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WINTER 2020

CENTRAL ISLAND LIFE AT ITS FINEST

Dream A time to

At home for the holidays

FOR THE LOVE OF LATKES Three ways to enjoy this Hanukkah treat

GREEN AND GLORIOUS Carbon neutral with a West Coast vibe

RAINBOW DAYDREAM Bold fashion that doesn’t shy away from showing up


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CONTENTS 44

52 FEATURES

30 GREEN & GLORIOUS

50 HEART OF THE

Reno nets carbon neutral home with bold colours and a West Coast vibe

Cosy kitchens with soul

By Angela Cowan

By Jen Evans

On the Cover Photo by Lia Crowe Kristen Russell of Bayside Goods in beautiful Mill Bay.

44 RAINBOW DAYDREAM

SECRETS & LIVES

74

HOME

52 FOR THE LOVE OF LATKES

Bold fashion that doesn’t shy away from showing up

Three ways to enjoy this classic Hanukkah treat

By Jen Evans

By Ellie Shortt

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74

22

DEPARTMENTS

8

CONTRIBUTORS

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GOOD TASTE

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EDITOR’S LETTER

West Coast inspiration at Cow Cafe

Certainty in uncertain times

By Susan Lundy

By Susan Lundy

26

WEEKENDER Whistler: the other side of the mountain

10 LIFE.STYLE.ETC.

Lianna Armstrong

By Lia Crowe

By Susan Lundy

12

DESIGN NOTES

40

BUSINESS CLASS

Home for the holidays

By Janice Jefferson

On a roll: Arbutus RV

By Sandra Jones

68

TRAVEL

Out of the Northwest Passage

By Suzanne Morphet

Aging gracefully

By Kaisha Scofield

SECRETS AND LIVES

Kristen Russell

By Angela Cowan

78 NARRATIVE

18 WELL & GOOD

74

Angels inthe middle of nowhere

By Barbara Barry

82 BEHIND THE STORY

By Lia Crowe

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contributors “Having been mostly exposed to energy efficiency in new construc-

tion, it was heartening to see how Colin and Nadine took a more than 40-year-old home and improved it so dramatically. To have an ACH score of 0.54, especially on an old, West Coast home, is nearly unheard of. But, it can be done!” Angela Cowan is a freelance writer, editor and novelist who contributes regularly to the Boulevard magazines. Find her at angelamcowan.com or on Twitter @angela_m_cowan.

ANGELA COWAN WRITER

Green & Glorious

“As I set out to write a piece on how to create a cosy kitchen, I real-

WRITER

Heart of the home

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ized it would be a great opportunity to reflect on my process. Growing up, I was incredibly fortunate to live on a street where our neighbours on all sides were our best friends; their doors were always open and every home was filled with art, artifacts and layers of eclectic personality. Each home had its own unique and inviting style, and each space and family had a profound impact on me. Now, when I’m styling or designing a space, I’ll travel through those homes in my mind, trying to recreate elements from each. To this day, I still feel the warmth from my childhood home and those cosy, family kitchens that surrounded me.” Jen Evans is a freelance, fashion, prop and interior stylist and regular contributor to Boulevard. jenevansstylist.com

“Wow, what a year—ups and downs and all arounds! There

JANICE JEFFERSON

WINTER 2020

has been no blueprint to follow these past several months, but as we each find our groove and harmony with our loved ones, we are approaching a very different-looking holiday season. Gift buying will undoubtedly look different as well. Here, I have put together a list of items from island businesses—let’s do our best to support local on this little island we call home.” Janice is an interior designer who creates well-functioning spaces with an eye-catching mix of playfulness and refinement.

WRITER

Home for the holidays

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BLACK PRESS Penny Sakamoto GROUP PUBLISHER

BOULEVARD GROUP Mario Gedicke PUBLISHER 250.891.5627

info@blvdmag.ca

MANAGING EDITOR Susan Lundy

ASSOCIATE EDITOR Lia Crowe

PAGE 30

JEN EVANS

CENTRAL ISLAND LIFE AT ITS FINEST

CREATIVE DIRECTOR Lily Chan

DESIGN Michelle Gjerde Tammy Robinson Kelsey Boorman ADVERTISING Mario Gedicke Vicki Clark Andrea Rosato-Taylor

CONTRIBUTING Barbara Barry WRITERS Lia Crowe

Angela Cowan Jen Evans Janice Jefferson Sandra Jones Susan Lundy Suzanne Morphet Kaisha Scofield Ellie Shortt CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Lia Crowe

Luke Phillips / LSP Media ILLUSTRATION Sierra Lundy CIRCULATION & Marilou Pasion

DISTRIBUTION 604.542.7411

Victoria Boulevard® is a registered trademark of Black Press Group Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the publisher’s written permission. Ideas and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of Black Press Group Ltd. or its affiliates; no official endorsement should be inferred. The publisher does not assume any responsibility for the contents, both implied or assumed, of any advertisement in this publication. Printed in Canada. Canada Publications Mail Product Sales Agreement #42109519.

Tel: 250.381.3484 Fax: 250.386.2624 info@blvdmag.ca boulevardmagazines.com

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PHOTO BY LIA CROWE

certainty in uncertain times

As the holiday season beckons, only uncertainty is certain. It’s going to look a lot different from other seasons. Holiday feasts via Zoom? COVID-themed ornaments on the tree? Visits with Santa via smartphones and tablets? There’s even a new spin for those used to travelling at this time of year. In some countries, flights to nowhere have become popular. According to the New York Times, “People who miss flying are rushing to buy tickets for flights that land in the same place they depart from.” And Air New Zealand is offering “Mystery Breaks,” where travellers pay a flat fee to book an entire vacation package and don’t find out their destination until two days before they leave. However, luckily for holiday consumers, shopping, which took a strange turn during last spring’s lockdown, has sorted itself out. From crazy purchases to stalled deliveries, early pandemic shopping was fraught with problems. My first COVID-times shopping experience took place on March 11, when I took a hysterical call from my daughter in the pandemic-epicentre of New York City. Here in Canada, we were still a few days away from lockdown, although people were rushing to buy toilet paper. My daughter was entering the disinfect-groceries-and-sanitize-everything phase and there was not a bottle of hand sanitizer left in New York (or in BC). Even Amazon was out of it, she panicked. Well, I said calmly, I live in Canada—and, sure enough, amazon.ca had lots of hand sanitizer. I spent $75 on 12 little bottles and promised to mail them to her as soon as they arrived. Problem solved! However. That was March and when they still hadn’t arrived in June, I requested and received a refund and, like everyone else by then, happily continued washing my hands with soap and water. But mid-August? Surprise! A package arrived from China filled with 12 little bottles of a gooey something. Thankfully the sanitizer craze had passed—no need to send them to New York—and just as well because I’m really not sure what is in those bottles. Mask-wearing started out slowly, but it was apparent even in the early part of lockdown that they would become essential. At this point, there weren’t a lot of options, but I found some heavy-duty masks on Instagram. They were a bit pricey, but a portion of proceeds was being donated to a good cause, and so, on April 21, I ordered two. Once again, June rolled around, and no masks. Tracking showed they were coming from China (something the small print hadn’t mentioned), but they hadn’t moved in weeks. A couple of email refund requests went unanswered, the website went down and angry comments flourished on the Instagram page. By this time, I’d purchased several BC-made masks (good lesson, here) and resigned myself to the loss. But wait! Just a short time after the sanitizer arrived, so too did the masks. I think this scenario must have played out all over the world. Bruce similarly ordered some iPhone accessories—suddenly important for all that FaceTiming and Zooming—and they also eventually arrived months later. Shopping these days has definitely evolved, and so despite the many questions around how the next few months will unfold, one question can be answered definitively: if you’re in gift-buying mode, shop local. Whether it’s in person or online, support local businesses. That’s the answer to “where to buy.” The answer to “what to buy” is less clear—imagine last holiday season if we’d known that toilet paper, hand sanitizer, masks and iPhone accessories were the gifts we coveted. This edition of Boulevard offers idea for locally made gifts, tips for tradition-rich cuisine and recommendations for cosying up your kitchen. We may not be able to add any certainty to an uncertain season, but we can at least add some comfort, flavour and festivity—and let’s just forget the hand sanitizer from China.

Susan Lundy Editor

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life.style.etc. LIANNA ARMSTRONG, OWNER/PRINCIPAL DESIGNER AT EVOLVE DESIGNS WORDS + PHOTOGRAPHY LIA CROWE

Born and raised in Nanaimo, Lianna watched her dad build their family home as a child. It left a lasting impression and planted the seed of a dream to become an interior designer. “I moved away from the island at 18 to pursue my dreams. This took me first to Vancouver to finish high school (I was a grade-8 dropout) and then to Toronto, where I attended college for interior design. I came home with big dreams, but it was hard to find work in a firm, so I ended up in cabinet sales and design. When the recession hit in 2008, I thought it would be a good time to start my own design firm, and Evolve Designs was born. I’ve had lots of trials and errors, but it has all led to me to right here, where I know I should be.” Asked what aspect of her work fires her up, she says, “I am a creative problem-solver and 99 per cent of interior design is just that. I love helping clients develop a more functional and aesthetically pleasing space.” And what qualities have led to her success? “I truly live by the mantra to evolve. Personal development is so important. Read books, listen to podcasts, go to counseling, lift heavy weights, meditate and be at peace with your past.” Outside of work, Lianna loves being outdoors; hiking, paddleboarding, walking on local beaches and, more recently, mountain biking. And what is the best life lesson she has recently learned? “Life is short and we all need to love more. I lost my dad three years ago and it really shook me. There were some dark times, but I was surrounded by the love of friends and it really helped me through.” Asked to describe her personal design aesthetic, Lianna says she appreciates all design styles: “With my own home, I find I lean towards a more contemporary style, but I love to mix things up. Humans are collectors and we need to display the things that make us unique.” When it comes to style, Lianna loves the daring of fashion icon Iris Apfel and the elegant simplicity of legend Karl Lagerfeld, but for her, it’s about whatever you feel most comfortable in. “When you are confident in your own skin, everything else is just an accessory.”

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FASHION & BEAUTY All-time favourite piece: A simple black blazer. Currently coveting: The perfect pair of jeans. Favourite pair of shoes: Can I say my Birkenstocks? Favourite day-bag: Love and Lore Tote from Indigo – this is a great tote for work and travel. Fits a laptop and all your essentials. Favourite work tool: A laser measure is essential. Favourite jewellery piece or designer: I bought a gemstone ring in Thailand as a memento, and it's my favourite. But I do love Stella & Dot jewellery as they use sterling silver and it's affordable. Fashion obsession: Anything black. It’s a bad habit so I try and add colour once in a while. Accessory you spend the most money on: My hair. Necessary indulgence for either fashion or beauty: Clothes that fit properly and that you feel comfortable in. Moisturizer: Paula’s Choice. Scent: I love anything rose or lavender. I am more of an essential oil person than perfume. Must-have hair product: Olaplex No. 7 Bonding Oil. Protects and repairs your hair. Beauty secret: Water! Keeping hydrated is so important to your skin and body. One thing that has been torture to live without during the COVID-19 pandemic: At first I really missed getting my hair done, but now I am embracing the grey! Today I would say travelling. Please, can I go back to Paris?

STYLE INSPIRATIONS & LIFE Piece of art: On a trip to Palm Springs, I stopped in at The Parker to have the best martini of my life and fell in love with Jessica Rowe's lip series. Favourite architect: Moshe Safdie. I feel in love with Habitat 67 when I went on a weekend road trip to Montreal during college. He also was the architect for the Vancouver Public Library. Favourite musician: I love all kinds of music and I miss going to concerts. If I had to pick one band it's Deer Tick from Rhode Island. I have seen them five times in concert. Film or TV show that inspires your style or that you just love the style of: Emily in Paris. Favourite cocktail or wine: Dirty vodka martini. Last great read: I love biographies and just finished From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle. A wonderful comeback story by an Indigenous Canadian man. I think Canada as a country needs to take a good look at the effects of colonialism. Book currently reading: Finding Chika by Mitch Albom. Favourite book of all time: My college roommate’s parents gave me The Saint, the Surfer, and the CEO by Robin Sharma when I graduated, and it still is one of the most formidable books I have read. Album on current rotation: Spotify playlists and podcasts. Currently listening to True Crime Bullsh*t. Favourite flower: Lilac. The scent is beautiful and I appreciate it more because it only blooms for a fleeting moment in spring. Favourite city to visit: Paris. I have only been for a quick visit, but I will go back to explore more once we are able to. Favourite app: I have become acutely aware of my social media use and am trying to reduce it, but I do love Instagram. Second would be Spotify. Favourite place in the whole world: Right here in this home my dad built 30 years ago. One thing that consistently lifts your spirits during these hard times: Getting back to the gym on a regular basis has been super helpful.

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design notes

Home for the holidays This year, as we strive to keep our communities vibrant and alive, let’s do our best to support local retailers and businesses. This locally inspired gift guide should spark the imagination and help carve out a little joy. BY JANICE JEFFERSON

Apron chef stripe, black Maison Cookware $26

Holiday Host Chemex Classic 6-cup coffeemaker Maison Cookware $63

Creature Comforts Glerups Shoe in charcoal Cardino Shoes $110

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Dualit NewGen 2-slot toaster in pink Pots & Paraphernalia $399

Footed white clay tea bowl Westholme Tea Company $50


Merry M etal wellDunn Navi sterling silver plated earrings Quintessential $35

Trek e-bike Verve+ in anthracite Cycle Therapy Bicycles $3,149

2020 e-Golf Comfortline Deep Black Pearl Harbourview Volkswagen Starting at $39,705

Heart Shield Medal in bronze with navy/gold lovemedals.com $198

Cameo Ring #6054 Marsh and Son $350

Look no further than Vancouver Island for these great gift ideas. Treat someone special—or buy it for yourself!

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Country Diary: Winter Cobble Hill Puzzles $20

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Spark the imagination and carve out a little joy.

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well and good

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Aging gracefully Movement, nutrient density and hormone balance WORDS KAISHA SCOFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY LIA CROWE

X

We all know that one of the only certainties in life is that we will get older. Yet, in our society, aging is rarely discussed or prepared for. In fact, a common statement on aging is that it takes most by surprise. Many people feel young but look in the mirror only to see an old person reflected back at them. How did this happen? We are a society obsessed with youth and productivity, and slowing down seems like a luxury we cannot afford. So it is not surprising that the topic of aging is avoided, often until it is too late. The truth is, aging is an inevitable part of living. By accepting the aging process, we are better able to be proactive in how to prepare our body and mind for this very natural transition. By identifying the areas that are most commonly frustrating for more senior populations, we can engage in targeted selfcare to make aging less overwhelming. The most common complaints about aging are health issues associated with degeneration. Loss of muscle and bone health, poor joint health, digestive issues, nutritional deficiencies, hormone imbalance, loss of energy and impaired cognitive abilities are all common health problems the more senior populations deal with. The good news is, with a few simple lifestyle and wellness practices, many of these health issues can be minimized or avoided all together. Use it or lose it. Inactivity is the fastest way to age the body. Too many of us exist in a sedentary state; sitting at a desk for eight hours of the day, driving to and from work and then spending our evenings on the couch. Making solid lifestyle choices that include physical activity is the most effective way to keep the body and mind healthy, long-term. While this isn’t necessarily news to anyone, daily movement is becoming increasingly urgent as kids, teens and adults are spending more time on devices and games and in front of screens and, as a result, physical literacy is failing. Once movement habits are improved, it is important to keep the body happy and well maintained. We all know the feeling

of sore and creaking joints. That crackling sound is called crepitus, which seems like a very unsettling yet appropriate name. These creaks, while harmless, are generally a result of degeneration in the bones and connective tissue. This tissue is made up of collagen, the same collagen that your aesthetician tells you to take for glowing skin. Collagen is found in skin, ligaments, cartilage, tendons and bone. The bad news is that it deteriorates as we age. The great news is that it can be replenished. Collagen can be taken orally via supplements, pill or powder or by drinking bone broth. This is is a widely recommended support for joint health and for healthy skin, nails and hair. Aging well depends largely on fuelling the body with a nutrient-dense diet. Vitamin and mineral depletion is a common issue for the aging body because as we get older, the body’s ability to absorb and distribute nutrients can lessen. We typically absorb vitamins and minerals from the food we eat, via the digestive process, but digestive health can decline as we age, through deterioration, poor dietary habits, tissue damage, etc. Natural hormone transitions also occur, which can cause the body to go through fluctuations in appetite and energy levels, making meal preparation frustrating and unenjoyable. It’s a difficult combination of issues that are often ignored. The malabsorption of nutrients can occur for several reasons but the two main causes are a lack of dietary healthy fats and consistent dehydration. Our unfortunate vilification of fat has led to a largely depleted population. Many vitamins and minerals, essential to our body, are fat soluble, meaning that without a proper intake of healthy dietary fats, we are unable to absorb nutrients in our food. Not to mention the essential fatty acids themselves playing a crucial role in cellular, tissue and nerve health, to name a few. Alongside healthy fat intake, hydration plays a vital role in absorbing the other vitamins and minerals that are water soluble. One of the easiest ways to increase your energy levels,

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By accepting the aging process, we are better able to be proactive in how to prepare our body and mind for this very natural transition. mood, sleep and digestion is to improve your hydration. More than 50 per cent of the population is consistently dehydrated. Mild dehydration can cause fatigue, nausea, headaches, moodiness, cramping and constipation. Electrolytes in the form of sugar-free powders, tablets or even a small pinch of salt can vastly improve hydration levels in the body. Fluctuating hormones are confusing at the best of times, but in an aging body, they can be especially disruptive. The hormone testosterone, for example, depletes as we age, an issue that can affect both men and women. Occasionally men can experience an age-related, steep decline in testosterone that can lead to many health issues. Often referred to as “male menopause,� symptoms are similar to those experienced in female menopause, such as hot flashes, breast tenderness, mood fluctuations and erectile disfunction. It is just as important for men to monitor hormone health as it is for women. ROBP_Double_Depth_Boulevard_Ad_X1a.pdf

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2020-02-28

For women, the most obvious hormonal transition is the big M, menopause. There is no way to avoid menopause, but there are steps we can take to prepare for it. Maintaining an active lifestyle is essential. Equally important is fuelling the body with a diet that is focused on nutrient-dense whole foods, including healthy fats and proper hydration. Menopause is never fully predictable but wellbalanced and supported hormones will ensure that the process runs as smoothly as possible, perhaps avoiding having to put ice down your shirt to cool a hot flash. Reducing sugar intake is the most important dietary change needed to support hormonal balance and the whole body, at any age. Sugar depletes nutrients and disrupts hormone regulation. Insulin, testosterone and estrogen are affected when sugar intake is elevated. These imbalances can lead to insulin resistance which, among other things, can cause heart disease, some cancers and diabetes. Insulin resistance wreaks havoc on hormonal functions, disrupting digestion, weight, sleep, mood and stress tolerance. There are many unknowns in the aging process and while feelings of uncertainty and apprehension are understandable, avoidance will create a missed opportunity. It is never too early or too late to start preparing your body for the next phase of life, and by incorporating a few preventative measures, you are more likely to create a solid foundation of health and wellness to launch from. The more we learn about aging, the less it is about the end of life and more about the culmination of living. There may be a sense of dread as we creep toward each milestone, but what often follows is a growing sense of relief and freedom. Removing the fear and ignorance surrounding the aging process helps us understand how to support our body as we go through these changes. By paying attention to movement, nutrient density and hormone balance, we can not only ensure that we age on our own terms, but that we do so gracefully.

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good taste

West Coast inspiration at Cow Cafe

Matt and Jenn Heyne, chef and owners of Cow Cafe West Coast Grill in Cowichan Bay. WORDS SUSAN LUNDY PHOTOGRAPHY LIA CROWE

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How did you adapt to becoming chef and owner of Cow Cafe? Honestly, I think my biggest strength is adaptability. We are in an industry that is very demanding in so many ways. You need to be quick on your feet to make changes or accommodate something that might put you out of your comfort zone. When I initially took over operations as owner, I worked mostly front of house, and had been for a couple of years. At that point, I didn’t really have a desire to be in the kitchen: I was very focused on the big picture and wanting to learn everything I could about the industry as a whole. However, I had a vision: I knew what I wanted to see coming out of the kitchen—my food! I had to be in the kitchen if I was going make this vision a reality.

Where did you come from and how did you get to Cowichan Bay? Growing up on the West Coast, we have always been drawn to the ocean. After purchasing a house in Cowichan Bay in 2004, we knew this was home. An opportunity came about in 2012 on a location that we’d had our eyes on for years, and we found ourselves jumping in head first with absolute certainty that this was the right decision. After operating at our original Cowichan Bay location for five years, it was clear we had outgrown that space and that’s when we were approached by the Oceanfront Suites Hotel to take over the 11,000-squarefoot penthouse restaurant that included an ocean-view dining room, two event spaces, a street-side patio and a kitchen four times larger than our previous space. We knew right away that our vibe would be a perfect match for this space. Matt, what inspired you to become a chef ? The majority of my childhood was spent living in Long Beach, California, where my parents worked at an upscale hotel. As a child, I spent countless hours roaming the property and mostly making my way into the kitchen where the executive chef took me under his wing. I was always intrigued by the creations I saw, and one day I told him I wanted to cook my mom lobster for her birthday—I was six! The next week he brought me into the kitchen, gave me a custom-made apron, a classic “toque” chef ’s hat and three beautiful Atlantic lobsters. The next day, I was cooking steak and lobster on a Weber barbecue…with supervision, of course! I’d have to say that’s what originally inspired me, but what keeps me going is the beauty of the West Coast and its offerings.

What challenges and rewards does working together as a couple and business owners bring? One of our biggest challenges, but also the most rewarding was deciding to have a family. With both of us being so hands on in our respective positions, we had to figure out how to maintain our restaurant while learning to be new parents. We have always been a team in every aspect of our business, and finding a new balance has been a journey. But being able to share the journey as a family has been the ultimate reward. What makes Cow Cafe special? We believe it’s our staff; they are like family to us. In this industry it’s very common to have staff come and go quite frequently. This is not the case here—our core is our family and friends, and together we have made it through so many ups and downs. We all love what we do and we believe in the potential and growth of the business. Recently, we’ve had many compliments from customers noting that everyone is so positive around here. This makes our hearts happy as this is so important in the world, especially right now.    Your specialty is “modern, West Coast-inspired comfort food.” Can you give a few examples from your menu? Well, we love staying ahead of trends, but in our own unique way. One thing we’ve created is our famous Coastto-Coast Caesar: we’ve taken the Caesar craze to a whole new level by incorporating seafood from Canada’s East Coast —lobster tails from Nova Scotia, eastern sea scallops—with West Coast seafood, such as Pacific prawns and locally smoked candied salmon from Port Hardy. When we think of comfort food, it always reminds us of family gatherings in the kitchen, so we try to put that feel into almost everything we do. I think our best representation of that on our menu would have to be the Millionaires Meatloaf. It’s a classic home-cooked-inspired meal, but with a modern West Coast spin. We’ve taken locally raised grass-fed beef and a Japanese-raised wagyu beef, wrapped it in a local bacon and topped it with fire-grilled garlic Cajun Pacific shrimp and a Dungeness-crab-infused hollandaise. It’s like Mom’s home cooking meets West Coast contemporary. 

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Tell us about the dining experience: what do you hope to create for your patrons? Honestly—we just want people to feel at home. We want parents to feel that they can come in for a date night or a family night. We want Dad to be able to get steak and lobster, while the kids can enjoy a burger and a milkshake. We want Mom to enjoy a delicious glass of locally made cider with her girlfriends on a Tuesday night, or a 90th birthday celebration on a Sunday afternoon. We want people to just be able to enjoy great food in great company and feel at home. What is your favourite cuisine to eat? At home, we love to enjoy as a family any kind of home-cooked meal that isn’t grilled cheese and tomato soup. We do really enjoy a good Mexican spread and love our occasional sushi dates.  When are you happiest at work? For Matt: “First thing in the morning: I’ve always been an earlybird-gets-the-worm kind of guy, and to arrive at my restaurant when the sun is just starting to rise over beautiful Cowichan Bay, I sometimes find myself able to take five minutes to just soak it in. That’s when I feel truly inspired and blessed to be where we are.” For Jenn: “It’s taking a moment in the middle of a dinner service to gaze across our oceanfront dining room to see the smiles and laughter coming from the families and friends as they fill their bellies with our delicious food and drinks.”  When are you happiest outside of work? Jenn: “I can answer this one for Matt—golf ! Anything golf: watching, playing, reading, talking golf. He’s so happy then, haha. And, of course, any family time we get to share with the three of us is always so nice, whether this is at home playing or out adventuring on the beautiful island.”

“ We love you for shopping local”

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6 Vancouver Island Locations Vancouver Island's premier source for RV sales, parts, and service, Arbutus RV has been the trusted choice for tens of thousands of RVers since 1988. With 6 locations on the Island to serve you, BC's biggest inventory, and the Island's most experienced team of RV sales, service, and parts professionals, we are here to help you ďŹ nd your next adventure!

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weekender

The other side of the mountain Whistler is more than a snow lover’s playground Scandinave Spa in Whistler.

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WORDS SUSAN LUNDY

WINTER 2020


i

t’s a wintery Monday morning and each of my five senses zings with life as I move between warm, cold and relax cycles at the outdoor Scandinave Spa in Whistler. Sitting in the hot pool, I feel a brush of breeze on my face and hear a whisper of wind in the spruce trees above me. Moving indoors, and now relaxing on a cushiony recliner, I take in the beauty of lush foliage seen through floor-to-ceiling windows. And the moment after I run through an icy cold waterfall, my skin tingles with an electric-like buzz. There’s the heat of a firepit, the cosy embrace of a blanket, the sound of a running stream, the scent of essential oils and the sensation of steam and sweat lingering on my skin. Most important—the experience of every sense is heightened due to the mandatory silence. People move between the various stations without a word. And I understand completely: silence is golden. This is our last stop before my husband and I head home, and as I revel in the all-encompassing sensory experience, my mind wanders back over the past few days. I realize that beyond everything else, I’m surprised by the diversity of our Whistler adventure. The mountains themselves, Whistler and Blackcomb, have loomed large in my other trips here: I’ve ridden the slightly terrifying Peak 2 Peak Gondola, zoomed up Blackcomb in exhilarating jeep ride; I’ve zip-lined and I’ve explored off-road on an ATV. But on this weekend getaway, we hiked, played, feasted, learned about local First Nations culture…we’ve had a wealth of experience that hasn’t involved the mountain playground. Arriving mid-day Saturday, our Whistler adventure begins with a stop at Function Junction, an industrial neighbourhood

PHOTO BY MIKE CRANE

Whistler Village.

10 minutes south of Whistler’s main villages. With a totally different vibe than Whistler main, Function Junction emerges like the beer-drinking sister to the more coiffed, upscale villages. After tucking into a delicious vegan lunch at the highly recommended The Green Moustache, which has two locations in Whistler, we sample beer at Coast Mountain Brewing and Whistler Brewing, and then land at Montis Distilling, Whistler’s only craft spirit maker. A tasting reveals a flourish of local flavours and, although we purchase a bottle of Winter Spirit, the distillery’s answer to young whiskey, we could easily have chosen one of their tasty gins or super-smooth vodka. Checking into the Four Seasons Resort Whistler, we’re immediately welcomed by the warm staff and our luxurious-yet-cosy room. We take advantage of in-room service for dinner (the resort also offers midnight feasts, early-bird espressos and chilled Champagne at any hour), but the ultimate crown on the experience occurs the next morning, with the hotel’s signature, year-round Balcony Breakfast: a multi-tiered tower stacked with savoury and sweet breakfast treats—pastries, avocado toast, sausage, bacon, pancakes with warm maple syrup. This is a must-do: everything from the perfectly poached eggs and fluffy pancakes unfolds like a dreamy taste adventure, and it all occurs overlooking a misty-morning valley of snow-tipped trees. This resort is truly a destination in itself. Satiated, we head out to explore on foot this remarkably walkable community. Located near the Four Seasons is the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, offering a chance to explore local First Nations, view a spectacular exhibit by Lil’wat artist Ed Archie NoiseCat, step into a replica longhouse and wander along a forested educational trail. This is also where, from May to October, you’ll find a Sunday farmer’s market. From the upper village, we follow the connecter path to the lower village, grab coffees and wander around the pedestrian-friendly village. Eventually, we pick up a snowy forest trail that takes us back to the hotel. boulevardmagazines.com  |

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But there’s no time to rest! For our next adventure, we meet up with our daughter, also visiting Whistler, and embark on a new-to-us-all escape room experience. After choosing one of Escape! Whistler’s six escape room options, we arrive, get a quick briefing, and set to work solving a series of riddles and puzzles in order to escape a cottage buried in snow. This is a lot of fun! Next, dinner at Il Caminetto, with its extraordinary Italian cuisine and excellent service, marks the perfect segue to our nighttime Whistler experience—one which surpasses all of our expectations. After driving 10 minutes north of the village, we turn off the highway, drive up an obscure road…and re-emerge in another world. Vallea Lumina is a stunning, immersive multimedia show that is truly spectacular. We cap our evening with warm apple cider, sitting outside around a firepit. And so it is the next day that cocooned in the pools at Scandinave Spa, I come to an easy conclusion. Whistler and Blackcomb mountains—with their combined 8,171 acres of terrain and abundant annual snowfall—are indeed a wicked winter destination for snow enthusiasts. But there’s a lot more going on, and visitors should definitely check out the other side of the mountain.

Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre.

CO-ED

PRESCHOOL–GRADE 12

New world. New challenges. New learning. admissions@qms.bc.ca 28

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www.qms.bc.ca


PHOTO BY LEILA KWOK VALLEA LUMINIA.

MONTIS DISTILLING.

IL CAMINETTO.

see.

do.

Vallea Lumina is an absolute must-do on any visit to Whistler, but it’s best not to know too much ahead of time. This dazzling multimedia experience invites guests into an enchanted universe, inspired by Whistler’s natural beauty. Expect to have your breath taken away around each corner on this mesmerizing forest walk. Created by Montreal-based Moment Factory and brought to life by The Adventure Group in Whistler, Vallea Lumina offers two experiences—one in the winter months (bundle up!) and one in the summer. vallealumina.com/

Escape! Whistler presents a real-life gaming experience, where patrons are given puzzles, riddles and clues to solve within 45 minutes in order to “escape” their situation. We choose the Buried Cabin experience—one of Escape! Whistler’s six escape rooms— and, although we don’t quite solve it in time, we’re close, and have so much fun trying. Another must-do Whistler experience is Scandinave Spa. Moving through the hot, cold and relax cycles promises to soothe tired muscles, eliminate toxins and improve circulation. escapewhistler. com, scandinave.com/en/ whistler

FOUR SEASONS RESORT WHISTLER.

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Located directly on Whistler’s Village Stroll, Il Caminetto is the spot in Whistler for an upscale Italian il pasto. Renowned Executive Chef James Walt offers an inspired menu that features mouthwatering Italian and local products. A 41-page wine list creates a major conundrum but, no matter, the sommelier swiftly leads us to a divine Amarone. Its silky smooth flavour provides the perfect complement to my husband’s rigatoni Bolognese, and my seared tuna and roasted cauliflower. The food, the ambiance, the service and the wine are the ingredients for a spectacular dining experience. ilcaminetto.ca

The Four Seasons Resort Whistler is one of North America’s top yearround mountain resorts. Following a sweeping renovation, it combines sleek, contemporary design with the warmth of a classic chalet. This winter, the resort is premiering two new culinary options: the all-new Braidwood Tavern and the re-imagined SIDECUT restaurant. In addition to the must-do Balcony Breakfast offering, the resort has launched another feature through the Four Seasons app, where patrons can order ahead to have a homey, crockpot meal awaiting in-room. Resort recreation includes a full-service spa, a fitness centre, an all-season outdoor pool with three heated whirlpools. Other winter specials and packages can be found online. fourseasons.com/whistler.

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hot properties

Green &Glorius Extensive reno nets carbon neutral home with bold colours and West Coast vibe WORDS ANGELA COWAN PHOTOGRAPHY LUKE PHILLIPS /LSP MEDIA

quick facts: 3,000 square feet, plus 300-square-foot garage 4 bedrooms 4 bathrooms 32 solar panels Heat recovery ventilation system 0.54 air exchange per hour

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hen Colin and Nadine Gray bought their 1976 West Coast-style split-level house in Comox with an eye to bringing it up to net zero, they knew exactly just how big a project they were taking on. “We were considering just tearing it down—we were worried about the ‘gotchas’ that come with renovations—but we didn’t want to throw everything at the landfill,” says Colin. “So we made the compromise to work with the footprint that was here.” The couple, who moved from Vancouver, brought in Nanaimo-based Pheasant Hill Homes and essentially tore the house down to the studs. “They kept the original shape of the house and did a full-on renovation,” says Jamie Kuhn, project manager for Pheasant Hill. “We took out all the drywall, made some structural changes, and put in an addition.” “We added a floor and a garage,” says Colin. “And we pushed out the top of the garage and added two more bedrooms.” The result is a 3,000-square-foot home with four split levels, plus garage, that’s just as homey and cosy as it is energy-efficient. From demolition and stripping down to the finished build, it took about 10 months, which seems like a surprisingly short amount of time for this level of upgrade. “One of the things Pheasant Hill did was they bridged all of the sheeting gaps and plate gaps with a special type of tape, and basically sealed the house as they were going through the construction,” says Colin. The process meant that the house’s air-tightness was improved to an almost unbelievable level. The first blower door test—done before the renovations started—yielded nine air exchanges (ACH) per hour. The goal was to achieve 1.5 ACH; an ambitious goal, considering how leaky the house was. “After the renos, we scored a 0.54 on the blower test,” says Colin. “They actually thought the blower was broken and redid the test.” That transformation set the stage for the rest of the substantial upgrades to the house, including 32 solar panels added to the roof, which generated nearly 13.5 megawatts last season, from September to September. boulevardmagazines.com  |

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Most of the upgrades to make it super energyefficient are behind closed doors or hidden inside the build. What’s visually arresting are the vibrant colours and textures throughout the whole design.

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“From an electricity standpoint, we generated 13.4 megawatts, and then looking at the electricity we used, we came in at net zero with 600 kilowatts to spare,” says Colin. “When we add all the energy the home used, including the gas fireplaces, our solar system represented the equivalent of 87 per cent of that total. And we’re using about half the energy of a typical detached home.” Triple-paned tilt-and-turn Euroline windows were strategically installed throughout the house. “Part of the design was for each room to have natural light, so you don’t have to turn on the lights,” says Jamie. And each light has a dimmer switch, further conserving energy if you don’t need maximum illumination. There’s a Tesla charger inside the garage and a universal charger outside. Ceiling fans in each of the bedrooms keep the family from needing air conditioning through the summer. A heat recovery ventilation system (HRV) regularly brings fresh, filtered air in from outside and strips the heat from the air being pumped back out. And the feature I find most interesting—something I hadn’t seen before—is the heat recovery drain setup from the master bathroom. The water coming in from the city transitions into a copper pipe that spiral-wraps another copper pipe that drains from the master bathroom. “So when the hot water from your shower drains down, it pre-heats the water coming in,” explains Colin. That pre-heating means the hot water tank needs less energy to bring it up to temperature. Most of the upgrades to the house designed to make it super energy-efficient are behind closed doors or hidden inside the build. What’s visually arresting as we tour the home are the

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Waterfront – DINING –

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1681 Cowichan Bay Road | 250-597-4353 | cowcafe.ca

vibrant colours and textures throughout the whole design. The front and garage doors are a gorgeous cheery yellow, setting off the West Coast exterior, and bright pops of colour continue inside as well. The living room is immediately eye-catching, with a beautiful blue surrounding the fireplace. “I thought, ‘do we dare?’” says Nadine with a laugh. “We decided to go for it. With the whole project, we decided to be bold. A lot bolder than we normally are.” The sage green cupboards in the kitchen bring another splash of colour into the main design, as does the bright yellow in the downstairs laundry and mud room. Upstairs, the kids’ rooms are accented with strikingly vibrant tropical blue accent walls. And all through the house are myriad wood types, from the impervious walnut of the kitchen island to the naturally finished fir beams and warm maple railings and caps on the stairs. “All the wood flooring is BC maple, and the company that does it is just five minutes down the road,” says Colin. “The mantels are all reclaimed, and the table we have in the dining room is reclaimed bowling alley.” (They also laugh as they tell me how the mantel was 18 feet long initially, and had to be driven from Coombs to Comox by the site manager on the roof of his Jetta.) The abundance of stain finishes, knots and textures lends a solidity—and a very West Coast feel—to the openness of the split-level design, which can sometimes feel a bit cavernous. “I like how the house is so open and bright, and yet it’s not cold,” says Colin. “It feels so homey.” “Every day I wake up and I think, ‘wow, this is our house,’” says Nadine. “We love the house, and we’re so happy to be in Comox too.”

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Colin nods in agreement. “And I think behind it all—and this is definitely tied to the energy efficiency part—I like not feeling guilty for living. Having a house that’s so close to carbon neutral...it makes me feel good, and I can relax.”

SUPPLIER LIST: Architect/design: Saturna Studios Interior design: Studio AE Interior Design Construction and interior finishing: Pheasant Hill Homes and CMC Carpentry Interior drywall: Yellow Point Drywall Painting: Lantzville Painting Cabinetry and millwork: Twin Oaks Woodworking Ceiling beams: Canadian Bavarian (installed by Pheasant Hill) Flooring: Abba Floor Coverings Tiling: Cornerstone Tile Doors: Slegg Building Materials Windows: Euroline Windows Lighting: Mclaren Lighting Plumbing fixtures: Woseley Cabinets and countertops: Oak Hills Woodcraft Fireplace hearth: Pheasant Hill Homes Stonework: Cornerstone Tile Appliances: Coast Appliances Landscaping: Paradise Plants Exterior siding: Ravenwood Exteriors Energy advisor: Capital Home Energy

Windows light up your life

Photo by Lance Sullivan Concept Photography

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business class

on a

Roll

Sales surge for province’s largest RV dealer WORDS SANDRA JONES PHOTOGRAPHY LIA CROWE

X

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o say that the pandemic has been an issue for business is like saying the iceberg was a challenge for the Titanic. There is no question that the economic fallout from COVID-19 has been grim. But amid the coronavirus chaos, some businesses have not only thrived but seen a surge in sales in response to changes in consumer behaviour. For Craig and Rose Little, owners of Arbutus RV, this has been an unprecedented year. “We were enjoying record months in the early part of 2020 and that came crashing to an abrupt halt for about six weeks,” says Craig. “It didn’t stop altogether, but sales dropped by 50 per cent. After that, sales went straight up.” Fortunately, as the largest full-service recreational vehicle dealer network in the province, Arbutus RV was ready to handle the increased volume. “We always like to carry lots of inventory and we were fortunate to have 840 units on hand when the pandemic hit.” Their large inventory has sustained the company as consumers—reluctant to fly, yet still eager to travel—regarded RVs as the ideal self-contained and safe solution. With units running the gamut from high-end luxury coaches to compact trailers, there are options for every lifestyle and every budget. Rose says they’ve seen a lot of changes to RV amenities over the years. “They can be a true home on wheels with residential-sized fridges, outdoor kitchens, TVs, home stereo systems with surround sound and fireplaces. We get a lot of feedback from customers who tell us the RVs are nicer than their permanent home.” One popular option has been the travel trailer. “The 17- to 30-foot travel trailer is especially appealing to the first-time buyer,” notes Craig. “Most people already have a suitable tow vehicle, for at least the smaller units, so you just need to have a hitch and away you go.” And, while those in the boomer generation have long been fans of the RV experience, now millennials are rolling into the market too. “Even before COVID-19, we were seeing a huge interest from young adults who had enjoyed camping as kids with their boomer parents. Now they want to make those same great memories with their own kids.” Whether motivated by the pandemic, nostalgia or a love of the great outdoors, customers have been turning to Arbutus RV for more than 32 years. Craig, who opened his first store in Mill Bay after identifying a gap in the marketplace, has exponentially grown the business, adding six

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“Even before COVID-19, we were seeing a huge interest from young adults who had enjoyed camping as kids with their boomer parents. Now they want to make those same great memories with their own kids.”

additional sales and service stores, stretching from Sidney to Courtenay. “It’s been pretty organic growth,” says Craig. “After Mill Bay opened, we got a call from an operation in Nanaimo. They had been selling mostly park models and horse trailers and having a hard time making a success of it. We ended up taking over that location and shortly afterwards got approached to buy another dealership in Sidney. So suddenly we ended up with three locations, which wasn’t necessarily a well-thought-out plan.” But the couple saw the demand was there and went to work to begin building up the infrastructure, systems and team to support the growth. “With a marketing background, I spearheaded the marketing,” says Rose, “while Craig was in charge of ordering the product and managing the day-to-day business.” As Craig recalls, the early years of growing the company weren’t always easy: “We worked long hours and I remember doing payroll at one location and staying up all night to get payroll done for the next location. It was challenging but fun.” Now all-nighters are a thing of the past but the expansion of this going-places company didn’t slow down for long. “There was a bit of a lull in our growth as we made sure the three locations were up and running smoothly,” says Craig. “But then opportunity knocked again.” Rose remembers flying home from Alberta after assessing and ultimately walking away from a business opportunity that didn’t seem like a great fit. “I told Craig that I’d rather open up another dealership on the island instead.” So, when they landed in Comox, Craig had a suggestion.

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321 Wesley Street

“He said he’d had his eye on some property in Courtenay years ago and that we should drive by and take a look. Turns out that property wasn’t for sale but the one directly across the street was. If that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is,” laughs Rose. Two weeks later, they bought the property and as luck would have it, they ultimately bought the original property that Craig had spotted years ago as a way to expand their lot. The company has since added two more locations—one in Port Alberni and the most recent acquisition this past September in Parksville. “We want to make sure that our customers can buy their RV in their own community and get it serviced close to home as well,” says Craig. Their team has also expanded to keep pace and now includes 150 staff. “We’ve built an awesome team,” Rose says. “Many of them have been with us for decades.” Employees aren’t the only ones who are a committed part of the Arbutus RV operation. “We were at our Parksville location and one of our customers told me they were delighted to see us at the new location as they had purchased five RVs from us over the years,” says Rose. “It’s also not uncommon to meet people who are the second and even third generations of a family who keep coming back. We love that!” On an island that is seeing significant population growth, the Littles see a clear road ahead. “We’re so blessed to have this natural setting and so many opportunities for adventure in the most marvellous climate in Canada. Even though some people started RVing this year because of the pandemic, I’m pretty sure they’ll get hooked on the lifestyle.”


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RAINBOW Daydream Change the mood, enliven the conversation, elaborate with playfulness. Colour your world this winter in bold fashion that doesn’t shy away from showing up. STYLING JEN EVANS PHOTOGRAPHY LIA CROWE

Odette Dress by Ulla Johnson, $855, brown Bex Boot by Shoe the Bear, $270, both from Bernstein & Gold; walnut Pulse belt bag by Hobo, $178, from Cardino Shoes; yellow woven pouch by Lusher Co., $227, from lusher.co; fancy mask by Collina Strada x Tomihiro Kono, $200 USD, konomad.com


Brooches ($50$75 each) by Maria Curcic Millinery from mariacurcic.com; tank dress, $7, orange quilted Lululemon jacket, $150, both from Turnabout Luxury; Face-up accessories by Jen Clark @thevioletyard.


Brown turtleneck sweater by Part Two, $119, gold cardigan by des petits hauts, $399, brown cords by White Stuff, $179, all from Fabrications; walnut Pulse belt bag by Hobo, $178 from Cardino Shoes; sculpted brown wool and feather headpiece, $150, by Maria Curcic Millinery from mariacurcic.com; the Rome necklace by Lizzie Fortunato, $295, from Bernstein & Gold.


Feel Good sweater by Brax, $248, Brown Sugar down jacket by Part Two, $199, Suzy Skirt by des petits hauts, $195, all from Bagheera; woven belt by Ralph Lauren, $22, white sunglasses by Carrera, $170, yellow leather purse, $90, all from Turnabout Luxury; Vici Shoe by Minx, $210, from Cardino Shoes.


Papaya mohair sweater by Nile, $179, Joni blouse by Ulla Johnson, $308, high-waisted pant by Smythe, $395, all from Bernstein & Gold; Pink Always woven shoulder bag, $387, and Pink Movement duffle bag, $473, both by Lusher Co. from lusher.co; Suamy 2 Boots by David Tyler, $275, from Cardino Shoes; Red Circles sculpted headpiece, $155, by Maria Curcic Millinery from Mariacurcic.com.


Dragonfly necklace in yellow gold, $12,995, quartz and yellow gold ring, $5,995, both from Idar; Smythe blazer, $330, Babaton dress, $50, both from Turnabout Luxury; green Victoria Bucket bag, $353, by Lusher Co from lusher.co; Faceup accessories by Jen Clark @thevioletyard

Makeup and hair: Jen Clark Model: Lola Calder Williams Photo assistant: Blair Hansen Mural seen on page 45 by Shawn Shepherd, mural seen on page 49 by Diamant


LIGHTING

PLANTS

ACCENTS

DISPLAY METALS

Heart of the Home Cosy kitchens with soul WORDS JEN EVANS

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X PHOTOGRAPHY LIA CROWE


WINDOW TREATMENTS

ART & MIRRORS

LIGHTING

VINTAGE

TEXTILES

PLANTS

PAINT

TEXTILES

T

hese days, the kitchen is the most lived in and central room in the home. It’s where we tend to spend the most time and where everyone naturally gathers. The kitchen is not the utilitarian space it used to be and it’s become the number one room to renovate when adding value to your home. But so many kitchens are cookie-cutter designs, and lack personality, often leaving the space feeling cold. Since we spend so much time in our kitchen, it should have soul! And this is exactly why you should look to the living room when you want to create a cosy, inviting, character-filled kitchen. When I’m styling or designing a kitchen, I do my best to make it feel personal, curated, loved, lived in and more like the living room because, after all, the kitchen is the true heart of the home. Here are my 10 tips for creating a cosy kitchen:

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Since we spend so much time in our kitchen, it should have soul! And this is exactly why you should look to the living room when you want to create a cosy, inviting, characterfilled kitchen. 250.746.5372 | coulsondesign@shaw.ca | www.davidcoulsondesign.com

ACCENTS

Add decorative objects, unconventional decor and/or personal items from your travels to make your kitchen feel intimate. This could include a few one-of-a-kind accents like a beautiful candleholder, sculpture, woven basket or handmade pottery; it can change your kitchen from feeling utilitarian to curated and lived in.

ART

Take art and mirrors from around your house and move them into your kitchen. Art and mirrors belong in kitchens just as much as they belong in living rooms, bedrooms and dining rooms. Use a few pieces to create a focal point such as an art wall, or lean them against your counter. They’ll infuse much-needed texture, visual depth and personality to your new favourite room.

PAINT

Switch from white to a dark, warm paint colour for your cabinets, walls or backsplash. Farrow and Ball’s Black Blue and Inchyra Blue (used on my cabinets and pantry backsplash) are warm and inviting options that will add a deep sense of warmth and cosiness to any kitchen.

METALS

Create inviting kitchens by adding warm metals such as copper, bronze, brass and gold. Updating your lighting, faucets, knobs and accessories to a warm or tarnished metal is an easy way to balance out those slick and cold stainless appliances.

An Art Furniture Experience.

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VINTAGE

Mix vintage and new, handmade with machine-made to give a homey, lived-in feeling. There’s often a sense of nostalgia associated with a space that’s mixed with vintage and repurposed pieces, especially when added to a kitchen that can often feel sterile and impersonal. Choose anything that speaks to you and showcases your own personal style: from heirloom figurines to vintage bakeware and kitschy finds (like my llama figure) to handmade pottery. Adding personality adds warmth.

TEXTILES

Adding warm, colourful textiles ups the cosy factor in any kitchen. Incorporating woven rugs and runners to your space adds comfort and visual interest. Buy a plush linen or waffle tea towel to add texture for a multi-dimensional space that feels cosy and layered, or place a sheepskin on a kitchen stool or bench to hearken to that sense of cosy contentment associated with hygge (a Danish word describing a mood of cosiness combined with feelings of wellness and contentment).

PLANTS

Natural materials bring an authenticity and earthiness to kitchens. Add organic elements such as plants, branches and dried flowers (hydrangeas, palm leaves, pampas grass, ruscus and bunny tail grass). Plant life and organic decor will balance out all hard lines in the kitchen and make a space feel more earthy and soft.

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LIGHTING

Overhead, high voltage lighting can feel harsh and clinical. Add extra lower-level and indirect lighting such as wall sconces or even a plug-in lamp to your counter or kitchen island for a soft warm glow. Switch out your metal and glass pendant for a fabric or woven basket light to add a natural, warm eclectic feel.

WINDOW TREATMENTS

Window treatments are often overlooked in kitchens. Roman shades bring a softness and charm that’s great for any style of kitchen, and have the added value of creating privacy. Adding a woven wood or bamboo shade to your kitchen effortlessly adds character and warmth. A patterned fabric shade can really elevate your windows and add a hit of personality to boot.

DISPLAY

Display—don’t put everything away. While most newly built kitchens attempt to hide everything away, this can create a cookie-cutter, stale vibe. Hanging pots and pans overhead can be efficient and stylish. Creating a pantry with display jars of bulk items, “decorating” with canisters of utensils, wooden cutting boards and bowls of produce will give your kitchen a level of visual depth, while creating a sense of home. This season, whether you’re cooking, socializing or simply going about your daily routine, grab some candles from your living room and light them in your kitchen...the simple act of lighting a few candles could make a huge difference in creating a kitchen that feels cosy, warm and inviting. KITCHEN DESIGNED AND STYLED BY JEN EVANS AND BUILT BY GREEN ISLAND BUILDERS AND URBANA KITCHENS.

NANAIMO ART GALLERY local coffee | breakfast | lunch freshly baked goods | V + GF option

ANNA WONG

TRAVELLER ON T WO ROADS DECEMBER 4, 2020 – FEBRUARY 7, 2021

A retrospective of Canadian master printmaker Anna Wong (1930–2013) featuring over 70 original artworks from a lifetime of travel and cultural influence. Anna Wong, China Wall I (detail), 1981, serigraph on paper, A/P, 56.0 × 76.9 cm, From the Malaspina Printshop Archives of the City of Burnaby Permanent Art Collection, Gift of Milton and Fei Wong, Photo: Blaine Campbell

120-2720 Mill Bay Road Mill Bay Centre, Mill Bay 250.929.2739

A travelling exhibition organized by the Burnaby Art Gallery, curated by Ellen van Eijnsbergen and Jennifer Cane. Funded in part by the City of Burnaby and the Government of Canada.

Nanaimo Art Gallery

250.754.1750

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food and feast


for the love of

Latkes Three ways to enjoy this classic Hanukkah treat WORDS ELLIE SHORTT

X

PHOTOGRAPHY LIA CROWE

When you hear the word “latke” what comes to mind? For many it’s some sort of potato pancake, perhaps the base of a funky benny at a hip brunch spot or it might be just an awkwardly spelled word that provides potential ambiguity in pronunciation (I personally say lat-kah, not lat-kee for the record). For me, what comes immediately to mind is the playful glow of candlelight dancing on the walls, and the smell of hot oil lingering in the house. It’s a timeless swirl of sweet, savoury and creamy, as applesauce, sour cream and crispy-fried potatoes layer together in each perfect bite. It’s also family time, deep-belly laugher, festive songs and sore thumbs from spinning dreidels for hours.


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Truly, Hanukkah touches all senses, the most important of all, a special feeling of nostalgia in my heart. I’m transported to a vision of my brothers and me in a sort of family assembly line of peeling, grating and mixing, ski-goggles on to help diminish the teary effects of chopping through pounds of onions. The windows are all wide open in a feeble attempt to diminish that inevitable oily smog, all of us bundled in sweaters and jackets as the cool December air filters in. It’s funny how a humble potato pancake can conjure up so many memories, so much emotion and so much sensory association. But perhaps that’s the beauty of classic comforts and nostalgic nosh—it’s often less about the food itself and more so how it makes one feel and what it represents. Originating in Eastern Europe sometime around the Middle Ages, the word latke gets its start (via Yiddish) from the East Slavic word oladka, a diminutive from oladya, or “small pancake,” and that Slavic word is derived from the ancient Greek diminutive of “olive oil” or “oily substance.” The use of potatoes and onion is obvious—two classic ingredients in Eastern European cuisine —but what’s the obsession over all the oil? Well, in short, Hanukkah celebrates the victory of a small group of Jewish rebels over an oppressive Seleucid monarchy, and commemorates the re-dedication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Once the temple was rededicated, the Jewish people were eager to relight their ritual candelabrum, called a menorah, but only had one day’s worth of oil. This small amount of oil miraculously burned for eight days, which is the reason Jewish people light the special Hanukkah menorah (hanukkiah) for eight days. Jewish people also honour the miracle of the oil by eating oily foods, including of course, latkes. So these unassuming little latkes really represent triumph over evil, freedom from oppression, hope and salvation, and unexpected miracles—things we could all sink our teeth into these days especially. I always make a batch of latkes on the first night of Hanukkah. As a pragmatic adult with a heavy reliance on kitchen tools, I use the grating function on my food processor for both the potatoes and the onions, thus saving time and diminishing the need for the ski-goggle fashion statement of my youth. Windows are still wide open of course (because that oily aroma is intense and unavoidable), but I also implement hood vents, essential oil diffusions and an air purifier to expedite the de-odourizing process. With an adventurous palate and unquenchable desire to experiment with as many alternative ingredients as possible (or, more accurately, what just so happens to be in my fridge at the time), I also often deviate from the tried-and-true potato-only approach. Root veggies, colourful tubers, leafy greens—I’ve found great delight in exploring the many ways to make a savoury pancake, still drawing upon the basics of grated, egg-mixed and flour-bound patties, although my choice of flour varies significantly. Yes, cultural and nostalgic customs still live strong in our household around Hanukkah, but the evolution of that traditional base is ever-expanding. So today, I share three of my favourite iterations of the latke—a Moroccan-inspired, spiced-root vegetable option for the more adventurous; a green-goodness and low-starch take for the health-focused; and a classic, simple and winning recipe of the basic potato latke for the traditionalists. Try the one that resonates with you the most, or perhaps all three for a fun and festive latke party and see how this once seemingly insignificant little fritter conjures up whole new meanings and sensory associations next time you hear the word latke.


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FOR THE TRADITIONALIST:

Classic Potato Latkes

Makes about 12 large or 24 small latkes

Ingredients 3 lb. russet potatoes (about 4–6 large/medium) 1 lb. onions (about 2 medium) ¼ cup flour (I usually just use all-purpose, but breadcrumbs also work well) 2 tsp baking powder 2-3 tsp sea salt ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper 3 large eggs Oil as needed (I like to use olive oil for this recipe) Directions Preheat your oven to 325 F and top a baking sheet with a wired cooling rack. Lay out some thick layers of paper towel on another baking sheet or even your kitchen counter near your stovetop. Peel the potatoes and onions, and using the large holes of a box grater or the grater disk on a food processor, grate the potatoes and onions. *Option: if you want your latkes to be extra crispy, transfer the grated potatoes and onion to a large kitchen towel, gather the ends of the towel, twist over your sink and squeeze firmly to wring out as much liquid as possible before transferring to a bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, pepper and eggs until smooth. Add the potato-onion mixture and mix until well coated (the latke mixture should be wet and thick, but not soupy. You can also mix in another egg if you’re finding it too dry). In a large frying pan, heat 2 to 4 Tbsp of oil over medium-high heat. Drop a small amount of latke mixture into the pan—if the oil sizzles around the edges, it’s ready (do not let the oil smoke though). Working in batches and adding more oil to the skillet as needed to maintain about 1/8 inch of oil, drop large spoonfuls of the mixture into the pan, pressing gently with the back of a spoon or spatula to flatten slightly (if the mixture becomes watery between batches, mix to incorporate, but do not drain at this point). Cook the latkes until golden brown and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side (if you’re noticing small pieces of latke mixture floating in the oil start to burn, carefully strain or wipe out). Transfer the latkes to the paper towel to drain, and then transfer them to the prepared wire rack. Place the wire-racktopped baking sheet with latkes in the oven to keep warm and crisp while cooking the remaining latkes.

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So these unassuming little latkes really represent triumph over evil, freedom from oppression, hope and salvation, and unexpected miracles— things we could all sink our teeth into these days especially.

Latkes are served here with Avalon Dairy organic sour cream, smoked salmon and dill.

Staying Home is the New Holiday

Celebrate Winter with Soft and Cozy Natural Bedding that Create Lovely Warmth Visit 126 Station St. Downtown Duncan or Shop Online at resthouse.ca • 1-844-855-7378 boulevardmagazines.com  |

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Latkes are served here with chopped chives and a creamy avocado-chive whip.

FOR THE HEALTH NUT: Kale and Zucchini Latkes Makes about 24 latkes

Ingredients 2 lb. zucchini (about 2 medium) 1 lb. kale (about 1 big bunch) 1 lb. onions (about 2 medium) ½ cup flour (I like to use almond flour for this recipe) 2 tsp baking powder 2-3 tsp sea salt ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper 1 Tbsp fresh chives, minced 1 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced 3 large eggs Oil as needed (I like to use avocado oil for this recipe) Directions Preheat your oven to 325 F and top a baking sheet with a wired cooling rack. Lay out some thick layers of paper towel on another baking sheet or even your kitchen counter near your stovetop. Peel the onions, trim the zucchini and trim/finely chop the kale. Using the large holes of a box grater or the grater disk on a food processor, grate the zucchini and onions. *Option: if you want your latkes to be extra crispy, transfer the grated kale, zucchini and onion to a large kitchen towel, gather the ends of the towel, twist over your sink, and squeeze firmly to wring out as much liquid as possible before transferring to a bowl. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, pepper


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flying fish

Directions In a small blender, combine all the ingredients, including 1 Tbsp of water, and blend until smooth. Continue to add water as needed until light and creamy (like the texture of sour cream or yogurt).

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Ingredients 1 ripe avocado 1 Tbsp fresh chives, diced ½ tsp sea salt ¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper Water as needed (about 2 Tbsp)

CANADIAN

Creamy Avocado Chive Whip

...cooking, living & giving

Custom made and eggs until smooth. Add the veggie-onion mixture as well as the diced herbs, and mix until well coated (the latke mixture should be wet and thick, but not soupy. You can also mix in another egg if you’re finding it too dry). In a large frying pan, heat 2 to 4 Tbsp of oil over medium-high heat. Drop a small amount of latke mixture into the pan—if the oil sizzles around the edges, it’s ready (do not let the oil smoke, though). Working in batches and adding more oil to the skillet as needed to maintain about 1/8 inch of oil, drop large spoonfuls of the mixture into the pan, pressing gently with the back of a spoon or spatula to flatten slightly. Cook the latkes until golden brown and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side (if you’re noticing small pieces of veggie floating in the oil start to burn, carefully strain or wipe out). Transfer the latkes to the paper towel to drain, and then transfer them to the prepared wire rack. Place the wire-rack-topped baking sheet with latkes in the oven to keep warm and crisp while cooking the remaining latkes.

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Latkes are served here with Tree Island Greek Yogurt and cinnamon-spiced applesauce, and topped with thyme and a sprinkling of cinnamon.


FOR THE ADVENTURIST: Spiced Root Veggies Latkes Makes about 12 large or 24 small latkes Ingredients 1 lb. yam or sweet potato (about 1 medium) 1 lb. carrot (about 2 large/medium) 1 lb. parsnip (about 2 large/medium) 1 lb. onions (about 2 medium) ¼ cup flour (I like to use coconut flour for this recipe) 2 tsp baking powder 2-3 tsp sea salt ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper 1 tsp turmeric ½ tsp ginger ¼ tsp allspice 4 large eggs Oil as needed (I like to use coconut oil for this recipe) Directions Preheat your oven to 325 F and top a baking sheet with a wired cooling rack. Lay out some thick layers of paper towel on another baking sheet or even your kitchen counter near your stovetop. Peel sweet potato/yam, carrot, parsnip and onions, and

using the large holes of a box grater or the grater disk on a food processor, grate sweet potato/yam, carrot, parsnip and onions. *Note: you definitely do not have to strain the vegetables in this recipe as they’re more dry than the other options (plus the coconut flour is more absorbent if you’re using that as a flour). In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, pepper, spices and eggs until smooth. Add the veggie-onion mixture, and mix until well coated (the latke mixture should be wet and thick, but not soupy. You can also mix in another egg if you’re finding it too dry). In a large frying pan, heat 2-4 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Drop a small amount of latke mixture into the pan—if the oil sizzles around the edges, it’s ready (do not let the oil smoke, though). Working in batches and adding more oil to the skillet as needed to maintain about 1/8 inch of oil, drop large spoonfuls of the mixture into the pan, pressing gently with the back of a spoon or spatula to flatten slightly. Cook the latkes until golden brown and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side (if you’re noticing small pieces of latke mixture floating in the oil start to burn, carefully strain or wipe out). Transfer the latkes to the paper towel to drain, and then transfer them to the prepared wire rack. Place the wire-racktopped baking sheet with latkes in the oven to keep warm and crisp while cooking the remaining latkes.

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POTS & PARAPHERNALIA

BELONGINGS

’Tis the season to be jolly!

On your way through Lois Lane, a stop at Belongings is an absolute must. The owner, Jeanette, carefully selects one of a kind vintage pieces and quality used furnishings throughout the shop’s two floors. If you’re searching for a statement piece for your home, you’ll likely find it here.

Candies, chocolates, popcorn and holly Plates and bowls and gadgets galore. Come and see the surprises in store! 863 Canada Ave, Duncan 250-748-4614 www.potsandparaphernalia.ca

Open Monday - Saturday 10am-5pm & Sundays 12pm-4pm.

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This year has been very puzzling. That’s why we’ve brought in over 1,000 different images for children and adults. Come check out our selection!

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travel

Out of the Northwest Passage A true Canadian adventure WORDS SUZANNE MORPHET

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A time for Cozy In lovingly crafted sweaters and knits

“I have a little bit of good news and some terrible news,” announces our expedition leader as we gather anxiously in the ship’s lounge. It’s only the third day of our voyage through the Northwest Passage with Adventure Canada and we don’t know what to expect. “We’ve had to cancel Gjoa Haven,” says Jason Edmunds, explaining that the 50-knot winds won’t allow us to land at one of our most highly anticipated stops. Not only is Gjoa Haven famous for its Inuit carvings, but it’s also an historic hotspot. Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen overwintered here twice on his historic first sailing of the Northwest Passage. And it’s the closest settlement to the underwater wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror from Sir John Franklin’s tragic 19th-century expedition. But in the Arctic, itineraries mean nothing. Even in early September—the sweet spot between last year’s ice melting and this year’s ice forming—the weather rules. “We can’t go straight into the swells, so we’re zigzagging,” Jason continues, “and avoiding a lot of icebergs.”

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Along the way, we’ll stop to watch polar bears playing on icefloes and get up in the middle of the night to catch the northern lights. Adventure Canada’s comfortable 137-metre Ocean Endeavour has an ice-strengthened hull but it’s not an icebreaker. While 153 of us groan in disappointment, one of the Inuit cultural interpreters aboard simply says “Ayurnamat. It can’t be helped.” And to be honest, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Part of the thrill of this voyage is precisely because it’s not predictable. Our journey begins in Kugluktuk, the westernmost community in Nunavut, where the tundra is a burnt orange and the temperature hovers just above freezing. For the next 17 days we’ll push steadily northeast before sailing down the west coast of Greenland to Kangerlussuaq. Along the way, we’ll stop to watch polar bears playing on icefloes and get up in the middle of the night to catch the northern lights. We’ll receive warm welcomes and curious looks when we go ashore at several Inuit communities. One night, when we pass within kilometres of Franklin’s sunken ships, a few of us crawl out of bed at 3 am to go on deck and raise a toast. When the weather turns, we lurch through hallways, sit through back-to-back lectures and eat too many cookies. Unless we’re seasick, of course, and then we don’t eat anything at all. For a couple nights

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we sleep fitfully, rolling in our beds with the waves, the clanking of metal keeping us awake. Venturing outside one morning, I grip handrails that are sheathed in ice. For a moment it feels like I’ve stepped into one of those artist’s renderings of a godforsaken, 19th-century expedition where the ship becomes trapped in ice. Entering Bellot Strait at the northernmost tip of the North American continent, our ship slows to squeeze through the narrow passage. Further along, we visit Fort Ross—the last Hudson’s Bay Company trading post. Built in 1937, the store and manager’s house are still here, paint peeling from the walls and snow drifting across the floor and furniture. Back on board, ice becomes an issue. Plans to anchor overnight in Erebus and Terror Bay off Beechey Island are scuttled. “It would be unlikely we would get trapped in there, but we’re not going to take the chance,” Jason tells us during a weather briefing, pointing to “red ice” on the latest chart, indicating a dangerous amount of year-old ice that’s moving with the wind and currents. Instead, we anchor outside the bay and motor in by Zodiac. Trudging through the deep snow in single file, I imagine we must look a little like Franklin’s men out for a walk when they overwintered here in 1845-46. Before leaving, we pay our respects at the graves of the three who succumbed to pneumonia and tuberculosis. Even on days when we stay aboard, our schedules are full, whether it’s listening to a lecture (“You have tears for polar bears, but walrus—they’re the ones that are really in trouble,” says naturalist George Sirk, while discussing climate change), watching a documentary (Vanishing Point by Stephen A. Smith and Julia Szucs, who are both onboard, is riveting) or curling up with a timely book (I’m savouring The Man Who Ate His Boots by Anthony Brandt).

After dinner one night, we celebrate our favourite figures in Canadian history and—to our great hilarity—Newfoundland author and crew member Michael Crummey dresses up as Margaret Atwood (who herself has been on four Adventure Canada expeditions through the Northwest Passage). But it’s the dramatic seascapes that keep me mesmerized for hours. Crossing Baffin Bay, distant clouds and mountains create a black-and-white tapestry and I recall another Inuktitut word we’ve been taught: Katjaarnaqtuq. It’s beautiful. Half a dozen King Eider ducks herald our arrival at Upernavik, a town of colourful houses overlooking Davis Strait. Further south,

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we visit Ilulissat, where a few of us rent bikes from the ship and cycle to the Ilulissat ice fjord, the source of 90 per cent of the icebergs that travel down the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. “Every time I come here it blows my mind,” says David Reid, one of the ship’s crew and the last Scotsman recruited to Canada by the Hudson’s Bay Company, as we admire the slowly advancing glacier. That evening, we cruise by Zodiac amongst the towering icebergs floating freely in the bay. We’re dwarfed by their enormous size, awed by their frozen majesty. As if on cue, three humpback whales break the surface, their noisy exhalations like misty exclamation marks. If nothing else, this voyage has taught us “upiguhungniq,” or respect. Respect for the Arctic, its Indigenous people and our Adventure Canada crew, who guided us through one of the harshest landscapes on earth and brought us safely home.

If you go: Adventure Canada will sail the Northwest Passage twice in 2021: August 16 to September 1 and September 1 to 17. For more information: https://www.adventurecanada.com

Delectable delights await you at Osborne Bay Pub Enjoy our warm, family-friendly environment day and night. Delicious food, amazing ambiance and stellar service!

HAPPY HOUR & DAILY SPECIALS 72

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secrets and lives —

AND THE 7 SINS

with KRISTEN RUSSELL

WORDS ANGELA COWAN 

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PHOTOGRAPHY LIA CROWE


A

t 21, Kristen Russell has already made a successful foray into the business world and is on her way to even bigger ventures. She and her mother, Karlin Russell, opened up Bayside Goods in Mill Bay just over two years ago, and have created a go-to boutique that’s become a well-loved fixture in the community. “The community support and community love has been so strong here. It’s been really cool to put our roots down,” she says. “My family moved over to Mill Bay three years ago from Vancouver, and we noticed there were a lot of super fashionable, stylish people here that didn’t want to go all the way into Victoria to shop.” She adds: “We do what we like to call elevated basics, so there’s a little bit of something for everyone. Our youngest customers are 12 and 13, and we also have people in their 90s.” Kristen, who had recently finished a theology diploma in Germany, says opening the shop had long been a dream for her mother and her. In the throes of realizing another dream, the family purchased just over 30 acres in Mill Bay about three years ago: Pine Lodge Farm, which was previously a spectacular wedding venue. “We’ve spent the last three years restoring the gardens, and in the past two months we’ve added livestock back onto the property. We’re hoping to expand into cattle and beekeeping,” says Kristen. “We want to be able to provide food for our families, and then food for our neighbourhood, and finally to provide food for our community in the Cowichan Valley.”

The 7 Sins ENVY:

Whose shoes would you like to walk in? As a huge fan of the ’90s, I have to say Victoria Beckham. She really has done it all and carries herself with poise and sophistication. I’m addicted to her beauty line and her fashion brand is to die for. She also has a beautiful and successful family. Victoria is a true girl boss.

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B A K E R Y

C A F E

C A T E R I N G

GLUTTONY:

What is the food you could eat over and over again?

I’m in love with the lobster roll from Ironside in San Diego. It’s my uncle’s restaurant, and I get the lobster roll every time I visit.

GREED:

You’re given $1 million that you have to spend selfishly. What would you spend it on?

I would love to build my dream home on my family’s acreage. I want a space big enough to have cocktail parties and big family dinners.

WRATH:

Pet peeves?

One of my biggest pet peeves has to be people who are unkind. I think this past year has really shown all of us how much kindness can make a difference. How you treat others can make a positive or negative impact on them. Choose being kind and positive every time!

SLOTH: Highest quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil from around the World and Balsamic Vinegar from Modena, Italy

Where would you spend a long time doing nothing?

I spent several years of my childhood living in Europe, and one of my favourite holiday spots was the South of France, specifically Provence. I could spend ages drinking wine while walking through the lavender fields. The markets there are fantastic, with so much fresh produce and pastries.

PRIDE:

COME IN AND HAVE AN EXPERIENCE...

What is the one thing you’re secretly proud of?

I love how close-knit my family is. My mom and I run Bayside Goods together. She really is my best friend. Every night my whole family has a screenfree dinner together. We’re all super connected and close.

Olive This & More offers a variety of custom gift baskets, assorted gift boxes, and gift certificates.

LUST:

What makes your heart beat faster?

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Nothing gets me fired up more than ripping my skis down a mountain on a powder day. I downhill ski raced for a number of years and it is still my favourite way to get outside and connect with nature.


Come and celebrate with us and support local. We are open for business with Covid Protocol in place.

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BC Liquor Store Bayside Goods Bru Gos Coffee Cowichan Press Cowichan Valley Running Edward Jones Investments Endure Esthetics FYidoctors - Mill Bay Doctors of Optometry 360 Hearing Care Clinic

24 Hicks & Co (Lawyer) 230 Island Health - Mill Bay Medical Imaging 500 Island Savings 136 Jada Hairstylists 240 Life Labs - BPC B.C. Labs 140 Lucky Paws Pet Supply 380 Mill Bay Dental Health & Implant Centre 370 Mill Bay Family Chiropractic

230 Mill Bay Medical Centre 152 Mill Bay Paint & Hardware 220 Mill Bay Physiotherapy 260 Mill Bay Pizza & Grill 160 Mill Bay Sushi 315 320 - Patryka Designs 210 Pharmasave

325 Stellar Real Estate Marketing 345 Third Addition Gifts & Toys 400 Thrifty Foods 310 Vancouver Island Regional Library 110 112 - Wear It’s At Boutique 38 Westland Insurance

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narrative

WORDS BARBARA BARRY ILLUSTRATION SIERRA LUNDY

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ANGELS IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE I am pretty sure the term “bucket list” is a creation of the Baby Boomer generation. I know my parents never mentioned a bucket list in their retirement. They were happy to be paying the bills and going south for the winter. But, among my Boomer peers, the phrase “that’s on my bucket list” is heard often in our conversations. And so, in the summer of 2019, my husband and I decided to tick a few items off our lists. His choice

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was fairly easy. Being an avid golfer he had always wanted to attend a British Open golf tournament and that summer it was held at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland—his birthplace. Apart from having to purchase the tickets a year in advance, we were able to put the trip together easily. However, the item on my list was years coming to fruition. It started with hearing stories of my family history and included attending Remembrance Day


OR I GI N AL AR T BY S OME OF T H E R EGI ON ’ S BES T AR TI S TS

ceremonies that always moved me to tears, especially seeing the Silver Cross Mothers. Over the years, I became determined to lay flowers on the grave of my uncle, James Frank Steer, my father’s eldest sibling, killed in 1916 at the Battle of the Somme, at age 20, and buried somewhere in the middle of France. No one in my family had ever visited. After our time in Northern Ireland, we arrived in Paris at the height of a very hot tourist season. We studied maps and investigated train routes, trying to zero in on the small Regina Trench Cemetery, which was not on the regular war monument tours. We discovered it was in the area of three small villages north of Paris and Amiens— Courcelette, Grandcourt and Miraumont—located 1.5 kilometres off the main road, up a single-track lane not accessible by car. One would need to get a taxi to the site. Early one beautiful, very hot morning we took the onehour train trip north from Paris to the town of Amiens. From there, we caught another train to Miraumont, arriving midday, and getting off at a spot where there was no station—just a small dirt path down to a street. There was an eerie quiet in the village and no people in sight. I stopped a solitary villager and asked for a taxi in my lapsed French. He seemed confused, so we wandered the streets, eventually finding a pharmacy that was open. We explained to a customer why we were there and she said, “There are no taxis here; this is the middle of nowhere.” My stress and disappointment must have been visible because immediately a staff member started going through some phone directories to see if there might be taxis available in neighbouring villages—but with no luck. At the same time, another checked Google Maps and found the cemetery, but said it would be a few hours away on foot. We were speechless, imagining a walk in the heat of the day both there and back. That is when an “angel” appeared in the disguise of a young man picking up a prescription. With a glance at the map, he said he knew the cemetery because it was near his village, and he offered to drive us there. He was in his 20s, neatly dressed and well groomed, and must have taken pity on this old couple who were obviously frantic. We did not hesitate and hopped in his car. It was a pleasant drive and we were enjoying the scenery when he made a sudden stop and pointed to some trees in a distant field. We were thrilled and offered him some monetary compensation, which he declined. But eventually we made a deal—even with our language problems—and he agreed to accept payment and return later to drive us back to the station. With our euros in pocket, he drove off, and we realized we were in the middle of nowhere and we might never see him again. As I started my walk up the rugged dirt path to the farmer’s field, I realized that in the chaos and stress I had forgotten flowers. But there were some bright orange wild poppies at the side of the track and I began to pick them.

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The Regina Trench Cemetery is small, compact and beautiful, an oasis in an empty landscape that was once riddled with violence, despair and death. The grass is a verdant green and neatly mowed, and perennials, trees and bushes grow among the graves. I entered the gate to a monument with the inscription “Their Names Liveth For Evermore,” and started my search for Plot #1, Row G, Grave #2, with a simple map found online. Suddenly, there it was! The stone with my family name engraved on it, J. F. STEER, AGE 20, with a maple leaf on the heading and his regiment details and date of death. I broke down weeping and repeating the words “thank you” over and over again. My husband joined in as well. I placed my wilted poppies on the plants already there, sat, touched his name and was overcome with grief. I thought about what his final days must have included. I wondered if he had made friends with other soldiers and maybe did not die alone. I hoped some of them were buried here beside him in the middle of nowhere in France. I spent some time with him, this man I had never known, and began to feel some peace after the anxieties of the day. But there were also thoughts of the futility of war, so many lives lost, so many Silver Cross Mothers. Eventually, we knew we should leave, thinking of the trip ahead of us. We discovered a guest book at the entrance gate, which I signed, and I was surprised to see there were two other entries for that week, someone from Stockholm and another from Oregon. I wondered what their stories might be. Then, scanning the distance, we could see that our “angel” had returned. Not only did he take us to the train station, but he had checked online for time of the next train to Amiens. As we sat waiting for the train and reflecting on the events of the day, an elderly gentleman arrived. After explaining why we were there, he told us in broken English that one of his friends volunteered as a gardener at the cemetery. I was astounded to think that someone, in the middle of nowhere, with no connection to those buried there, would give so unselfishly of his time. There must be more “angels” in the world. He asked for the name on the grave, so perhaps my Uncle Frank will have another visitor some day. Upon hearing my story, some people have pointed out that I never knew James Frank Steer. True. But I knew his parents—my grandparents who lost their eldest son. I knew his five siblings, all now deceased, none of whom had the privilege of visiting his final resting place. I am the youngest of the four remaining nieces and nephews. And I have slowly learned of the horrors of a war that I never had to live through. I know, like so many, he must have died a lonely, violent death. He never got to come home. My visit was the least I could do for him, for my family and for those buried alongside him. My “bucket” is empty now. I hope to continue to travel, but this will be the most important trip I have ever taken. After receiving my email of the events of that long day, my daughter was appalled that I would get in a car with a total stranger, in the middle of nowhere in France. But I never considered him anything but an “angel.” And I will always remember a quiet visit, with someone I wish I had known, on a beautiful, peaceful day. It was a privilege to have visited the final resting place of those who fought so bravely and gave us their most precious gift— their lives.


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behind the story

Inspired by the rich hues of the city, the Boulevard fashion team enjoyed seeking out colourful backdrops, like this mural by multidisciplinary artist Shawn Shepherd. This mural is part of Shepherd’s garden series, which references the Night Garden Transformation series by BC painter Jack Shadbolt. Shepherd began painting small format garden imagery in 2004; this series blossomed into an 8-by-40-foot drawing exhibited at the Comox Valley Art Gallery, and eventually a 24-foot-high, 235-foot-long mural on Mason Street in Victoria. The graphic mural seen in this issue was a private commission for the interior of a Victoria residence. Shepherd has stated, “The history of painting is filled with valuable garden imagery and artists have often found subject matter in their gardens. I’ve approached the garden with a focus on the abstract nature of foliage forms, both the sensuous and the angular lines, and how light plays upon them. Light is colour and as an artist I apply colour to reflect light, to touch the nervous system.”

PHOTO BY LIA CROWE

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The Power Of Sanctuary

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Profile for Boulevard Magazine

Boulevard Magazine, Central Island, Winter 2020  

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