necessary to restore this beautiful property to its natural state.  

Perhaps an interpretive centre could be constructed to replace the home, that would tell the story of Klee Wyck and Dr. Ethlyn Trapp and of her friendship with Emily Carr and her love of Canadian art,  The Vancouver Art Gallery must have records of the artwork and the original documents must still be on file in the municipal archives.  This sad chapter in West Vancouver's history deserves to be told and, most importantly, remedied.