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September 2008

September 2008

>> This entire issue is available as a 15MB PDF download

Table of Contents

Get back to school, Mom!
Successful program returns
Church can be messy
Helping at-risk kids with an early start
Why Early Intervention is important
Don't let the brown bag be boring
Green Parenting
Princesses are magical when you believe
Making time for yourself
Music & cake swapped for author’s autograph
Business Connections
Evolution of Wildwood
The Clock Elves
Opera returns to Powell River
Whittling art out of wood
Toastmasters can and does change lives
Teaching Kindergarten is the best job of all
Explore Powell River



Get back to school, Mom!
Learning French challenges parents, too
By Amy Sharp

As is often the case, Aubrey and I were late to school. What was different was that it was 7 o’clock at night! This was the meeting for English speaking parents whose children were starting maternelle (kindergarten) at the École Côte du Soleil (Powell River’s French School) this September. Once again, I had no idea as to what I was getting myself into. I was sure Aubrey would pick up the French language quickly for the obvious reason that his young brain is in high-gear-learning-mode. I was also sure that my 40 year-old brain is learning considerable amounts in my year-old restaurant business.

Learning French challenges parents, tooBut learning French? We’re talking about a lot more than beurre blanc, gratin, mis en place and garde manger. I should mention that while our restaurant Manzanita is not a ‘French’ restaurant per se, we do use French methods. Let’s face it, the French mastered cuisine and we are all merely lucky enough to savour their mastery.

I was so tickled when Aubrey was accepted into the French school (thanks to his father’s ancestry) that I didn’t really factor in that all of his homework, school notices and lessons would be in a language I would need to learn to be involved in my own son’s education. Jumping off a cliff with both feet, high hopes and sketchy planning, that’s typical Sagittarian style. That’s also how I met and married Aubrey’s father Allan in eight weeks eight years ago. But that, as they say, is another story.

Back to this one. Right off the bat, I’d like to state that all of the members of the École Côte du Soleil that I have interacted with, from both of his preschool teachers in the last two years to that good looking guy with the grand grin and giant chapeau, are all kind and gracious people. The whole concept of a school as an organization is a different experience for me. It’s a service, not a business, which is my primary world right now. It’s quite refreshing to have a purpose within an organization that doesn’t include an accounts payable folder or tax ramifications. Somebody has to deal with those realities but it’s not me this time. And what about those taxes? Hey, thanks everybody for paying your taxes so our children have the wonderful schools that Powell River has!

Now back to school, remember that smell? You know, the smell in the hallway of sweaty kids, gym shoes, musty books and over-ripe bananas. French or English, it takes you right back doesn’t it? After enjoying the brie, baguette and grapes, we got down to business. Bottom line: you better decide to learn to speak French with your child or you won’t be able to understand what is going on by the time they get into the third or fourth grade. Yes, you as an adult (mature or not) have to risk looking the fool, making mistakes over and over. You may even butcher a common phrase such as Brosse tes cheveux (Brush your hair), turning it into brosse tes chevaux (brush your horses). Yes, you, dear mother and/or father, are going back to school.

I am fortunate that my schedule is completely opposite of most of the working world. I go to work in the late afternoon until most everyone is in bed sleeping. I was invited to sit in on many of his classes, which I plan to do. Being raised as a restaurant baby, Aubrey is going to take some time to change his nighttime schedule of sleeping from 10:30 pm to 9:30 am. I should say we are both going to need to change our sleep schedules—ack!

Our facilitator, Simona, was delightful. She explained various support groups, assured us that it’s okay to make pronunciation mistakes while reading to our children and guided us through the A-B-Cs (ah, bay, say... fyi). Wisely, they had other parents with older children in the school to assure us that not only could it be done but it could also be fun and that the mistakes were not a big deal. We found out that this is the first year that there have been enough students (15) to merit a singularly maternelle  class. In the past, the cours preparatoire (first grade) has been combined with the kindergarten. The coming teacher is a surprise to us all. I’m sure there will be many more surprises in this adventure of learning French with our child.




Successful program returns
StrongStart expands on a great beginning
By Rita John

StrongStart BC is a provincial government initiative that supports early learning through school-based adult/child drop-ins. This initiative supports smooth and successful transitions for children and families into kindergarten, supports families as the primary educators of their children, and makes school facilities and resources available to the preschool population.
StrongStart is financially supported by the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Education, so is free to all participants.

School District 47 is excited to build StrongStart in its second year in Powell River schools. It is hard to believe a year has gone by since an article in this magazine announced the opening of the first centre. The school district has been fortunate to have renewed funds to continue the two StrongStart centres available last school year.

The James Thomson centre will be in the same location, but the centre affiliated with Henderson will change locations. Last year the Henderson centre ran through the Early Years Centre above Brooks because of a lack of available space in the school; luckily there is now space, so the centre has been relocated.

We are also fortunate to have received funds for a third, new centre for the Powell River region. This new centre will be located at Kelly Creek Community School.

Each centre is facilitated by a certified Early Childhood Educator (ECE): Kate Boyd is back at Henderson and Cindy Lessard will be returning to James Thomson; Paula Vandervert will be our new ECE at Kelly Creek.

Starting September 15 each of these three centres will be open to preschoolers accompanied by their parents or guardians, for three hours per day Monday through Friday. Final schedules for each centre are presently being planned, but will likely be close to the schedules listed:

Children from birth to five years are invited to attend (five year-olds who are not registered for kindergarten in the current school year). All young children in a family are welcome to attend with an adult; the adult can be anyone who spends time with the children.

StrongStart also encourages the development of support between families, so encourages families to bring one unrelated child in addition to immediate family.

Each child participating in StrongStart is registered with the Ministry of Education. Children registered in StrongStart last year will not be asked to register again. New participants are asked to fill out the registration form available at each centre; to complete the registration process parents are asked to bring an official piece of identification (birth certificate, permanent residence card, certificate of citizenship, aboriginal status card, passport/visa). The province uses registration information to evaluate, plan and develop preschool programs provincially.

StrongStart centres give parents opportunities to share in their child’s early learning experiences, connect with and learn from other parents/caregivers, receive valuable child development information and access information that will help connect them to other resources in the community. For questions and comments or to check final schedules, contact Rita John at the School Board office by email at rjohn@sd47.bc.ca or call 604 485-6271, ext 2244.

We hope to see you and the fantastic preschoolers in your life at StrongStart!

Proposed StrongStart Schedules:

Henderson Elementary
6486 Hemlock Avenue in Townsite
Monday  •  12 – 3 pm
Tues - Fri  •  9 am – 12

James Thomson Elementary
6388 Sutherland Street in Wildwood
Mon & Thur  •  12 – 3 pm
Tues, Wed & Fri  •  9 am – 12

Kelly Creek Community School
2345 Zillinsky Road, South of town
Mon, Tues, Thur & Fri  •  8:30 – 11:30 am
Wednesday  •  11:30 – 2:30 pm




Church can be messy
Can’t cope with traditional Sunday morning church services?
By Jeannette Scott

An enthusiastic group of volunteers recently gathered for a picnic and a planning session in the church hall of the Parish of St David & St Paul. Following the model created in Portsmouth, England, they are planning to become the second parish in Canada to introduce a program known as Messy Church (the other is the Parish of St Michael and All Angels in St John’s, Newfoundland).

Messy Church is designed to provide an opportunity for families who want to give their children some Christian education but who, for one reason or another, choose not to attend the traditional Sunday morning church services.

A fresh expression of church, this monthly event will provide a fun time for children and adults to relax and be creative together. Each session will begin with an informal gathering time with coffee, tea and juice provided. Adults will be free to converse and interact with one another while children will be encouraged to participate in informal games. This will be followed by a story time, which will introduce the theme for the day. Themes will be drawn from familiar Bible stories and the church seasons.

The main activities, which will be led by parishioners who are skilled fabric and visual artists, poets, gardeners and builders, will include everything from planting bulbs and puppet-making to painting murals and baking cookies.

A simple meal will be shared and the evening will close with a short time of worship.
Everyone is welcome to be a part of Messy Church. Age doesn’t matter, as there will be something of interest for all. There is no requirement to have any church affiliation to participate. You don’t even have to be a Christian; you just have to be prepared to be a bit messy.

The first Messy Church will run from 4:30 – 6:30 pm on September 17.




Helping at-risk kids with an early start
Powell River Infant Development Programme
By Liz Kellough

The Powell River Infant Development Programme is a home based program for families and their children birth to three years of age, who are at risk for or have a development delay. We know that families often find it challenging to access services when their babies are young so we typically visit the family in their home unless the family would prefer another location. We make sure where and how we offer our services works for each family involved.

Powell River Infant Development Programme is administered by the Powell River Association for Community Living and is offered free of charge. This is a voluntary and family-centered program, which means the parents decide how much and which kind of support they need. Families can seek the service directly by calling the office or they can talk with their physician, public health nurse, early childhood educator or another professional for a referral to the program.

The Infant Development Consultants are professionals who have skills and knowledge in infant and child development and can assist families/caregivers to enhance their child’s early years. They offer information, resources and support to families/caregivers.

The Infant Development Programme office is located at the Jean Pike Centre, 7055 Alberni Street. Phone 604 485-6077, extension 222 & 223.

The Infant Development Consultants also offer free presentations and classes to the general public.

This fall we are featuring two courses: Sandy Crossley will teach the Infant Massage course consisting of four free classes on September 16, 23, 30 and October 7 at 1:30 – 3 pm at the Jean Pike Centre. Chris McPhee will teach Baby Sign Language course later in the fall. Please call 604 485-6077, extension 223 to find out more or to register.




Why Early Intervention is important

The life of a child is full of opportunities for learning and decades of child development research show that learning is most rapid in the infant, toddler and preschool years.

Every day children encounter dozens of experiences that involve interaction with people and the world around them. It is through these experiences that children learn. However, trauma or complications at birth, genetic abnormalities, physical limitations, visual impairments, language disorders, or and illnesses have the potential to change both the quality and quantity of learning opportunities for many children. With fewer meaningful interactions children with developmental delays, or those at risk for delays, fall behind their peers.

The timing of intervention becomes particularly important when a child runs the risk of missing an opportunity to learn during the first few years of his or her life as a result of the types of occurrences listed above or because of family situations that may impact the child.

According to Dr Clyde Hertzman at the University of British Columbia, the period from pre-conception to age five can be referred to as the “investment phase” for child development.
Families and caregivers have always known that these years are important. The research on brain development helps to explain why. It shows that children’s early attachments have a vital influence on their brain development and that everyone who cares for young children can make a difference.

Support for all families and caregivers during these critical early years is essential and is well stated in the adage, it takes a community to raise a child. Support is even more critical when a child experiences challenges that may make it harder for families and caregivers to know how best to support the optimum development of their child. With this in mind, the provincial Infant Development Programme is offered in most communities in BC as a resource for families and caregivers.





Lunch time!
Don’t let the brown bag be boring

It’s no secret that well-fed kids do better in school, so you want to send your children out the door with a good breakfast in their bellies and a lunch in hand that’s healthy.

But it also has to be quick, enjoyable, portable and inexpensive.

Is it possible?

With some outside-the-sandwich thinking and help from your kids, packing a healthy lunch for school is achievable, says Dania Matiation, community nutritionist at Vancouver Coastal Health.

Leftovers can be a huge contribution to lunch boxes, she says.

“I like to cook once and eat three or four times,” says Matiation.

“A lot depends on what’s trendy and what your kids are into,” she said. “I got my kids into leftovers.”

A piece of last night’s quiche or French toast rolled up with jam can make the lunch bag more interesting.

Most anything can be slapped in a quesadilla or a wrap, she adds. Quesadillas can be cut in triangles and are easy to hold, so they’re great for younger students.

A parfait of layered fruit or berries, granola and yogurt will also be well-received, both for breakfast or lunch.

Crackers and cheese make great snacks, and sending a favourite dip is a sure way to get them to eat their veggies.

Rice pudding with a little soft tofu thrown in combines four food groups, said Matiation—and you thought it was just for dessert!

With young children just starting school, go with what they’re used to eating at home and introduce new foods. Older students might go for something more trendy than a peanut butter and jam sandwich. Try sushi, or a a chick pea wrap with a Thai or curry sauce.

An important way to get kids to buy into your healthy lunch plan is to get them involved in selecting the variety. Let them include a variety of textures, from crunchy to slurpy, and choose varied colors—which usually means including fruits and vegetables. And try to include something from each food group.

Dunk a lunch
Try these fun & healthy finger foods





Living Green
Green Parenting

By Emma Levez Larocque

Humans, as a species, have existed for but a fragment of the time the earth has been in existence. And yet the impact we have had in that brief moment in time is phenomenal. The earth undeniably goes through natural changes and cycles, but never before have changes in the natural world occurred so quickly. It is difficult to ignore the direct correlation between those changes and the actions of human beings.

In recent years increasing attention has been drawn to impending environmental dangers, and possible disasters. Climate change, water shortages, pollution, deforestation, alarming rates of accumulated plastic waste.... The list goes on and on. It can be overwhelming, and it can be frightening. As a species, we have played a devastating role in the development of these problems. I, and many other people I know, find that realization almost unbearable. As I research and read about these issues, I often wonder what kind of world will be passed to the children we leave behind.

Never has it been more important for the mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers, teachers and role models to guide children in the care of the earth. There is still hope — there is always hope, and it exists in the children who are the future.

As scholar Theodore Roszak says in his book, Voice of the Earth, “What do parents owe their young that is more important than a warm and trusting connection to the Earth...?”

This has always been true, but today that truth has become a critical understanding. If humans are, as a species, to continue to live and thrive on this planet, we must encourage our children to find ways to live in harmony with their surroundings and the other creatures with whom we share this home.

Native American Proverb: We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children

Children look to their parents and other adults in their lives to understand what is important. Adults help to form the ideas and values of the children around them. I don’t have children, but I do have three nephews and a niece I am close to. It is heartening to see how quickly they grasp the essential connection between themselves and the earth — they “get it” so much more easily than a lot of adults. But it’s not intuitive — they need to learn, just like everyone else. As adults, it is our duty to help children learn to respect the earth, and to understand that we must all do what we can to tread more lightly on it during our brief stay. Our consumer-based society can be a difficult environment in which to foster that respect and understanding. Here are some ways you can help your children to be “greener” or more environmentally savvy:

And, of course, live by example.

Check these out for ideas:




Family Matters
Princesses are magical when you believe

By Isabelle Southcott

When you look at the world through the eyes of a child magic happens.

Princess OliviaMost of us grow older and grow up. We forget how to play. We take ourselves and others too seriously. We forget how to have fun and we forget just what a wonderful place this world is.

Children, on the other hand, know the wonder of it all. They see the world as magical, full of opportunities, full of beauty. I remember how much fun my children had going through a revolving door in the big city. It was pure magic. And the escalator! Wow, the escalator was like something right out of outer space. We spent hours and hours riding the moving stairs. I’m sure people thought I was nuts but I didn’t care; my kids thought it was great.

Last month I had the opportunity to celebrate the joy of life with my three-and-a-half year old niece. She is, and always will be, my little princess. I have two wonderful boys and two nephews but I never had a little girl, so Princess Olivia holds a special place in my heart.
Princess Olivia and I planned a special princess day together at her home in Comox. Her brother and my sons were at sailing camp and her parents were working so it was just the two of us.

I bought magical wands and crowns for us and wrote a little story, which I left beside her bed. She was so excited! She kept asking, “How many more sleeps until Princess Day?”

When Princess Day finally arrived I read Princess Olivia her story. Her daddy (my brother) cooked his princess her favourite breakfast. After dropping off the boys at camp, Princess Olivia and I went shopping for a princess dress. She found a beautiful white lace dress with satin sleeves and trim. I remember telling her we were buying only one thing but somehow we left the store with a princess dress, a princess balloon and princess socks. Either she is very persuasive or I can’t count very well…. I’m still not sure what happened!

Princess Olivia wore her princess dress all day long with her crown and wand and red Barbie shoes. She looked every bit the princess that she is.

Princess Olivia insisted that I dress up too, so I wore a pretty dress and my crown. I had so much fun walking downtown with my little princess. Lots of people stared at us. Some stopped and talked to us. Many smiled and even more laughed. Some looked slightly amazed when they caught sight of my crown!

I felt a tad self conscious when I first put on my crown but Olivia insisted and so I acquiesced. And you know what? I’m glad I did. When I put on that crown I was a little girl again; I was a princess just like Olivia. The rest of our day was a whirlwind. We visited the hands-on farm, met her daddy for lunch, ate ice cream, and drove to Campbell River to play in the climbing gym. We had supper in a nice restaurant. On the way home when Princess Olivia announced that she wanted to drive home with me and not her mother, I knew the day had been a roaring success.

Princess Day was a magical day for Olivia and for me. It is one that we will always remember. After all, you are only three-and-a-half once.

Take a moment today and look at the world through the eyes of a child. You’ll be amazed how differently you see things. You’ll be surprised at the magic you can find.

And a special note to Princess Olivia: Princess Day will happen again next summer and again the summer after that and the summer after that. You will always be my little princess.




Making time for yourself
Cultivate the peace within
By Kathryn Travers

Rise and Shine! Make breakfast… rush to work or take the kids to school… eat lunch on the go while running errands… work late… dinner to go… fall asleep on the couch…. REPEAT. Sound familiar?

Perhaps your life is not as hectic as this but most of us are living full and busy lives. There are now great demands on our time — work is more demanding and it seems impossible get to the bottom of your in-tray or have a chance to respond to all of your emails. Despite the advancement of technology, our already fast-paced world has sped up. This way of living takes its toll. Now more than ever are we seeing high rates of stress, cardio-vascular disease, obesity, illness and disease.

In order to avoid burn out and to live the rich and full meaningful lives we are all entitled to, we need to ensure that we take care of ourselves and manage our energy so we are well balanced within. But what does it really mean to be in balance?

We all need a healthy balance of time with others, time alone, recreation, and physical activity but what about the very important ‘ingredient’ of peace? Many people feel as though they just do not have time, but in fact by making time to stop, slow down and find a peace within, we actually become more focused, better concentrated and get more done!

But do we stop, slow down and make time for ourselves? Do we create the space to reflect, allow the answers to problems to come to us, or simply just be? Taking time just for you is important, not only for emotional and mental balance, but also to help reduce stress, which in turn enhances immune system function and prevents illness. Are the activities we engage in helping us to become more relaxed, calmer within or do they add to the ‘busy-ness’?

Simply walking in nature and breathing in the fresh air, sitting by the ocean and listening to the sound of the waves crashing on the shore can bring us a sense of renewal and calm. A few minutes flat on your back at the end of the day really helps to revitalize the spine and relax the whole body. Although these are all very therapeutic ways to unwind and let go, our mind is still engaged in the outer world, and our senses are focused on our surroundings.

If we want to truly be more at peace, to overcome stress, have better focus and concentration and feel more in the flow with life, with only a few minutes practice of a Meditative Peace breath, as taught in Meditation Foundation, we can become still within our mind and body. An in-depth meditation, such as Pure Meditation, will give us all that we need to re-connect to the peace inside ourselves and to become more of who we really are.




Music & cake swapped for author’s autograph
Reviewing: The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
By Carma Sacree

Recently my friend Cathy Reckenberg returned from Scotland where she was studying the Scottish fiddle. When I asked her how her trip was, she enthusiastically shared a story with me, knowing that I am an avid reader. It turned out that I not only knew of the author she met, but I had read all of his highly addictive popular novels. I have often thought of reviewing The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith and now I have a fabulous story to accompany it.

Cathy bought the ninth and most recent book, The Miracle at Speedy Motors as a birthday gift for her mother and sent it off to her sister in Montréal where her Mom would be for her birthday. The book never arrived in Canada and sadly it was returned to Scotland with no explanations as to why it was never delivered. A disheartened Cathy, who knew that the author lived in Edinburgh, decided to email him through his website to explain her woes. She asked him if he would be willing to trade his autograph in exchange for her playing him a Canadian fiddle tune and baking him a chocolate zucchini cake.

Amazingly, she received a quick response from his personal assistant and the great man himself stating that he was so amused by the proposal that he felt he had to meet her.
Off went our local music teacher with fiddle and chocolate zucchini cake in hand. She walked past JK Rowling’s and Ian Rankin’s homes, which are on the same street as McCall Smith and arrived at a wide-open front gate and door and was greeted by the author’s sister. Cathy played her Canadian fiddle tune, ate cake with McCall Smith and his family, talked books, had him sign her Mom’s precious copy and was asked to play another tune. He gave her a couple of other signed books, including a limited edition. He explained that he was flying off to Africa that very afternoon after recently returning from Toronto on a book signing tour. Needless to say Cathy’s Mom was thrilled with her gift and couldn’t wait to share the story with her book club.

Each slim novel in the series is set in modern day Botswana, Africa. The wise and instantly loveable protagonist, Mma Precious Ramotswe, is not your average slim and attractive heroine. She opens up the one and only lady detective agency and uses her wisdom, humor and common sense to solve mysteries. These mysteries are not the standard stuff of detective novels but ordinary problems that confront people in their everyday lives. Some of the issues that are addressed in the cases include domestic violence, forgiveness and restitution, clinical depression and AIDS orphans in sub-Saharan Africa.

Equally the novels are about the adventures and foibles of the engaging cast of characters. There is the young Mma Makutsi, whose confidence builds throughout the series. She starts out as the secretary and personal assistant to Precious Ramotswe and branches out in her search for a husband and opens up The Kalahari Typing School For Men. (The fourth book in the series.)

Mr. JLB Matekoni is the honest mechanic and proprietor of Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors who becomes Mma Ramotswe’s suitor and eventual husband. Together they adopt two children from the orphanage east of Gabarone run by the persuasive Mma Potokwane.
My favourite novel is the sixth book called In the Company of Cheerful ladies where Mma Ramotswe’s normally unshakable composure is rattled by a visitor who forces her to confront a difficult secret from her past.

McCall Smith does such an amazing job of bringing these characters to life that I feel as though I have known Mma Ramotswe for a very long time and could easily sit down and share a cup of bush tea with her. Cathy’s experience, on the other hand, was far less fictional in meeting the kind-hearted Mma Ramotswe’s creator.



Business Connections
By Kim Miller

Can you believe that summer is almost over? Christmas will be here in a few months… sorry, did I say that out loud?

Speaking of hot and cold, I recently met the new owners at Dairy Queen but they were so busy that I couldn’t stay to chat with them! The staff were all smiling and enthusiastically making customers happy. The line-up of customers was almost out their door. Business was booming. I went in a second and third time and the line was much the same. Congratulations to new owners Paul and Gerri Hirst for obviously bringing back the much-needed cool treats and hot eats! Dairy Queen is open 10 am to 10 pm.

Marie Forsyth is the new owner of Betty Condon’s Dressmaking & Alterations store at 4548 Marine Avenue. The name over the door will soon be changing soon to Sew-4-U, although the official name will be Marie Forsyth’s Sewing & Alterations. It will stay in the same location with the same phone number 604 485-9069. Betty retired on August 15, but left the operation in good hands. Marie has worked there for seven years. Marie welcomes new and existing customers and says she will be doing all types of sewing and alterations including drapes and cushion covers.

Get ready to catch the wave. Our newest hair salon is opening in October. Susan Adams is the owner of Waves Hair & Body Salon. I stopped by to welcome Susan to the business community and instead found Susan’s mother Ruth, painting the interior walls. The atmosphere they are creating is serene and calming just like the ocean can be and the silk blue walls will help portray that feeling. I caught up later with Susan. She is very enthusiastic about her new business and everything is on schedule for the salon. They will be located at #4, 7030 Glacier Street, right next door to Capone’s Beer & Wine store. The grand opening is at 8 pm on September 26. Opening day will be September 29.

Powell River’s first commercial FM station launched August 27. Sun 95.7 calls itself “the Energy of Powell River.” No more AM scratch plus some great tunes.

Did you get out to the Movie Under the Stars in August? For the second year running the First Credit Union put on a terrific event. Horton Hears a Who was a great choice for families. Thank you to everyone who helped organize the event. Big congratulations to all the Guitar Hero Challenge participants. First place winner was Dean Kyfiuk; second went to Brandon Gleave. Both guys gave outstanding performances. Rock on! Westview Agencies announced a $1,000 donation to the CAT Scan campaign and First Credit Union presented a $10,000 donation.

Congratulations to organizer Julie Bellian who had the great idea for Hot Summer Night’s Market at Willingdon Beach every Thursday night throughout the month of August. So many people, both local and visiting, enjoyed the market which featured everything from local produce and crafts to garage sale items and clothes. Many people are hoping that this initiative will continue next summer.

Upcoming Chamber of Commerce Events

Is your business changing in a way you would like to share with our readers? A new manager or owner? Moving location or renovating or expanding? Maybe you are starting a new business? Call Kim Miller at the Chamber office, 604 485‑4051, to be included in the next issue of Powell River Living. Also, if you would like to get monthly updates and community event invitations, send us your email address and we will include you in our regular e-mailings.




Evolution of Wildwood
Do-it-yourself required
By Gerry Gray

Nothing came easy for the early settlers of Wildwood. It was a “do-it-yourself” life from the get-go. Even getting a piece of land to settle on wasn’t a simple trip to the land surveyors office.

Wildwood: Waiting on the steps in 1914In 1914, the federal government opened a Land Pre-emption program offering thirteen, 20 – 40 acre lots in Wildwood and 14 lots in Westview. The catch was that the titles were going to be issued on a “first come, first served” basis from the Vancouver courthouse within 40 days of the proclamation. About 40 applicants interested in settling in Wildwood or Westview headed for Vancouver to get in line for the 27 parcels of land. They waited 40 days and 40 nights on the steps of the old courthouse. Jimmy Springer, an early Wildwood settler, made a roll call every four hours and if there was no answer the applicant went to the end of the list. Relatives, friends and even rent-a-standees helped fill in when a hopeful needed to leave his spot. Finally the deeds were issued and the lucky 27 headed back home.

The deed issue was only the start. New landowners, looking for their lot boundaries, had to crawl through dense underbrush, over rotting stumps and across marshland to get the geographical location of their new land. It was hard work and took many weeks to get the right location. That was why the district was christened Wildwood — acknowledging the early terrain of the area.

Ten years later, residents, who knew little of the hardships of clearing “wild wood” to establish boundaries, suggested the name be changed to Arbutus Heights. The early pioneers, who knew firsthand the wild growth that had been cleared, shot down this proposal.

The area above the mill was opened like other districts along the West coast. Loggers and hunters made the first forays into the wilderness, then came families, and amenities of an established community soon followed.

Hunters didn’t have much to do with the new settlement but loggers coveted the huge firs and cedars that spread up the slopes towards Sliammon. There was good rapport between natives and the newcomers. Loggers and hunters who drifted into the area were careful to acknowledge the existence of aboriginal boundaries.

Jimmy Springer first logged the area in 1883 but left the district a year later. He returned in 1900 to log for the BC Timber & Trading Co. A fierce forest fire swept through the community in 1904, wiping out logging operations.

In 1915, the Shute brothers acquired a license to take out cedar for shingle bolts. In the same year Brooks-Bidlake built a shingle mill on Powell Lake. Prior to a bridge over the river being constructed in 1916, the company floated the bundles down to a small loading dock at the dam and transported them overland to the mill wharf to be shipped to the Vancouver market.

Now that the river was bridged, Wildwood became more accessible to the rest of what was to become a municipality in 1955. A road was soon carved out of the hillside and wound its way up the steep incline to level ground. Those that used the road often complained about the “treacherous” switchback leading off the bridge. Their complaints evidently have fallen on deaf ears of the years as the “treacherous” switchback is still there… only now it’s paved.

Wildwood children, who were attending Henderson school in the Townsite, were squeezed out by an overflow of local children. MacMillan Bloedel suggested Wildwood form a school district and build their own school. The suggestion was acted upon immediately and an inaugural meeting was held at the home of Mrs. Jacob Andersen with Herb Thomson, Frank Smith and George Beattie, named the first trustees. A one-room school opened in 1922 and within two years another room (a lean-to) was added to the main frame. By 1931 these accommodations were overflowing so the school district sold the building and the four-room James Thomson Elementary School was opened. This school lasted until 1955 when a new, modernized school was opened.

Wildwood Water LineBesides education, the village need electricity and a reliable water system. The do-it-yourself spirit was still the order of the day and the newly organized Wildwood Welfare League formed a committee to map out an electrical system and a water supply route. The three citizens on the committee were: Jack Banham, Herb Thomson and Bob Kurpil.

It was a daunting task and a truly community enterprise. There weren’t any civil servants on hand to give guidance so, again, it was a do-it-yourself project. Banham planned the layout for installation of the electrical lines; Thomson measured all the roads and Korpil looked after the financing.

Built during WWII, money was scarce but in true Wildwood spirit ratepayers dug into their own pockets to defray the cost. Volunteer labour was not hard to come by and the whole community did what they could to make their dream of electricity and available water come true.

The most physical part of the project was clearing a right-of-way to Powell Lake. When the waterline finally pumped water, it was into a huge storage tank built and painted by citizens, saving thousands of dollars from the estimated cost of the project.

With a secure supply of water, the Wildwood Volunteer Fire Department donated a car chassis and proceeded to build an up-to-date piece of fire fighting equipment. Lorne White and Charlie Bombardir were movers and shakers on this community project.

With the water and electricity problems solved, Wildwood’s population burgeoned. By 1950, there were about 450 homes with a population of 1500. Businesses began to take an interest and stores supplying the needs of the community were established. Peter Toigo developed the first hotel and shopping area, and his mother, Mrs. Ernie Toigo, owned a building on the land where the Kurpil store burned down. The old Wildwood Grocery got a facelift and a new name M & M Store. The fire that broke out in Kurpil store spread and threatened to destroy the town. Although the flames were fed by a hot summer wind it was contained to the Sutherland Avenue area near the Lund Highway.

In 1949 many Italians, fleeing from post-war Europe, came to Powell River. Relatives who had come to the West Coast prior to the war sponsored many of the newcomers. Like most immigrants they settled in communities where they knew the language and came from the same backgrounds as their neighbours and that was the case in Wildwood.

Most got jobs in the mill working alongside their friends or relatives. The work they did was mainly in the screen rooms or the grinders and, of course, the language was mainly Italian, which was okay until promotions to lead hands or foremen came along. Then, because of the inability of those in line to read enforced safety rules or communications from the front office, they were passed over for promotion.

The mill’s solution to this was to ask volunteers to go to Wildwood and sit down with some Italian families and teach them the fundamentals of English.

The overall problem was that the Italian community had become so closely integrated that wives didn’t have to speak English and, naturally, their spouses spoke Italian in the home. Even their recreational needs were met at the Italian Hall.

The problem soon solved itself when discussed and workers realized that the lingua franca in the mill was English. They hit the books and soon many became not only leaders in their job setting, but valuable members of the entire Powell River community.

A chat with Mary Bombardir, who came with her mother to be with their father in Lund in 1923, outlines the whole mosaic of the influence Italians had on the growth of Powell River. She seems to be related in one way or another to nearly all the citizens of Italian extraction and offered to name all those who were living today in Wildwood.

To really catch the Italian flavour, attend the beach picnic commemorating the National Day of Italy, held annually at Kent’s Beach. Red, white and green flags fly, national songs play all day and, of course, bocce is the game of the day and everyone has a pitch. Pasta seems top be on every plate and talking is incessant. It’s truly a lovely place to be.

Not to be overlooked in this national fervour are the individual names of a few who helped make Powell River what it is today. Pete Toigo developed the first hotel and shopping mall in Westview. His son, Ron, is part owner of the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League. Speaking of hockey, Brad Bombardir played for the New Jersey Devils when they won the Stanley Cup. He’s now working in the front office of the Minnesota Wild. Many more citizens contributed to the city: the Mantoanis, Devitas, Elio Cossarrin. Many, many more contributed but remain unnamed here because of limited space.




The Clock Elves
Meet Tick and Tock
By George Campbell

I bought the clock for our 15th anniversary. It was 1965; we were living in this older two-story, seven-room house on Willingdon Street in Powell River and I thought the clock would look good on our dining room wall. It would fit right in with our home and the rest of our furnishings, which were mostly antiques. Many of them were imitation antiques, mind you, but everything in the place had an old-fashioned look to it. Except of course, Rena and I and our three boys. Rena and I were only 36, and our sons ranged in age from 14 to just over two years.

I saw the clock in the display window of a place called, “The Clock Shop,” in Park Royal. It was hanging on the back wall of the display window and looked really grand with a beautifully carved wooden case and a big brass pendulum that swung majestically back and forth beneath it. The clock was about a meter long and a third of a meter wide. This was a real time piece, not one of those battery operated or electric jobs. This beauty had springs and gears. So, I bought the clock and gave it to Rena for our fifteenth wedding anniversary, and over the years friends and relatives have admired and checked the time on it.

It hangs today in the living room of the third house we have owned since I bought it, way back in’65, and it still rings out the hours steadily, reliably, and right on time. Two of the reasons this clock has remained so reliable and accurate is, Tick and Tock, our resident clock elves.

Now, I realize that many people have never even heard of a clock elf, let alone seen one, so let me explain. A few years after we got the clock, Rena was involved in the craft group at our church. Among the many things she made for sale at the annual church bazaar were these tiny men, dolls really, from scraps of felt and wooden beads. They had such things as pinecones or a child’s alphabet block for torsos, a large wooden bead with a face painted on it for a head, and the scraps of felt for arms and legs. They were very small, just a few inches tall, and were more for decoration than anything else.

When she showed them to me I saw immediately that they were clock elves. I persuaded her to let me have two of them, whom I christened, Tick and Tock. I placed these little fellows on the clock’s ledge just below the face but above the pendulum, and there they have sat for the past 40 years. During these years, whenever any of my five grandchildren have visited, I told them the following story:

“These guys are Grandpa’s clock elves and their job is to look after this clock. Their names are Tick and Tock. Every night when we are fast asleep, Tick and Tock come to life and start cleaning and polishing the clock. Tick works on the inside, oiling the machinery that makes the clock go, and Tock works on the outside, washing the clock’s face and hands and dusting the case.”

Recently, I have been able to share this story with my first great grandchild, Andrew. I am hoping to be able to be around long enough to share it with my other two great grandchildren, Scotty and Gwen. This may take some doing on my part, as next year I turn eighty, and on my 80th birthday Gwen will be only one year old.

In case I don’t make it, I am leaving this poem in the clock. I like to think that Tick and Tock will get a kick out of it, too.

Tick and Tock
I know two tiny little elves
Whose names are Tick and Tock.
They’re just five centimetres tall
And live inside my clock.
They keep it running night and day
And each one knows his place.
Tick greases up the gears and springs.
Tock polishes the face.
But sometimes I forget to wind
My clock upon the wall.
Then Tick and Tock both disappear
And can’t be heard at all.




Opera returns to Powell River
The Met Live in HD at Max Cameron Theatre
By John Silver

Following its highly successful 2007/08 inaugural season, Max Cameron Theatre is again presenting high definition broadcasts of operas live from the stage of New York’s Metropolitan Opera.

The expanded season will bring ten operas (last season there were eight) between October 2008 and the beginning of May 2009. The repertoire stretches from the 18th century (Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice) to the 21st (John Adams’ Dr Atomic, which focuses on the development of the atomic bomb and was first performed in 2005).

Popular artists returning from last season include (2007/08 roles in brackets) Karita Mattila (Manon Lescaut) in the tile role of Richard Strauss’ blood curdling Salome, Angela Gheorghiu (Mimi) and Roberto Alagna (Roméo) in Puccini’s La Rondine, Anna Netrebko (Juliette) as the ill-fated heroine of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor and Natalie Dessay (the sensational Marie of La fille du régiment) in Bellini’s coloratura tour-de-force, La Sonnambula.

Further treats are in store as the artists’ lineup also includes Canadian Gerald Finley, one of the world’s leading baritones, in the title role of Dr Atomic, Susan Graham as Marguerite and Canada’s John Relyea in Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust and Renée Fleming, who introduced a number of last season’s broadcasts, in the tile role of Massenet’s Thaïs, a production that also includes Canada’s fine lyric tenor Michael Schade.

There is something for everybody — drama, tragedy, comedy — and always great music. Some of the operas will have traditional sets and costumes while others have the settings moved to periods later than suggested by the original stories.

Multiple camera locations are used for the broadcasts enabling the audience watching on-screen to have many close-ups of the singers. During intermissions there are interviews with the main singers and also fascinating tours of backstage activity as sets are changed.

New to this season are background talks on the operas given by John Silver. The talks, which will include extensive DVD and/or CD excerpts, will be presented at Brooks Secondary School, 6 – 8 pm, on the Mondays preceding the respective Saturday opera broadcasts.

The operas in New York are Saturday matinees and this means starting times in Powell River are 10 am for most performances. Two performances, however, are earlier, one starting at 9 am and one at 9:30 am.

Tickets for individual opera performances or packages of performances are available from the Academy of Music (604 485-9633). Tickets for the opera talks are available from Vancouver Island University (formerly Malaspina University-College) Continuing Education (604 485-2878). The opera talks are available with or without tickets for the opera performances.




Whittling art out of wood
Local carver would rather make a carver than carve
By Gerry Gray

Whittling is perhaps one of the oldest forms of art. Carved replicas of man’s progress throughout the ages have been discovered in nearly every “dig” archaeologists have probed. In our own lives, at least before the advent of television, cell phones and such, most young boys were inadvertently whittlers. Remember the first slingshot you made? A forked twig, cut from the mother tree with a pocket knife. Handles carved to size and tines evenly measured. This was the first step in to the wonderful world of whittling. For some that was the end. Interests went in other directions, but for others, like Ron Hunter, for instance, it became a lifetime creative hobby.

Ron Hunter“There was no TV when I was young so I whittled. I got interested in carving and just as interested in what other people were doing. I would watch one of BC’s great carvers, Mungo Martin, at work and he was impressive. He went to Victoria and carved artifacts in the provincial museum. We moved to Esquimalt shortly after that and I had a good opportunity to see some of the work carvers had done in different areas of the Capital.”

“It’s such a wonderful and creative experience I spend most of my spare time attending gatherings that attract youngsters and I put on a carving display. I carve little hatchets that only take about a minute, but I give them to the kids so they can have something material to take away. Last year, in Campbell River, I carved 300 hatchets and I am hoping a few will be inspired to take up whittling seriously!”

Hunter pauses for a moment. “A couple of times a year Betty Wilson, a James Thomson teacher, asks me to come up and put on a short seminar for her class. I love doing things like that. I try to impart the enthusiasm that I have for the art. It must work because I am still invited to the school. I also tell them about the tools needed for carving and how they are made. Scrap metal can be sharpened and used as a knife and wood is always plentiful on our beaches or around construction sites. It’s not an expensive hobby.”

I asked him if there were many groups which meet on regular basis to talk about their hobby. “There are lots of these throughout the province but the Powell River club is the best.” “Why is that,” I asked? “No regular meetings, no committees, no having to elect and executive. Just a simple structure: You meet a fellow carver and that’s a meeting,” he replied.

Hunter took me on a tour of his workshop and works in progress in his home at Five Firs. He carves masks, faces and various other inspirational works. “The trick is you have to have a good supply of sharp knives. Small, scooped, straight and heavy and all made of good steel.” He showed me a small knife with a concave blade. ‘That is fashioned after beavers’ teeth. Before steel became available they were used for hollowing out parts of totem poles.

“Bob Marquis, Mike Brown and I went to Thompson, Manitoba a few years ago to put on a show. Bob Marquis demonstrated to the Manitobans what a typical BC logger looked like and Mike did chainsaw carving. I whittled. The show was a big hit to say the least.”

West Coast carving is considered the best in the world, according to Hunter. “Our coastal tribes had the time to be creative because food was always at their fingertips. Eastern tribes were either hunting or fighting and didn’t have much time for carving. On the Coast styles were developed, subjects explored and competitions provided motivation. These traits have been passed on down mainly because Salish tribes were not nomadic and families stayed together for generations.”

“Another plus for coastal carvers was that they were the first to get steel to make carving knives. Planks from ships wrecked in storms off the West Coast of Vancouver Island often washed up on the shore. These planks usually contained square headed spikes that were soon turned into knives to be used both for hunting and carving,” he said.

Obviously Ron Hunter’s interest in carving and whittling goes far beyond modern creativity and more into historic information.




A taste of Toastmasters
Toastmasters can and does change lives
By Isabelle Southcott

How can a club that teaches you public speaking and leadership skills change your life? People consider joining Toastmasters to become better communicators, improve their presentations, or be better leaders. You may want to improve in all these areas. If this is the case, you’ve come to the right place because Toastmasters can and does change lives.

We all have our own reasons for joining Toastmasters. Some of us join to improve our communication skills and in the process our self-confidence improves. When we begin, we are afraid to stand up and speak out. We believe people will think we are stupid; that we don’t have anything worthwhile to say. We are scared that we’ll trip over our tongues and fall flat on our face.

We realize that our fear of public speaking is holding us back in our personal and professional lives. We realize that we need to do something about it.

Sunshine Speakers Toastmasters in Powell River is a supportive environment where people can and do learn new skills that help them in all walks of life.

I am just one of thousands of people who can attest to the fact that this remarkable organization can help you grow and reach goals that at one time seemed unattainable. But don’t just take my word for it; keep reading and see what Jay, Neil, Deb and Barb have to say about Toastmasters.

Jay Yule, Powell River’s Superintendent of schools, was so intimidated of speaking in front of large audiences that he would spend nights without sleeping preceding an event or find any way he could to avoid the situation.

Jay remembers one incident in particular that was the catalyst for him joining Toastmasters. It was when he had to introduce Pauline Galinski, school board chairwoman, to an audience. Jay was so nervous that he was unable to sleep for three nights before the introduction. He felt paralyzed by his fear but he was smart enough to know that this wouldn’t be the last time he’d be called upon to speak in public. Rather than let public speaking hold him back in his professional and personal life, he decided to conquer the fear by joining Toastmasters three years ago.

Neil McKenzie joined Toastmasters nine year ago on a dare. “I was terrified of public speaking. I would go to meetings and want to speak out but I would be so scared that I’d lose my voice.”

Toastmasters helped Neil overcome his fear of public speaking. Neil has his Competent Toastmaster Silver and has done well in speaking contests. Today Neil is comfortable speaking in front of large groups of people.

Educator Deb Calderon joined Toastmasters 12 years ago when she was launching her own speaking/seminar business in the Vancouver. “I needed to polish up my presentation skills so I joined Toastmasters,” says Deb, who recently moved back to Powell River.

“The evaluation process of having people give you really good feedback can launch you further in your career.”

Deb is known for her quick sense of humour and won second in the Humorous Speech Contest at the District Level and has won the Evaluation Contest at the District Level.
President Barb Rees, a member for seven years, describes how Toastmasters helped her.

“After being a manager of a clothing line, I dreamed of becoming a motivational speaker. At the same time I read a book on how to make dreams come true and find my purpose in life.”
Barb started her own business and wrote her own book in the same year and then realized she needed to learn how to speak in public.

“I joined Toastmasters in 2001, went to my first speech contest that fall and won all the way to BC divisional. The next spring I became president.”

Barb has particularly enjoyed serving on the executive. “I learn something new at every meeting, even from the new members. Following the projects in the manuals has made me a better speaker. I know I wouldn’t have the confidence to speak in front of hundreds of people at RV shows without Toastmasters.”

People join Toastmasters to learn how to speak in public. They learn those skills but it is the fun, supportive atmosphere and the great people who attend Toastmasters that keep many coming back year after year after year.





Faces of Education
Teaching Kindergarten is the best job of all

Gina DeVries thinks she has the best job a teacher can have.

“I’ve taught kindergarten for most of my teaching career,” says DeVries, “and I love it.”

DeVries loves being around the School District’s youngest students. “They always have really good questions and they always have something interesting to say and they come with such enthusiasm!” she smiles.

Gina DeVriesDeVries began teaching in 1975 and moved to Powell River in 1987. She took time off to be with her own children when they were young and worked at Sliammon Development Centre for six years.
Her days teaching kindergarten are action packed and never boring. “I present a lot of information through music and we do a lot of singing, finger play and poems.” DeVries enjoys playing the piano and has seen the benefits of being able to incorporate music into learning.

At the kindergarten level, learning is all play based, as that is how young children learn. The school district’s kindergarten curriculum covers a broad range of subjects including math, language arts, music, computer time, Roots of Empathy, and library time. “I think that sometimes, people forget at that age children need to play. Behind what may look like chaos there is actually planning that people are not aware of.”

DeVries says it is her job to make learning fun so children look forward to trying new things. “I provide the materials, the experience and the direction and hopefully it is a good experience.”

Because it takes time to get to know each student the School District has implemented a staggered entry program for kindergarten students for the first week of school. Although children come to the school in June, meet their teacher, see the classroom and are given a tour of the building, coming to school for the first time is a big step in a five-year-old’s life. “To be there by themselves for the first time with no mom or dad or brother or sister is a big event. They need to put their trust in me, feel safe with me, and then the learning can begin.”

Not all children are at exactly the same level when they begin school as they have had different experiences in their first five years and come from different families. “When you start working with kids you realize it is at different paces for everyone, not everyone is learning at the same time or learning the same thing.”

You have to try different approaches and teaching techniques, as what works with one child won’t work with another. “Children learn in different ways. Just because one child is a visual learner doesn’t mean that the child sitting next to him learns in the same way.”

DeVries remembers something that a pediatrician told her about children learning. It was so profound that it has stayed with her to this very day. “Just because you are at the front of the room talking does not mean that all the children are listening.”

Kindergarten is also a time of socialization. Children learn how to walk down the hall in a line, they learn to focus on the teacher, they learn to sit and listen and they learn to try new things, and they learn how to be with one another in a classroom setting.

“You observe the children making friends and their parents come to me and say that their son or daughter is beginning to arrange playdates! They are taking steps out beyond home.”

This stepping out goes even further as it is often during the kindergarten year that children suddenly realize that they are not the centre of the universe.

“It is a great age. They are busy but that is why you can do so much with them. They have that energy! If they are tired, once they have a 15-minute break and a snack they are ready to go again.”

DeVries knows how important it is for children to work through situations. “I remember one year, a little boy’s dog died. We have a “house” set up in the classroom and in the house situation they played the scene of the dog dying for the longest time. One child would play the dog and the other children would play the family. This boy needed time to work through his dog dying.”

Although children can do many things by the time they reach kindergarten it is important to remember that they are only five years old. “Because they are only five you have to carefully plan their days.”

It’s the different personalities, the families and getting to know each and every one of her students that keeps the love of kindergarten burning bright for DeVries. It’s those “aha!” moments of meeting the mom or dad of one of her students and suddenly seeing the resemblance in looks or speech patterns that makes it so special for this kindergarten teacher.








Explore Powell River


September 2008: Click to enlarge
Orchids of Powell River
by Rod Innes