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P e o p l e A rts H o m e s F o o d c u lt u r e r e c r e at i o n H i s to ry WInter 2010

Life in the West Kootenay/Boundary Region

Kootenay Powder Monster snowfall + excellent terrain = abundant Heli- and Cat-Ski operations

Flashes of Inspiration

Take a step off the beaten path and enjoy Grand Forks artist Nora Curiston’s work


Dog-sledding , Salmo-style!

Santa’s workshop

Dave Francis carves delightful wooden figurines in his Castlegar workshop

PARtneRInG In the BounDARy RDKB Area D director IRene PeRePolKIn

RDKB Area C director GRACe MCGReGoR

contents Publisher Chuck Bennett chuckbennett@ Account Manager Chris Hammett route3@ Editor & Art Director Shelley Ackerman

Route 3 is published quarterly by Black Press Telephone: 250-442-2191 or 1-877-443-2191 Courier and mail: Box 700, 7255 Riverside Dr. Grand Forks, B.C. V0H 1H0

Chris Hammett

Route 3 is distributed through the following newspapers, and on racks throughout the West Kootenay and Boundary regions.

A festive ornament rests on the painted stairs in the Pastro home in Rossland. See story on page 12.

arts & Culture

Outdoor adventure

Flashes of Inspiration


Take a step off the beaten path and enjoy Grand Forks artist Nora Curiston’s work, page 7

Al Magaw takes us dog-sledding, Salmo-style, page 17

Outdoor adventure


Kootenay Powder Monster snowfall + excellent terrain = abundant Heli- and Cat-Ski operations in the region, page 8

Santa’s Workshop Dave Francis carves delightful wooden figurines in his Castlegar workshop, page 20 History


From Charming to Spectacular The renovation of the Pastro home in Rossland reinvigorated it with taste and style, page 12

The Real Ivan Mitchell Doing justice to a forgotten hockey player, page 22

Printed in Canada on recyclable paper. Copyright 2010 by Black Press. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any article, photograph, or artwork without written permission of the publisher is strictly forbidden. The publisher can assume no responsibility for unsolicited material.

FSC LOGO Cover photo by Heath Clement, courtesy Big Red Cats. CORRECTION:

The top right photo on page 13 in the Fall issue of Route 3, was incorrectly identified. It is actually the home of Wilma Buckley, not Bill Jewitt. Our apologies to the homeowners. Winter 2010 Route 3

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Tidbits – a taste of what’s happening in the West Kootenay/Boundary Canadian Open Freeskiing Championship

Red Mountain, Rossland Jan 12 - 22 This is the 10th annual event and also Canada's longest running big mountain freeskiing competition. TRAIL SOCIETY FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS presents MEMEZA AFRICA

Charles Bailey Theatre, Trail Jan 25 This 14-piece ensemble delivers a powerhouse performance that moves seamlessly from traditional African songs to compositions supported by the unique African harmonies, only to catapult the audience into a dancing frenzy of gumboot or Zulu dances. Rail Trail 200 Dog Sled Race

Grand Forks Jan 28 - 30 Up to a dozen mushers are expected to bring their dog teams to race from Grand Forks to Big White and

back. The teams will begin the 200 mile race, a qualifier for the classic Yukon Quest race, from the Grand Forks Station Pub on the Rail Trail. Rossland Winter Carnival

Rossland Jan 28 - 30 Join us for the longest running winter carnival in Canada! Enjoy the downtown bobsled race, parade, downtown snow jam, and many other activities. Whitewater's Winter Carnival

Whitewater, Nelson Jan 29 Great music and lots of events for the whole family! Christina Lake Winterfest

Christina Lake Feb 4 - 6 Join the fun! Sno-pitch, horseshoes, bocce, cribbage, pie and chili contest, kids games and more!


Charles Bailey Theatre, Trail Feb 8 A timeless story of true love is brought to life through the narration of Colin Fox, with soprano Susan Gilmour Bailey and pianist Michael Kim. 5th Annual Kootenay Coldsmoke PowderFest

Whitewater, Nelson Feb 25 - 28 G3 Skigraphiks Competition, Film Fest, clinics, races, Foto Face-Off Competition, Crazy Rager After-Party and more! TRAIL SOCIETY FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS presents THE CORAZON ENSEMBLE

Charles Bailey Theatre, Trail Mar 8 Corazon Ensemble is a high energy

chorale of 65 Nelson and area youth singers under the direction of Allison Girvan. True to their name, Corazon sings from the heart and has in turn won the hearts of many Canadian audiences in the nine years since it began. Dummy Downhill / End of Season Party

Red Mountain, Rossland Apr 3 Celebrate the end of the ski season with fellow snow enthusiasts, music & great food. Come experience the deck party that everyone talks about. Festival Nelson

Nelson Apr 29 - 30 The 24th Annual High School Music Festival hosted by LV Rogers and Trafalgar Jr Secondary Schools and the Nelson United Church. The 2-day event includes evening concerts.

Sports Injury Rehab Massage Therapy Acupuncture, IMS Scenar Therapy Vestibular Rehab Pilates Instruction



1961 Georgia St Rossland, BC



ThisTle PoT GifTs THISTLEDecor POT GIFTS “Your Home &•Garden Store” THISTLE POT GIFTS 337 MARKET AVE. GRAND FORKS, BC 337 Market avenue, Grand Forks 337 MARKET AVE. • GRAND FORKS, BC 250.442.1214 250.442.1214 250-442-1214 U.S. Pat. No. 7,007,507 • © • All rights reserved • PANDORA.NET U.S. Pat. No. 7,007,507 • © • All rights reserved • PANDORA.NET

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Route 3 Winter 2010

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MKTG07186_THIPOT.indd 1 MKTG07186_THIPOT.indd 1 11/10/10 11:27 AM

11/10/2010 5:07:23 PM 11/10/2010 5:07:23 PM

Chris Hammett

arts & culture story by Shella Gardezi

Flashes of inspiration

courtesy Nora Curiston


or Grand Forks painter and sculptor Nora Curiston, inspiration comes in a flash. Take, for instance, one of her latest installation pieces “Meeting in the Pink.” It stems from snippets of a radio show she heard while otherwise distracted at work, and evolved into an actual place for the viewer’s own self-examination. At the end of the interview, Curiston thought she heard the author being interviewed say, “Perhaps we can meet in the pink someday.” “I thought, how do you do that?” Curiston said. “How do you meet in a colour?” Preparing for an exhibit at the Langham Cultural Centre, Curiston picked the perfect shade of pink paint and painted the centre’s bathroom pink. The meeting takes place when the viewer sees his or her own reflection in the mirror. It’s this immersive quality that draws Curiston to installation art. She wants art to be an experience for the viewer, so much so that she’s willing to make people work for it. One of her latest prototypes is sitting in a yard in Wells in northern British Columbia where she attended the Toni Onley Artist’s Project last summer.

Take a step off the beaten path and enjoy Grand Forks artist Nora Curiston’s work Winter 2010 Route 3

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All photos courtesy Nora Curiston

Opening page, above: Nora assists a group of art students with their outdoor art project. She instructs youth art classes at the Grand Forks Art Gallery once a week. From left to right, Taylor Charlong, 13, Teara Blatkewicz, 18, Alexis Switzer, 14, Nora Curiston, and Brittany Merry, 19. Opening page, below: “Meeting in Pink” I was listening to a replay of an old Peter Gzowski interview on the CBC. He was interviewing a woman with autism.  I was at work and only heard snippets of the interview but I believe she was saying that she experienced colours in unusual ways and that she always saw the light of streetlights as pink. At the end she said to Peter something to the effect of “perhaps we’ll meet some day in pink.”  I loved the idea of meeting someone “in” a colour. A bathroom provides an ideal small space to create such a meeting place and I also like the idea that we always have that little instant meeting with ourselves when we step into a bathroom and look in the mirror. —Nora Curiston

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Route 3 Winter 2010

This page, top: “Untitled.” Above: “Sleeping dog four times.” This is actually a very tiny piece made up of four small paintings. Right: “Tied Down Rock.”  This was an installation piece done in Wells, B.C. over the August long weekend this summer. It was done during the Arts Wells Festival. Paul Crawford and Julie Fowler arranged to have the rock placed in their front yard and Nora spent three days cementing in metal eyes etc. in order to strap it down with metal cable. Opposite page:   “One Step Closer to the Moon.”  This is a humble little wooden stool cobbled together out of scraps of wood and screws etc. The idea is that stepping up on to it changes your relation to everything else around you — one simple movement can change everything.

It’s called “Tied Down Rock” and is just what it sounds like. One large boulder tied down with thick cable. As impractical as that sounds, it’s still a work in progress. Ideally, Curiston would like to see a much bigger boulder located somewhere in the desert. It’s the kind of thing she and her husband musician David Soroka look for on their road trips. One of their trips included Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, a work of art made out of mud, rocks, salt crystals, water and earth in Great Salt Lake, Utah. Travelling there required printing out a rather obscure set of directions from the Internet. Curiston says her work is a little off the beaten path, but she strives to ensure it still resonates with the viewer. “As an artist, you want to communicate, and if it’s too strange, then it doesn’t communicate,” she says. “If it doesn’t communicate, then you’ve kind of missed the mark.” Curiston says she’s always been interested in art, but came to her formal training at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design later in life. “I started realizing I needed training because I was sort of reinventing the wheel, discovering things that other people know about the technical things,” she says. She started out with a few correspondence courses and moved on to intensive summer courses. It wasn’t until she received a postcard from a friend in Africa that she realized it was time to start following her dreams. “I thought, I really have to start doing the things I want to do or I’m never going to get them done. I’m running out of time,” she says. “My goal was to graduate by the time I was 55 and I made it.” It was at the Emily Carr Institute that her interest in sculpture blossomed.

“I was painting and I still really love painting, but at school I was exposed to so much art history and so many historical movements and contemporary art,” she says. “It just completely opened up my world to what art can be, and I started to do more sculpture there.” While at school Curiston started to consider the issue of representation. As a beginning artist she found she was trying to create a faithful likeness of her subject. “With painting, I was always trying to paint a picture that represented something else,” she says. “However, I found that I could get my ideas across more effectively, and more meaningfully for me, if I actually had the object in front of me – if I was creating an object.” Creating in a more abstract style means Curiston’s art leaves more opportunity for the viewer to derive his or her own meaning from the work. “One little flicker becomes the mechanics of making it, and then once it’s done, it’s really open to what reading the viewer takes from it,” she says. With modern art leaning away from the representation of the familiar world, many ask the questions, “What is art?” and “What makes a piece of art good?” Curiston says she knows it when she sees it. “It just knocks your socks and shoes off and shifts you off to one side, and the whole world looks a little bit different,” she says. Although a major interest for Curiston is sculpture, she continues to paint regularly focusing mainly on representations of the human figure. In her painting she explores the elements of composition – movement, colour and balance. “I’m interested in the painting, not representing the actual thing,” she says. Curiston recently completed a show at Kaslo’s Langham Cultural Centre and is busy planning the next step in her career. One of the directions she has in mind is stretching her horizons abroad, but not in the traditional artistic centres of Paris or London. Her top choices for artistic residencies are Iceland and Cuba. “They’re just opportunities to get away from the everyday and focus on new ideas,” she says. “I think that’s my next focus.” Curiston says she doesn’t paint traditional landscapes, but she “riffs” on the natural world and our relationship to it. That means wherever the next stage in her career takes her, she is bound to return to the Kootenay/Boundary area. Perhaps, we’ll even meet her in the pink someday. Shella Gardezi is a B.C.-based freelance writer whose interest in culture is complemented by her degree in music. Since moving to Grand Forks she has immersed herself in the vibrant arts scene of the region. Winter 2010 Route 3

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outdoor adventure story by

Tyler Austin Bradley

courtesy stellar heliskiing

Kootenay Powder

Monster snowfall + excellent terrain = Heli- and Cat-Ski operations in the region Page abundant 8 Route 3 Winter 2010 Stellar Heliskiing

Courtesy Big Red cats

Big Red Cats

Baldface lodge

Selkirk Wilderness skiing

Ed Chernoff/selkirk Wilderness skiing

Yawn. But snow. Ah, snow. Sub zero temperatures convert boring old water into the frosty elixir of Kootenay winter life. Snow. Fortunately, around here this most prized of resources is in abundant supply, its chilly qualities concealing a preservative effect not normally associated with mere refrigeration; those that pursue it, skibums, ski-bunnies, powder hounds, have effectively discovered the fountain of youth. Look out, cryogenics. Skiing keeps you young. And what gets the credit? Snow. But enough prose. Packaging snow, unlike water, can’t be done, and even if it could, probably shouldn’t be done in the long haul; “Think globally, act locally,” right? The solution then — how best to share our good fortune with others? Shrug. Better the powder-starved masses come here. As a region enjoying the perfect balance of soils, irrigation, hot summers and an aging population sees many a vineyard come to dot its landscape, so to it is with a perfect blend of monster snowfall, ideal

Courtesy Baldface Lodge

Bottled water is an uninspiring product. Dress it up how you like, it’s still fundamentally the same stuff, plain old water masquerading under a brand name label, liquid simplicity distilled down to two hydrogen molecules, and one oxygen molecule thrown in for good measure.

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Retallack cat-Skiing Above left: The author is pumped about he pending turns with Retallack Cat-Skiing.

Courtesy Tyler Bradley

Selkirk Wilderness Skiing

Above right: Heli-ski pilot and assistant welcome skiers to Snowwater Heliskiing.

Courtesy Selkirk Wilderness Skiing

Right: Selkirk Wilderness Skiing’s lodge offers such luxuries as massage, a wood-fired sauna, and hot tub.

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Route 3 Winter 2010

terrain, lengthy winters and backcountry cat and helicopter ski operations; Wineries mash grapes, we slay powder snow, and as our palates become more refined we seek out bigger, bolder, better lines. Yes, lines, not wines (until the après), but lines into the untracked backcountry. And the Kootenay concentration of cat and heli ski companies makes this experience possible. The sheer number of outfits here could busy an avid (and wellheeled) skier for a lifetime. This is the birthplace of cat-enabled skiing, Selkirk Wilderness Skiing in Meadow Creek laying claim to the genesis of snow-tank accessed backcountry shredding. Established in 1975 by the Drury family, Selkirk continues to introduce and advance guests into acreage that comprises more downhill than Vail and Whistler combined. Also in Meadow Creek, White Grizzly Cat Skiing answers the oft pondered question, what do you get when you cross a grizzly with a snow-cat? Answer: something amazing, a rare beast able to tackle the burly terrain and massive snowfall characteristic to the Kootenay snow belt. Grafting predatory powder hunting with nimble, sure-footed access and guiding, White Grizz is not to be missed. The third piece in Meadow Creek’s triumvirate of backcountry operators is Stellar Heliskiing. Tag-teamed with Wing Creek Cabins for their lodging, Stellar boasts “a customized heliskiing adventure” where groups of four skiers to a guide are the norm. Heading south to the “valley of the ghosts” twixt New Denver and Kaslo, pro skiers Tanner Hall and Seth Morrison’s motives for partnering up on ownership of Retallack Cat-skiing are clear. Retallack gets consistently pounded with snow, a feature attracting Red Bull events and industry insiders to its award winning eco-friendly lodge. Back on the road and south to Nelson, a short helicopter ride

Patric Maloney

Snowwater Heliskiing

over the west arm of Kootenay Lake transports guests to Baldface Lodge. Revelling in the seclusion of an exclusive and hyper comfortable backcountry ski lodge atmosphere, catskiers and ‘boarders are treated to world-class accommodation and al-you-can-eat powder runs at Baldface. With a list of supporters and guests that reads like a who’swho of the ski, ‘board, surf and sporting world, owner Jeff Pensiero credits much of Baldface’s success with its eye to delivering a first-class experience. “We have the same guides, the same people back year after year. There’s a real bond between the staff, and guests pick up on that. We’re all here for the snow, but having good people to share it with makes it that much better.” With a wine list featuring exclusively B.C. products, two new areas accessed and opened up for this season (“A lot of steep, north-facing terrain,” Pensiero assures me) and over 150 km of cat-roads criss-crossing through their tenure, Baldface and its features warrant mid-winter visitations. www. Down the road to Slocan Junction, Valhalla Powdercats and Snowwater Heliskiing partner to bring skiers the best of both worlds. Whether it’s on the ground or in the air, Valhalla and Snowwater have their formula dialled in SnoH2O; “Our tenure is six times the size of Whistler and Blackcomb combined, offering seasoned skiers a hearty selection of high alpine bowls, steep, old-growth forests, and endless, untracked Kootenay powder.” or A side trip to wild and woolly Ymir (pronounced “why-mer”) provides ample reason for Wildhorse Cat Skiing running a stable of local guides and guests through the surrounding terrain. An après beer at the Ymir Palace is worth the trip alone, a genuine, unbridled, hardcore experience. Founded in 1965, the world’s largest heliskiing company Canadian Mountain Holidays (based in Banff ) also operates several lodges and operations within the Kootenays. Information on their many lodges and services can be found at And last, but certainly not least, is Big Red Cats out of Rossland. With five Piston Bully 300s, eight peaks, customized intermediate, advanced and expert groupings, over eighty freshly gladed runs, an unmatched access system of cat roads, and close proximity to the genuine ski town flavour of Rossland, Big Red is a tough act to follow, their constant improvements as involved as herding feline namesakes. Owners Kieren and Paula Gaul agree, variety is key; “Not only is the terrain perfect for cat access, we’re also close to town here, so whether they’re here for one day or seven, guests have lots options in terms accommodation, night-life, shopping and so on.” Aware that distinguishing a brand is key with so many operations in the area, Kieren shrugs off my questions about competitors being “catty” with one another. “We often work and collaborate with other companies,” he explains. “Whether it’s a guide-exchange program, working on safety issues, or sourcing things for our supply line, it’s in all of our best interests to cooperate,” adding, “It’s the Kootenay way.” And a snow-covered way at that. Tyler Austin Bradley lives in an old corner store in Rossland. He divides his time between reading, writing, eating, sleeping, producing films and managing the waste stream of residents in the greater Trail area. He is originally from Vancouver.

Offering certificate, diploma and degree programs in the schools of: • Adult Basic Education • Hospitality & Tourism • Business & Aviation • Industry & Trades • Digital Media & Music Training • Kootenay School of • Health & Human the Arts Services

• Renewable Resources • Selkirk International • University Arts & Sciences

Located in the beautiful West Kootenay & Boundary regions.

BC’s Best Kept Secret ...the view is only the beginning! Call any of our realtors for information On properties in our area.


Toll Free: 1-800-567-3199

272 Central Avenue, Grand Forks, B.C.

Winter 2010 Route 3

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homes story by Graham Tracey photos by Chris Hammett

The renovation of the Pastro home in Rossland reinvigorated it with taste and style Page 12

Route 3 Winter 2010



Charming to Spectacular

The Pastros — Brogan, Sheila, Darren, and Bijou — pose for a photo in their charming and tastefully decorated living room.

The modern home renovation project has earned itself a well-deserved sinister reputation.

It conjures up visions of bonfires fed with legal tender, and cackling contractors who appear and disappear like morning fog. Marriages are strained, children sleep on cold floors, Chinese take-out is indulged in far too frequently, and grown men weep like babies. Meanwhile, all parties involved continue to ask the eternal question — is a larger, more functional bathroom really worth all of this heartache? For some, forsaken by luck and good taste alike, the answer may be a definite no. There are certain homeowners, however, who pour their cash and their hearts into the situation and come out with a beautiful new home, a strengthened common bond, and a few good stories to share. 1717 Park Street in Rossland has a welcoming face that would be at home in any town or city, with a long set of steep stairs and lanterns that highlight a simple and contrasting colour scheme. The structure is a two-storey war-timer, with a steep peaked roof that gives it a handsome heritage look that complements its

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mountain town neighbours. With a hint of winter in the air, it is easy to imagine the house decorated for the holidays, harbouring an intimate gathering complete with crackling fire and a large bowl of eggnog. Once inside, I find that my Charles Dickens fantasy isn’t too far off, and Sheila Pastro welcomes me into the home that she and her husband Darren have transformed from modestly charming to functionally spectacular. “Can you guess where the old floor stops and the new floor begins?” Sheila asks, and I bend down in a very serious way and perform a number of ridiculous tests before guessing incorrectly. Sure enough, the red oak of yesterday has been seamlessly joined with the red oak of today, and I learn as I go that this pleasant arrangement applies to much of the house, and is in fact no happy accident. Sheila explains, “we wanted to modernize certain elements within the home without betraying the intention of the structure — to keep the integrity and heritage alive while making it more livable.” The Pastros are not absentee renovators, and they got their start by revamping the basement themselves soon after buying the house in 1994. The result is a quintessential subterranean den, complete with fluffy white rugs, deep brown leather couches, and the added convenience of a wine refrigerator. As we make our way through the space, I start to dumbly dream of a lazy Sunday morning on the large couch just as Shelia begins to apologize for the unfinished gear room at the far end. It is, of course, immaculately clean and endlessly functional, but it is number one on her nearly complete to-do list. Back up on the main floor, we’re greeted by a black piano and an excitable black poodle named Bijou. The walls are painted different shades of smoky blue and grey, the milled trim is traditional white, and the brand new paned windows are made by Pella. Sheila leads me into a passageway of sorts — larger than a hallway but smaller than a closet — and informs me that it used to be the kitchen, before adding with a grin, “the best part of it was that I could tend the stove and reach across the room into the fridge at the same time!” On that note, we continue into the new kitchen, and I quickly realize that I’ve only begun to see the extent of the work that has been done. I gravitate first toward the countertops and instinctively test their smoothness, but I’m soon distracted by the pot filler protruding from the Carrera marble backsplash above the stove. Ample windows on the west side combine with high ceilings to create an outstanding sense Page 14

Route 3 Winter 2010

of space, and the appliances are all top notch. The large doors leading out onto a gravel patio with tiered gardens puts me over the edge, and I immediately offer to cook dinner for the whole family as long as I can use their kitchen. This kitchen is the cornerstone of a massive renovation that occurred in 2005 — a project that nearly doubled the living space while reinvigorating the existing house inside and out. A new roof, new stucco, and new landscaping surround a comprehensive interior makeover that includes new insulation throughout, a master bedroom suite and several new bathrooms, and countless smaller spaces housing the laundry, cloak room, and walk-in closet. When I asked where she and Darren and their son Brogan stayed during all of this mayhem, I assumed the family must have rented a house nearby and waited out the storm. Once again, I was incorrect. “We moved down into the basement,” Sheila explains. “We kept one room reserved upstairs, but the basement has a bathroom, a guest room, and we bought a microwave, so it was all we needed. In reality, the way we lived through the renovation was by living within it. Plus, there was plenty of work for us to do, not to mention the cleaning.” She went on to sing the praises of their contractor, Darren Schleppe, and his company, Hil-Tech. Not only did they provide an excellent end result, but they completed the entire project in just six months. On our way up to the second storey I take notice of the stylish stairway, with black treads and white risers, complimented by a quirky midcentury geometric railing that looks like something Frank Lloyd Wright would have put on his own steps. Once upstairs, Sheila introduces me to her husband, Darren, busy relaxing in the entertainment room, and they show me the “before” pictures lovingly preserved in an album. I comment that the house was quite nice to begin with, and she agrees, pointing to the original and refurbished fir flooring below our feet. “That was our feeling too. We didn’t set out to erase the original home, and we tried to keep as many facets of that house that we could.” We proceed past the mansion-like walk-in closet, split equally by gender, and past the amazingly tidy quarters of their teenage son Brogan, until we arrive at Sheila’s pride and joy — the master bedroom and en suite bathroom. She beams with excitement, heading straight for the enormous bathroom and pointing out all of the finer details: a soaker tub, separate Carrera mosaic tiled shower, separate water closet, dueling sinks, and minimalist modern fixtures throughout. The bedroom itself

benefits from large doors opening onto a princess balcony that overlooks the back yard. Out on the balcony, Sheila and I mime the pose of a proud homeowner emerging from the second storey veranda to greet the guests at a garden party, gesturing grandly and leading a champagne toast. It occurs to me that it would be a party well worth attending. Graham Tracey is a constant musician, frequent writer, and occasional cook. He and his wife are aspiring Canadians, but their son is the real deal. After a decade of working in New York City as a composer and producer, Graham moved to Rossland to ski and breathe freely.

TreatYourself Enjoy Rossland’s winter wonderland

Angela’s B&B and Guesthouse Wi-Fi, hot tub, log fire, BBQs. Large, private kitchen suites. Affordable long or short stays, happy reunions, fun ski trips.


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Our Winter Paradise Awaits

Sunflower Inn Bed & Breakfast Cross Country Skiing • Snowshoeing • Snowmobiling Just minutes from the Paulsen & Trans Canada trails

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prENatal trEatMENtS


Life in the West

ary Region Kootenay/Bound

Kootenay Powder + Monster snowfall = excellent terrainand abundant HeliCat-Ski operations

ATION FLASHES OFtheINSPIR beaten path and

Take a step off artist enjoy Grand Forks work Nora Curiston’s


Salmo-style! Dog-sledding ,


SANTA delightful Dave Francis carves in his wooden figurines p Castlegar worksho

To advertise in the Spring issue, contact Chris at 1-877-443-2191 or email route3@

Winter 2010 Route 3

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The mountain is no place to question your confidence 11

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This Winter Ski Whitewater or Cat Ski at Baldface Lodge

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Route 3 Winter 2010

Come for the trails, the golf and the lake; stay because it feels like coming home. 2037 Highway 3, Christina Lake, B.C. Toll Free 1-888-859-0159 • 250-447-9312 A B.C. Select property, catering to the discerning traveller

outdoor adventure story by

Mush! Al Magaw takes us dog-sledding, Salmo-style


icture a winter wonderland, somewhere in Alaska where the mist of your breath is cut by the chill in the air. The sound of the musher calling out to his dogs in the distance, “Hey ya...go...go!” as you hear the dogs barking and coming closer and they round the corner, ten dogs pounding the packed snow, pulling their sled. As the sled comes to a stop, your attention is immediately drawn to these gorgeous Alaskan huskies embraced in their warm, furry coats, gazing out of amber eyes flashing with adrenaline. Now, open your eyes and forget most of what you just imagined because that is the image, not the reality. “If you could picture what trying to run in a fur coat would be like —fat dogs are not what you want for racing,” said Al Magaw, owner and operator of Spirit of the North Kennels in Salmo. “You breed for a short, dense coat so they can dissi-

pate the heat. The biggest thing is keeping them cool when they’re running.” My time out at Spirit of the North Kennels was both enjoyable and educational. You wouldn’t know it, but Al is in his early seventies. He has thirty-four years experience in the breeding and racing of huskies. For most of those thirty-four years, Al focused on raising, breeding and racing. Just a few years ago, he wanted to share his passion for the sport with others by offering dog-sledding adventures on his property in Salmo. “It’s every bit an emotional experience as it is a physical one. Working with a team of dogs is really indescribable... I’ve had spectators see me coming back from a training run with a ten-dog team... coming through a field on a foggy morning. We came through that field just as hard as when we had left, coming through the fog, I have a lot of white dogs on my team, the people standing on their porch watching just burst into tears, it was such an emotional experience,” Al reflected.

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Photo courtesy Al Magaw

Helen Bobbitt

Photo courtesy Al Magaw Helen Bobbitt

Add this adventure as a must-do on your bucket list. Allow yourself to feel the rush and energy being pulled by four-legged horsepower as you traverse through the Above, left: Al Magaw and Elizabeth, natural beauty of Salmo’s countryside. a volunteer handler, surrounded “In a race, a good team will average 20 miles an hour by some of the Spirit of the North for five, ten, fifteen, twenty miles for two or three days in dogs. a row,” Al described when asked how fast a sled travelled. Above, right: Racing with a hard(For metric purposes, that is thirty-two kilometres an driving team always has its thrill hour.) and spills. “On a tour,” Al said, “you don’t go that fast, although when you leave the yard, you go pretty quick... because I’m giving tours with my sprint dogs, if the trail is capable at all, we’re travelling at the dogs’ running. We’re doing sixteen, eighteen miles an hour and in some places, even faster. ” When coming onto the property of Spirit of the North Kennels, there is a house at the back of the property. The remainder of his land is made up of open fields and portions dedicated to the kennels, the dog walker carousel and the huskies, each fastened with their own dog house. “Any good trainer will tell you... is that you keep your dogs confined between trainings.” And why is that? Opening page: Enjoying a dogsledding tour.

Page 18

Route 3 Winter 2010

“So they are more eager to do the training, the training itself is part of the release.” At the time of our visit, Al was nursing a broken collarbone from a dog training run gone awry earlier this year. I asked Al if he still wanted to do training. “That’s where my spark is,” he said with a laugh. He described dog-sledding as a way of life. “Everything revolves around this. There are some circuits I’d still like to compete in. Even just getting on the podium now is quite an achievement for me, I did make a second place last winter. Earning a berth on Team Canada in 2001, that was a big step and I’ve always sort of dreamt of racing in Alaska where sleddog racing is the state sport.” To Al, dog-sledding is an addiction that he has happily passed on to others he has mentored in the sport. “Just recently I had someone come from Didsbury, Alberta... every weekend until the fall, he had been watching the racing circuit for two or three years.” Al’s relationships with his animals inspire younger people to come and help with the day-to-day work of the dogs. A twenty-one-year-old volunteer named Elizabeth is someone who Al is also mentoring. “Honestly, I can’t find words to describe the feeling that I get from running dogs,” she said with a smile, watching the husky pups play. Al interjected with another perspective. “A friend of mine that I was mentoring put it very succinctly. He said running sprint dogs is the razor’s edge between nirvana and disaster.” As Al took some of his lead dogs out to show how fast they could run, a proud look came over his face. You could really see the love and respect he has for each of these animals; how their lean, sleek profiles withhold true power ready to unleash at the call of his voice and the call of the sled. When our fields are white and lush with winter’s frosty allure, be sure to take a family outing to the extreme with Al Magaw and Spirit of the North Kennels. Information and rates are just a click away at www.spiritofthe or call 250-357-9390. Helen Bobbitt has lived in and out of the Rossland-Trail area for over 30 years. She and her family call Trail home. Her dream is to make a living by the pen and be an accomplished author.

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Dave Francis carve in his wooden figurines shop Castlegar work

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Winter 2010 Route 3

Page 19

artisans story by

Carving photos courtesy Dave Francis

Lana Rodlie

Santa’s Workshop Lana Rodlie


Page 20

Route 3 Winter 2010

f you thought Santa’s workshop is at the North Pole, you’d be wrong. It’s right here on 10th Avenue in Castlegar – Snow Cottage Carvings. Shhh . . . don’t tell the kids. Dave Francis may not look like Santa (he’s taller, thinner and considerably younger) but he has a heart that’s pure Claus. His incredibly large garage-size workshop is just on the other side of French doors off his living room. “We built it like this so if we sold the house, anyone could use this as a large family room, or whatever,” he said. The workshop is decorated with Dave’s own collection of artistic figurines plus Christmas ornaments: miniature villages, elves, posters, trees, and memorabilia, some from his favourite artists. “We couldn’t afford to buy each other’s work so we trade.” And though his wife, Tammy, told him to keep all his Santas in the work shop, they “migrated into the living room” and eventually spilled throughout the whole house.

Dave Francis carves delightful wooden figurines in his Castlegar workshop Today, in the Francis home, it’s winter 12 months of the year. Visitors are greeted by a small Christmas tree at the front door; winter scenes cover the walls; and of course, Dave’s carvings and collectables, are everywhere. “I had collected country antiques, and I just love Christmas,” Dave said. “It’s my favourite time of year.” Dave was a hair dresser for 23 years, first in Victoria, and then at Avenues in Castlegar. It all started in November 1992, when Tammy gave Dave a book on how to carve wooden Santas. Dave doesn’t draw but he gets enough of an idea after carving an outline into a 10- to 12inch block of wood. “It’s like cutting hair. You have to be able to picture the finished product. You start with something, and end up with hair on the floor. It doesn’t matter what is left on the floor but what is left (on the head or carved masterpiece).” After the carved outline, Dave chips and shaves away all the parts that don’t look like a Santa. Then he finishes with paint and a wax polish that gives them a patina-aged look. Dave also produces smaller “Tall Hat Santa” tree-ornaments, toy soldiers, holly-ribboned trees, and his latest phase: Santas with polar bears, kayaks and other creative tag-alongs.

Carvings sell for anywhere from $140 to $1,000. them, but they went under (during the recession).” In September 2007, seeing financial markets Ten years ago, he set up a website, and take a nose-dive, Dave knew people would Dave’s Santas sold like the latest iPods. He stop buying expensive trinkets. shipped to Australia, England, France and all “Everyone likes the Santas, but when the over the U.S. Closer to home, his work apeconomy goes south – food is more important peared in Christmas stores in Banff, Sun Peaks, than a carved Santa. It’s not brain surgery.” Coeur d’Alene and Seattle. So at age 47, he went back to school, took “I worked 10 hours a day at the hair salon the process operators course at Seland then carved two hours kirk College and got a job at Celgar before, and three hours after “I had collected Pulp Company. With a four-days-on-, work everyday.” four-days-off- job, he could provide Then, for a few years, he country antiques, security for his family and still do worked one week at the salon artwork on his days off. Today, he and one week carving. and I just love averages 361 pieces per year. “It was the best of both “That’s one Santa minus four days worlds – seeing people (at Christmas. for the last 18 years.” work) and having the security In that time, he produced 6,511 of an income, I felt I’d died It’s my favourite pieces – every one of them sold. and gone to heaven. Dave’s work is still available in “Demand grew and I Christmas shops across North Americouldn’t continue to do both, time of year.” ca, but can also be purchased on-line and carving won out. So in at May 2001, I started carving full time.” Trail freelancer Lana Rodlie spent 16 years as For a few years, a company made reproduca reporter with the Trail Daily Times. Besides tions – resin replicas of Dave’s Santas. The replicas look identical to the wood carved ones writing, she spends a great deal of time volunteering and also dabbles in genealogy, local – but they are lighter, and breakable. history and travel. “They contacted me and I made a deal with Winter 2010 Route 3

Page 21

history by

Greg Nesteroff

The real ivan mitchell Doing justice to a forgotten hockey player


e is credited with winning the Stanley Cup, although technically he shouldn’t be. His brief, inglorious NHL goaltending career included falling victim to some of the worst routs and greatest individual scoring feats ever — although the record books confused him with two other players. His on-ice performance has been described as “distressed,” “hapless,” and “shell-shocked.” Yet Ivan Gladstone (Mike) Mitchell was lauded and loved by the people of Phoenix, B.C., for whom he won a championship. Born in Winnipeg in 1893, Ivan played his early hockey there. He was good enough to be recruited at 19 by Phoenix, which had a new arena and wanted professionals to stock its entry in the three-team Boundary league, then practically a farm system for the Patrick brothers’ fledgling Pacific Coast Hockey Association. Following a 7-3 victory over Grand Forks, the Phoenix Pioneer wrote: “The new goal guardian, Mitchell, is a distinct acquisition, and proved a tough nut to the visitors to crack.” Ivan finished the regular season with a 5-0-0 record and 2.40 goals against average. Phoenix and Grand Forks then played a two-game home-and-home series to determine the league champion. The opener, in Grand Forks, resulted in a 3-3 tie. The return match in Phoenix gripped the city: from 8 p.m. to midnight, the streets were deserted as 700 people packed the rink. Phoenix won 4-3 in double overtime. “The big crowd yelled itself hoarse, while hats, flags and handkerchiefs fluttered on all sides,” the Pioneer said. The Grand Forks Gazette added: “For the home team the credit of the win was in a large measure due to the superb work of Mitchell in goal.” Phoenix went on to defeat Nelson in a two-game series, to win both the Daily News Cup for championship of the West Kootenay/Boundary, and the new McBride Cup, donated by Premier Richard McBride for championship of the B.C. interior. On the strength of his performance, Ivan received a tryout from Victoria of the PCHA. He didn’t make the team, but was kept on the club’s reserve list. He returned to Phoenix, which opened the season with three straight wins, and only lost once in its first five. It appeared inevitable Ivan would be called up to the big leagues. “The Patricks have been after him for the past two weeks and the wires have been kept busy,” the Pioneer said. “Mitchell, however, has felt under obligation to stay with the Phoenix aggregation.” He remained with Phoenix perhaps less out a sense of duty than as a result of a raise. However, from that point on, his team came unglued: they lost five straight and missed the playoffs. In 1914, Ivan finally made his major league debut with the PCHA’s Portland Rosebuds. He went 9-9-0 on the season and recorded a 4.47 average. But soon after, he was off to war, serving with the 100th Winnipeg Grenadiers. Page 22

Route 3 Winter 2010

Ivan G. (Mike) Mitchell, third from the left, played for the Phoenix hockey club, which won the West Kootenay/Boundary championship in 1913. They’re posed with the Daily News Cup, McBride Cup, and one other unidentified trophy.

At Passchendale, he was shot in the left shoulder and evacuated to hospital in England. Soon after, the Grand Forks Gazette reported: “Ivan (Mike) Mitchell, one of the best goaltenders who ever graced western hockey, died last week in London.” Only he hadn’t. The obituary was premature: while his “backward movement [was] limited and painful,” he was actually “progressing satisfactorily.” Upon returning to Canada, Ivan somehow caught on with the NHL’s Toronto St. Patricks. He was in net the night Newsy Lalonde scored six times to set a league record — although he shared the misery with back-up Howard Lockhart. Three weeks later, Mitchell and Lockhart were victimized seven times by Joe Malone, a record that still stands. Ivan finished the season 6-70, while his team missed the playoffs. He was still their top netminder at the beginning of the next season, but after an 8-1 blowout against Ottawa, he lost the confidence of the public and his peers, and ultimately his job. A year later he signed with Hamilton, but before playing any games found himself loaned back to Toronto as an emergency replacement. Despite two good outings, once John Ross Roach recovered from injury, his NHL career was over. Ivan returned to Winnipeg, where he worked in a men’s wear store and coached junior hockey. On May 8, 1942, he died of an unknown ailment at age 48. His obituary mentioned his military record, but not that he’d played in the NHL. A few postscripts: by 1921, Phoenix was a ghost town. The arena Ivan played in was sold and torn down, with the proceeds used to erect a cenotaph that still stands. The Toronto St. Pats, minus Ivan, won the Stanley Cup in 1922. And while he didn’t appear in the playoffs with them, he is inexplicably credited as a member of the cup-winning team. For years, the record books also mixed him up with two other goaltenders named Mitchell, and listed their stats instead of his. The NHL Guide and Record Book further had Ivan as the sole victim of Newsy Lalonde and Joe Malone’s outbursts of 1920. Fortunately, these errors are finally being corrected: in this year’s edition, for the first time, Howard Lockhart shares the blame. A bit of belated justice for Phoenix’s star goalie. Local hockey historian Greg Nesteroff is ashamed to admit he can barely skate.

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Grand Forks

Take a step off artist enjoy Grand Forks work Nora Curiston’s


Salmo-style! Dog-sledding ,


SANT delightful Dave Francis carves es in his wooden figurin op Castlegar worksh

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Route 3 Winter 2010  

Life in the WEst Kootenay/Boundary Region.

Route 3 Winter 2010  

Life in the WEst Kootenay/Boundary Region.