Magazine

From the August 2011 magazine.

Early AA in the Cariboo Mountains

A big game hunter accepts that he is powerless over alcohol and becomes the first member of AA in a remote area of British Columbia

"My own first meeting was in that same house as I listened to my father's peers share their experience strength and hope."

I'm sure my father would have classified himself as "the hopeless variety" alcoholic. He had some choice vocabulary for the more politically correct terms we use today. We won't go into them here but suffice to say he had some practical experience with the disease considering that his entire family were either still practicing or dead as the result of it. "Recovery" did not exist in the interior of British Columbia in the 40s, so folks of his persuasion were not exactly looking for a cure. Instead, they were doomed to a pitiful and incomprehensible life followed by a demoralizing death or worse yet, incarceration at the ever looming institutions for mental health or jail. I think that must be why he had to laugh at the suggestion by his long-term client that it could be otherwise.

My parents had built themselves a storybook hunting lodge in the remote Cariboo region of British Columbia and had successfully developed a reputation in the U.S. for trophy-hunting—mostly grizzly, deer and moose. It was a Seattle client and his friend who'd been coming to our lodge for many years who finally asked my father the important question, "Do you think you have a drinking problem?" He quickly assured them that he was not completely blind and admitted not only to the present problem but the future one as well. No one in his family had ever gotten sober and so there was definitely no hope for him.

-- Buster H.

British Columbia, Canada

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