O A K B AY L I V I N G
TWEED SPRING 2018
PETAL PRINTS FRESH & FUN FASHIONS
Labour of Love RARE ROADSTER RESTORATION
BREATHTAKING VIEWS I N S I D E › P E O P L E › H O M E S › FA S H I O N › A R T S
OAK BAY VICTORIA NANAIMO
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inside Spring 2018
Volume 6 | Issue 1
10 Bay Beauty
It’s all about the breathtaking views.
Tea with Tess
Editor Tess van Straaten talks with Greater Victoria Harbour Authority CEO Ian Robertson.
Oak Bay Insider
Tweed Magazine welcomes your Oak Bay suggestions for the next edition. So, do tell! Email editor Tess van Straaten at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Making a splash! Christopher Causton tells us the story behind Oak Bay Rec and its rejuvenation.
Buzzing Bogotá is South America’s new capital of cool.
Dogs on the Avenue
Photographer Don Denton captures cute and cuddly canines.
On the Cover: Chris Higginbottom models petal prints from W&J Wilson at Cattle Point. Photo by Lia Crowe. Makeup by Jen Clark.
23 OAK BAY SEAFOOD
16 Market & Take-Away
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REGISTER NOW TOWNLINE.CA Sales and Marketing by Townline Marketing Inc. The developer reserves the right to make changes, modifications or substitutions to the building design, specifications and floor plans should they be necessary. Sizes are approximate and actual square footage may vary from the final survey and architectural drawings. All information contained herein is subject to change at any time, without notice. This is not an offering for sale. Any such offering may only be made with a Disclosure Statement. E.&O.E.
TALK of the TOWN !
he flowers are blooming, fruit trees are exploding into a riot of colour, and the temperature is warming up. Yes, it’s spring in Oak Bay and there’s no better place to be! Here are some things to check out in the weeks ahead.
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If you’re looking for an art fix, you have lots of options this spring. Recreation Oak Bay hosts its Spring Studio Tour Saturday, April 21st and Sunday, April 22nd from noon to 4:30 p.m. About 20 artists in the Oak Bay area will be opening their studios. The 2018 Fairfield Artists Studio Tour is Saturday, May 5th and Sunday, May 6th from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The annual self-guided tour gives art lovers the chance to meet local artists and tour their studios. More than 20 established and emerging fine artists, sculptors, potters, photographers, and jewellery and textile makers open their doors for this free community event. Oak Bay artists Kara Woodword and Marjorie Pine will be taking part in Working Studio: A Zebra Art Collective Show and Sale featuring 12 Greater Victoria artists. The talented artists will be on hand to show their work with some
actively creating during the show. Pine paints landscapes and interior scenes, but her favourite subjects are people. Her figurative paintings, characterized by loose brush strokes, bold colours and minimal detail, offer a glimpse into the lives of ordinary people doing the small things of everyday life. Working Studio runs May 11th to 25th at Victoria Arts Council Fort Street Gallery (636 Fort). You won’t want to miss the Oak Bay Tea Party June 2nd and 3rd! This is the 56th year running for the popular event, which draws thousands of people from all of Greater Victoria and beyond. The entertaining Tea Party Parade (psst...they throw candy to the kids!) kicks things off on Saturday morning with the fun continuing all weekend at Willows Beach. There are rides, prize booths, entertainment, and fantastic food options. Baron of beef, anyCont. on page 9
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Spring has sprung!
pring is a time of hope — transformations, new beginnings, and the promise of what is to come. It’s a time to literally stop and smell the flowers that are bursting into bloom, a time to listen to the birds excitedly chirping, and a time to breathe in the ocean air as the days stretch longer. And for me, it’s also a time to take stock of all the things I’m grateful for. We live in an incredible community in one of the most beautiful places in the world. We’re surrounded by the stunning Salish Sea on three sides, our streets are lined with mature tree canopies, and you don’t have to walk far to find an amazing park or green space — whether it’s hidden gems like the Walbran and Anderson Hill or perennially popular spots like Willows Beach and Cattle Point. Spring is also a time for rejuvenation — a chance to tackle projects put off over winter (my list is far too long!), a time to leap forward into new activities, and for many, a time to become more active and enjoy all Oak Bay has to offer. From a rare roadster restoration (Labour of Love), to an ambitious renovation (Bay Beauty), the rejuvenation of Oak Bay Rec (Oak Bay Insider) and fashions inspired by the season (Petal Prints), this issue of Tweed celebrates the best of spring. So as I’m cleaning out my garage, power washing the patio, and finally getting to work on some painting projects I’ve put off for far too long, I also plan to take some time to run through flower-filled fields and remember why spring is so special. Tess van Straaten Tweed editor
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Cont. from page 6 one? Or a pancake breakfast on the beach? And it’s all for a good cause, raising money for service organizations such as the Kiwanis and Lions. The first Oak Bay Summer Night Market is June 13th. It’s a sure sign summer is almost here! Oak Bay Avenue is shutdown as the Village is transformed into a Europeanstyle market between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month from June to September. Sample local wine, beer and spirits, shop from local vendors and grab some great street food for dinner as the community comes out to celebrate the warmer weather.
Publisher and advertising inquiries Janet Gairdner firstname.lastname@example.org 250-480-3251 Group Publisher Penny Sakamoto Advertising Janet Gairdner John Stewart
Editor Tess van Straaten email@example.com Associate Editor Lia Crowe Creative Director Lily Chan Creative Services Michelle Gjerde Lyn Quan
South Oak Bay $1,235,000.00
■ MLS 384330 Visit owen-flood.com for more info
■ Located on a sought after street in Oak Bay ■ Resting on a 90’ by 150’ lot ■ Five bedrooms and Four bathrooms ■ Private South facing back garden ■ Close to Uplands Golf Course and Estevan Village ■ Expansive views of the Strait & Olympic Mountains ■ MLS 386275 Visit owen-flood.com for more info
South Oak Bay Elegance $1,850,000.00
Exquisite Oak Bay Waterfront $6,500,000.00
■ Charming Cottage resting on 12025 square foot lot ■ Wood Floors and a bay window ■ Private garden with pond ■ Separate garage and greenhouse ■ Steps to Windsor Park, excellent schools &
www.oakbaynews.com 207A-2187 Oak Bay Ave. Victoria, BC V8R 1G1 Phone 250-598-4123
■ One of the most idyllic locations in all of Oak Bay ■ Three bedrooms & three bathrooms ■ Built in 1987 on a 128’ X 110’ lot ■ Elegant living space over two floors ■ A perfect neighborhood surrounded by natural beauty ■ Anderson Hill Park and Victoria Golf Club close by ■ MLS 388521 Visit owen-flood.com for more info
(across from the Jubilee Hospital)
■ 1.25 acres of privacy and tranquility ■ 4 Bedroom / 5 Bath plus substantial living space ■ Located along the beautiful Gonzales shoreline ■ Extensively renovated and expanded ■ A glass-enclosed Beach House ■ MLS 387995 Visit owen-flood.com for more info
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TWEED magazine is published quarterly by Black Press. The points of view or opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher of Tweed. The contents of Tweed magazine are protected by copyright, including the designed advertising. Reproduction is prohibited without written consent of the publisher.
Wills, Powers of Attorney, Real Estate Transfers & Refinances
Oak Bay Specialist
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OAK BAY HOME
Bay Beauty It’s all about the breathtaking views
By DARCY NYBO Photos by DON DENTON
Huge windows were a key part of the transformation of this McNeill Bay home. 10
he owners of this McNeill Bay home used to joke that it was the ugliest house on the bay. But now, it’s a contemporary classic — beautiful in its simplicity — that allows for maximum exposure to the breathtaking views beyond its wall of windows. The transformation of the Beach Drive property by Zebra Construction began in 2014 and was finished a mere four months later. The old 1960s home was taken right down to the studs and the new layout, created by Rus Collins of Zebra Design, turned what was a four-bedroom plus den home into a two-bedroom plus den. The result? Spacious living spaces all focused on the stunning view of the water, the Trial Islands and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The main goal of the renovation was to ensure the in-
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credible view could be seen from almost anywhere in the 2,700-square-foot house. As the homeowner put it, “The whole home is about the view, not the interior.” With that in mind, the front door opens to a generous landing. On the right, large doors lead to the guest area with three big windows creating an expansive view to the ocean and beyond. Light streams into the comfortable family room/sitting area. There’s also a large bedroom, a full bath with soaker tub, and a washer and dryer. As we leave the guest area, there’s a surprise behind what appears to be a closet. Instead, under the stairs is a climate-controlled space that holds more than 200 bottles of wine! The lit staircase is gorgeous, with treads and risers made from white oak. The railings are frameless glass with brushed steel handrails adding to the simplistic charm of the home. Once upstairs, that same stunning view greets you. The win-
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dows here are slightly larger. Three of them form the huge 23-foot by six-foot see-through barrier to the outside world. All the cabinets and flooring, with the exception of the bathroom floors, are a warm white oak. It matches beautifully with the owners’ collection of imported knotless English pine furniture, most of it from the same small town in Sussex, England. But one thing that is noticeably absent in the home is light fixtures. The owners decided The owners of this not to have anything hangMcNeill Bay home ing down from the ceiling to keep the view completely used to joke that it was unobstructed. Instead, apthe ugliest house on proximately 80 recessed LED lights illuminate the house. the bay. But now, it’s a The great room was built contemporary classic. for relaxing, entertaining and enjoying. The high, vaulted ceiling adds to the feeling of being one with the outdoors. The large kitchen island, which easily sits seven or eight people for impromptu dinners and parties, grounds the room. The countertop, created with White Cliff Cambria quartz, is the same quartz used for the shower walls and for all the countertops in the home. Just a few steps away from the island, is the living room — complete with a cozy gas fireplace. It’s the perfect addition to the ambiance of the home. And this is where I’m shown my favourite feature of the house — a secret door. But this
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Would you like to know the current value of your home? Please pop by to see me in our newly expanded offices right on The Avenue. 250-370-7788 | 2239 Oak Bay Avenue karenjensenrealestate.com The large kitchen Island in the great room is a perfect spot to watch boats in the bay.
door doesn’t lead to a hidden room. It takes you from the living room into the master bedroom. Doubling as a built-in photo display case with several shelves, it’s adorned with family photos in silver frames. But touch the case in the right spot, and it opens to the master bedroom. As you walk into the master, you’re struck once again by the stunning views of McNeill Bay. To maximize the milliondollar view, there are no window coverings in the bedroom. In fact, the home is high enough that there are no window coverings on any window, except one of the bathrooms. All three bathrooms in the home have curbless showers. These were a feat in themselves as a one-inch drop had to be created by raising the bathroom floors slightly in some places. The homeowners also created a unique dressing room, complete with a washer and dryer and a built-in drying rack. In addition to storage, the island in the middle of the dressing room also doubles as an ironing table. Great care was taken by RG West Coast Woodwork to create the multitude of pull-out drawers, while still leaving plenty of room to hang clothes. Nestled near the back of the home are the den and dining room, which enjoy unobstructed views of the bay. Off the dining room is a huge 20-foot by 25-foot deck complete with hot tub and glass rails. It’s perfect for sitting outside and breathing in the ocean air. As the home was built mostly on rock, the homeowners had to create their own planting
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A secret door takes you from the living room into the master bedroom.
space. They did so by constructing concrete planters, big enough to hold large grasses and small trees, which give them the privacy they need, especially in the summer. To beat the heat in summer, there’s no need for air conditioning. All the owners have to do is open the deck door or kitchen window and a window in the master bedroom. Then, open the secret door and voilà — a nice, cooling cross-breeze. Heating the home in winter isn’t a problem, either. The HRV system, coupled with great insulation and south-facing windows in this air-tight home, mean they
rarely have to turn on the heat, making it an almost net-zero house. While the home owners chose a monochromatic theme, the white walls create a gallery-like feel for their artwork, most of it by Okanagan Artist, Gladys Goode. There’s a splash of colour on the floors as well, with well-placed Persian carpets that, when coupled with the white oak floors, give the home a coziness. But the true show of colour is outside the windows — the breathtaking bay and a view that’s different every day.
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Where you were born and who is your family?
I was born in Burnaby and have strong roots in the Greater Victoria area. My mom was born in Victoria before moving to England as a young child. My grandfather’s company, Robertson-McAlpine, built the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Saanich and my late brother, John, was head of exhibit design at the Royal BC Museum before his retirement in 2007. As a kid, I spent a lot of summers at my aunt and uncle’s home in Sooke. My parents retired to Victoria and one of their favourite pastimes was walking around the Inner Harbour. A bench dedicated to them overlooks the water near the Delta Ocean Pointe Resort.
You recently moved to Oak Bay. Why did you choose to live here?
My wife, Pamela, and I moved to Oak Bay last October. I’d been living in James Bay while Pamela finished off working in Vancouver. We were drawn to Oak Bay as it reminded us a lot of the Dunbar neighborhood in Vancouver where we lived and raised our two sons.
What do you love about Oak Bay?
The strong sense of community and the ability to walk to the shops and the beach.
What’s it like being in charge of the GVHA?
I feel a sense of responsibility to all of Victoria and visitors to the region to steward the harbour, and its iconic locations. It’s challenging but rewarding to work with the business community, residents, visitors, elected officials, and the GVHA staff and board to find the best balance for long-term prosperity.
What do you like to do when you’re not working? I love to garden. I’m excited for spring so I can see what plants we have and where I can add some personal touches. Just after we moved in, we experienced deer in our front garden so I have low expectations for what plants will survive! We’re also looking forward to day trips and weekends to explore all that the Island with has to offer.
Who is your hero and why?
My mom. She CLAIM TO FAME IN OAK BAY: taught me a lot about Greater Victoria Harbour believing in myself and Authority CEO that I could do anything I set my mind to. Mom was involved in Scouts and was a cub-pack leader so she instilled in me a sense of giving back to our community. She was patient, caring, compassionate, optimistic, and always had time to listen. She grew up in London during the Second World War and would tell me stories about air raids and her town being bombed. She was very brave and I deeply admired her ability to deal with adversity.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? One of my bosses early in my career instilled in me to treat others as you would want to be treated. I’m guided daily by a quote from Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
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ith the Royal wedding taking place this spring, Tweed gets a little bit posh in Uplands Park with Oak Bay resident and photographer Chris Higginbottom as she shows off some glam garden party wear in the most poppy prints of the season. When it comes to style, Chris likes ‘classic with a twist of trend’ and admits that as a newborn photographer, capturing maternity through to baby’s first birthday, her regular work attire is anything but glamourous. “I work mostly in black Lululemon leggings but outside of work, I get excited to throw on skinny jeans and cute boots with a trendy top in my ‘real’ life,” says Chris. “I am very traditional — I don’t go full-bore into trends — but I like to add a touch here and there.” As a mother of three busy children, Chris is passionate about family time and a healthy lifestyle but she says she enjoys the challenge of running her own business amidst it all. “I love being busy and maximizing my time at work so I can be at all my kids’ activities and as many pick-ups and drop-offs as possible,” Chris tells us. The beautiful blonde says she doesn’t normally wear make-up most days, only when she goes out. As for her beauty secret? “I like having my nails and lashes done so I look remotely put together even when I’m in work/ kid/mom mode,” she says.
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Dress ($399) and matching jacket ($499) both by Caroline Biss and from W&J Wilson.
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Hearing loss can have a far-reaching effect on your life. It can be harder to distinguish between speech and noise, and if communicating becomes more difficult, you may find yourself feeling frustrated and isolated.
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Annual hearing assessments ü ü Routine hearing aid check up for life of the hearing instruments ü Annual electroacoustic (computer) check of hearing aid performance ü Minor in-house repairs ü Hearing aid cleanings and checks ü Reprogramming of hearing aids ü Trial period with new hearing instruments ü Preventive maintenance appointments ü Free factory check of hearing instruments before warranty expiration
You are not alone One out of seven people over 65 have some form of hearing loss. The good news is that there is a wide range of help available, and we are here as partners in your hearing health journey.
OAK BAY INSIDER
Making a Splash: The development and redevelopment of Oak Bay Rec
Christopher Causton was mayor of Oak Bay for 15 years. He is now the Goodwill Ambassador and a captain with Victoria Harbour Ferries. He is the former owner of Jason’s and Rattenbury’s (Old Spaghetti Factory) and is a classically trained hotelier. A member of Harbourside Rotary for 32 years, he flies flags in his spare time.
f at first you don’t succeed, keep trying and you may be surprised. This was the mantra of Oak Bay Council in the early 1970s. Oak Bay was determined to build a recreation centre on Bee Street but the first referendum was unsuccessful. However, a subsequent one in 1973 passed and in 1975, Oak Bay opened the first recreation facility of its kind in British Columbia. No other public facility had combined so many different recreation options under one roof. The choice of a location on Bee Street was critical as it put the facility within a ‘three-mile’ or 4.8-kilometre radius of 100,000 people. At the time, Oak Bay only had a population of 18,000 but falling within the three-mile radius was the Crystal Pool. The effect on the City of Victoria’s facility was immediate as hundreds of families from Victoria and Saanich moved to the Oak Bay pool where the water was warmer and the entrance fee was lower. Oak Bay had a huge success on its hands! And because of sheer volume, the Municipality enjoyed the highest percentage of user pay, and hence the lowest subsidy, of any comparablysized facility in the province for years. Then, in 1994, it was Oak Bay’s turn to feel the chill winds of competition. For the Commonwealth Games, Saanich had built a wonderful facility that not only attracted serious swimmers but had all the bells and whistles to attract families. Saanich was also upgrading its Gordon Head Facility. Oak Bay’s numbers were declining, its subsidy was increasing and despite the slides and a fitness facility, the downward trend continued. Council and staff recognized that nothing less than a complete overhaul would reverse the downward trend, and so a redevelopment plan was hatched — but it required another referendum. In the lead up to the April 2002 referendum,
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everyone found out what was being planned and it was certainly ambitious. There would be a brand new 7,300-square-foot fitness facility on what was a roof. The pool would get natural lighting with huge windows. There would be family change rooms, an elevator, and seismic upgrading. Administration facilities would be totally moved around and a steam room would be added next to the pool. But the biggest change was the most controversial. The curling rink would be closed and replaced by an indoor multi-purpose sports area. The curlers were naturally not happy and it fell to the mayor and Councillors Irvine and MaceyBrown to meet with them. After a very fractious meeting, the curlers were given a one-year reprieve but were required to leave after that. As Irvine and Macey-Brown literally picked themselves off the floor, the mayor appeared to be in a Basil Fawlty mood as he said, “well that went well!” The total cost of the upgrade was $5.4 million, with $4.8 million being borrowed and the rest coming from private donations and the Municipality. Council wanted the Centre to remain open during the redevelopment to maintain the customer base as much as possible. There were challenges galore but the budget stayed firm and one year after re-opening, the Centre had its best year in the previous two decades. The sports field turned out to be very popular and even the artificial turf has a story. In 2003, it was laid as the indoor practice field for the Super Bowl in San Diego. Used only once for practice, Field Turf International — which had the contract for the sports field — asked if Oak Bay wanted a slightly used field. It was in storage for a year and when it was eventually rolled out, there was a huge NFL logo right in the middle. Just one more of those surprises!
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LABOUR OF LOVE The remarkable restoration of a rare Wills Sainte Claire roadster
Pete Seward in front of his rare 1922 roadster.
By IVAN WATSON
ete Seward’s 1922 Wills Sainte Claire roadster is painted a gleaming ‘Lake Huron blue’ that evokes the spirt of a bygone era of classic motoring. “The model was originally offered in three colours,” Seward explains. “The other two were ‘Lady Mary maroon’ and ‘liberty green.’ You don’t see many cars painted in those tones nowadays.” Seward’s Oak Bay garage is a shrine to the vehicle that he lovingly refers to as the “Wills.” Vintage enamel signs and license plates take pride of place in his colourful collection of classic car parts and automobile ephemera. The garage was purposely-built in 1992 to house the Wills — one of only two known to exist in Canada and about 80 worldwide — after he inherited it from his mother. The ultra-rare car is woven into the fabric of the Seward family history and the story of our community. A long-time Oak Bay resident, Seward speaks with encyclopedic knowledge about the Wills, which has been in his family for more than 80 years. “It was originally licensed in California,” Seward says, while examining original sales documents. “My dad bought it used in 1933. He paid $300, which was a lot of money then because it was the Depression.” That same year, his dad was awarded the local mail delivery contract. Tommy Seward delivered the mail six days a week to Sooke and two of those days to Jordan River. “He had a Dodge panel truck which he used for mail and
small freight but when it was out of service, he used the Wills because that was the only registered car he had during those years,” recalls Seward. “My mother drove the car a lot in those days, and when you’re trying to crank that steering wheel around, it’s a struggle but somehow she managed it.” In 1937, the Wills was in a minor collision on Government Street with a vehicle driven by Tim Matson, who was editor of the Colonist newspaper at the time. “Matson wrote an article about the crash but didn’t assign blame,” says Seward. “The neck of the original mascot was broken but it was welded back together. You can still see the trace of that along with the initials of the previous owner who ground them into the base.” Seward is keen on preserving the details that chronicle the Wills’ unique journey, such as wartime fuel rationing decals he steamed off the original windshield and carefully replaced after completing the restoration. He’s proud to point out that for an American car built in Marysville, Michigan, the Wills features a nod to Canada with its mascot — a stylized Canada Goose. In 1946, water damage to the engine put the Wills out of service. The same year, Tommy Seward lost the mail contract and later suffered an accident that put him in hospital for six months. The Wills went into storage, where it remained for decades. But as a child, Seward was fascinated by the Wills and knew that even then, it was special. “My parents always spoke about the car as a member of the family,” Seward says. “For many years, it was up against the wall in our garage and sometimes, I was allowed to sit SPRING 2018
Clockwise from left: The Wills Sainte Claire roadster in Seward’s Oak Bay backyard; Pete’s mother, Betty Seward, and sister, Shirley, in 1939 (photo from the Seward family collection); the rear view of the roadster; and a manual for the 1922 vehicle.
in it with my friends and pretend I was driving. It had something called a ‘Bermuda bell’ with a pull string on it. I’d pull that and ring the bell.” On warm weather days, Tommy Seward worked in his garage with the door open and understandably, the Wills attracted considerable attention. “A number of people came by who wanted to buy it,” says Seward. “But nobody ever got to talking about price because it just wasn’t for sale. Dad was adamant about that and I’m glad he was!” In 1965, at age 21, Seward started thinking about restoring the Wills to its former glory. He made some minor repairs but parts were hard to come by and a busy professional and family life meant free time was in short supply. Almost 30 years would pass before Seward started the renovation again in 1992. But after decades in storage, the car was in rough shape. Rust, rodents and the passage of time had all taken their toll. “Fortunately, most of the vehicle was still largely together,” he says. “I could pull the seats out and get under the body with a flashlight.” For the past 25 years, Seward’s restoration has been a labour of love. In the early 1990s, he joined the Wills Collector’s Club (later the Wills Sainte Claire Automobile Museum) and a fellow enthusiast mailed him a copy of the original shop manual. “It was a smudgy, wet copy with no drawings and no pictures but all the words were there,” says Seward. “That’s all I had to go by at first.”
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Seward traded photographs, drawings and notes with a collector in Oregon and local craftsmen helped with some machining and fabrication. It was slow but steady progress. Around 2006, Seward started working with Patrick Jones, a mechanic and instructor at Camosun College’s automotive service technician program. “I helped rebuild the carburetor and set up the cam shaft drive system,” says Jones. “It was a tough job to make the engine run but we did it.” Seward knew that some parts simply weren’t available so Jones enlisted a Camosun engineering team who used hand-drawn models and vintage parts to scan, design and 3D print dyes for aluminum mouldings to replace the floorboard bezels. “It was the perfect combination of old and new technologies,” says Jones. “It was really nice how it turned out.” By August 2016, restoration was nearly complete and Seward registered the Wills in the prestigious Crescent Beach Concours d’Elegance car show in Vancouver. To prepare, he and Jones took it out for a test drive. “We drove it down the street and we got it around the corner and it just died,” Seward says. “A couple of young guys helped us push it back into the driveway and we started taking it apart.” Determined to make it to the car show only a few days away, Jones and Seward worked around the clock to fix a blockage in the vacuum tank. At the show, the restored Wills was a smash hit. Amongst gleaming classic Cadillacs and vintage Rolls-Royces, Seward’s labour of love won best in class and best in show —an extraordinary accomplishment. Do you know a special story about Oak Bay’s history that would interest Tweed readers? Email: email@example.com or call 250-418-0700
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OAK BAY HISTORY
CHICKENS PART 1: The trials
and tribulations of one of Oak Bay’s most infamous figures By BARRIE MOEN Photo art by Eric Earl and photos courtesy of the Oak Bay Archives
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e often read the names of prominent European settlers in histories of Oak Bay and Victoria but when it comes to compiling an ‘A list’ of media darlings in the historic records of this region, it’s tough to ignore the antics of a First Nations man named Jimmy Chickens, or Chicken as some call him. Surnames like Douglas, Tod, and Pemberton certainly had their place but in the late 1800s with no radio, television or internet to entertain people, they loved to read amusing anecdotes in newspapers. Newspaper editors at the time would publish comical news from elsewhere and they weren’t above fabricating an article (apparently fake news isn’t new!) to liven up an issue. In Victoria, the British Daily Colonist’s ‘Before the Magistrate’ column became a must-read and its star character was Jimmy Chickens. People would flick through to page five of every issue to find out about Jimmy’s latest misadventure. He was Oak Bay’s own Robinson Crusoe of Mary Tod Island and seldom failed to please his public following. Unfortunately, there’s no record of Jimmy Chickens’ indigenous name. Rumour has He was Oak Bay’s it his now-famous last name reown Robinson Crusoe flected his propensity for stealing of Mary Tod Island chickens and then jumping in his boat to paddle back to his home and seldom failed on Mary Tod Island. The name to please his public could also be from the skinny following. chickens he allegedly raised on the rocky soil of the little island off Oak Bay. However, there are no records of these fowl crimes, or evidence of any hardscrabble chicken wrangling, so his name could just as easily have been a lampoon of ‘Chickamen’, the Chinook term for trading goods. Jimmy, described as the last of the Cadboro Nation, was born around 1840 in a stockade camp on the east side of Cadboro Bay. Like most First Nations people in the area, his family would have made their way to the west side of Victoria’s harbour, to the security and opportunities provided by the area we now call the Songhees. It was a volatile time with cultural upheaval and chances are good Jimmy witnessed Cowichan Chief Tzouhalem’s fiery native uprising in 1844 curtailed by the fort’s cannons. He probably also watched 200 royal marines from HMS Constance, Britain’s first warship to enter Esquimalt harbour, perform an armed demonstration to quell the general unrest between the Cowichan and Songhees nations in 1848. In 1853, an invasion of 3,000 northern tribesmen from the Haida Nation and the Tongass Tlinget of Alaska had all the inhabitants of what we now call Oak Bay on high alert after the Alaskans attacked and injured settlers at the Hudson’s Bay company farm near Cadboro Bay. They scampered before James Douglas and an armed party of six men arrived
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tribes. Jimmy wasn’t a vengeful man so he likely stayed clear of the Battle of Rock Bay in 1859. The battle erupted after various tribes, seeking revenge for alleged injustices, painted their faces, donned full war regalia, and armed themselves with muskets. They opened fire and seven people were killed as 4,000 spectators, well within range of the rifle fire, looked on. The fighting between the various bands continued until 1861. Jimmy also managed to survive the smallpox epidemic of 1862, which killed hundreds in the Haida encampments. When he wasn’t fishing, Jimmy likely worked in the lumberyards or laboured on roadways for $2 a day, which was 50 cents less than the pay for white labourers. In1868, the first federal statute prohibiting the sale of alcohol to aboriginals appeared and by 1874, anyone found intoxicated could receive a month in jail and an additional 14 days if they didn’t reveal the name of their supplier. It was bad news for Jimmy, who liked to drink. However, it wasn’t until 1879, when Jimmy was nearing 40, that his trials and tribulations began to appear in print.
The reports were lackluster to begin with: “Jimmy Chickens, native vagrant, $5 or 14 days” and “Jimmy Chickens, an Indian: 6 months of hard labour.” Yet, Jimmy smiled through it all. Perhaps he welcomed the bath, clean clothes, and regular meals. In 1882, the public became aware that they weren’t reading about another intoxicated native but a true coastal philosopher. Their first insight occurred after Jimmy was charged with stealing a can of sugar. “Your honour,” he pleaded. “I didn’t steal the can of sugar — some other Siwash mislaid it. I was lucky to find it and I intended to return it after I was finished with it.” Readers loved it. In 1884, Jimmy and his ‘klootchman’ or wife, Jenny, who was reported as “a Songish (Songhees) of a very bad kind” appeared together in court charged with being under the influence. They received a fine of $25 or one month in the hoosegow. Jenny got an extra five days for drunk and disorderly. In and out of court they went, Jimmy smiling and the irrepressible Jenny ready for a squabble. Jimmy’s hard labour usually consisted of being a janitor at the lockup on the hill where S.J. Willis school is now located. During these years, they drifted to the sanctuary of Mary Tod Island and an unusual co-dependency with the suave John Virtue, owner of the Mt. Baker Hotel. Jimmy supplied the hotel’s dining room with fresh fish and Virtue supplied Jimmy with cash, a headshake, and a smile. In 1891, Jimmy’s notorious better half, Jenny — who was always ready for a brawl — refused to let a young constable search her for a concealed bottle of gin. In court the Magistrate asked where the bottle was supposedly concealed. “In her feminine nether regions, Sir,” replied the young constable. “Ahh!” the judge replied, “And how was said bottle eventually revealed, constable?” “French gallantry, your honour,” replied the constable. “French gallantry, very commendable,” nodded the judge before asking: “And who are the 200 people in the gallery?” “Witnesses, your honour,” the constable answered. “Very good, constable, carry on.” And carry on Jimmy and Jenny certainly did, with more mischief and amusing antics. You can read all about them in the next issue of Tweed in part two of the Jimmy Chickens chronicles.
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OAK BAY TRAVEL
BUZZING BOGOTÁ: LATIN AMERICA’S NEW CAPITAL OF COOL By IVAN WATSON
he ceiling of the cave lights up with the prismatic radiance of thousands of LED lights, shifting every few seconds into the shapes and colours of dozens of national flags. At the exact moment that I walk underneath, they explode into the unmistakable red and white of Canada’s maple leaf. “That is a sign of luck, my Canadian friend,” my tour guide, Mateo, insists. “It is your special welcome to my country.” Such moments of magical realism — of the kind made famous by Colombia’s master writer Gabriel García Márquez — follow me throughout my week-long trip to the dynamic capital city of Bogotá. Enjoying an urban renaissance that has earned it a reputation as ‘South America’s newest capital of cool’, I experienced a city pulsating with creative energy, a vibrant cultural and culinary scene and world-class attractions waiting to be discovered by the curious traveller. Located at a high altitude far from the beach resorts of the coast, Bogotá boasts a population of 30
eight million and maintains a mild climate with an average temperature of 14.5°C throughout the year. Its proximity to the equator means that the sun rises and sets consistently around 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. year-round. I’m staying at Hotel Regina, a 1920s boutique hotel renovated in an ultra-modern style in Bogotá’s historic La Candelaria neighbourhood, which is within walking distance of many of the city’s major attractions. The hotel’s rooftop patio retains a classic charm with daily breakfast served on a silver tray by tuxedoed waiters. And in the lobby, friendly manager Fernando sports a grey top hat. The luminous cave was the beginning of my descent into the famous Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá, located about 50 kilometres north of Bogotá. The ‘cathedral’ is an underground church carved out of an old salt mine. Mateo says everything is natural, as he points out hand-carved figures, angels and crosses. A sense of the surreal permeates, as though a parallel world had been dug underneath the surface of the moon. Returning to daylight, I board a tourist train
for lunch in the adjacent town. My meal — delicious grilled meats, roasted yuca root and fried plantains with avocado and salsa — was washed down by a shot of aguardiente, Colombia’s famous ‘fire water’ liquor. Back in Bogotá, I meet my Colombian friend, Edison, who offers to show me his city. We hike up Monserrate Mountain, which dominates the city’s skyline. At 3,152 metres above sea level, the path to the top provides an energetic day hike, with locals selling refreshments at various elevations en route. A 17th century church anchors the summit and devout Catholics are known to make the pilgrimage on their knees. For a less strenuous visit, a funicular railway links the summit with the buzzing city below. In recent years, Colombia’s invested millions of dollars restoring Bogotá’s heritage and is in the midst of transforming the old city’s congested streets into pedestrian zones. While on a walking tour, I saw workers installing new paving stones in the streets leading to the cathedral. My tour guide, Heidy, tells me the neighbourhood has never looked so good. “This is our moment,” she proudly says. “We are ready to welcome the world to discover us.” Public safety has improved dramatically in Colombia’s capital but a reputation for drug gangs lingers. “We want to be known for all this,” Heidy says, gesturing to the beautiful cathedral and impressive heritage buildings surrounding the city’s vast Bolivar Square. “We’ve worked hard to move beyond the violent past.” Bogotá’s attractions are world-class. The famous gold museum glitters with galleries of pre-Columbian treasures; the national museum charts the country’s story from the indigenous, colonial and modern periods; and the Quinta de Bolivar memorializes South America’s greatest revolutionary hero: Simón Bolívar. The expansive ‘Centro Cultural Gabriel García Márquez’ honours Colombia’s most famous writer
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and serves as a complex for events and cultural exchanges. One of the city’s crown jewels is the restored Teatro Colón — Colombia’s national theatre, where I watch a wonderful performance of Mozart’s opera Cosi Fan Tutte. Opened in 1892, and inspired partly by Paris’ Opera Garnier, it boasts marbled interiors and classic European elegance. Next door is the luxurious Hotel de la Opera. It’s the perfect place for a pre-show glass of champagne. After the opera, I walk back to my hotel as Colombia’s national soccer team plays against rival Peru. As I pass by bustling sports bars, residential apartments with open windows and lively restaurant patios, I don’t lose track of the boisterous voice of the play-by-play announcer for a second, as it echoes from television sets around the city. My hotel is a ‘stone’s throw’ from Bogotá’s main emerald exchange centre, although the armed guards made sure no one makes such an attempt. Inside, dozens of boutique shops sell jewellery at very reasonable prices. The salespeople tell me emeralds are rarer than diamonds and say I can’t leave Colombia empty-handed. I don’t — departing with a sterling silver necklace and earrings set as a gift for my mother. Every major city boasts quality restaurants, but only Bogotá has the amazing Andrés Carne De Res — a four-story wonder that is part nightclub, part theatre, and a wholly enthralling dining experience of delicious food and interactive entertainment. The servers serenade me and pin me with their national flag when they discover it was my first visit to their country. La Puerta Falsa (literally “the false door”) has served
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The author overlooking Lake Guatavita, famous for the gold-filled ‘El Dorado’ of myth and legend.
Hikers enjoy world-class views of the city centre from the top of Monserrate Mountain; Religious figures inside the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá are hard-carved out of rock salt and marble.
hungry customers for generations. Located in a centuriesold building adjacent to the cathedral, its name derives from the legend of an escape route for gentlemen sneaking away from long sermons. It serves one of my favourite Colombian sweets: bocadillo (guava jelly covered with caramel and wrapped in a palm leaf). Wandering the old city on a Sunday afternoon, I discover the weekly San Alejo flea market, where more than 300 stalls exhibit art, antiques and uniquely Colombian curiosities. There, I purchase an antique bronze candy-making bowl with enthusiastic but as yet unrealized ambitions to recreate bocadillo in Canada. I end the day with a pint of
local craft beer at the Bogota Beer Company — a trendy microbrewery business with more than a dozen locations around the city. On my last day in town, I hike to Lake Guatavita, a sacred body of water where the legend of El Dorado and unlimited gold is said to have originated. During colonial times, the Spanish failed repeatedly to drain the lake and retrieve gold given as ritual offerings to the ruler of the indigenous Muisca people. Relaxing on a rock overlooking its calm waters, I reflect on my time in Bogotá, and make a promise to return one day to a city whose future seems even more glittering than its golden past.
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BURSTING INTO BLOOM
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Parting Shot welcomes high-resolution photo submissions of places, people and things in Oak Bay. Want to give us your best shot? Send submission to Tweed editor Tess van Straaten at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to include a little bit about the photo, including when and where you took it.
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With her doctorate in audiology & 17 years’ experience, Dr. Wright is well suited to improve your hearing, even in the most difficult listening situations. See ad on page 12.
for an attractive, well-maintained & secure retirement residence, while fostering a supportive community of enjoyment, camaraderie & pride. See ad on page 28.
Don Wuest, owner at WILD BIRDS UNLIMITED, wants you to have the best bird feeding experience possible. After all, it’s the most relaxing, fulfilling, educational & exciting hobby that everyone can enjoy. See our ad on page 34.
OAK BAY SEAFOOD
Gregg and Anne Best bring 40 years of experience in the fishing and seafood industry to Oak Bay Seafood. They are very pleased with the warm welcome and support they have received at their new fish store on the Avenue. See ad on page 4.
Bay. For more than 25 years she’s successfully matched people and properties. Her commitment to friendly, personalized service has earned her the Lifetime Award of Excellence. See ad on page 36.
KAREN JENSEN As a full-time, dedicated professional with nearly 3 decades of experience, I’m pleased to work with buyers and sellers alike. I hold the Re/Max Lifetime Achievement award. Please contact me for a complimentary evaluation of your property. See ad on page 13.
SMILES BY DESIGN
Celebrating 50 years in the community! See ad on page 40.
JASON BINAB Understands
people and Real Estate. He enjoys working with his wife Amber at the Binab Group. Together they have two sons, Benson and Jamison and one dog Lily. Jason has lived in Oak Bay for over 25 years and specializes in Oak Bay. See ad on page 11.
Our professional audiologists provide the best possible hearing care. We are celebrating over twenty years of providing better hearing in the Oak Bay community. See our ad on page 20-21.
HEATWAVE PLUMBING & HEATING LTD Providing Victoria
with the highest quality of plumbing, heating and gas installations since 1996. See ad on page 13.
Canadian-owned and operated company offering property restoration, 24/7 emergency service and free hazardous material inspection. See ad on page 7.
The largest theatre screen in BC combined with crystal clear images in IMAX Laser and wraparound digital surround sound, provide an incredibly immersive cinematic experience. See ad on page 26. Geoffrey Beattie, has owned
BARCLAY’S FINE CUSTOM JEWELLERS for the past 15 years.
BARCLAYS carries a range of exclusive & fine pieces of beautiful jewellery as well as specializing in both creating custom pieces & re-designs. See ad on page 11.
GEOFF FIELD & MIKE FOWLES have over 75 years
of combined experience in Real Estate Sales. Born and raised in Victoria and living in Oak Bay. See ad on page 4.
1950 B Oak Bay Ave. 250-361-9243 www.heatwave.me Visit Our Showroom | High Efficiency Natural Gas Fireplaces
Proudly serving the Oak Bay community for 40 years. See ad on pages 8, 38-39.
Dr. Michael is passionate about giving people healthy, beautiful smiles with the use of innovative techniques and the latest technology and training. See ad on page 6.
is a realtor at Newport Realty, born and raised in Victoria, and specializes in the Oak Bay, Victoria, Saanich Real Estate Market. If you are considering buying or selling, contact her for competent and trusted real estate service. See ad on page 35.
1950 B Oak Bay Ave. 250-361-9243 www.heatwave.me Visit Our Showroom | High Efficiency Natural Gas Fireplaces
BRENDA RUSSELL, ROYAL LE PAGE Raised in Oak
FOUL BAY PHYSIOTHERAPY has been serving Oak Bay for over 25 years. The team includes Ian Catchpole & Gerry Illmayer with over 35 years combined experience, joined by Lisa, Terri, Jaymie & Marita. See ad on page 8.
We are a local company that provides
AACTa full Financial range of services including , Your one stop financial shop
AACT Financial Your one stop financial shop
Income Tax, Accounting & Financial Services. See ad on page 6.
ENGEL & VÖLKERS
Engel & Völkers, a global company and lifestyle brand providing high quality services for those seeking to buy and sell real estate properties. See ad on page 2.
THE AVENUE GALLERY
A premiere boutique gallery in Victoria, The Avenue Gallery has been showcasing contemporary Canadian paintings, sculpture, ceramics, glass, and jewellery since 2002. See ads on page 29.
TULIPE NOIRE Kari McLay, owner
of Tulipe Noire Clothing is proud to provide quality lifestyle apparel for women of all ages. Step inside and find premium denim, luscious cashmere, designer tees, classic dresses for day or evening … casual elegance for all occasions. See ad on page 14.
NAI COMMERCIAL (VICTORIA) INC.
Offering full service commercial real estate service, worldwide. See ad on page 28.
Proudly Serving the Oak Bay Community for 40 Years
Newport Realty has been chosen by Christie’s International Real Estate to be their Exclusive Western Canada Representative Christie’s International Real Estate has affiliate offices in 46 countries with a combined annual sales volume of over $115 billion. It is a unique international perspective on the worlds of art and luxury. They are the leading global authority in the marketing of distinctive properties.
We Sell Special Homes in Oak Bay… Yours.
Our new office is between The Oak Bay Village And Downtown, at 1144 Fort Street “We’re on your way home”
The Art of Real Estate email@example.com ~ www.newportrealty.com 250-385-2033
from over 70 Professionals of Newport Realty
Spring means Fresh ! Here at Pepperâ€™s Foods, we take pride in cultivating relationships with local food producers. Spring means renewing our commitment to bringing your family the freshest local produce as soon as it can be harvested. Bright red Saanich tomatoes, kiwi fruit and vibrant micro greens are just a taste of what our local farmers provide. From farm to table, taste the difference local makes.
Same Day Home Delivery! 250-477-6513 Mon-Fri Excluding Holidays
250-477-6513 â€˘ 3829 Cadboro Bay Road