Saturday, August 11, 2001
There are an estimated 12,000 injection-drug users in the Greater Vancouver region. Last year, 239 people in British Columbia overdosed and died, 96 of them in Vancouver. Many of them lived in the Eastside, Vancouver's notorious ghetto for drug users. Not Ross Hall. He lives on the "good" side of town. But that doesn't seem to have done much to protect him.
The Halls and their two sons (Ross pictured bottom, centre) in more innocent times.
Ross should have led a charmed life. He was born in 1980, seven years after his parents settled in Canada and four years after his older brother came. Ross's father, Ray Hall, an Australian by birth, was a documentary filmmaker who went on to teach at the University of British Columbia. His British-born mother, Nichola, is now UBC's program co-ordinator in continuing studies, but she lived all over the world in her youth, working in publishing and television.
She met Ray in the Middle East, were she worked for the CBC and he was making films for the United Nations. When her children were born, she spent 12 years as a stay-at-home mother.
Ross the soccer player at seven years old. As a young child, Ross had been self-sufficient, curious and ďa joy to be around.
Ross's childhood was filled with travel, elite private schools and the attention and love of his parents. Vacations often took him abroad, on visits to Ray's relatives in Australia or Nichola's family in England. The family also loved B.C.'s outdoors. When their kids were small, the Halls joined a camping co-op on Hornby Island, and it's been a summer tradition ever since. Ross and his brother snorkelled and went fishing with their dad.
As a child, Ross loved maps, especially of cities. He drew his own of Vancouver, detailing the major roads and traffic patterns. He is still fascinated by traffic, freeways, even ramps. When Vancouver city council was debating its official plan, Ross accompanied his mother to public meetings and often went to the microphone to give his opinion.
"He would say: `I think you should put the road there. That's where it's needed,' " Nichola remembers, laughing. "He wasn't afraid to give his opinion."