British Columbia

What love had to do with it: before the summer of 1967

Carol Reid reflects on the emotional impact of the Summer of Love and how it has shaped her as she's aged and lived in Vancouver these last 50 years.

'I think it was a once-in-a-lifetime time phenomenon,' recalls woman who was key player

Lasting lessons from the Vancouver Be-In

4 years ago
Organizer Carol Reid remembers the era of counter culture and community 6:44

The year 1967 is known as the Summer of Love but for a key player in the local hippie movement, the love was felt long before the iconic year and lives on today.

Carol Reid and her late husband, poet Jamie Reid were part of the group of artists, writers, and painters who lived on Vancouver's West Fourth Avenue before it became a hippie hotspot.

Reid said the counterculture movement started for her in the 1950s with the beat movement and by the late 1960s included a range of hot-button political elements linked to that era.

"There was a dark background against all of it. There was a background of race riots in the United States," she told Gloria Macarenko, host of CBC's Our Vancouver.

"The threat of nuclear war had been hanging over everybody's head for a long time and there was a general rebellion amongst the youth.

"It was a feeling of rebellion against conformity but it had this thread that went through it of kindness, compassion and community."

Nothing like Woodstock

The so-called Summer of Love was a social phenomenon during which tens of thousands of young people flocked to San Francisco and other cities in a spirit of rebellion against conformist values.

Vancouver was a gathering spot too and Carol and her husband helped organize the "Human Be-In" in Stanley Park that spring.

The event, held March 26, was a local version of a similar day-long festival that took place in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco in January of that year.

"From my point of view it was about community", said Reid. "The Be-In was not like some Woodstock. It wasn't like the Haight-Ashbury. It was a very ordinary community-based event. It was Easter time and people just came together to dance and sing and to be with one another. It was very simple," said Reid.

Reid said there was a need to enjoy the company of people in their community in a positive way during a troubled time in history. She said she was lucky to have been a part of the movement.

"I think it was a once-in-a lifetime time phenomenon. You can't manufacture something like that."

You can watch Carol Reid in conversation with Gloria Macarenko from Our Vancouver in the video above or watch it here.

Fond memories 

Nine-year-old Mia Hunt recalls picking "magic" mushrooms in Stanley Park as a child. during 1967's Summer of Love. (CBC Archives)

Mia Hunt also remembers 1967 as a magical time. She was one of the children at the Be-In.

Nine years old at the time, Hunt remembers spending a lot of that day atop her father's shoulders.

"We would come here quite frequently. I so remember picking magic mushrooms early in the morning because it was a great harvesting spot.

"I didn't know why I was picking magic mushrooms; it was because my parents told me it was a good thing to do," she said.

The Summer of Love in Vancouver saw a series of concerts and parties come through town. Hunt remembers meeting a young Johnny Cash who told her about his own daughter Rosanne.

Hunt's biological and step-father were actors. They were preparing to stage The Ecstasy of Rita Joe at the time, a play considered a seminal piece of Canadian theatre for its portrayal of Indigenous people.

"It was really inspiring for me. I was really fortunate to be with people who were so artistic and talented ... There was a lot of good energy," said Hunt.

Hunt is now an artist herself.

Watch the recent interview with Mia Hunt in Stanley Park where the Be-In took place.

Mia Hunt remembers the Be-In

4 years ago
She was a nine year old during the Summer of Love 3:03

Our Vancouver