'It was a true love story': Squamish man visits memorial bench as gondola reopens

Credit to Author: Glenda Luymes| Date: Sat, 15 Feb 2020 02:47:52 +0000

If you rode the Sea to Sky Gondola that summer of 2014, you may have seen them.

A man and a woman, walking arm in arm, often on the Spirit Trail, where the views of Sky Pilot Mountain are particularly fine — “two seniors, doing their thing,” as Alexander Dickson likes to say.

They came every other day during the gondola’s first year of operation.

The following summer, the man came alone.

After the snow retreated from the alpine meadows, he would walk slowly to a memorial bench engraved with the name Shirley Ann Brown and sit quietly with the mountains.

“Good afternoon. Welcome to the bench,” he’d say if someone was sitting there when he arrived.

He would introduce himself as Alex and tell them they were now members of the bench club.

“I’d tell them the story of the two seniors who used to sit by the Spirit Trail and look out at Sky Pilot.”

After Brown died of cancer on May 15, 2015, Dickson began riding the gondola every day, keeping regular hours at the bench, Monday through Friday, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Four summers passed. Then, on Aug. 10, 2019, vandals cut the gondola cable, sending 30 empty cars crashing to the ground in the middle of the night, causing up to $10 million in damage and severing Dickson’s link to his beloved’s bench.

“I was disgusted by what happened,” he says.

Dickson, who is 84, met Brown on June 20, 2008. She was a widower, and he was on his own.

“She smiled at me and stole my heart,” he says.

Dickson moved from North Vancouver to Squamish to be with her. They took several vacations to the Yukon.

“She was a real lady. She was a good person, lovely to look at. She was just wonderful with people. She loved babies.

“It was a true love story.”

When the Sea to Sky Gondola reopened on Friday, Dickson was among the first to ascend, returning to the bench for the first time in six months.

As he likes to do, he shared the story of the two seniors who used to walk arm in arm on the Spirit Trail.

He expects to keep regular hours this summer.

“If you want to find me, I’ll be there.”