Photo Credit Sharon Steele Photography
Father’s Day is a bittersweet experience for me now. Sweet because I have three amazing young children who have filled my life with love and purpose in a way that I never thought possible, but bitter because my own father passed three years ago. Dad’s passing has left a gigantic hole in my entire family’s life. He was at it’s centre, our leader as well as head cheerleader. Dad once told me that a boy doesn’t truly become a man until he survives his father. Oh, how I wish I could be that boy again.
In many ways it still feels as if I’m in mourning. Even now there are good days and sad ones, but because my father and I shared such a close relationship there are so many happy memories to focus on. And of all the wonderful gifts and experiences Dad gave me, perhaps the most memorable and important has been the gift of wanderlust.
Robert Genn was an artist. He primarily painted landscapes and people, and he loved to travel in order to collect material. Over a lifetime exploring the globe, he took hundreds of thousands of photographs which he would revisit once back in the cozy confines of his studio. In turn these photos of the amazing places he visited served as inspiration for his paintings. But Dad also loved to paint on location. He would travel with a little paintbox, a stack of primed canvases or panels, a plentiful supply of cigars, and maybe an easel and fold-up lawn chair. He loved vintage and unusual automobiles and boats, and he always took my brother, sister and I, most often times one-on-one, with him on his adventures.
Our childhood was filled with experiences like tugboat rides up and down the west coast of British Columbia, driving the country lanes of Wales in tiny antique cars, skimming the treetops of the Northwest Territories’ badlands in rickety floatplanes, and brief familial relocations to little lost French and Spanish villages that my father had somehow sourced from his vast collection of books. He called it “mosey-driving”, cruising the countryside at a snail’s pace, drinking in the detail and beauty of the landscape until something of particular interest caught his eye and we would pull over to the side of the road, get out, and I’d accompany him as he took pictures or set up his easel.
With his wanderlust, Dad taught us curiosity, fearlessness, street-smarts, and the value of a friendly, outgoing nature. I know now, as I knew then, that the greatest education I could have ever received was encompassed within the time I shared with him on our adventures together. His creative spirit, love for his work, diligence, and imagination set a wonderful example, and the pure joy that he got out of the creative process demystified the artist’s life for me from a very early age. He nurtured the creative spirit in myself and my siblings and as a result all three of us work in creative fields, myself as a musician, my brother James as a film and television director, and my sister Sara as a painter and recording artist.
So now it’s my turn to nurture curiosity and creativity in my own children. Our kids are old enough to be mobile now, so this summer I intend to introduce them to the road trip, one-on-one time with Dear Old Dad that they will never forget. My aim is to create experiences with my children that imprint themselves forever, and to positively affect their world-view and values just my father affected mine. The adventures I shared with Dad are when I got to know him best, when he shared his knowledge and led by example. I want my kids to know me like that. It’s a lot to live up to, but it’s all I know.
Dave Genn is a Vancouver native and a member of Canadian rock group 54-40 he was also the lead guitarist in the Canadian rock group named the Matthew Good Band. Dave is married to CTV Vancouver news anchor Tamara Taggart together they have 3 children Beckett,Zoë and Poppy, 2 rescue cats - Broccoli and Brussel Sprout, and our favourite Airedale, George.
A huge, thank you to Dave for this Father's Day contribution. Beautifully written, we can't thank you enough.