Kind hearts and hospitality, camping in the Culps’ garden

The SLLP participants meet the Culps, who tell them tales about the bridge, lilacs and hummingbirds.

Credit: Rivershed Society of BC

Dunster, August 10

As we landed on the river’s edge after our first day of paddling, Bonnie and Curtis Culp welcomed us. We set up our tents in the garden around their trout pond that contained the biggest rainbow trout I have ever seen. Curtis told us how the trout had stayed in the pond even after the river had receded from flooding four feet above the pond to the marigolds the previous spring. Even the fish know the kindness of the Culp’s.

The garden contains 120 varieties of lilacs. Bonnie hosts an annual lilac show, but I believe people come for the warm company and Bonnie’s cooking more than touring the amazing lilacs.

A hummingbird net caught a young hummingbird around the feeder and Curtis showed a group of us how he measures and bands them and describes the volunteer program he belongs to with people from Alaska to the Mexican border that study the migration and longevity of the poorly understood bird.

Bonnie brought out two trays of hot-out-of-the-oven buns that our group polished off quickly.

After dinner the Culp’s invited us in from the rain and shared their stories with us. Curtis talked of his days working for the fisheries and his observations of the Fraser and salmon. He kept claiming he was a simple man but he was wise: “Everything we do here affects the river downstream.” 

Bonnie told the tale of the Dunster bridge that was repeatedly painted with flowers after highway officials would paint it white. As we chatted, delicious short cakes with raspberries, Saskatoon berries and whipped cream were brought out for us.

After we finished our project discussion and headed out to our tents, Bonnie and Curtis invited us to come back inside if the rain was too wet. As we left the Culp’s in the morning, their family, including Bonnie’s 96-year-old father, came to the bank to send us off. I will never forget their kindness or their smiles.