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Playing with Fire The life of glass artist Robert Held

Solar Powered

With retired scientist Derrick Grimmer

Beyond the Lens Paul Nicklen & Cristina Mittermeier: How images can help change the world

Loco 4 Local

Guest columnist: Patrick Simpson

Spring 2015

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Spring Edition


hen you were in high school carefully planning out the rest of your life (or not), is this what you imagined you’d be doing at this stage in your life? I’m going to guess probably not. It’s an interesting topic of conversation, and a theme I noticed in a number of our Spring articles. Plans change. The unexpected happens. One thing leads to another, and before you know it you’re on a completely different path than you ever thought possible. It happened to me in my early twenties. In high school, my plan was to head to Australia and become a travel writer. I took a detour to Calgary to make some money as a server and get some of my journalism degree under my belt. Soon a friend and I from the pub I worked at began planning a trip to Australia. We would talk about it every shift, where we would go and what we would do. And then I met a boy. He had already lived in Australia and regaled me with wonderful tales from his travels. We fell in love and soon he convinced me to travel and work in Europe with him instead of going to Australia. But I had to break the news to my friend from the pub. I sheepishly approached her one afternoon and blurted out that I planned to travel with Chris to Europe instead of going to Australia. To my surprise, she looked relieved. She had also fallen in love, and was planning a trip to South Africa with her new boyfriend. Many other interesting detours have happened along the way, and Chris and I are now married with two children. But the writing part wasn’t too far off... Enjoy some of the wonderful decisions the subjects of our articles have made, and how it has brought them to the intriguing places they are today. And don’t forget that some of life’s best moments are unplanned. Have a great trip to Europe Candace Wu! (Oasis writer).

- Lissa Alexander



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Lissa Alexander

Originally from Qualicum Beach, she completed her journalism training in Calgary.


Peter McCully

Photographer, publisher & broadcaster who has worked on both coasts.

Candace Wu

A Vancouver Island journalist and photographer.

Linda Matteson-Reynolds Her photojournalism career began while in Kuwait.


Brenda Gough

A journalist for more than 30 years, she’s been in this area for 20 years.

Linda Tenney

A local writer, editor, photographer and publisher.

Patrick Simpson

Our Spring Guest Food Columnist.

Publisher Peter McCully Editor Lissa Alexander Advertising Steve Weldon Design & Production


Spring Edition 2015


Stuff 2 Do


Playing with Fire


Loco 4 Local


Solar Power


Just Sayin’


Beyond the Lens



Great local Spring events around the community.

Acclaimed glass artist Robert Held shares his story. Patrick Simpson divulges what’s hot at What’s Cooking.

A local couple opens the doors to their solarpowered home. An outlook on life with Linda Tenney, the publisher of Eyes on BC Magazine.

Renowned photographers Cristina Mittermeier and Paul Nicklen create a legacy.

Question & Answer with Peter Mason, a Qualicum Bay legend.

Peggy Sidbeck, Brad Everest

Circulation Laurie Fairbanks Cover Photo Linda Matteson-Reynolds SPRING 2015


4-154 Middleton Ave. Parksville BC, V9K 1X3 PH: 250-248-4341 FX: 250-248-4655 Oasis magazine is published quarterly by the Black Press. The points of views and opinions expressed herein are those of authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher of Oasis. The contents of Oasis are protected by copywright, including the designed advertising. Reproduction is prohibited without written consent of the publisher.





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Stuff Do Brant Wildlife Festival: This two-month long celebration of nature wraps up on April 30. There is still time to get in on the Spring Lecture series called The Sea Among Us, and a Hamilton Marsh Tour.


Rhododendron Bloom: April 25 - May 10 at Milner Gardens & Woodland. Come and behold an incredible sight, as these fabulous bushes put on their best show.


Echo Players Theatre: Fallen Angels is a classic Noel Coward comedy set in London in 1925. The show runs May 14 - 31 at the Village Theatre in Qualicum Beach.


Fire and Ice Street Festival: May 2 in Qualicum Beach. 11 am - 3 pm. Taste chili and other hot foods throughout the downtown while perusing stunning ice sculptures.


Nanoose Bay Studio Tour Spring Showcase: May 2 - 3 from 10 am - 4 pm. View incredible work from the Nanoose Bay Studio Tour Artists and guest artists at Nanoose Place. Free admission.


Mother’s Day Weekend Garden Tour: May 9 - 10 from 10 am - 4 pm. Stroll through magnificent gardens located around the area. Hosted by the Mount Arrowsmith Rhododendron Society. Tickets $15 at local garden centres, good for both days.


Vancouver Island International Tribute Festival: May 22 - 24 at the Parksville Community and Conference Centre. Renowned tribute acts from around the world will dazzle the crowds.


Qualicum Beach Family Day: May 31. Shriners breakfast, community parade, and an afternoon of interactive games on the Civic Centre fields.


Father’s Day Show n’ Shine: June 19 - 21, in Qualicum Beach, a weekend of events culminating with the car show on Sunday from 7:30 am to 2:30 pm.



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Playing WITH FIRE W hen it came to retirement Robert Held blew it.

The acclaimed glass artist had every intention of kicking back and settling into his golden years when he turned 70, and he began by closing the doors to his glass blowing studio in Vancouver.

But the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry particularly when Cupid’s arrow is involved. According to the world renowned artist who has had studios in some of the biggest cities in Canada, it was Held’s love that prompted him to leave the bustling metropolis of Vancouver and move to Parksville. “In 2008 things in my life changed. I met a lovely lady from Parksville. I had been doing the weekend thing to visit her and then I decided to retire from the big city and I moved here,” he explains.



Held moved to Parksville in June 2013 but he couldn’t sit still for long and his retirement lasted about a week. The empty Quonset hut by the Orange Bridge sparked his curiosity and prompted Held to re-establish his company in February 2014.

Story by Brenda Gough Photography by Peter McCully

What is interesting about his move to Parksville is the studio where he is now playing with fire is almost identical to the first one he ever built back in his twenties, but Held’s interesting story begins before that.

THE ART OF GLASS BLOWING Born and raised in Santa Ana California, Held aspired to be an artist from an early age. His father, a sculptor, only lived for six years of his son’s life, but passed on the talent and appreciation of art. “Since I was in the fifth grade I knew that art was what I was going to do. I was going to be an artist since I can remember,” says Held. He began his quest to create beauty in form and colour with paintings in high school. Held then pursued an art career in ceramics after obtaining a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts at the University of Southern California. >>>

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>>> Upon graduating he was offered a position as Head of Ceramics at a college being built in Ontario and became the youngest department head at the Sheridan College - School of Design. In 1968, after a visit to the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina, Held discovered a new love: the art of glassblowing. He returned to Sheridan College inspired and succeeded in launching Canada’s first college level hot glass program in 1969, which allowed many artists to become skilled in the medium, and crowned Held as the pioneer of art glass in Canada. “The very first building I built at Sheridan was a Quonset hut building.” He says that first glass blowing studio was smaller than the one he is in now, but his new location is reminiscent of it and, in a sense, has brought him full circle.

SHINING A LIGHT ON THE ORANGE BRIDGE A lot has happened to Held since he moved to Parksville. SPRING 2015


He is now happily married and his glass art business is bustling. He has built up quite a local following and his studio has become iconic. In fact, Held has been one of the driving forces behind the revitalization of the South Parksville industrial Orange Bridge area. >>>

>>> Prior to Held moving into the neighbourhood, Donna Andres of Lady’s Mantle had been working diligently to bring attention to an area of town that hadn’t really been on people’s radar. Held says Andres encouraged him to approach the Parksville and District Chamber of Commerce for assistance in beautifying the area and after some minor improvements he said they now have a little more prominence in the city. “We are starting to be known. We will keep trying to revitalize the area. The city gave us flower containers and we hope to get some more to continue to spruce up the area,” he explains When Held isn’t in the hot shop at the back of his building, he is planning new designs and tweaking his storefront. At the front of the hut there are shelves displaying his colourful vases, bowls, paper weights and other pieces including his multi-coloured glass bubbles. The orbs managed to catch the attention of one of the owners of the Qualicum Beach Inn and secured Held a big commission job.

200 BUBBLES AND OTHER WORKS Held’s glass ball sculpture, which features 200 unique bubbles in different colours, is one of the centre pieces of the Inn and graces an entire wall in the CView restaurant. Held was also commissioned by the Parksville Beach Festival to create the trophies for the Quality Foods Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition and Exhibition. He says that creating those pieces and being part of such an amazing community event really solidified his standing in the community and he now feels comfortable calling Parksville home. “It is fantastic being part of the Parksville Qualicum Beach community. Last summer we were so well received. I didn’t know what to expect coming from downtown Vancouver and millions of tourists. This is not a sleepy little town and the number of tourists that came in last summer was phenomenal,” he admits. Held’s glass work is recognized world-wide and many of his pieces have been chosen for prestigious awards. His work can be found in major collections including Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the II and at the Governor General’s residence in Ottawa. Another feather in Held’s cap came last September when he received a Tourism Vancouver Island (TVI) award. The FortisBC Award, which the TVI said recognizes a business or organization that utilizes natural gas in their tourism-related operation, was presented to Held for converting an empty, run-down mechanic shop into an expansive studio that welcomes visitors and locals alike. Held says he was honoured to be selected for the trophy. “I am one of the largest gas users in the city I would think. We put in a whole new meter, probably one of the biggest meters those guys have ever seen. I am running five pieces of equipment off of it all the time,” he explains. Held says even though he may be in his seventies, he is still going gangbusters and has no intention of slowing down any time soon. “I am more excited and more interested in getting this place going. I don’t want to get bigger but I do want to refine what we are doing. I want to do more glass blowing and I want to design some brand new things.”

Photos: page 10, Robert held blowing glass in his workshop, right, two of his handmade vases. Pages 12-13: Held in his studio in Parksville, bottom, working with glass



Visit Robert Held Art Glass at 708 East Island Hwy. in Parkville. For hours and more information, visit his website or call 250-586-4353.




LOCO 4 LOCAL GRILLED ASPARAGUS WITH LEMON HERB BUTTER Grilled asparagus is easy, delicious and excellent hot off the grill. The addition of a fresh herb butter and you’ve got a winner worthy of the king or queen of the grill! Look for asparagus with thick firm stalks and deep green or purplish tips. INGREDIENTS 1lb fresh asparagus ¼ cup Extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp kosher salt Lemon Herb butter, to serve

Heat your BBQ grill to medium. Trim off the tough bottoms of the spears by grasping each end and bending it gently until Guest Food Columnist it snaps at its natural point of tenderness. Place the spears in PATRICK SIMPSON a zip-close plastic bag. Add the oil and massage the spears to coat very well. Sprinkle in the salt and massage again. Leave the asparagus in the bag until ready to cook. Place the spears on the cooking grate crosswise so they won’t fall through the grates. Grill for 5 to 8 minutes, turning occasionally to expose all sides to the heat. Remove from the grill and serve immediately with lemon butter. Serves 4.

LEMON BUTTER 2 shallots, minced 2 tablespoons white wine 1 cup unsalted butter, softened 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley Zest of ½ small lemon ½ teaspoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon flaked sea salt 1/8 teaspoon white pepper

In a small bowl, combine the shallots and white wine. Let soak for 30 minutes. Drain. In a medium bowl, mash or stir the butter until it is smooth and slightly fluffy. Add the wine-soaked shallots, the parsley, lemon zest, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix well using the back of a fork. Add salt and pepper to taste. Using a large rectangle of parchment paper,

For the love of food

place the butter onto the center forming a log shape. Roll the butter in the parchment and form a round log. Tightly twist ends to seal. Refrigerate until firm. Can be made in advance and stored tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to a week and in the freezer for up to three months. Wonderful on almost any grilled vegetable. Butter Recipe makes enough for 16.

Guest columnist Patrick Simpson is the owner of What’s Cooking in Qualicum Beach. Drop by the store at 177 West 2nd Ave. or call 250-752-8744 for more information.

what we need to help our “inner chef”? We are surrounded by massive amounts of advertising. Sometimes, making a decision becomes very difficult because there is literally too much choice. What I advise, is finding someone you trust to guide you. Regardless of what it is you want, talk to a great butcher, baker, or someone at an outdoor gardening store who you believe knows what they are talking about. Seek out these experts, listen to them, be loyal to them, it makes your buying decisions so much easier and more rewarding. We are so lucky to live in a community that is big enough to have a wonderful selection of great places to shop, but small enough to get to know the people that work in, or run these great local businesses. What’s hot - For the gourmet foodie, the hottest tool for the kitchen over the past six months has been the vegetable Spiralizer. This tool is revolutionizing the

way we eat our veggies. It is so simple, you take a bunch of zucchini, carrots or just about any other raw vegetable (which are naturally low in calories) crank them through a Spiralizer, and eat the thin spaghetti-shaped vegetable ribbons – raw or cooked with spaghetti sauce, stir fries, soups and salads. These unprocessed, whole vegetables are fun to make, delicious, and good for you. For the sweet tooth - True tart pans are so hard to find. Perfect for baking lemon tarts, canapés and even little Yorkshire puddings, our new pans feature perforated holes within each of the individual bases, which ensures every pastry is crusty and crisp. Regardless of the style of cuisine you and yours love, the spring and early summer in Oceanside will offer you an endless selection of fresh choices. Take advantage of this bounty and enjoy your next foodie adventure.


The next best thing to eating food is talking about it, and we all do our fair share of that, especially at What’s Cooking. I love the chatter; the passion; how customers who don’t know each other join into conversation. The love of food, something we all have in common. As we approach the middle of spring, people seem to be in a better frame of mind. The talk turns into ideas about the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables soon to be available. There is so much going on around here, great local markets, a growing specialty food scene with the addition of Eat Fresh in Parksville, and the new beautiful Save on Foods. These along with all the TV food shows, food magazines and of course the wonderful world of Google, there is no end to the supply of new ideas on what to eat, where to get it, and how to prepare it. Finding your inner chef - So how do we sort through all this info on where to buy

Patrick Simpson demonstrates a vegetable Spiralizer. PHOTO: Lissa Alexander



THE POWER OF Story and photos by Linda Matteson-Reynolds



Photovoltaic (PV) systems are rapidly gaining popularity in Canada, and Errington residents Derrick Grimmer and Lynne Brookes can lay claim to one of the largest residential solar-powered homes and systems in our region.

tal movement right out of grad school, Grimmer worked for eight and a half years with a Solar Energy Group in New Mexico. Since then and throughout his career, he has being trying to make an impact in the field of photovoltaics.

With rising electricity costs and the increased environmental awareness of homeowners, the demand for residential PV systems is increasing throughout British Columbia and Canada.


Grimmer is a Ph.D. Alternative Energy Consultant, retired scientist in solar photovoltaic research, and co-founder of thin film technologies PowerFilm.Solar products from Iowa. Joining the environmen-

A photovoltaic (PV) system is used to convert sunlight into electricity. It uses solar panels composed of solar cells to create a safe, reliable, low-maintenance source of solar electricity that environmentally produces no on-site pollutants or emissions. Grimmer explains, “PV systems fall into two main categories, ‘off-grid’ and ‘grid-

connected’. Our Errington home is a utility grid-connected system.” An on-grid or grid-tied solar photovoltaic system is when the solar photovoltaic system is connected to a utility source or electrical service provider like B.C. Hydro. You only pay for the amount of electricity you consume. An off-grid or standalone photovoltaic system is when the solar photovoltaic system is not connected to the utility grid and you are producing your own electricity. These systems will generally have a dedicated battery bank in order to store the electricity for future use. >>>

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>>> In 2014 the Grimmer-Brookes’ Errington home was part of the Regional District of Nanaimo’s Green Building series and tour. With over 60 participants, Derrick and Lynne happily opened their home and shared their knowledge in both solar thermal and power technologies, along with their entire experience of planning, installing and living with their 83-panel solar system.

LESSONS LEARNED One of the first steps to any type of effort to get off the grid is to know the land you live in. Being familiar with the weather conditions of your area is the first step. “Living on the B.C. coast during the winter months is wet and dreary and not the best time to be collecting solar energy but it’s doable,” states Grimmer. For comparison, yearly PV potential in Vancouver rates at 1009 kWh/kW, Toronto: 1161 kWh/kW and Cairo, Egypt: 1635 kWh/kW. “The only real guidelines are: do your homework and jump in when you feel the technology, timing and finances are comfortable for you,” advises Grimmer. In Canada, as of 2009, 90 per cent of PV systems were in off-grid applications such as navigational aids, telecommunication systems and rural homesteading; however, the number of grid-connected systems continues to grow rapidly. Many of the barriers to interconnection have been addressed through the adoption of harmonized standards and codes within each province. As the growth of photovoltaics fits an exponential curve, prices for PV systems have rapidly declined in recent years. However, they vary by market and the size of the system.



PV systems may not be cost-effective in our area now; however, there are a wide variety of reasons why BC homeowners are considering generating some portion — if not all — of their energy requirements using PV systems. It is far cheaper to save a kilowatt-hour than to produce one. “Solar PV is such a rapidly evolving industry that much of what was incorporated into our now two-year-old system has changed,” admits Grimmer. “On the other hand, by not waiting, we have collected over 42 MWh of solar electric energy in the last >>> two years.”


STORE IT The question of battery storage is something that has been on Grimmer’s mind over the past year. With the grid-tied approach, B.C. Hydro buys his excess power and gives credit to his account. During the summer, his bill is $0.00. With the purchase of storage batteries, these savings would spill over to the winter months. Although well-armed with backup generators, the use of an on-site battery system would be able to supply electricity during utility power outages. “Storage is the now and happening thing,” states Grimmer.

With three types of storage batteries to choose from, price and longevity are the key factors in determining Grimmer’s decision. The Lead-Acid battery is the cheapest and lasts only four – six years. The Lithium Ion is 50 per cent more expensive but gives you 10 years. By far, the longest lasting and most expensive, is the Edison battery. This 100 year-old technology is big, bulky and difficult to store in colder climes but will provide 25 years of storage and reliable service. The jury is still out on the system Grimmer will finally be choosing, and much of their decision is the cost factor, and when they’ll be seeing a return on that investment.

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PAY BACK “People constantly ask me about payback or payoff of PV systems,” states Grimmer. He equates it to the purchase of a top-ofthe-line utility truck and shelling out $60 grand at point of sale. Thirty years later you’re left with nothing but scrap metal. But with a PV system, you’re ahead of the game. “It’s all a question of what people want to spend their money on,” states Grimmer. Aside from the obvious economic advantages of PV systems, life on their 10-acre Errington property yields an abundance of foodstuffs from their vegetable garden, and even satiates the wildlife. Brookes designed the property in harmony with a wetland forest. There are a series of three-tiered rain gardens with a mixture of native and non-native plants strategically placed to maximize their water needs and usage. Grimmer feels that after 40 years in the business, he is truly showing that he can talk-the-talk, and walk-the-walk by living his dream. His use of solar power helps him make a difference in the way that he addresses climate change and his impact/ carbon footprint on the environment. “The reality is that truly escaping the grid is not an easy feat,” states Grimmer. “The more steps you can take, the more you cut your costs in the long run.” Keep in mind that there are cheap and gradual methods to achieve these goals out there. In the meantime, like Grimmer, celebrate all the independence you can get from the constraints of modern society. Photos: Page 16, Lynne & Derrick at their home in Errington. Page 18, Sunroom with large banks of windows and tiled floors capturing the warmth from the midday and afternoon sun. Page 19, Derrick with PowerFilm Solar©. This product is a reliable, compact and lightweight solar panel offering high performance solar power in extreme environments and designed for applications such as camping and backpacking.

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Day-to-day life and living energy efficient has become second nature to Grimmer’s family. Lights are never left on, doors of unused rooms are closed, and through her design of the house, Brookes incorporated large banks of windows to naturally light and heat many of the rooms. Tiled floors conduct the heat well and add thermal storage. From outward appearances, the

home seems like any another: toaster-oven and coffee maker on the kitchen counter, plenty of power tools in the garage. There are no obvious, visible signs that they live any differently than on-grid folks, and every morning Grimmer is tied to his computer like many other households. His online solar-power monitoring system gives him their personal electricity generation and consumption minute-by-minute.



Story & Photo by Linda Tenney

Enjoy the day as it unfolds, without assigning units of measure to its natural cycle.


he National Physical Laboratory’s (NPL) Caesium Fountain atomic clock located in England is accurate to within one second in every 158 million years. I’d say that’s impressive. In fact, it’s downright astounding! I can personally guarantee that none of the four clocks in my home are sync’d to the correct ‘world’ time. Nope, not one. They’re not even synchronized to each other!

little second every 158 million years. I hardly understand the science of an atomic clock, and really wonder if I need to.

lost hikers right here on Vancouver Island. Einstein said: “The speed at which time passes depends on where you are in the Universe and how fast you are moving.”

Let Time Be

As I ‘sprung forward’ this season, I pondered time. Just like you, I use it every day but really know nothing about it. The what and why of it. Writing this article became a headspinning exercise in scientific research and terminology, and all because I was curious about the seconds, minutes and hours of my day.



Definition of a second in time: “The duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between two hyperfine levels to the ground state of the Caesium-133 atom.” [NPL England] Bottom line? The Caesium atom moves really, really fast and the transition time is always the same. Well, except for that pesky

We started measuring the passage of time somewhere between five and six thousand years ago; it seemed important at the time (pun intended!). We probably first satisfied our need by observing the shadow cast by a stick. Little did they know that thousands of years later, our modern society would rely so intently on the measurement of time ... and the more accurate the better. The Caesium Fountain atomic clock adjusts the more familiar Co-ordinated Universal Time (UTC), used to snychronize time around the world. UTC keeps us on time ... on track. Literally. It prevents trainwrecks, plane crashes, cruiseship bumps on the high seas, and helps our local search and rescue teams co-ordinate GPS positions for

Life on Vancouver Island seems to move a little more slowly, so I suspect our part of the Universe is very special indeed. Here, we tend to let time pass without measurement. I know, I know, our lives inevitably involve appointments and deadlines, but once in awhile we can simply let things happen naturally. Stand at the edge of the Salish Sea, ditch the tide table and let the rising tide tell you when it’s time for higher ground. Walk a forest trail and let the high noon sun tell you when to stop for lunch. Enjoy the day as it unfolds, without assigning units of measure to its natural cycle. Enjoy the freedom. Just let time pass in its own sweet ... well ... time. Time is a commodity we invest in, spend wisely or not, and lament when too much is lost. A second, a minute, an hour; the ticks of time have no user manual. We can just choose to let time be.

Just sayin’






G A L L E R Y Open House May 9 th

We cordially invite you to attend Coastal Carvings Open House May 9th, 2015 from 10am - 5 pm. Please come and enjoy our newest collection of fine art including painting, carvings, functional art & jewelry. A group of our Artists will be in attendance sharing their latest creations and inspirations.

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Come “RAKU” With Us on May 9th from 10am - 4pm Buy a Pot, Glaze It, Fire It Take Home A Work of Art


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Beyond the Lens Story by Lissa Alexander


he world has enough pretty pictures.

That’s one of the reasons why internationally renowned wildlife and nature photographer Paul Nicklen says he’s not interested in chasing celebrated scenes of beauty for his next big project. But mainly, it’s because his work is issue driven, and he’s made it his life’s work to try and protect this planet’s rugged natural landscapes, and particularly, those delicate ecosystems under the sea. Nicklen’s photographs are stunning and profound. He’s captured everything from the effect of tourism on the Florida Manatee to starving polar bears in the Arctic, unable to adapt to their changing landscape. Nicklen says top polar bear scientists predict this planet may lose polar bears completely in the next 100 years.



“It’s whatever needs my attention, that’s where it’s conservation before pretty pictures,” Nicklen explains from his home in Nanoose Bay. Nicklen is a National Geographic Photographer who has filed 18 stories for that magazine, with two more in the works. That’s a feat few can claim, as each one can take anywhere from one to three years to complete. He specializes in photographing animals in the planet’s polar regions, and he’s often shooting in the frigid depths of the ocean, a place where he feels comfortable and even confident. “My

world with animals is very consistent,” he says. “It’s not nearly as dangerous as driving on the highway.” Although it was a close call during a dive with some Elephant Seals one time, Nicklen remembers with great fondness the time a Leopard Seal lovingly and persistently tried to feed him penguin (check that out on YouTube). His photographs have graced the pages of countless publications around the world and he stays very busy delivering talks around the globe, when he’s not up close and personal with a Spirit bear or a narwhal. Coming home to Nanoose Bay is always a welcomed time, where he lives nearby brother Aaron Nicklen and mother Louise Roy, two of the area’s top realtors, and two of the most important people in the world to Paul.

CONSERVATION PHOTOGRAPHY About eight years ago Paul met Cristina Mittermeier, a fellow photographer with monumental ambitions, intent on making big changes to protect the planet. They crossed paths while working in a remote area of the Pacific called the Phoenix Islands; little did they know their lives would soon become interwoven. Cristina is a conservationist and former marine biologist, who started taking photographs when she discovered the >>>

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unparalleled power of visual storytelling. She founded the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP) when she discovered there were others like her, whose passion extended far beyond their lenses. When Cristina met Paul she was ecstatic to find that he had been working on stories surrounding climate change and conservation concerns for years. “He was working on touchy journalism subjects, and he was not identifying himself as a conservation hero,” she recalls. Paul says Cristina coined the term “conservation photography”, although many photographers, including Ansel Adams, have worked with that purpose, she explains. Cristina galvanized many photographers and united them, in order to attain tangible conservation goals. “She took people like me, who work as a lone wolf,” Paul explains. “I’m a journalist, I would have never admitted to caring about the environment; that would have meant I was perceived as a tie-dyed t-shirt wearing hippy waving a banner. But no, you start to realize the power of visual storytelling and how it can be very effective in the success of conservation.”

Paul and Cristina are now a couple, and have recently joined forces to create a global organization intent on making real changes, not just raising awareness. It’s called Sea Legacy. >>>

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Together Paul and Cristina’s work helped create the world’s largest marine protected area in 2008 in the Phoenix Islands. The project came to fruition thanks to the work of marine scientist Dr. Gregory Stone, and Nicklen’s photographs played an important role to help crystallize the project, says Cristina, creating an intense interest around the world.

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IMMERSED IN THE WILD When Paul was four years old he moved to Baffin Island with his family, who were one of the only non-Inuit families living in that remote area. He spent his childhood outdoors in nature – hiking across the tundra, camping, boating, snowmobiling and hunting with his family and the Inuit. When Paul was a teenager he moved with his family to Yellowknife and completed high school, before moving to Victoria to attend that city’s University. He studied biology, focusing on the marine world, and it was at that point he discovered the power of a photo. He loved scuba diving and exploring ecosystems under the sea, and sometimes, after his biology professor would draw marine invertebrates on the board, he would turn up with a photo of one in class. “He was so in awe of my photos,” he laughs, “and so here I am all of a sudden realizing the power of a photo.” When Paul graduated he moved back to Yellowknife and worked as a biologist, but after three years he could no longer bring himself to do it. It was incredibly frustrating, he says, particularly poking and prodding animals in the name of science, yet not sharing that data with anyone, and not having access to anyone else’s data. “I just felt incredibly ineffective,” he explains. “And I thought if I could just bridge the gap between that important scientific research and the public, by doing stories in magazines like National Geographic, instead of infighting between the government, now you have the chance to reach 40 million people through the power of photojournalism and storytelling, and be much more effective.”


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Cristina was born in Mexico. She lived in the United States for many years and then travelled the world, working as a conservation biologist with an emphasis on marine issues. She was interested in conservation and biology long before she picked up a camera, but she realized its power as a communication tool early on. After the birth of her second child, Juliana (who now attends Kwalikum Secondary School), she went back to night school to take up photography, but she learned much more — particularly how photography could be used as a tool for cultural change. She worked for Conservation International as the Director of Communications, stationed in places like the Amazon, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and India. Over her career she has travelled to over 100 countries. In 2005 Cristina realized that a large amount of money was needed to fund conservation communications projects in order to spread awareness and catalyze change. And that’s when the International League of Conservation Photographers was born. “It was such a good idea that in a few years we were raising $2 million for these projects a year,” she recalls. “All of a sudden it became crystal clear in the eyes of so many that you cannot catalyze conservation action unless people have emotional investment and emphatic communications.”

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Today Cristina is an award-winning photographer, a celebrated public speaker (including a widely-viewed TEDx event on the subject of “Enoughness”), she runs her own publishing company, and is a published author, including a prominent coffee table book called Sublime Nature, published by National Geographic, along with 22 others.

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Paul and Cristina have worked together on a number of stories for >>>

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And effective he has been. Paul was recently named a National Geographic fellow, one of only a handful, for the incredible work he has done with the magazine and for the planet. The University of Victoria has also honoured him with a lifetime achievement

award for his work shedding light on climate change in polar marine ecosystems.



National Geographic, along with other projects like the RAVE (Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition) they conducted in the Flathead River Valley of B.C. For that project they brought in 10 leading photographers from around the world to document the development in the area. The images were used as a tool to inform the BC government on the effects of coal mining. In partnership with local environmental groups including the Sierra Club, the RAVE helped ban coal mining from the headwaters of the Flathead. Paul and Cristina have recently launched the largest conservation photography competition in the world called Por el Planeta, which gives away $300,000 in cash prizes. Its emphasis, not surprisingly, is on biodiversity, conservation and storytelling. The couple also takes donors on incredible adventures, something they hope to do increasingly with Sea Legacy, taking people to pristine areas of the world in order to help fund their conservation goals. They have previously travelled with actor Tommy Lee Jones, Jimmy Carter, Madeleine Albright, Laurene Jobs (Steve Jobs’ widow), English businessman Richard Branson and his family, and many others.



— and coastal peoples. “For us the ocean is such an important engine of life, it produces 50 per cent of all the oxygen we breathe, produces food for one billion people around world —we don’t have another 50 years to fiddle around while the foundation of our planet is destroyed,” Cristina explains. The organization is made up of many of the world’s top photojournalists, and will soon be designated a Canadian charity. The couple is currently seeking donors to help them continue their important projects. “We want to engage the local community,” says Paul. “People who get it. People who are surrounded by this incredible ecosystem and get why it’s important. We would be honoured if they support us.” Sizeable donations will allow donors to embark on a journey of a lifetime with Paul and Cristina. Visit and stay connected to the cause. Because we all need to pay attention to what’s happening around us, says Paul.


“If we can’t save bears can we really save ourselves?”

Sea Legacy focuses on three main areas: climate change, conservation — including the creation of marine protected parks

Visit their websites to view their work and learn more: and

Photos: pages 22 and 23, the massive ice cap in Nord Austlandet, Svalbard, Norway melts in a series of waterfalls. Inset photos, top: a Grizzly bear stares at the photographer. Bottom: a tourist leans to touch a dead polar bear, a sight now seen with sad frequency in Svalbard, Norway. Page 25, left, Cristina Mittermeier and Paul Nicklen. Page 26, A group of male narwhals wrestles with

each other by rubbing their tusks in Admiralty Inlet, Canada. Inset: Paul Nicklen (top left) among the Inuit children he grew up with.

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The laid back musician

e may not be trending on Twitter the second Sunday of every or getting millions of YouTube month in Qualicum Bay. views, but Peter Mason is a We caught up with Mason legend in Qualicum Bay. in his neck of the woods and You have probably seen Mason happily found out why so many of the strumming his guitar and singing his original folks in Lighthouse Country songs as well as cover tunes somewhere feel blessed to call him a around Oceanside. friend and neighbour. Mason grew up in Deep Cove in North Vancouver but moved to Vancouver Island in 1994 and for the past 18 years he has embraced Lighthouse Country sharing what he loves most … music. The laid back musician is a permanent fixture at the Sandbar Café in Qualicum Bay on Friday nights.

Q: Is there any type of music you like best? Q: How did the gig at the Sandbar Café come A: I always head towards traditional tunes about? with a little bit folk, a little bit blues, a little A: Helen Hallett saw me playing at the Island bit rock, a little bit of country, a little bit of Art Expo and then she asked me to come and bluegrass, and fuse it in the mix. I just like to play at the Sandbar. That was five years ago. play music with my family and family is not At the Sandbar I start the night playing solo just blood … it is friends and neighbours. My and then my fun gang show up and we have grandchildren sing with me. The twins are a kitchen party where everyone sings along. three years old and they like Bob Marley. It is a lot of fun. Q: You were seriously injured in a water ski

The café is considered the epicenter of the community where neighbours gather and Q: You also bring your music to the area’s tourists are warmly welcomed, but for a short adult care facilities. What are those gigs like? period it was feared the heart and soul of the A: I have played at almost every one of neighborhood would stop beating. them — Trillium Lodge, Cokely Manor and Helen Hallett the former owner of the Sandbar The Gardens. It’s good because you get to café lost her battle to cancer in 2013, and the see old folks who don’t move much, tapping doors of the Sandbar were temporarily closed their toes and smiling. It is an enjoyable leaving a giant void in the community. experience. Eventually the café reopened and the music Q: You write original tunes including love returned to the eatery, with Mason once songs for your children, Devin and Katie, and again providing the live entertainment along your wife Kerry, and you even created a song with other like-minded rockers. for the District 69 Trail system event called



But it is not just the clientele at the Sandbar who benefit from Mason’s musical magic. If there is a fundraiser in the community in need of a musician, Mason is most likely there — guitar in hand.

Keep on Walking. How did that come about?

A: That was a while ago, it was a fundraiser for the Lighthouse Community Trail, it just came out of the blue when we were playing at the sign-up for the walk, in the park, and He performs for free at the Lighthouse while they were signing up, we were playing Community Centre Pancake Breakfasts on music.

accident when you were 21 and couldn’t walk for a year. How did you find the strength to come back from that, knowing your days as a serious athlete were over? A: It was a rough time after the crash. I had cracked bones and torn ligaments. It was terrible and I had to put the halt on things, but I have no regrets. I went back to school and took surveying at BCIT where my dad taught. He started the surveyor program at BCIT and he got them to build him a planetarium. Back in the day surveyors used the stars in their profession, but these days they use satellites. Q: What is the best part about performing in your community? A: Giving enjoyment to others and playing with my friends. I love it and if people like it, that’s great.




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Special Features - Oasis Life Spring 2015  


Special Features - Oasis Life Spring 2015