Charlie picking Saskatoon berries
Charlie picking Saskatoon berries in Innisfail

[twitter]When we moved to our home in Richmond, BC in the summer of 1980, the fields behind our house were wild. We were a new subdivision on the edge of town and there were acres upon acres of wild forest right beyond the 15 foot sliver of backyard.

My brother and sister and I explored them constantly. We played hide and seek, we built forts, we went exploring, and we picked blueberries.

You see, amongst the wildness of the space were hundreds of blueberry bushes. Looking back on it, they were likely part of a farm, but we never saw anyone picking from them or tending to the fields. So, starting the summer of 1981, I became a blueberry picker and manufactured a little side business for my first summer job.

I’d wander out in to the bushes, dragging a legion of empty 4 litre ice cream pails with me, and I’d pick blueberries. My dad would clean them at night and then sell them at his office the next day. I’d get 80c a pound, or what work out to about 4 dollars an hour. Not bad for 11.

I did it for a few years, but by the summer of 1984, the fields had been plowed, the tiny school annex behind our house and been expanded, and the neighborhoods were being developed.

Wild Blueberries in Richmond BC

I tried riding my bike to proper U-Pick fields in the area and re-selling them, but the cost of buying the berries was too much overhead to overcome. By the summer of 1985, I had my first real job working at McDonald’s, making $3.15 an hour.

This summer, Zacharie is 8. I wonder what entrepreneurial summer jobs lie on his horizon? I’m sure it won’t involve blueberries. He didn’t like it when I tried to eat him during my blueberry pie eating contest at Inglewood Sunfest back in 2010:

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