Boulevard Magazine Central Island, Fall 2023

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Go slow Artistry, chaos, and fashion from local designers UPCYCLE THE GIFTS OF CREATIVITY Creating sustainability in the fashion industry TAKE IT SLOW Lessons from a slow-food lifestyle CENTRAL ISLAND LIFE AT ITS FINEST FALL 2023
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8 | FALL 2023 FEATURES 32 GARDEN GLORY B eauty, form, function and colour, all year round B y Angela Cowan 46 THE GIFTS OF CREATIVITY Ar tistry, chaos and fashion f rom local designers B y Lia Crowe + Sarah D’Arcey 56 UPCYCLE Repurposing, visibly mending and creating sustainability in t he fashion industry
Laura Goldstein
TAKE IT SLOW...AND E VEN SLOWER Lessons from a slow-food lifestyle
y Ellie Shortt
magic of Antarctica— responsibly
y Suzanne Morphet
SPECIAL SECTION VIBE: Celebrating homebuilding excellence
CONTENTS On the Cover
By Kerriann Coady
Photo by Lia Crowe Karen Bezaire, owner of the Courtenay-based flower shop Bezaire Floral.

Karen Bezaire

B y Angela Cowan

9 | FALL 2023 DEPARTMENTS 10 CONTRIBUTORS 12 EDITOR’S LETTER Slow driver day B y Susan Lundy 14 LIFE.STYLE.ETC. Anna Francis B y Lia Crowe 16 FASHION ESSENTIALS Checking in B y Janice Jefferson 18 G OOD TASTE Fusion flair: Nanoose Bay Cafe B y Laura Langston 22 WEEKENDER Revelations: North Vancouver B y Susan Lundy 28 WELL AND GOOD T he picture of personalized health B y Devon Paige Smith 22
T he passion part of the f urniture: Chris Rothery
B y Tess van Straaten 78 SECRETS
gnomes B y Alline Cormier 82 BEHIND
32 14
Photo by Lia Crowe



“To create the fashion story in this edition of Boulevard, we imagined an editorial based on Renaissance paintings set in the modern day. I believe that telling a great fashion story always merges inspiration from the past with the present. It was also an incredible opportunity to share knowledge with the students from my Blanche Macdonald styling class and give them a hands-on opportunity to learn on a true fashion editorial set.”

Sarah is a celebrity fashion stylist and style curator and is known for her exceptional creativity and attention to detail.

BOULEVARD GROUP Mario Gedicke PUBLISHER 250.891.5627




DESIGN Tammy Robinson

Nel Pallay

Maria Lobano va



“The slow food movement is something I’ve long been passionate about, so having the opportunity to write a piece that explores this topic was particularly meaningful. As a nutritionist, I’ve seen the health benefits of a more mindful approach to what we consume; as a cooking instructor, I’ve witnessed many times over the magic that happens when folks reconnect with food and flavours; as a mom, I appreciate how integral these philosophies are to the protection of our planet and food systems for future generations; and as a recipe developer, I love how tastier everything is when we take it back to our roots—hopefully you will too!”

Ellie is Boulevard’s regular Food and Feast section writer.




“I always love learning about how people find their passion and purpose in life. For some, it takes a few different jobs or careers to get there, but for Chris Rothery of the aptly named Chester Fields furniture store in Victoria and a new location in Nanaimo, that passion for furniture and design started as a teenager and helped Chris build a future doing what he loves.” Tess van Straaten is an award-winning television journalist and magazine writer who has interviewed prime ministers, rock stars and royalty, but this fourth generation Victorian is probably best known for cuddling puppies and helping rescue animals of all sizes find homes on CHEK News’ popular Pet CHEK segment.

Vicki Clark

CONTRIBUTING Alline Cormier WRITERS Angela Cowan

Lia Crowe

Sarah D’Arcey

Laura Goldstein

Janice Louise

Laura Langston

Suzanne Morphet

Devon Paige Smith

Ellie Shortt



Tony Colangelo Photography


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Agreement #42109519. Tel: 250.381.3484 Fax: 250.386.2624

10 | FALL 2023 contributors
We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada CENTRAL ISLAND LIFE AT ITS FINEST FALL 2023 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
not necessarily reflect the views of Black Press Group Ltd. or its affiliates;
official endorsement should be inferred. The publisher does not assume any responsibility for the contents, both implied or assumed,
any advertisement
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Slow driver day

My teen-hood neighbourhood may have called me Little Hell on Wheels, but over the years my foot has lightened on the accelerator— prompted, I suppose, by a few expensive speeding tickets. But “slowing down,” the loose theme of this edition of Boulevard, has never been a big part of my DNA. And it’s only been more recently that I have learned to enjoy the journey instead of just rocketing to my destination. Back in the day, it was going too fast that prompted a car accident at the entrance way of my high school parking lot. Hello, Dad’s car all crashed up. And it was frustration with a too-slow elevator at an old hotel in Vancouver that caused me to race down the stairwell instead, tripping and careening headfirst into a concrete wall. Hello, concussion and elbow plate and pins. My ex-husband was a painfully slow driver. My grandmother drove faster than Derrick. Sometimes I’d slip my foot over to his side of the car and place it on top of his shoe to help him find the accelerator. My younger daughter inherited her father’s leisurely driving pace, but somehow, I find her meandering speed restful, whereas my ex-husband’s pace was just irksome.

Which brings me to Bruce, my current husband, and truly the nicest, most laid-back guy you could know—until he gets behind the wheel of a car (or watches his beloved Maple Leafs fall victim to Leaf-hating referees, which is all of them, apparently). In a vehicle’s driver’s seat, he revs up from happygo-lucky to cranky, chugging out exasperated commentary on the lesser drivers of this world. Sometimes, after he’s finally able to pass a particularly inferior driver, he whips his head around to get a really good look at this person who has such shockingly bad driving skills.

Sometimes he blares the horn, something I never, ever do, partially because it seems so aggressive, but also because the horns on our vehicles are embarrassingly wimpy. For example, fellow drivers just laughed when we punched the sad, braying horn of our ‘78 VW bus. But Bruce’s horn-honking really becomes an issue for me when we’re in our right-hand-drive Delica, and everyone thinks I’m the cranky driver!

This winter we are planning to take a road trip through the United States and, as I’ve been counselling Bruce, this angry driver routine just won’t cut it in a country where many drivers are looking for any excuse to set off the handgun they have stowed in the console.

So, we’ve started working on Fast-Driver Therapy, wherein every time we encounter a driver who can’t find his turn signals, or who is obliviously hanging out in the passing lane or crawling along at 50 km in an 80-km zone, I begin leading him in deep-breathing exercises. If this doesn’t work, I move into the classic-rock humming phase—steering clear of songs like ACDC’s “Highway to Hell” and settling on something more like Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive.” Final trick up my sleeve is quoting selected lyrics from the ultimate what-is-the-point-of-it-all song: Kansas’ “Dust in the Wind.”

“We’re just a drop of water in an endless sea,” I might remind him soothingly if he’s inching towards tailgating the car in front of us. Or, if he mutters something like, “Nice car…learn how to drive it,” I might respond with, “You know, ‘all we do crumbles to the ground, though we refuse to see!’”

It seems to work?

In all seriousness, though, slowing down—whether it’s in the fashion world or the travel or food arenas, as described in this edition of Boulevard, or the way in which we navigate the world—is a worthy goal. With offshoots in sustainability, mindfulness and good health, we should all choose to “stop and smell the roses” and savour the journey as even more important than the destination.

Go ahead, you can just call me “Little Heaven on Wheels.”

12 | FALL 2023
Susan Lundy is a former journalist who now works as an editor, author and freelance writer. Her latest book, Home on the Strange, was published in 2021 via Heritage House Publishing.


14 | FALL 2023

meet Anna at Bayside Goods—a beautiful shop bursting with must-have women’s and men’s pieces—to chat about life and style, and what fires Anna up. We head down to the ocean with her husband Lucas and six-year-old daughter, Lexi. I start by asking what she loves the most about her work. “Our community in Mill Bay is something special. I love being surrounded by beautiful things and people all day long.”

Outside of work, Anna’s number one passion is being a mom to Lexi: “She’s a busy Grade One student with Down syndrome, which is the biggest blessing! Otherwise, I’m usually snuggling my French bulldogs, off camping with the family or signing up for my next running race with my husband.”

Asked what’s the best life lesson she’s learned, Anna says, “Your story is your superpower. Share it with the world!”

And what practice has led to her success? “If you’re a control freak like me, do things that scare you! If you wait until perfection, you’ll live a life of ‘what ifs?’”

When it comes to style, Anna says good style is “whatever makes me feel the most like me. I’ve always kept my style pretty simple, while spicing it up with some fun accessories. I love timeless pieces like a good pair of denim, a top with a tuck and a cute pair of sneakers.”


Uniform: More times than I’d like to admit, you’ll find me in black pants, a T-shirt with a tuck, leather jacket, cute sneakers and a ball cap. My go-to summer look is a dress with white sneakers, or a denim short moment.

All-time favourite piece: Leather biker jacket, or long wool robe coat.

Currently coveting: Aviator Nation sweatsuit.

Favourite pair of shoes: Platform New Balance runner or my chestnut UGGS.

Favourite day-bag: My hands are usually full with a six-year-old child, so I’m a true supporter of the cross-body bag trend. I rotate through my Lululemon and Herschel bags.

Favourite work tool: Sticky notes for life: I'm a big list lady!

Favourite jewellery piece or designer: Swarovski Dextera silver bracelet and necklace.

Fashion obsession: Take a wild guess—white sneakers!

Necessary indulgence for either fashion or beauty: Skincare, skincare, skincare!

Moisturizer: Salt & Stone.

Must-have hair product: Jumbo Machete

Heirloom Claw clip.

Beauty secret: SPF always!


Style icon: Victoria Beckham. Favourite artist: First one that pops in my mind is Lauren Bedard, the artist behind Wild Wood Creative.

Favourite fashion designer or brand: Louis Vuitton when I’m feeling fancy, Patagonia

and Fjallraven.

Favourite musician: Brantley Gilbert, but really anything country.

Era of time that inspires your style: Stuck in the 1990s.

Film or TV show that inspires your style or that you just love the style of: I grew up on the Olsen twin movies. Mary-Kate was my style icon.

Favourite cocktail or wine: Spicy margarita. Album on current rotation: Cocomelon.

Favourite flower: Birds of paradise, but I’m more of a plant mom.

Favourite city to visit: Kailua, Kona.

Favourite app: Instagram, or my calculator (math issues!).

Favourite place in the whole world: Toss-up between Hawaii and Greece.

One thing that consistently lifts your spirits during hard times: A stroll with my dog, running with my husband or a big bag of popcorn.


Fave print magazine: Boulevard! Coffee table book/ photography book: Any and all of Joanna Gaines' coffee table books. I’m in constant

renovation mode in our 1960s fixer-upper. Last great read: I’m more of a podcast girl while I walk the pups. I love listening to Jay Shetty, Ed Mylett and the Lucky Few Podcast.

Book currently reading: Be Where Your Feet Are by Scott O’Neill.

Favourite book of all time: A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle.

15 | FALL 2023

fashion essentials

Checking in

Lines, dots and graphic shapes. Happy colours in cosy wools. The best way to step into fall is to slowly prepare for the change in season. Envelop yourself in brightness and warmth for the cosy fall nights ahead, while remaining a beacon of light and style!

16 | FALL 2023
Rails Cardigan States of Summer $335 Brenda Jacket by Mavi Quintessential  $129 Textured Poncho in Amethyst Black Goat Cashmere $945 Vintage Sherpa Trucker Jacket NYLA Fresh Thread $190 Lauren Wallet by Hobo Cardino Shoes $178
17 | FALL 2023
Cow Print Shacket Wilde and Sparrow $149 Canteen Bag Hoxton Home $300 Sadie Striped Pullover Bayside Goods $289 Selene Hoodie Wear It’s At Boutique $140 Nada Robe $250 Esprit Oversized Teddy Jacket PatrYka Designs $260 Lavender Jadeite Ring #7708 Marsh & Son Jewellery $550

Fusion flair

Nanoose Bay Café opens with enticing eats and a warm interior

18 | FALL 2023 good

it was the stunning view across the water to the Winchelsea Islands that struck Eli Brennan and Todd Bright when they first walked into the historic Schooner Cove Hotel building in Nanoose Bay.

“Combine that with the uniqueness of the space and we could immediately see the potential to create a welcoming spot where everyone could come,” says Eli, owner/operator of Nanoose Bay Café.

And that’s exactly what Eli, plus operating partner and chef Todd, and partner Alan Tse have done. They launched at Fairwinds Landing in June, taking a stark and somewhat echoey room and transforming it with warm wooden cabinetry, rich deep green accents and striking feature lighting.

The interior has been split into multiple areas: a restaurant with a small stage for live music and seating for 120, including an outdoor patio; a bar that seats 20; and a café and market area, called Marketplace, that seats 25. It was a clever decision to give patrons more versatile dining options, while also offering just enough separation to lend a feel of intimacy to the space.

The night we visited, the ocean-side wall of retractable glass doors was open, letting in a refreshing breeze and offering unsurpassed water views. We considered the wine list first. It’s extensive, with over 90 BC wine labels on offer. On this night, rosés were featured, and included the option of one-ounce tasters or a three-wine flight.

Sipping a glass of local winery Unsworth’s Charme de l’lle, we read through the menu, which highlights west coast-inspired local seafood dishes, many with a distinct Asian flair.

“The flavours and building blocks of Asian food have always resonated with me,” says Chef Todd, who previously owned Vancouver’s Wild Rice. “So, I wanted to pair fun inspired Asian flavours with the great seafood we have locally.”

A fantastic example is the tuna sashimi, sourced from Natural Gift Seafoods, located just a few minutes down the road. It’s presented with furikake, lumpfish roe, chives and taro chips, plus a homemade ponzu sauce, poured tableside, which is one of the best I’ve ever tasted. Lucky for me, the ponzu sauce is sold at Marketplace along with local artisanal goods, fresh eggs, cheese, coffee, produce and meat from nearby farms. There are also in-house specialties from the restaurant, including the gyoza-style dumplings.

Ah, the dumplings. They’re made from scratch and Todd says they’re so popular they routinely run out. Lucky for us, that wasn’t the case. We tried two flavours—shrimp and pork (a mushroom dumpling is also available). Served on a bed of greens with homemade crunchy chili oil (another item that’s bottled and sold at Marketplace), they’re the perfect west coast fusion bite. Chicken karaage, made from local chicken thighs

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430 Campbell Street, Tofino (behind Rhino Coffee)

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marinated in sake, soy sauce, ginger juice and a little mirin, dusted with potato starch and deep-fried, came to the table hot and crispy, garnished with bonito, a wedge of lemon and homemade mayonnaise.

Todd and Eli are dedicated to supporting local suppliers and sourcing local ingredients wherever possible.

“It’s always our first choice,” says Eli. “If we spend money locally and support each other—and by each other, I mean our local purveyors and our local workers—then those funds stay within our community and everyone benefits.”

When you source fresh, local ingredients, you don’t want to mess around with them, Todd adds. He points to the spaghetti vongole, a delicious marriage of clams, garlic, shallots and white wine butter sauce over pasta.

“We get fresh clams from Fanny Bay regularly and they’re so flavourful you barely need to do anything to them,” he says.

Fresh vegetables are also showcased on the menu, and Todd’s mastery in creating dishes high in flavour but without meat, eggs or dairy is testament to his three years running a vegan restaurant in Halifax. One standout was a stacked tomato and cucumber salad, featuring izakaya cucumbers, Thai basil, pickled onions, smoked salt and a dusting of amaranth sprouts. Another favourite was a bean and mushroom dish that I’m still thinking about; it featured blistered green beans and

shimeji and shiitake mushrooms cooked with ginger, garlic and chili, and served over rice noodles.

By the time we worked through some of the items on the menu, we weren’t sure we had room for dessert. But Chef Todd’s fusion flair was hard to resist. We opted for the matcha cheesecake and the yuzu citrus tart. The cheesecake, which was topped with a matcha cake crumble and served with a white chocolate sauce and seasonal preserves, was rich and smooth without being cloying or heavy, and the yuzu citrus tart, beautifully topped with a swirl of Italian mascarpone meringue and served alongside a raspberry gel, was the perfect blend of sweet and tart.

Though Nanoose Bay Café has only been open a few months, Todd and Eli are already thinking about the future. They’re planning wine dinners, beer tastings and paint nights for locals during the colder months. There will be more live music on the indoor stage. And Todd is thinking about some menu changes too.

“We want to work within the seasons and we’re adding a wok range station so we can add more Asian dishes with a west coast flair,” Todd says. “I want to play with nostalgia by taking some classic ideas and flipping them on their heads.”

Ultimately, at the end of the day, the two say they are there to make people happy.

Says Eli: “It’s all about creating a hub where people can gather and enjoy great food and leave with a smile on their face.”

20 | FALL 2023
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Revelations Discovering North Vancouver

The problem became apparent the moment we stepped into our corner suite at North Vancouver’s Seaside Hotel. What struck us first—even before we noted the cosy-looking king bed or the egg-shaped swing hanging near the window or the bathtub beside a floor-to-ceiling window in the expansive marble bathroom—was the breathtaking view. The entire wall facing the ocean was glass and looked directly across the water at the Vancouver skyline. This room had so many little touches and comforts, the problem was obvious…we weren’t going to want to leave it. Already, our visit to North Vancouver had been a revelation. My

husband and I started our day hiking with our canine travel companion, Zorro, in Capilano Canyon—just one of four canyons and multiple hiking options in North Vancouver. Choosing to enter the area at the Cleveland Dam, we drove up, out of the city, through a residential area and, within minutes, were staring across the Capilano Reserve at Grouse Mountain. It seemed impossible that this wilderness could be so close to an urban area. After crossing the bridge above the dam, we entered a huge forest with multiple criss-crossing paths that swallowed up all the hikers, leaving us seemingly alone on the trails.

22 | FALL 2023 weekender

From here, we drove down to Lower Lonsdale, North Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood—and another revelation. The area extends four blocks up Lonsdale Avenue and two blocks east and west, but its heart is The Shipyards on the waterfront. As we explored this bustling district, full of shops and eateries, we found Shipbuilders’ Square, where a community stage presents concerts, plays, markets and buskers at various times throughout the year, and Shipyard Commons, a covered public space for year-round gatherings, with a splash park in the summer and an outdoor skating plaza in the winter.

23 | FALL 2023 53 Station Street, Duncan 250-597-2848 The BEST in Style Business to Casual
View from North Vancouver toward downtown Vancouver. PHOTO BY REUBEN KRABBE, COURTESY DESTINATION BC.

Also nearby is Lonsdale Quay, where a SeaBus connects the North Shore to downtown Vancouver. I was glad I set aside time to explore the Quay Market & Food Hall, with its 80-plus shops and food vendors selling everything from unique clothing to handmade chocolates.

Public art abounds at The Shipyards, much of it commemorating the thousands of people who worked here from 1906 to 1992. Apparently, over 450 ships were launched from this site during the many years of shipyard operations.

And the Seaside Hotel? Located right in the middle of all this wonderfulness!

After our hike and exploration of The Shipyards, the rest of our first day revolved around food—so many options! For lunch we settled on the dog-friendly porch of Raglan’s Bistro with its cosy and colourful tiki-vibe, great food menu and intriguing cocktail list.

For dinner, we chose to bring a delectable array of seafood from the hotel’s exclusive restaurant, Seaside Provisions, back up to our room (remember our problem?). The atmosphere inside the restaurant is warm, welcoming and buzzing with energy, while the menu presents a quandary for any seafood-loving diner. Between the raw bar (including oysters and ceviche), the small plates (like tacos and lobster rolls) and the mains (scallops, seafood pasta, risotto and steak frites), selection was tricky. And while our dinner was divine, it turns out that happy hour at Provisions is the real locals’ go-to event. It runs Tuesday to Sunday 3 to 6 pm, with daily drink specials and half-price small plates.

Day two began with an early dog walk along the North Shore Spirit Trail, a clearly marked 35-kilometre greenway that will ultimately extend from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove. My walk meandered along the waterfront, through a float home

24 | FALL 2023
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community and past an off-leash dog park. But you can only get so far on foot! So, later that morning, we put Zorro into a backpack and rented e-bikes from Reckless Shipyards. With pedal power, we quickly zipped along the trail, eventually cycling under the Lions Gate Bridge and all the way to Ambleside Park in West Vancouver. Every time I get on an e-bike, I am reminded of how wonderful it is to explore on two wheels with a little help on the hills! If we didn’t have a full itinerary set for the day, we could easily have spent the next several hours exploring North Van on the bikes.

But we had plans, and those plans included beer! The Shipyards Brewery District features some eight breweries that line East Esplanade Avenue, just a block up from the Seaside Hotel. The North Shore claims fame to the birth of Canada’s craft beer-brewing boom started back in 1982, when Horseshoe Bay Brewery began brewing Bay Ale. That microbrewery is long gone, but the North Shore abounds with enough breweries to be a destination on the BC Ale Trail—and we enjoyed a few hours sampling their wares in cute, dog-friendly roadside patios.

But then? Another shock as we stepped through a door and into a whole different world. Esplanade Avenue is a busy industrial street, noisy at times. But a hush fell over us as we entered Copperpenny Distillery Co. and met owner Jennifer Kom-Tong for a tour of this new gin distillery that has already won multiple awards. Jen and her husband Jan Stenc spent 25 years in the film industry, travelling the world as set decorators, and you can immediately sense this influence. Set up like a European cocktail lounge, the tasting room—where you can sample gin, order classy cocktails and enjoy bar bites—is both lavish and cosy. It could not be more different than the street outside.

Both Jen and Jan grew up in North Vancouver and, while they don’t have a background in distilling, their creativity and dedication to perfection have resulted in the perfect cocktail of flavour. Sitting at the exquisite bar, we sampled several gins, impressed with all, but most intrigued by the unique oyster shell gin, created in partnership with Fanny Bay Oysters. To say we were simply impressed with this distillery would be a massive understatement.

And so it turned out that Copperpenny, along with the Seaside Hotel, Capilano Canyon and everything else, all amounted to yet another “problem:” we don’t live in North Van.

But no worries, we’ll be back.

26 | FALL 2023
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But then? Another shock as we stepped through a door and into a whole different world. Esplanade Avenue is a busy industrial street, noisy at times. But a hush fell over us as we entered Copperpenny Distillery Co.


Hike! North Vancouver is built on the lower slopes of mountains that rise almost a mile above sea level, and is composed of six mountain peaks: Black, Strachan, Hollyburn, Grouse, Fromme and Seymour. With all these valleys, canyons and mountains, this is a Mecca for hikers, climbers and mountain bikers. The hardest part might be deciding which area to explore first.


Visitors to The Shipyards District can enjoy a bit of culture exploring a range of exhibits at MONOVA (The Museum of North Vancouver), located near the Lonsdale Quay. Also in the area, the Polygon Gallery features contemporary art with a focus on photography, emphasizing contemporary work within the context of historical and international art.


If you love seafood and a cool dining experience, Fishworks is a must-do—but make a reservation! This restaurant—with its high ceilings, natural wood accents and art from local artists—specializes in fresh, sustainably harvested seafood and a diverse wine selection. We had the seafood tower ($78 for two), feasting on an abundance of oysters, scallops, prawns, clams and mussels, crab legs, lobster tails and calamari. Swoon.


Seaside Hotel is a dog-friendly boutique property with 71 deluxe rooms and suites with stunning panoramic views. Our corner suite was probably one of the most memorable rooms we have ever stayed in—stylish, unique and extremely spacious. The view of the Vancouver skyline, revealed or concealed via motorized window coverings, changed as the hours went by, ending each day in a mesmerizing display of distant city lights.


Be curious. Be kind. Be brave. Be you.

27 | FALL 2023

The picture of personalized health VitaminLab sets a new standard in the supplement industry


28 | FALL 2023
well and good


rue personalization”—that’s the buzzword and tagline that inspires and keeps BC-based business owner Anton Solonnikov moving his business, VitaminLab, forward.

“Building this business has been challenging but in a good way because we’re really changing the status quo. We want it to be the norm that people are getting their supplements truly personalized, made to order, just for them,” Anton explains, sitting down with Boulevard on a sunny afternoon in Victoria.

To understand Anton’s journey to becoming a successful entrepreneur, we need to rewind to 2017.

“I’m a pharmacist by trade, so prior to starting my own business, for about a decade, I worked as a pharmacist for Shoppers Drug Mart and also in a hospital,” Anton explains, adding that he began to notice similar questions arising from physicians, customers and other wellness practitioners.

“It all kind of came down to the fact that people were looking for information and support on supplement dosage and form, and I was often sending people to the natural food store with a personalized prescription to find what they needed.”

It was this recurring experience that eventually led him to pursue the start of his own business, something that—looking back on now—makes complete sense.

“I’m someone who is growth-oriented and creative, so starting my own business venture was definitely something I had in the back of my mind, but just hadn’t acted on yet,” he explains.

So armed with an idea, creativity and drive, Anton developed VitaminLab, a subscription service that can create, manufacture and send a personalized supplement formula direct to a customer’s front door.

“In the beginning of starting the business it was a lot of trial and error, but problem solving is something you learn a lot about and do a lot of as a pharmacist, so I enjoyed it,” he laughs. “It’s been challenging but in a good way because we’re really changing the status quo of supplementation.”

In short, VitaminLab provides clients with personalized supplement formulas. An online quiz asks a series of questions to gather information on a customer’s diet, lifestyle, health history and health goals. Additionally, a team of registered nutritionists can provide customers with support in creating a unique formula through a complimentary consultation.

Based on the information gathered, VitaminLab then suggests nutrients for a custom formula. Alternatively, customers can also create their own formula if they already know what vitamins and minerals they want combined.

“Our goal is that every single customer is safely supplementing for their exact needs, goals and lifestyle based on actionable health data,” says Anton, adding that

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the company believes everyone deserves a well-informed supplement that evolves with them and their lifestyle.

VitaminLab’s subscription service sends customers their formula automatically once they are subscribed. Supplements can either come in vegetable capsules or powder and are sent in a 90-day supply.

“On average, it takes around three months for people to notice a difference in their health after starting a new supplement, so that’s why we focus on the 90-day supply model,” explains Anton, adding that formulas can be easily adjusted as needed up to 14 days prior to the next refill date.

Building the business from the ground up came with both its challenges and its opportunities, like engineering and building a production system.

“In the very beginning we were outsourcing our production and packaging, but we eventually built out our own manufacturing facility in 2018, giving us greater quality control and assurance. We invested in our own robotics system, and we now have our own engineering team which is helping us move toward a fully automated system,” Anton explains. When complete, the automated system will cover almost all aspects of the business—from ordering and dispensing to dosing and encapsulation.

“It’s very exciting for us and we’re looking forward to seeing that come to fruition,” Anton adds.

Aside from using the direct-to-consumer format via online orders, the company also works closely with a variety of practitioners who can custom order specific formulas for their patients and even choose to have their own private labelling and branding included.

Today, VitaminLab has about 50 employees and a NSF and GMP (National Science Foundation certified Good Manufacturing Processes) registered facility in downtown Victoria.

“It’s been an incredibly interesting journey creating something that doesn’t exist,” says Anton, smiling. “There was no blueprint to follow, but we’ve created this infrastructure from the ground up. And it’s an amazing feeling to now have the brand established.”

So, what’s next for this BC-based business?

“Growth,” says Anton. “We’re looking to expand in Canada as a consumer brand and grow our relationships with practitioners, as well as expand production into the US, all in the next couple of years. So, it’s an exciting time for VitaminLab.”

To learn more about VitaminLab, visit and use code ISLAND30 to take 30 per cent off your next order.

30 | FALL 2023
Call or Text to secure your space | 250.743.7546 Lunch & Learn Series Indulge in knowledge while enjoying your lunch! Sep 26 | 12–1:30pm SKIN HEALTH Prevention and Positive Aging Oct 17 | 12–1:30pm BODY CONTOURING Featuring Coolsculpting OTHER FEATURED SERIES INCLUDE Acne & Acne Scarring | Tone and Tighten with Sylfirm Pigmentation–Age/Sun Spots | Rosacea and Redness Volume Enhancers and Wrinkle Relaxers
“We want it to be the norm that people are getting their supplements truly personalized, made to order, just for them.” COQUITLAM 1400 United Blvd 604.524.3443 LANGLEY 20429 Langley Bypass 604.530.9458 VICTORIA 661 McCallum Rd 250.474.3433 NANAIMO 1711 Bowen Rd 250.753.8900 KELOWNA 1912 Spall Rd 250.860.3635 TRENTO CHAIR FRANK LEATHER CHAIR TWO COLOURS THREE COLOURS TWO COLOURS RONAN LEATHER CHAIR Designed for laid-back lounging. The Douglas Sectional is perfectly proportioned with the sink-in comfort of a feather construction and upholstered in amazingly soft semi-aniline leather. STRENGTH & BEAUTY OF TOP GRAIN LEATHER DISCOVER THE TIMELESS Available in Pebble Grey and Cognac Tan DOUGLAS SECTIONAL $4599

hot properties

Garden glory

Beauty, form, function and colour all year round

32 | FALL 2023 WORDS

With his boldly modern home in its finishing stages last September, homeowner Mark of Novus Properties turned his eye to the landscaping to complement the sloping lot, the abundance of white and the sharp angles of the home’s silhouette.

“We wanted a softer modern look in terms of layout and structure, using more traditional plants,” says Mark of his initial vision for the property. “Also, lots of evergreens, colour throughout the seasons and a portion as an edible garden.”

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Drawing from both west coast aesthetics and French garden elements, Manon approached the overall design for the home’s garden with a goal of balancing modernleaning straight lines with a more fluid flow that would welcome Mark and his family into each space.


34 | FALL 2023
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He brought in Red Seal horticulturalist and garden designer Manon Tremblay, who’s been designing and building spectacular gardens for more than 20 years.

Drawing from both west coast aesthetics and French garden elements, Manon approached the overall design for the home’s garden with a goal of balancing modern-leaning straight lines with a more fluid flow that would welcome Mark and his family into each space.

“I wanted them to be able to enjoy it and to use the spaces,” she says.

Working with a blank slate—just the driveway and a retaining wall—provided the opportunity to really explore different ideas, she says, and a series of themes emerged.

Just past the front gate is a more formal aesthetic, with two long beds bordering the lower portion of the driveway. Dwarf lavender and white roses create an immediate feeling of traditional design, supported by rose boxwoods and a hedge of Portuguese laurel, a smaller, more contained cultivar with red stems and narrower leaves than its English counterpart.

Deeper into the garden bed that borders the neighbour, a Forest Pansy, with its deeply purple heart-shaped leaves, arches over the brilliant yellow of Mexican mock orange shrubs, and along the fence are several young wisterias, which will thicken and grow, creating increased privacy and a sense of cosy seclusion.

Up and to the right is the entrance to the front yard and pool area, flanked by two evergreen magnolias, which also increase privacy, and they help direct guests further up the driveway and around to the rear of the house where the main entrance is located. A more formal vibe continues through the front yard where a narrow strip of garden borders the pool area on three sides, absolutely chock full of white Annabelle hydrangeas. With fluffy blooms the size of a person’s head, they create a luxurious feeling of escape and help shelter the area from the road and neighbours. They were a specific request from Mark.

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“Their foliage creates additional privacy at the bottom of the hedge where it tends to be thinner,” he says. “Their blooms are amazing—and being all white plays well off the house.”

A trio of white concrete planters on the deck, just up the steps, are set out with a selection of herbs, easily accessible from the kitchen through a sliding glass door. And then continuing up the driveway, the feeling shifts slightly from clean lines and modern design to something a little more flowing and a little less formal.

Running along the edge of the house is a narrow strip of garden sheltered from the sun for most of the day, full of rich greens and deeper tones.

“I love the shade garden,” says Manon with a smile.

Shade-loving plants tend to have much larger—and more interesting—leaves, she explains. Like the hostas, with their undertones of blue-green. Or the Jack Frost brunnera with its heavily veined and frosted leaves, complemented by delicate clouds of tiny blue flowers in the spring.

Moving past the front entrance to the house, the curve of the driveway naturally steers you toward the edible garden, which is peppered with flat stepping stones and well on its way to becoming a mini Eden with blueberry bushes, cherry trees and what will be a veritable carpet of strawberries, including a sprawling variety with crimson and pink flowers. Creeping thyme is set out between the stones, intended to spread and mound and lend just a hint of woodland whimsy to the space for Mark’s kids.

Covering the steep slope above is the pollinator garden, a riot of blooms and colours and heights and textures. Foxgloves, agapanthus (also called Lily of the Nile) and echinaceas stand tall amid feathery sages, blue geraniums and heather, with lavender set out at the top border.

Mark and Manon settled on a white theme for the uppermost garden. With many modern homes, white is a common design

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thread—clean, elegant and beautiful without being cluttered—and so they pulled that same aesthetic in for the peak of the property.

White roses, white flowering dogwood and white rhododendrons all vary in height and texture, while a scattering of French lavender offers a subtle burst of colour in both its flowers and its silvery blue-green leaves. A hedge of Portuguese laurel runs the length of the rear property border, tying together the two ends of the long property.

And coming back down the other side against the neighbouring yard, the garden slopes sharply, planted out with Japanese maples, fuchsias, weeping spruce and a mosaic of low-lying sedums in between the bordering stones, leading into what Manon calls the “drought garden,” full of blue junipers and climbing white roses. “I wanted the plants here to cascade down over the stones with the feeling of a waterfall. To arch over the boulder and soften them,” explains Manon.

As the plants grow and fill in, that downward flow naturally brings the eye back down the steep slope and creates a perpetual feeling of movement throughout the property, juxtaposed wonderfully against the squared-off stability of the house.

And with the careful selection of evergreens and texturally interesting plants—whether it’s from the abundance of greens in the hedges, the intricate, winding branches of the winter-bare Japanese maples, or the gorgeous veined and frosted leaves in the shade garden—there will be visual interest and movement throughout the year.

38 | FALL 2023
Nanaimo 4950 Uplands Drive (250) 756-4114 Courtenay 2937 Kilpatrick Ave (250) 871-6074 Victoria 3501 Saanich Road (at Blanshard) (250) 382-5269

Olive Fertility Centre Victoria Welcomes Vancouver Island Patients

Our new state-of-the-art IVF clinic, now open in Victoria’s James Bay Capital Park, offers Vancouver Island patients world-class fertility care close to home.

We provide comprehensive fertility care for those with primary or secondary infertility, LGBTQ2SIA+ persons, donor sperm, donor egg, surrogacy, egg freezing and beyond
Dr. James Graham MD FRCSC Dr. Ginevra Mills MD FRCSC

Taking Charge of Your Fertility Journey Dr. Ginevra Mills’ Top 5 Tips for Freezing Your Eggs

Dr. Ginevra Mills MD FRCSC, GREI is a Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Specialist at Olive Fertility Centre Victoria. She is also Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at UBC. Women are feeling and looking younger than ever! But no matter how good we look and feel for our age, 40 is not the new 30 when it comes to fertility.

Egg freezing is a process that allows women to preserve their eggs in order to delay having children until later in life. Here’s what you need to know!

TIP #1: How It Works

Egg freezing involves collecting your eggs and freezing them for future use. First, you’ll receive hormone injections to stimulate your ovaries to produce more eggs. Then, the eggs are retrieved through a minor surgical procedure, and flash frozen using specialized techniques. When you ready they can then be thawed, fertilized, and transferred back into your uterus for a pregnancy.

TIP #2: Who Can Benefit

Whether you are focusing on your career, finishing school, haven’t found the right partner yet, or have medical issues, freezing your eggs allows you to keep your options open until you’re ready to start a family.

TIP #3: Age Matters

While egg freezing increases your chances of having a baby in the future, it doesn’t guarantee it. The quality of the eggs and other factors can affect the success rate. Freezing your eggs before the age of 38 is ideal, as success rates decline rapidly after 38.

TIP #4: Financial Considerations

While egg freezing is not covered in British Columbia, consultations with a fertility specialist and most fertility testing are covered by MSP (Medical Services Plan) with a referral from a family doctor or virtual medical clinic. Furthermore, some employer-extended health plans are now covering the cost of egg freezing.

TIP #5: Choosing A Fertility Clinic: What To Look For

• Success rates and the expertise of the lab: look for a clinic with excellent success rates in freezing and thawing eggs and growing and transferring embryos.

• A clinic that offers personalized patient-centred care and support throughout the entire process.

Egg freezing empowers you to take control of your fertility and family planning. Remember, everyone’s journey is unique, and seeking guidance from a fertility expert is key.

Same-Day Virtual Referral Option

Olive Fertility offers patients the option to book a same-day, no-fee virtual referral appointment at

The referral will be automatically sent to Olive Fertility Centre, and a member of our intake team will contact you shortly thereafter to book your fertility appointment.

Olive Fertility Centre ( is one of Canada’s leading IVF and prenatal diagnosis centres, with clinics in Vancouver, Surrey, Kelowna and Victoria. We offer inclusive fertility care for those with primary or secondary infertility, LGBTQ2SIA+ persons and people needing donor sperm, donor eggs or surrogacy, egg freezing, and beyond.

The new IVF centre is now open at 545 Superior St. Victoria, BC. 250-410-1664
The only IVF centre on Vancouver Island
Photo credit Jen Steele Photography






The world of residential construction is a dynamic and ever-evolving realm, where architects, builders and designers shape the places we call home. Each structure is a testament to the vision, dedication and craftsmanship of those involved in its creation. To honour these industry leaders and celebrate their exceptional contributions, a gala was held in Nanaimo at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre.

The atmosphere buzzed with anticipation as attendees, ranging from architects and engineers to contractors and suppliers, gathered to commemorate the industry's achievements.

The gala showcased the finest residential projects from across Vancouver Island. Entries showcased impeccable craftsmanship, and cutting-edge technologies employed in these homes. From sustainable design to smart home integration, each project was a testament to the industry's pursuit of excellence and its commitment to creating homes their clients' love.

Recognizing that the success of the project relies on a collaborative effort, the gala also paid tribute to the partnerships forged within the industry. Architectural firms,

construction companies, suppliers and other stakeholders were acknowledged for their unwavering dedication to teamwork, and their ability to seamlessly bring together diverse expertise.

During the gala, a special segment was dedicated to honouring Byron Gallant of B.Gallant Homes Ltd. Byron has dedicated his career to shaping the residential building industry and was recognized by receiving a lifetime achievement award. The Canadian Home Builders’ Association-Vancouver Island is comprised of strong, incredible members, who share a commitment to building our communities with careful thought and consideration. This award recognized Byron’s dedication and vision for furthering the association. He has held leadership positions at the local and provincial level, he has shared knowledge with his peers and mentored younger professionals. His commitment to the industry was exemplified through his advocacy work, and by creating and implementing resolutions and new approaches to industry issues.

Spring 2024 will mark the 10th annual Vancouver Island Building Excellence Awards and will take place in Victoria, BC. This is shaping up to be the biggest celebration yet. The call for entries will come out in the fall.


Craftsman-inspired home complements many entry-level homebuyers & budgets without sacrificing the must-haves. The spacious master bedroom, walk-in + 3 bedrooms, laundry, study area, 2.5 baths providing space to grow. A cleverly designed covered deck offers year-round entertaining while the one-car garage provides parking without compromising front curb appeal.

Creekside Comfort is a Modern Westcoast design that blends perfectly onto the creek side of this property.This extremely efficient house meets step 5 of the BC energy step code and is designed to have a low environmental impact and to conserve energy and water.

This project combined affordability and craftsmanship and features open cathedral ceilings. It was successful in helping the exterior match the existing home and creating an interior space that feels bigger than it is.

This renovation saw walls removed, new flooring installed throughout and a small bathroom made larger. This renovation also added all new kitchen cabinets and appliances, added a powder room, took out a bedroom to create a laundry room and walk in closet.

This home features structural steel and second growth timber that achieves superior seismic resistance ratings. With spray foam and exterior insulation allow this home has superior air tightness.

This custom home blends luxury and leisure in a picturesque location with stunning ocean views. Its open-plan design and spacious decks effortlessly combine indoor and outdoor living, creating the perfect space for relaxation and entertainment. With custom design touches throughout, this home is the essence of style and comfort.

Salmon – Sun Porch Homes Rancher – Smith & Sons Nanaimo Black Franks – Boehm Construction Logan’s Point – TS Williams Construction Creekside Comfort – Pheasant Hill Homes Panoramic Refuge – Momentum Design Build

This 1990s kitchen renovation was lacking in functionality and charm. It was part of a larger upgrade project to the whole home. With structural enhancements provided opportunities to remove existing awkward problem areas. The renovated space infuses character alongside greatly improved functionality and flow.

This oceanfront, West Coast contemporary home considers style, functionality, and aging-in-place. This home has Energy-efficiency as a priority and utilizes multiple solar panels, heat pump for heating and cooling, passive heat gain and abundant natural light via windows.


Lifetime Achievement Award

Byron Gallant of B. Gallant Homes was awarded the CHBAVI Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2023 VIBE Awards, in recognition of his outstanding contribution & commitment to the Association and the home building industry since 1996.

Thank you to our sponsors

Westberry Residence – Studio AE Interior Design Inc. Island View – LIDA Homes Inc.

Clients desired an airy, luxurious home with ample space. They achieved a classic-modern design blending soft whites, natural woods, oversized features and brass finishes with traditional archways, moldings, plumbing and lighting. Soaring vaulted ceilings and expansive windows illuminate panoramic views, creating an inviting, bright atmosphere.

LIDA CONSTRUCTION AWARDS LIST | 2023 AWARDS Chamber of Commerce Greater Victoria Business Awards  “Business Person of the Year – Dave Stephens” Canadian Home Builders Association British Columbia, Georgie Awards  Grand Georgie Gold Winner “Custom Home Builder of the Year” Canadian Home Builders Association Vancouver Island Building Excellence (VIBE) Awards 1| Best Single-Family Home under 3,000 Sq.Ft. 2| Best Single-Family Home between 3,000 – 4,500 Sq.Ft. 3| Best Townhouse Development 4| Best Single Family Kitchen Reno under $100,000 5| Best Single Family Kitchen New under $100,000 6| Best Single Family Bathroom Reno under $30,000 7| Best Single Family Bathroom New under $30,000 8| Best Single Family Bathroom New over $30,000 9| Best Any Room New or Reno 10| Best Environmental Initiative 11| Project of the Year 12| Single Family Builder of the Year 13| Multi-Family Builder of the Year 14| People’s Choice Award Best of the City  Best Custom Home Builder CUSTOM HOMES | RENOVATIONS | COMMERCIAL | 778.440.5432

The gifts of Creativity fashion

Like the chaos from a scene in a Renaissance painting, art imitates life as life imitates art. Behind the scenes of a fashion shoot, things can be less than perfect in the pursuit of creating beauty. However, artistry always outshines everything, and the chaos has a beauty of its own. Blanche Macdonald Centre is the nesting ground for all things fashion and beauty and is responsible for nurturing some of Canada’s brightest fashion design talent. With the help of the fashion styling students, we highlight looks from three outstanding fashion design graduates—Rolla Summers, Amy Nunweiler and Daisy Cook—as we celebrate what’s happening in fashion right here in our own backyard.

On model: gown by Rolla Summers; shoes, Miu Miu from Turnabout Luxury Resale. On Sarah (left): dress, stylist’s own; shoes, Isabel Marant from Turnabout Luxury Resale. On model: jacket, pant an chaps by Amy Nunweiler; shoes, Mach & Mach from Turnabout Luxury Resale. On rolling rack: butterfly gown by Rolla Summers. Makeup and hair by Ksenia Ogolikhina. Model Hailey Poole. Styling students: Tejal Anand, Sydney Winnicky-Hussey, Eurica Cuizon, Falak Kashyap, Ellison Nyback, Jay Carrillo, Klauris Wang, Hani Le Hoai, Nikki Mall, Carola Vidal Garza, Zohreh Rohi. Photographed on location at Blanche Macdonald Centre’s atelier campus. A huge thank you to the school for hosting our fashion team for the day. On model: jacket, bikini top, pant and bag by Daisy Cook; shoes, Manolo Blahnik from Turnabout Luxury Resale. Pink tulle gown, Chynna Mamawal Atelier.

The passion part of the furniture

Chris Rothery of Chester Fields


52 | FALL 2023 business class

hris Rothery’s passion for furniture and design dates back to when he was still in high school.

“It might have started in shop class!” says the 45-year-old owner of Chester Fields, a high-end furniture store in Victoria and now Nanaimo, with a laugh. “I became interested in furniture in my late teens and I like doing something with my hands. I appreciate quality and I appreciate other people creating things that are beautiful and interesting and quality, so I’ve always wanted to be a part of that.”

After graduating from Camosun College’s fine furniture program, Chris spent a few years making furniture for different companies before starting his own custom furniture business, making dining tables, chairs, free-standing cabinets and other pieces out of a little workshop in Rock Bay.

“I then opened up a little gallery in Dragon Alley [where he was living at the time] and eventually, we moved out of there to a slightly larger place, and then another slightly larger place, and then another slightly larger place,” Chris explains. “I didn’t have much business experience, so I was just kind of winging it, but with just a lot of passion and care and love for design and interiors.”

The next progression for Chris was to move more into a retail direction, after he found his passion for creating furniture waning.

“I found that it was difficult to do it as a job and still love it,” he explains. “I was just trying to get by, and I felt very compromised making furniture. But I enjoy talking about furniture, and I enjoy interacting with people about it, so the retail aspect came from that.”

That store, Only Human Modern Furniture, would also teach Chris the toughest lesson of this entrepreneurial evolution. After a couple of hard years, he was forced to close the store in 2014.

“I was in way over my head and I think I let my passion interest rule everything, when really I needed to balance that out with a successful business,” Chris admits, saying it was the biggest mistake of his career.

“That was a very painful mistake at the time and the failure was excruciating. But in retrospect, it’s what got me to where I am now, which is a place where I feel comfortable, and I feel good and confident about what I’m doing. All the things that I’ve been picking up were worth something and they got put back into a package that is Chester Fields.”

Chris also decided to partner with Ross Taylor and Amber Leask, who had a lot more business experience, when Chester Fields initially launched more than nine years ago, offering modern, high-quality, and mostly Canadian-designed furniture and lightning.

“We have a really unique offering in that what we sell here, with a couple of small exceptions, isn’t sold anywhere else in town, and probably 80 per cent of what’s in our showroom is designed by Canadians, which is a point of pride for me,” he says. “We’ve always been purveyors of things that are sort of on the cutting edge in terms of design.”

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With people driving from all over Vancouver Island—from Campbell River and the Comox Valley to Port Alberni, Nanaimo and the Cowichan Valley—to visit the Victoria store, Chester Fields opened the Nanaimo location in May, and Chris says the response from the Central Island market has been great.

“We get a lot of people walking in and they say things like: ‘Finally, there’s something like this!’ and ‘I’m so glad you’re here!’ and ‘Nanaimo needs something like this!’ So, it’s been very positive. And then there’s lots of people who are just seeing this kind of stuff for the first time.”

For Chris, who recently completed a Bachelor of Commerce in Entrepreneurial Management at Royal Roads University, the biggest lesson in his small business career has been that you can’t be everything to everyone.

“You have to kind of stick to what you’re very good at and push that, and roll with it, and really go for it,” he advises. “Defining what we are—and what we’re bringing to the consumer—has been really important, so that we aren’t chasing something new all the time. We’re doing what we’re really good at.”

Chris says this all stems from the best advice he’s ever been given, which is to really understand your customer’s needs, and then be very good at satisfying that need.

“You really need to ask people what they want,” Chris says. “Don’t presume you know! Just because you think you have a good business

idea, doesn’t mean it will work. Ask and make sure, and you’ll probably find you might be wrong or you can tweak something and really hit it out of the park.”

Chris says he did that a lot before opening the Nanaimo store, joking that any chance he got to talk to someone moderately interested in modern furniture north of the Malahat turned into a mini market-research session.

“There’s lots of research you can do without a budget and those answers are very valuable,” Chris explains. “They can make you a success and save you a lot of pain.”

With constant challenges from online competitors and more manufacturers moving toward a direct-to-consumer model, knowing your market is more important than ever in such a competitive landscape. Chris says having a physical showroom where people can actually sit on and feel things also helps.

“It’s a lot easier to buy a pair of shoes online than to buy a sofa,” he says with a laugh.

As for the career and successful business he’s crafted after many design iterations?

“It’s been a bit of a long winding road to get to this point and my advice to other entrepreneurs is to expect that things won’t be a straight line,” Chris says. “Be comfortable with uncertainty but at the same time, don’t be reckless.”

54 | FALL 2023 165 Craig Street, Duncan, BC
“We get a lot of people walking in and they say things like: ‘Finally, there’s something like this!’ and ‘I’m so glad you’re here!’ and ‘Nanaimo needs something like this!’ So, it’s been very positive.”



Repurposing, visibly mending and creating sustainability in the fashion industry

hen the owners of upscale Victoria consignment fashion boutique House of Savoy filled their storefront window with mounds of used clothing on a recent Earth Day, it wasn’t a ploy for new business.

Rather, it was a not-so-subtle wake-up call for people to rethink tossing away clothing that will end up in a landfill. According to a study carried out by the University of Waterloo in 2023, Canadians dump close to a staggering 500 million kilograms (500,000 tons) of fabric clothing and shoes a year, many of which could be repaired, upcycled or consigned for reuse.

Enter the slow-fashion movement. While fast fashion is characterized by lower-quality, low-priced, mass-produced and machine-made garments, slow-fashion clothing is often handmade, better quality and higher priced; consumers pay more for quality items that last longer.

Other solutions to combat overconsumption and overproduction in the fashion industry include repurposing clothing in vintage and used-clothing stores, and using visible mending techniques to lengthen items’ lives.

Buying repurposed clothing initially started after the First World War, at a time when people had to recycle their clothes due to fabric shortages. How things have changed! But now, with the advent of slow-fashion awareness, people are questioning how clothing and textiles are made, as well as their environmental impacts.


“It’s trendy to buy vintage and consignment today, but we really saw an increase after COVID,” says Émilie Hamel, co-owner of House of Savoy, which is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year. “People wanted to make a bit of extra money and, in many cases, didn’t want to spend a lot for a work-at-home lifestyle.”

“And by consigning clothes, it’s kind of like an exchange: bring something in you’re not wearing anymore, and you get something in return,” adds co-owner Zenija Esmits. “And, when searching for vintage and antique pieces, people are looking for quality and so it’s also an investment.”

Demographics and social media have also changed fashion dictates for what women and men wear today.

“When we were growing up, we might have been influenced by a particular trend or celebrity. But today, young people know about the environment and are more concerned than our generation about where clothing comes from,” Émilie says. “Teens are very into original vintage ‘90s clothing probably made in the US at that time. We’ve had clients as young as 12 years old coming in with their parents to re-sell on consignment. Teens looking for vintage prom dresses is also very popular. We try to keep prices reasonable, and we have a big following of collectors outside of Victoria,” she adds.

With the booming film and television industry in BC, House of Savoy also attracts costumers and scouts for magazine fashion layouts.

On yearly buying trips to Paris and London, the intrepid pair scour thrift stores, charity shops and outdoor antique markets known as brocantes to discover one-of-a-kind treasures that may include Chanel and DIOR for their clients.

Visible mending is another area of slow fashion that the House of Savoy team embraces, noting on their website, “We believe that with a bit of TLC we can inject new life into what may have been an unloved item.” House of Savoy offers an in-house collection that features “thoughtful and fun repairs and embellishments on items.”

You may remember the hippie ’60s when it was groovy to customize

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your old jeans and jean jackets with embroidery and colourful patches. The idiom “everything old is new again” rings true today more than ever with this growing craft.

“Visible mending is a slow-fashion art form that has its roots in Japanese sashiko, in which colourful embroidery is meant to highlight rips and tears, not cover them up,” explains Amy Walker, who teaches workshops in upcycling clothing with visible mending in Vancouver. Tiny stitches in swirling patterns and contrasting colours emblazon an up-cycled summer dress of Amy’s; her old coverall takes on a new life with the addition of vibrantly patterned patching, and holes in socks are treated to painterly multi-hued darning stitches.

Walker’s Experimending workshop at Vancouver’s Museum of Anthropology (MOA) attracted over 30 hands-on participants of all ages, who each brought a previously worn piece of clothing to embellish. The class was followed by discussions on the historical role of visible mending practiced for centuries by mostly women in almost all cultures.

“If you love a piece of clothing but there’s a tear, no need to toss it out—just get creative and personalize it because it tells a story about you.”

Luxury brands and slow-fashion sustainability awareness don’t have to be mutually exclusive. However, sustainability does need to start from the top with fashion brands taking responsibility directly for sourcing fabrics and manufacturing their garments that in the long run will remain durable.

Senior apparel and textile sustainability strategist Myriam Laroche has carved out a niche career for herself as one of Canada’s most passionate supporters of sustainability and repurposing awareness in the fashion industry. The trailblazer was responsible for bringing 2017’s Eco Fashion Week to Vancouver, where she lived for 11 years. Now back in Quebec City, she recently launched her new agency Collective Détour that assists fashion brands in creating more sustainable futures.

“One of the ideas I worked on for national retailer Simons involved a discussion for a repurposing ‘take-back’ program, but frankly I think

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59 | FALL 2023
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each brand should be responsible for its own product recycling with a section on their websites to do so. Value Village has been a client of mine for 12 years and they actually pay not-for-profits by the pound for their clothes. That’s the investment they make to ensure that clothing and textiles don’t end up in a landfill,” says Myriam, also noting that the thrift store icon has opened Value Village Boutique on South Granville in Vancouver; it features two floors of repurposed designer and vintage fashions purchased through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada.

Slow fashion is also being embraced by Canadian designers like Vancouver-based Jason Matlo and Evan Ducharme, “who concentrate on creating smaller bespoke collections in response to fast fashion,” Myriam says.

International awareness to cut textile waste is gaining traction. France is introducing discounts for repurposing clothing to customers through subsidies to tailors, clothing brands and repair shops who join the free eco-initiative, Refashion.

And as the slow-fashion movement gains traction, creative ideas are also gaining momentum. Imagine travelling to Japan without a suitcase, travelling in just the clothes you are wearing. Japan Airlines offers an innovative fashion option—renting your vacation clothes! Rental of pre-owned and end-of-stock apparel, including cleaning, can be reserved ahead on the website Any Wear, Anywhere, and then delivered to your hotel. Undergoing a one-year trial, the airline hopes rentals will cut down on carbon emissions from aircraft by reducing the weight of luggage and increase sustainable tourism.

The fashion is “slow,” but the ideas are coming in fast.

60 | FALL 2023 Look Fabulous This Season and fall in love with our new fall fashions 250 746 0001 103-80 Station Street Duncan
Buying repurposed clothing initially started after the First World War, at a time when people had to recycle their clothes due to fabric shortages.
Dress panel.
150 Commercial St Nanaimo, British Columbia 250.754.1750 Find locally made items and hand-crafted gifts at Nanaimo Art Gallery’s Store Save the date for our Winter Weekend Holiday Market on December 8 th to 10 th where the Gallery Store triples in size.
Mended coveralls.


Welcome to the heart of Vancouver Island, where quaint charm meets modern convenience in Downtown Duncan. When it comes to parking, we’ve got it all figured out, ensuring your visit is a breeze from the moment you arrive. The City of Duncan has adopted a customer-friendly parking model, designed to cater to your needs while you explore the bustling downtown core.

Free Parking within Reach

We understand that free parking is the cherry on top of your Downtown Duncan experience. That’s why we’re excited about all the available two- and three-hour free parking spaces. These customer-friendly spaces keep your pennies in your purse! There are additional all day free parking spots within a short walk from the downtown core. Now, you can spend your hard-earned dollars exploring the delightful shops, savoring mouth-watering meals, and enjoying all the sights and sounds our vibrant city has to offer.

All-Day Parking at a Steal - Just $2!

Yes, you read that right! For the unbeatable price of $2, you can secure an all-day parking spot located within a block or two of the downtown core. With ‘in-and-out’ privileges, you’re free to come and go as you please without having to pay again, ensuring you can explore every nook and cranny of Downtown Duncan without a care in the world.

So, what are you waiting for? Downtown Duncan’s parking paradise is calling your name! Whether you’re here for shopping, business, or simply a day of fun, we’ve got the perfect parking solution for you. Join us and explore the charm, excitement, and endless possibilities of Downtown Duncan today!

Photo Credit: Josh Newton
or @downtown.duncan on Instagram


Fall for fun & functional Fungi accessories at Little Bird Gift shop. We have cards, stickers, pins, home textiles, decor & more!

163 + 165 Station Street, Downtown Duncan Open Mon - Sat 10 - 5 250-748-6861


Over 100 EJ Hughes prints, art cards, and limited editions available online.

Professional custom framing services for over 40 years

Locally and indigenously owned.

115 Kenneth Street, Duncan 250-746-7112



Carefully selects one of a kind vintage pieces and quality used furnishings throughout the shop. If you’re searching for a statement piece for your home, you’ll likely find it here.

Open Mon - Sat 10am-5pm & Sun 12pm-4pm


55 Lois Lane, Duncan

64 | FALL 2023 food and feast Take it slow… and even slower L essons from a slow-food lifestyle WORDS ELLIE SHORTT X PHOTOGRAPHY DON DENTON

in 2020 the world slowed down. It was a forced slowing down with heartbreak and consequences, but for some individuals, communities and even industries, there were profound lessons learned.

Certain folks found these lessons in their kitchens and gardens. With grocery shortages and restaurant shutdowns, many took togrowing their own produce and making their own meals. For the first time in a long time people had…time…and were increasingly drawn to cook methods that took up that time.

An oft-joked-about example of this was the sourdough spectacle, whereby novice cooks throughout the world became expert bakers, perfecting and comparing fermentation tips and bread-making tricks. Not only did this process require time, patience and a bit of an attachment to one’s abode to execute properly (it takes about 24 hours of feeding, folding, fermenting and forming, before actually popping the dough in the oven), but there was also a sense of connection and community that accompanied the exchange of pictures, recipes and even starters, as neighbours dropped bubbling jars-of-possibility on each other’s doorsteps.

Of course, the process of naturally fermenting bread didn’t begin in 2020. Sourdough is thought to be the most ancient form of leavened bread and was used throughout the Levant more than 5,000 years ago. In fact, “slow cooking” in general— whereby a dish takes many hours (even days) to cook—is integral to almost all indigenous cultures. Slow smoking, pit roasting and the use of earth ovens have been discovered archaeologically in almost every region of the world where humans have dwelt and is arguably one of the earliest forms of cooking.

As you might also imagine, growing one’s own food in the closest proximity possible, now perhaps a luxury reserved for those with roomy backyards or spacious patios, was essential to survival. In fact, cultivating, collecting, cooking and consuming wasn’t just a way of life, it was life, and almost every activity and interaction for much of human existence revolved around these essential skills of survival.

65 | FALL 2023
Let the flavours mix, meld and develop over sweet time. Savour the process as well as the end goal.

To a great degree, we as a collective society have lost touch with our culinary and cultivating roots. Especially in North America, most store-bought food comes in plastic packaging, is shipped from all over the world, grown in over-farmed, biologically dead and nutrient-devoid soil, picked before peak ripeness, sprayed with all sorts of pesticides and preservatives, and then combined in recipes that boast the shortest prep and cook times. This is not a judgment statement. The demands of modern life for many leave little room (often literally) to grow one’s own produce, visit local farms, and spend hours a day preparing wholesome dinners. Even eating communally is a rare occasion for many; meals are often inhaled while working or watching TV, even while running errands or commuting. Access to time and space is a rare commodity these days, and for far too many, simple access to certain ingredients is impossible, especially in spaces known as “food desserts.”

However, when and where possible, trailblazers have been working hard to rectify this. One in particular is Carlo Petrini, who in 1986 founded Slow Food International in Bra, Italy. As stated on the website (, the goal is to “prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions, counteract the rise of fast life and combat people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from and how our food choices affect the world around us.”

This now global organization has inspired many more communities, groups and individuals to advocate for what is commonly referred to as the slow food movement, recognizing that “through our food choices we can collectively influence how food is cultivated, produced and distributed, and change the world as a result.” While slow-food and other like-minded organizations have thoughtful and meaningful manifestos, outlining key philosophies and providing action steps for international markets, world leaders and changemakers, there are also important and impactful practices for the individual.

The first step is exploring at-home or community gardening. Not only does this create an immediate connection with, and deeper appreciation for, the food we eat, but from an environmental

perspective, it decreases the devastating demands of monocropping and mass farming, significantly reducing the harmful impact of these problematic practices, while simultaneously ensuring more nutrientdense and delicious ingredients in the kitchen.

If you’ve ever picked a tomato fresh from a vine or plucked a snap pea soaking in the sunshine, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Nothing compares flavour-wise. Researchers have also seen substantial increases in mental and physical health when research subjects start gardening, as highlighted poignantly in The Well-Gardened Mind by psychiatrist Sue Stuart-Smith.

The next step to reconnecting with our culinary ancestry is by spending more time in the kitchen. If this feels boring, daunting or lonely, you could try listening to a podcast while you prep, inviting friends and neighbours over to make meals together, and getting your family involved, especially young children. Make cooking (and even cleaning up) the activity, not a dreaded means to a rushed end. Another aspect of this essential return is simply slowing down the process of cooking itself. Take a note from our ancestors: turn the heat down low…and even lower. Take it slow…and even slower. Let the flavours mix, meld and develop over sweet time. Savour the process as well as the end goal. Marvel over how a goopy little mess of microbes, with ample care and connection, can over time develop into a moist, crusty, warm and satisfying loaf of love.

While 2020 may feel like a distant memory, there are lessons we can lean into in our once again fast-paced world—perhaps in glorious resistance to our fast-paced world! Dust off those Dutch ovens and casserole dishes. Resurrect your long-forgotten sourdough starter, or better yet, ask around if any friends, family, colleagues or neighbours have a currently active starter that they can pass along. Share recipes, exchange tips, get the conversation about food, flavours, ingredients and methods going again. Get your hands dirty. Make your aprons messy. Marvel at how some little seeds turn into gardens full of delight. Catch a waft of pleasure as you tenderly clip a handful of thyme or sprig of rosemary. Get back in your kitchen. Cook with love. Eat with appreciation. Sink into each bite. Take it slow…and even slower.

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Fall 2023 Performances

at the Port Theatre



Sunday, October 1, 2023 7:30 PM


Wednesday, October 25, 2023 7:30 PM

CONDUCTOR: Cosette Justo Valdés

GUEST ARTIST: Philip Chiu, Piano


BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58

SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47

Cosette Justo Valdés


Saturday, November 4, 2023 7:30 PM

CONDUCTOR: Leslie Dala

GUEST ARTISTS: Malaspina Choir (Fiona Blackburn, Artistic Director)

Mezzo-Soprano: Emma Parkinson, Vocals: Buwa, Ty Koch

MAMMA MIA! Carmen &

Rustic Sourdough with Honey and Rye


100 g sourdough starter (fed and bubbly)

250 g bread flour

200 g rye flour (darker or light rye is fine)

350 g water

25 g honey

10 g fine sea salt



Weigh out your sourdough starter, water and honey into a large bowl.

Mix them together briefly. Then add your rye flour, bread flour and salt, and mix together with a wooden spoon or spatula (the dough will seem fairly shaggy and only just combined).

Cover your bowl with a damp tea towel and let it sit for one hour, until it’s fully hydrated and more smooth-looking.


Work your way around the bowl, grabbing the dough from the outside, stretching it up and over itself until a rough ball is formed. This will take about 20-25 folds to form the rough “ball” (keep in mind rye flour will make the dough stickier than you’re used to, so the shape might be a bit looser than expected).

Place the tea towel back over the bowl and let the dough rest for about 30 minutes.

Repeat this step for a total of four stretch-and-folds over a two-hour period.


After you’ve completed all your stretch-and-folds, place the tea towel back over your dough and let it rest and ferment.

*Note: the time this takes will depend on the temperature of your home. If your home is warm, then your dough will ferment faster and could be done in as little as a few hours. If it’s colder, it will take longer, possibly overnight. You’re looking for the dough to just about double in size, but not more (that means it’s over-fermented).

68 | FALL 2023


Once the first ferment is complete, prepare a banneton or a bowl lined with a dry tea towel (whether using a banneton or lined bowl, make sure it’s not too wide so as to maintain the shape of the dough) and dust it liberally with flour (I use rice flour for this, as that seems to be a common recommendation).

Lightly flour your counter (also with the rice flour) and use a dough scraper to gently ease the dough out of the bowl. Then use a combination of the scraper and your hands (or just your hands) to gently form the dough into a tight round shape. *Note: if you’ve never done this before, I recommend looking up an online video tutorial.

Once the dough is shaped, place it into your banneton or bowl smooth side down, so the seam is on the top.


Cover the banneton or bowl loosely with a tea towel and place into the fridge.

Try to leave it in the fridge for a minimum of five hours up to a maximum of 36 hours.

*Note: A longer cold ferment creates lovely blisters on your crust and a deeper sourdough flavour. It will also help your dough form a bit of a skin, which makes it easier to score.


Once you’re ready to bake your sourdough, you’ll need to preheat your oven to 450 F.

Place your Dutch oven into the oven when you turn it on so it gets hot. Cut a piece of parchment paper big enough to use the edges as a “handle” to lower the dough into your Dutch oven when ready. Leave your dough in the fridge until the last minute (placing this dough cold into a hot oven will give it a better spring). When ready, take your sourdough out of the fridge and carefully place it onto the parchment paper.

Score your bread with a sharp razor blade or knife.

Mindfully take your hot Dutch oven out of the oven, place the dough into the pot using the parchment paper as a handle, smooth out any wrinkles/folds in the paper, put the lid on and place into the hot oven.

Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on at 450 F, and then another 15 minutes or so with the lid off at 410 F (the crust will be quite dark, and when tapped, the loaf will have a bit of a hollow sound).

Remove the Dutch oven from the oven, then remove the sourdough loaf and place it on a wire rack to cool. You’ll need to allow this bread a bit longer to cool due to its higher moisture content (if you try to slice into it too quickly, it might be gummy).

*Note: If you prefer a less crusty loaf, wrap in a tea towel and let it cool under that.

69 | FALL 2023 FABRICATIONS west coast style for women 125 Kenneth Street ~ Downtown Duncan Monday to Saturday 10 to 5 Sunday 12 to 5 | 250-746-4751

Balsamic Thyme Pot-Roast with Parsnips, Carrots, Fennel and Onion


Salt and freshly ground black pepper

One 3-pound chuck roast

About ¼ cup olive oil, divided

1 large onion, peeled and roughly sliced

2 large fennel bulbs, trimmed and roughly sliced

4 medium-large carrots, peeled and cut in half longways

4 medium-large parsnips, peeled and cut into quarters longways

4 cloves of garlic, peeled

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

3 cups beef broth

3 sprigs fresh rosemary

3 sprigs fresh thyme


Preheat the oven to 275 F.

Generously salt and pepper the chuck roast.

Heat some olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions to the pot, lightly sautéing them until slightly golden brown before transferring them to a plate.

Add a bit more olive oil and add the carrots and parsnips into the same pot and toss them around until slightly browned, about a minute or so. Place the carrots and parsnips with the onions. Do the same with the fennel and garlic and add to the other reserved veggies.

Once again, add a bit more olive oil and place the meat in the pot and sear it for about a minute on all sides until it is lightly brown all over. Transfer to a plate.

With the burner still on medium, use some beef broth to deglaze the pot, scraping the bottom with a wooden spatula or spoon. Place the roast back into the pot and add enough beef stock to cover the meat halfway. Add in the veggies, garlic and the fresh herbs, and drizzle everything evenly with the balsamic vinegar.

Put the lid on, then roast for three hours for a threepound roast. The roast is ready when it’s fall-apart tender.

70 | FALL 2023

Blackberry Nectarine Crumble with Honey and Thyme


For the base…

4 cups sliced nectarines (you’ll want them to be ripe and juicy)

2 cups fresh or thawed blackberries

Juice of one lemon

2 tbsp honey

1 loose tbsp fresh thyme

For the topping…

1 cup ground almonds

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

½ cup chopped raw pecans

1 tsp cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 275 F.


½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp sea salt

¼ cup honey

½ cup unsalted butter, melted


In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the base ingredients. Transfer to a baking dish (about eight cups or two litres in volume).

In the same mixing bowl, combine the ground almonds, oats, nuts, spices and salt. Then add the honey and butter and stir until well combined. Spread the topping over the fruit.

Bake for 1 to 1.5 hours, until the topping begins to brown and the fruit below is bubbling.

Serve warm with ice cream, whipped cream or simply on its own!

*Note: If you notice that the top is cooking a tad too fast and over-browning before the fruit is bubbling, take it out, cover your baking dish with tinfoil and pop it back into the oven.

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1-6332 Metral Drive, Nanaimo

Surf, turf & sustainability

The magic of Antarctica— responsibly

With climate change in our face every day, you might think twice about visiting Antarctica. It takes multiple flights totalling 17-plus hours in the air from the west coast just to reach the bottom of South America. From there, you either

fly another two hours to the Antarctic Peninsula, or you board your boat for a two-day crossing of the Drake Passage. Whatever you decide, it’s a long way.

And yet Antarctica was my dream destination, a place I’ve been pining to visit since long before those two sinister C-words sneaked into our vocabulary.

How could I do it responsibly?

72 | FALL 2023 travel

For starters, I would choose a cruise line that is 100 per cent carbon neutral. Then I would pick a fuel-efficient ship with features that reduce emissions. Finally, I would look for a company that offers active adventures so I could make the most of every day. (The fact I adopted a plant-based diet 18 months earlier would help ease the guilt of travel too.)

Aurora Expeditions, a company that’s been operating for more

than 32 years, checks all the boxes. Certified carbon neutral (it invests in biodiversity in Australia and a wind farm in Taiwan), Aurora operates two ships with streamlined designs and an innovative bow—the Ulstein X-BOW®—that allows ships to slice through waves rather than riding up and over them. (The X-BOW also means a smoother sailing.)

I chose a 10-day cruise aboard Aurora’s newest ship, the Sylvia

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Make Yourself at Home

Nestled in a vibrant waterfront community with breathtaking ocean views, discover our luxurious and modern marina side suites; Perfect for families, friends, and romantic retreats. Book your stay at Fairwinds Residences for an unforgettable experience.

Spacious two-bedroom + den units for up to six people, perfect for families or friends travelling together.

Fully equipped kitchen and laundry facilities make you feel right at home during your stay. Accessible and pet-friendly units, ensuring comfort and convenience for all guests.
3521 Dolphin Drive Nanoose Bay, British Columbia

Earle, named for the renowned oceanographer and described as “a floating ambassador for the conservation of the planet.” It’s got a fully equipped Citizen Science Lab where guests can help scientists analyze data or contribute their own. For instance, guests are encouraged to photograph and identify marine mammals for, an organization that helps contribute to our collective understanding of the world’s oceans.

The Sylvia Earle also has an enormous “garage” filled with equipment so it can offer activities including snorkeling, kayaking and ski touring.

I thought “sustainable” and “climate conscious” might mean a boat with just the basics, so boarding the Sylvia Earle was both a relief and a revelation.

My “standard” cabin had a king-size bed as well as a small sitting area and balcony. Public spaces on the vessel included a well-stocked library, several bars and lounges, a couple of restaurants, two outdoor Jacuzzis, a gym and a sauna with a picture window.

Soon after boarding, the 12 of us who signed up for the snorkeling program were called to a briefing. We’d snorkel twice a day with three guides watching us from two Zodiacs.

“Once you start noticing these little creatures you’re going to be like, ‘Oh my God...this is incredible,’” said Ana, one of our guides.

“It opens the door to another world,” agreed Edie, her colleague.

75 | FALL 2023 women's clothing * shoes * jewelry * accessories * baby gifts Browse our online store at 99 Commercial Street Nanaimo, BC 250.753.1041

One day, I spotted a long, gelatinous tube about the length of my forearm with orange dots along its body. It was a salp, also known as a sea squirt because of the way it propels itself by drawing water in, then squirting it out. Each of the orange dots was a stomach, Edie told me in the lounge that evening over drinks.

“And the neat thing is, they take in carbon dioxide and poop it out and it sinks to the ocean floor.”

Later, I learned that salps and their sinking fecal pellets “play an outsize role in damping global warming,” according to a February 2023 study reported in the research news site ScienceDaily.

Compared with suiting up and plunging into water that’s barely above freezing, our daily walks on land seemed tame. But Antarctica was all that I imagined and hoped for: wind-sculpted icebergs, mountains encased in glaciers, historic huts of early explorers, the rusting storage tanks of a long-abandoned whaling station, and most of all, colonies of braying, honking, squawking penguins, so numerous that on one island there was no room for us to land.

It’s true that travel is the best teacher. And after visiting Antarctica, I’m more passionate than ever about doing my bit to combat climate change.

For more about Aurora Expeditions, see

76 | FALL 2023
250-743-5500 | 2720 Mill Bay Road, Mill Bay Experience shopping at Mill Bay MILL BAY SHOPPING CENTRE

secrets and lives — AND THE 7 SINS WITH KAREN BEZAIRE

78 | FALL 2023


hen K aren Bezaire opened the doors of her Courtenay-based flower shop, Bezaire Floral, this past January, she came full circle on a passion that first sprouted when she was very young.

Born in Nova Scotia, Karen was three years old when her parents decided to hop in a station wagon and move the family to the other side of the country. They landed in Campbell River after seeing a commercial for the “fishing capital of the world.”

Karen grew up on Vancouver Island surrounded by a wealth of forests and farmland, wildflowers and wild spaces, and she absolutely adored it.

“My mom always tells people that since I was a little girl, I’d pick flowers and make bouquets and tie ribbons around them, and I’d go around the street and give them to all the moms,” she says with a laugh.

But while she found immense joy in creating with flowers, Karen followed another passion as a young adult when she built a career in the non-profit sector, travelling and working all over the world.

“I worked as a missionary for a number of years, in family service, for Habitat for Humanity and the Salvation Army,” she says. “I was mostly working with orphans in orphanages, facilitating adoptions and infrastructure inside of orphanages in Ukraine.”

Being able to make a difference for the better was vitally important for Karen, but after three years it also took its toll.

“I loved kids, which was why I always worked with the children’s sector. But particularly with Ukraine, I got to a point where my heart hurt so much,” she says.

Burning out emotionally, Karen shifted directions and began working with a friend who was an event planner, and found herself back in the midst of one of her first loves: flowers.

“I’d been doing floral designs for years for family and friends, and then around 2016 I decided to actually do it for real,” she says.

Karen researched a number of floral design programs across North America and ended up choosing to go to California in 2018 for formal training.

“They allow a flower to be just a flower. They look at the direction it’s naturally going. They don’t wire stems,” she explains. “They tend to be a lot more wild and airy and free, which is me.”

Business grew steadily, and when a retail space became available in Comox this year, “I took the leap,” she says. “It’s been great. The community has been extremely supportive. I feel so blessed.”

She adds: “I feel like flowers are a way to really infuse joy into people’s lives and be a part of their celebrations and ceremonies. I chose flowers. I chose happiness.”

But Karen hasn’t let go of her drive to change the world. She recently launched Revel, an event and wedding magazine for Vancouver Island with a different slant than most.

“I want to have a magazine that’s fun, but also gives us an opportunity to see people in a different way,” she says. “My mom’s Indigenous—she’s Mi’kmaq from New Brunswick—and for me growing up, I didn’t see a lot of Indigenous people in magazines or in media. And there’s a huge Ukrainian culture here, and Korean culture, and we don’t see it enough. So, along with my partner Cheryl Williams, we are really trying our hardest to ensure we are representing the island correctly and showcasing its vast variety of cultures.”

The 7 Sins


Whose shoes would you like to walk in?

Shayla Oulette Stonechild, a Métis and Nehiyaw Iskwew from Muscowpetung First Nation. She is using art to promote a positive representation of Indigenous peoples in mainstream media. Shayla was also a finalist for Miss Teen Canada and uses her position as an actor to advocate for Indigenous rights. And she founded a non-profit organization called the Matriarch Movement as a space for Indigenous women’s voices to be heard.


What is the food you could eat over and over again? Bannock. You can eat it in so many different ways with either sweet or savoury ingredients.


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

Making sure every First Nations Reserve has clean drinking water. Fourteen per cent of First Nations communities across Canada are affected by a drinking water advisory, so I’d partner with organizations like Water First, which has developed a Drinking Water Internship Program that is designed to bring technical training opportunities directly to Indigenous communities.

WRATH: Pet peeves?

War in all its forms. It breaks my heart to see what’s happening in Ukraine, as I spent so much time there. I still have friends in Kyiv who I try to help as much as I can.


Where would you spend a long time doing nothing? Floating around on a canoe on any of the many lakes on the north end of Vancouver Island, sleeping in my tent with my cocker spaniel, Grace. I am totally passionate about solo camping and hiking.


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

I have an adventurous spirit and I’ve travelled through Europe and Mexico on my own, as well as Africa. I have sky-dived, ziplined and ATV-ed my way through jungles all over Costa Rica. I absolutely love adventure and can be ready to go at a moment’s notice.


What makes your heart beat faster?

The moment before you jump off a cliff into the water below.

79 | FALL 2023




mbrella gnomes,” Cassandra and I replied in unison that sunny Sunday afternoon when Marram told us of her latest umbrella disappearance.

We sat on the beach around the sandcastle we had built and which we were now decorating with pebbles and bits of sea glass, shells, kelp and small pieces of driftwood, perfectly smoothed by water. All was calm in the bay and what we could see of the Strait of Georgia beyond it.

Spring was just around the corner, making us itch to climb onto our stand-up paddleboards—me especially, as I had recently moved to Victoria from Ottawa. I couldn’t wait to get back out on the water, paddling through bull kelp and around the sailboats that dotted the bay, spotting the occasional seal. Last summer Marram had taught me about all things SUP.

Since my arrival, Marram and Cassandra, who were both from Esquimalt, had also often enlightened me about the mysteries of Vancouver Island and its unique inhabitants, some not quite as reality-based as others. Now I delight in imagining the umbrella gnomes’ unwitnessed capers and their undoubtedly prodigious umbrella stashes. In hollowed-out tree trunks, perhaps? In the attics of Victoria’s castles?

They had made off with five of our umbrellas since Halloween, when I lent Cassandra my Emily Carr umbrella, following a rainy, haunted tour of Ross Bay Cemetery we had attended together, boyfriends in tow, and it had subsequently vanished.

Since then, I had learned to blame the umbrella gnomes for these frustrating disappearances. Cassandra joked that there were even various branches of umbrella gnomes operating in different areas of Vancouver Island. In Victoria alone—a particularly afflicted area, according to Cassandra—there are public library umbrella gnomes, public transit umbrella gnomes, theatre gnomes (by far the worst) and beach gnomes—the ones we tend to forgive quickest.

“I had it when I sat down in the theatre. I’m positive,” said Marram, placing a smoothed, frosted piece of aquamarine sea glass shaped like a keystone at the top of the castle’s main gate.

“You went to a movie without me?” I exclaimed.

“Drop it,” Cassandra said in a stage whisper. “Think of the umbrella!”

“Sod the umbrella! There’s nothing to be done now that those plundering gnomes have got it!” I replied impatiently.

Marram stopped adorning the sandcastle to look at a seal, which was watching us from the bay, its head just visible above the waves.

“It was my Suffragette umbrella,” sighed Marram.

This fact elicited my sympathy and moderated my annoyance at having missed a movie outing with her.

“Pity. That one was lovely.”

I could empathize to a point, since the theatre gnomes had also purloined one of my umbrellas (UVic’s movie theatre was the crime scene of my cobalt blue umbrella’s theft).

A regatta was underway in the strait. We took a break from decorating to eat the scones and muffins we had purchased at a café located a stone’s throw from the beach. We followed the little white triangles representing sailboats as they darted across our field of vision. At the end of our picnic, we stuffed the little brown paper bags into our pockets and calculated the number of days until our next SUP adventure.

Suddenly, a large piece of driftwood landed next to Cassandra with a thud.

Before we could ascertain where the driftwood had come from, a big wet dog crashed through our carefully built sandcastle, destroy-

ing it, and grabbed the stick in its mouth. It circled us and returned to its owner, a man further down the beach.

“Noooo! Our beautiful castle!” cried Cassandra.

The young man ran up to us and apologized. Although Cassandra and I were unimpressed, Marram, in her usual easygoing, philosophical manner, found the words to let him off the hook.

When he and his dog had run off together, we looked down sadly at the wreckage.

“Let’s walk down the beach,” I suggested, not wanting to linger next to the undoing of our afternoon’s fun.

We collected our things and walked to the shore. At the water’s edge we turned right and headed toward the southern end of the bay and its marina. Occasionally, we would bend down to pick up a piece of plastic before dropping it into the paper bag that had so recently carried our scrumptious treats from the café. I had adopted Marram and Cassandra’s practice of collecting and disposing of plastic on beaches to do my small part in making life safer for the island’s wildlife.

Marram again raised the subject of the latest umbrella pilfering. She had also been the second victim of the umbrella gnomes, in December during one of her Christmas market expeditions, which she made by taking the bus. After that they had targeted me twice in rapid succession: at the main branch library downtown (the dull black umbrella my partner had won at a golf tournament) and at UVic’s theatre.

Down the beach, the man repeatedly threw the stick for his dog.

“What we need is a plan, strategies,” I urged in my task-oriented way, “to prevent the gnomes from pinching any more of our umbrellas.”

“There’s not much we can do. It’s inevitable,” sighed Marram. “I refuse to concede defeat!” I declared, prompting Marram and Cassandra to exchange one of their meaningful glances that plainly said I was new to the island and just didn’t get it yet.

“What do you suggest?” Cassandra asked.

“We’ve tried everything,” said Marram. “They’re just wilier.”

At that very moment, we heard someone shouting and turned away from the water to locate the commotion. An older woman, standing at the edge of her property overlooking the beach, was telling the man with the dog to pick up his dog’s poop. She was pointing to the bushes, and he looked sheepish. Evidently, she had seen him toss his green plastic bag full of dog poop into her bushes instead of carrying it to one of the beach’s garbage cans.

“There’s a trash can right there!” fumed the woman, who was clearly incensed.

As he made his way to the garbage can with his sagging green baggy, my friends and I approached the woman to make sure she was all right. In talking with her, we learned Linda was a provincial court judge and tired of seeing people get away with blameworthy behaviour.

Up the beach, the man, who had disposed of his little green bag, strode toward the parking lot, his hands shoved deep in his pockets, his dog close by his side.

After our conversation with Linda, we ambled down the rest of the beach. On our way back we groaned when we saw the man and his dog running toward us. But when he caught up to us, he held out a gift card from the nearby café.

“I’m really sorry about your castle.”

We watched him make his way to Linda’s and give her a card, too. As Linda reached down to pet the dog, I grinned and asked my islander friends, “We’re never going to catch the umbrella gnomes in the act, are we?”

“You never know,” answered Marram. “This island is full of surprises.”

81 | FALL 2023

behind the story

Boulevard magazine and Blanche Macdonald Centre joined forces for this edition with an on-site fashion photoshoot at the school’s Atelier campus. Led by Sarah D’Arcey, Boulevard’s fashion stylist and a fashion styling instructor at Blanche Madonald, the shoot was aided by the school’s fashion directors Tyler Udall and Sara Armstrong, and showcased the new designs of three exciting Vancouver designers: Rolla Summers, Daisy Cook and Amy Nunweiler. All three graduates recently debuted their collections at Vancouver Fashion Week.

Working with Boulevard photographer Lia Crowe, the stylists and directors built the fashion story around Renaissance paintings, set in the modern day.

Says Sarah: “I teach my students about the importance of being on time, what it is like to work on set with a team, and set etiquette. I wanted to give them a real-life experience so they could see what it is like to work as a stylist on a magazine job. I also strongly believe in supporting Canadian fashion, so highlighting Blanche Macdonald’s designers was an important part of this shoot.”

82 | FALL 2023
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