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Life in the Valley Summer 2015

Locavores discover Sproat Lake Chef AJ Jackson keeps it local at Drinkwaters Social House

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Alberni Valley


Alberni Valley News 3

Life in the Valley ~ Summer 2015

What’s Inside


4 Chef finds pearl at Sproat Lake 5 Staging your home to sell 6 City’s in a real pickle 8 DRAWing a winner for art 11 The tool you can’t live without 14 Crafting a career with furniture Alberni Valley and its bounty appeal to Cover photography: The Drinkwaters Social House chef AJ Jackson. Photo by D.H. Verlander


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4 Alberni Valley News

Life in the Valley ~ Summer 2015

Living la vida


Chef AJ Jackson finds home in centre of the Island.


rom Powell River to Vancouver, Victoria and Nanaimo, it’s been a roundabout trip for Drinkwaters Social House chef A.J. Jackson. “I was living in Vancouver and just wanted to get back to the Island,” said Jackson. “I’d lived in Victoria for a few years (in the mid-2000s) and liked the Island.” Jackson liked the central location of Port Alberni as well as the feeling of community. So when a job came up at Sproat Lake Landing, he jumped. “I saw the ad and met everybody involved with the project and it sounded like something I wanted to be a part of,” he said of the restaurant. Drinkwaters had its grand opening at the end of May. The inn opened in July. Jackson hasn’t lived in Port

story by KATYA SLEPIAN / photo by D.H. VERLANDER

Alberni before but when his brother lived here half a decade ago, Jackson spent time visiting. “I just really enjoyed the area,” he said. “I grew up in Powell River and it reminds me of that, it’s got a similar feel to the town.” The ‘shop local’ attitude in town is something that’s important to Jackson. “We have a local focus,” he said. “We’re dealing with a lot of local producers and farmers. We just really like supporting and being a part of the community.” And the community has embraced Drinkwaters right back. “I was really impressed at the amount of community support we had and people who were willing to make the drive from in town,” said Jackson.

“It wasn’t just the people around the lake and the tourists that were coming out for dinner. There were a lot of people who lived in Port Alberni who were willing to make the drive out.” And the meals are worth the drive. “We’re serving food that’s grown and produced here in the Valley. Everything is made in house—we’re making our own bacon, all our own sauces and dressings, all of our stocks,” said Jackson. What they don’t make in-house is made in town, like the bread from Mountain View Bakery. “It’s food that’s a little bit different.” The oysters especially stand out. “We get the Clayoquot climax oyster from West Pacific Seafood in Tofino,” he said.

“They sell it to us and they use it in their oyster bar in Tofino and those are the only places that are selling that oyster here on the Island.” It’s quite the oyster, he says. “It’s a sweet oyster so it’s great to be served raw. It’s a good beginner oyster for someone who’s not into or hasn’t tried a raw oyster before.” While the lakefront is an ideal location, it does sometimes make getting goods out there difficult. “As far as any major suppliers go we’re considered to be in Tofino because all the Port Alberni trucks don’t come out this far,” he said. “We have four different farmers who are on board and bringing me produce every week. It’s really supporting the people who are in the community.”

Life in the Valley ~ Summer 2015

Alberni Valley News 5

First impressions are everything • ‘Clean and simplified’ is vital. • The ‘in’ colour right now is dark grey. • The worst colour to paint your interior is blue because it is a cold colour. • Having one red accent brightens a room.


• Put away all personal items in a bathroom before a showing.

The new Drinkwaters Social House features a farm to table approach to cuisine, created with what Chef Jackson calls a “rustic focus” that highlights the relationship between the kitchen and the Alberni Valley’s local food growers and suppliers. 10695 LAKESHORE ROAD, PORT ALBERNI | 250.723.2722 | DRINKWATERSSOCIALHOUSE.COM

Staging a house on the market gives sellers the edge, says realtor

Cathy Braiden, a realtor with Re/Max mid-Island Realty is the Alberni Valley’s only certified Canadian Staging Professional. She earned her international accreditation nine years ago as an asset to her real estate career. “I always had a fascination with decor and arranging homes,” she says, so it was a natural fit with her skill set. Before Braiden lists a house for sale, she will go through it and offer the owners staging tips that will help the house sell faster. Staging a house “gives people a different perspective on the house because of the simplification of it and the clean lines and clean surfaces,” she says. “When you live in your own house you get so used to how it looks that you don’t even see things that could improve it in the eyes of someone else. Clean and simplified is the most important rule in staging a home to sell. “When a person walks into a house they’re

going to have an opinion in the first 10 seconds of opening the door.” Braiden looks at the layout of furniture in a home. “I want there to be easy flow to walk through a house. You don’t want to be blocking things with furniture. Also having clear, clean surfaces with no more than three to five items on the surface.” Sometimes it doesn’t take much to stage a home for sale. Painting over scuffs to freshen a look or in one case, changing out the kitchen floor can be the difference between a hard sell or a quick one. In the case of the kitchen floor, “it gave a whole new look to the kitchen...and the house sold in two weeks.” Nearly 80 per cent of home sellers are prepared to spend $5,000 to get their property ready for sale, according to Maritz Research, and 63 per cent of buyers are willing to pay more for homes that are ready to move into. So staging makes economic sense.


Staging 101

6 Alberni Valley News

Life in the Valley ~ Summer 2015

Pickleball Yes, it’s a thing, and Parks and Rec are building a court at Gyro Park. story and photos by KATYA SLEPIAN

Sunshine committee vice president Daniel Watts and city of Port Alberni parks and recreation programmer Karen Freethy.


ennis soon won’t be the only racket sport you can play at Gyro Park, thanks to a federal grant the Sunshine Club has received. The new pickleball court, which will be completed by mid-August, is being funded by the government of Canada New Horizon for Seniors Program. Upon receiving the $23,150 in grant money, the seniors partnered with the city of Port Alberni parks and recreation

department to get the job done. “We’re pretty excited,” said parks and recreation programmer Karen Freethy. She’s the city liaison on the Sunshine Club’s pickleball committee. “We had community members come to Echo Centre and to the Sunshine Club wanting to play pickleball,” said Freethy. Pickleball, which is a mix of badminton, tennis and table tennis, is picking up speed both in Port

Alberni and in other communities. “It’s big in other communities and it’s finally trickling its way here,” said Freethy. “A lot of Port Alberni people go to Parksville and Nanaimo to play so there was a really strong drive of people wanting to play and wanting to see something built.” The Sunshine Club saw the need in the community and took action. “This was an initiative taken on

by the seniors,” said Freethy. “They’ve been instrumental in the development of the project.” But while the project is being taken on by the Sunshine Club, the pickleball court will be open to everyone. “At the end of the day when it’s built it will benefit the community at large,” Freethy said. “It’s built by seniors but built for the community at large.” That means that everyone can bring a racket and play. “When it’s built it


he pickleball courts at Rec Park aren’t the only option to play this trending game in the Alberni Valley. Slammers Gym on Sixth Avenue opened outdoor pickleball courts last fall. Slammers has designed its courts to be multi-purpose: they accommodate nets for pickleball, volleyball, badminton and basketball. At Slammers, pickleball enthusiasts meet Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 9 a.m. Courts are open daily for drop-ins too. Drop-in rates are $5 ($3 for seniors) and includes paddle rental. FMI: 250-720-2290.

Life in the Valley ~ Summer 2015

‘This is opening up doors to play’ will not be just for seniors, it will be for everyone.� And unlike building a new soccer field, this brings something new to Port Alberni. “It’s adding a new sport to Port Alberni that Port Alberni doesn’t already have,� said Freethy. “It wasn’t adding a new playground where we already have a few around town. This is opening up doors to play.� Unlike sports like soccer or tennis that take a lot of athletic ability, pickleball is easy for anyone to get into. “It’s very user friendly and it’s open to all age groups,� said Freethy. “You don’t have to be too skilled to start playing the game.�

Alberni Valley News 7


The intergenerational aspect made the project extra appealing to the seniors. “Grandparents can play with their grandchildren and parents can play with their kids. That’s going to be a really neat outcome of the project.� There’s still a lot of work to be done to get the court ready for action by mid-August. As part of the city’s in kind contribution, the base for paving has been constructed. “The city workers came and have done a lot of building and putting down the gravel,� said Freethy. A fence will also be built. “It’s coming along for sure,� said Freethy. “I think it’s cool that we were able to bring something new to Port Alberni.�


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8 Alberni Valley News

Life in the Valley ~ Summer 2015

DRAW drawing room art works gallery by SUSAN QUINN

Nestled in a private garden setting in the heart of South Port lies DRAW Gallery, an intimate art space devoted to exhibiting works from both emerging and experienced artists. Owner Astrid Thimmel Johnston, an artist herself, opened Drawing Room Art Works (DRAW) in 1997 on Quadra Island, offering classes to elementary school schools, teenagers and adults in the evening. “Then I got busy and couldn’t spend a lot of time teaching anymore. So I opened the gallery in 2007,” she says. Thimmel Johnston graduated from Emily Carr College of Art & Design in Vancouver with painting and inter-disciplinary studies. A painter, she prefers large canvases and leans toward surrealism. “I do airbrushed surrealistic paintings. If it’s a landscape it would be impressionistic and then the water or sky would be airbrushed. “I like to paint big. I used to do murals in hospitals and restaurants,’ she says. After working and exhibiting as a freelance artist, gallery curator and art educator she went back to school, only this time concentrated on the business side of her education. This combination of business and arts knowledge has given Thimmel Johnston a balanced approach to operating an art business as well as teaching new artists. “Administering an art gallery, I can bring all the knowledge I learned at Emily Carr to the business of art,” she says. When she moved to Port Alberni four years ago “I

brought the gallery.” She also brought a passion for the community. “I love the history of Port Alberni, I love the heritage buildings. I find Port Alberni has a resurgence of new life and is getting exciting again. “There’s a lot of young professionals moving here that are bringing their energy and vitality to the city.” Thimmel Johnston spent her first summer here renovating her home on the corner of Melrose and Eighth Avenue into a gallery. The bottom floor houses the gallery, while Thimmel Johnston lives upstairs. “I’ve always lived in the gallery wherever it’s been,” she says. The garden offers a venue for artist receptions when the weather is favourable. DRAW represents all types of art, from two-dimensional paintings, sketches and art cards to three-dimensional sculptures or glasswork, music CDs, books—even performances from artists such as Cat Thom, an accomplished storyteller. “The gallery offers new emerging artists an opportunity to present their works and learn what kind of work it takes to submit work to a gallery, how to present their works professionally, how to create a show that tells a story and is cohesive in that story. “It’s sort of the next level of art education, where you took Astrid Thimmel Johnston, owns and operates Drawing Room Art Works (DRAW) Gallery at Melrose and Eighth Avenue.

Alberni Valley News 9

Life in the Valley ~ Summer 2015

Art finds purpose at DRAW your workshops and took your classes, then it’s ‘how do you market your art? How do you present yourself as a professional artist,” says Thimmel Johnston. DRAW also offers experienced artists a venue to show work in a smaller, more intimate setting. “This inspires new artists to grow as well.” DRAW is also home to life drawing workshops Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. “Life drawing is an opportunity for younger and older people to develop their hand-eye coordination, express their feelings through mark making and colour. It gives an artist an opportunity to work on those techniques they think need to be worked on, to learn new tricks of form and depth,” Thimmel Johnston explains.

“I find Port Alberni has a resurgence of new life and is getting exciting again.” (Drawing models without clothing is important to study anatomy, she says.) There is a separate class on Mondays for teen artists where models are clothed. These classes “are very G-rated. We can have costumes; the most revealing may be a bathing suit. A one piece.” Every December, Thimmel

Johnston hosts the “Living Proof ” exhibit displaying all the best drawings from the classes throughout the year. The models and artists come together at a celebratory reception. Another aspect of DRAW is the online gallery Thimmel Johnston created. It features all the artists who have exhibited at DRAW and includes an online store where artwork is listed for sale. It also features interviews with past artists, feeding Thimmel Johnston’s desire to learn new things. “I think most artists do because the process of creating art is a process of learning something new each time you do it. And you learn a little something about yourself as well.”

Events • ‘Endless Summer’ group show, until Aug. 28. Featuring Lucas Chickite, Colleen Clancy, Cecil Dawson, Chris Doman, Pamela Holl Hunt, Miriam Manuel, Ann McIvor and Todd Robinson. www.

• Alberni Valley Paint Out, Sept. 12–13. In conjunction with International Plein Air Painters. Artists will paint at various outdoor locations, finishing with an exhibition Sept. 13, 4:30 p.m. at Starboard Grill.

10 Alberni Valley News

Life in the Valley ~ Summer 2015

Coffee With... Kama Money



eacher / social media marketer / single mom—Port Alberni’s Kama Money can’t just be summed up in a couple of words. Money is Orange Bridge Communications. She’s a teacher at VAST. And she’s known through social media as a vital part of Heart of Vancouver Island. Teaching came into the picture first when Money began teaching at Alberni District Secondary School 10 years ago. She headed a social justice class that became popular with students wanting to affect change. She’s since switched over to VAST, the school district’s alternate school. “I teach the Skills Training Employment Program (STEP UP) to students who are 15-19,” said Money. The goal of the program is to prepare the teens for work, volunteering, postsecondary and to give them positive connections to the community. The latter of those inspires everything Money does. She’s part of the three-person Heart of Vancouver Island (HOVI) team contracted by the city of Port Alberni. “It’s a balance, being a teacher and being part of the re-branding of the community by night,” Money said. Her passion for Port Alberni is clear to see, as well as her desire to make sure the community embraces whatever marketing effort comes out of Heart of Vancouver Island. “Community change cannot happen if it’s an outsider swooping in telling people how to do things. Real change needs to come from the inside out, with the upper level support.” While Money’s two jobs seem like they have little in common, they actually complement each other perfectly. “There is actually a lot of overlap between the two,” said Money. “My students and coworkers are very excited by the opportunity for Port

Alberni to see itself in a different light.” she wants to inspire. Her HOVI role also gives her an Her three-year-old son, A.J., is her ever opportunity to practice what she preaches. cheerful companion. “Having serious conversations with “He’s my little sidekick in everything I students—you don’t like do,” said Money. “I’m lucky “Community that our community is so our town? Instead of complaining about it, what with me change cannot understanding can you do about it? Here’s bringing him to different happen if it’s meetings, to different social what I don’t like about our town and here’s what I’m events.” an outsider doing about it.” Money hopes that with swooping in A.J. seeing so much of the For Money, it’s all about leading by example and community and meeting so telling people many people, she’s setting him teaching her students that how to do up to be involved in his own whatever it is they’re good right when he’s older. at, they can use that to things.” “I think it’s really important make a difference in the for a child to see his mom be so well community. connected, have a good social life, have a “Just showing them that you really can good professional life and also have goals. make a difference in their own world, in “My No. 1 hope for him is that their own way,” Money said. he’ll be kind, he will be healthy and “We all have our own skills and don’t he’ll contribute and give back to the limit yourself to being one thing.” community in his own way.” Money’s students aren’t the only ones

Alberni Valley News 11

Life in the Valley ~ Summer 2015

Tool time


Michael Kampen is a furniture maker, writes for Canadian Home Workshop and Canadian Woodworking Magazine and runs the CNC shop at Home Hardware. His go-to tool in his woodworking shop is a sanding mop. “Everyone hates sanding. This makes sanding intricate stuff super easy,” says Kampen. The sanding mop is used to finish sand irregular objects. One of its benefits is it doesn’t wreck fine routed corners. It attaches to a cordless drill, a floor-mounted drill press, even a lathe, and spins between 1,800 and 3,100 revolutions per minute. Sanding mops come in four different grits and sizes like 2-inch, 4-inch and 6-inch. “It’s not glamorous but it sure gets the work done,” says Kampen, who owns several mops in varying sizes. “I found out about them six years ago and I’ve got six of them in my shop now. They’re one of those things that you see them and think ‘how did I get along without them’?” Sanding mops are available at Home Hardware.

Have you got a cool tool? Give editor Susie Quinn a call at 250-723-6399 or e-mail editor@ and tell her all about it.


Michael Kampen uses a sanding mop to smooth out a live edge mantelpiece.

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14 Alberni Valley News

Life in the Valley ~ Summer 2015

“This program is invaluable. It goes beyond skills, it created a structure for me and has shown me a different life.” story by CHRISTIANA WIENS

Student crafts a new career in furniture design


tephen Mackie is carving out a new life through furniture. Mackie graduated in June from North Island College’s Joinery/ Cabinetmaking program on Vancouver Island with renewed confidence in his own abilities and an impressive collection of fine furniture he designed and crafted himself. “This program is invaluable,” said Mackie from his home in Port Alberni where he sits looking proudly at the pieces he created over the past year. “It goes beyond skills, it created a structure for me and has shown me a different life.” The Osoyoos Indian Band member was adopted and grew up away from his birth family. He worked in Kelowna’s orchards and moved to the Vancouver area, where he hung out with friends, including a group of First Nations carvers, who one day asked if he could draw. He took to drawing naturally, at first emulating established artists and creating his own designs for paddles and jewellery boxes, which he eventually carved himself, on and off, for years. He moved to the town of Ucluelet a couple of years ago, hoping to sustain himself with his art. “I was good at it right from

the start,” Mackie said. “I never had a problem getting into galleries. I introduced myself with my art and looked for that ‘wow’ reaction. That’s what made me strive to create the next piece, each time I wanted a different reaction—a different wow.” His earnings, however, weren’t enough to sustain his young family through tourism’s off season and he began to think about ways to develop his skills and employability. He contacted the Osoyoos Band for education funding and went back to school at NIC’s Port Alberni campus, looking for a way to blend his art with furniture design. “This program definitely combined the two,” Mackie said. “I didn’t even know I had an eye for designing fine furniture.” He credits instructor Stephen McIntosh, a WorldSkills International skill advisor, for teaching him to safely use and design furniture with manufactured hand and power tools which Mackie complemented with his own hand-made carving tools. McIntosh also inspired him to produce higher quality work and gave him the freedom to design his own projects. “I like to give students permission to try new things, to push themselves beyond

Life in the Valley ~ Summer 2015

Alberni Valley News 15

Students explore personal goals in joinery course their experience level and to experiment,” said McIntosh. “I work with my students to explore each of their goals further. Steve wanted to take his carving and painting and turn it into functional art. He was very committed to his work.” As for his future, Mackie says the program gave him the skills to move back to Penticton where he can get to know his birth family, establish a workshop, and build on the skills he’s learned throughout the year. For more information on NIC’s Joinery / Cabinetmaking programs, visit trades.

Stephen Mackie’s artistic skill shines in his handcrafted furniture.

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July 21, 2015  

Section Z of the July 21, 2015 edition of the Alberni Valley News

July 21, 2015  

Section Z of the July 21, 2015 edition of the Alberni Valley News