Boulevard Magazine, Central Island, Fall 2021

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FALL 2021




Kitchen trends that add warmth and durability


Colours of dry earth, organic prints and textures above the tree line


Raise a glass with one of these tasty cocktails

Come journey through our store and be inspired to define your own distinct style. Our passion is all about exploring the four corners of the world, and bringing back to our customers quality furniture and accessories that will enhance their lives and make dream homes become a reality.

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The greatest perk of BBL is that it does more than just reverse the visible signs of aging. In fact, it is specifically formulated to stimulate the production of new collagen proteins, which gradually rebuild your skin’s structure.


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On the Cover Photo by Lia Crowe Model Bridget Boldy photographed on location at Malahat SkyWalk. Styling by Jen Evans, makeup by Jen Clark.



Custom dream house sits on top of the world

By Sandra Jones





Colours of dry earth, organic prints and textures—above the tree line

By Jen Evans & Lia Crowe




Pet-friendly Central Island By Jane Zatylny

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Kitchen trends to add colour, warmth and durability

By Lisa Manfield


Raise your glass to making it through a challenging time

By Ellie Shortt









Living the ‘life of Riley’

By Susan Lundy


Jeanette McPetrie

By Lia Crowe




A work of art: Nelson

Pedalling Portugual

By Susan Lundy

By Suzanne Morphet



Majestic & Serene: Halcyon Hot Springs

Patty Jeffs

By Lia Crowe

By Angela Cowan



88 NARRATIVE Hiraeth

Call of the wild:

Separate but together

Catherine Babault

By Kaisha Scofield

By Sean McIntyre


A site for sore eyes: Cowichan Eyecare

By Sean McIntyre

By Marie-France Boissonneault


By Lia Crowe  |

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contributors “The act of writing has always been


a restorative escape for me. ‘Hiraeth’ was a brief window into my appreciation for the slower pace of life that was initiated by the pandemic. It allowed me to externalize my frustrations whilst also revisiting some of my more cherished memories. As a former multimedia artist, then professor and academic author, my interdisciplinary adventures have greatly inspired my creativity in writing. I am currently finishing the edits for my first novel, and working on a creative nonfiction humane education series for young readers.”




BOULEVARD GROUP Mario Gedicke PUBLISHER 250.891.5627



DESIGN Michelle Gjerde Tammy Robinson Kelsey Boorman

“The SkyWalk takes you around


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and around and around, soaring to unknown heights. Each new level is jawdropping, breathtaking! For this story I wanted the makeup to feel unfamiliar and slightly otherworldly, as this is how I felt at the Malahat SkyWalk. Inspired by my surroundings, I created sharp lines and the use of voided space on model Bridget’s eyes. I applied Golden Amber Perfume Glitter Balm from Nezza Naturals to Bridget’s skin to reflect back the sun.” Jenny Clark is a freelance makeup artist, based out of Victoria. She has worked with Boulevard for over nine years.

ADVERTISING Mario Gedicke Vicki Clark Andrea Rosato-Taylor CONTRIBUTING Marie-France Boissonneault WRITERS Angela Cowan Jenny Clark

Lia Crowe Jen Evans Sandra Jones Lisa Manfield Sean McIntyre Suzanne Morphet Kaisha Scofield Ellie Shortt Katherine Suna Jane Zatylny


“I take my dog Baylee with me

everywhere I can—partly because she can’t be trusted on her own—but mostly because I really enjoy her company. When I was writing this story, I learned that Victoria is even more dog-friendly than I thought, as long as you’re sensitive to your dog’s needs, and those of other people around you.” Jane is a communications specialist, editor, writer and regular contributor to Boulevard.

Darren Hull Rob Moroto 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.




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living the ‘life of Riley’

In the first few minutes of life with Zorro, we wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. And that was before he peed on the Christmas tree. A rescue pup from Chile, Zorro arrived last December at the Vancouver airport with nine other dogs, all flown from Santiago by Homeless Pets Canada Society, which rescues street dogs and re-homes them, both in Canada and in Chile. The precious cargo landed at 8:30 pm, but two hours later the 10 crates were still stuck in customs. Ten groups of new parents waited in a semicircle in the area where the crates would appear. Each group, mostly pairs, sat behind bowls of water and dog food. Our little group included Bruce and me—the expectant parents—my mom, grandma-to-be, and my daughter Sierra, along to meet her new brother. Two hours into the wait and the initial excitement and joviality had turned to a quiet contemplation. Every once in a while a passenger from another flight wandered into the centre of the semicircle and suddenly stopped, confused and alarmed by the sight of two dozen people sitting behind bowls staring at them. Like Bruce and me, all the expectant parents were prepared for the first meeting with their new pup. “Hola, Zorro!” we planned to say, hoping he’d understand the greeting despite our thick English accents. The dogs’ names had been drawn in the order they would—one at a time—be brought to us. We’d meet our new dog, let him eat and drink, then slip on a harness, leash up and head outside the terminal building so he could pee. It all sounded very calm and very orderly. Zorro’s name was one of the last to be called, so we settled in for an even longer wait. Suddenly the doors swished open and 10 crates came rolling to a halt in front of the semicircle. There he was! Our new baby boy! The dogs’ lengthy wait in customs—after flying all the way from Mexico City and before that from Santiago—had a few pups panicked. In fact, Zorro was barking so frantically, the volunteers brought him out first. (What a Good Boy!) He was a whirling dervish, springing first to his bowl of kibble, vacuuming it up in seconds, and then, before we could refill it, launching himself onto a neighbouring bowl. He was wiggly and yippy and frantic, and trying to get the harness on was like trying to saddle a greased pig. As we tried to contain the wriggling mass, I met my daughter‘s eyes. “Yikes,” was the silent word that passed between us. It’s hard to know what you’re getting when you adopt a dog you’ve never met before and, I confess, in that moment I was a little frightened. We later discovered the dogs hadn’t eaten in 40 hours. It seems unlikely Zorro had drank much water either. We took him back to our hotel in Richmond and walked him up and down the mostly deserted streets for the next two hours, hoping he’d pee before we turned in for the night. In fact, he didn’t pee until about 5:30 am. The next morning, December 21, brought a freak snowstorm, activating an adrenalin-laced drive to the ferry. We arrived to a tree across the driveway and so Zorro’s first introduction to his new life outside of summertime in Santiago was a walk to the front door that involved climbing over a tree and through a blizzard. But no matter! His new home had a cheerfully decorated tree planted inside just for him! He lifted his leg and peed. From that rollicking start, Zorro has settled into his new “life of Riley” and he has provided us with barrels-full of laughter and joy. At a year and a half old, he has experienced his share of trauma, from being left in a box under a bridge as a puppy to living at a rescue facility, and then enduring more than a dozen hours in the cargo department of two airplanes. But he has landed in a place of love and adapted well—despite the fact we took down the Christmas tree. In this issue of Boulevard, we look at what it means for the many people who, like us, became new-dog parents during the pandemic and now hope to find a pet-friendly world. Read on!

Susan Lundy Editor

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“Relaxed and comfy but with a few pearls for good measure,” is how Jeanette, owner of Belongings furniture store in Duncan, describes her personal style. After years of decorating by way of thrift-shop finds and re-purposing furniture, Jeanette found her way to owning Belongings when her kids were nearing graduation and she felt it was time to do something for herself. “Belongings literally fell into my lap after a friend of mine started the business and I took it over shortly after. I will be forever grateful as Belongings is still my happy place even after over 20 years. I love everything about it!” However, when asked which part she loves the most, Jeanette says it’s the customers, “hands down!” She adds: “I love all the stories and memories my pieces bring out in those visiting my shop.” Jeanette’s strength lies in the belief that no matter what is happening, she can always try to remain positive. Asked what is the best life lesson she has learned, she says, “To appreciate all you have, today, right now, and to make every day fun.”

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FASHION & BEAUTY All-time favourite piece: Blue jeans. Currently coveting: Pearls. Favourite pair of shoes: My red patent Flys Favourite work tool: Palm sander. Favourite jewellery piece: A pair of pearl earrings I bought when I was in Spain. Accessory you spend the most money on: Shoes and jewellery. Beauty secret: Laugh lots.

STYLE INSPIRATIONS & LIFE Favourite artist: I love our local artists. Favourite musician: Michael Bublé. Era of time that inspires your style: Anything French country. Favourite cocktail or wine: Damasco by Zanatta or Ampersand gin. Album on current rotation: All the old crooners. Every day, all day. Favourite flower: White lilies. Favourite city to visit: New York. Favourite place in the whole world: England, my birthplace, but I love anywhere where I can kick back in the sunshine with a G&T.

READING MATERIAL Fave print magazine: Country Cottage and Backyard Retreat. Coffee table book/photography book: A large book of family photos. Favourite book of all time: Memories of Midnight by Sidney Sheldon.  |

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well and good

Separate but together Navigating the pandemic roller coaster WORDS KAISHA SCOFIELD

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This pandemic has been scary—scary like a slowmoving but never-ending roller coaster that suddenly whips around, turns, but then lingers in the loop-de-loop, leaving us upside down and holding on for weeks on end. Do we even know what’s around the corner, or if there’s a splash zone? Unless you are over 100 years old and lived through the Spanish Flu, it’s likely that until recently you have successfully avoided the seemingly endless and undulating fear that comes from experiencing a global pandemic.

Relax into Autumn One of the most difficult emotions we have had to grapple with is fear. We have carried the weight of this pandemic with our fingers tightly crossed, hoping that those five minutes in the elevator with a stranger won’t lead to infection. With every announcement and restriction, our fear rises and falls until it settles deep into our core. Navigating the world in such a scary and unpredictable state can have profound and confusing effects on our mental and physical health. Mental health reactions can show up as heightened anxiety or depression, mental fatigue, unpredictable irritability and lack of motivation toward tasks that were previously routine. Physically, we can experience digestive irregularities, unusual cravings, appetite suppression, increased appetite, hormonal irregularities and fatigue. What we have experienced is a collective trauma, a global trauma, and this can show up in our lives in unexpected ways. A common treatment for sufferers of traumatic and emotional events is to form and connect with a supportive community, and the unexpected silver lining of living through a truly global pandemic during the age of connectivity is that the communities we can connect with are more expansive than ever before. We may be going through traumatic life events, but at least we are all going through them together. We face this pandemic collectively: even in isolation, we are “separate but together.” Our remote connectivity has, for many, been a saviour in this otherwise dark time. The first Zoom Christmas may have been bleak but it was far better than nothing. All of this extra time spent in physical isolation has led us to spend much more time on digital connections. As our physical connectivity contracted, our global connectivity exploded, and this new connectivity might be what pulls us through or even propels us forward. For many, the depth of the pandemic-induced connectedness was first realized when the Harvard Business Review published an interview with grief expert and celebrated author David Kessler. He suggested that this dull sadness were all feeling was grief. The response was nearly universal. We immediately recognized our own familiarity with grief and knew that he was onto something. We then took to the internet and shared our experiences and the world opened up. Collectively we grieved, still separate but together. Soon after we settled into our shared grieving, we learned a new word: languishing. A brilliant New York Times piece introduced us to this new concept of not quite depressed but not quite flourishing, describing it as the “neglected middle child of mental health.” Languishing is essentially a more concrete word for “meh.” This too resonated with the masses and we spent weeks discussing

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It’s as if surviving this pandemic and watching the community of support blossom around us has provided a shift in perspective, igniting our bravery and solidifying our resolve. There is no doubt that this pandemic has been unimaginably difficult and we are not out of the woods yet. Our steadfast leader through these pandemic times, Dr. Henry, has hopes that we will be back to normal in a matter of months, and while this certainly provides a degree of relief, we are only just glimpsing the light at the end of that tunnel. In the meantime, as this roller coaster slides into the dock, we can tentatively peek at the world and catch a glimpse of the profound changes all around us. We can continue this incredible emotional revolution of connectivity by sharing and supporting each other close to home and across the globe—something which may ultimately lead to a brighter future for mental health and a more compassionate social community. If you are in need of additional support with mental health and/or trauma please reach out to: The BC Mental Health Support Line, 310-6789, or, Indigenousspecific BC Wide: KUU-US Crisis Line, 1-800-588-8717,

our shared feelings of malaise. Our collective yet dispersed global support group solidified and that sense of camaraderie expanded. Experiencing such big feelings collectively can diminish their hold on us. Grief, anxiety and fear can produce huge emotions, but it is often the isolation in which we experience these feelings that causes the real damage to our mental health. Because we have the ability to share this grief and fear with billions of other people, we may have a greater ability to learn and heal more completely. We have an army of support behind us, and this may provide us with the ability to lean into the emotions and release the power they have had over us during the pandemic and beyond. Maybe this brutal world event has taught us something about our own tenacity and that if we can weather this storm, previous life events or big steps that felt so overwhelming pre-pandemic suddenly seem manageable. You may have noticed people around you taking chances, making moves and going after their dreams. It’s as if surviving this pandemic and watching the community of support blossom around us has provided a shift in perspective, igniting our bravery and solidifying our resolve.

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Nelson and Kaslo are rich in art, culture and year-round amenities WORDS + PHOTOGRAPHY SUSAN LUNDY

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he view of Nelson from Pulpit Rock is spectacular: the town lies cradled in the valley below us, ringed by mountains and hugging the shoreline of Kootenay Lake’s west arm. Once described as the “prettiest small town in Canada” by the New York Times, the scene before us is as lovely as a painting. And, indeed, this community is a haven of artistic expression. Originally a resource-based town—Nelson was incorporated in the early 1900s after the discovery of silver in 1886—it has morphed into a centre rich in arts and culture. Even the architecture presents as art, and with some 350 restored heritage buildings, there is something to gape at around every corner. Nelson is a place to park the car and explore on foot (although prepare to climb a roller coaster of hills). Our stay in Nelson started in a historic building, The Hume Hotel, which first opened in 1898. The hotel changed hands several times in the early 1900s, underwent a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired restoration in 1929, fell into disrepair, reemerged as the Heritage Inn and eventually, in 2005, saw a massive restoration that returned it to its original glory. All the rooms, each named with a nod to the hotel’s history, speak to the past but have modern amenities. We stayed in the Barrister’s Suite, a spacious corner room that includes a king bed, sofa bed, electric fireplace, hardwood floors and soaker tub. It pays homage to the many lawyers who, with the hotel’s close proximity to the courthouse, have requested this room over the decades. The hotel offers several places to dine, and we enjoyed our first meal in Nelson sitting fireside in The Hume’s intimate Library Lounge. Also inside the hotel, you’ll find Mike’s Place Pub, Spiritbar and The General Store Restaurant, where we grabbed a complimentary breakfast the next morning. There’s also a liquor outlet and spa, so you hardly need to leave… But leave you must because located near The Hume is Nelson’s popular Baker Street, with its funky retailers and restaurants, many of which are located in storybook heritage buildings. And from here—keep going! The downtown is packed with good restaurants, cafes, coffee houses, breweries, local shops, small art galleries, the restored Capitol Theatre (a regional hub for the performing arts) and impromptu theatre venues. Or, take a walking tour of mural-art created by artists from around the world. Nelson is a year-round destination with activities that range from sitting in hot springs, to kayaking and other lake activities, golfing, fishing, snow sports and mountain biking. But if you want to see more art, hop into a vehicle and head to the sweet town of Kaslo, located one hour north along scenic Highway 31. Another history-rich town, Kaslo also has beautifully renovated buildings to enjoy, including The Langham, a

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former grand hotel built in the mid-1890s, and which now houses the Langham Cultural Society, a charitable public arts heritage centre, and the Japanese Canadian Museum. Beautiful parks with pristine beaches surround the downtown, and you can also explore the restored S.S. Moyie, the world’s oldest intact stern-wheeler. But just above the town is the pièce de résistance for art lovers: the Hide and Seek art installation on the Kaslo River Trail. Combining

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a beautiful forested hike with larger-than-life sculptures that emerge from the forest floor, this installation seems to be the epitome of creativity. My visit to Nelson ended with a Stone & Spice Massage at The Hume’s Aura Spa. Let me tell you, this “rebalancing” treatment, which combined hot stones, deep tissue massage and a sweetly scented Indian spice serum, is not to be missed. It is a work of art.



Hike to Pulpit Rock. This classic Nelson hike is a fairly steep trail, offering fantastic views of Nelson and Kootenay Lake from the top. Locals, it turns out, use the hike as an outdoor gym, many of them running by us as we huffed and puffed our way up. Those with energy left after reaching Pulpit Rock (elevation 338 metres) can hike up to a second outlook called Flagpole (elevation 655 metres). Round-trip distance is 3.6 kilometres to Pulpit Rock and 5.8 kilometres to Flagpole. After this rather rigorous hike, you’ll want to explore Nelson’s thriving brewery scene, which includes Torchlight Brewing, Nelson Brewing Company and Backroads Brewing Company. Nelson, once renowned for its illegal marijuana production, is now home to several legal cannabis distributors, as well.

The Hide and Seek art installation at Kaslo River Trail is the latest installation of a “Discover the Koots” series of sculptures, and the creation of a trio of artists from nearby Argenta— Yvonne Boyd, Christopher Petersen and Spring Shine. Poking out from behind rocks and under trees are eight large reinforced-concrete sculptures, depicting seven children playing hide-and-seek and one adult watching over them. To get there, find the pullout off Highway 31A as you leave Kaslo, heading towards New Denver. From here, hike down to the Trailblazers Bridge. When you cross the bridge to get to the south side of the river, look up see two faces looking back at you. As you continue downstream on the Kaslo River South Trail, the rest of the sculptures emerge. And even without the art, this is a beautiful walk.



Don’t miss Yum Son in Nelson or Bluebelle Bistro in Kaslo. Yum Son is Nelson’s very first Viet-modern restaurant—and the food is divine. They also charge for wine by the ounce, an option that makes so much sense, it should be universal. Yum Son brings the flavours of southeast Asia into each of its cocktails and culinary dishes, and it’s all served up in a lively setting. Over in Kaslo, food at the Bluebell Bistro is extraordinary. This historic bistro showcases local organic products amid excellent menu options. Other recommended spots in Nelson include: Oso Negro Cafe, Nelson’s informal meeting house; Marzano, a modern Italian restaurant; Broken Hill, with an extensive whiskey library and cocktail program plus a Texas-barbecue-inspired menu; Cantina Del Centro, authentic and unique Mexican street food; and Red Light Ramen, soul food, apothecary cocktails, fresh ingredients and rich umami flavours. Yum.


New world. New challenges. New learning.  |

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majestic & serene The healing waters of Halcyon Hot Springs Resort calm the whole system in a landscape that inspires awe WORDS + PHOTOGRAPHY LIA CROWE

Over the resplendent peaks of distant mountains, dark clouds tinged with purple and orange spill towards Arrow Lake like an avalanche full with the threat of rain and electricity. I’m simultaneously charged by the powerful storm unfolding in front of us—and completely at peace, thanks to the warm waters of the hot springs in which my partner and I are currently soaking. Deep in the Slocan Valley, nestled between the great Monashee and Selkirk mountain ranges, lies Halcyon Hot Springs Resort, which is steeped in history and situated in the pristine postcard-worthy wilderness of BC. It taps into healing waters that are unique

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in their naturally occurring high lithia content and flow from deep within the mountains. Arriving at Halcyon, we immediately drop into a different frequency. Everything from the aromatherapy candle to the mindful reading material and chilled white wine in our cabin indicates we have entered a space where wellbeing is at the forefront. We rejoice at the bliss of having no cell service—although wifi is available throughout if needed—and settle in for a few days of connection and self-care to the soundtrack of wild birdsong. Delightfully “nerding out” on the history of Halcyon—a word

Halcyon Hot Springs Resort is steeped in history and situated in the pristine postcardworthy wilderness of BC. It taps into healing waters that are unique in their naturally occurring high lithium content and f low from deep within the mountains.

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Sass with


used to reference times of calm and tranquility—I discover that the first hotel was built on the property in 1890, when visitors came to soak in the lithium-laden mineral waters, believed to aid in a variety of ailments from rheumatism to strokes. As we tour the property with marketing manager Patrick Spencer, its history is palpable and I easily envision guests arriving by steamship to experience the restorative nature of the healing waters. Halcyon has been through many transformations since the 1890s, partly due to a devastating fire in 1955 and a rebuild in 1998. Today, as one tours the 33-acre property there are remnants of the past—

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Chef Darryl Crumb.

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such as a beautiful preserved chapel, dating back to the 1950s—juxtaposed against areas of new growth, such as the luxurious accommodations, a gorgeous outdoor sanctuary that will be used as an event space and the site of a future food garden and greenhouse. Under new ownership now, the resort continues to evolve with a distinct vision as a unique, world-class, luxury experience. Part of that vision is to add to the relaxation component offered by the hot springs and full-service spa by partnering with local adventure tourism companies. The goal is to support local businesses and, at the same time, expand the guest experience to include activities such as whitewater rafting, fishing charters, yoga retreats, artisan workshops and helicopter tours in summer and winter. “We want guests to enjoy the slow life and, if they want, have something else to do. It’s important to us that we take care of our local community as well,” says Patrick. The resort recently brought in Chef Darryl Crumb to head up the Alcedo restaurant, and his experience ranges from being on Top Chef Canada to cooking in high-end restaurants in Paris, France. Darryl says he’s all about simple, high-quality, farm-to-table food reminiscent of the cuisine of the French alps, and he believes in making everything from scratch. “I grew up on a farm in Manitoba, which is where my love of food started, and it has always been a dream of mine to share that farmto-table experience. We have some really nice farms in this area so we’ll keep it as local as possible and grow as much as possible on this property. I really hope to make this a culinary destination.” I have to agree with Darryl as our enjoyment of spending hours in the hot springs and then unwinding further with a massage in the spa is now equally matched as we’re presented with a plate of fresh Kusshi oysters, cold and flavourful, followed by smoked duck that melts in my mouth, all the while gazing out on the million-dollar view as the sun dips behind the mountains.

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call of the wild

Photographer brings Vancouver Island’s wild spaces within reach WORDS SEAN MCINTYRE

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“I’m fascinated by the natural world. I love being there and being quiet. I get in my bubble with nobody to distract me, and I walk through the forest very quietly, very slowly. I look around, and I start to hear the forest.”


atherine Babault still recalls the excitement of returning home decades ago to develop the photos from her middle school trip to the United Kingdom. Outfitted with a Kodak 110 instant camera, Catherine joined classmates on a tour to many of the country’s top tourist attractions. Once the rolls of film were processed, her friends’ shots revealed a bucket list of destinations: Buckingham Palace, London Bridge, Big Ben. Catherine’s envelope of pictures was entirely different. “I had a lot of pictures of a horse in a field,” she says. “Forget about the Queen, it was all about nature.” She may not have realized it at the time, but that horse represented the seed of a distant and destined career as an independent wildlife photographer. Now comfortably settled in the Comox Valley, Catherine has happily swapped a desk job in the public service to follow her dreams of a life with her lenses and the wild spaces of North America. Catherine’s passion for photography, exploration and education has evolved into a full-fledged photography business that includes online and in-person workshops, public presentations, freelance as well as stock photography, and the recent publication of her first book of photographs. Vancouver Island Wildlife: A Photo Journey celebrates an island rich in scenery and species, although it’s the result of photographer Catherine’s patient and respectful approach to her chosen craft. Catherine approaches her work with scientific rigour akin to a biologist, carefully reading over research papers explaining the habits and life cycles of specific species. She pores over maps like a cartographer in search of new areas and access routes. She’s also got the “always prepared” mindset of an adventurer set to head into the wild. “You have to get up before sunrise, look at the weather report, check the road access, the condition of the roads, and bring a first aid kit,” she says. “Even if it’s only a day, it’s an expedition.” Of greatest significance, perhaps, is her approach to the animals themselves. Catherine is a strong proponent of ethical photography. According to WildSafeBC, a registered society dedicated to preventing conflicts between humans and wildlife across British Columbia, ethical photography includes not using animal calls or bait to attract animals and always giving animals plenty of space.

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Prior to setting out, Catherine ensures the soles of her boots are free of seeds and pathogens that could contaminate the areas she visits. She avoids scents that may distract animals and always approaches as quietly and calmly as possible to avoid stressing her subjects. Staging shots is out of the question. “No animal gets injured, no environment will be destroyed; that’s how I approach it,” she says. “For some people, it’s all about vanity, getting the picture and having it published. For me it’s about showing the species that we have here and highlighting our responsibility in the sustainable development of our region, as well as its preservation and restoration for future generations.” Catherine is based in the Comox Valley, but her studio covers wild spaces found predominantly on northern Vancouver Island. Her favourite spots are located anywhere north of Nanaimo to Cape Scott and the west coast of Vancouver Island. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, she’d even made several trips to Alaska to photograph grizzly bears. After three years of committing full time to photography, however, Catherine has come to appreciate the immense wealth of flora and fauna, and interesting locations in which to photograph them, that can be found within a relatively short drive from her home—although it isn’t uncommon for her to drive three or four hours to reach a particular site. “When we talk about Vancouver Island, people think Victoria, Tofino, Campbell River, sometimes Port Hardy, and then they think of whales, bears, eagles, sea otters and that’s pretty much it. But there’s more than that, and that’s what I want to get across in my book,” she says. “We have so much diversity that we can sometimes take it for granted. There are a lot of species of special concern in our region as well as endangered species like the Vancouver Island marmot, which locals and visitors might not be aware of.” Vancouver Island Wildlife: A Photo Journey contains stunning images of bears, eagles and sea otters, yet these are just a sample of the species

presented among the book’s 150 full-page colour photos. Images rise from the island’s intertidal zone into alpine meadows framed by snow-covered peaks. There are diminutive chestnut-backed chickadees, northern redlegged frogs and scurrying crabs, as well as the mesmerizing natural patterns found in the sky, the sea and the leaves. An American mink appears to pose for the camera with a herring in its mouth, a sea lion and seagull swirl around the day’s catch, a Vancouver Island marmot pokes out of the earth to catch the morning sun and an elk feeds a gang of three calves. After hearing Catherine explain the patience and dedication of her approach to a project, her ability to capture such intimate images is understandable. These images convey a sense of being immersed in nature. It’s as though the viewer is out there waiting with her: waiting and watching for the intimate moment to arrive. Whereas landscape and wildlife photographers, especially novices, may feel the pressure to rush to get a shot before moving on to the next opportunity, Catherine’s effort to become part of her landscape makes it feel as though the animals have welcomed her into their world. This, in turn, puts the subjects of her photos at ease, a state which serves up those fleeting moments which produce spectacular images. “I’m fascinated by the natural world. I love being there and being quiet. I get in my bubble with nobody to distract me, and I walk through the forest very quietly, very slowly. I look around, and I start to hear the forest,” she says. “It’s fascinating to see those animals in the natural environment and to have that little moment. It’s sometimes a few minutes, sometimes maybe an hour or more, but it’s always amazing to see.” More information about Catherine’s photography, workshops and public presentations is available on her website, catherinebabault. com or on Twitter, @catherinebabault.



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QUICK FACTS: Square feet: 4,100 Bedrooms: 7 Bathrooms: 3.5 Fireplaces: 3 Notable features: Craft room, outdoor kitchen with pizza oven

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Timeless touches Custom dream home sits on top of the world WORDS SANDRA JONES PHOTOGRAPHY ROB MOROTO

When the bustle of big city living began losing its lustre, Blair Tweten and Florence Viher looked across the Salish Sea for a place to build their dream home. Several scouting trips to potential lots up and down Vancouver Island yielded little. “We were looking for a slower pace and better weather,” recalls Blair, “but we hadn’t found a lot we liked.” That all changed when the couple read a newspaper story about a new development in Lantzville called The Foothills and embarked on another exploratory mission. Perched high above the tiny town of Lantzville and boasting top-of-the-world ocean views, The Foothills is a 900-acre, master-planned neighbourhood that is currently zoned for over 700 homes. “When we saw this particular lot, we knew it was the right place for us,” says Florence. “With a park behind us and forestry lands to one side, we liked the sense of privacy. It feels like you’re in the country, but you’re just 10 minutes from the best shopping in north Nanaimo.” From a building perspective, the lot offered an extra bonus, adds Blair: “This lot was the flattest in the whole division and only sloped 12 feet from the top to the bottom—perfect for the light-filled walk-out home we had in mind.” With the lot secured, the couple used design software to put their ideas on paper before handing them off to a draftsperson and talking to potential builders. “Florence and I met with three builders and both of us just liked the connection with Dan Sartori of Sartori Custom Homes. We felt like he had the right attention to detail and that we could work with him really well.” While Sartori Custom Homes is typically  |

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involved in the initial design process, Dan and his team took the existing plans for a traditional West Coast home and offered up additional ideas and solutions along the way. “Sometimes what’s drawn on paper doesn’t work in reality and that’s where the skill of our tradespeople is critical,” says Dan.

They broke ground in 2019 and the 4,100-square-foot home was completed a year later. “The façade is probably my favourite part of the house,” Dan adds. “It’s a majestic front elevation that lends itself to the terrain that surrounds it.”

Nanaimo · Victoria · Courtenay

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Designing Kitchens for your Lifestyle

N E W S H OW R O O M N OW O P E N I N N A N A I M O - 5144 Metral Drive 2-5144 Metral Drive, Nanaimo, BC


164 West Island Hwy, Parksville, BC


Indeed, the combination of timber, stone and siding create the rustic and timeless look the couple had envisioned. “Almost all of the stone on the home came right from our lot,” notes Blair. “It meant hiring a stonemason, so there was more labour involved, but the trade-off was that the material was free.” Built entirely at grade, the home was designed to allow the couple to age in place. “We built wider doorways and even though there’s a walk-out lower level, everything we need on a day-to-day basis is on the main floor,” says Florence. Interior finishes riff on the classic and comfortable with wideplanked engineered hickory floors extending seamlessly on the main floor. But despite the many custom touches throughout the home, the showstopper is the 20-foot-high two-sided stone fireplace that neatly divides the dining room from the living room. “There are over 28,000 pounds of stone from our lot in that fireplace,” notes Blair. “Our mason said it was the tallest fireplace he’d ever worked on.” The neutral tones of the stone work beautifully with the grey cabinetry in the dining room and adjacent kitchen which serves as the heart of the home. The two, who love to cook and entertain, had a big wish list for this hardworking space. “We wanted two islands so I could keep everyone out of my kitchen,” laughs Blair. “When it’s just the two of us at home, we sit at one island all the time, but the two islands also work great when the kids are home.” Additional features include a baking drawer for flour, double wall ovens, custom spice drawers, cubbies for cookbook collections and warm copper accents, including the sinks and range hood. “We had the range hood crafted in Mexico. When we opened the crate, it didn’t fit exactly as it should, so Dan sent it to one of his craftsmen. They were able to modify it so that it fit perfectly.” If the kitchen was Blair’s passion, then the craft room upstairs



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FALL 2021

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was made to order for Florence. “I’ve been knitting since I was seven years old and got into spinning and weaving in my 40s,” she says. While this room with its thoughtful storage, easy clean vinyl plank floors and adjoining half bath might appeal on a purely practical level, the spectacular ocean views provide endless inspiration for any crafter. Other common areas include a cosy main floor living room with built-ins that leads to a light-filled sunroom. The corner gas stove, heated tile floors and expansive view of the back gardens make this the go-to spot for morning coffee. The master bedroom is roomy with walk-in closets and an en suite with double-sink vanity and a large, zero-threshold glass shower. Tactile surfaces such as a pebbled shower floor, quartz countertops and oil-rubbed bronze hardware set an inviting tone, but it’s the copper slipper tub centred in the bay window that steals the show and pulls the copper element from the kitchen through to this dreamy space. Downstairs, the lower level walkout provides the guest quarters with four bedrooms, a full bath, family room and ultimately a home for a billiard table. With the indoor spaces fully realized, the couple turned their attention to the outside. Stepping onto the back patio from the kitchen, they created an outdoor kitchen with concrete counters, smoker, beer fridge, fireplace and a wood-fired pizza oven. “Dan, being Italian, knew how big we wanted our pizza oven to be,” jokes Blair, “and because the brick weighs over 6,000 pounds, we needed to support it properly. I built the oven myself and the stonemason built the face using three colours of brick and more stone from our property. We just made pizzas on Saturday night and cooked them at 900 degrees Fahrenheit for one-and-a-half minutes. Five days later it was

53 Station Street, Duncan 250-597-2848  |

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still 250 degrees in the oven, so it really holds the heat. I’m still experimenting, but it makes a darn fine pizza.” Beyond a dining area and lounge seating area, the yard extends into a riot of flowering plants and shrubs, perfect for Florence who is an avid gardener. “When they originally blasted the lot, they pushed all of the fill out in the back so the yard ended up three times bigger than we expected.” The couple installed an irrigation system and planted over 400 plants in two weeks to create a beautiful oasis that already looks mature and lush. While building a house of this scale often offers up plenty of challenges, the process was a pleasurable one for the couple and Sartori Custom Homes. “We put a lot of thought into every foot of space and we were so happy with the level of craftsmanship and attention to detail,” says Blair. Dan agrees, noting the couple was easy to work with because of their decisiveness and collaboration. “They were open to our advice and they were willing to be flexible and make changes when it would result in a better outcome.” In the end, the couple realized their vision. “To us, this house is never going to go out of style,” says Florence, “and it truly is our dream home.”

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a site for sore eyes

Seeing is believing at Cowichan Eyecare WORDS SEAN MCINTYRE

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espite knowing this day would come, I still wasn’t fully prepared. Not too long ago, an optometrist told me I had another year or two before I’d need reading glasses. Yeah, right, I scoffed. Sure, my eyesight had never been perfect, but I’d managed fine, thank you very much. My denial was steadfast, yet there was an assuredness in her voice that sealed the inevitable. Three years later, I’d learned a convoluted repertoire of facial contortions to decipher the small print on everything from ingredients lists to medication bottles. Then, as if a change had occurred overnight, it was all scribbles; there was no way I could make out an address printed in teeny tiny letters without first grabbing a picture of it with my phone and zooming in on the image. I’m not alone, according to doctors Trevor Miranda and Anita Voisin, two owners and doctors of optometry at Cowichan Eyecare. Presbyopia is a condition that starts commonly in people in their early 40s. As the eye ages, the lens of the eye becomes less flexible and it gets harder for it to focus on items located closer, such as printed words. Both Dr. Miranda and Dr. Voisin agree that the cheap pair of readers I picked up at a nearby drugstore won’t harm me. “Readers won’t hurt you, but they’re not the optimal situation,” Dr. Miranda says. “For patients that need different ranges of clarity, and have a difference in prescriptions between the two eyes, there are lenses out there that are better and more comfortable.” Many patients like me who opt for the drugstore readers are needlessly living with lenses that offer substandard comfort and clarity. The difference between my entry level glasses and professionally supplied eyewear is as notable as the difference between high definition and regular TV in many cases, he adds. The Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends adults between the ages of 19 and 64 visit their optometrist every two years. Children and seniors over age 65 are advised to make annual visits. Not only do regular visits to the eye doctor offer patients the information needed to invest in the lenses they need to see properly, but it allows the optometrist to detect and address a wide range of eye conditions before it’s too late. As with other healthcare professionals, an optometrist’s ability to detect specific problems early on vastly improves a patient’s chances of effective treatment and long-term recovery. “We take high definition photographs and specialty scans to serve as a baseline that will help us throughout the years to detect disease,” Dr. Voisin says. “You can actually have great vision but still have an underlying disease that can be damaging your vision without you actually being aware of it. Glaucoma, for example, can become quite advanced before people ever notice a change in their vision because it’s painless, and it’s very slowly progressive. Unfortunately, once the nerve damage is done, we cannot restore what is lost; we can only prevent further damage from happening.” In addition to routine eye examinations with state-of-the-art diagnostic tools, Cowichan Eyecare’s services include vision therapy, myopia management, dry-eye therapy and contact lens exams and fittings. One of the company’s unique advantages is

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“I always hope that I can educate each patient on some aspect of improving their vision and protecting the future health of their eyes.” that Cowichan Eyecare employs a team of optometrists, each with specialties that enable them to handle in-house referrals to address patients’ specific concerns. “I always hope that I can educate each patient on some aspect of improving their vision and protecting the future health of their eyes,” Dr. Voisin says. Dr. Miranda opened the original Cowichan Eyecare location in Mill Bay back in the early 1990s. Dr. Voisin joined as a partner soon after, and the company’s reputation helped it quickly grow a team of optometrists who now work out of branches in Chemainus, Lake Cowichan, Duncan and Mill Bay. The company will open its newest location in Langford this fall. Demand for optometry services has never been higher, and the Cowichan Eyecare team has made the company a trusted name in healthcare for Vancouver Islanders of all ages through attentive customer service, exacting professional standards and an unyielding commitment to community, says Dr. Miranda. In a world that’s turned increasingly online for services and retail, he adds, the company has evolved with market trends to manage the “bricks and clicks,” while staying true to being what he calls the region’s “friendly neighbourhood optometrists.” The company is also a dedicated corporate citizen, sponsoring community organizations such as the Chemainus Theatre, Rotary clubs in South Cowichan and Chemainus, the Third World Eye Care Society, as well as youth leadership initiatives and school sports programs across the Cowichan Valley. According to Dr. Miranda, studies have shown people consider a visit to the optometrist to be nearly as stressful as buying a home. I can relate. Though buying a home is often seen as one of life’s great milestones, a visit to the optometrist calls upon the patient to face an inevitable part of the aging process, albeit one that is all too easily deferred or overlooked. The alternative to not getting my readers, Dr. Miranda points out, is an ever-diminishing ability to see what’s right in front of me along with associated symptoms of tiredness, stress and headaches. With a solution so close at hand, it feels silly and irresponsible for taking so long to walk through the door to discuss my options. Within the span of even our short interview, Drs. Miranda and Voisin let me know of an entire range of lenses designed to block the harmful blue light emitted by electronic devices from damaging the eye. Then there are the EnChroma lenses, which can offer people with colour blindness a chance to see a wider spectrum of hues. As someone who has lived with a subtle form of colour blindness for my entire life, news of a possible solution struck me as a revelation. I’ve yet to pursue the treatment, but I’m curious about what the world looks like when seen in its full spectrum of colours. Although my new pair of cheapo readers might be sufficient for now, it’s clear there’s a whole world of health, comfort and style that I’ve been unable to see.

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Build Something Beautiful Today

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SkywalK High above the tree line, overlooking a cast of turkey vultures—as they circle, catching thermals—roams a skywalker. Boulevard visits the brand new Malahat SkyWalk, which sits at the summit of the Malahat Drive on Vancouver Island and presents a lofty world, entered through the trees. Ascend a spiral and then step into the majesty of the sky. Colours of dry earth mixed with organic prints and textures, fashion for fall 2021 blends with the landscape and, at the same time, dazzles against it.


Talitha dress in rose ($655) by Ulla Johnson; Bronze Smoke Collar ($390) and Anni Earrings ($240), both by Lizzie Fortunato and all from from Bernstein & Gold.

Cream “Culotta” pant ($99), and “Lollaline” lightweight jacket ($175) both by Minimum and “Celestin” camel stripe top ($85) by Grace & Mila Paris all from Bayside Goods; stripe knit turtleneck ($72) by Cream, and brass leopard earrings ($40) by VIVID Designs all from Damsels Fashion Collections; and mustard reptile print suede Alexa boot ($515) by Beautifeel from Cardino Shoes.

Black faux leather trench jacket ($178) by Esqualo from Damsels Fashion Collections; Bone earrings ($150) by Dandi Maestre from Hughes; Keara heeled sandal ($450) by Chie Mihara from Footloose.

Eryn mini dress ($235) by Faithfull The Brand from Bernstein & Gold; Bone earrings ($150) by Dandi Maestre from Hughes; felt necklace ($225) by veronicalynndesigns. com from William Mathews Bookshop; Keara heeled sandal ($450) by Chie Mihara from Footloose.

Inwear Kasya Dress in Cinnamon ($179) from Hughes; Wave earrings in mother of pearl ($198) by Lizzie Fortunato from Bernstein & Gold; Wild Feather Wings ($1525) by veronicalynndesigns. com from Williams Mathews Bookshop.

Makeup: Jen Clark Model: Bridget Boldy Production assistant: Amelia Woodley Photographed on location at the Malahat SkyWalk. A huge thank you to everyone there for hosting our team for the day.

Winston at the Fairmont Empress Hotel.

Has your life gone to the dogs? 52  |

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Pet-friendly island means you can often bring Fido along WORDS JANE ZATYLNY PHOTOGRAPHY DON DENTON

“We know that many families have dogs and that these dogs are part of the family.”


was one of many British Columbians who adopted a rescue dog during the few first months of the pandemic. I’d lost my 12-year-old Labrador in January 2020 and was longing for the companionship and comfort of a dog. My new Siberian husky, Baylee, delivers—big time. Part therapy dog, part live-in companion, Baylee never fails to put a smile on my face. “We know that animals have such a positive impact on our mental and physical wellness, and I think this was needed more than ever during COVID-19,” says Lorie Chortyk, general manager of communications for the BC SPCA. “While our adoptions have remained fairly static because of COVID-19, there has been a greatly increased demand, sometimes up to 200 applications for one animal.” Sure enough, dogs seem to be everywhere these days—in condo buildings, on the city streets, in parks and even in local stores. “Shopping in stores with pet dogs is definitely a trend on the rise,” says Erin Bellinger from, a website that helps dog owners find hotels, restaurants and other places that will welcome their pets. It’s a trend I definitely appreciate: I can combine a dog walk with a visit to my local pharmacy or wine store. Even Canadian Tire welcomes dogs, though I’ve noticed they are more likely to congregate in the pet aisle than the tire department. “We love having a dog-friendly store,” reads a placard at the front of the store, adding a single, reasonable plea: “Please help us by cleaning up after your dog.” Patios are another great option with a well-behaved dog. At two outdoor eateries in my Victoria neighbouhood, At Fernwood Inn and Stage, Baylee curls up under the table and patiently waits for a tasty morsel to drop.



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Many hotels have long rolled out the red carpet for their fourlegged guests, giving owners peace of mind while they travel. Accent Inns, for example, has had a pet program for more than 30 years, says Mandy Farmer, president and CEO of Accent Inns and Zed Hotels. These hotels try to be as flexible as possible with their pet policy. “We don’t have size limits and you can bring more than two dogs. We just ask that you call us and let us know,” Mandy says, adding that they even housed a tiger once at their Burnaby location. “He was working at a local movie studio.” Dogs are more than welcome to stay in the one or two bedroom cottages at Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa & Conference Centre in Parksville. “We know that many families have dogs and that these dogs are part of the family,” says Paul Drummond, general manager. “As a family oriented resort, it is important to us that we are able to include ‘all’ family members when they are on vacation.” Tigh-Na-Mara offers a 22-acre forested property and beach for owners and dogs to enjoy together, or they can head out to one to one of the many great area trails, says Drummond. Duncan’s Rotary Park is another popular destination for dog owners and their pups. This off-leash dog park flanks the Cowichan River, allowing cooling dips in the water after a play session. You’ll also find great off-leash dog parks at Chemainus Lake Park and Wul’aam’ (Echo) Park. Later, why not whet your whistle with a glass of wine at Unsworth Vineyards in Mill Bay. Since the tasting room does not serve food, it’s perfectly fine for you to bring your dog inside with the two-legged folks. Call ahead for opening hours. Here are a few tips for navigating dog-friendly Central Island, as well as some suggestions about how to prepare your dog for the inevitable: your post-pandemic return to the office. PHOTO COURTESY TIGH-NA-MARA SEASIDE SPA & CONFERENCE CENTRE

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Keep in mind that not all public or private spaces are dog friendly. Even if one local retailer is pet friendly, it does not necessarily mean that other locations of the same chain will be okay with dogs roaming their aisles. At storefronts, check for “dogs welcome” signs, or poke your head inside and ask for permission before entering. Once inside, be acutely aware of other customers: some may actually be afraid of dogs. Be considerate and alert to their body language. “Keep your dog close to you at all times and give fellow shoppers a wide berth,” stresses Erin Ballinger. “Move out of their way, not vice versa.” Watch also for signs at parks and beaches. Some close entry to dogs at certain times of the year. In Parksville, for instance, dogs are not allowed on any of the Parksville or Qualicum beaches during the Brandt Geese migration.


Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa & Conference Centre.

If you’ve ever taken a dog into a store, you know there are tempting items right at their eye level. That’s why it’s so important to understand your dog’s limitations, says Erin. “If he is unaccustomed to being around strangers or can’t walk on a leash and follow commands while distracted, he is not ready for places like boutiques or department stores,” she stresses. “Start off at a chain pet store like PetSmart or Petco. Go at a low-traffic time. Work your way up to Home Depot, then aim for more challenging stores.” It also helps to exercise your pup before you enter stores, to take the edge off your dog’s friskiness, she adds. “And don’t forget to bring poop cleanup bags. If your dog has an accident, be the one to clean it up.” When planning to travel with a dog, have a plan for what your dog will do during the day if you are working. Ask if dogs can be left alone in the room or if there are other rules that you need to follow.  |

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Be sure to always check pet policies before booking your hotel. Rules can vary: some only accept small dogs; others have rules in place about how many dogs you can bring and how long you can leave your dog in your room unattended. It’s a good idea to call in advance and not just book online, so there are no surprises. Take your time if you’re travelling by car, and plan plenty of breaks for dog walks. While building the Hotel Zed in Tofino, Mandy Farmer travelled to the west coast often with her dog, and scoped out places to stop for a hike en route from Victoria. “It allowed me to explore some great new areas, and it was much healthier for me to get out and take breaks,” she says. Your hotel will be your best source for information. Ask the front desk for suggestions of great walks or dog parks. Most hotels can also supply names of pet sitters and walkers, if necessary, and offer pet packages that can include dog bowls, poop bags, treats and often dog beds.


Many of us will return to the office one day in the notso-distant future. Start to prepare for the transition now, before that day comes. The BC SPCA’s Lorie Chortyk offers these tips: • Pets crave routine. Transition to a routine that most closely resembles what the “new normal” will look like. “Set up a schedule for walks, feeding, playing and other activities that will be happening when you return to work, so your pet has a chance to adjust,” she says. • Start by leaving the house for short periods of time— even if it’s just for a few minutes. “This helps your pet realize that even when you leave, you always return, which reduces their anxiety,” says Lorie. • Make sure you have lots of interactive toys, like KONGs, snuffle mats and other items on hand to keep your pet occupied when you are gone. “Create a space for them with a comfy bed and all their favourite toys so they have a calming, safe space while you are out.” • Finally, be patient: “Transitions take time, but your pet will adjust to the ‘new normal’ with your help.”






This program accredits dog trainers who are committed to positive, humane training methods. If you need help with your pet, you can find an accredited trainer at


This handy website is searchable by location, and provides information about dog-friendly restaurants, attractions, accommodations, and retail stores.

SIZES XS-XXL, 0-18 250 746 0001 103-80 Station Street, Duncan

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Honest, Professional, Real Estate. I have been a Top Producing REALTOR® in Victoria for over 15 years consistently being recognized with the MLS Gold Award by the Victoria Real Estate Board. My sales acumen has been developed through a diverse background in the Real Estate Sales, Financial Services, and Technology industries where I have travelled extensively negotiating business deals throughout Europe and North America. Let me help you ensure that it is done right and with care.






Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, Independently Owned and Operated .E&O.E: This information is from sources which we deem reliable, but must be verified and may be subject to change or withdrawal.












f By Kerriann Coady Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Home Builders’ Association of Vancouver Island


he Vancouver Island Building Excellence Awards presented by FortisBC celebrates another year at a distance with a virtual ceremony that was broadcast from Sooke Point Ocean Cottages on May 29th, 2021. The VIBE awards celebrate outstanding achievements in Residential Construction and Renovation. No stranger to innovation the Residential Construction Industry has shown strength and resiliency during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Projects were judged on craftsmanship, environmental considerations and other industry advancements. As we continue to navigate through these times, it is important to stay connected and create space for celebration where we can. The award ceremony opened with Track N' Train - A rock and blues power trio from Tirana with a mission of bringing back good music one track at a time . “The celebration is about more than just a trophy, it is a formal acknowledgement of the exceptional care the industry puts in their projects. It represents their strength in customer service, craftmanship and innovation. It represents superior techniques and environmental considerations and the impact on the industry. All of the finalists should be very proud of their accomplishments.” Said CHBA VI President John Drazic. Homes in Central Island were well represented as winners in several categories. The Best Single Family Home between 3,000 4,500 sq.ft went to Nicon Developments for Trumpter Pointe. This gorgeous ultra-modern home graces Quamichan Lake in Trumpeter Pointe's lakeshore community. It features an ultra-modern design nestled into a terraced unobstructed natural lakefront setting that captures magnificent sunsets in it’s outside living spaces. Inside the West Coast styled home is an open-concept that is warm and inviting embracing main-floor living, entertaining, and a chef's kitchen. Affordability without compromising on style is at the forefront of consumer’s minds right now. Sun Porch Homes Ltd. embodies this statement with their win in the Production up to 2300 sq.ft. category. GNB Builders Inc. was definitely a favourite among the judges, taking home four trophies! Their project Bella Gaia showcased

that understated elegance lends to a comfortable welcoming energy where you can nourish your body and spirit in a Platinum Built Green home's kitchen. The oceanside kitchen is the perfect gathering place, centrally placed between the dining and great room and easy passage to entertain on the deck. Pheasant Hill Homes Ltd. brought home the trophy for Best Environmental Initiative. This award recognizes a company that embraces environmental, economic, and social aspects of their project and incorporates creative and innovative solutions while maintaining consideration for the environment. This award is presented to a company who recognize the impact of their project on its community and surrounding area and the steps taken to reduce this impact and add quality to the community. Energy Efficiency considerations are a strong element in the judging for all the categories however there are categories that are dedicated to high performance. Griffith Homes was also a winner in a special achievement category. They were the receipient of the Golden Blower Door award. This award presented by Bernhardt Contracting was presented to the project that achieved the lowest air change per hour verified by an Energy Advisor. This modern Scandinavian Certified Low Energy Passive House is comfortable living at its best. This home boasts open concept living with main floor master, built-ins galore that help to keep a minimalistic and clean look. New to the VIBE program this year is Smith & Sons Remodeling Experts of Canada inc. Not only were they featured as a finalist for the People’s Choice award but also won the Best Any Room category. Hanna Construction was a winner of two renovation categories for their project Fig On Fourth. This project was done with family in mind, focusing on bringing the elements in from its natural surrounding and paying homage to the picturesque scenery of the beach lifestyle. This home is the gathering place for the family as they plan for and rest from a life of play in the seaside village. In the Grand VIBE Award categories, J.Zsiros Contracting was the winner in the Customer Satisfaction Renovator category. This

award is adjudicated by Avid Ratings Canada, and rated by the most important judges in any business — their customers – with finalists and award winners joining the ranks among the best in Canada. Renovator of the year for 2021 went to Made to Last Custom Homes. This award goes to a Vancouver Island renovator who has not only delivered truly outstanding work but also advanced the state of practice in:Environmental responsibility; Innovation; Support of industry and peers through CHBA initiatives, including mentoring of new professionals in the industry; and Community involvement through charitable and social contributions. The awards also featured a sneak peak of the first ever Nanaimo Community Hospice Dream Home Lottery being built in the Foothills in Lantzville. This 3000 square foot home takes full advantage of the stunning panoramic views. Being built by Momentum Design Build, tickets will begin being sold on October 8th and will support programs and services of the Nanaimo Community Hospice Society. For more information on the Dream Home Lottery visit

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This renovation updated the aged aesthetic of the kitchen and living room with removal of center wall to allow more light and efficient use of space.

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Nestled under the watchful eye of an Eagle's Nest, this modern Scandinavian Certified Low Energy Passive House is comfortable living at its best. This home boasts open concept living with main floor master, built-ins galore, help to keep a minimalistic and clean look. Triple pane windows let in an abundance of light.

This oceanside kitchen is the perfect gathering place, centrally placed between the dining and great room and easy passage to entertain on the deck.

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Vibe 2021 Winner: Yaki Sugi Passive House // Best Evironmental Initiative Orchard Oasisi // Best Kitchen Renovation over $75,000 Classy Elegance // Best Single Family Bathroom Renovation over $30,000 The Yaki Sugi Passive House blends perfectly into it’s surroundings on a large plot of land in Ladysmith, BC. This Japanese inspired design meets passive house standards and is designed to have the lowest possible impact on the environment as possible. Built without using any foam products in construction, a water collection system that provides all the water the house needs and all the materials are locally sourced. The key feature on this custom built home is the Yaki Sugi (Burnt Cedar) siding on the exterior which is a natural way to make the siding more durable in our wet climate, but also gives the house a stunning look. Orchid Oasis boasts a stunning transformation in this modern kitchen design with two tone custom cabinetry, grey marbleized countertops and high end Miele appliances. An open floor plan with a large central island makes the kitchen spacious and accessible. A large amount of counterspace allows for multiple work stations for ease of use. This kitchen will make you fall in love with cooking again. Classy Elegance A bathroom that brings a traditional feel with beautiful modern amenities. Gorgeous marble porcelain tile with basketweave and lux acrylic clawfoot tub gives you modern durability with a traditional flair. Double shower heads, a separate toilet room and wainscotting throughout supplies you with the extravagance of a different time. Pheasant Hill Homes is a custom home builder and renovator that has been building in the Nanaimo area for over 20 years. Their hands on approach from design to construction brings the best results for their clients. They specialize in building high performance homes that are healthy and comfortable to live in. // 250-618-6880


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Beyond the pale Kitchen trends that add colour, warmth and durability to your space WORDS LISA MANFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY LIA CROWE

Spending more time at home over the past year has inspired many homeowners to invest in revamping their kitchen space. And that has led to a host of trends that are making the heart of the home more functional and fun. Katerina Vastardis of Designs by KS gave us the scoop on what’s hot in kitchen designs this year. And while the modern white kitchen isn’t going out of style anytime soon, she noted that many of the latest trends are adding character, visual interest and more functionality to today’s kitchens. Katerina recently designed her own kitchen, and bringing in some warmth was one of her goals. “I don’t want a stark house,” she says. “I used a mixture of materials and textures so it’s not cold but still contemporary. It’s modern but with character.” To achieve that sense of warmth, Katerina mixed oak and walnut in the same space and installed black cabinets to cool the brown hues. “There’s not too much white in my kitchen,” she says. “The only white is the walls.” To introduce even more texture, Katerina added ceiling slats leading into the laundry room, and created open shelving instead of upper cabinets to display her cookbooks and canisters. Because she’s an avid cook and entertainer, she also bulked up functionality with an oversized fivefoot sink and double dishwashers. “One is full size and the other is a dishwasher drawer, which carries over whatever the initial dishwasher couldn’t handle—wine glasses, for example.”  |

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Whatever your kitchen style and goals, this year’s trends have got something for everyone. Here are four common trends Katerina is seeing in kitchens this year.


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There’s something to be said about the notion of “a place for everything, and everything in its place.” Especially in a busy kitchen. That could explain why Katerina is seeing more and more people opt for enhanced organization systems, such as interior cabinet accessories, uniform storage units and appliance garages, which hide all the small appliances you use on a regular basis, while keeping them easily accessible. “The appliance garage is a built-in cabinet with a door that covers your small appliances, but when you move the door out of the way, your mixer or blender or toaster is still at counter height,” she says. “You can use a mechanism called a servo drive so that the door opens with the touch of your hand.” Interior cabinets are also getting a makeover, with accessories such as pantry pullouts to organize items like oils and spices that are used daily. “With the COVID-19 pandemic, people took home organization to the next level,” Katerina says. “Now, everything is labelled and stored in same-size containers. I’ve got all my oils labelled, and baskets and bins to hold everything for easy pull-out.” And bonus: easy access and hideaway storage mean more space for prep and less time cleaning up.

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This year, kitchens are becoming more vivid, more organized and more resilient than ever as designers amp up the functionality and fun. COLOURFUL AND TEXTURED FINISHES

If you’ve been waiting for a chance to colour your world, the time is now as white cabinets make way for colourful millwork. “Colours are coming back in,” Katerina says. “For years we were only seeing accent pieces, for example, just the island in a colour like blue. Now we’re seeing people use colour as an overall look; a whole blue or green kitchen.” Earth tones tend to be the favoured hues, but Katerina is currently doing an apartment with a pink kitchen. And it’s not just coloured millwork.

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“In my house, in my daughter’s bathroom, the tiles are pink!” she says. If colour isn’t your thing, texture might be an option for a creative finish. Quartz has been a kitchen countertop mainstay for a while, and now, wood grains are making a return to cabinets and accents to warm up the space. Backsplash tiles are another great way to add texture to your kitchen tableau.


Separating your cooking surface from your oven is a great way to create a more continuous countertop space, which not only looks sleeker but is also easier to clean. “Many of my clients are opting for a cooktop stacked on top of a wall oven, instead of a slide-in range, as it gives you a more built-in look,” Katerina says. She’s also seeing many clients foregoing microwaves in favour of steam ovens. “They’re a healthier option and offer a richer flavour profile.”


“Almost everything is panelled in my house,” Katerina says. “Off the kitchen is the pantry area and there’s a freestanding fridge; it’s all panelled. My freezer is also panelled, and my wine fridge is as well.

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Silvie Pantsios (left) and Katerina Vastardis of Designs by KS.

Panelling your appliances offers minimal lines instead of stainless steel as a feature.” And it helps to make small spaces look bigger, so it’s a great option for condos in particular. Another added bonus to panelling? It’s an opportunity to bring in more colour.


Hardwood floors will always be a classic design, but they’re not only expensive, they’re also less resilient than an engineered product. “Man-made materials are getting better,” Katerina says. “We’re seeing a trend toward vinyl plank, which is waterproof, stain-proof and scratch-resistant”—qualities that are especially valuable in the kitchen. Similarly, the kitchen island quartz waterfall leg, an extended slab that runs both horizontally as well as the vertical length of the island to the floor, is still going strong and adds a pop of durable continuity to an area that often takes a bit of a beating. Tile is gaining momentum as well, Katerina says, with its durability and fun design options for kitchen backsplashes and countertops. “It’s durable and waterproof, and we’re seeing more patterns, shapes and colours come through. People are not hesitating to take that plunge and amp up the interest in their home.” If a kitchen upgrade is on your to-do list, this year’s trends offer a perfect recipe for letting your personality shine through. So go ahead and cook up a kitchen design that’s uniquely you.

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food and feast

À votre santé!

Raise your glass to making it through a challenging 18 months WORDS ELLIE SHORTT



Waterfront Dining at Cowichan Bay



have a confession to make: I enjoy coming up with cocktail concoctions slightly more than I do food recipes. Perhaps it’s because the task is a tad novel since I’m a food writer and nutritionist, or maybe it’s because I bartended for about 10 years to help support my schooling and early stages of my career—either way, muddling, shaking, stirring and pouring holds a special place in my heart. I am by no means a true mixologist, but as a recipe developer I do understand the art of finding balanced and pleasing flavour combinations. I also love entertaining. Granted, it’s something I haven’t been able to do for a while thanks to pandemic life (not to mention being a new mom), but I have historically liked to have a cocktail ready for arriving guests to sip and distract while I put the final touches on the meal. Another less obvious advantage of coming up with my own concoctions is that I can experiment with certain hidden benefits of boozy libations. Alcoholic beverages have a long history of “curing what ails you,” and while some attributions are simply superstition or merely wishful thinking, many brews offer opportunities for more than just a blissful buzz. Digestifs traditionally help prime the belly for an abundant meal, while apéritifs may similarly settle the

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stomach following an overindulgent feast, and raw ferments have long been recognized as offering a boost to one’s microbiome. Bitters ease digestive discomfort, as does the vinegary tang of shrubs—two elements often incorporated in many cocktails, including a couple of the ones featured here. But the greatest benefit of all, perhaps? The smile that spreads across your face after those first couple sips, and that joyful celebratory feeling that overtakes your body as a glass is raised with loved ones. Because I love creating cocktails so much, I have a vast anthology of options and choosing just a few to share here was an admittedly tormenting task. As an attempt to focus this undertaking, and recognizing that this is in fact a food column, I went with a much-loved culinary theme: fruit and herbs. While mint may be what commonly comes to mind in the cocktail realm, unexpected herbs usually reserved for savoury dishes—like rosemary, thyme, tarragon and basil—often offer a layer of sophistication and intrigue to an otherwise tiresome tipple. My favourite method of infusing the flavours of herbs into a cocktail is to do just that: take a handful of your select herb, shove it into a bottle of booze of choice, let it sit overnight and strain the next day. Now, if you’re working with top-shelf liquor, and are only making a drink or two, you might not be so keen on tainting the whole batch, so in this case I suggest separating out what you’d like to infuse and combining it in a sealable glass jar with a smaller sprig of your choosing. Of course, without implementing this method you can still enjoy herbaceous benefits, whether you muddle, shake or simply stir it in, depending on the specific drink and level of botanical intensity you’re seeking. I just find it provides a depth to the flavour profiles presented in the following offerings. I should also

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mention that many of these can be made non-alcoholic by either leaving out the liquor altogether or substituting your favourite zero-proof spirit. So whether you’re beginning to invite friends and family into your homes again and are looking for a fun new refreshment to try together, or if you’re still more comfortable sipping and savouring solo or with your immediate household, I encourage you to raise a toast to making it through an unprecedented, challenging 18 months with an enthusiastic and meaningful salud, prost, kampai or l’chaim…however it is you like to raise a glass to good health.

Smokey Rosemary + Fig Old Fashioned Prep time: 10 minutes (plus optional overnight soak) Makes 1 cocktail What you’ll need… 2 oz bourbon or rye whiskey a few sprigs of fresh rosemary 1 ripe fig 1 tsp maple syrup bitters ice lighter or match cocktail shaker short rocks glass optional garnishes: sliced fig, rosemary

Smokey Rosemary + Fig Old Fashioned

How to make it… Optional overnight infusion: In a sealable glass container or directly in the bottle, combine some bourbon (or rye) and rosemary and let it sit overnight. Strain and set aside. Place a sprig of fresh rosemary over top of some chopped fig on a flat plate. Hold the flame to the rosemary sprig until it catches fire (if it won’t light, dry it in the oven for 10 minutes or so on low heat). Place a rocks glass over the rosemary sprig and chopped fig, and let it rest for 5 minutes. Turn the glass over and release the smoke. Add the smoked fig to a shaker and muddle to a pulp. Add bourbon (or rye), maple syrup and a couple of dashes of bitters to the shaker and give it a good shake. Add ice to the rocks glass and strain the contents of the shaker over ice. Add sliced fig and a sprig of rosemary for the garnish. *Note: If you usually find an Old Fashioned a bit too strong, topping the drink with some soda water really helps. It’s a different drink, but you still get to enjoy the flavour offerings of this concoction without such a punch.


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Whether you’re beginning to invite friends and family into your homes again and are looking for a fun new refreshment to try together, or if you’re still more comfortable sipping and savouring solo or with your immediate household, I encourage you to raise a toast to good health! Watermelon Mint Shrub


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Prep time: 5 minutes (plus optional overnight soak) Makes 4 cocktails What you’ll need… 8 oz vodka ½ cup water pinch of cardamom pinch of sea salt 2 tbsp honey 1 cup coarsely chopped watermelon a handful of fresh mint 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar ice sparkling water medium-sized glass optional garnishes: leftover watermelon chunks, sliced cucumber, mint How to make it…

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Optional overnight infusion: In a sealable glass container, or directly in the bottle, combine some vodka and mint and let it sit overnight. Strain and set aside. Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add cardamom, salt and honey, stir to dissolve, and remove from the heat. Combine the watermelon and mint in a large bowl. Stir in the honey-water and let cool to room temperature, then add the vinegar. Steep the mixture in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Strain the mixture and set aside the watermelon cubes to use for an optional garnish, or just snack on them as you please. Fill a glass with ice and pour 2 oz of vodka and one-quarter cup of the concentrate over top. Top with about three-quarters cup sparkling water and garnish with the watermelon, cucumber and mint. *Note: Shrubs are great as non-alcoholic tonics as well, so if you or your guests are avoiding the hard stuff, just leave out the vodka and enjoy as is!

Watermelon Mint Shrub

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Spiced Pear + Thyme Zinger

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Spiced Pear + Thyme Zinger Prep time: 5 minutes (plus optional overnight soak) Makes 2 cocktails What you’ll need… 321 Wesley Street

4 oz rum (I’ve made this with both white and spiced rum before, both offering something different) a few sprigs of thyme 4 oz pear puree (or well muddled pear if you don’t have a blender) ¼ cup honey ¼ cup water 1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced a cinnamon stick a couple whole cloves 8 oz kombucha (plain or ginger flavoured seem to work best) medium-sized glass optional garnishes: sliced pear, cinnamon stick, thyme How to make it… Optional overnight infusion: In a sealable glass container, or directly in the bottle, combine some rum and thyme and let it sit overnight. Strain and set aside. In a small saucepan combine honey, water and ginger. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat, stirring until honey dissolves into the water. Remove from the heat and set aside to steep for 20 minutes. Strain into a container, discarding the ginger, cloves and cinnamon stick, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Combine 2 ounces of rum, 2 ounces of pear puree (or muddled pear) and honey ginger syrup with ice in the shaker and give it a quick shake. Pour the mixture into a glass and top with 4 ounces of kombucha (more or less depending on how big your glass is and how strong you like your drinks). Add pear slices, a cinnamon stick and a sprig of thyme to garnish.

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*Note: I find this drink equally as delicious on ice or fully strained more like a martini, hence the ambiguity in the directions. If you’re muddling the pears, try transferring the whole contents of the shaker, ice and all, into the glass so you still get the full flavour of the pears as you sip. However, if you’re using a silky smooth puree try it strained and simply chilled from the shaking process. Or play around with it and see which one you prefer!

Blackberry Basil Sparkler Prep time: 5 minutes (plus optional overnight soak) Makes 1 cocktail What you’ll need… 1 oz gin a basil leaf or two, sliced a ripe blackberry or two ½ oz honey ½ oz fresh lemon juice sparkling white wine, prosecco or champagne (about 2 or 3 oz) champagne flute, prosecco glass or similar optional garnish:: lemon twist How to make it… Optional overnight infusion: in a sealable glass container or directly in the bottle, combine some gin and basil and let it sit overnight. Strain and set aside. In the bottom of your glass, place a blackberry and some sliced basil, top with honey, lemon juice and gin, and gently muddle (the back of a thin wooden mixing spoon works great for this). Top with your sparkling beverage of choice and garnish with a twist of lemon.

Blackberry Basil Sparkler

*Note: A take on a French 75, this is a great welcome cocktail for guests. I like to prepare the base of the cocktail ahead of time (so, the muddled mix of blackberry, basil, lemon juice, honey and gin) and then just top as each guest arrives.

Tangerine + Tarragon Tequila Sunrise

Tangerine + Tarragon Tequila Sunrise Prep time: 5 minutes (plus optional overnight soak) Makes 1 cocktail What you’ll need… 2 oz blanco tequila 4 oz tangerine juice, freshly squeezed (you can really use any sort of orange, I just liked how it sounded in the name) 1 oz pomegranate juice a few sprigs of tarragon ice tall rocks glass optional garnishes: tangerine/orange slices, orange twist, tarragon How to make it… Optional overnight infusion: In a sealable glass container, or directly in the bottle, combine some tequila and tarragon and let it sit overnight. Strain and set aside. In a glass filled with ice, add the tequila, top with the tangerine juice and then the pomegranate juice, which will sink to the bottom of the glass, creating a layered effect. Add tangerine/ orange slices, orange twist and a sprig of tarragon for the garnish. *Note: I use pomegranate juice instead of the classic grenadine in this recipe. I find it offers a more sophisticated and satisfying flavour profile, and isn’t quite as sweet. However, as someone who likes things even less on the sweet side, I often mellow it out with a bit of soda water as well.  |

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Pedalling Portugal The last of Europe’s wild coasts



t was the solitude that struck us first. As we helped our driver unload our bikes and cycling gear in Vila Nova de Milfontes, my husband and I felt alone for the first time since arriving in Portugal. Our cruise a couple weeks earlier up the Douro River was perfectly pleasant but required piling into buses when we went ashore, and mingling with other passengers at every meal. And in the historic city of Porto, we lined up with other tourists to visit museums and shop at Livraria Lello, one of the world’s most beautiful bookstores. But here, just two hours south of Lisbon, the streets of Vila Nova de Milfontes are quiet and empty except for the occasional cat that wanders past. In July and August,

this village swells with Portuguese tourists, but in mid-May it feels like we have the place to ourselves. In fact, as we’ll discover, the entire coastline from here south to Sagres could almost be our own private park. “You don’t find this in Spain or France, Italy, Croatia,” opined our driver on the way here. “All the southern countries where you think of going for summer vacation have hotels, golf courses, houses, mass tourism. This is the last of Europe’s wild coast. Twenty-kilometre stretches with nothing.”

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This is the last of Europe’s wild coast. Twenty-kilometre stretches with nothing … Nothing, that is, except gorgeous sandy beaches, dramatic cliffs pounded by waves, windswept headlands carpeted in wildflowers, picturesque fishing villages and forests where wild boar roam. Nothing, that is, except gorgeous sandy beaches, dramatic cliffs pounded by waves, windswept headlands carpeted in wildflowers, picturesque fishing villages and forests where wild boar roam. It sounds too good to be true, but more than 100 kilometres of coastline and 75,000 hectares of pine and cork forests are largely untouched by human hands, protected from development by Portugal’s Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park. For cyclists and walkers, it’s a dream destination. And in the coming weeks and months, while we’re all still highly COVIDconscious, I can’t think of a better place to ease gently back into international travel. Even pre-COVID-19, the southwest Alentejo was the perfect place for our first self-guided cycling holiday. The company we went with—Portugal Nature Trails—gets rave reviews for its well-organized tours and support. The Portuguese company offers many itineraries, but its Easy Wild Coast sounded just right. Following quiet roads and trails with only a few big hills, we’ll ride just over 100 kilometres to Sagres, the southwestern-most point in Portugal and all of Europe. In a car, you could do it in an hour and a half. We’ll take a leisurely week. Our first morning we enjoy a filling breakfast, then say goodbye to the friendly couple who run our B&B. Our luggage will be picked up by a pre-arranged driver and moved to our next night’s accommodation. Our bikes’ GPSes have been programmed. Helmets on, we’re ready to pedal. Before long, the trail leads to the first of many cliffs over the Atlantic. When we reach the century-old Cape Sardão lighthouse (built facing inland by mistake!), we stop to observe half a dozen white storks. This is the only place in the world where these long-legged beauties nest on cliffs. We can easily peer down and see their fluffy chicks, who are blissfully unaware of their precarious situation.


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May is also peak wildflower season and the profusion is simply astounding. A plant called hottentot carpets the cliff edges in perky pink and yellow blossoms. It’s an invasive species from South Africa, but too pervasive—and too pretty—to even think about removal. Further on, sheep and cows graze in pastures with their young. With so much flora and fauna to photograph, I now realize why we need six days to cycle 100 kilometres! One day, when we stop to get close-up photos of a cork tree, we’re surprised to see a man herding cows. He’s wearing a brown sheepskin vest that’s clearly tailored for his outdoor needs; it’s short in the front but reaches almost to the ground in the back—perfect for sitting on. Except for his jeans and shirt, he could be from a different era. But Portugal is most definitely in the 21st century. Some months it generates enough renewable energy to power the whole country. We see some of that green power on display one day when we cycle along a ridge that’s dotted with enormous wind turbines, gently whirring in the breeze. There’s also plenty of history on this storied coast. Reaching the village of Aljezur—known for its purple sweet potatoes—we begin a slow, strenuous climb to the ruins of a medieval castle that was occupied by the Moors from the 10th to 13th centuries. At Bordeira’s beach we stop to climb sand dunes—this time on foot— and watch a lone kite surfer race across the waves. A few kilometres further on, a couple dozen surfers are catching waves off another beach that’s just as empty and pristine. Late one day we reach the Pedralva Slow Village Hotel. It’s really an entire village that slowly emptied when people moved to cities for work. In 2006, a few Portuguese entrepreneurs decided to buy and restore many of the abandoned houses for tourism. “We didn’t know who they belonged to. We didn’t know where they were,” Pedralva’s manager tells us, explaining they tracked down 200 descendants of the former owners and negotiated to buy 31 houses. Today, the gleaming, whitewashed cottages look lived-in again, with red roses blooming by doorsteps welcoming “slow” tourists like us.


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Understand – Validate – Protect – Respect


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At lunchtime on our final day we realize we’ve yet to try percebes—goose barnacles—a local delicacy. At a restaurant in Vila do Bispo the waiter shows us how to squeeze the edible flesh from what look like sharp claws. They’re salty, messy and addictively delicious.

Too soon, we cycle into Sagres, our final destination. At nearby Cape St. Vincent we look north from where we came and can only marvel at this coast, once the end of the known world, and today as naturally spectacular as ever.

Give your loved ones peace of mind. Plan for tomorrow today.


GiveAyour NEW lovedBOOK ones peace of mind. by Boulevard Editor Susan Lundy

Plan for tomorrow, today.

“A delightful big-hearted book full of wit and wisdom that had me bursting into laughter every other page.”

— Amy Chua, author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother


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Available in bookstores, more info:

Ladysmith, BC | 250-245-5553 | 84  |

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secrets and lives —


with PATTY JEFFS, Patryka Designs, Mill Bay


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or over 15 years, Patty Jeffs has been a fixture in Mill Bay where her independent boutique Patryka Designs serves up a blend of classic, trendy and elegant fashion for shoppers from all over Vancouver Island. But shortly before the boutique was birthed, Patty had spent half her life in Puerto Vallarta, and loving every minute of it. “I moved to Mexico when I was 24,” she says. “I went on holiday with a couple of my girlfriends, then I went back a few more times and decided I wanted to learn the language.” That led to an eight-month stint living locally to learn Spanish, and about a year after that, she moved permanently. Puerto Vallarta is where she got her start in the retail business, managing a dive shop on the main boardwalk. Later, she purchased the shop with a partner. The prime location attracted a booming business, and she was quickly approached about opening up a franchise by a souvenir and T-shirt company based out of Mexico City. Since the inventory was already determined, “It was one of those no-brainer retail experiences,” she says with a laugh. The businesses were successful, with additional boutiques and galleries in hotel lobbies, but after spending 24 years in Mexico, Patty, her husband and their two young children made the move back to Victoria. “My mom was getting older,” she explains, “and I felt like I owed it to my husband and children to have the opportunity to choose between one country and one culture and the other. To have dual citizenship and both languages.” The family didn’t know at first whether the move would be permanent or temporary, but soon after they moved back, Patty began building a new career here. In 2005, she purchased an existing boutique in Mill Bay and renamed it Patryka Designs, offering an unparalleled boutique experience. The shop is over 2,600 square feet, making it one of the largest independent boutiques on Vancouver Island, and the space allows Patty to bring in a wide variety of designers and styles which have evolved over the years. “Out of all the lines I started with, there are only three or four that either still exist, or we still buy from,” she explains. “We try to buy something for everyone. If people want linen or other natural fibres, or Canadian made, or a great selection of jeans and sportswear, we carry it. And the mix of different brands and styles are colour blocked, so people can zero in on their colours.” But although the designs have evolved and changed over the past 15 years, the boutique’s atmosphere has remained as warm and welcoming as ever. “We want customers to feel like they’re being taken care of, but not pushed. We want them to feel that we’re giving them an honest opinion. And I think for some people it’s a break from what’s going on in their lives,” says Patty. “Some people come in like it’s the local coffee shop to chat, catch up or share what’s going on in their lives with someone that genuinely cares.” She adds: “It’s not just about shopping. We try to make it a fun experience for everybody, and have the atmosphere be upbeat.”

The 7 Sins ENVY:

Whose shoes would you like to walk in?

Meryl Streep. She is one of the most talented and respected actresses of our time and I feel honoured that people have told me at times throughout the years that I look like her.


What is the food you could eat over and over again? Mexican. Living 24 years in Mexico made me an addict!


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

Travelling filled with days of self-care and great food. And if there was anything left over, I’d buy a home in my favourite warm place.


Pet peeves?

Messy, tacky or poorly merchandised stores, and things hung on the wrong hangers.


Where would you spend a long time doing nothing?

Enjoying a spectacular view by the water, either alone or with friends and family, filled with laughter and fun.


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

Building a life and a house in another country, and learning another language that I could gift to my children.


What makes your heart beat faster?

Beautiful places, beautiful spaces and seeing my family happy.  |

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he rain teemed down that first morning before returning to work as I sat in my chair, sipping my warm tea. I scrolled through the memories on my social media account; my morning routine of perusing what I was up to according to Facebook years ago. I glanced down at my feet; warm and snug in my grandmother’s slippers, dreading heading out into the pouring day. Three years ago, I was in Kona; revealed by the pictures of Rainbow Falls. I spent my spring break in Hawaii, where I’d leased a car and driven the entire island. There were no actual plans, other than to fill my mind with images that I would draw on to escape the reality of my repetitive existence once I returned to work. It was a welcome change from my routine to hop in the car and just drive from sunup to sundown, stopping in tiny villages or for a quick bite to eat or a dip in the ocean at a hidden beach. This year had been different. No travel, no family or friends, no adventure, just the comforts and familiarity of my neighbourhood. I lost myself in the beauty of that image and the memory of the time I’d spent on the island. Every day in Kona had been sunny and warm, a stark contrast to the cold soaked air of the West Coast. The alarm on my watch vibrated on my wrist, breaking the spell of nostalgia and signalling me it was time to dress and get ready for work. Reluctantly dragging myself from my couch, I kicked off the orange leather slippers, pulled on a pair of warm socks and got dressed while I faced the vanity in the stillness of my room. As I brushed my hair and fastened it into a loose braid, it forced me to question the foreign reflection gazing back. Standing quietly, I revisited memories of what felt like lifetimes ago. These moments were so far from the place I found myself in today, yet still connected by the smallest of threads. Glancing down, I grabbed my lip gloss. I stared in the mirror as I brought the soft, glistening wand up to my lips and let it drag across them. Looking back up at my reflection, my now shiny lips glistened as though a slug had travelled across them. The slight wet look and gentle pout reminded me of those moments after a kiss. Mouth still gently parted and the slight breathlessness of surrender lingered in my mind. Although that memory was long passed, it resurfaced the recollection of the first day I’d spent with an old love. We had sat on a bench in the park by the tennis courts, watching the relay of players lob the ball back and forth for hours. Shaded by the sun, we’d scripted the conversation for the cast of actors we were observing on the courts. He had quite the sense of humour, and his laugh was rich with mischief. Thinking back, the mild blossoming fragrance of that warm summer morning when we first met wafted into my mind’s eye. We had talked for months, but this was the first time we had met face to face. I had only seen a single photo of him but had fallen for his dulcet tones. He was adept at disarming me, and it rigged our game of cat and mouse in his favour. Earlier that morning, he’d left me stranded after my overnight flight, while he dozed; oblivious to his forgotten promise. I remembered how my heart had sunk as I waited, abandoned, at the airport. It was too early to call anyone else. So, I called him. His voice was hoarse, groggy and confused.

“Where are you? Did you want to drag out the anticipation...? Or just save on parking?” I’d asked playfully. I recalled the awkwardness in his voice for having overslept. “Oh… I’m so sorry, just hop in a cab to my place.” It wasn’t like me to be what I construed as demanding, but I took a chance since I’d been looking forward to being greeted upon my landing. “You said you’d pick me up. I don’t mind waiting,” I responded in a kind and warm but firm tone. This introduction to what would be our first in-person meeting had made me uneasy. How could he have forgotten? At least it had given me a little time to freshen up and wash away the stale scent of a sleepless overnight flight. I didn’t have to wait too long before he’d arrived and texted me where he’d parked. Walking out of the terminal, the air was rife with the acrid stench of jet fuel. I smiled and timidly hugged him hello. As I got in the car, he took my bags. It was still quite early, and he asked how I was feeling after my flight. We drove to my friend’s place where I was staying so I could drop off my suitcase and then continued to his neighbourhood to return the rented car. There was a strange mood of stilted anticipation and climactic disappointment. As we walked, the warmth of the day melted away the guarded interactions and we soon fell into our familiar affectionate repartee. We searched for a place to get a drink for a few blocks, passing several closed shops, when we came across the honeyed fragrance of a fruit stand that was setting up for the day. I remembered how we were both so grateful for the store’s early morning hours. I had been dehydrated, and he was hungover. He suggested a park around the corner where we could sit, talk and savour our sweet-smelling tangy drinks. The harmony of the blended fruit juice brought me back to the summer warmth in Hawaii. We’d texted the whole time I was away, sending pics back and forth to each other. It was almost like we were adventuring together. Nowadays, I sometimes take the detour through the familiar alleyways to walk by that park. I retrace our steps through the sordid streets, littered with the foul stench of heartbreak and nostalgia. As I meander through the backstreets, I notice how the late day sun overextends the shadows of the fire escapes. It’s like they’re reaching toward a distant past, only to meet the pavement and disappear into the murky urine-soaked filth of obscurity. The shadowy parallel mocks my melancholic yearning for my embellished memory of him. Weaving through those pathways years later toward that spot where it all came to life, I can almost smell the adhesive pong of the felt orbs that mimicked our volleyed gaze. We had taunted one another within that intimate tension, sitting on that bench and staring into each other’s eyes between conversational pauses; holding back the fulfilment of bitter delight. Over the years, we’d often lose touch and then come back together again as though no time had passed. This year it had been just a few phone calls before the holidays; nothing like the reuniting embrace at the airport years ago. I looked at myself in the mirror again and wiped off the gloss. What was the point, anyhow? I thought. I put on my mask and headed out the door.  |

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behind the story For this issue of Boulevard, the fashion team had the pleasure of photographing the fashion feature at the new Malahat SkyWalk, days before it opened to the public. The whole team was in absolute awe of the entire attraction—from the lengthy boardwalk up in the trees, which leads to the SkyWalk, to the structure itself, which spirals up above the treeline and offers views usually reserved for birds. A few brave members of our team walked out onto a large net at the top and peered all the way down to the bottom of the massive structure. One of the most memorable highlights for everyone, however, was the huge metal-tube spiral slide that winds its way down the length of the structure, eliciting screams, squeals and uncontrollable laughter from everyone who tried it. PHOTO BY LIA CROWE


Lyon Dress in Black ($360) by Just Female from Still Life; Mesh and Pebble Necklace ($250) by veronicalynndesigns. com from William Mathews Bookshop; Bone Ring by Dandi Maestre ($270) from Hughes; Pernille Croco Shiny Sneaker by Woden ($200) from Bernstein & Gold.  |

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