Boulevard Magazine Central Island, Spring 2024

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Lean into self-love with makeup and jewellery that give you joy


Meal-plan and meal-prep recipes for a happier, healthier you


What’s trending in 2024?

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An oasis of understated luxury

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Lean into self-love with makeup and jewellery

t hat give you joy

B y Lia Crowe + Jen Evans


What’s trending in 2024?

B y Laura Goldstein


Meal-plan recipes for a healthier, happier you

B y Heidi Fink


C orte della Maestà

B y Laura Goldstein

6 | SPRING 2024
On the Cover
Photo by Lia Crowe Beauty and fashion photographer Alec Watson is
behind the lens
34 12










B y










he good coffee
y Susan Lundy
y Lia Crowe
ple plunge
y Janice Louise
W ELL AND GOOD Rethinking menopause
y Kaisha Scofield
“Mitch” Mitchell
Laura Goldstein
cuisine and a dash of football:
Toby Tannas
B y
ehind the lens: Alec Watson
y Don Descoteau 28
Michael Forbes
B y Don
Ross Taylor
Angela Cowan
B y
Susan Lundy
B y
by Lia
Crowew 44







month’s food subject—

the discipline of self-care—is so close to my heart that my biggest challenge was keeping it short and to the point! I could have written 10 times the amount to cover all my strategies around eating well in a busy life.” Chef Heidi is a culinary instructor, recipe developer, TV show host, food writer and busy mother of two, living on southern Vancouver Island.





“I’ve gone swimming with dolphins in Eilat, Israel and kayaked with whales in Hawaii, but my idea of extreme sports is climbing that bridge to the top of the mountain in Italy to stay at the gorgeous Corte della Maestà and eating great food!” Born in Toronto, Laura was an arts and sports publicist and writer for 30 years. Tired of shovelling snow, she and her husband moved to BC 15 years ago. A highlight of her long career was covering the Kate Middleton and Prince William tour of BC in 2017.


PUBLISHER 250.891.5627




Lily Chan

DESIGN Tammy Robinson

Nel Pallay

Maria Lobano va


Vicki Clark



Don Descoteau

Heidi Fink

Laura Goldstein

Janice Louise

Susan Lundy

Lisa Manfield

Kaisha Scofield

Toby Tannas




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DISTRIBUTION 604.542.7411





“A sporting event is the perfect excuse for a Seattle escape. The city comes alive when the Seahawks are at home. It’s a fun placed to be even when you’re cheering for the visiting squad!” Toby is a regular contributor to Boulevard. You can catch her weekday mornings on Kelowna’ 103.1 Beach Radio.

8 | SPRING 2024 We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada CENTRAL ISLAND LIFE AT ITS FINEST SPRING 2024 Victoria Boulevard ® is a registered trademark of Black Press Group Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the publisher’s written permission. Ideas and opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of Black Press Group Ltd. or its affiliates; no official endorsement should be inferred. The publisher does not assume any responsibility for the contents, both implied or assumed, of any advertisement in this publication. Printed in Canada. Canada Publications Mail Product Sales Agreement #42109519. Tel: 250.381.3484 Fax: 250.386.2624
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“Nice bakery and super nice guy,” Bruce mumbled as he leaned into the car, handing me two cups of coffee. “Not sure he knew what he was doing, though.”

I grabbed the cups. Ah, my morning java. Possibly the most important moment of my day.

“I asked for oat milk in yours and he said, ‘sure,’ and disappeared with it. But it doesn’t look like it came back with oat milk in it.”

I took a sip and sighed. “Ugh. No oat milk and not great tasting coffee.”

We were in a small Colorado town called Durango, heading to Santa Fe as part of a November across-the-USA road trip. This was my second attempt at coffee that morning: while l was out walking our dog in the frosty morning air, Bruce had found me a coffee from the hotel lobby. But it was lukewarm and undrinkable.

I sipped the bakery coffee again. It had an odd flavour. Familiar. But I couldn’t quite place it. Then… “Wait a minute! Ew! This is tea!”

You might “suck things up” on the road. But not with tea instead of coffee. On this trip, I had mostly missed that moment of morning perfection: a steaming hot cup of dark roast with a dollop of barista-style oat milk. The elixir that fires up my day. These mornings, I’d been sipping disappointment. Tepid, watery and with nothing close to a delicious non-dairy whitener. Most hotels seemed to favour Coffee Mate whitener, and it came in either a sad pile of powder or a gooey liquid. Usually flavoured and sweetened. Not my “cup of tea (coffee).”

the good coffee

For this issue of Boulevard—with its self-care/wellness theme—a discussion around morning java seems fitting because self-care for me is ensuring access to coffee. The first thing I seek out in a hotel room is the coffee supply. At home, if there is any threat of a power outage, I grind enough coffee for the next morning and beyond. What could be worse than 6 am start, no power and no ground coffee beans? Water can be boiled on the wood stove or barbecue. But grinding the beans? I recall that my friend Shari, who is equally coffee-addicted, once used a sock and hammer to desperately grind her coffee beans during a power outage.

So, as we left Durango with our sad cups of tea, I eyed the unfolding landscape with a sluggish brain and attempted to find the right words for conversation. But they weren’t there. My mind was a muddled mess, and I felt a headache coming on.

Finally, we landed in the outskirts of the next town, Pagosa Springs, and headed for the first coffee shop that showed up on my maps app. But it was permanently closed. Never mind, there was another cafe nearby. But—there was no takeout coffee here. My heart broke a little bit at that stop.

But in the end, it was all for the best. The coffee that we found at a little riverside café in Pagosa Springs turned out to be the best cuppa of the road trip. And I inhaled it. I finished my first cup before Bruce had taken his third sip. I grabbed a second cup, and we enjoyed a leisurely walk along the river, where hot springs dotted little rocky outcroppings on the shoreline, and steam rose upwards, encasing me in a cocoon of steamy air and coffee bliss.

When we got back on the road, I could suddenly find my words again! Good words. Strong words. Complicated words. All pulled from my happily buzzing brain. Self-care complete!

In this edition of Boulevard, you will find wellness trends, self-care meal ideas and nods to good health. In the narrative section, I have written about selfcare amid grief. I hope you enjoy this edition. Try delving into it with a good cup of java.

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.

10 | SPRING 2024


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I was born and raised in Nanaimo.


My career path has been shaped by the people who have mentored me. I was lucky to have met two experienced stylists who taught me how to be on a set, and the women of Boulevard gave me the chance to shoot for the magazine when I was only a few months out of university.


Getting to be on set with a fantastic team of creatives.


If I’m not shooting creatives, I’m focusing on my friends and family, and seeing as much live music as possible.


You can do anything, but you will not do everything. Do what you would regret not doing.


I’m annoyingly relentless. I strongly believe in “you don’t know unless you ask.” It’s how I’ve gotten most of my experience.


I once said my style was that of a “goth Sharon Tate” and now my brother won’t let me live that down. But I still think it summarizes it well.


Uniform: A vintage T-shirt, baggy Levi’s and Dr. Martens. All-time favourite piece: A black vintage suede jacket with a fur collar. It makes me feel like Cruella de Vil. Favourite pair of shoes: Vintage cowboy boots that have cacti on them.

Favourite day-bag: My Ganni Black Knot Mini.

Favourite work tool: My Nikon D850.

Favourite jewellery piece or designer: My Wolf Circus cowboy boot necklace. Fashion obsession: Collecting vintage T-shirts. Necessary indulgence for either fashion or beauty: Good quality jewellery. Scent: Kilian Angels' Share.


Style icon: Brigitte Bardot.

Favourite fashion designer or brand: Currently, Schiaparelli.

Favourite musician: Mitski. Film or TV show that inspires your style or that you just love the style of: Duckie in Pretty in Pink Favourite cocktail or wine: An Old Fashioned.

Album on current rotation: Family Milk, by Victoria’s own Fever Feel.

Favourite flower: Tiger lilies. One thing that consistently lifts your spirits during hard times: My cat, Jiji.


Fave print magazine: Interview

Last great read: The Sirens of Titan, by Kurt Vonnegut.

Book currently reading: Just Kids by Patti Smith.

13 | SPRING 2024


Words Janice Louise | Modhaus Designs

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Re thinking menopause

Embark on a path toward true and meaningful growth and self-care

16 | SPRING 2024 well +

Are you over the age of 40 and feel like your body has gone completely haywire? Do you lose your keys only to find them in the freezer, or find your body suddenly drenched in sweat just standing at the checkout line? Are you falling asleep before your head hits the pillow only to be awake at 4 am feeling like monkeys are dancing in your skull? What about your mood? Have you started raging at inanimate objects or crying because you broke a shoelace? If this sounds familiar, you, my friend, may be entering menopause.

Menopause, although confusing and frustrating for most, is a completely normal and natural part of a woman’s* aging process. Unfortunately, the most predictable thing about this whole transition is how consistently unpredictable it is from one person to the next.

Most women will experience the above symptoms in some form or another, but the severity and timeline are completely varied. Because of the individuality of experiences, menopause becomes almost a cautionary tale, where we are taught to hope for the best but expect the worst.

This is unfortunate because menopause doesn’t have to be a devastating experience. With the right help and education, it can be a time of growth and learning, and maybe even a time of rejuvenation.

Menopause is often called a second puberty because it is a reversal, of sorts, of the hormone surge that we experience as teens, except instead of a hormone flood, we get a hormone trickle.

Menopause starts with perimenopause, which is typically first detected through a change in menstrual cycle, frequency and intensity. Other symptoms include night sweats, a change in vasomotor functions, vaginal discomfort, changes in body composition and fat distribution, loss of muscle, changes on the scale, et cetera. Some less obvious signs include changes in mood, brain fog, sleep disruptions and generally feeling low, out of sorts, anxious, angry or sad.

If you noticed that a lot of these symptoms are rather vague, you’re right. Changes in body composition, mood and even menstrual cycles can happen frequently for women, especially when you consider that we are all heavily dependent on the cycles of, well, life. Mood changes, body composition shifts, energy levels, even menstrual cycle shifts can vary drastically depending on situations like birth control, lifestyle and stress.

As a result, many women are in perimenopause for years before realizing that these confusing symptoms are due to a shift in hormones.

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Instead, it can be a time of rebirth and growth. Women can take this time to transition their nurturing and caregiving onto focussing on caring for themselves.


It is the irregular nature of these symptoms that led to the brutal treatment of menopausal women in the past. During the Victorian era, for example, it was assumed that the onset of menopause would eventually lead to insanity; therefore, women could find themselves incarcerated in asylums at the mere mention of menopausal symptoms.

If a woman were to express sexual desire, particularly during menopausal years, it was often considered a sign of insanity and a pathway to evil, which could lead to mental disorders, such as nymphomania and hysteria. The response to this, alongside institutionalization, was the surgical removal of ovaries and even the occasional clitoridectomy. It’s no wonder women are afraid of aging.

Eventually, however, medical science crept out from under the patriarchy, just far enough to make the connection between menopause and hormones. The current advancements in medicine, endocrinology and women’s health/rights have led to more effective treatments than incarceration and organ removal.

Unfortunately, the residual fear and misinformation that cloud menopause in medicine and society have perpetuated an overwhelming lack of information and investigation into women’s health. As a result, and in combination with the irregular and often deeply personal symptoms of peri/menopause, women generally delay seeking out treatment—even though they will, on average, spend half of their lives in peri/menopause. Frankly, our system needs to be better.


Dr. Stephanie Bayliss is a naturopathic doctor, menopause practitioner (through the North American Menopause Society) and co-founder of Menoverse. And she is working to change the narrative around how women experience menopause. She thinks that instead of it being a time to fear and avoid, we can use the menopause transition as an opportunity to have a conversation about previously neglected areas in a woman’s physical and mental health.

She says, “What if this time is instead an opportunity for women to focus on their health, sometimes for the first time in their lives?”

There is a perpetual idea that women are the martyrs of their family. Whether intentional or not, the role of caregiver and nurturer often falls to women. Unfortunately, this can occur at the expense of their own health and wellbeing.

Menopause symbolically and biologically means the end of childbearing and while this can be a time of mourning for some, it doesn’t have to be. Instead, it can be a time of rebirth and growth. Women can take this time to transition their nurturing and caregiving onto focussing on caring for themselves.


Take the time to find an evidence-informed practitioner because, as Dr. Bayliss says, “Everyone deserves a lengthy conversation about their health, at any stage.”

There is so much misinformation and marketing around menopause, it is especially important to build an arsenal of knowledge and find a trusted advisor to help protect you from poor advice. Many practitioners are simply prescribing hormone replacement therapy (HRT) without first attaining a baseline risk assessment for cardiovascular and bone health, stroke risk, et cetera.

HRT on its own is not the only treatment for menopausal symptoms, and while it can certainly be very effective, there are many complementary ways to engage in health-promoting activities.

Bayliss encourages women to be proactive about peri/ menopause. First, find a qualified practitioner by looking to the Menopause Society of Canada listings. You can also ask your friends for referrals or join a menopause group and simply start sharing your experiences. Join online communities or even form your own menopause support group. You may decide to take on the role of being a “safe person” to discuss menopause in your friend group or work.

Start advocating for better support from your employer or create positive change in your own business. A great resource for this is via the Menopause Foundation of Canada’s “Menopause Works Here” campaign.

Want to dive deeper? An excellent place to start is through exceptional books like The Menopause Manifesto, by Dr. Jen Gunter, a Canadian OB/GYN.

The LGBTQIA+-centred take on menopause, What Fresh Hell is This, by Heather Corinna, is both inclusive and hilarious. For athletes or the movement enthusiast, Next Level, by Stacy Sims, is full of excellent advocacy, research and support. If you’re more of a podcast person, try Women’s Health Unplugged, with naturopathic doctor Jordan Robertson. Here, you’ll find many great peri/ menopause episodes on everything from sleep to libido and beyond.

The authors of these books and the presenters and specialists of these podcasts are all brilliant advocates for providing excellence in women’s health, which is exactly what we should be receiving.

Let’s step up and create a better community by challenging the negative stigma that surrounds the peri/menopause transition. Let’s promote this transition as a path toward true and meaningful growth and self-care for women everywhere.

*Note: The term “woman” is used throughout this article but it is important to recognize that this experience is shared by every person who has experienced menstruation, or has a womb/a uterus regardless of their gender.

18 | SPRING 2024
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in studio


Stunt performer Mike “Mitch” Mitchell credits dance training as his secret weapon

Pursued by an assailant, FBI agent Peter Sutherland smashes a window and steps out onto the second-storey hotel room’s glass awning, and then crashes to the cement ground below.

Gabriel Basso stars as Sutherland in Season 1 of the political thriller The Night Agent for Sony Pictures on Netflix, but it’s his stunt double, Matt Mylrea, who actually takes the fall in this scene. It’s just one of the series’ many action-packed stunts coordinated by award-winning BC stunt performer, stunt coordinator and second unit director Mike “Mitch” Mitchell of Big Surf Films.

“Matt was on a deceleration cable connected to a structurally engineered truss deck on the roof of the hotel. Only after engineering-document approval and multiple simulations and rehearsals did I okay this stunt to go ahead. All told, this was two months in the planning,” explains Mitch.

When you see astonishing stunts and convincing fight scenes in action films or series, you may be surprised to learn that some stuntmen and stuntwomen have previously had extensive careers in dance and choreography.

“In the 38 years of my career, I’ve seen an evolution from the rough-and-tumble cowboy guy and dirt biker, when we were just known as stuntmen or stuntwomen, to the present, where we call ourselves stunt performers,” says Mitch, who splits his time between Tofino and his five-acre farm in South Langley.

“And we come from various backgrounds—Cirque du Soleil performers, professional athletes or—like my friend, stunt performer and coordinator Lloyd Adams—a dancer in the Canadian production of Cats.”

“When I choreograph a fight scene, for example, the memory, the timing, the coordination and all the relative action in movement with another person are just like a dance,” explains Mitch, who was formerly an apprentice in Vancouver’s Paula Ross Dance Company.

“Paula was one of my mentors, and it was a big decision for me to leave the company and move to LA years ago to pursue stunt work,” he says.

A Renaissance man when it comes to stunt skill sets, Mitch is a horseman (he owns two horses), kickboxer, karate medalist, scuba diver, surfer and motorcycle enthusiast. A pilot for over 30 years, he is currently finishing both his commercial and helicopter pilot licenses. Does the man ever sleep?

“One of the best things you can learn about our craft is to know a little about a lot,” he smiles.

Laid-back and self-effacing, Mitch is a technical tactician who emphasizes that stunt performers are not daredevils or risk-takers. On the contrary, he’s a stickler for meticulous rehearsals and adamant about safety precautions on set.

“Stunt performers are about as far away as one can get from Evel Knievel. We perform our action with deep planning, engineering and design. Only after several rehearsals do we take a stunt to set,

where it must be repeatable and safe for the performer. And even if an actor has a great skill set, I don’t let them pressure me into letting them do their own stunts—the buck has to stop here,” he says.

Although stunts play such a crucial role in many films, there is, surprisingly, still no Oscar category for the genre.

With over 100 stunt performer, coordinator and stunt double credits for films and TV series under his belt, Mitch has worked with many stars in Hollywood’s entertainment industry. His credits include the recent multiple-Emmy-Award-winning The Last of Us, the biggest series ever shot in Canada, starring Pedro Pascal; The Adam Project and Deadpool, both starring Ryan Reynolds; The Revenant, starring Leonardo DiCaprio; and Forsaken, in which he was Brian Cox’s stunt double—to name only a few.

Working with the late Robin Williams remains one of Mitch’s fondest memories.

“The first time I met Robin was on the film Jumanji in 1994. I actually heard him before I even met him,” he chuckles. “Three rows of trailers away he was imitating Ethel Merman singing!”

“One on one, he was actually an incredibly shy man,” says Mitch, who worked as Williams’ stunt double on 18 films over 20 years.

“He was a dear, sweet man. I felt like I painted with Picasso and sang with Pavarotti,” Mitch reminisces.

Will AI be taking over stunt work in the future?

“Twenty-five years ago we thought that about CGI. I hope not, and I just don’t think it’s there yet,” says Mitch. “If you want that superhero, comic-book, fast-food kind of storytelling, yes, but I don’t like it. I think sophisticated audiences in the future are going to still want to see live action. Right now it’s a trend or a fad, but

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“When I choreograph a fight scene, the memory, the timing, the coordination and all the relative action in movement with another person are just like a dance.”

it will eventually fade away. But, yeah, it’s a shadow hanging over our shoulders.”

Keeping it in the family, Mitch is married to stunt performer and martial arts expert Angela Uyeda.

“I met her on a silly, short-lived show called Secret Agent Man for which I was coordinating a fight scene. The second I saw her move, I fell in love,” Mitch admits. “That was 25 years ago. We’ve been married for 20 years, have a teenage daughter, and have worked together on several productions.”

In his down time (of which there isn’t much), Mitch says with a laugh, “I’m a handyman, and there’s always work to do on our Tofino get-away property. I’m just built that way. I’m 61 years old and I just can’t sit down.”

23 | SPRING 2024 Be curious. Be kind. Be brave. Be you. PRESCHOOL–GRADE 12
Culture, cuisine and a dash of football

Seattle has all the ingredients for a fun-filled weekend getaway

24 | SPRING 2024 weekender

What do football and seafood chowder have in common? Both are very good reasons for an early winter trip south of the border. Since my favourite NFL team was slated to play the Seahawks in Seattle, it was the perfect excuse for a weekend getaway to the Emerald City.

With my husband in the driver’s seat, we set out on the easy drive from Vancouver. In under three hours, we rolled into Seattle’s downtown core and our hotel destination, The Arctic Club. Situated in the heart of downtown Seattle at the corner of 3rd Avenue and Cherry Street, this historic hotel is an easy walk to Lumen Field, the famous Pike Place Market and Pioneer Square.

The best part about staying in downtown Seattle is you can park your vehicle and forget about it. Most of what you come to see is within walking distance—but be warned, there are some serious inclines. (More about that later!)

We were excited to explore the city but the moment we climbed the marble steps of The Arctic Club we were entranced. The history is palpable the moment you step through the doors.

Before it was a hotel, The Arctic Club was a social club. It was established in 1907 for successful veterans of the gold rush to gather and share tales of “striking it rich!” At the time, Seattle billed itself as the Gateway to Alaska (despite Canada being situated between the city and America’s northernmost state). Many a business was set up to “mine the miners,” as they say. The Arctic Club was the most successful of this lot and for those with a thirst for adventure.

The walls of the grand lobby are adorned with portraits of each founding member. The photos were taken by renowned photographer of the time Edward Curtis. He is said to have rung up quite the bar tab at the club and used his camera skills to pay it back. Curtis was best known for his striking photographs of Native Americans, of which there are many throughout the hotel.

Beyond the welcome desk, we were drawn to the oversized fireplace flanked by two large sofas. The wood-panelled room is warm and inviting, dotted by tables for gathering and situated adjacent to the stunning Polar Bar. Keep an eye out for the glowing polar bear statue, just one animal theme in the hotel. The walrus is also a mascot, appearing in The Arctic Club logo as well as in the plaster on the A. Warren Goulddesigned facade and in plush versions at the gift shop.

Our room is on the 10th floor, top of the heap with some incredible views of Seattle. We are delighted to see Lumen Field lit up from our private balcony.

The guest rooms, once offices of the club’s founding members, have been renovated with history in mind, including classic wallpapers, charming tile, dark wood and fun details like double doors with mottled glass leading to the bathroom. All the modern amenities are at your fingertips.

Like The Arctic Club, Seattle is a city rich in history, much of which lies underground. With our walking shoes on we take a short (downhill) walk on Cherry Street to Beneath the Streets, a guided walking tour of Seattle’s sub-city. This is an amazing opportunity to learn about life here before the Great

25 | SPRING 2024

Seattle Fire of 1889. Fire destroyed the entire central business district but ultimately the rebuilding provided the city an opportunity to correct some major engineering and building flaws. Seattle was essentially “lifted” to protect it from high water (hence the urban hills). Much of the lower city remains under the sidewalks. Our tour guide was engaging, offering many tidbits about early life in Seattle.

With a road trip and subterranean tour under our belts it was time for lunch. Many friends recommended The Crab Pot in Miners Landing Pier 57. We took the waterfront route and about 15 minutes later we were seated in this fun, highenergy eatery, and tempted by the Seafeast, where diners put on a bib and get their hands dirty with an incredible-looking seafood feast dumped right on the table. There’s a bucket on the floor for shells and a roll of paper towel at your disposal.

We opted for the hearty clam chowder in a bread bowl—I’d been dreaming about it since we left BC! The Crab Pot did not disappoint and chased away the chill of the drizzly day.

With full bellies, we walked a bit further down Alaskan Way and up to 1st Avenue and the iconic Pike Place Market. You must linger a moment to catch the singing fishmongers, then line up (yes, there is always a line) at the very first Starbucks in the world. This is an Instagram moment, so don’t be surprised if you’re asked to snap a photo or two for excited tourists.

If you have an eye for architecture, you will appreciate the Romanesque Revival buildings in Seattle, many of which are found in Pioneer Square. This oasis within the city is filled with galleries, coffee shops and bars.

There are also food trucks, bocce courts, ping-pong tables and the Waterfall Garden Park. It’s an escape from the concrete jungle and I imagine many office workers would

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choose to lunch or unwind here when they need a break. We begin the walk back to The Arctic Club (uphill this time) and arrive just in time for happy hour at the Polar Bar. It also offers a delicious dinner menu that’s served until late. We decide to turn in early with more exploring and football on tap for tomorrow.

Game day starts with a complimentary hot breakfast in the hotel’s Juno Cafe and then we head back out into the city to partake in fun and fandom.

Seattle is a football-loving city and fans from both the home and visiting team are everywhere. Pioneer Square bars and pubs are packed, and it’s a festival atmosphere around Lumen Field in the hours leading up to game time.

The game itself does not disappoint (even though my team did not win) and the walk back from the stadium is filled with hoots and hollers from excited Seahawks fans. We take some ribbing in our team colours but it’s all in good fun—Seahawks fans are friendly!

After another solid night’s sleep in our quiet and comfortable room, we hit the I-5 for our return trip north. Of course, we make a stop at the Seattle Premium Outlets in Tulalip and grab a few essentials from Trader Joe’s. A short wait at the Peace Arch border crossing and we are back in Canada.

A west coast seaport like Vancouver, Seattle manages to offer up something both familiar and decidedly different. Whether you come by car or airplane, Seattle is the perfect weekend escape when you don’t want to venture too far from home.

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Polar Bar at The Arctic Hotel.


An oasis of understated luxury is the perfect in-situ showcase for Ross and Melissa Bonetti’s design business

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hot properties


Nestled at the top of a lush embankment in West Vancouver’s Caulfeild neighbourhood is a stunning cliffside home that pushes the boundaries of the West Coast modern aesthetic design. Delicately crafted, fortress-strong and outfitted in modern European classics, it’s the second home that Ross and Melissa Bonetti built and designed in collaboration with Vancouver’s BattersbyHowat Architects.

The owner of Livingspace, a Vancouver leader in Italian home design, Ross called on his friends at BattersbyHowat to help him evaluate the empty lot, which he stumbled upon amid one of his daily walks. Largely covered in brush, the lot consisted in part of a sheer cliffside slope covered in prickly bushes that dropped steeply toward a ravine and railroad track.

He knew it would be a challenging build, but it was the 270 square feet of frontage that immediately caught his interest.

“We explored the property by drone before I made an offer,” he says. “It was clearly a tough site to work on, but I knew BattersbyHowat was up for it.”

It proved to be a three-year project that has emerged as a shining showcase for modern design— outfitted entirely in products from Livingspace. Today, Ross regularly tours clients and prospects through his personal space as evidence of what’s possible with rock-solid architecture and a creative eye for elevated design.

“It’s essentially become an extension of our storefront,” he says.

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270 square feet of frontage 6,500 square-foot home, including garage 4 bedrooms 5.5 bathrooms


A true model of open-plan design, this 6,500-square-foot, four-bedroom, five-anda-half-bathroom West Coast oasis elevates minimalistic design and neutral tones with majestic facades, surprising pops of colour and convenience, and durable materials for ultra-functional spaces.

Accessed from the recessed driveway, a large glass front door opens almost directly into the open living space—all greys, whites and beiges—with its airy 15-foot ceilings and floor-to-ceiling east-facing windows that open onto the landscaped courtyard beyond.

An immediate case in point for creativity, the flat roof exterior is inverted on the interior, creating a reversed ceiling by way of a triangular hemlock frame that emerges just beyond the entranceway and into the great room, and is echoed again in the master bedroom. Meticulously crafted wood slats panel the precision-architected angles, mirroring the exterior landscape and creating a large, visual point of interest inside. Simple pot lights dot the wood panels above, shining light down onto the heated concrete floor, which has been ground down to show the aggregate stone.

To the left of the entrance, a hidden closet and playfully wallpapered powder room offer colourful contrast to the neutral tones.

“It’s a nice surprise for guests when they come around the corner and discover this wall,” Ross says.

Immediately to the right of the entrance, a staircase leads up half a level to an open gym area and Ross’s office, which has nearly 360-degree-views of the outside patio to the right, great room in the centre, and cliffside to the left, all thanks to oversized windows.

“I don’t like separation,” Ross says of the open design. “I can sit here in my office and see what’s going on all around me.”

The gym, partitioned only by an oversized Porro bookshelf, features quiet Technogym equipment, such as an elliptical machine and a cable gym, to temper any travelling sound.

Everything in the house is “foundationally correct,” says Ross, noting that it’s an ode to BattersbyHowat’s talent and an essential requirement for the precision architecture involved in creating aligned open spaces.


Every single space in this home is fully functional and subtly elevated with subdued design. In the living room, low couches and chaises from the Paola Lenti collection offer sitting space for 12 but are easily cosy enough for two to snuggle up with books or to watch a show.

Porro system cabinetry lines the walls,

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wrapping around the interior from the front entrance to encase the built-in TV and fireplace, while art from the Monte Clark Gallery adds brilliant splashes of colour throughout the home.

In the adjoining kitchen, original Bocci 14 lights spotlight the indoor eating space for 12, while the black Molteni kitchen, complete with hidden aluminum cabinets and electric drawers, keeps appliances and dishes well contained.

Around the corner and into a long hallway that leads to the main-level master bedroom, a built-in bar space has a wine fridge, sliding Molteni bar door and Sub Zero fridge drawers, providing a convenient area to make hot and cold beverages.

Then, the open-concept design extends right into the master bedroom, located at the end of the long hall, where an angled back wall points the bed toward floor-to-ceiling windows that highlight the forest view beyond. On the opposite side, the room opens onto an open double bathroom and adjoining walk-in closet, again featuring Porro millwork. A washer and dryer hidden conveniently within the walk-in closet make laundry easy.

Downstairs, three additional bedrooms offer space for these empty nesters to welcome back adult children, and host guests, while the lower hallway also serves as a storage space. There, a seemingly endless wall of sliding-door cabinets conceals carefully labelled containers—everything needed for last-minute entertaining.

“We never have to look for our plastic wine glasses,” Ross laughs.

The lower level is rounded out by a full mudroom that connects to the front courtyard, a three-car garage and adjoining storage space for bikes and sports equipment.

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When the weather is favourable, the Bonettis spend their mornings enjoying their private space in the courtyard, where BattersbyHowat created a tall concrete retaining wall to shield the house from the street above. A flank of Portuguese laurel hedges augments the sense of privacy and greenery, while rose bushes dangle tantalizingly toward the pool below.

The basalt stone patio creates an elongated space for poolside lounging, and a 23-metre lap pool and hot tub are perfect for a warmup, cool-down or a water-lover’s workout.

Toward one end of the courtyard, angular patio stones lead to a tranquil wild garden space with a barbeque and meditation corner; at the other end, stairs lead up to an elevated patio that opens off the gym, and below it, a hidden door opens onto a shower room and changing space, which is lined in colourful—and waterproof—koi-themed wallpaper.

Then, moving back through the great room toward the west side of the house is the evening patio, a prime spot for dinnertime lingering by the glow of the sunset and greenery below.

Ross’s showcase is a true testament to the power of natural elements coming together with modern architecture to create a space that is both beautiful and inviting.

“People walk in and don’t know why it feels so good in here,” he says. “Everything lines up, and it really gives the place a harmonious feel.”


Furniture: Paola Lenti, Porro, Knoll, Roda, Ivano Redaelli

Lighting: Bocci, Flos

Kitchen: Molteni&C

Closet: Porro

Gym: Technogym equipment

Art: Monte Clark Gallery

Wallpaper: London Art

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Behind the lens


and fashion photographer

Alec Watson shoots campaigns to feel good about
34 | SPRING 2024 spotlight

Most people can only hope and dream about achieving happiness in successive stages of their work and personal life.

Alec Watson seems to have cracked the code on that.

He seamlessly followed up an award-winning musical career as a player and recording engineer, working in the hotbeds of Nashville, Los Angeles and Seattle, by building a successful beauty and fashion photography and digital media business. Along the way, he met and married the woman of his dreams, Sarah Gilks, with whom he works from their Lantzville home on inspirational campaigns for her company HRM (Healthy Role Models).

For two decades, Alec has produced stunning, evocative photos and film work for various global and regional brands, and he is positively glowing as he shares what keeps him smiling.

He flies roughly 15 times a year, mostly to LA, but some times New York, for four-day commercial campaign shoots. He jokes about the irony in being a “bald man in my 50s becoming a beauty specialist.”

“I’m probably hired for my lighting more than anything,” he says, clarifying the specialty that has kept him in demand with corporate clients, along with his leadership. “That seems to be what people are paying the dollars for.”

As director of photography, Alec does hours of pre-planning, assembles a team of top-notch hair, makeup and other techni cal experts, then blends their talents with his own to create an impactful finished product.

He modestly says, “My part of the job when I’m actually taking photos is probably 11 minutes per model, on average.”

Big on the often-underrated “fun factor,” Alec’s campaign shoots tend to have little unnecessary drama, and things come together as expected.

“I’m probably there because I can lead that team, light it well, and at the end of the day, everybody’s going to walk away with great images 100 per cent of the time, and we have fun. No one gets yelled at, there’s no stress, there are no tears.”

Asked what type of work gets him excited these days, he’s clear on what does not get him fired up.

“Celeb shoots tend to be very short, and they surround themselves with stressful people. I love working for companies that want to make the world a better and more beautiful place. That’s my bread and butter, and I’m super grateful for that.”

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He is also pumped about doing speaking engagements for the sales teams and clients of such companies, teaching them how to create ethical, eye-catching campaigns that leave viewers feeling good.

While he no longer sees a ladder to climb, Alec feels blessed, enjoying a career that is both lucrative—last year was his best ever financially—and helping him become a better person and professional.

He credits Sarah, his wife of six years, for helping guide that growth. He sees her positive energy and outlook on life as a byproduct of being very deliberate about the type of media she consumes.

“If we take the time to be conscious about what we are consuming, it can transform our life. I so did not see the world with this lens, but it’s a lens that makes me happier, makes me try harder, and makes me live a better life.”

Working with Sarah on visual branding, photography and film for HRM, which supports women with fitness, nutrition and self-confidence resources, has given Alec a deeper perspective for his own work. He’s more aware of the personal struggles that often accompany striving for beauty.

“It fills my cup,” he says of the work. “I 100 per cent know that if I’m creating marketing and women are joining the program, they’re getting looked after and having great outcomes. That’s just a great feeling, especially for someone who works in advertising.”

This level of discernment has come gradually, but there were moments when it became obvious to Alec that he had a choice in how he viewed the world and his professional environment. OR THE LAR G EST SELEC TIO N OF WINDOW C O VERING S IN CA NADA -B l in ds -Drapery L OCA LLY OWNED AND OPERA TED -Free Q uo tes Book your FREE in-home consultation today 250-924-0249 -Bes t warran ty in th e indus try -P rofessional Measuri ng -Exper t Ins t allati on -Shades -R oman S h ad es -Shutte rs -Motorization
“I love working for companies that want to make the world a better and more beautiful place. That’s my bread and butter and I’m super grateful for that.”

As difficult as he finds it to do so, he has said “no” to certain campaigns where he felt the company’s values did not closely match his own.

He recalls working on a lingerie campaign with a celebrity who he felt was struggling with body image and wasn’t ready for the type of photos the shoot called for, creating an uncomfortable atmosphere. Barely a month later he saw the celebrity on a magazine cover that proclaimed she “got her abs back,” a feature he believes used highly doctored photos of the woman and her body.

“I would never want to work for a company that would do that,” he says. “With HRM I became a better photographer and learned about using light.”

Every photo must be processed to a certain degree, but Alec refuses to alter a model’s human characteristics. “I choose not to work with companies that need to be deceptive in any part of their marketing.”

A lifelong learner, he idolized musical greats Elton John and Billy Joel as a kid and remembers playing “air piano.” Learning to actually play was initially a tactic to impress his musician girlfriend, whose country band Rhodes & Marshall was later managed by Doug Bennett of Doug and the Slugs fame.

Alec kept working at his craft and ultimately engineered the band’s first album and added backing vocals and keyboard. That record was certified gold in Canada and charted four Top 40 Canadian country singles.

“That’s how I ended up being in music,” he says. “I was always going to be a photographer, but [we] just had a hit record right out of the gate.”

He parlayed his experience into a busy performing and recording career as a touring and session player, and also as an engineer, working with bands such as Great Big Sea, Spirit of the West and others.

He shifted to photography full-time in 2004 and later upped his film game by completing the Global Cinematography Institute program in Hollywood. Eyeing a shift to education, he was laser-focused on studying for his master’s degree in digital media design from Harvard and earned the Dean’s Prize for academic achievement for his top-level GPA. During the COVID pandemic down time, he learned 3D design.

Aware that “the phone’s going to stop ringing at some point” for major corporate projects, Alec feels good about the future, knowing he’ll always have enjoyable work available.

That includes his passion project, a coffee table book tentatively titled Iconic Islanders. It will feature portraits of individuals he finds personally fascinating—“beautiful people both on the outside and the inside.”

Examples of Alec’s work can be found at

37 | SPRING 2024
53 Station Street, Duncan 250-597-2848 The BEST in Style Business to Casual


On Blue: “Porto” chain ($419) by Lizzie Fortunato and “The Treasures of Fortunato” gold earrings ($350) by Pamela Card: both from Bernstein & Gold; orange ruched top ($40) by Levi’s from Turnabout. On Jet: Large ammolite fully bezel set in 18K yellow gold ($4,495) from Idar Jewellers; Yellow TNA cashmere sweater ($70) from Turnabout.

i love me

Expression purely for your own delight. No longer trying to fit in or striving to be ideal for another person. Lean into self-love this season with makeup and jewellery that simply gives you pleasure to wear.

Photos by Lia Crowe

Styling by Jen Evans

Makeup by Jen Clark

Models: Blue Engelland Swift, Jet William Swift, Solange Lyons, Zen May, Halle Jean March, Navneet Kahlon, Milena Ludwig and Vellar Zhou.

On Solange: Glacier Bay earrings ($279), Vizcaya necklace in mint ($735) both by Lizzie Fortunato, and turquoise and silver ring ($99), all from Bernstein & Gold; completely handmade pendant in 18K yellow gold and 19K white gold with one 2.08 carat Paraiba tourmaline, double claw set and one 0.12 carat diamond ($14,895) from Idar Jewellers; pink cashmere scarf ($80) by Extreme Cashmere from Turnabout.

On Halle: Molten Baroque necklace in silver ($500) by Pamela Card from Bernstein & Gold. Heart and pearl necklaces (model’s own).

On Zen: Quartz with tourmaline needles, cabochon-cut, fully bezel set in 19K white gold, ($2,895), Marc Cain pink leather belt ($199), from Hughes Clothing.


On Lightning Bolt cashmere sweater ($599) by BRODIE, from Hughes Clothing. Three True Round Thinline x Great Gardens of the World watches by RADO Switzerland ($2,800 each), from

On Melina: Faceted pearshaped emerald, 0.64 carat weight, fully bezel set in 14K yellow gold ($3,295) on a yellow gold “Rolo Chain;” halo-style pendant set with 4.19 carat green tourmaline and 0.31 total carat weight diamonds, set in 18K white gold ($7,495); diamond drop earrings set in 18K white gold, top diamonds are 0.24 carat each and are Canadian, the bottom diamonds are 0.40 carat each ($9,995), all from Idar Jewellers.

The road to Ageless Living


Forbes combines science, cutting-edge technology and evidence-based medicine in integrated medical practice

business class
A“It’s more about not just slowing aging per se, but what’s in it for them to feel better and to reduce what’s important to them with their risk.”

s a practising pharmacist in Victoria, Michael Forbes worked with clients across the age and general wellness spectrum. For the most part, his early work was conducted within the confines of the traditional health care system, aimed more commonly at treating symptoms rather than providing preventative health solutions.

Always curious about science and innovation, he quickly realized there were more effective and personalized ways of helping people, even as their bodies were aging or, in some cases, being attacked by disease.

“I try to find enhanced ways to help more patients feel better— that’s where my curiosity has led me,” he says during one of his “rejuvenating” walks through Stanley Park in Vancouver, near where he spends much of his time these days.

As a young pharmacist in the mid-2000s he began compounding medications—combining multiple drugs—as a way to provide a more tailored treatment for his clients. In the years since, his research into the field of longevity medicine and the use

of plant-based medicines has fuelled his company’s health services expansion into the Lower Mainland, the Okanagan and Alberta.

While the Forbes Pharmacy brand is familiar and trusted around Greater Victoria, Michael gradually shifted his daily focus from being in the pharmacy to overseeing his wide range of business enterprises.

His passion for helping people feel better longer and get more out of life, however, continues to be a primary driver in his entrepreneurial pursuits.

Michael’s investigations over the years have included conversations with leading specialists in internal medicine, complex care, aesthetics and other areas, and ultimately led him to develop his own concept of being one’s best at any age. The idea was to create an integrated medical practice that focuses on age management, using cuttingedge, evidence-based medicine and technology. The philosophy is central to the Ageless Living wellness centres he’s opened in Victoria, Langley and Kelowna.

The emerging science of longevity medicine, a practice being

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increasingly embraced by general practitioners and specialists— and invested in heavily by some of the world’s best-known tech billionaires—developed out of a realization that aging is the greatest risk factor for most acute and chronic diseases. It looks for ways to interrupt that typical pattern.

The people who come to his Ageless Living clinics aren’t necessarily looking to slow the aging process, Michael says, but are motivated to feel better or address some problem that is preventing them from living a healthy, enjoyable life.

“Usually, there’s something there, whether it’s lack of libido or hot flashes or insomnia or just feeling low energy. Say they had a genetic test done and they’re worried about their risk of cancer,” he says. “It’s more about not just slowing aging per se, but what’s in it for them to feel better and to reduce what’s important to them with their risk. It’s very personalized medicine; everybody is different.”

One example of the services the clinic offers, hormone testing aims to source out imbalances that can lead to everything from wrinkles, weight gain or low libido to mood swings, stress and fatigue.

Women enduring menopause have tried hormone replacement therapy (HRT), but Michael says the increased risk of cancer found with that treatment led researchers to find better ways of correcting patients’ hormone imbalances. Today the testing provides a road map for the creation of bio-identical hormone restoration and optimization options.

As Michael learned more about the ways technology can enhance personal health care, he took a leap into services such as “biohacking.” All three Ageless Living clinics feature a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, infrared sauna and pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF), treatments that aim to optimize the body’s internal healing properties.

Michael admittedly doesn’t dip his toe in the water of new opportunities he finds exciting or innovative—he goes in deep. Such

is the case with his involvement and investment in the cannabis industry, which ranges from producers to retailers. He was an early adopter even before the sale and use of cannabis became fully legal in Canada; for example, he studied how plant-based treatments could help people address everything from chronic pain to anxiety and insomnia.

“Cannabis was controversial at the time, but when you’re on the edge of new therapies, it can be scary for those who aren’t used to change,” he says, noting some people cautioned him against going all in.

Michael saw a major movement in the pharmaceutical industry toward manufacturing drugs that tried to mimic what nature was already providing. The way he sees it, the human brain and central nervous system have evolved to the point where plant-based treatments are the “perfect fit.”

“There’s a huge benefit, in some cases, for plant medicine over pharmaceuticals,” he says. “So, as a curious person, I really loved the science around that and that’s what got me intrigued by the potential of cannabis to help more people.”

When it comes to his investments in longevity medicine and cannabis, Michael considers himself a “curious and flexible explorer,” willing to take risks when the science backs it up.

“You’ve gotta be okay to wait and be patient. I always look at it like ‘How long can you stay in the swamp before rising out of it like a phoenix?’ You’ve got to get comfortable in the swamp, because it can be a long time.”

He’s excited about the intersection of technology and health 165 Craig Street, Duncan, BC
250-743-5500 | 2720 Mill Bay Road, Mill Bay Experience shopping at Mill Bay MILL BAY SHOPPING CENTRE
The world of wellness
Everything from virtual reality fitness workouts to cold plunging and superfoods are on trend for 2024
48 | SPRING 2024


High-tech fitness: science fiction meets mixed reality

Imagine practicing yoga in the Himalayas or kickboxing on Mars—all from the comfort of your living room. Wearable technology advancements will play a crucial role in fitness regimes in 2024.

Touted as “the anywhere workout,” Supernatural—a subscription-based virtual reality (VR) fitness app by Within—pairs with the Meta Quest 2 VR headset for immersive workouts. With the help of a virtual trainer, you can challenge yourself with high-intensity exercise, or meditate in your own world of calm.


Apple’s Vision Pro, a mixed-reality headset launching in the US in February (and coming to Canada later in 2024), enables the wearer to watch movies, capture videos and multitask. Fitness apps are in the works, including a yoga app that uses the device’s cameras to measure breathing.

Apple has already launched Fitness+ with Strength, Core and Yoga for Golfers, featuring and designed by pro golfer phenom Rose Zhang, and led by Canadian fitness and core trainer Kyle Ardill. Available by subscription on Apple Watch, iPhone and Apple TV.


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Whatever your choice of self-care and wellness trends this year, longevity and aging gracefully are the ultimate goals.

Backyard saunas: a barrel of fun

While most of us are familiar with indoor saunas, a company based in Squamish is bringing barrel saunas to backyards across North America.

“It’s such a unique shape that doesn’t compete with a home’s architecture or their property, whether it’s in their backyard, chalet or cottage,” says co-founder and engineer Kris Harris of Nootka Saunas. “Whether it’s for a quiet, healthy meditation part of your day or a social component with friends after dinner, backyard saunas have become increasingly popular.”

Kris grew up in Ottawa with its bracing cold winters and often enjoyed a sauna, followed by cold plunging through a hole cut in lake ice at a friend’s cottage. But it was when he travelled to Finland, Sweden and Norway in 2016 that he decided to bring the wellness sauna culture to North America.

“Traditionally, saunas have been wood-burning, but we also offer electric, and the convenience of just pushing a button, and then 10 to 15 minutes later it’s at 90 degrees Celsius,” he explains. “Whereas wood-burning takes a bit longer to get it stoked, they are both very safe (CSA approved) and the heat of an electric sauna is very comparable to a wood-burning one.”

With its western red cedar wood (which smells wonderful) milled locally, the cylindrical, barrel-shaped sauna comes in eightfoot and 10-foot sizes, makes for excellent air flow and is easily installed on any level surface, including gravel, crushed stone, wood decking or flagstone.


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Cold plunging: double-dipping


Cold plunging is one of the biggest wellness trends for 2024. If you’re a fan of the reality TV show Shark Tank, you might have watched Canadian IT entrepreneur Robert Herjavec submerging in a tub of icy cold water designed by California company PLUNGE. He did not go in quietly but ended up investing $2.4 million in the start-up.

Professional athletes are no strangers to cold-water therapy and ice baths, which are said to reduce muscle swelling, pain and stress by constricting the blood vessels. Popularity has now exploded among fitness enthusiasts in general.

Cold-plunge tubs are made of acrylic and fibreglass and come in different shapes and sizes. Temperature controlled water can cool down to a chilly 2 degrees Celsius and the tub can be installed indoors or outdoors. PLUNGE tubs have a powerful cooling, sanitation and filtration system with continuous water circulation and easy set-up that plugs into an electrical socket.

PLUNGE has partnered with the Wellness Shop for distribution in Canada.


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What if great looking

Seaflora: clean beauty from sea to skin

Seaweed continues to trend this year and not just as a superfood: it is also valued for its hydrating, anti-aging properties. Vancouver Island’s thalassic skincare company Seaflora has been hailed as offering the world’s first USDA-Certified organic skincare line.

Founded in 1998 by Sooke-based Diane Bernard, the company is overseen by her son, director Adam Butcher and his wife, Chantelle Line, who is the marketing manager.

“Seaweed comprises 80 per cent of all our products, including our new natural Sun Shield facial moisturizers,” says Chantelle. “Clean beauty is thriving and not just by paying attention to what’s inside the bottle. By 2025, the luxury hotel group Relais & Chateaux is going eco and doing away with all plastics in their hotel-room amenities worldwide.”

In anticipation of sustainable-packaging needs, Seaflora has created a new shower and bath amenity dispenser, already popular at Black Rock Oceanfront Resort and Drift Spa in Ucluelet.

“It dispenses Seaflora products in a single model for hand soap, double for shampoo and conditioner or triple including body wash. All affix to the wall. They are available in a variety of colours but all ‘green,’” laughs Chantelle.


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2024’s trending superfoods: buckwheat, cacao jelly, mushroom-infused coffee

What do haskap berries, lion’s mane and cacao pulp have in common? They are part of an even bigger swing by consumers toward plant-based foods, flavours and drinks.

Each year, Whole Foods’ Trends Council—a team of over 50 culinary experts, foragers and buyers—forecasts new and healthy food trends to entice the health-conscious consumer. Here’s what they predict:

• Buckwheat, naturally gluten-free and high in protein, will be everywhere, from crackers to milk-based alternatives.

• Cacao—yes, it’s the fruit of your favourite chocolate bar, but did you know there is a diverse use for cacao? North America is discovering this previously discarded pulp, which is now being made into jams and jellies.

• Also be on the lookout for haskap berries in 2024. Already heralded in Japan as “the elixir of life,” the dark purple, elongated fruit, which tastes similar to blueberries, has four times the antioxidants.

• Lion’s mane mushroom has been studied for its cognitive benefits including improved memory and boosting non-jittery energy. Made into a powder, it gives coffee a nutty, earthy flavour.

California wellness brand Clevr’s blended mushroom coffee and tea starter kit includes two different mushroom lattes and is on “Oprah’s Favourite Things” for 2024.

Whatever your choice of self-care and wellness trends this year, longevity and aging gracefully are the ultimate goals.

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The discipline of self-care

Meal-plan and meal-prep recipes for a healthier, happier you


Eating well. To me, this means eating delicious and healthy foods, and regularly feeling nourished and satisfied. Achieving this is possible, but it often means doing the tasks we least want to do, rather than letting ourselves off the hook.

A late-night session with a tub of ice cream is sometimes exactly what we need, but more often than not, what we actually need is the “discipline of self-care.” This means that the default is not to treat ourselves but to take care of ourselves, making true self-care a priority with a focus on long-term goals over short-term gratification.

A late-night session with a tub of ice cream is sometimes exactly what we need, but more often than not, what we actually need is the “discipline of self-care.” This means that the default is not to treat ourselves but to take care of ourselves, making true self-care a priority with a focus on long-term goals over short-term gratification.

In terms of food, this means following a balanced self-care plan involving more discipline than indulgence. We must build structures, habits and plans that will improve the overall quality of our lives and help us to prioritize our desire to eat well and feel healthy.

Below are some ideas and some delicious recipes that will make it easier to eat well, every day—or do so as best we can.

When it comes to healthy eating, and eating well, I use several different strategies, with flexible applications: stocking the pantry; meal planning; meal prepping; and, making nutritious foods more appealing and delicious.

Stocking the pantry generally is the easiest of the four. But making adequate use of our well-stocked pantry is where the discipline of self-care comes in. This is why meal-planning and meal-prepping strategies are the pillars of my eating style.

These are two arms of a similar concept. Planning “what’s for dinner” ahead of time is a game changer! You know what’s for dinner and you have made sure the ingredients are on hand. No need to make a decision when you are tired after work. Meal prepping takes this to the next level: you spent time and energy on the weekend prepping and pre-cooking parts of those planned meals to make weekday life even smoother and easier.

It’s important to start with what is most achievable. Meal prepping is more difficult than meal planning and you may decide that it is not the best use of your time off. Or you may come to meal prep gradually, after months of incorporating meal planning and pantry stocking into your weekly life. Start small; don’t overreach. Include take-out and meal prep kits in the plan, if that is what works best for you. Whatever it takes to feel good about what you are eating.

I use a mix of meal planning and meal prepping for my busy

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life. I always meal plan, and specifically plan for leftovers, but I don’t always set aside time on a Sunday for actual meal prep. Given our busy schedules, I know to plan for, and shop for, no more than three family dinners per week. And we make sure to cook extra on each of those dinners so that there are always leftovers ready for lunches or dinners on the go.

If I’m making salad for dinner, I double the salad dressing and use half of it to marinate canned beans or lentils for some mealprep salads. I plan for Monday night’s spiced chicken to be made in a two-kilogram batch, so that I am closer to having healthy lunches or dinners the rest of the week with these delicious “plan-overs.”

This rolls both meal planning and meal prepping into one adaptable workflow. If I have the time to meal prep on Sundays, excellent. If not, I have already incorporated meal prep into my life with big-batch cooking.

Making healthy foods more appealing is icing on the cake. My flavourful and fresh recipes below can be a springboard of inspiration. I love having a meal plan in place and having healthy yummy food ready-to-eat in the fridge. Hopefully, with these ideas and recipes, you can too.

Meal-Prep Marinated Bean Salad with Vegetables

Makes 3 pre-prepped lunches.

This salad is delicious, quick to make, and perfect as a lunch-to-go. The higher acid content of this dressing helps the starchy beans to shine.


1 can bean medley (mixed beans), approx. 400 ml to 500 ml

1 clove garlic, pressed through a garlic press, or minced very fine 5 ml (1 tsp) salt

45 ml (3 tbsp) white wine vinegar or cider vinegar

45 ml (3 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil

2.5 ml (½ tsp) freshly ground black pepper

2.5 ml (½ tsp) granulated sugar

2.5 ml (½ tsp) dried oregano leaves, crushed in your fingers


Three 500-ml wide-mouth mason jars, or containers of similar size ¼ red onion, thinly sliced or minced

90 ml (6 tbsp) crumbled feta cheese

750 ml (3 cups) chopped raw vegetables (cherry tomato, cucumber, radish, bell pepper)

375 ml (½ cup) shredded spinach leaves or lettuce leaves

Optional 90 ml (6 tbsp) minced fresh parsley

Marinated Beans: Open the can of beans and pour into a sieve over the sink. Rinse and drain well and place into a mixing bowl. Add the garlic, salt, oil, vinegar, pepper, sugar and oregano. Mix well. Let sit, stirring occasionally.

Salad prep: Divide the marinated beans between three mason jars, along with all of the marinade. Try to get an even amount of marinade into each jar. Top each set of beans with an equal amount of sliced or minced red onion. Top each with 2 tbsp of crumbled feta. Then add 1 cup of chopped mixed vegetables to each jar. Finally, top each with about half a cup of shredded spinach or lettuce. Close the mason jars and place in the fridge.

These last for about four days in the fridge. When you are ready to eat, take out a jar and dump into a bowl, making sure to get every last bit of marinade. Mix well and enjoy!

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Big-Batch Braised Leafy Greens with Garlic

Serves 8 as a side, or can be used in other recipes (see below)

An excellent way to get your family members to eat (and enjoy) their greens! My kids love these tender, garlic-infused leafy greens. Leftovers are tasty when tossed with pasta, or stirred into cooked beans or an omelet, or used in a sandwich.


900 g (2 lbs) mixed fresh leafy greens (kale, chard, gai lan, collards, beet tops, broccoli, rapini, bok choy, braising mix, or any other green that you find)

60 ml (4 tbsp) butter, olive oil or other cooking oil of choice 12 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped 2.5 ml (½ tsp) dried chili flakes, more to taste

4 ml (¾ tsp) salt, or to taste

45 ml (3 tbsp) water

Wash greens well in a sink full of cool water and place in a colander to drain. Use your fingers or a sharp knife to separate the soft leaves from the stems. Discard the stems of the kale or beet tops, but the other stems can be cooked. Slice the usable stems into ½-inch slices and cut or tear the leaves into large pieces (about 1- to 2-inch squares). Broccoli stems need to be peeled before slicing. Keep the stems and leaves separate.

Place the butter or oil, garlic and chili flakes together in a large skillet or sauté pan. Place on a burner and heat over medium heat. Stir continuously as the garlic cooks, sautéing until the garlic is very pale golden and sticking together in small clumps (or sticking to the spoon). This will take about one minute. Turn the heat down, if you need to, to prevent the garlic from burning.

When the garlic is done, immediately add the water and the stems from the greens, stirring to coat with the garlic mixture. Sauté for one minute, then add the leaves from the greens. You may need to add these in batches. Sprinkle in the salt, turn down the heat, cover the pot and let the greens cook 3 to 7 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until the greens are tender and infused with garlic. If necessary, add another tablespoon of water to the pan while the greens are cooking to prevent burning—but the greens should be fresh enough to cook in their own juices. Cooking time will vary depending on the type of green vegetable you chose.

Serve the greens immediately as a side dish or allow to cool before storing for use in soups or pastas.

Quick Pasta with Garlic Greens

Serves 4

A quick and simple recipe that turns an abundance of greens into a lip-smacking meal.

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250 g (½ lb) dry pasta shapes, such as penne or rotini (gluten-free pasta if needed)

Half batch of garlic greens (see separate recipe)

2 to 3 ripe tomatoes, chopped

1 ml (¼ tsp) salt

125 ml to 250 ml (½ cup to 1 cup) crumbled feta cheese or other cheese of choice

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Optional one can solid white tuna, drained and broken into pieces

Optional 60 ml (¼ cup) minced fresh parsley 15 ml (1 tbsp) olive oil, for finishing

Bring 2 to 3 litres of water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and the pasta. Stir frequently in the first few min utes to keep pasta pieces separate. Cook 8 to 10 minutes, until done to your liking.

Meanwhile, heat the half batch of garlic greens in a large sauce pan along with the tomatoes and salt. Heat this gently over medium heat or medium-low heat. Greens should become warm and fra grant; tomatoes should just start breaking down.

When pasta is cooked, drain, reserving one cup of the cooking water. Add drained pasta to the pan with the greens and tomatoes. Add the parsley, if using, and a few tablespoons of the reserved pasta water. Stir to combine, then simmer together to meld flavours, about 1 minute. Add more pasta water if the dish seems too dry. Stir in the cheese to heat through, drizzle with the olive oil and serve.

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Big-Batch Indian-Spiced Grilled Chicken

Serves 8 to 10

This tender, flavourful chicken works as a main dish protein, as well as for use in other planned meals. My favourite ways to use this spiced chicken as “plan-overs” are in a gingery salad and in a wrap.


125 ml (½ cup) vegetable oil

82 ml (1⁄3 cup) lemon juice

7.5 ml (1½ tsp) salt

5 ml (1 tsp) sugar

2 cloves garlic, grated or finely minced

10 ml (2 tsp) grated or minced fresh ginger

15 ml (1 tbsp) garam masala

15 ml (1 tbsp) ground turmeric

10 ml (2 tsp) paprika

10 ml (2 tsp) ground cumin

2.5 to 10 ml (½ tsp to 2 tsp) cayenne (depending on your desired spice level)


1,300 g (3 lb) boneless skinless chicken breasts

Marinade: Combine marinade ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. (If desired, scoop two tablespoons of this marinade into a mason jar for marinating chickpeas for a salad later in the week.)

Prepare chicken: If the chicken tender is present, remove this and place in the bowl with the marinade. With the remaining breast, slice the thick part of the breast in half (like a bagel) to make thinner cutlets. Cut the large piece in two. You will end up with three pieces of chicken breast that are approximately the same size and thickness. Place these in the bowl with the marinade. Proceed with the remaining chicken. The thinner cutlets will absorb the marinade more quickly, cook more quickly and spread out over more meals.

Mix the chicken well so it is evenly coated with marinade. Marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Don’t marinate for any longer because the high acid content can affect the texture of the chicken.

When ready to cook, drain chicken well and discard the marinade. You can bake this chicken in an air fryer set to 400 F, or grill it on a preheated grill for 3 to 4 minutes per side. Internal temperature of the chicken should register 165 F (74 C) on an instant reading thermometer when properly cooked.

Serve the first night with rice and veggies. Use leftovers as desired (salads, sandwiches, wraps, soups). Use the following recipes as a guide.

Indian-Spiced Chicken Wrap

Serves 4

For a quick dinner or lunch-to-go, this recipe makes use of both the grilled chicken and the ginger dressing from the two previous recipes, for a great meal planning option.

Four 10- to 12-inch flour tortillas

Leftover Indian-spiced grilled chicken, chopped

1 to 1.5 litres (4 to 6 cups) assorted chopped or shredded vegetables (carrots, bell pepper, cabbage, spinach, cucumber)

60 to 90 ml (4 to 6 tbsp) ginger-yogurt dressing (previous recipe)

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Thinly sliced jalapenos, if desired, OR pickled jalapenos

Chopped cilantro leaves, if desired Salt, if desired

Heat the tortillas in a dry frying pan until pliable. Place 1 to 1.5 cups of shredded vegetables down the centre of each tortilla. Sprinkle with salt, if desired. Drizzle with ginger-yogurt dressing. Add chopped spiced chicken, sliced or pickled jalapenos (if desired) and chopped cilantro (if desired).

Roll tortillas tightly. Slice in half before eating.

Spiced-Chicken Salad with Ginger-Yogurt Dressing

Serves 4

This zesty creamy dressing can be used as a marinade for the chickpeas, as a salad dressing or as a sauce in a wrap. This salad can also be prepped in four mason jars, with the chickpeas, chicken and dressing on the bottom, and the veggies on top, for a planned lunch-to-go.


250 ml (1 cup) plain yogurt

125 ml (½ cup) freshly squeezed lemon juice

30 ml (2 tbsp) finely grated or minced ginger

60 ml (¼ cup) vegetable oil

7.5 ml (1½ tsp) salt

10 ml (2 tsp) sugar or honey

10 ml (2 tsp) finely minced jalapeno or ¼ tsp cayenne


One 400- to 500-ml can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

30 ml (2 tbsp) reserved marinade (see chicken recipe above)

4 to 8 pieces of leftover Indian-spiced grilled chicken

2 litres (8 cups) spinach leaves or mixed lettuce leaves

1 litre (4 cups) chopped raw vegetables (good options include grated carrot, shredded cabbage, chopped cucumber, sliced tomato, sliced green onion, sliced bell pepper) Optional 60 ml (¼ cup) sultana raisins or dried cranberries Cilantro leaves for garnish, if desired

Dressing: Combine all ingredients and whisk until smooth. Taste to adjust seasonings. Some yogurts are tarter than others, so you may need to adjust the acidity or sweetness with more lemon juice or sugar.

Chickpeas: If possible, the day before, rinse and drain the chickpeas and place in a mason jar with the reserved marinade (the 2 tablespoons you reserved BEFORE adding the chicken, see chicken recipe above). Close the lid and shake well. Place in the fridge and shake several times over the day until you are ready to use it. When close to serving time, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of the ginger-yogurt dressing to the chickpeas and shake well again.

Salad: Using 4 large soup bowls, divide the spinach or lettuce between the bowls. Divide the marinated chickpeas between the four bowls. Divide the prepped vegetables between the four bowls. Drizzle each bowl with some of the dressing. Slice up the chicken and divide it among the bowls. Scatter the raisins or dried cranberries over the top of each, if desired. Drizzle on some more of the dressing. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

Alternatively, layer this salad into 4 mason jars, with the chickpeas, chicken and dressing on the bottom, and the veggies on top, for planned lunches-to-go.

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In the heart of Duncan, the Downtown Duncan Business Improvement Area (DDBIA) is spearheading a ground-breaking environmental initiative this Earth Day, with a strong focus on combating textile waste. The DDBIA is dedicated to fostering awareness and instilling a sense of responsibility within the community, with their commitment to sustainable living practices taking center stage.

Mark your calendars for April 20th, as Charles Hoey Memorial Park becomes the vibrant backdrop for the Earth Day celebration from 11 am to 3 pm. This event serves as a testament to Downtown Duncan’s dedication to promoting a green and sustainable lifestyle.

At the heart of the festivities is the Clothing Swap Tent, a haven for fashion enthusiasts and eco-conscious individuals alike. This innovative hub encourages participants to bring up to three items for exchange, fostering community engagement while promoting the reuse principal. The focus remains on easily exchangeable clothing items, refreshing wardrobes sustainably and significantly contributing to the reduction of textile waste.

Textile Waste: A Looming Crisis

The fashion industry currently ranks as one of the leading contributors to carbon emissions, producing 8–10% of global CO2 emissions annually. Shockingly, it surpasses the combined carbon footprint of all international flights and maritime shipping. Additionally, globally, the fashion industry stands as the second most polluting sector after oil and gas. These staggering statistics underscore the urgent need for initiatives like the DDBIA’s Earth Day celebration to address the pressing issue of textile waste.

As part of the event, the Buskers Station will feature talented local performers. The diverse range of entertainment, from musicians to street performers, contributes to a lively vibe that resonates with attendees of all ages.

The Sustainability Showcase Stage aims to inspire and educate highlighting innovative ideas and sustainable initiatives. Attendees can witness demonstrations of eco-friendly products and services, ranging from renewable energy solutions to sustainable home goods.

Complementing the showcase is the Eco-Fair, hosting vendors committed to sustainable living with a strong focus on all the shops that trade in used and reclaimed clothing. Visitors can explore booths filled with environmentally conscious products, from handmade crafts to locally sourced organic goods. Engaging with passionate entrepreneurs provides an opportunity to learn about products that contribute to a more sustainable and ethical way of life.

Join the Movement for a Greener Future

Amidst escalating climate challenges, the Downtown Duncan Earth Day event is a call to action for conscious consumption. It promotes eco-friendly alternatives, waste reduction, and minimizing ecological footprints. By making informed and sustainable choices in daily lives, individuals contribute to preserving biodiversity, reducing pollution, and enhancing the overall well-being of the planet. Together, let’s create a healthier world for generations to come, one pair of jeans at a time.

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


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

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For exquisite & unique cards & gifts, visit Little Bird gift shop & art gallery in beautiful downtown Duncan.

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Open Mon - Sat 10 - 5 250-748-6861


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 250-746-3631

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64 | SPRING 2024 travel

Style Advanced

A heavenly retreat

Past, present and brocantage at Corte della Maestà

TOccupy the spotlight with eclectic, bold fashion and jewelry, layers of patterns and textures, pieces that tell a tale. A story of one who refuses to play by the rules as they grow older, of one who dresses for their own delight, who revels in high style and beauty and is committed a life lived creatively. This year unleash your own inner “chic-granny”, mix new with vintage, work in the hand-medown broach from that favourite, stylish aunt and challenge the norm while surrounding yourself with the pieces that tell the story of your life.

he bridge looks daunting, but chalk it up as part of the adventure. Iron Man and Iron Woman we are not, so the spectacular views of Italy’s Calanchi Valley serve to distract us as we trudge along the modern and very busy 300-metre pedestrian-only bridge ascending almost vertically into the teetering medieval mountain town of Civita di Bagnoregio, about 90 minutes from Rome. A little truck ferries luggage up and down the bridge, much to our relief. From afar, our first impression is “this must be a film set; surely this can’t be real.” We have time-traveled back to an Etruscan village, built 2,500 years ago and sculpted on volcanic rock perched atop the mountain.

ModelsJen Clark and Pamela Madoff

Makeup by Jen Clark

Photographed on location at the beautiful, heritage designated home and garden of Pamela Madoff. A huge thank you to Pamela for graciously hosting our team for the day.

65 | SPRING 2024
Our first impression is “this must be a film set; surely this can’t be real.”

An earthquake devastated the hamlet in 1695, and today, although only 11 people live in the village full time, it’s attracted adventurous tourists beguiled by the bridge and the elegant Corte della Maestà hotel. Entering through the ancient stone archway, every step is history. Narrow cobblestone passageways and walls festooned with climbing roses meander off the main piazza, a dizzying maze to the uninitiated. Having just come from the teeming crowds in Rome, we crave “dolce far niente”—slowing down to enjoy the beauty and the sweetness of doing nothing.

Our charming host and hotel manager, Cristiana Melis, is waiting and she leads us through a hidden leafy wooden door that opens into Corte della Maestà (translated to “court of majesty”).

If the literary classic The Secret Garden enchanted you as a child, Corte della Maestà’s walled enclave with its towering arbours and olive trees, potted blue hydrangeas and hidden statuary will captivate all your senses as an adult.

“I discovered Civita almost 30 years ago visiting a patient of mine,” explains owner Paolo Crepet, a well-known Italian psychiatrist, author and TV personality. “It’s constructed like a dream but it’s not a hermitage, it’s an emotional experience,”

Paolo and wife Cristiana have spent decades renovating the chic antique-filled property, once a 14th-century bishop’s palace, now transformed into a boutique hotel. The two met years ago when she was an arts publicist for an exhibition of Federico Fellini’s illustrations for many of his legendary films. In fact, one of the hotel’s first guests was film director Giuseppe Tornatore, who won an Oscar for the heartfelt masterpiece Cinema Paradiso and is a long-time friend of Paolo.

Their mutual love of the arts and scouring antique and flea markets, Paolo’s passion for auctions and Cristiana’s intrinsic ability to make everything at once both homey and exquisite (she should have been an interior designer) make our stay the highlight of our 25th wedding anniversary trip to Italy.

All four-bedroom suites are stunning. Resembling old master still-life paintings, each harbours its own treasures and fascinating back-stories that Cristiana has conceptualized with antiques mixed with contemporary furnishings.

It’s no coincidence that we are staying in La Scrittrice (The Writer Suite) with its own private entrance off the garden. The cabbage-rose-patterned wallpaper in the sitting room mimics the rose-clustered pergola outside and is a reproduction plucked from Virginia Woolf’s London home, as is the antique writing desk. An original 16th-century fresco has been left untouched on the wall of the cosy bedroom and a wrought iron headboard towers over strewn plump pillows. The bed is topped with a chartreuse mohair blanket for chilly nights (there is a different colour in each suite), which Cristiana imported from New Zealand. Her penchant for antique portrait paintings, mostly of women, helps decorate the walls.

66 | SPRING 2024

The Abbess Suite, which opens onto a little balcony, takes its name from the ornate wrought iron four-poster bedframe that once belonged to the abbess of a monastery. It’s a tribute to the book The Abbess of Castro by Renaissance writer Stendhal. An early 19th-century French oak fireplace and iron bathtub complement the suite’s interior.

A vision in gold, with an ornate headboard acquired from a 19th-century theatrical production, The Sleepwalker Suite is an homage to the theatre and to Italy’s grand tradition of opera, while The Intruder Suite looks out through windows over the valley and the house of the late Argentine poet and writer Rodolfo Wilcock, a great friend of famed Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges.

Unusual wall sconces, beaded lamps and gilded mirrors cast and reflect shadows on the ancient stone walls of each suite.

Entering the hotel’s la cucina (kitchen), it’s hard to know where tp rest your eyes first as it overlooks an immense garden planted with fig, persimmon and lemon trees. A crystal chandelier from Brussels, circa 1930s, dominates the vaulted stone ceiling, antique copper dessert molds adorn blue Italian tiled walls, and beautiful serving pieces from France are everywhere. They all reflect Cristiana’s obsession for brocantage, the art of collecting vintage items.

“It’s been a passion of mine since I was a girl,” she confides. “It was so much fun visiting second-hand dealers and flea markets in France and Italy looking for unusual objects and treasures.”

And the breakfast! The la cucina, under the supervision of the couple’s playful black and blonde Labrador sisters, Ortensia and Olivia, is the rustic centre of activity in the mornings. There are jams and jellies made from the garden’s abundance, heavenly cappuccinos, the freshest eggs and prosciutto, cheeses, cream puffs and tarts (hmm, maybe walking up and down the bridge is a good idea), all presented on decorative china and vintage glassware. Hazelnuts

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on the table, we learn, are grown in the nearby valley for Ferrero Rocher, makers of those luscious gold-foil covered chocolates and Nutella.

One morning Cristiana surprises us by setting up breakfast on a pink, hand-printed Lisa Corti tablecloth, on a table under a wrought iron gazebo in the courtyard.

“How in the world did they get the gazebo up the mountain?” I ask, dumbfounded, learning that it had to be brought up the bridge in sections and reassembled piece by piece.

Elsewhere in the hotel is the cavernous stone Wolf’s Lair, a cosy hideaway with an enormous fireplace. Once the ancient cistern, now converted into a home theatre, it’s filled with books, games, a Forneris piano and, of course, a large film screen. Imagine watching Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, glass of wine in hand.

Venturing out of Corte della Maestà for dinner we are delighted at the number of restaurants off the main piazza. They receive fresh produce supplies almost daily via moped deliveries. Not only do Osteria Al Forno di Agnese and Alma Civita serve delicious specialties but, to our surprise, we meet several fellow Canadians dining there.

Corte della Maestà is truly the bridge between past and present—a heavenly retreat from our daily lives.


Corte della Maestà is located in the mountain village of Civita di Bagnoregio. The train stops at nearby Orvieto. From Rome, it’s about 90 minutes. If you drive, there is parking at the beginning of the bridge or Cristiana Melis can arrange for a driver to pick you up at Orvieto Station.

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NOW OPEN AT 1319 GOVERNMENT ST. @gabrielrossshop 250-384-2554 Canada’s trusted source for mid-century & contemporary furniture, lighting, and home accessories for over 30 years. Visit us at our new showroom located in the heart of downtown Victoria. TIMELESS STYLE UNDER ONE (NEW) ROOF 1319 Government St. Victoria, BC | Hours: Mon - Sat: 10AM-6PM

secrets and lives — AND THE 7 SINS with ROSS TAYLOR

With his name on the sign, Ross Taylor is perhaps best known for owning Gabriel Ross, Victoria’s go-to purveyor of modern and luxurious furniture, lighting, decor and accessories. He’s spent more than three decades as an influential player in Victoria’s design community.

Born in Ottawa, Ross moved out to Victoria with his family when he was 13 and quickly became a heartfelt islander.

He was a year out of high school—“At that age, I was just straight up floundering,” he laughs—when a new local trade school offered him a spot in their fine upholstery program.

Although he hadn’t had any particular passion for the craft up to that point, Ross quickly took to the program.

“I got on really well with the instructor and I did really take to

the technical aspect of pattern-making and sewing,” he says.

Ross did so well that the school ended up hiring him on as a teacher’s assistant, where he worked for several years until Camosun College took over the program.

“They chose to start fresh and so all the equipment came up for sale,” he says. “At that point I was 21 years old, and I went to the bank and my mother co-signed a $10,000 loan for me.”

He came away with all manner of sewing machines, compressors, racks and other equipment.

“Then I opened a shop and I was thrown into business.”

Ross spent about 10 years developing his skills, crafting furniture and experimenting with design. Then, in the mid-’90s, he joined forces with another Victoria-based furniture maker and designer, whose middle name was Gabriel. The pair found a space on Bay Street with a great showroom and officially opened Gabriel Ross.

70 | SPRING 2024

Ross Taylor in his 1962 Ford Falcon Ranchero.

The 7 Sins


Whose shoes would you like to walk in?

Gabor Maté for his ability to see the beauty in broken people and for his desire to explore healing. My partner Lisa calls him her “other boyfriend” so it would be a win-win.


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

Brasserie L’Ecole’s French onion soup! So many years were lost not realizing it was on their menu.


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

A huge workshop, shop equipment and tools to do all the things, and the time to learn to use them all. Even better if they arrive with talented people to teach me how to use them all.

WRATH: Pet peeves?

It’s always been people who don’t live up to their potential. Although I’m learning that I need to replace “don’t” with “can’t.”


Where would you spend a long time doing nothing?

Quadra Island.


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

The relationships that I’ve made through my work and play—the people I work with and all of the people I’ve met in business, doing what they love and doing really cool things.

LUST: What makes your heart beat faster?

A perfectly executed classic car interior. And a Louis Poulsen PH 5 suspension lamp.

Within about six months, the partnership ended, explains Ross, but the name stuck, and the company began to innovate in the design and furniture industry.

Gabriel Ross went on to partner with Herman Miller, which opened the doors to a stream of other iconic brands, and soon grew large enough that the manufacturing side split off into an independent company. Ross developed Fawcett Mattress with Duane Franklin around 2010, offering natural, highly sustainable, Victoria-crafted mattresses. In 2014 he partnered with former Gabriel Ross employee Chris Rothery to form Chester Fields, a destination for those who wanted to invest in elegant, design-forward pieces at a more accessible price.

With Fawcett Mattress and Chester Fields both expanding into Nanaimo over the past year, one could be forgiven for thinking Ross might have enough on his plate, but he recently came across an opportunity he couldn’t refuse.

“I’ve been a car guy most of my life. I’ve built a few and I really love the upholstery side,” he says. “A few years ago I was thinking I’d semi-retire, maybe buy a few acres and set up a big upholstery shop.”

And then the Glanford Auto Service Station came available to buy, and Ross went the next day with a group to purchase it. Now renamed G.A.S. Classics, the classic car and hot rod shop employs five full-time journeyman mechanics and has been welcomed into the car community in Victoria.

“Just the other day I was in there sewing, and I just feel so good about this. It’s been a few years in the making. We’re having fun and we have a great group of people,” Ross says, and adds with a laugh, “but I’m failing horribly at semi-retirement.”

71 | SPRING 2024



We awoke that day with no plan, no direction.

It was November 2022, and we had travelled a painful journey to arrive at this destination. Grief, we had learned over the past 12 months, is unpredictable. It lives with you, carried inside your chest, crushing your heart. It stabs you in the dark. And the path you walk with grief hits detours and setbacks.

So, the four of us arrived at this place uncertain of how the day would unfold. Derrick—my ex-husband, the father of my adult daughters, Danica and Sierra, and Sandra’s partner for the past two decades—died on this day a year earlier, one month after a cancer diagnosis. On that morning, less than 24 hours before his 65th birthday, he took his last breath as Sandra held him and Sierra sang the lyrics from her song “Forest Floor.” It was his favourite.

Let me down easy, baby / Lay me down on the forest floor

Derrick’s and my path had parted 20 years earlier, and I was happily remarried. But we were friends, and he was the keeper of many of our memories. And so I met grief. But however sad it was for me, watching my daughters traverse this terrible new world made it doubly heartbreaking. There is no road map for grief, and at times both girls seemed lost. It struck me that making sense of death is an ironic part of life. The death of someone you love is an unendurable tragedy, yet it is something that most of us will experience. Grief is universal, but that doesn’t make it any easier to navigate.

We saw eagles everywhere after Derrick’s death. I locked eyes with one on a roadside post. Another circled above Derrick and Sandra’s lake-front home. My husband Bruce and I stepped from a forest trail onto a beach and suddenly found ourselves amid a soaring, flapping, diving aerie of eagles. Derrick always said he wanted to come back as an eagle.

And there were other birds too—the osprey that whistled through the air above us during Danica’s wedding at the lake front. And the tiny bird that alighted on a wall behind Sierra’s shoulder as she and her partner sang “Forest Floor” at an outdoor music festival in Switzerland. The bird stayed for the entire song, they were told, and seemed to be singing along.

I loved the thought of Derrick’s spirit dipping and diving, singing and catching the thermals. I envisioned him freed from the demons that sometimes ensnared him in life and filled instead with light and levity.

So, now, one year later, Sandra, Danica and I landed in Amsterdam to meet up with Sierra, who had a rare day off during a European tour. Sandra and I—our gentle camaraderie of the past two decades now a firm friendship—flew from our homes in BC; Danica came in from New York.

And we awoke that day with no plan.

The weather in Amsterdam was unusually mild, the sun a beacon of gentle warmth, cascading its light on the cyclists and

pedestrians who crisscrossed the arched bridges and narrow roadways along the edge of the canals. The chime of bike bells stirred a random rhythm amid the low hum of the city, and the cheerful reds, yellows and blues of the buildings were mirrored in the canals—the vision reminiscent of Derrick’s photography. He loved capturing reflections.

At breakfast, a vague plan emerged as we peered at a map and decided to rent bikes and cycle 14 kilometres to the neighbouring town of Zaandam. Sandra would bring a bag of Derrick’s ashes for scattering if the opportunity arose. In life, Derrick wasn’t much of a traveller, overwhelmed by anxiety around flying. But he and Sandra owned a second home in Mexico, and she and the girls spread some of his ashes there. And for the past year, Sandra had slowly released small handfuls of ash in other places she travelled, like London and Paris, but also in all corners of our island home, mostly by the water— spots that he cherished.

“Water is truth,” he used to say.

It was a glorious, glorious day as we set off on the bikes. The wind tousled our hair under our helmets, the air smelled sweet and fresh, and the sun sat on our shoulders as we flew along the bike paths. It had been years since I’d ridden a bike, and it felt like I had wings. Exhilarated, we glided and giggled. Sunshine and laughter broke out on a day we thought destined to be cloudy and sad.

In Zaandam, we discovered nearby Zaanse Schans—a collection of historic windmills and wooden houses—and we turned our bikes in that direction, whisking through backroads and pathways, and eventually arriving at a small peninsula, where three historic windmills slowly spun above us.

Leaving our bikes, we gathered below one of these windmills. It had a thick brown tower and splashes of bright green, red and white paint. Each blade flashed yellow as it turned and caught the sun. A matching brown, green and white wooden boat sat directly beneath it, and the entire visage was reflected in the water between the windmill and the small strip of sand, where we stood at the water’s edge. A picture-perfect reflection.

Sandra brought out Derrick’s ashes and we dipped our fingers into the bag, collecting the ash which fluttered up as we released it, before settling on the glassy water. The sun, just starting to set, cast beams of light that wrapped us in a golden hug.

As we stood in silent reverie, a pair of ducks swam towards us, and we took note because the male was unusual in its allblack colouring. It broke away from the other bird and paddled in close. And we had to smile because black was, of course, Derrick’s trademark colour. He rarely wore anything else. Then the black duck turned, caught up with his mate and they swam away to join a distant flock.

In that moment we found peace with our grief; we understood it was possible to live and even be happy alongside heartbreak. And so we soared.

If you have a story to share, and the ability to write about it, please send Narrative section submissions to

73 | SPRING 2024

behind the story

Honour yourself. Accept who you are. Prioritize your own needs and well-being. Treat yourself with kindness and forgive yourself as necessary. These are the cornerstones of selflove, which is at the core of self-care, the theme that weaves through this edition of Boulevard

Self-love is also the spark for the concept behind the fashion story in this issue of Boulevard Here, makeup is used in joyful, whimsical self-expression—applied purely for one’s own delight—and our models present as stridently unapologetic of who they are.

Makeup artist Jen Clark adds, “This was an opportunity for playful makeup application, using the face as a playground for expression. I was going for unexpected rather than perfection.”

In times past, self-love may have expressed itself in consumerism and the collection of material things. However, in this era, with its focus on wellness and self-care, self-love is the seed from which everything else grows. This is a time to focus on inner work, to build self-compassion and bloom as the most glorious version of yourself.

74 | SPRING 2024
On Vellar: “Crystal Lagoon II” necklace ($559) and “Rodan” pearl earrings ($279), both by Lizzie Fortunato from Bernstein & Gold.
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