ISSUE 10 | WINTER 2020
Change is in the air, on land and in the sea! NORTH ISLAND WILDLIFE RECOVERY CENTRE | CIRCUMNAVIGATING VANCOUVER ISLAND | ON THE MOVE: ANNUAL MIGRATION ON THE WEST COAST
IN THIS ISSUE 4 6
NORTH ISLAND WILDLIFE RECOVERY CENTRE
CIRCUMNAVIGATING VI IN A COUPLE OF OLD BOATS
13 CONSTRUCTION UPDATE
OF A 14 CONFESSIONS SOUP CONNOISSEUR
18 ON THE MOVE 20 OUR FAVOURITE THINGS
22 KID DYNAMITE 25 DAYTRIPS AND
YOUR GREEN 26 TAKE THUMB INDOORS
14 COVER PHOTO Gerry and Marg James by Rae-Anne LaPlante
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Gray whale fluke
PLANNING & CHANGE Winter is here again… and that is a good thing! There is something comforting about the rhythm of the seasons and winter reminds us that there is a time and place for quiet in our lives. This season affords us time to rest and restore energy, to dream of new adventures, and to make new plans. Is this the year you travel to Spain, complete a home reno, learn to golf, start a new business, become a volunteer, or maybe try kickboxing? For me, winter is an invitation to recharge. Nothing blooms year-round and, like plants, people also need short periods of dormancy in order to grow. That time doesn’t have to be lonely or boring, in fact it can be refreshing and inspiring. I like to practice yoga, care for my house plants, disappear into a good book, and occasionally indulge in some YouTube videos to learn a new skill. As we head into hibernation here on the west coast, it is the perfect time to: make and enjoy wonderful comfort foods like Chef Taylor Whitelock’s Cold Weather Butternut Squash Soup; read a little something about the world around us from our naturalist’s book list; live vicariously through the adventures of Rob O’Dea as he recounts his eventful sailing voyage around Vancouver Island; consider venturing out to take in a live theatre performance; try exercising our green thumbs indoors; and be inspired by the out of the box lives led by Gerry and Marg James and North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre founders Robin and Sylvia Campbell. What new adventures are you planning for 2020? We’d love to know!
Julie Jaworski, PASSIONS Editor
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North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre A CENTRE FOR HEALING, INSPIRED BY AN OWL NAMED SPIRIT
by Jen Groundwater
T Opposite from top l to r
Midnight. Joey and Teresa. A group of visitors at the pond. Robin and Sylvia Campbell. Sandor. Turkey vulture. Joey the barn owl. Summer visitors head into one of NIWRC's Discover Bears presentations running Monday to Friday, throughout July and August. Above
Spirit who started it all.
he North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre is one of the most popular tourism draws on the Island, with near-perfect Google and TripAdvisor ratings, yet many locals have never experienced this remarkable eight-acre sanctuary. It’s in Errington, and a mere 20 minutes from the Fairwinds Wellness Club! So what are you waiting for? The NIWRC is a place to bring injured or orphaned birds and other animals for rehabilitation and eventual release back into the wild. It’s home to eagles, owls, turtles, other birds and even bears, but its staff and volunteers try to help every wild creature that gets dropped off here. The centre got its start on Christmas Day 1984, when a man named Robin Campbell brought home something unexpected: a great horned owl that had wrapped itself in barbed wire. Though Robin and his family didn’t know it at the time, this injured bird would turn out to be the most wonderful of gifts. A vet said the bird’s wing would have to be amputated, so Robin and his wife, Sylvia, built a cage on their bedroom balcony for the owl, which they named Spirit. As Spirit recovered from the amputation, people in the area began to bring other birds and animals to the Campbells. “We took in one-eyed owls and three-legged deer,” says Sylvia, and whatever else people brought to them. Though Robin now has all kinds of
qualifications, in the early days, he had no formal training or credentials, just a deep desire to help animals. And he had a formidable partner in Sylvia. Of their chaotic early days, when random animals would get dropped off at all hours and people would just stop by to see what was going on, she simply says: “Who wouldn’t want to have a life like that?” With a determined band of supporters, in 1985 the Campbells set up a not-forprofit society devoted to helping injured, ill, or orphaned wildlife. Things really took flight the next year— pun entirely intended—after Robin took in 29 eagles that had been accidentally poisoned. “We had a barn full of eagles!” recalls Sylvia. Amazingly, they were able to save 25 of the birds. The resulting international media attention sent a flood of donations their way, which the Campbells put towards building enclosures for birds, as well as their onsite Museum of Nature. “Whatever came in, we took it,” says Sylvia, “raccoons, otters, beavers, deer…” They’ve had swans and foxes, herons and even snakes. Once they even had a seal, which they had to keep in the bathtub. These days, they don’t work much with mammals (MARS, in the Comox Valley, handles raccoons and deer), except for black bears, which they’ve been working with since the early 2000s in partnership with Dr. Malcolm McAdie, a renowned wildlife veterinarian. The centre houses a treatment facility
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and bear enclosures. Orphaned cubs stay in the junior nursery, shielded from public view except via a livecam feed, until they’re about 18 months old, when they move to the pre-release enclosure before being set free. Two of their most popular residents are black bears. Watching 25-year-old Knut and his younger female buddy, Rae, play and hang out together is a highlight of any visit. They are ambassadors in the centre’s quest to educate people about living with wildlife. Over the years, Robin, Sylvia, and their family have added ponds, wheelchair-accessible pathways, art, gardens, and places to play and picnic, along with the Museum of Nature and the Learning Centre. With so many different areas, it never feels crowded, even when kids are joyfully running around the place — there’s always a quiet, lovely corner. It’s been a lot of work over the years, but for the Campbells, their staff and volunteers (now numbering 80 to 100), it’s clearly a labour of love. When asked about their unconventional life, Sylvia modestly says she and Robin are proof that “anybody can do anything. You just really need the desire to do it.” Then she adds, “It was fun.” The North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre is open daily from 9 am to 4:30 pm at 1240 Leffler Road in Errington.
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Circumnavigating VI in a Couple of Old Sailboats... Fair Winds and Mast Destruction
THE FIRST INSTALMENT IN A FOUR-PART SERIES by Rob O‘Dea
I Trousset Encyclopedia
was in shock and treading water in the middle of a choppy Strait of Georgia next to my dismasted sailboat. The broken mast had become a battering ram which was trying to punch a hole through the wooden hull while the sails and the rest of the rigging threatened to entangle and drown me. I wondered to myself (for I was all alone) just how it was that I came to be in this situation. It was the very last day of what had been a spectacular two-month voyage circumnavigating Vancouver Island and here I was, within eyesight of home, struggling in a race against time to save myself and my sailboat.
But let me start at the beginning.
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Peter, Arnt, Simon and Leif in Sointula. Now in their 60’s, these four ruffians were childhood friends in North Vancouver.
Photo taken from the top of a quarry where the stone for the BC legislature building was mined. below
Picturesque Sointula. Mother, juvenile, and infant orcas. opposite
Mapping our resolve. In order to catch up on the schedule it was time for an all-nighter, or so we thought. A night of music on board Ern.
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The plan for our trip around the Island was hatched over a bottle of wine while sailing in the Nanaimo/Qualicum/ Lasqueti area. In the previous decade my good friend, Arnt, and I along with our spouses, had spent our vacations sailing all over the Strait of Georgia from Sidney to Desolation Sound and even a few voyages beyond that into the Discovery Islands. It was time for further flung adventures, and an extended voyage around Vancouver Island was the ticket. The idea for any such adventure is always the easy part but with two boats needing preparation, provisioning, spare parts, dozens of new charts, research on tides, currents, passages and options for planned and emergency anchorages, there was a lot to do. Once those basics were underway we started to put the word out to family and friends to pull together a crew. We ended up with a total of seventeen people (including three generations of family) joining us for one or two weeks each over the nine different legs of the voyage. Some of the crew were coming from as far away as Halifax and New York and that—in addition to the arrangements for travel to and from some very remote locations requiring combinations of ferries and chartered float planes—required a lot of travel planning. Due to the remoteness we anticipated for much of the trip, combined with our desire for a galley full of fine food, the menu and provisioning nearly required a Michelin chef’s worth of expertise and a part-time sommelier. Our spice rack was stuffed with all kinds of treasures including three different types
of saffron to ensure we had the proper ingredients for bouillabaisse, paella, crab cakes and fish’n chips! After two years of planning and preparation, it was time to put all our plans into action and head to sea. There’s an old sailor’s superstition that you should never leave for a voyage on a Friday... so, it was on a Friday in May that we set sail. My home for the next two months was to be on Ern, my wooden 33-foot cutter-rigged sailboat that was built in Nova Scotia in 1956. Ern and I were accompanied by my partner in adventure, skipper Arnt Arntzen on his 21' gaff-rigged sloop Odin, a boat he built 20 years earlier. Along with our rotating crew, the voyage was to be a journey of friendships, food, surfing, fishing, music making, exploring, adventure and beachcombing in remote and beautiful landscapes soaked in a fascinating history and culture. For the first leg of the trip we planned to make our way up the Strait of Georgia to the inside of the Discovery Islands and then up Johnstone Strait for our first crew change in Port Hardy. It was planned to be a leisurely nine days requiring about 35 hours of travel. We had only travelled for six hours towards the Sunshine Coast when my Dad, who had come all the way from Halifax, became violently seasick. By morning the winds and seas had calmed but Dad decided that a week with his brother in Vancouver was preferable to another bout of sea sickness. With a degree of
It was time for further flung adventures, and an extended voyage around VI was just the ticket!
Stop in Port McNeill for a new mast
Root Ball Collision
Odin is dismasted
Green Point Rapids
Yuculta and Dent Rapids
Powell River Prawn Festival Retreat from the gale
Sea sickness strikes
sadness, we dropped Dad at the Langdale ferry terminal and after his ferry left for Horseshoe Bay we steered our sailboats to the NW once again. We had barely gone a mile when Odinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s diesel engine conked out; an engine that had been professionally rebuilt just two years prior. New injectors were required but it would be three days before the parts arrived from Vancouver. What was that adage about never leaving on a Friday? We made the best of it, exploring Gibsons and enjoying the townâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s excellent craft beers and restaurants.
By the time the engine repair was completed we were well rested and raring to go. The marine forecast called for calm seas and no wind through the next 48 hours. To get back on schedule we decided on an all-night motor up the Strait of Georgia. For the first few hours we motored into a gorgeous sunset in flat calm conditions, however, just after dark the wind came up and by 11 pm we were experiencing a 25-knot outflow from Jervis Inlet coming directly at us. We retreated in the dark through the twisty, reef encrusted entrance of Pender Harbour and went to 9 PASSIONS | WINTER 2020
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bed hoping for better conditions the next day. It was not to be. We awoke to a howling NW gale in the Strait and it was forecast to blow all day. We were staying put. By now there was no chance of making it to Port Hardy for the first crew change, so we relaxed on the itinerary and decided that Powell River, with its handy airport, was our best back-up. We had a leisurely two-day sail to Powell River and to our pleasant surprise we arrived in the harbour on the eve of the Powell River Prawn Festival. It was time to put some of that saffron to use! The next morning was a busy scene as local musicians rehearsed and vendors set up their booths and wares. By lunch time, children were having their faces painted and everyone was having a great time celebrating, stocking up on local crafts and foods, and waiting for the first boatload of prawns to arrive. Unfortunately, it seems that somebody forgot to tell the commercial prawn boats. No prawns were to be found at the Powell River Prawn Festival that year. We made do with fish tacos of ling cod, fresh salsa and guacamole, and tortillas from scratch. At dawn we said goodbye to the departing crew, and with their replacements on board, departed Powell River. It was day 10 and we had covered a mere 63 miles from home as the crow flies. Timing for the next three days would depend upon passages through the Yuculta, Dent, Green Point and Whirlpool rapids where currents can run as high as 13 knots (twice the speed of our boats under engine power) and swallow a boat whole. We would have to arrive at the slack, or beginning of the ebb current for each of these tidal rapids. Even though we continued to beat into light headwinds we made it safely through and by the end of day 13 we were anchored off Port Neville, part way up Johnstone Strait. Peace was shortlived, as we were awoken at 3 am when a massive log and root ball came at us with the help of a 3-knot tidal current. It hit Odin’s bow and scraped her starboard side while the two boats were rafted together on Ern’s anchor. The anchor held and there was no apparent damage, but Odin’s deck was covered with branches and debris. The next morning, after clearing off the remaining debris, we re-entered Johnstone Strait and immediately encountered our first good downwind sail of the trip. It was a wonderful rip-snorter of a sail and with the help of an ebbing tide, Ern was occasionally hitting 8.4 knots.
We spotted a few humpback whales and were accompanied for some time by a large pod of porpoises. Things were really looking up! Then disaster... Odin’s mast snapped off! The trip was over. We motored into the safety of Port McNeill to assess the situation and make new plans. Upon inspection, we found the culprit. A pin that holds one of the bronze turnbuckles attached to Odin’s wire shrouds was sitting loose on the deck. We surmised that the most likely cause of Odin’s dismasting was the root ball from the night before. As it scraped down her side, it must have torn out the cotter pin which held the turnbuckle pin in place and during our downwind sail, the turnbuckle pin was able to work its way loose. The turnbuckle and shroud parted ways at the deck and the loss of structural integrity resulted in a broken mast. One in a billion! A replacement wooden mast was out of the question and sleeving the broken section might work as a jury-rig to get the boat home, but it would not be safe or wise to venture to the outside of Vancouver Island. A local welder suggested making a new mast out of aluminum pipe. He had a truck leaving Nanaimo in a half hour so Arnt ordered up a 26' length of 5" diameter pipe. It would arrive in Port McNeill later that evening and the welder offered to work through the night to turn the pipe into a mast. By mid-morning the next day the new mast was ready to be picked up. Two hours later it was installed and the rigging re-attached for a test sail. It performed perfectly! It had taken just under 24 hours from dismasting to the new and improved Odin. Thank you Port McNeill! The trip was back on! As it turned out most of the trials and tribulations were now behind us and the true adventure was about to begin, but that story will have to wait for the next instalment. RD Rob O’Dea spent his childhood in Newfoundland, his adolescence in Nova Scotia, and for the past 30 years he has lived and adventured in BC with his partner Sharon. They spend a few months each summer exploring Vancouver Island by land and sea in the pursuit of great sailing, fly fishing, surfing, and fine local foods. For part of the last few summers, Rob has been volunteering with Living Oceans Society organizing beach cleanups in the remote shorelines in and around Cape Scott. Rob is president of the Oarlock and Sail Wooden Boat Club at the Vancouver Maritime Museum’s Heritage Harbour, building and sailing traditional wooden boats… skills that regularly come in handy when cruising in a 62-year old wooden sailboat.
This sketch was all the welder in Port McNeill needed to fashion a new mast for Odin. The arrival of Odin's new mast Jaw to jaw turnbuckle
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NOW SE LLI NG · 3 9 MAR INA SIDE SUITES · MOVE IN SPR ING 2020
U N C O M P RO M I S I N G O C E A N F RO N T L I V I N G
I N T H E H E A RT O F T H E FA I RW I N D S C O M M U N I T Y
The Westerly is beautifully situated overlooking the Strait of Georgia, nestled within Vancouver Island’s natural landscape of forested hills and rocky terrain yet only 20 minutes north of Nanaimo and easily accessible from both Victoria and Vancouver. Designed and built to exacting standards, residences at the Westerly offer an active lifestyle just steps away from the water, marina and Fairwinds Landing, the community’s new oceanfront residential/retail/dining hub.
WESTERLY LIFESTYLE CENTRE · 3455 FAIRWINDS DRIVE, NANOOSE BAY, BC · OPEN DAILY
I N Q U I R E · T 2 5 0 . 3 8 7 . 4 1 6 2 T F 1 . 8 0 0 . 3 4 0 . 9 5 3 9 FA I RW I N D S . C A
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on the year gone by always reveal surprises, and the construction at The Westerly is no exception. It is remarkable how far this project has come in 12 months. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re happy to report that The Westerlyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s glass curtain wall is now being installed on level 2, and the interior trades are working on floor installation, electric rough-ins, and the drop ceiling.
The new year
promises even more enormous changes and new opportunities for all of us who are so excited about opening the doors of The Westerly. We are overjoyed to share the natural beauty of Fairwinds, the hospitality of Fairwinds Landing, and the amenities of the marina, golf course, and wellness club.
We look forward to welcoming you home in 2020!
Up on the 4th floor,
steel stud installation is progressing nicely, and roofers have begun the sealing and insulating. The final torch-on membrane will be completed within the month, weather permitting. Backfill is now completed around the building and the landscape is taking shape. Drywall hanging is underway throughout levels 1 and 2, elevators will be installed and functional, and our brand new show suite will be nearing completion.
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T H E PA S S I O N AT E F O O D I E
Confessions of a
Soup Connoisseur by Taylor Whitelock
photos by Sean Fenzl
I don’t think I’m alone when I say I love a homemade bowl of soup. There’s something so hearty and satisfying about a meal you can eat with a spoon. And of course the variations are as endless as, well, soup to nuts. But when the temperatures dip, you can’t go wrong with rich, creamy butternut squash. The colour is exquisite and the velvety texture and creative garnishes make this a great goto option for a starter course or a leisurely winter lunch. Best of all, the flavours develop with time so you can easily make this a day ahead and reheat just before serving.
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COLD WEATHER BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP Makes 4 small appetizer or 2 entrĂŠe sized portions Ingredients 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into 1" cubes Âź cup butter 1 yellow onion, chopped 1 tsp fresh sage, chopped 2 tsp salt 2 tbsp tomato paste 1 L chicken stock (or vegetable stock) 1 cup heavy cream 2 tbsp good quality maple syrup 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar Garnish pumpkin seeds, olive oil, cream, and chives or parsley Put butter, chopped onion and chopped sage into a soup pot on medium low heat. Cook just until translucent, about 5 or 6 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the cubed squash, chicken stock and 1 tsp of salt. Stir and bring to a boil on medium high. Once at a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered about 30 minutes or until squash is very tender. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. Add heavy cream, maple syrup and apple cider vinegar and season to taste with remaining salt. If the soup is too thick, add a bit more stock or water to achieve the desired consistency. Heat through. Ladle soup into warm bowls. Garnish with heavy cream, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds and chives or parsley. Serve hot.
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TAYLOR’S TIPS FOR CHOPPING SQUASH It’s easier to get a grip on the squash when you core it first and then peel it. Top and tail the squash so each end is flat. Stand up the squash and run your knife all the way through from top to bottom while protecting your fingers. Use a soup spoon to dig around and remove the seeds. Next, peel the skin using a vegetable peeler. Make sure to remove all of the green fibers under the peel. Lay the squash flat side down. Cut into 1 inch slices crossways and then 1 inch cubes. If you’re cutting a lot of squash use gloves to avoid yellow hands.
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GRAY WHALE ESCHRICHTIUS ROBUSTUS
TRUMPETER SWAN CYGNUS BUCCINATOR
On the Move ANNUAL MIGRATIONS ALONG THE WEST COAST
by Quintin Winks
It feels like you can almost set your watch by the annual comings and goings of animals here on Vancouver Island, although strictly speaking, Mother Nature can surprise us.
RUFUS HUMMINGBIRD SELASPHORUS RUFUS
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We are fortunate to be the destination for many annually migrating species, and for others we provide a popular waypoint on their journeys to more northerly feeding grounds and breeding grounds. Its popular appeal as a rest stop and eatery for wildlife makes the Island one of the best places to witness the migrations of hundreds of varieties of winged and finned creatures each year. The largest of these travelers are the humpback and gray whales, whose journey northward each spring, hugs the west coast of Vancouver Island on their way to the Arctic Circle. These baleen behemoths can be seen from shore as early as February and into early May and are known to feed in the sheltered bays along the coast beginning in March. The Pacific Rim Whale Festival in Tofino and Ucluelet each spring celebrates these whales and the role they play, and have played, in Island culture. At 30 tons it is smaller than the humpback, but the gray whale boasts one of the longest migrations of any animal on earth. Covering about 120 kms per day, each whale can travel up to 22,000 kms round trip annually, depending on how far north it goes. You can increase your odds of seeing gray whales from one of the many whale watching tours available, but for those with time and patience there are alternatives. “Because of the unpredictability of exacting which beaches they use, recommending a wine and binoculars
spot is tough,” says Mark Sawyer, naturalist and boat skipper for Jamie’s Whaling Station in Tofino. But you can try spotting them from atop a cliff along the Juan de Fuca Trail, Port Renfrew’s Botanical Beach, Cox Cone in Tofino, or from any elevated position along the shore. Although the occasional whale may wander closer “typically when they move up the coast they do so around a nautical mile from shore, which means when viewing from land you may see the blows, or breaths, but not the whales themselves.” When the whales do move closer to shore, they are often looking to feed. Barclay and Clayoquot Sounds, near Tofino, are popular places for the whales and during the migration they can be seen in nearby bays fuelling up before continuing northwards. To the delight of boaters and enthusiasts, some whales remain in BC waters all summer long before migrating back to Mexico. “The migration itself is an incredible spectacle,” Sawyer says. “I’m originally from the UK, where I would never have expected to see one. There are times during the migration when we head out with people who’ve never seen a whale, and they can watch a dozen or more pass by.” While the enormity of a humpback or gray whale is a thing to behold, the relatively diminutive herring also puts on a show during its annual commute between the beginning of February and late March. The herring run marks the beginning of spring when there are typically blossoms and shoots beginning to show. During the run, these silvery fish are difficult to see, schooling deep so as to avoid predation. When they do rise to spawn, an act that erupts over just
GRAY WHALE ESCHRICHTIUS ROBUSTUS
six hours, the sheer volume of sperm left by the male herring to fertilize the females’ eggs turn the near-shore waters a spectacular turquoise colour. Once the herring schools are in shallower water, the predators go to work. Herring is a rich food source for seals, sea lions, and eagles. This initial feeding frenzy attracts killer whales, who dine on sea lions. While the big mammals are mesmerizing to watch, sometimes the smaller animals are just as interesting, if not more so. “A huge flock of seagulls is a spectacle too,” says Danny Claire, owner of Comox Harbour Charters. “You’ll see 100 eagles lined up on the beach, but 10,000 seagulls!” Claire runs boat charters out of Comox, at the northern edge of the herring’s spawning range that stretches to just south of Nanaimo. His boats allow guests to take in the spectacle up close. “As the slaughter is going on, the sea lions are down below gorging,” Claire says. “But the birds can be the spectacular part of it.” Vancouver Island is on the path of the Pacific Flyway, a major migratory route that stretches about 15,000 kms from Alaska in the north to Patagonia in the south. Consequently, the Island serves as a pit stop for scores of bird species. Among them is the Brant, a black and white goose that migrates each year from Mexico to Alaska and northern Canada. The Brant's arrival in Parksville and Qualicum Beach coincides with the herring run, the spectacle of which inspired the launch of the Brant Wildlife Festival in the early 1990s. Today it is organized by the Nature Trust of BC and supported by local community groups and businesses. Events include the popular Pacific Brant Carving and Art Show, the Brant Count, bird-watching, and identification presentations to share the knowledge, and increase the awareness and enjoyment of this annual migration. With a late fall arrival, the trumpeter
A Selection of Brant Wildlife Festival Events Birds of the Salish Sea—Birdwatching at Seaside Nature Park in Qualicum Beach (March 21) All About Brant—Presentation by bird expert and researcher, Sean Boyd at Bayside Resort in Parksville (March 27, 6 – 8 pm) Eagle Release—at North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre, Errington (April 4) Pacific Brant Carving & Art Show—Organized by Vancouver Island Woodcarvers Club and Oceanside Woodcarvers in partnership with DeCosmos Fine Arts Society at Parksville Community Centre (April 4 – 5) Hamilton Marsh Tour—Hosted by the Friends of French Creek Conservation Society and Arrowsmith Naturalists (April 19)
Observatory and the coordinator of the city’s Christmas bird count. Other popular birds that migrate to and from Vancouver Island include the Rufus hummingbird, which like the Brant travels to Mexico and back each year. Interestingly, it returns to exactly the same spot to feed, despite its annual journey of several thousand miles. May through June is the best time to see the Rufus on Vancouver Island, and there is evidence that the hummingbirds visit the same feeders each year along their entire migration. Ms. Nightingale, who participates in programs to band species for future identification, says she tagged a hummingbird one year, and eight years later, found the same hummingbird at the same feeder. So if that bird in your backyard looks familiar, your feeder just may be part of its annual migratory tour. There are many reasons to celebrate the spring migration. It marks the end of winter, with longer days, and warmer weather ahead. What better way to celebrate this annual event than to get outside and revel in it? See you out there!
For more events and information visit: brantfestival.bc.ca
swan is also a much-loved bird that stays here well into March. Its populations were decimated in the early 1900s by the demand for feathers used in women’s hats, but the trumpeter has since made a healthy comeback thanks to legislation protecting them. A popular spot to see these magnificent white birds is Hemer Park, just south of Nanaimo. “They are a good success story as we damaged the population and were then able to reverse that,” says Ann Nightingale, vice president of Victoria’s Rocky Point Bird 19 PASSIONS | WINTER 2020
O U R FAV O U R I T E T H I N G S
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.” – ALBERT EINSTEIN
Best Places to Bird in BC written by biologist Richard Cannings and his son Russell, is a collection of personal anecdotes, useful notes for birdwatchers, and beautiful photographs that explores exactly what the title suggests. The Canningses cover the many ecological regions of BC from the Rocky Mountains and Haida Gwaii, to the Okanagan and Vancouver Island, including Parksville’s Englishman River estuary. books.google. ca/books/about/ Best_Places_to_Bird_ in_British_Columbia
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Not so much a book, as it is someone interesting to follow on Facebook! The Marine Detective, Jackie Hildering, is a biology teacher, cold-water diver, underwater photographer, and humpback whale researcher living in Port McNeill. “It’s my handle under which I work to raise awareness about life in the cold, dark NE Pacific Ocean and illuminate the fragility, beauty, and mystery there. I hope the name suggests the correct humility. I want to share what I learn so that it may lead to greater knowledge, appreciation, and positive action for the Ocean to which we are all connected and upon which our health depends.” Jackie has also published an eye-spy style book for children called Find the Fish. the-marine-detective. myshopify.com/products/book-find-the-fish-first-edition
Trauma Farm: A Rebel History of Rural Life by Brian Brett, won the Writers Trust Non-Fiction Prize in 2009. It’s a memoir about life on his organic farm on Salt Spring Island, where he raises chickens and other animals, tends extensive orchards and vegetable gardens, creates fabulous meals, and has many misadventures. This funny and thought-provoking memoir traces one day on Trauma Farm. “A witty and passionate book, this is an unforgettable portrait of the issues all farms face in this age of industrialization and homogenization.” The Sea Among Us: The Amazing Strait of Georgia edited by Richard Beamish and Gordon McFarlane (Harbour Publishing). Winner of the Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Book Prize (2015), it is the first book to present a comprehensive study of the Strait of Georgia in all its facets with chapters on geology, First Nations, history, oceanography, fish, birds, mammals, invertebrates and plants. Covering everything from tsunami modelling and First Nations history, to where to find whales, barnacle reproduction, and climate change, the book is a sweeping overview of one of the world’s great waterways, now called the Salish Sea. The BC Coast Explorer by Wildcoast Publishing (Vol 1 & 2) is the quintessential resource for kayakers looking for a guide to exploring the Island’s spectacular coastline. thewildcoast.ca/collections/bc-coast-explorer-guidebooks/products/bc-coast-explorer-volume-1
The Arrowsmith Naturalists Not a book, but a club you can join… the mission of the Arrowsmith Naturalists, founded in 1970, is to know, enjoy, and preserve nature. They have meetings with featured speakers and offer field trips several times a month. The group also organizes an annual Mushroom Festival (October) that features mushroom displays, lectures, food trucks, and an entire team of mycologists to answer your questions. Their online newsletters provide interesting reading. On Facebook and at: arrowsmithnats.org. Return of the Wolf: Conflict & Coexistence by Paula Wild (Douglas & McIntyre 2018) Based in Courtenay, Paula Wild is an awardwinning author known for her conversational and engaging style. In a skillful blend of natural history, Indigenous stories and interviews with scientists and conservationists, Wild examines our evolving relationship with wolves and how society’s attitudes affect the populations, behaviour and conservation of wolves today. paulawild.ca
Becoming Wild: Living Primitive on a West Coast Island by Nikki van Schyndel (Caitlin Press 2014) Not your typical grizzled survivalist, you may recognize Van Schyndel from the unscripted reality adventure show Alone (2019), where she competed with nine other contestants to survive on her own in the Great Slave Lake area of the Northwest Territories. Nikki is a modern woman who threw off modern comforts to spend nineteen months in a remote rainforest of the Broughton Archipelago. Becoming Wild is a story of survival, as the then twentynine-year-old fends off the harsh weather, hungry wildlife, threat of starvation and the endless perils of living alone in the wilderness. Photo: Caitlin Press. Measure of the Year: Reflections on Home, Family and a Life Fully Lived by Roderick L. Haig-Brown Renowned Canadian conservationist, fisherman and writer, Haig-Brown welcomes us onto his lush farm for a full year of insights and observations. In this eloquently written account, Haig-Brown, his wife Ann and their four children tour us through each season, teaching us the ways in which the earth governs the events in our lives. A snapshot of rural Island life in the 1950s, Measure of the Year is a country story, told by a man happy in his chosen way of life.
10 A Year on the Wild Side: A West Coast
Naturalist’s Almanac Briony Penn’s witty commentary on the social and natural history of Vancouver Island is composed of short, readable essays arranged into 12 monthly chapters. Discover when berries are ripe and the best time to pick them. Learn why the termites swarm, where the herring spawn, and when the maple leaves fall. Get up close and personal with fascinating creatures like the snowy owl, the giant Pacific octopus, the river otter, and more.
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FA I R W I N D S P R O F I L E
TA K I N G A I M AT T H E B U L L S E Y E
by Kait Burgan photos by Rae-Anne LaPlante
PLANNING TO WIN HAS ALWAYS BEEN A PART OF LIFE FOR GERRY AND MARG JAMES. It’s actually hard to keep up with the fullness of their lives but in between the incredible successes and the trying challenges, there is a theme. That theme is discipline, paired with a competitive streak, a sense of humour and genuine kindness. Gerry is a Canadian sports legend. He started in the Canadian Football League (CFL) at only 17 years old, was a running back for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers from 1952 - 1962 and the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 1964. He is also the only athlete in history to play in both the Grey Cup and the Stanley Cup final in the same season. That season was 1959-60. Gerry played right wing for the Toronto Maple Leafs for five seasons, 164 games, in the late 1950s. “The Leafs would phone when football season was over,” Gerry says. “They kept enticing me with money.” He cracks a smile, and his mischievous side sneaks into his focussed gaze. His humour is deadpan. 22 PASSIONS | WINTER 2020
Marg is sitting beside him, in a rocking chair in front of a window that looks onto Dolphin Drive. She’s reminiscing about what it was like to raise five kids with a husband who was away for months at a time, and it becomes clear, very quickly, that they are a team. They met when Gerry was getting on the bus to go to football practice, and Marg was getting off after a cheerleading practice. Today, they have 12 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren. Somehow in, around, and after professional careers in both football and hockey, and raising five children, they managed a Dairy Queen in Yorkton, Saskatchewan, had a childrenswear store and ran an apartment complex. For a time, they owned the Yorkton Terriers but sold it after “politics got in the way.” When Gerry retired from playing, he spent some time playing exhibition hockey in Switzerland which launched his coaching career. He went on to coach senior hockey in Western Canada, until the WHL—World
The Leafs would phone when football season was over. They kept enticing me with money.
GERRY JAMES Former CFL & NHL Player, Coach, Business Owner, Lifelong Competitor
Hockey League—came and took all the best players. He also coached Triple-A and made a name for himself as one of the most successful coaches in Canadian Junior Hockey. “I don’t think we push our children enough in anything related to sports,” says Gerry. He trained his Triple-A players six times a week and parents weren’t allowed in the change rooms. “They were in there tying up their kids’ skates,” he recalls. “I kicked them out. I have a lot of parents who don’t like me.” Again, his deadpan humour is paired with a mischievous sparkle. This time though, it comes with a sigh. As tough as he was on the kids, it was tough for him too. “You have to be brutally honest with these kids, that they’re not going to make it. The biggest fear is that you’ll hang onto these kids for too long, hoping they’ll get better.” “One kid said he was going to kill himself because his dad would be so mad. That really shook me up.” 23 23 PASSIONS PASSIONS | | WINTER WINTER2020 2020
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30 Gerry was sure to thank his dad for the good genes when he collected his CFL Hall of Fame Trophy in 1981 but when asked what he remembers about his dad, he can share only a few small memories. Gerry played golf for years, but he’s not able to any more because of back troubles. He and Marg have no plans to move from Fairwinds. They love living here in the house they built more than 22 years ago. Still active in his community, Gerry volunteers for Meals on Wheels and helps people who can’t drive themselves to medical appointments and a couple of times a year, he goes to Toronto, to undergo testing and participate in research for The Concussion Project. Gerry also plays darts, practicing at home a couple of times a day. On his way out the door to a game, Marg says goodbye and tells him to have fun. “I’m not going to have fun,” he says. “I’m going to win!”
While playing with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 1954, James was the very first recipient of the CFL’s Schenley Most Outstanding Canadian Award. He won the award a second time in 1957. He was on four Grey Cup winning teams.
Along with his father, he holds the honour of being a member of the CFL Hall of Fame and the Manitoba Hall of Fame. In the 1957 season, James led the league in scoring with 19 touchdowns, one short of the record set a year earlier by Pat Abbruzzi. That season he also set a CFL record with 18 rushing touchdowns, which stood alone until it was tied by Jim Germany in 1981 and was finally surpassed by Mike Pringle with 19 in the 2000 season.
When people told Gerry, as they often did that if he were half as good as his dad was, he’d be a good player, Gerry took that as a challenge to prove them wrong. He wasn’t going to be half as good. He was going to be better.
OTHER NOTABLE CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
When he retired from the CFL, having played with both the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, James was the second all-time leading Canadian running back with totals of 994 carries for 5,554 yards and 57 touchdowns.
At the height of his career, Gerry was known as Kid Dynamite, and there is a book, Kid Dynamite: The Gerry James Story, written by Fairwinds resident, Ron Smith. Gerry got the nickname because his father, Eddie James, also played for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and it’s easy to assume that it was Eddie who pushed Gerry into the pro-sports life, but that’s not the case. It wasn’t so much that his dad pushed him, as it was that Gerry pushed himself to earn his dad’s approval and respect. Eddie went to war when Gerry was four years old and didn’t come home until Gerry was 10 or 11. Shortly after that, Gerry’s parents divorced.
D AY T R I P S
Photo by Ritchie Perez: Between Breaths Photo: original The Marvelous Wondrettes Off-Broadway cast by Carol Rosegg
Live Theatre by Noah Faust-Robinson
There is no better way to break up the monotony of the early months of the year than to partake in the warmth and intimacy of live theatre. Thankfully, the mid island boasts many professional and amateur options when it comes to an afternoon or evening of live performance. Located just half an hour south of Fairwinds on Highway 19, the 800 seat Port Theatre in the heart of Nanaimo’s scenic harbour hosts a variety of world class music, dance, and theatre each year. On February 16, see Lonely - Celebrating the Music of Roy Orbison. On tour in Canada and the US, this show “delivers a sensitive and dynamic tribute to the one and only Roy Orbison.”
For a change of pace, head north on Highway 19 for approximately 25 minutes to the seaside town of Qualicum Beach, where you’ll find the historic Village Theatre, the home of ECHO Players community theatre. Stroll quaint 2nd Avenue this February before taking your seat for ECHO’s rendition of the Tony award winning classic stage adaptation of The Secret Garden. Though the weather may be grey, a day spent visiting any of these local performance mainstays will leave you feeling vibrant and energized.
For those looking to stretch their theatre going experience into an overnight getaway, a trip to Victoria is a great opportunity to immerse oneself in a thriving performance community, and also to spot some of the city’s most distinct historical architecture.
Just up from downtown, in the funky neighbourhood square of Fernwood, the Belfry Theatre plays host to the annual Spark Festival from March 9 to 22. Grab a pizza or a pint across the street at Fernwood Pizza Company or Fernwood Inn before visiting the former Baptist Church for one of four festival shows or a workshop. For a grand finale, be sure to stay at a hotel or bed and breakfast with a view of the vividly illuminated Victoria inner harbour, and spend the next morning brunching and browsing the pastel storefronts on lower Johnson Street.
Photo by Joan Marcus: Queens College. Kennedy Caughell (“Carole King”) and James D. Gish (“Gerry Goffin”)
Half an hour farther down the Island Highway, the Chemainus Theatre Festival puts on several professional shows a year and features the Playbill Dining Room with on-theme menus. This winter’s musical production, The Marvelous Wondrettes, runs from February 14 to March 28, and is sure to shake out the winter cobwebs with a visit to the 1958 Springfield High School prom and nostalgic hits from the 50’s and 60’s.
After making the two-hour trip south, find your way to the Royal and McPherson Theatres. Built in 1913 and 1914 respectively, these historic venues have retained much of their original charm, architectural style and decor. Just stepping inside Royal Theatre is itself a treat, and with 1,416 seats, the Royal is the largest theatre on Vancouver Island. Both venues host numerous performances this season: from the Tony awardwinning Broadway show, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (early February), and The House at Pooh Corner (mid-February) to presentations by Pacific Opera, the Victoria Symphony and Ballet BC, as well as performances on tour, including The Simon & Garfunkel Story, a concert-style theatre show and the longrunning musical tribute, Abbamania. Visit rmts.bc.ca for the full calendar of events.
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Take your green thumb INDOORS by Sandy Robson
I am not really a houseplant kinda gal—which is odd given how much I love to be outside in my garden—but now that it is dark and cold outside I have decided to take my pent up gardening energy and immerse myself in the world of houseplants… and man it has changed a lot since the days of hanging a fern in my university dorm room! In fact, millennials appear to be leading the charge when it comes to houseplants being in vogue… and I mean literally in vogue, as they are once again a hot design topic. Complete with hashtags like #plantparenthood and #indoorjungle, houseplant selfies are all over Instagram in a big way. One of the latest trends is pink plants; not just in the blossoms, but also in the speckled, striped, or mottled variegation of the leaves. Makes sense as “millennial pink” has spent a few seasons featured in the home décor and fashion worlds. And using pinkish plants to decorate your space will allow you to be on trend without committing to a hot pink velvet sofa. It’s November at the moment, so I have started off my new collection with a pink poinsettia, that will last me well into the new year, and I have been eyeing a Christmas cactus with its hot pink blooms that I may add to my holiday wish list. Other pink hued plants to enjoy include: the polka dot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya), Aglaonema (also known as Chinese evergreen), Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata), Calathea (Zebra plant), and the mosaic plant (Fittonia albivenis).
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As a general rule indoor plants require less light than outdoor plants, but it always pays to ask the advice of the experts at your local nursery. Some plants require indirect light, others full, some are heavy feeders, and a number are very persnickety in the watering department. As with any plant, soil and nutrition is key. A good potting soil stores water, provides nutrients, and allows drainage, but depending on the needs of your plant there are considerations here too. Some plants prefer a peat moss-based mixture, while other like a little more grit or sand in the mix,
so there are custom mixes for cacti and succulents, African violets and orchids. And then there’s the fun of selecting the pot! You’ll want the right size of pot to accommodate the root ball of the plant, and the eventual size of it, too. Something to grow into a bit, so you’re not repotting it every few months, but not too big so as to stress the roots. Again, the staff at your local nursery will become your best friend in this department! But when it comes to the style, colour, shape, and texture of the pot, the sky
is the limit… and you can opt for a classic hanging pot, complete with a macramé hanger if you are looking for some boho chic. But my favourite thing about houseplants? They are good for you! Research about the benefits of indoor plants for air purification has been around for a long time, with Philodendron, spider plants, Dracaena, weeping fig, snake plant, peace lily, Aloe vera, and Boston ferns being on the Top 20 list. They are also being recognized for other benefits such as improving test scores in classrooms, lowering blood pressure, and increasing productivity. In the dark days of winter, houseplants can provide a connection to nature… your own interior green space, even if all you have is a windowsill. Plants contribute so much to our lives, and remind us to slow down and connect with the natural world. So don’t hide your green thumbs inside your winter gloves this season, just bring the plants inside to where you are.
MEANWHILE OUTSIDE THERE ARE STILL THINGS TO DO. 1 Continue to remove debris, fallen leaves and branches. 2 Prune to remove branches that are broken or diseased. 3 If you haven’t already done so, give your garden tools some love. 4 Fluff up existing mulch and top up if needed; and check any burlap-wrapped plants. 5 Start perusing the 2020 seed catalogues as they become available… and dream!
WEEKLY MEETUPS, ACTIVITIES, & SPECIAL EVENTS Here’s what’s happening at Fairwinds plus a few events a bit further afield.
Game Day Mondays, 9:30 – 11:30 am Neil Scott Room, Fairwinds Wellness Club
Crafting Conversations Thursdays, 11:00 am – noon Neil Scott Room, Fairwinds Wellness Club
Morning Mindfulness Fridays, 9:15 – 9:45 am Neil Scott Room, Fairwinds Wellness Club
18th Annual Qualicum Beach Seedy Saturday February 1 at 10:00 am
Brant Wildlife Festival Throughout Parksville, Qualicum Beach and surrounding areas. March 21 to April 19 brantfestival.bc.ca/events/
Pacific Rim Whale Festival Ucluelet and Tofino March 20 – 28, 2020 pacificrimwhalefestival.com/
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Play More. Play Preferred. Joining the Fairwinds PLAYERS CLUB is the best way to play and save!
Receive a complimentary round with a power cart, along with preferred green fee rates, pull carts, and a host of other discounts all year long.
Contact the golf shop today for details or visit fairwinds.ca for information.