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April 2008
April 2008

Table of Contents

CAT Scan campaign update
Family Matters: Secrets of Sisterhood
Calling young naturalists
Coastal Antiques & Collectables
Living Green: Green Birthday Parties
Blast from the Past: Early Settlement in Stillwater
Modern Moves: New digs for head offices and window factory
For Art's Sake: Postcards from the Powell River Peninsula
Faces of Education: French Immersion a possibility for September '08
The Metropolitan Opera: First Season in Powell River
Explore Powell River


CAT Scan campaign update
By Isabelle Southcott

Volunteers. Where would we be without them?

Shirley Koleszar, secretary of the CAT Scan Campaign and the Powell River Hospital Foundation, can’t say enough about all the wonderful volunteers who are helping with the CAT Scan campaign.

“I have a strong feeling about volunteerism,” says Koleszar, a retired schoolteacher.
National Volunteer Week is April 27 to May 3. It’s the perfect time to say thank you to the many volunteers who make things happen in this community!

Carol Gerhart of Rose Garden Quilts and Fabrics designed this quilt, Cats Scanning the Jungle, as a fundraiser for the CAT Scan Campaign.That Koleszar is passionate about volunteerism is obvious. That Koleszar is passionate about the CAT Scan campaign is equally obvious. “This is good for the community, it is good for you.”

By that she means the community coming together to work on this huge project is so very rewarding for all involved.

“Three million dollars is a lot of money to raise. To reach it we need to get the whole community on board. If the community doesn’t get behind this it will not work.”

The community has embraced the campaign but still, it takes time for everyone to find out.

A CAT Scan (computer assisted tomography) is a form of X‑ray far superior to simple X‑ rays. The CAT scan machine rotates around while taking X‑ray images and the computer then processes the multiple X‑rays into images.

CAT Scans can save lives. A quick and accurate diagnosis based on a CAT Scan can mean the difference between life and death. CAT Scans are important in life threatening and non-life threatening circumstances.  Right now, anyone requiring a CAT scan must travel to Vancouver, Sechelt or Vancouver Island.

Koleszar run the campaign office. She calls the 20 volunteers she works with the invisible heroes because much of what they do takes place in the background and people don’t see them.

“The volunteers that I have in the office don’t get any recognition, not that they want any, but they come in every week and do the work that I set out for them and if they do not finish it they’ll come back the next day. They’re wonderful people and wonderful friends.”

Evidence that individuals and groups are embracing the CAT Scan Campaign can be seen daily. The Powell River Lions Club is raffling off a beautiful quilt made by Carol Gerhart of Rose Garden Quilts and Fabrics to raise funds. Assumption Church is holding a giant garage and bake sale on Saturday, March 29 as a fundraiser; the Italian Club is holding a Mother’s Day dinner and dance to raise funds and the Rotary Club is holding a fundraising golf tournament on May 31. The Hospital Foundation is holding a New Year’s Eve Ball and Silent Auction.

Koleszar’s heart is warmed by the community spirit people are showing. She knows first hand just how stimulating and rewarding volunteering can be; when her husband passed away after being ill for 15 years she began volunteering for the Naturalists Society and the Hospital Foundation.

“If you volunteer you get involved in doing things you never dreamed of doing. I’d never been to a silent auction before and all of a sudden, last year, I was doing one!”

Photographer, naturalist and artist Elizabeth Abbott has hand painted birds on rocks as a fundraiser. They are available a Carol’s Boutique where you can also make a donation to the campaign and enter to win a framed photo taken by her husband Bill, also a photographer.

“Doug Lanigan and his son are doing the Great Walk this year and they are collecting pledges for the CAT Scan Campaign. Norm and Sharie Hutton have made a doll house and Jody Turner has made the curtains and bedding.” The Health Care Auxiliary is running a raffle for this.

As well, Mitchell Brothers is using its point system as a means of donating to the campaign.
“Volunteering has been good for me. I’m helping but I’m also giving to myself. It’s a two-way street.”



Family Matters
Secrets of Sisterhood
By Isabelle Southcott

I have a sister. She is older than I am but she doesn’t have any gray hair. I do and have had for quite some time. It isn’t fair but I have learned that life isn’t fair. You are dealt a hand and it is up to you to play it the best way you can. I am lucky, not only do I have a great sister but she is also my best friend.

It wasn’t always that way. I remember when I was a small child of three years old. We lived in Detroit, Michigan. My sister, who is two years older than I am, was five. I don’t remember all the details to this story but my mom does and this is what she told me.

It was the middle of winter and it was snowing. A great big blizzard was taking place and we were bored. We were tired of being indoors, tired of each other’s company. Somehow, my sister got her hands on a bottle of Bayer baby aspirin. You know the kind, those delicious little pink aspirin that kids all took years and years ago before we knew that little kids shouldn’t take aspirin.

My mother was busy in the other room and when she came to check on us she found us sitting on the stairs, all smiles. I was especially happy because I’d just eaten the better part of a bottle of Bayer baby aspirin.

My mom, who is a pediatrician, was horrified. My sister had opened the bottle and fed me the aspirin one by one. It was a great game for a snowy wintry day. We’d had fun and now I was licking my lips, begging for more.

Well, I was rushed to t he hospital and I had to have my stomach pumped out. I lived and wasn’t any the worse for the wear.

Fast forward by 12 years. I’m 15, my sister is 17. We both receive a clothing allowance. She adds to hers with babysitting money. I spend all of mine on stuff for my horse and consequently my clothes are absolutely awful.

It’s Friday night. There’s a dance going on at the Canadian Martyrs Parish Hall in Halifax and I want to look good but my clothes are all absolutely awful. I am not allowed to enter my sister’s bedroom and to do so would mean certain death. I am definitely not allowed to borrow any of her clothes. Ever.

My sister leaves the house before I do. I sneak into her room and “borrow” some of her nice clothes. I wear them to the dance, pleased with how nice I look. I am having a good time but then, danger strikes. My sister walks in and sees me. I try to hide, to run but she catches me red handed. She reams me out. What could I do? I am guilty as charged.

I was definitely not a saint growing up; neither was my sister. The only difference between us, as my father so nicely pointed out: “Francesca is smarter than you are Isabelle. She doesn’t get caught.”

Yes, she had the same teen parties that I did however her friends didn’t pour out the basement window into the headlights of our parents’ car as they pulled into the driveway and she wasn’t grounded for a month. Nope, that would have been me.

These days we’re all grown up. We left our fights behind with our teen years. The secrets of sisterhood bind us together along with the sisterhood pendant that she gave me for my birthday several years ago.

The sisterhood pendant is my favourite piece of jewellery. It’s an emerald set in amongst a few recycled diamonds from my sister’s first wedding ring. It was made by my father’s friend and chess partner, a retired jeweller, who lives in Victoria.

The sisterhood pendants know all the secrets of sisterhood but they will never tell. Like the parents and the love we share, the sisterhood pendants bind us together. Like us, like all sisters, they are similar, but different.



Calling young naturalists
By Janet Alred & Liz Douglas

Nature’s natural carpet of colour is opening up before our eyes! Daffodils, tulips, crocuses, bluebells—they are all out in abundance adding to the beauty of our gardens. But what’s happening down at Willingdon Beach? That’s what we hope to find out at our third Young Naturalists event: a morning’s adventure along the Willingdon Beach trail.

Young NaturalistsEach season the Young Naturalists Club of Powell River arranges an activity to help our participants and their parents learn about nature. The natural world has a lot to teach us about understanding why we must be respectful of all the life around us.

In the fall of 2007 we had our first event—a scavenger hunt around the Willingdon Beach campground area. Our participants learned about rocks, leaves, mushrooms, feathers, shells and also about the migrating Lesser Snow Geese that were flying through our skies at that time.

In the winter we learned all about birds in our backyard and built bird boxes and bird feeders with the hope of seeing some of our neighbourhood birds up close, and of course, helping them to find food during the frosty, or even snowy, days.

On April 26, local experts will help Young Naturalists learn how to identify and name indigenous plants. We’ll learn how to take specimens without destroying the plant and preserve them in flower presses. All of this leads to the exciting first step toward a deeper understanding and curiosity of the natural world.

The Young Naturalist Club of Powell River invites families to attend this event, which takes place Saturday, April 26 at Willingdon Beach from 10 am to noon, rain or shine, so be sure to wear weather-appropriate clothing. The campground’s covered picnic area is our registration and meeting place and once we are all gathered, we will set out along the Willingdon Beach Trail to look at what’s growing.

In the summer we will to take the group down to the shoreline to see what lives on the rocks and sand and in the tidal pools. That activity will be in July or August during a low tide, more information will be available later on.

For our spring event to be held Saturday April 26, we look forward to seeing all the Young Naturalists who have been attending our previous events, along with some new young naturalists. If you are between the ages of 6 and 12 (and there is some flexibility on that range) bring your mom or dad and join us. Attendance is by donation, and pre-registration is necessary, so if you would like to participate please call Janet Alred at 604 485-0077. See you there!



Coastal Antiques & Collectables

New location. New name.

Powell River’s diverse antique collectible and antique store has moved from the Townsite to Westview.

Coastal Antiques and Collectables (formerly Coastal Liquidators) moved to the old River City Bingo site at 7020 Alberni Street the end of March.

Sue Cummings, owner of Coastal Antiques and Collectibles, with a very small portion of her historic collectionSue Cummings, owner, says she’ll still have the same selection of antiques and collectibles the store has become known for but in a more central location.

“We’re also in the market to buy good, quality furnishings, antiques and collectibles such as glassware, china, copper, brass and vintage kitchen ware,” she said.

Sue will be putting more of an emphasis on high quality antiques, native artefacts and baskets. She points to an interesting piece in her store. “It’s from one of the old steam laundries in Vancouver. They are very hard to get with the old irons still on them.”

Sue and her late husband Phil opened the Townsite Trading Post (the predecessor to Coastal Antiques and Collectables) in 1991. They were well known for the auctions that they ran.

One of the original 'laptops'“We’re moving to meet the ever increasing demand for vintage and high end furniture. Our standing produce has always been jewellery, the unique native artefacts, the Canadiana. We probably have the largest selection of vintage jewellery on the Sunshine Coast,” says Sue. “People come in here and are blown away by the high end of vintage jewellery we have.”

Sue recently added a teashop, Sue’s Tea Cosy Tea Shop, to her business, which will open soon. She became famous for her pasties, pies and sticky toffee pudding years ago when she sold at the farmers markets and festivals.

The teashop will be open between 1:30 and 4 pm.



Living Green
Green birthday parties
By Emma Levez Larocque

It was recently my nephew’s birthday, and I went over to my sister’s house half an hour before his birthday party to help with the preparations. I was greeted with a table set with gorgeous, brightly coloured cloth napkins and a bright cloth tablecloth. Impressed, I asked where they had come from.

Christopher, Joshua and Jeffrey dust off crumbs with bright napkins especially for birthdays“Those are our special BIRTHDAY decorations,” said Jeffrey, who was turning five. “Mom made them ESPECIALLY for birthdays.”

When it came time to put out the birthday cake, I saw that my sister had taken the time to make one, instead of opting for the convenience of a bought cake in a huge plastic container. She always puts a lot of effort into throwing great parties for her three sons. Jeffrey’s fifth birthday party was no exception, and the “green” focus made it extra special. No paper plates or plastic cutlery—the kids ate from ceramic plates using regular cutlery. It was a hockey party, so each child went home with a skate pass for a party favour rather than something that would entertain them for five minutes and then be tossed aside.

I know how hectic throwing a party can be, and how much easier it sometimes seems to use disposable items to make the clean up faster. So I was inspired by the fact that my industrious sister had taken the time to figure out ways to make her son’s party earth-friendly, and special at the same time. Jeffrey was thrilled with the cake—he proudly told his friends, “My mom MADE this!” and the kids loved their party favours.

These ideas are great ones to put in place at any party—they make the day extra special, and you don’t have garbage bags full of trash to get rid of when it’s all over.

Having a green birthday party doesn’t have to mean sacrifice. Lots of changes—from single-use to multi-use items, for example—are very easy, positive ones. And birthdays can be a great opportunity to teach children about ways we can protect the planet, and have fun doing it. Something I have heard parents ponder is how to reduce the gifts that children’s birthday parties often bring, without disappointing the birthday boy or girl. Here are some great ideas:

- Get your child to choose a theme for the party and help find an organization or museum that would appreciate donations or gifts. For example, have a puppy-themed party to benefit the local SPCA. In lieu of birthday gifts, have the children bring donations—dog food, leashes, water bowls and toys—for abandoned animals.

- Choose a place, like Africa, as a theme. Activities during the party could include building a grass hut, or games that help the kids to learn about Africa. Gifts could be donations collected for children there. When it comes time to actually present the donation to the organization, the birthday boy or girl gets another opportunity to feel special, and learn about how good it feels to give something that is truly needed and appreciated.

- Make your child’s party a “bearthday” party, with earth as the theme. Decorate with biodegradable balloons, make a cake with local, organic ingredients, give each child a tree to plant as a party favour, and use reusable cloth goody bags (ideas from www.greenbirthday.com). Make invitations on recycled paper, or email them.

- "ECHOage” your child’s party. You start by sitting down with your child to choose from a variety of online invitations available on the ECHOage website. Next, choose from a list of charitable causes screened and selected by ECHOage based on their track record of helping children and the environment. Invitations are sent to friends invited to the party via email. Instead of bringing a wrapped gift, guests are asked to make a secure online donation of $10 to $30. After deducting a 15% administration fee, ECHOage sends half of the party proceeds to the chosen charity, and the other half to you towards the purchase of one really special and meaningful gift for your child.

There is a movement afoot when it comes to green birthday parties. Information abounds on blogs, websites, and in magazines. Making parties green only makes them better, and there are lots of ideas out there to get you going in the right direction...start by googling “green birthday ideas.” Never has giving a green party been so easy, or so much fun!



Blast from the Past
Early settlement in Stillwater
By Gerry Gray

Logging barons of the past have left Stillwater but memories of trucks and trains hauling huge old growth logs down to the beach landing haven’t been forgotten. Much of the history of the community was recorded in the excellent publication, “Powell River’s First 50 Years” published by The Powell River News, written and researched by Harry Taylor and edited by Al Alsgard, News Publisher.

A work crew in 1918 standing along a 237' tree described as having a diameter at butt 4' and 14" at top.

In the early part of the last century, Stillwater was a growing community made up of loggers, settlers, fur traders and entrepreneurs. It was the first permanent settlement on the Sunshine Coast. Westview was sparsely populated; the Townsite was under construction while Cranberry and Wildwood were mere villages. The area, because of its healthy logging industry, meant prosperity flourished. There was work for everyone who wanted it. Bob Simpkins, a local businessman, said at a town meeting: “Anyone who goes hungry here is lazy and deserves to starve.” An adage that became the work ethic of the era.

A school was erected, along with a dance hall and a general store. A theatre also added to the cultural life of residents of this bustling community. A hotel built by Brooks Scanlon around 1910 contained a store, pool hall, dance floor and a restaurant. The Saturday night dance was a “must” for every logger and his partner in the district. Lots of food, beverages and a surplus of enthusiasm were the order of the evening.

If the dance was held in the cookhouse at one of the camps a “locie” loaded with revellers would provide the transportation. Music was provided by anyone who could play an instrument. Johnny Ulrich on his accordion was the favourite. Another big attraction to the Saturday dances was that men outnumbered women and even the plainest Jane was never a wallflower.

When Wes Runnells and his family migrated to Stillwater from Maine in 1920 the district was in its heyday. Logging was at its peak, jobs were plentiful and wages were good. Woody (nee Woodrow) was six years old when the family arrived and was ready for the new school currently under construction at Annie Bay near Frolander Bay.

Woody recalls those days with nostalgia. “I was eighteen when I started with the O’Brien Logging Company railroad, hauling logs from above the Lois Lake dam site down to the landing dump at Stillwater. Alf Edwards was the engineer and he took me on as a fireman. Not long after I got working steady I married his daughter Beth,” Woody recounted. The couple had one son, Ronald.

Until 1954, railcars like these carried huge loads of logs for the O'Brien Logging Co. After that, trucks were used.

The Runnells came to the area the same year the Great Fire almost wiped out Lang Bay and left the old schoolhouse a pile of ashes. Undaunted, the same year Fred McRae organized Stillwater and they constructed the Annie Bay school at Frolander Bay. Thirty-seven students were enrolled resulting in another school being built at the junction of Kelly Creek Road and Zillinsky, which opened in 1926.

Woody Runnells began his railroading career in 1932 and, except for a short time in the army, fired up the old train for 22 years. The O’Brien Logging Company acquired the train in 1909 on a lease from the Robert McNair Shingle Co. In 1954 the company had to switch to trucks because the terrain was too steep for the train. At the end of April of that year Woody shut down the old engine’s firebox for the last time.

“The railroading was kind of a family affair,” Woody said. “Alf Edwards was the engineer, Gordon C. Edwards was the switchman, I was the fireman and Oscar Innes was my partner. They were good years for us. Work was steady and the job was not too bad. I still remember coming into the Stillwater Landing with our last load of logs. We all got other jobs but it wasn’t the same as working on the old O’Brien train.”

All Aboard! Woody Runnells has never lost his love of trains.The old saying, you can take a trainman out of the train but you can’t take the train out of a railroad man, rings true in Woody’s case. Woody has a 1½-inch scale model of the train set up in his basement, he still lives near Runnells Road in Stillwater, and is more than willing to talk to anyone about railroading and show off his model which was built in Vancouver in 1986 by Ron Barrett. Woody is 94 this year and enjoys showing off the photographs that mark the 22 years he spent firing up the old O’Brien Logging Company train. Shortly after the closure he secured a job on the Blackball ferry running between Earl’s Cove and Saltery Bay. He worked aboard her for five years and then came ashore to spend more time with his wife, Beth, who passed on a few years ago.

Stillwater, now known best for its logging shows, was actually founded by fur traders in 1893. The woods and the waters teemed with wildlife. Beaver, fox, wolf, deer and other animals provided furs for the Vancouver/Seattle market. There were no animal protectionists in those days and hunters had free rein. The sea surrounding Stillwater was another source of income for the pioneers. Salmon spawned shoulder to shoulder up the many creeks and rivers running down the rugged coastline. Whales, seals and porpoises were common sights from the shore and otters, weasels, muskrat were in abundance.

The first store to trade in furs opened in 1888. Leonard Frolander (Frolanders’ Bay) built about a half mile east of Stillwater. Supplies were brought in aboard the “Etta White” a wood burning side-wheeler that came to the area every three months. Needless to say the inhabitants of the district were a hardy bunch. Storms, fires and floods were natures’ adversaries but still the population increased. Although fur traders and fishermen first settled Stillwater it was the logging industry that kept the settlement going.

The first logging started around 1890 when Farquhar (Fred) McRae settled in McRae Cove and logged the shoreline until after the turn of the century. In 1908 Brooks Scanlon merged with O’Brien Logging Company and started logging on a scale not since equalled in Stillwater. Soon many smaller logging companies laid claim to the abundant forest stretching up through the Pasha Lakes and beyond. As more workers poured into the district more amenities of civilization were needed. Schools, meeting halls, and street lights all mushroomed up, built by the community’s men and women.

Although many storms hit the coast during the years none could compare to the holocaust of 1916 that enveloped the whole area from Thunder Bay to Saltery Bay blowing down houses and uprooting huge trees. Along with an exceptional high tide residents living by the shore had to flee their homes, which were in danger of either being washed out to sea or blown away. Gusts were up to 100 miles per hour and wreaked havoc to the whole area. Trees uprooted. Houses destroyed or badly damaged, everything in its’ path suffered. The storm cost residents and logging companies millions of dollars.

The second tragedy was fire caused by an exceptionally dry June in 1922. The flames, propelled by a stiff wind, swept through the area surrounding Lang Bay. So intense were the flames that even the driftwood on the beach caught fire and residents had to stand waist deep in the water holding on to their livestock to prevent them perishing in the fire. Another forest fire happened in 1925 when a spark from Brooks and Scanlons steam donkey landed in a clump of dried wood chips. The conflagration raced through Horseshoe Valley as loggers and their wives fled their homes and onto the railroad flatcars. McNair Shingle Company men fought the flames throughout the night to try and save the camp and livestock.

The Powell River Company built the Stillwater dam and powerhouse in 1930, bringing industry and a lot of workers into the area. With more than 400 construction workers living near the dam housing was at a premium. Any shack with four walls and a roof was occupied and jealously guarded. Recreational facilities were soon being built and it wasn’t long after the dam work began before a couple of pool halls came into being. They were followed by a general store, dance floor and other necessities of life.

Life was not always predictable in these pioneer settlements. In 1923 a large hall was built on the site of where the Kelly Creek school now stands. It was a gala opening with dignitaries coming from Vancouver and bringing a band along with them. The hall, with its kitchen and huge dance floor was compared to Dwight Hall.

Christmas 1925 was a good example of the citizens coping with disaster. This year, like the two previous years, the hall was all decked out for the children’s concert and the evening dance. Food was cooked, beverages were stocked and the hall was decorated by the women of the community. All was finished by 5 pm and the workers went home for their suppers leaving the stove banked so the building would be warm for the activities planned.
Suddenly someone yelled “Fire!” and within hours the new building burnt to the ground. Before the ashes had cooled the community had moved into a nearby trailer, decorated it and brought food and beverages in and the concert went on nearly as scheduled. This event displayed both the resourcefulness of the residents but also their determination not to let such events discourage them.

Even today, while the once profitable forest industries are staggering, Stillwater still has a shingle mill, two sawmills and a dry land log dump.

There is a school in the area and even a meeting hall where regional district members hold sessions occasionally.

The new Kelly Creek school opened in 1962 and was the pride of the community.
Although a lot of the pizzazz of early days Stillwater has been stilled by population growth and modern living, the community pride that sustained the area through all its disasters and achievements is still present as seen by the well-kept kept gardens and homes. The history of Stillwater is a tribute to men and women’s victory over the elements.



Modern Moves
New digs for head offices and window factory
By Isabelle Southcott


When Dan Agius first began working for Modern Windows more than 20 years ago, he had no idea that one day he would own a company with four offices that service Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, Powell River and Texada Island and have 80 employees working for him.

Agius became a partner with Modern’s original owner Bill Hopkins in 1986. At that time, he was a mere 20 years old.

Dan Agius stands in front of Modern's four-point welder used in assembling window frames

Agius began working at Modern while still attending Malaspina College in Nanaimo. “I worked for Bill for two summers and then moved back to Powell River. I started working at Malaspina college here, teaching computer classes as well as working at Modern.”

Back in those days Modern was not a window factory and it was much smaller. Modern sold windows and did gutters and siding and other glass products. “In 1986, Bill offered me a partnership. I saw it as a good business opportunity,” said Agius.

All of the windows that Modern manufactures are made in Powell River. The finished products are shipped to branch offices and dealers.

“Powell River is where it all starts. It’s where our head office and our window factory is,” said Agius. It’s where Agius and his business partner Gary Dietrich live with their families. “It’s where it all started and it grew from there.”

And growing it is. So much in fact, that Modern moved to a new Powell River location in February. They’re now located in the previous site of Max Cameron Secondary School’s industrial education wing. “We have 18,000 square feet here on three acres. It has been extensively renovated by Jim Agius Construction to house our new state-of-the-art window factory, show room and offices.”

The only part of the renovations that are incomplete is the exterior. “We’re waiting for better weather to paint and put signs up,” Agius explained.

Modern’s window factory contains virtually all-new high-tech manufacturing equipment. “To my knowledge, for a medium sized window factory, we would be the most modernized and automated window factory in BC,” said Agius.

Modern Windows

Keeping up to date and modern is important to Agius. “We’re always changing. We’re updating our marketing material and website now.”

He pauses when talking about marketing. “BC Hydro asked us if they could use our last marketing campaign, Great Taste in Windows, in a presentation in Atlanta at a utilities convention,” he said.

Modern manufactures 1,000 windows a month. “This translates into approximately 100 houses per month.  Our new capacity will be around 2000 windows a month.” Agius said.
He’s proud of Modern and understandably so. “Our vinyl windows received the ENERGY STAR designation in 2007.” ENERGY STAR is an international symbol of energy efficiency that identifies manufacturers’ products as the most energy efficient in their category.

But vinyl windows aren’t all that Modern produces. “We still produce aluminum windows which are popular in high end homes. We are the supplier for windows for BRITCO and NORCO construction site trailers. “And we continue to provide all the other renovation services such as gutters, siding, Duradek, aluminum railings and doors.”



For Art's Sake
Postcards from the Powell River Peninsula
By Jessica Colasanto

Powell River made it through winter with no shortage of fresh local art, and there’s plenty more to come our way.

March saw several new events that may become annual additions to our calendars—Expose Yourself at the Rodmay showcased art that tastefully depicts the many variations of human sexuality, and Bras for a Cause at Manzanita Restaurant was a fun way to raise money for cancer research with lingerie. Between Worlds at Local Loco’s is still on display; more than thirty-five artists submitted a diverse collection of works interpreting the show’s title as a tribute to the Equinox.

April brings another new group show that’s sure to become the first of many: the Powell River Design Contest, organized by the Alof!i Group. This year’s theme is Postcards from the Powell River Peninsula. A call to teenaged artists to design a postcard featuring our area received an overwhelming response, both in quantity and quality. Nancy de Brouwer of Alof!i Graphic Design says, “it’s unbelievable to see how much talent there is in our youth in Powell River.”

The submissions will be on display throughout the month of April at Bemused Bistro. The opening was held on April 7 from 6–8 pm, and throughout that week, the public wes invited to stop by to nominate work for a Public Prize. Grand Prize winners had already been chosen and were recognized at the opening reception.

Also this month, Straw for the Fire moves to the Exhibition Centre at Malaspina University-College. This collection of works by Megan Dill and Barbara Langmaid opened in March to an enthusiastic crowd, but the venue size restricted them to display less than half of their pieces, giving us the opportunity to see a different presentation this month, and then the show in its entirety next month at the Rodmay.

Such traveling shows are fun for the audience to experience. Different presentations, including its proximity to other works, can influence our interpretation of a piece.  Local artist Ursula Medley is currently in one such show. Now on display at the Comox Valley Art Gallery, What Use Art History?  features works inspired by images, ideas and techniques evident in past or recent Art History. 

Medley also offers a new show in May. Passionately moved and inspired by the beauty in our ever-changing environment, she brings us Dreams in the Landscape, which opens on May 5, and runs throughout the month at Bemused Bistro.

The Powell River area is renowned for its beauty; take time this month to see its influence on our local artists. Chances are, it will make you appreciate it even more.



Faces of Education
French Immersion a possibility for September '08

Denis and Amanda Racine hope a French Immersion program will be in place in Powell River this fall so their children can be a part of it.

The Racines have three children and another on the way. Five-year-old Arika is already in school but her brothers Mattheus, 3 and Isaac, 18 months haven’t started yet.

“It is our number one choice of programs,” says Denis. “I think most parents, given the choice when they go to register would, if asked if they want French Immersion or regular, choose French Immersion.”

Denis and Amanda Racine say they would like their three children to attend French ImmersionToni Bond has been a teacher with School District 47 since 1986. She’s also the president of Powell River Parents for French. Bond would also like to see a French Immersion program begin this fall.

French Immersion is designed for children of English speaking parents. “You do not have to have French in your family’s background nor do you have to be able to speak French to have your child in French Immersion,” said Bond.

This program is eligible for federal funding. “Parents will not have to pay to have their children enrolled in this program and these students will receive all the same benefits as other School District 47 students,” said Bond.

At this time, there is no program for children who do not have French in their background to achieve fluency.

The proposed program is designed so that homework is within the child’s capability of accomplishment.

“Powell River is one of the few BC school districts without French Immersion,” said Bond. Forty-four out of 59 other school districts in BC presently offer French Immersion.

“Research shows that children graduating from French Immersion are successful in both English and French. There are more opportunities for students who have a second language.”

The proposed French Immersion program could start as soon as this September when the school year begins if enough interest is shown. To begin with, it would accommodate kindergarten, grades one and two students. It would then continue with the higher grades as students continue to advance. “And when they graduate they will receive two diplomas instead of just one,” said Bond.

“We want to start with early immersion because, as we all know, young children pick up languages very quickly and the sooner we start, the greater the chances are for success.”
Children enrolled in French Immersion don’t just do French. As well, their English skills do not suffer. “Studies show that with the Foundation Skills Assessment, French Immersion students perform equally as well or higher than students in the English program.”

The school district supports French Immersion however in order for the district to initiate a program they need to have a sufficient number of parents willing to enrol their children in it irrespective of location and teachers.

“The Board very much supports the concept of a French Immersion program for Powell River. For the Board it is now a matter of getting the hard numbers in order to determine whether or not it will be viable and sustainable in a small district such as ours. We are hopeful that the parent interest expressed translates into the student enrolment numbers needed for the start-up of an early immersion program in September,” said Jay Yule, Superintendent of School District 47.

Bond first became alerted to the benefits of French Immersion after attending a professional development seminar sponsored by the school district on brain research in education. “I learned the value and the importance of what early second language learning can do for brain development,” she said. “The research and data that was shown us was so convincing that I wanted French Immersion for my own children.”

No one is disputing the benefits of French Immersion. “It keeps children engaged. They have to pay attention in class because they are challenged.” Once kids have a second language it is easier for them to pick up a third or a fourth language.”

Powell River Parents for French wants to start with a large core group this fall. Through the national body, Canadian Parents for French, students will be introduced to the French culture and events such as the maple syrup festival in Quebec. “Canadians Parents for French believe that French Immersion is the best educational program of choice for children offered today,” said Bond. “Why wouldn’t you want your child enrolled in this wonderful free program?”

At the present time, Kelly Creek Community School and James Thomson are the only schools that have available space to house the program.

People wanting more information on Powell River Parents for French, or to register for kindergarten, grade one or two, can call Bond at 604 485 7082 or Richard Reinish at 604 485-8442. To learn more about Canadian Parents for French, please visit www.cpf.bc.ca



The Metropolitan Opera Live HD: The First Season in Powell River
by John Silver

A new addition to Powell River’s rich musical scene has been exciting audiences since the beginning of December.  Broadcasts of live operas in high definition from the stage of New York’s famed Metropolitan Opera House (“the Met”) have been seen in on Saturday mornings at Brooks Secondary School’s Max Cameron Theatre.

What to some may be the unusual time of Saturday morning is because the performances are the traditional Met Saturday matinees and, in Powell River, it is three hours earlier.  Most operas have started at 10:00 or 10:30 am but Wagner’s monumental Tristan und Isolde required stamina on the part of the audience as well the performers – it started at 9:30 am and finished at 2:45 pm.

Generally superb camera work brings a different experience from attending a live performance.  Close-ups of singers or panned shots of large choral scenes are interspersed with general views of the performance.  In the overtures, there are views of the conductor and orchestra, solo music for one instrument bringing a shot of the musician playing that instrument.

Intermissions are a special treat.  A well known opera singer acts as host and interviews the principal singers as they are heading back to their dressing rooms.  Following that, there are explanations of set construction and lighting, with views of sets being changed.  For those who need to stretch their legs in the intermissions, coffee and goodies are sold by Brooks’ students with proceeds going to student projects.

Max Cameron Theatre, with its clear acoustics and excellent sight lines, is a superb venue for the broadcasts.  Manager Jacquie Dawson, who has been stage or theatre manager at many venues, including the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, has been an enthusiastic supporter of the broadcasts and state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment is in the expert hands of technician Ian Henderson. 

Advance ticket sales and e-mail promotion have been provided by the Academy of Music.  Many Powell River and Lund organizations and businesses have given support by displaying posters.

Operas seen to date have been Roméo et Juliette (Gounod), Hansel and Gretel (Humperdinck), Macbeth (Verdi), Manon Lescaut (Puccini), Peter Grimes (Britten) and Tristan und Isolde (Wagner).  Still to come are La fille du régiment (Donizetti) on April 26 and La Bohème (Puccini) on May 3, both at 10:30 am.

La fille du régiment is a brilliant two-act comic opera that follows Marie, the adopted daughter of the protective soldiers of a 19th century French regiment, as she is courted by Tonio.  The soldiers take some convincing that Tonio is an appropriate suitor but then lend their support in overcoming opposition from Marie’s Aunt, who later turns out to be her mother.

In the lead roles are Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Flórez.  When they performed the same roles at London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the critics said it was the best thing at that house in living memory.

La Bohème is one of the most beloved operas ever written.  Rudolfo, a poet, meets Mimi, a seamstress and it is instant love.  They celebrate with their friends but later quarrel and separate. They come together again when Mimi, desparately ill, returns to Rudolfo’s garret.  Love is rekindled but Mimi is too sick, dying as the grief- stricken Rudolfo collapses over her body.  Plenty of tissues are needed for the inevitable tears as Puccin’s music tears at the heartstrings.

For those that remember the movie Moonstruck, La Bohème was the opera at the Met to which Nicolas Cage took Cher.  The opera production in the movie is still the one being used at the Met – a famous staging by Franco Zefirelli.  In the lead roles are two more singers sought by opera houses all over the world - Ramón Vargas and Angela Gheorghiu.

Audiences at Max Cameron have been in excess of 100 for most of the operas and advanced ticket sales for the last two operas are running well ahead of previous sales.  If you are planning to attend La fille du régiment and/or La Bohème, you would do well to have a ticket before you arrive.  It might be difficult to pick up one at the door on the day of performance.

Max Cameron Theatre will continue its screenings of the Met broadcasts next season. There will be ten operas although, as of press time, which these will be had not been announced.




Explore Powell River

April 2008: Click to enlarge
by Rod Innes