Going to visit his mom, Eleanor, in Vernon’s Pleasant Valley Cemetery, Rory White got more than he bargained for Sunday.
Since Eleanor’s passing in 2001, White takes lilacs to her every year on Mother’s Day, as she loved that particular flower. On Sunday, at about 3:20 p.m., White turned onto the cemetery’s Legion Way and parked about halfway down the roadway, as that’s where Eleanor is buried.
He thought he saw a dog moving among the headstones but, in fact, what White saw was something a little bigger than a dog but also with four legs and fur: a bear.
“The bear was a brown bear that appeared to be shedding his winter coat so was quite light in colour,” said White, a school bus driver and photography buff. “It was moving slowly along, though, just minding its own business, checking out the flowers. There was a lady sort of behind where I was at the beginning of Legion Way and she was oblivious to the bear.
“I got out of my car and had my camera so started taking pictures and indicated to the lady I had passed that the bear was there. She was immediately concerned, and, thus, I offered for her to get in my car and I would take her to her vehicle which was up ahead of mine.”
After watching the bear for a short period of time, and seeing it was not being aggressive in any way, White and the woman waited until the bear passed them heading north into the old part of the cemetery, and the woman went to her car. A couple of other cars, said White, stopped on the main road of the cemetery to take pictures but nobody got out of their vehicles.
“I would say no one was in danger and it was just a pleasant and kind of rare encounter,” said White. “The bear clearly wanted to get further into the woods as it was drawing more attention, so it just kept moving along, hurrying up a bit toward the end of that. It lasted all of about five-to-eight minutes.”