From Pemberton to Killaloe

Killaloe – As part of a recurring series called From wherever to the Valley, The Valley Gazette is catching up with people who are from the Madawaska Valley area and have moved to another part of Canada.

The point of the feature is to draw similarities from other parts of Canada with sections of the Valley, and also, to contrast those experiences with the uniqueness and richness of this region and show how it stands apart.

In another life, and in a galaxy far, far away, I was a songwriter.
To this day, I still write songs and enjoy the craft of songwriting, but for the most part, I’ve shifted my focus in life to be a permanent resident in the realm of journalistic writing.
At one time, though, I traveled across Canada with two other songwriters. One was named J.D. Edwards of Winnipeg, Manitoba and the other one was Trish Jamieson of Whistler, British Columbia.
The story of the trip and its humble beginnings were almost fantastical.
The three of us had been old teenage friends, as we worked together at a small, Christian summer camp near Westport, Ontario called Camp IAWAH.
After losing touch for over a decade, the three of us reunited through the powers of the internet in 2008, and realized that each of us were singer-songwriters in different parts of Canada. I had been playing a fair amount between Ottawa and Toronto, under the artist name of Graven, while Trish and J.D. were working hard in their respective provinces.
After this meeting, we decided to go on tour together.
Among many unique stops, in different prairie and mountain-based towns, one of the areas that stood out the most was Pemberton, British Columbia.
Pemberton is a small farming community that sits just 32 kilometres northeast of the world famous town of Whistler.
When taking the Trans-Canada highway through the middle of the province, there is a long, winding stretch of mountain-anchored road, between a small town named Lilloet and the town of Pemberton.
At times, it seemed as if J.D. and I would veer off the windy road, only clocking in a meager 20 kilometres per hour, as the grades were so steep that it felt like you would fall off the face of the earth.
Eventually, we made it to the surprisingly flat lands of Pemberton in one piece, and played a warm and intimate acoustic show at the Pemberton Hotel.
As hard as it is to believe, there are ties all the way from Killaloe to Pemberton.
Recently, I was able to get in touch with an ex-resident of the Killaloe region, who I met on that tour, named Megan Klumpler.
Klumpler lived in Killaloe from age 13 to age 19 in the 1990’s. She enjoyed the small town feel of the area, but always longed to see other parts of the world.
In her memory, Killaloe was a great place to grow up but she also had a bit of an isolated experience being homeschooled.
“I was homeschooled from a very young age, as my parents were big ‘back-to-the-landers.’ I mean, people use the term ‘hippie’ loosely, but my parents were full-on hippies. We had incense based soaps and my dad was very serious about having no white sugar or meat in the house at any time,” Klumpler said.
Delving deep into the world of community farming, Klumpler remembers a lot of similarities between Killaloe and her current home of Pemberton.
“Ya know, it’s funny. I haven’t been there in so long but there are definite parts of that area that I remember, kind of along highway 60 that are similar to parts of Pemberton. The big differences are the weather and the fact that the Valley only has hills and out here, we have massive mountains,” Klumpler added.
Having lost touch and any ties with her parents, who moved from Killaloe to rural Northern Quebec about eight years ago, Klumpler hopes to one day reunite with her family but doesn’t see that happening any time soon.
“We had some definite differences in opinion and beliefs, which caused some tension and a rift, and I hope that one day we can reconcile, but for now, I’m happy doing what I’m doing. I have a great job and I feel like I’m making a difference,” she added.

Story continues in the September 5, 2012 issue of The Valley Gazette.