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Aqua Gulf Islands january/february 2017

Living

Volume 12, Issue 1

Hearts in Bloom Labours of love bring joy

COMFORT FOOD Delicious fare from Syrian family

Arts | food

SWING SHIFT Hit the dance floor with island big band

| business

| health

| music | community


OPENING

February 10 th 2017

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Page 2 – AQUA – January/February 2017


Every New Year full of promise and possibilities.

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MUSIC

contents TANTALIZERS! ARTISTS

The Cobbler 718 View Street, Victoria

Meet the talented Emily McPhee of Hart+Stone, PAGE 8

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AGRICULTURE

JEN MACLELLAN PHOTO

PAGE 6

Hope Bay Hop Farm: the source of fine refreshment, PAGE 12

33

Canada's first olive oil pressed on Salt Spring Island, PAGE 33

GETAWAYS

Deerholme wild food feast and Fairburn Farm B&B, PAGE 24

COMFORT FOOD

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RAISE MOVE LEVEL Increase Square Footage

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cherie thiessen PHOTO

Get healthy on your feet with Tanja Akerman, PAGE 38

24

sean mcintyre PHOTO

At home on Salt Spring with Ranya and Samer Khaldi, PAGE 30

Q&A

8

JEN MACLELLAN PHOTO

Swing Shift big band warms heart of community, PAGE 16

January/ FEBRUARY 2017


Spring hearts

A

s this issue of Aqua was massaged into existence over the Christmas period, the islands were trying valiantly to shake off a rare December deep freeze. Several seasonal events were cancelled due to snow and we endured the usual driving mayhem while cursing about the state of our roads. My Salt Spring property has one of those long, steep driveways that four-wheel-drive vehicles can usually conquer without much trouble in the snow, but I haven’t always had one at my disposal. I remember being quite pregnant in December of 1992, trudging up the snowy 350-metre trail dragging bags of groceries behind me. When my daughter was born two months later, there was also snow on the ground, but as soon as it melted, the crocuses and daffodil shoots told me to fret not. Spring had almost arrived and I had a beautiful baby in my arms. Ever since then, Gulf Islands winters have seemed short and benign, and February is a true month of love for me. When faced with a dead-of-winter Aqua I decided to

OCeanSIDe eLeGanCe

Aqua

michael murray photo

Editor’s Message

Gulf Islands

skip ahead to Valentine’s Day, hearts and love, with stories relating to those ideas. We have features about the Swing Shift big band, which holds a popular annual Valentine’s dance, and young jewelry maker Emily McPhee with her Hart + Stone company. From the “labours of love” category are stories about the first olive oil pressed at the Brauns’ Lee’s Hill farm on Salt Spring and one about the Hope Bay Hop Farm on Pender Island. In her Comfort Food column, Marcia Jansen writes about and shares recipes provided by the Khaldi family from Syria. Love of family, a safe community and good food comes through strongly in that piece. February is also associated with heart-healthy activities, so we vicariously enjoy a wild food meal from Deerholme Farm in the Cowichan Valley and talk to holistic fitness leader Tanja Akerman. If you’re feeling like this winter's weather was some kind of cruel joke, be comforted by knowing that a warmhearted Gulf Islands spring really is near at hand. — Gail Sjuberg

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MOuntaIntOp eState

Living

This issue published Jan. 11, 2017 Publisher: Amber Ogilvie Editor: Gail Sjuberg Art Director & Production: Lorraine Sullivan Advertising: Fiona Foster, Daniel Ureta, Dave Mercer, Alex Gay Aqua Writers: Elizabeth Nolan, Gail Sjuberg, Sean McIntyre, Cherie Thiessen, David Dossor, Marcia Jansen Aqua Photographers: Jen MacLellan, Cherie Thiessen, Sean McIntyre, David Dossor, Marcia Jansen

Cover photo of a heart-shaped ornament made by Salt Spring artist Suzanne Prendergast by Jen MacLellan Aqua is published by Driftwood Publishing Ltd., 328 Lower Ganges Road, Salt Spring Island, B.C. V8K 2V3 Phone: 250-537-9933 Email: news@driftwoodgimedia.com Websites: www.driftwoodgimedia.com; www.gulfislandsdriftwood.com Publications Mail Reg. #08149 Printed in Canada

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?????? PHOTO

JEN MACLELLAN PHOTO

• Salt Spring’s Grand(m)others to Grandmothers group is setting the table for its 10th annual Scrabble fundraiser for the Stephen Lewis Foundation. Public games will run on the afternoons of March 7 and 8 at the Salt Spring Inn, and on March 11 Hannah in the evening at Penny’s Pantry at the Salt Fairbrother at last Spring Golf Club. The evening event includes year's a silent auction. All proceeds help programs indoor for grandmothers in Africa who are raising February market. grandchildren orphaned by AIDS. See www. grandmotherscampaign.org for more information, and contact diane.lugsdin@ gmail.com if you want to get involved. • Pilgrimme restaurant on Galiano Island has been nominated for a prestigious Small Business BC Award in the Premier’s People’s Choice Award category. The award recognizes a small business that is considered the heart of their community and goes above and beyond. The winners in all categories will be announced at a ceremony on Feb. 23 at the Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel.

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• Salt Spring Island’s second annual February Festival is shaping up. A number of activities are planned throughout the month under a Salt Spring Chamber of Commerce/Tourism banner and in cooperation with several community partners. A Family Day celebration presented by the Salt Spring Arts Council is on Monday, Feb. 13 at Mahon Hall. It will feature The Ta Daa Lady (played by Angela Brown), a gentle, funloving soul who clowns, dances and mimes her way through crazy antics with her lovable puppets. There’s also Seedy Saturday weekend on Feb. 10-12, a Coast Salish First Nations Cultural Day (date TBA), and a Feb. 18 indoor Saturday market at the Farmers’ Institute. • Richard Fox, author of The Pender Islands Handbook, has published a 10th-anniversary edition of the 400-page book, which is the only comprehensive guidebook dedicated to the Pender Islands. “It reflects the changes in park lands due to new acquisitions and all the other changes that took place over that time, as summarized in a two-page preface,” he says. His book is for sale at Talisman Books on Pender, the Pender Island Visitors Centre and online.

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Artists

Hart + Stone Jewelry artist fashions empire from Salt Spring island base BY ELIZABETH NOLAN Photos by Jen MacLellan

For the perfect example of how a work ethic grounded in rural roots can combine with the broader outlook of the global market to create a successful enterprise, look no further than Salt Spring’s Emily McPhee.

Page 8 – AQUA – January/February 2017


McPhee is part of a loose collection of young islanders who are making their careers and home lives work in the place where they were raised. Like many successful transplants, she’s found a source of employment that she could do anywhere but chooses to pursue on Salt Spring. Her studio is a manufacturing centre that provides her Hart + Stone jewelry line to boutiques across Canada, to the U.S. and Europe, as well as being the hub of a busy online retail operation that ships to clients around the world. Coming from such an artistic milieu, it’s not surprising that McPhee would engage in some form of creative work. It was perhaps inevitable given the strong influence right at home from parents Thomas and Judy McPhee — he’s a well-known sculptor who specializes in carving gems stones, and she’s a photographer and the brains behind the financial side of the McPhee Studio Gallery, which supports Thomas’ work. “They always encouraged me. My dad encouraged me to draw as early as I remember. So it’s always been a huge part of my life,” McPhee says of her art practice. The earliest traces of McPhee’s jewelry line came in the form of hemp bracelets she made for friends as a kid. Her look has become significantly refined since then, with Hart + Stone’s signature style carrying cool, clean lines that are influenced by nature, brought down to its simplest form as planes and angles. The quartz crystals that can be found in many island homes were an

Above: Sterling silver stacking rings used by jeweller Emily McPhee. Previous page, from top: Emily at work and business cards at her studio space.

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“I feel like Hart + Stone is its own person, almost.” — EMILY MCPHEE

initial influence that still has strong bearing today in McPhee’s preference for geometric designs. McPhee grew up as a regular consumer of Vogue magazine, and her first entry into a creative career path was as a fashion student at the Blanche Macdonald Centre in Vancouver. Then she took a silversmithing course and was hooked on jewelry for good. “I’ve always been sort of fascinated by fashion,” she says. “I love the construction aspect — the actual making of the piece. And that’s what I love about what I do now. It’s a business, but I make everything that I sell.” McPhee’s first studio space was a tiny spare room in her parents’ house. She officially launched Hart + Stone in October of 2014 and has been in her studio at Merchants' Mews for a year. She has two part-time helpers for her busy season, which includes the rush to get new product into stores before December shopping, and into the mail for individual customers in time for Christmas delivery. While McPhee is the heart and soul of the operation, she tends to Page 10 – AQUA – January/February 2017

Above: Hart+Stone silver rings and necklaces. At top: Emily McPhee and her studio space at Merchants' Mews.

speak of the company in terms of “we” and “our.” “I feel like Hart + Stone is its own person, almost. I own it and create, but I feel it’s made its own life,” she explains. Hart + Stone generally features two major collections in line with the fashion world calendar, released for spring/summer and fall/winter, as well as popular designs that carry through from season to season. McPhee’s inspiration often comes from the stones she’s using. Right now she’s particularly enamoured by opal, as well as black spinel and white topaz. Usually there is a unifying theme to each collection. A recent stream came from a trip to New York City, where McPhee visited the Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She was inspired by Mayan and Egyptian jewelry pieces she saw there, and came back with a celestial theme referencing sun, moon and stars. “Since doing that it’s become very trendy and popular, so I’ve kind of kept that going,” she explains. Her creations are beautifully light


without seeming fragile in any way, and they’re meant to be functional and customizable through combination. All her rings are stackable, and her necklaces can be worn together. “I try to keep things very cohesive throughout the collection. Our catch phrase is ‘minimal design and geometric cuts,’ so I always try to stay true to the brand,” McPhee says. “It’s everyday jewelry. You don’t have to take it off.” Stones are sourced from suppliers in the U.S. who bring in product from all over the world. McPhee also works with a friend in Vancouver who cuts diamonds, which are either ethically sourced from abroad or come from Canada. This is helpful since she’s started to do more custom work, like engagement rings. The collaborative process of adding a client’s personal wishes to her basic style is something McPhee enjoys. “Usually when they come to me it’s because they already like my esthetic. And it’s a fun process because it’s something special to them. I like to be a part of it,” she says. While many artists on Salt Spring get their start at the Saturday Market in the Park, that’s one step McPhee has missed, due to over-subscribed demand for ven-

dor space. Surprisingly, the island’s artsy reputation may not have much to do with her success in any case. Her Etsy store has brought in lots of customers, while supplying a shop in Amsterdam has really opened up her online shopping base. “Pretty much all of my stores have found me through social media,” says McPhee, who uses Instagram and other platforms to promote her work. She says she often has to explain where she lives to clients making orders who have never heard of Salt Spring Island. But there is something to the island’s character that filters through. “I think part of why people buy from me is it’s handmade,” McPhee says. “And I think it makes it a little more special because it’s from an island.” Having her studio on Salt Spring makes sense for a young woman whose favourite pastimes include hiking and being outside with her dog Ryder, a rescue German shepherd mix. Studio space in Vancouver would not be anywhere as affordable. Salt Spring is also home to her family, who have been an important support system. McPhee’s parents and brother Ehren all helped to get her first major order out last Christmas for a retail chain in Vancouver with eight locations. Her partner Patrick Reynolds is equally

important: he’s the one who first suggested that McPhee transform her jewelry-making hobby into a business and has been supportive of all aspects ever since. Running the business side of Hart + Stone takes up the majority of McPhee’s time, and in a way, pulling off that commitment and outcome at her age is what she’s most proud of. Fortunately, she has parents experienced with both making and marketing art as their primary source of income. “It’s really hard to be the creative person and the business person,” McPhee observes. “I’m really lucky to have had the opportunity to learn from both of them and to do it that way. They’ve really helped me.” “I’m really excited to see how the business grows and where it goes,” she adds, while noting she’s still negotiating the work/life combo. “It’s been very interesting to try and balance the two and make them work together. What I’ve experienced as a business owner is you work all the time — there’s no 9 to 5, it’s all 24/7. But I love what I do so I don’t mind working all the time.” January/February 2017 – AQUA – Page 11


Farms

Happy Hopping Beer-loving Pender community embraces local farm BY DAVID DOSSOR | Photos by David Dossor except as noted

D

ay’s work done. Let’s try a special beer today. Taste it. Ah! That first quaff. Mmm! Swirling it around your tongue. Taste buds excited. Swallow. Quaff again. More this time. Let it linger. Let it speak to you. “I’m very special. I’m very different.” You nod your head. You look at your glass. Its copper-coloured contents sparkle and breathe. You taste again, a big draught this time. Aah! A delicate hoppy nose, nicely balanced, a heavenly gift from the gods. You look at the label on the bottle. “Wet-hopped pale ale.” What’s that all about? Now for some R and R. Well, it’s Richard and Rod to be precise. They live on North Pender Island and they know all about wethopped beer. Living their dream, they have created the Hope Bay Hop Farm and weave their magic to grow the hop plants that yield these divine blossoms. High, high, grasping on suspended strings and spiraling clockwise to the sky, the bines (not vines, I’m told) reach heavenwards — until harvest time. Then in an instant, the magicians cut them down and the tall, lovely legacies of diligence and dedication lie on the earth like bedraggled necklaces. Now the hop harvest begins in earnest. Enter 40 local Penderites. Tasks are allocated and the scene unfolds like a Bruegel canvas. Some folk pick the hops that grow low down on the still standing bines, others collect the necklaces and carry them, draped and hunched, to the waiting tables, where communities of eager hands and fingers separate the hops from its host, then drop the harvest, singly or as a bunch, into large plastic bins. It is a true communion of souls that is happening here this cloudy morning in early September; it is a distillation of community

Page 12 – AQUA – January/February 2017


ROD KNOX photo

spirit and a coming together to help out and to share in an age-old ritual. And there are many first-time meetings at the tables of these rubbergloved happy hoppers. Gradually conversations yielding new information turns the primary task into a secondary focus. But there are two off-island hop specialists whose focus doesn’t change. One is brewer Antoine Foukal of Hoyne Brewery in Victoria. He picks up a hop blossom and squeezes it open. “See that sticky yellow resin powder?” he directs me. “It’s called ‘lupulin.’ That’s what you want. Here, smell it. That’s what gives the beer its special flavour. It’s the right time to pick now. You see if I squeeze it, it springs back again.” He drops the blossom in the bin, already redolent with that distinctive hoppy aroma. Only much later did I find out that Antoine, the man standing there with his Hoyne Brewery baseball cap, knee deep in hops, had formerly been a passionate day trader, spending most of his working day at a computer. Now his passion is for brewing and here at Hope Bay he is guaranteeing the finest ingredients for his art. These hops are not the usual dried and preserved hops; they are green, vital and with all the goodness that freshness imparts. Rod Knox and Richard Piskor are the snake charmers who create the music to make these hundreds of hop plants climb forever upwards. Growing up to a foot a day, they seem to be happy to be 30 feet tall and to gaze down on their fertile beginnings. Knox and Piskor’s fertile beginnings were in the friendship that they struck many years ago. They brewed beer together and kicked around the idea of growing their own hops. Piskor explains, “One day we had a chance to meet Sean Hoyne and he was interested in buying locally

Above: From left, Hoyne brewers Antoine Foukal and Dave MacNaughton and brewmaster Sean Hoyne with delivered bins of hops. Previous page: Rod Knox, left, and Richard Piskor at Hope Bay Hop Farm before the hop plants started growing.

January/February 2017 – AQUA – Page 13


These hops are not the usual dried and preserved hops; they are green, vital and with all the goodness that freshness imparts.

grown organic hops. So that spurred us on, plus the fact that the price of beer kept going up. The reason was because it was getting difficult to get hops. In the 1990s there was a glut and people started ripping up their hop farms. Then the craft beer movement started up and people wanted better flavours.” Their dream became reality when the pair found a suitable property on Pender Island, purchasing it in 2012 and starting work in

Above: Community members harvest hops at Hope Bay Hop Farm last fall. Next page, at bottom: Rod Knox, left, and Richard Piskor enjoy a Hoyne Brewing product after a hard day's work on their farm.

earnest to prepare for their hop family. It was not easy. Going organic meant the soil had to be amended accordingly. They had to deal with the problem of drainage, exacerbated by the underlying clay soil. They had to deal with the deer. Knox smiles, “They came in hoards. There must have been nearly 60 at one time. We thought they were not partial to hops. The problem got worse in August. The drier it got, the more deer we got. We had fencing up, but they

Congratulations Saanich Fair on your 14

Congratulations Saanich Fair on your 149th A

Visual Identity Guide Visual Identity Guide Great communities are built with love.

Let’s continue to build on the strong foundation we have all worked so When I was born, my dad was farming on Wa For more information about correct usage, When I was born, my dad was farming on Wain For more information about correct usage, hard to create. Road, North Saanich. My older brothers and or to request copies of the BC Liberal logo or wordmarks,

Road, North Saanich. My older brothers and my or to request copies of the BC Liberal logo or wordmarks, sister had their own calves raise and olderolder sister had their own calves to raise andtomy please theparty party office. pleasecontact contact the office. oldest brother Michael was even a blue ribbo oldest brother Michael was even a blue ribbon winner at the Saanich Fair! winner at the Saanich Fair! The Fair and my family go way back... The Fair and my family go way back...

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AQUA #2

Authorized by David Goldsmith, Financial Agent for the BC Liberal Party | 60 Authorized by David Goldsmith, Financial Agent for the BC Liberal Authorized by David Goldsmith, Financial Agent for Party | 604-605-6001

the BC


found a way in and ate the first five feet of foliage. One deer was using its antlers to lift up the wire, so the others could get through. They liked to sneak in at first light.” Mindful of what farming is all about, local like-minded people sneaked in too and their offers of help and equipment put the deer problem in balanced perspective. “Cordially is not how we were welcomed,” reflects Piskor, “but welcomed with open arms. Everyone was excited to see what we were doing. We had the loan of a tractor, help with plowing and mowing and lots of helpful advice.” Embraced and energized by the local community, they prepared the land and planted 440 Cascade hop rhizomes in 11 rows of 40. This varietal was developed by the University of Oregon and is mold resistant and particularly suited to our climate. Last year, the second year of growth, saw the first harvest, which yielded 70 kilograms of hops, enough to make about 3,000 litres of that delicious-tasting wet-hopped pale ale. This year the harvest increased to almost 100 kilograms. By noon on that memorable Wednesday, the harvest was over and the hops, the darling buds of September, were off to catch the ferry to Swartz Bay. Back at the farm, the happy hoppers were rewarded with beef stew and vegetarian chili and, of course, ale, and then replete in more ways than one, they slowly returned to their island lives, leaving Knox and Piskor to contemplate. Looking out across their clear-cut field, they know full well how to create the magic to make those amazing plants re-ascend to the heights. They already have plans for another field and another 784 plants. But for now, day’s work done. Time for a beer. Aaah!

Did You Know? • In 2010, B.C. had 54 craft beer breweries. Today, there are 125 breweries (and counting). • B.C. hop farms are expanding quickly to meet local demand, and also shipping products worldwide. • Hops are one of the estimated 200 agriculture and agrifood commodities produced by B.C. farmers. • In 1936, hops cost brewers $1.98 per pound, increasing to only $2.98 per pound in 1996. Today, farmers are charging $15 to $20 per pound for hops, making the crop a much more appealing product now than in the past. • Hops can grow up to six metres (20 feet) annually, requiring considerable infrastructure — up to 24 poles per hectare (60 poles per acre)— to ensure they climb vertically and produce hops. SOURCE: B.C. Ministry of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction and Responsible for the Liquor Distribution Branch news release, October 2016.

Back at the farm, the happy hoppers were rewarded with beef stew and vegetarian chili and, of course, ale . . . .

January/February 2017 – AQUA – Page 15


Music

photo courtesy swing shift

Music to Love Swing Shift big band gets Valentines dancing By Gail Sjuberg Photos by Jen MacLellan except as noted

While talking with Derrick Milton last month about the origins of the Swing Shift big band, he commented, “Jeez, we go way back, don’t we?” Indeed we do. I remember meeting Derrick and his wife Wendy Milton in their Salt Spring living room in the winter of 1992, interviewing them about the upcoming first concert of the Bandemonium community band they had formed. Their daughter Margo was a toddler at the time, happily playing on the living room carpet, and I was seven months pregnant, so we talked a lot about being new parents. As we passed the 24-year point of our paths crossing in multiple ways, I wanted to do a Swing Shift piece because not only has it become an iconic Salt Spring musical entity but the timing was ideal for promoting the band's Valentine’s dance. This year it’s on Saturday, Feb. 11 at Fulford Hall. Derrick recalls the origin of the event, which first took place in 1996.

Page 16 – AQUA – January/February 2017

“We did a Valentine’s thing at the Legion, and it was a fundraiser for the whole band,” recalls Derrick Milton. “Because when we first started the concert band, we funded it out of our own pockets. We couldn’t get money from the arts council, we couldn’t get money from anywhere, so we bought the music, paid for the hall and all that kind of stuff, and then eventually we got an executive and did fundraising.” With demanding vocations as veterinarian (Derrick) and music teacher (Wendy), they handed over their babies to the competent arms of another musical couple: Murray Hunter took on Swing Shift leadership in 1996 and Dawn Hage became Bandemonium concert band director in 1999. That group then changed its name to the Salt Spring Concert Band, but the Bandemonium Music Society remained


photo courtesy Swing shift

Swing Shift members at Centennial Park in 2008. From left, Dave Milutinovic, Randy Marchi, Murray Hunter, Ron Nordine and Shinobu Murata.

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the umbrella organization. (More change is afoot. Hage is retiring as SSCB director and a spring 2017 concert will be her last at the helm.) Jan Macpherson is one of the original members of both bands, playing clarinet in the concert band and tenor saxophone in Swing Shift. She hadn’t played clarinet since high school but was convinced by Wendy Milton to give it a try again. “[Renowned local jazz musician] Ray Newman lent me one of his old clarinets for a while. Then I decided I had better buy one.” Macpherson recounts how the big band’s catchy name was chosen after a suggestion by then trombone player Joanne Roach. “We play music at night and have our day jobs too,” explained the longtime Salt Spring Island realtor. Other members' vocations range from education to construction to recreation management fields, or they are retired, while five of them have led bands and/or choirs of their own.

There is even a tune called Swing Shift in the group’s book of about 100 songs, although Derrick acknowledges that In the Mood by Glenn Miller is still the most oft-requested piece among the swing-era standards they play. With so many talented people on Salt Spring, Swing Shift has had plentiful access to vocalists who take their shows to another level. Band members Jim Raddysh and Randy Marchi sing, and Sue Newman has been a stalwart. Recording artist Tara MacLean is another favourite and is on the bill for this February's evening. At last year’s Valentine’s event the crowd was treated to World War II-era Andrews Sisters music with Newman, Jekka Mack and Margo Milton at the mic. “They really enjoyed the Andrews Sisters stuff,” said Derrick. Macpherson points out that Swing Shift has been lucky to have great directors in Hunter and Derrick Milton, who both took two stints as leader, and Monik Nordine.

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At right: Derrick Milton leads Swing Shift at a November 2016 dance at Fulford Hall. Page 16: 'Andrews Sisters,' from left, Sue Newman, Margo Milton and Jekka Mack sing with Swing Shift at last year's Valentine's Day dance.

“We are so blessed with music in this community,” she said. Joining MacLean as guest performer on Feb. 11 is Daniel Hunter, an amazing musician who is the 18-year-old son of Hunter and Hage. Wendy Milton told me about her early encounters with Daniel. He was only eight years old when he expressed an interest in playing the saxophone, but Wendy had never taught a student that instrument at such a young age. Because their hands are usually too small to handle the keys effectively, she will encourage them to learn recorder instead, for starters. It was different with Daniel. “He walks in the door. He’s eight years old and his hands were already bigger than mine, so I said ‘Yes, I guess he can play the saxophone.’” Since then he has learned to play guitar, bass, drums and piano, and is a terrific vocalist.

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“I find playing in Swing Shift to be always exciting; I love the energy and drive of the band.” — John moore

Trombone players Caroni Young and Jim Raddysh play at Fulford Hall in November. Swing Shift has about 18 members.

“He has an eclectic mix of talents," said Wendy. "He also has a four-octave vocal range.” For the Valentine’s dance, Derrick has Daniel singing songs by Stevie Wonder, Chicago and the Ides of March. “It’s always been exciting to have young musicians who come through,” said Macpherson about both the Salt Spring Concert Band and Swing Shift, noting the older members are like their “aunties and uncles.” Her own grandson, Aaron Poole, was even part of Swing Shift and the Salt Spring Concert Band for a few years. “I think we would all like to see a greater emphasis on music in the schools,” she observed. “We know what pleasure it has brought to our lives.” John Moore is a saxophone player who’s been a committed member since 2005. A semi-retired geology professor, he decided to satisfy a creative urge by playing the saxophone, something he had not done seriously since his high school and undergrad years in Winnipeg, where he was a member of a traditional jazz group. “I started off in the concert band, was taken on as a student by Monik Nordine, and switched to jazz — my first love — shortly thereafter when a chair became available in the big band. I also became band manager and as a result joined the Bandemonium board, where I remain to the present, although I passed on the manager’s torch. “I find playing in Swing Shift to be always exciting; I love the energy and drive of the band, especially when I have a solo with them behind me. It is scary at times. I am not a fluent reader and Derrick continually challenges us with new and often demanding music.” Macpherson says they have learned a lot from clinics provided by top-level musicians such as P.J. Perry, Hugh Fraser, Bruce Hurn, Nick La Riviere and Kelby MacNayr. Playing with Perry at Beaver Point Hall is one of her Swing Shift highlights.

Some of Moore’s best memories are of playing the Billy Strayhorn/Duke Ellington version of The Nutcracker at ArtSpring twice under Nordine’s direction; accompanying the cast of Hard Times Hit Parade at Fulford Hall — “and remembering how stressful it was for then director Murray Hunter, especially when they kept turning out our music lights when we needed to play — and accompanying some of our wonderful singers, especially Sue Newman and Tara MacLean.” When I ask if they have a number-one fan, Derrick says it was Anne Humphries, the longtime islander who sadly died a few months ago. Swing Shift played at her memorial. About 20 dedicated swing dancers attend all of their events, and people of all ages, not just those who may have courted to the music of the 1930s and 1940s. Players like Macpherson and Moore have been excited to play pieces more in the pop genre lately, and the group can be hired for any number of occasions. In May of 2017 they will collaborate with the Salt Spring Singers and Bill Henderson. The Feb. 11 dance sounds like it will be stellar. Grab your sweetheart, head to Fulford Hall and hear some great music that will get you “in the mood” for love and much more.

Swing Shift Members 2016 Saxophones Trombones Trumpets David Astill (bari) Jamie Macdonnell Dawn Hage Lorrie Irwin (alto 2) Jim Raddysh Randy Marchi Jan Macpherson (tenor 2) Earl Rook Derrick Milton (director) Wendy Milton (alto 1) Caroni Young Ron Nordine John Moore (tenor 1) Shinobu Murata Rhythm Section Kris Abney (drums) Karen Arney (piano) Jim Shultz (guitar) Donna Vanderwekken (bass) January/February 2017 – AQUA – Page 21


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Get Your 2017 House in Order! For whatever reason, the New Year propels most of us to get our house and everything else in order. Whether it’s sorting out our finances, writing a new will, getting our teeth or hearing checked, losing 10 pounds, or making good use of a spa gift card, one way or another, most of us need a professional to help us achieve our goals. Not sure where to find the one that’s right for you? Try Sidney. Residents and visitors alike flock to Sidney knowing full well what to expect: quality professional services, affordable prices, and free parking! Sidney offers a wide range of qualified, experienced professionals who stand ready to provide advice, guidance and unique services designed to meet or exceed your expectations. Sidney’s diverse range of health and wellness services, for example, is well known in the Capital Region and features traditional medical practitioners such as doctors, dentists, optometrists and physical therapists, and wide range of complimentary practices such naturopaths, acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists, and counsellors. Sidney’s services also include denturists and audiologists, and others who provide highly specialized,

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Food

Mushrooms and More Cowichan Valley’s Deerholme Feast Story and photos by CHERIE THIESSEN

IF

you mix wild, locally sourced foods with an experienced gourmet chef, cookbook author and devoted forager, what do you get? Deerholme and, more specifically, one of Bill Jones’ themed wild foods dinners, served monthly to a faithful following. There are 22 of us, salivating and comfortably seated in the bright and open dining area. It’s a flexible L-shaped space where tonight a large table is set for a lively group of 10 and two other tables for six. My partner David and I find ourselves sharing with an engaging family from

Page 24 – AQUA – January/February 2017


Above: Outside of Fairburn Farm B&B on Shawnigan Lake Road. Previous page, from top: Deerholme Farm chef Bill Jones and dinner guests; wild morels; clam dish.

Denmark, a couple with two boys, David and Numi, 10 and 14, who are relishing the gourmet experience as much as their parents. From his Vancouver Island farm, set comfortably in the fecund and peaceful area of Cowichan Valley, the master chef, writer, teacher, consultant and presenter serves up these sumptuous dinners to a mere handful of very privileged, very excited wild food aficionados. It’s just past five and April’s theme of “Wild Foods & Morels” is

sending out aromatic calls to the table. “We think the best food is the stuff closest to your table and our food is gathered through our relationships with local growers, producers and foragers,” says Jones. “We have five acres but are surrounded by our neighbour’s 120-acre farm. They raise beef, chicken and pork. We only raise chickens for eggs as my wife, Lynn, is a rabid animal lover. We grow vegetables, herbs, fruit trees and a wide selection of berries and like to look at

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the farm as an edible landscape that changes over the seasons. We also forage from the forest, fields and seashore of the valley.” We’re impressed that Jones has taken a current restaurant trend, that of the “dinner party” experience, and combined it with an educational program, interspersing each of the dishes with a short informative chat about the gathering, growing and cooking of the ingredients found in each plate of culinary art, and then handing around some of the ingredients he’s using in it so that we can examine, smell, feel and taste it. We start with morel mushrooms stuffed with smoked salmon and stinging nettle with crunchy fiddleheads as a garnish. The next appy is wild onion waffle with spice-grilled oyster mushrooms and black garlic aioli. We get to inhale the fermented garlic bulb that sous chef Rob Young passes around and can’t believe the complexity and richness of its fragrance. David stops me from sinking my teeth into the display. Three entrées follow, each a perfect size for savouring and a perfect

balance of ingredients to ensure no one gets too full too soon. We enjoy a nutritious stinging nettle soup, which both young David and Numi gulp down, and find morels in the lasagne with buffalo mozzarella and wild greens while Jones and Young pass around some of the garnish, miner’s lettuce. Combining locally sourced products with global cooking styles, Jones is well known firstly as being one of the originators of “the slow food movement” that germinated in the Cowichan Valley; secondly as the author of several very popular books: The Deerholme Mushroom Book, The Deerholme Foraging Book and nine other publications, three of which won world cookbook awards, his most recent being the Vegetable Cookbook, published by TouchWood Editions. “This is what I do for fun,” says the chef, “and when I get the opportunity to feed people I try to relax and enjoy the process. I even find doing the dishes afterward calming and satisfying.”

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In addition to the monthly dinners, he is also in demand for cooking classes, foraging forays and presentations. He moved to his five-acre farm in 2000, drawn by the community and by the Mediterranean climate that encourages good growth. We wind up with a killer sweet: rhubarb and wild rice pudding with truffle honey, a grand fir shortbread crumble and maple jelly. It’s 9 o’clock and we slowly wend our way down dark rural roads, back toward Fairburn Farm B&B, the perfect overnight stay because of its proximity to Deerholme and also because it is also a key player in the “slow food” trend. The 19th-century farmhouse on 130 acres is peaceful and welcoming, home to a herd of 100 river water buffalo, the only ones in North America. Darrel and Anthea Archer imported them because of the animal’s docile nature, its lighter impact on the environment (it only needs good grass to thrive), its delicious meat, which Anthea tells us is less fatty, and its milk, which is sold to local firms for cheese and ice cream. In fact, we had already enjoyed the mozzarella in Deerholme’s lasagne. The third-generation farm goes back to 1884 when John Mariner and Philip Carvell bought 1,200 acres and cleared it, building the first cabin two years later. Darrel has called it home for 55 years. In addition to the herd, the energetic couple raise chickens for freerange eggs, grind their own red fife wheat, offer farm tours, cook up a hearty farmhouse breakfast and never seem to stop working or smiling. When we return, sated from our Deerholme culinary adventure, I admire the old family photos in the parlour and then tiptoe upstairs, tumbling into the most comfortable bed I’ve ever experienced. It has been a day and a night to remember.

Fairburn Farm B&B owners Anthea and Darrel Archer.

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Comfort Food

From Syria to Salt Spring Middle Eastern fare from the Khaldi family STORY & PHOTOS BY MARCIA JANSEN

You’d be surprised by how many different nationalities live on Salt Spring Island. And each one of them has their own comfort food.

M Marcia Jansen is a Dutch journalist and writer who has lived on Salt Spring since 2012.

Page 30 – AQUA – January/February 2017

ost people who move to Canada come here for the beauty of the country, for the space, the relaxed lifestyle or the friendly people. But 41-year-old Samer and 35-year-old Ranya Khaldi have a different story. They fled the war in Syria and left everything they had behind to find a safe home for themselves and their three children — Sarina, 9, Adam, 5 and Myrna, 3. They found their sanctuary on Salt Spring Island, thanks to Anne Marshall and the Salt Spring Refugee Sponsorship Group, and the help of many generous Salt Spring people who’d sponsored their first year. It was a big transition from Aleppo, the largest city in Syria and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, to Salt Spring.

“Aleppo was so beautiful and it was a safe place to live too. We had a great life there before the war,” says Samer, who has just finished his English lessons for the day. But the once bustling city with its ancient buildings is now one of the most dangerous cities to live in and partly destroyed by bombs. Both Samer’s and Ranya’s family are still there. While Ranya is in the kitchen making lunch, Samer answers a video message from his sisters in Syria. It’s midnight in Aleppo but his sister’s house is full of life. “We like to have a lot of people around us. That’s the thing I miss the most about Syria,” says Samer after he’d said goodbye to his sisters and their families. Samer, Ranya and their three kids left Aleppo in 2015. “Our house was destroyed by the war and


Ranya and Samer Khaldi hold Kibbe and Saltet al Malfouf dishes.

“I felt canadian the minute we arrived at the airport. i love it here.” – SAMER KHALDI

our other house was taken by the military,” says Samer, who worked as a lawyer until the war broke out in 2012, and now has jobs at the Country Grocer café and a company that makes medical supplies. “When the war started it wasn’t safe anymore to work as a lawyer and to go to court every day. So I started to work as a piano teacher instead. That was less dangerous. We lived three years through the war until my oldest daughter and I witnessed a child being shot by a sniper while crossing the street in front of our house. That was the moment I made the decision to leave.” The family lived in Turkey for a year and came to Canada on July 12, 2016. “The Unitarian Association in Adelaide, Australia wanted to sponsor us, but when we heard that we were welcome in Canada, we didn’t think twice. I felt Canadian the minute we arrived at the airport. And I love it here. The culture, the polite people, everything. I feel seen, I found dignity here. My wife is happy to be here too. She likes the ocean and nature, but she’s at home most of the time with the children and misses her family and friends a lot.” Ranya was a cook in the past and stayed at home when the couple had their children. Food is her lifeline to her home country. “I only cook Middle Eastern dishes,” Samer translates for her. She recently catered for a private party on Salt Spring and hopes to do more of that in the future. Ranya’s favourite dish from home is mloukhieh, a soup made of molokhia leaves, served with rice. “We just discovered a box of dried leaves in a store in Victoria, but they are very hard to find here,” Samer explains. So for this article Ranya chose to prepare Kibbe, a traditional and popular dish in Syria, Lebanon and several other Middle Eastern countries, and a cabbage salad with mint and parsley called Saltet al Malfouf. “Our kids love it and we eat it at least twice a month,” says Samer.

Kibbe Ingredients • 3 c. fine (brown) bulgur • 250 grams finely ground beef or lamb • 2 medium onions, finely chopped • 1 tsp. salt • 1 tsp. seven spices mix (pepper, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, coriander and allspice) • ½ c. almonds, finely chopped • olive oil In a medium bowl, soak bulgur for 30 minutes in cold water. Remove and drain. Remove excess water by squeezing through thick paper towel or cheesecloth. Place into a medium bowl and add salt. Combine well and process in a food processor until it has a dough-like consistency. In a medium frying pan, sauté the finely chopped onion in olive oil. Add almonds. Add ground lamb or beef and chop well with wooden spoon or spatula. Once beef is light brown, remove from heat. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Add a quarter of the meat mixture to the bulgur. Add the seven spices to the remaining mixture and use for the filling. Take an egg-sized amount of the bulgur mixture and form into a ball. With your finger, poke a hole in the ball, making a space for filling. Add filling and pinch the top to seal the ball. You can then shape it into a football shape, or leave as a ball. Fry in 350-degree oil on stove top or in a deep fryer for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Saltet al Malfouf Ingredients • White cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, parsley, onion, dried mint leaves, garlic, olive oil, salt and a little bit of lemon juice. Select tender leaves from the heart of the cabbage. Wash well and discard tough stems. Pile up three leaves at a time and cut them into one-inch strips. Then chop finely. Put chopped cabbage in a salad bowl and sprinkle lightly with salt. Let stand for half an hour. Work the cabbage between the fingers gently so that the salt will penetrate the leaves. Add finely chopped tomatoes, carrots, onion and mint. Dress to taste with lemon juice, salt, olive oil and crushed garlic.

January/February 2017 – AQUA – Page 31


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Ventures

Mediterranean Flavour Couple makes history by producing authentic Canadian olive oil By SEAN MCINTYRE Photos by Sean McIntyre except as noted

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cold wind blows under a bright blue winter sky in Salt Spring’s Burgoyne Valley. The sun traces a low arc, barely clearing the summit of Mount Bruce to the south as the nights grow longer and darker with each passing day. December is a time to look inward, to stoke the wood stove and prepare for the feasts and festivities that help us persevere through the still night of year’s end. Even in the Gulf Islands, a region widely known for its temperate, Mediterranean-like climate, December isn’t a time one would expect to spot pickers gathering olives from hundreds of evergreen trees in anticipation of the country’s largestever harvest. “This has never happened in Canada before,” said George Braun, standing outside a spartan prefab building where installation of an olive mill unlike anything the island has ever seen was completed the previous day. “We’ve never had 1,000 pounds of olives grown in this country before, and this is just the beginning.”

January/February 2017 – AQUA – Page 33


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Iberian Peninsula, but the bond of family exerted a much stronger pull than a yearning for distant landscapes, so the Brauns began to look for options closer to their Lower Mainland home. “Life happens, kids happen and grandchildren happen, and we didn’t want to be gone all the time,” Sheri said. California’s Central Valley is home to the continent’s premier olive-growing region, and hearty farmers have been known to try their luck as far north as Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Having read that olive trees can thrive anywhere pinot gris grapes and arbutus trees are found, the couple looked to Salt Spring, where Sheri’s grandmother once ran the Salt Spring Island Trading Company in the building that now houses TJ Beans Coffee Shop and North End Fitness. Apart from smaller farms on Pender and Saturna islands, the couple was taking on virgin ground, but the proximity to family, Sheri’s history on the island and finding the perfect piece of land sealed their decision. In 2015, George and Sheri harvested

George and Sheri Braun as teenagers at Mount Maxwell, with the land they would one day own seen below.

photo courtesy Sheri & GeorGE braun

George and Sheri Braun transplanted the first of about 2,500 seedlings imported from California onto their property on Lee’s Hill about five years ago. Then they watched and waited. Olives can tolerate poor soil but require a warm climate and excellent drainage. The young trees do not appreciate bitter winds and extended periods of sub-zero weather, so there are few places in Canada where anyone should even remotely consider planting an olive tree, let alone build an orchard with hopes of producing any significant quantity of olive oil. Fortunately for the Brauns, many of those ideal southern slopes are found in the Gulf Islands. Their 72-acre south-end property is among the most promising, and that’s no accident. During a trip to Spain as a young couple, George and Sheri were immediately struck by the mystique and symbolism of the country’s sprawling olive orchards. “It was literally love at first sight,” Sheri said. The couple envisioned retiring on an olive orchard somewhere like the sunny

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70 pounds of olives and extracted some cherished drops of olive oil from a manually operated olive mill. “Nobody could tell me when to expect a crop because nobody had done it up here,” George said. “We didn’t know if it was going to work.” This year, the Brauns and their team of pickers, which includes their children and two grandchildren, picked more than 1,000 pounds of fruit, finishing within hours of the island’s first snowfall of the winter. In the years to come, the harvest could quadruple, and the Brauns have plans to plant more seedlings to expand the orchard. “We just started doing our homework and weren’t sure if it was going to work but decided to try,” Sheri said. “It’s been a big experiment.” As work on the new olive orchard progressed, Sheri discovered a fading photograph taken of her and George nearly 50 years ago. The image shows the couple as teenagers on the bluffs of Mount Maxwell. In the distance far below is their farm, the site of what George now believes is the largest source of authentic Canadian olive oil. “We don’t know how good the olives are going to be, but it will be original Canadian olive oil,” he said. As the olive mill awakened on production day, it began to whir like a high-end Italian sports car. The olives are fed through a metal grate, washed in a cold-water bath, split, crushed, ground, spun and compressed as the crop slowly flows through the labyrinthian course of vats, pumps and pipes. Page 36 – AQUA – January/February 2017


“Nobody could tell me when to expect a crop because nobody had done it up here.” – GEORGE BRAUN At right: Olive oil pours into container. Previous page, from top: Family members harvest olives; George Braun with olives ready to be pressed.

This year’s harvest of 33 litres is now slowly aging in stainless steel containers. The Brauns appreciate the historic significance of their first crop and are considering their options before deciding how to market this inaugural batch of Canadian olive oil. Special commemorative bottles are being designed, and a sample of the finished product was couriered to Australia, where it will be analyzed and judged by an expert olive oil tester. “We really don’t know what we’re going to do yet,” Sheri said. “We will bottle it and figure all that out. This is really history in the making.”

PHOTO: JOHN CAMERON

The sparkling chrome machine took nearly three days for a certified olive mill installer flown in from Italy to assemble. Giuseppe Levantino is originally from Sicily, home to some of the world’s best olive oil, but is based at the company headquarters of Gruppo Pieralisi, near the Adriatic Coast about 200 kilometres northeast of Rome. Having installed state-of-the art olive mills across the world’s best-known olive-growing regions, in places such as Portugal’s Algarve, Andalusia in Spain and the near-mythic French region of Provence, Levantino never imagined adding Canada to his list. “When we think of Canada, we think of cold and snow, but I’m very interested to be here in the north for the first time,” he said, carefully watching the machine come to life as the first batch of olives is poured into the mill. The small fruit clogs up the machine and Levantino jumps in with a few tweaks to keep things moving. “Small fruit. Many pits,” he said. Hours later, the first drops of dark green oil emerge. Levantino leans back and smiles. The Brauns let out a sigh of relief. Everything’s gone according to plan. “This is hand-made, hand-picked, 100 per cent pure, organic, extra-virgin, you-name-it olive oil,” Sheri said.

Join us for the Salt Spring Island February Festival! Take the Quebec Carnival and Tofino’s Storm During the month of February, Salt Spring Watching and put them together on an island Island is playing host to music, arts and in the Salish Sea – and what you get is Salt cultural events at various locations including artcraft showcase exhibit Spring Island’s February Festival! local galleries, pubs and concert halls. salt spring arts council

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January/February 2017 – AQUA – Page 37


Active = Healthy

Q&A

Tanja Akerman at Mouat Park with her dog Eva. Page 38 – AQUA – January/February 2017

jen maclellan photo

Tanja Akerman takes fitness to heart Q. Has fitness always been part of your life? What sorts of activities have you done/do you do? A. I took Highland dancing, ballet and tap dancing growing up. I discovered the gym in my early 20s. When the kids were small, though, it was hard to fit it in. Fitness became really important to me after reading a book entitled Younger Next Year, Live Strong, Fit & Sexy – Until You’re 80 and Beyond by Chris Crowley & Henry S. Lodge, MD. After reading that book, I knew I needed to be active six days a week. I love running, biking and walking, and started hiking this last year. Walking is my favourite activity. It clears my head and makes me feel good. For me, walking is my happy pill. Q. Your Hot Wheels team is notoriously enthusiastic in the annual Big Bike for Heart & Stroke event. How and why did you get involved with this fundraiser? A. Our son, Chris, was born with pulmonary atresia — his pulmonary valve was closed at birth. When he was three days old, he had surgery to open the valve and put in a stent. The B.C. Children’s Hospital was amazing to us, as was our family, friends and our community. We have so much gratitude to our Heart & Stroke Foundation, too, as they have worked behind the scenes so we can have the knowledge we have today. Suzanna Devitt at Island Savings asked me if I’d like to start a team. My son was five at the time and about to have his second openheart surgery later that year. I jumped at the opportunity and started calling all our family members and friends to see if they would join. The team consists of 29 participants and generally we have a full bike. We hoot and holler as we ride the Big Bike through town. This year will be 13 years, raising a total of $45,030.53 for critical research through Heart and Stroke. In the last 10 years alone, we have raised $30,338.75. Q. How old is Chris now and how is he doing? A. Chris is doing great. Has not missed a beat, no pun intended. Chris has been a very vibrant child since he was born. Chris started

playing ice hockey at age six. You will notice him walking on the Vesuvius ferry with his large hockey bag, goalie pads and stick in tow. Now 17 and 6’3”, he’s in his last year of Midget hockey, and his dad Bob is still coaching. This physical activity has been very good for his heart’s recovery. Without the research we have today, he would have been told not to engage in highlevel sports. Well, we know that this high-level intensive sport is good for our hearts. Q. Tell us about the Holistic Fitness Walking and Hiking Groups you are now leading through PARC. A. In January 2016 I took my fitness theory course, searching for answers to my own health and wellness. After seeing an ad by Parks and Rec looking for new program ideas, I decided to create a new option for our community. It would be safe, active and fun, offering accountability and support, as it can be hard to keep up a fitness plan on your own. There are three levels to pick from: a light pace walking group, moderate pace walking group and a vigorous hiking group — something for everyone. My goal and vision is to help promote health in others, for body, mind and spirit. People can register through crd.bc.ca/ ssiprograms and contact me at 250-538-8450 or akermant@shaw.ca for more information. Q. Do you have any advice for people who want to start or resume a fitness program in 2017? A. Pick an activity you enjoy! Build on your plan slowly. Be consistent. Make fitness a part of your daily schedule. Write it down and set a time. It’s OK to ask for help — join a group, hire a personal trainer, hire a health coach. It takes two months for your fitness plan to become a habit. You come first! Q. How else might people know you on the island? A. Most people know me from working at Island Savings until 2014. I spend many hours at the “ferry terminals” — that’s where I see so many faces I know — driving my daughter and her friends to soccer in Victoria and watching hockey all over Vancouver Island. I always say my favourite sports teams are the ones my kids play on, so presently, The Cowichan Capitals and Vancouver Island Wave.


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Aqua jan:feb 2017  

Lifestyle in the Canadian Gulf Islands

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