Blue Wayfinder

Lacing a Legacy into a Ribbon of Road with Lorrie Flemming

Our Stories is the Gift that’s Wrapped into a Ribbon-of-Hope tying us together as One…

“And Shaping the Stories into an Everlasting Telling Art Form.”

Narrative by Lorrie Fleming

            Alas, 2021 is ending, and humanity pleas to the gatekeeper to reopen our freedom and reset life into a familiar bond of connective hearts.  The COVID virus has taught us many lessons in coping with change.  The biggest adjustment (for me) alludes to travel restrictions that yields a feeling of being held against our will.   The phrase be calm, kind, and safe has been our creed as society gains wisdom to defeat this invisible enemy; and to exercise caution, sanitize & wash hands until they are raw, wear masks that block our smile and never leave a trace of doubt within our every step.

In this time of seemingly endless darkness, Art is a beacon of light that appears in plain sight, lined in blue and waiting for you to start anew and to create a fresh economy within the comfort of our home.  Michelle instills her wisdom and teaches us to be Wayfinders, to appreciate and unite ourselves (as busy bees) into linear Creative Art Communities that co-exist by joining hearts as one welcome family into our hives.   

Through a Mother Road, we become a family and dear to me, my step-grandmother (Nana Lee) hailed from Cumberland, Maryland, a coal mining hub in the heart of the USA.  This touches a remarkable commonality with Michelle who grew up in the rural coal mining community of Sparwood set in the East Kootenay Region known as a gateway along the Crowsnest Highway #3.  Bonded together by the Mother Road, Michelle and I share a heartfelt connection in cultivating a legacy lined by strands of ribbons that unite hearts along a spiritually charged heritage highway that Michelle coined “Art Route Blue”.  

You may wonder why US Highway (Route 66) aka The Mother Road remains significant to Canadians and flows so deeply into the veins of a popular culture that crosses two nations pumping life into the hearts of our shared traditions?  The question is not where the road is located, nor where it begins or ends, the question is why it exists and how it sustains itself for nearly a century by the interconnected will of kinfolk.  This Ribbon of Road is eternally recognized as a guideway driven by the curiosity of the human soul and cultivated by a vastly interspersed modern mechanism turning a linear link into a cornerstone of a shared culture.  

Considering today’s COVID culture, let us gather on our computer screens (& keyboards) to unify & build a bridge to braid the Art Trails and synthesize our ideas together with harmonious strength; and reconnect our world into a joyful pathway to hope. 

I close with a Quote by Canadian Artist Emily Carr (who was inspired by the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast) – “There is a side of friendship that develops better and stronger by correspondence than by contact …. The absence of the flesh in writing perhaps brings souls nearer.”

Believe in the Magic of Art and the Stories will come Alive”!  

WHY ROUTE 66 in CANADA???

Narrative by Lorrie Fleming – Founder Canadian Route 66 Association 

The question is “Why Route 66 in Belgium, France, Germany and yes, Japan”? It is the ultimate international symbol of popular culture & nostalgia, recreating the happier and simpler times of the “1950 & 60’s” especially for the ‘Baby Boomer’ generation, like myself – Coming of Age… Route 66 personifies the dream of our post wartime parents, recovering from economical limitations and ready to roll to embark in the spirit of adventure in the coveted family car. 
  

My first sighting of Route 66 started in April 1994 while traveling through Arizona, after visiting Santa Fe, New Mexico, Bob & I headed west on I-40 and noticed a sign posted along the Freeway that read:  “Historic Route 66 – Next Exit“. 

Remembering the popular 1960’s TV show featuring (2) freedom seekers Buz & Todd driving a Corvette Roadster, our curiosity drove us to get off the freeway!  Shortly after exiting the Interstate, we were drawn to meet Angel Delgadillo, the famous town barber in Seligman, AZ, who founded the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona to “Save the Iconic Highway”.  Angel lifted our spirits and convinced us to come back in 1995 for the Annual Route 66 Fun Run weekend (since we had just missed this year’s event by one week).   Angel was so enthusiastic, that we couldn’t resist returning to Arizona to join the Event in April,1995 and to drive our ’82 Vette’.  Amazingly, the Fun Run exceeded our expectations, but we could not believe that we seemed to be the Only Canadians registered in this momentous event, considering all the ‘Snowbirds’ that travel to the sunshine state each year!

Albeit various international participants were spotted along the journey, including tour bus loads of people from other countries (England, Germany, France, Switzerland, and Japan).  Bob & I were so impressed with the Route 66 Fun Run, that we planned our vacation the following year for April 1996 and returned with our Vette, this time with personalized license plates “ROOT66”, from British Columbia. 

As ‘Lone Wolves, we became ‘hip to the trip’ and remained the Only Canadians to be included in the Event!   In that regard, Jerry Richards, one of the “Founding Fathers” of the Arizona Historic Route 66 Association, along with the Secretary-Treasurer, Anita Leeming, encouraged Lorrie to start an Association in Canada so the people of the Great North would become aware of the annual Fun Run and other events planned along this historic highway. 

We returned home in May 1996 and Lorrie began the task of starting the wheels in motion by contacting & meeting with various Car Clubs in the Greater Vancouver area.  The BC Corvette Club certified as our first chartering member to endorse the “Canadian Route 66 Association” for registration into the B.C. Societies Government Agency in Victoria. Gaining momentum among the Classic Automotive groups, the Totem Classic Thunderbird Club, and the Vancouver Camaro Club subsequently became interested factions in the Mother Road Movement.  This generated interest by our friend, Gerry Sheppard, owner of a 1964 Corvette Roadster, and Lloyd Gregorowich, owner of Good Time Oldies Memorabilia Store in Langley to join the board as ‘chartering members’. 

Finally, over the course of several months in ‘team building’, acquisition of the (5) chartering members as required to form a Registered Society in the Province of British Columbia came to fruition!  Later, after submitting the founding documents for the Association, I received a letter from popular Radio personality, Red Robinson, of CISL 650 Golden Oldies Station in Vancouver who expressed interest (in his words) to be a founding member. 

Subsequently, I sent all the signed forms to Victoria, and was thereby accepted on October 23, 1996, as Registered Society No. S36022, incorporated in British Columbia, Canada.  In our founding year we gained a total of 150 members, ranging from Ontario to the USA and overseas in Germany & Switzerland.  Appearing in the travel section of the Vancouver Province Newspaper, the travel editor posted a headline, Route 66 Starts Here, yes indeed, we really do have a Route 66 in CANADA!!! 
  
Postscript:

  • A lot has happened since 1996. In August 1999 President Clinton signed the original Congressional Route 66 Preservation Bill to allocate $10 million in a matching grant fund program over ten years to preserve historic buildings & sites along the original Route, administered by the US National Parks System.  Over the course of two decades, extensions of the Congressional Bill has been granted.  Canada, through the Canadian Route 66 Association, continues to increase public awareness, playing a significant role in achieving the goal to preserve & promote the famed ‘Mother Road’ for future generations to rediscover.  Route 66 is an international symbol representing freedom, adventure seeking, and honoring our shared heritage in the arts & cultural experience.   There are numerous activities planned along the Route each year in every State that the Highway passes through (California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri & Illinois). The National Route 66 Federation was established to act as a liaison with the USA Federal Government on legislative issues.  Links on our Canadian Route 66 Association Website directs enthusiasts to other Preservation Societies dedicated for the same purpose:  To preserve the history and promote events on Route 66 for people to experience an inclusive & multicultural journey for all to enjoy
  • In 2002, Lorrie was introduced to Canadian Master Mural Artist (Michelle Loughery) who sparked the Route 66 Mural City designation in Cuba Missouri.  Michelle was commissioned through the National Route 66 Federation in an outreach funding & sponsorship project, to paint the first mural in Cuba at the People’s National Bank Building.  A series of (12) murals were completed in time for Viva Cuba to celebrate a centennial project; and the array of murals continue to evolve.  Since the Cuba project began, Michelle and I have maintained a special working relationship in a shared effort to extend the Arts network, starting at the Mother Road and threading the ribbon of arts & culture to cross over to the BC Heritage Highway Corridor.  In that regard Michelle’s creative & visionary initiative of “Art Route Blue” has evolved and is gaining ground with the Province of BC for a borderless route to connect the Art Cities.