Boulevard Vancouver English, Oct/Nov 2022

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VANCOUVER LIFE AT ITS FINEST OCTOBER | NOVEMBER 2022 ALL ABOUT APPIES Nosh and nibble while you mix and mingle BRIDE REIMAGINED Florals and fashion that dare to be different
It’s a new era in the world of weddings
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NOV 4 – JAN 8 GO BEYOND THE MASK Tickets at ”Beyond King Tut: The Immersive Experience” Produced in Partnership with the National Geographic Society. © 1996-2022 National Geographic Society. All rights reserved.



Photo by Lia Crowe Model Émilie Hamel sits in a B&B Italia Series Up 2000 lounge chair, designed by Gaetano Pesce, from Gabriel Ross Inc. The chair is a metaphor for a large comfortable womb and recalls ancient statues of fertility goddesses. Émilie wears a red silk chiffon dress by N 21 ($179) from Turnabout Luxury Resale; florals are by Fleuris Studio & Blooms. Styling by Jen Evans, and makeup by Jen Clark.

10 BOULEVARD FEATURES 38 C REATIVE LICENSE Details-rich renovation imbues artistry B y Darcy Nybo 52 BRIDE REIMAGINED Florals and fashion that dare to be different B y Lia Crowe + Jen Evans 58 THE ICING ON THE CAKE It’s a new era in the world of weddings B y Jane Zatylny 62 A LL ABOUT APPIES Nosh and nibble while you mix and mingle B y Ellie Shortt 76 WHERE CULTURE AND A DVENTURE COLLIDE E xploring Chiapas, Mexico B y Suzanne Morphet
FASHION 52 5820
BOULEVARD 11 DEPARTMENTS 16 CONTRIBUTORS 18 EDITOR’S LETTER A hitch in the hitching B y Susan Lundy 20 LIFE. STYLE. ETC. T im Miller B y Lia Crowe 24 GOOD TASTE Top chef: Dennis Peckham B y Joanne Peters 22 WELL AND GOOD Adaptogens calling B y Kaisha Scofield 28 WEEKENDER Inhaling the still beauty of t he Cariboo B y Lauren Kramer 32 SPOTLIGHT Immerse yourself: King Tut exhibit B y Lin Stranberg 48 S PACES WE LOVE Ocean dreams B y Dawn Sondergaard 48 BUSINESS CLASS A breath of fresh air: Origen Air B y Tess van Straaten 76 SECRETS AND LIVES Faith Wilson B y Angela Cowan 78 NARRATIVE My first grandchild B y Barbara Barry 82 BEHIND THE STORY Photo by Lia Crowe 5238 24
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“Struck by the utter silence and rugged beauty of the Cariboo, I found the peacefulness of my time at Echo Valley Ranch & Spa exhilarating. The ranch activities were unique, educational and really well thought-out, particularly the survival course and the tour of the Fraser Canyon.” An awardwinning travel writer born in Cape Town, South Africa, Lauren pens stories on food, travel, aquaculture and interesting personalities from her home in Richmond.



“Immersing myself within the opulence of Chateau Anmore for this issue—with all its glam, hidden doorways and stunning backlit island—it was easy to forget I was writing from my 650-squarefoot Vancouver condo, with a 100-pound dog at my feet! Perusing pictures of homes and architectural design are passions for me.” Working as a senior director, marketing communications for HAVAN, Dawn also contributes to local publications on topics of the housing industry. The HAVAN Awards for Housing Excellence provide opportunities to explore Metro Vancouver’s industry-leading new home and renovation designs.


Mario Gedicke


Harry van Hemmen 604-649-1707


Susan Lundy


Lia Crowe


Barbara Barry, Angela Cowan, Lia Crowe, Jen Evans, Lauren Kramer, Suzanne Morphet, Darcy Nybo, Joanne Peters, Kaisha Scofield, Ellie Shortt, Dawn Sondergaard, Lin Stranberg, Tess van Straaten, Jane Zatylny


Lily Chan, Michelle Gjerde, Tammy Robinson, Kelsey Boorman


Vicki Clark

Eleanor Ajram


Lia Crowe, Don Denton, Sublime Interior Design





“When I first saw one of Origen Air’s innovative units housing ‘magic plants’ in the newsroom at the CHEK Media Centre, I was struck by how sleekly pretty it was. It instantly brightened the room and became a bit of a focal point. It’s easy to see why Origen’s co-founders are hoping it will become the water cooler of our time.” Tess van Straaten is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of experience in broadcast and print journalism, who’s interviewed prime ministers, rock stars, and royalty but might be best-known for cuddling puppies on CHEK News’ popular Pet CHEK segment.


Marilou Pasion 604-542-7411


Boulevard Magazine is published 6 times per year by Black Press Ltd. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited. The publisher is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts and photographs.
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While my second wedding to Bruce in 2014 went without a hitch, the same can’t be said for my first hitching back in 1990. And all the wedding talk in this edition of Boulevard has stirred up a few memories.

The fun started the morning of the big day at the in-laws’ house, the designated meeting place for the wedding party, and where everyone gathered to collect and admire bouquets, take photographs and prepare for the journey to the beach, where the ceremony was set to occur.

This beach—a gorgeous bit of privately owned sand and gently lapping ocean that had been shut down to the public—was originally a nudist beach, causing an immediate hush, I’m sure, for those receiving the invitation. But despite the nudist designation, the bridal party and guests wore classy clothes, and the women wobbled through the sand in heels. I wore a calf-length, white dress with a flow ered bodice and kept my feet bare. (I liked to pretend that I disdained wedding shoes to aid creation of a beachy-Bohemian vibe, but in fact, I merely didn’t like shoe shopping.)

Derrick, the groom, and his best man slipped down to the beach in the early morning before the wedding and covered the logs and sand with buckets of flowers. A slight misty-drizzle at dawn cleared up and the sun appeared, gently licking the beach for the first time in weeks..

But back at the in-laws’ house, the hour of the main event approached and everyone started leaving for the beach. Each departing group had a designated car. The vehicle deemed nicest was reserved for the three of us in the bridal party and my dad. In this family of rusty station wagons and dusty pick-up trucks, the “nicest” car was a rental belonging to one of Derrick’s visiting brothers. We even decorated it for the journey.

Finally, everyone departed and it was time for the bride to hit the road. Unfor tunately, the one remaining, decorated vehicle was locked, the driver (now happily at the beach) had the keys in his pocket, and common use of cell phones was a decade away.

After much drama and a few less than appropriate words from the bride, we managed to catch a ride when the minister happened by. We all squeezed into his four-seater—but the musicians at the beach had to extend their repertoire signifi cantly as we arrived 20 minutes late.

And that wasn’t the only hitch in the hitching. The same brother-in-law offered to videotape the event, and did so with great in-your-face enthusiasm. Unfortu nately, he wasn’t familiar with the camera and for most of the filming confused the on and off buttons. The resulting movie featured lots of foot footage as the camera swung at his side, supposedly off. At one point in the film, the viewer can watch a wide shot of sand, shoe and log, while listening to Terry ask, “Say, does anyone know how to work this thing?”

a hitch in the hitching Susan Lundy Editor

There was also the exchanging of the vows, where Derrick got so tangled in the words, he finally threw up his hands in defeat. (That, of course, is the instant most of the guests captured on their cameras.)

Today, the wedding is a blur (especially if I watch the video). But my favourite photo at the reception was taken while Derrick gave the groom’s response to his father’s toast to the bride. In the photo, I have my hands folded in what appears to be prayer and I’m looking down. Please, don’t let him say anything stupid

Years later, my mom and I came across a box of slides taken at her wedding. With an eyebrow lifted and a small smirk on her face, she passed me a slide, at which I stared disbelievingly. There was the same photo! My mother sitting at a wedding table laden with fancy square desserts, my dad standing next to her making a speech, mom’s head bent, hands folded in prayer: Please, don’t let him say anything stupid.

And while some things don’t change, the wedding landscape itself has definitely evolved. Read on to discover how.

Susan Lundy is a former journalist who now works as an editor, author and freelance writer.

Her latest book, Home on the Strange, was released earlier this year via Heritage House Publishing.


“I love people, and I get jazzed if I can inspire others with a warm smile and a word of encourage ment,” says Tim, when asked what “fires him up the most in his work.”

We meet at Matchstick Coffee in Vancouver’s West End, where I’m greeted with the warmest of smiles that suddenly makes my day a whole lot better.

Tim dreamed of being a business owner back when he was in high school, and from there he completed a business administration degree and joined an older brother in the furni ture business in 1981. After 20 years of owning an independent furniture store, Miller’s Fine Furniture, Tim partnered with a younger brother, opening La-Z-Boy Furniture Gal leries of Greater Vancouver. They currently have four retail outlets with a staff of 75.

With that much success behind him, I wonder what daily practice Tim has adopted that has brought him here.

“Don’t allow yourself to get too bogged down in the day to day,” Tim says. “Deal with the task at hand and move on. Don’t take life too seriously. I recently saw a quote from author James Clear: ‘Each day is a small lifetime. Live a good life today.’”

Outside of work, Tim is an avid volunteer, both locally and abroad.

“Locally, La-Z-Boy partners with Ronald McDonald House. Once a quarter we head to the local RMH and prepare a home-cooked meal for the parents and children staying at the house while their children undergo treatment.”

Internationally, Tim belongs to a group of local businesspeople who love to give back.

“Our group, Guatemala Con exions, has partnered with local Indigenous leaders in Guatemala, helping to meet needs in their rural


villages. We’ve funded community centres in remote villages, funded classroom construction as well as water enhancement projects.”

Tim goes on to say, “We’ve partnered with a local doctor and financed the construction of a small hospital. With the help of a local Indigenous couple, we have ongoing support for a group of students, helping them financially, allowing them to complete their grade 12 education. We have also supported a program teaching them English during their school vacation time. Several graduates now work for Ameri can companies in Guatemala, lifting them and their families out of the poverty cycle. With today’s technology, we have been able to keep in contact with our partners and students over these past few years, but I do have a ticket booked to visit in person this fall.”

When it comes to style, for Tim, it’s all about being au thentic to yourself.

“Spend more time doing the things that give you energy than tasks that suck the energy from you. I’m comfortable with who I am, whether that be conversing with a panhan dler on the street or attending a downtown gala. Yet selfishly, I’m most comfortable chatting over a coffee at any local coffee shop.”

Asked to describe his best life lesson, Tim says, “Take care of yourself physically, mentally and spiritually. If you love who you are, it’s easy to love and support others. Be inquisi tive, listen and smile.”


App: I love the Audible app. Recent audiobook listens: Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey, Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins, Atomic Habits by James Clear. Fave Podcast: Impact Theory by Tom Bilyeu.

Coffee table book/photography book: Humans of New York. Favourite book of all time: The Bible.


Uniform: Casual is the best!

Favourite denim, brand and cut: I’m most comfortable in jeans: 34 Heritage brand. Current go-to clothing item: My ANIÁN jacket. Currently coveting: A new ATV. Necessary indulgence: A great cup of coffee.


Favourite musician: I love country music: Luke Combs and Chris Stapleton are top of the playlist, yet my all-time favourite is Elton John.

Favourite cocktail or wine: Red wine drinker (recently became an investor in Stoneboat Vineyards in Oliver, BC).

Favourite city to visit: Vancouver—I’m so blessed to live here! And I will say, my recent fishing trip to Haida Gwaii, staying at Queen Charlotte Lodge, was pretty epic!

Favourite place in the whole world: Apart from British Columbia, Lake Atitlán, Guatemala.


well and good

Adaptogens calling

Tools to help battle stress, anxiety, depression and more


if there’s one thing we are all tired of talking about, it’s stress. Because talking about stress is, well, stressful!

Yes, we know there is too much stress in our lives and, yes, we know that meditating, doing yoga, going for walks and deep breathing will melt that stress away. But let’s be honest, when life is stressful, the idea of deep breathing makes most of us want to scream. The hustle is real and, for most people, finding time to de-stress is the most stressful task of all.

A close second stressor is the knowledge that stress is really detrimental to our overall health and wellness. There are seemingly endless studies coming out about the brutal effects stress can have on our mental and physical health, with some suggesting that too much stress can even shorten lifespan.

Unfortunately, dealing with stress is one of those situa tions where it can get worse before it gets better. The act of de-stressing is only possible when the body and mind feel supported enough to tackle extra challenges. Sometimes a vacation, an unplugged weekend or even a spa day can offer just enough peace to face stress head on.

However, acts of self-care are usually initiated only after the stress has become unbearable, and often the last thing I want to do with newfound vacation peace is deal with my stress.

It might be time to call in reinforcements.

You may have seen some strange new products pop up in your local coffee shop, like mushroom coffee, ginseng elixirs and turmeric lattes. If you’re a follower of Gwyneth Paltrow, you may have heard her GOOPies drop words like reishi, ashwagandha, rhodiola or schisandra. No, this isn’t an exclu sive new GOOP language, they are talking about adaptogens, the latest hack in wellness town. Adaptogens are not new. They are derived from plants that have the ability to aid the body in adapting to daily stressors and/or improving body function. They have been used around the world and studied extensively by non-western medicine for centuries.

Ginseng, for example, was mentioned in Chinese medical texts as early as 196 AD. Turmeric was found in tombs on the Indian subcontinent dating back to 2500 BCE. In the 1980s, Russian scientists put great effort into studying adaptogens in hopes that they could be used to support military efforts.

Today, adaptogens have reached peak popularity in the mainstream wellness industry and, as a result, we are seeing them pop up on coffee shop menus, and in juice bars and cookbooks. Because they are derived from natural plant sources, people find them less intimidating than supplementa tion. One of the biggest appeals of adaptogens is that they can be paired and customized to the specific needs of the user.

As with any product that promises health and wellness, it is wise to be as informed as possible about what you are consum ing. Issues can arise if adaptogens are taken incorrectly. For example, they can be ineffective, can cause stimulation while

the desired result is relaxation, or even interfere with medica tions and hormone balance.

Here are some of the more popular adaptogens and what they are more commonly used for: ginseng increases brain function, reflexes and immune function, while decreasing stress and creating a sense of calm; ashwagandha relaxes and reduces stress and anxiety. It is also anti-inflammatory and helps with blood sugar regulation. Turmeric is anti-inflamma tory, while boosting brain function and combating depression; rhodiola rosea stimulates and combats fatigue while improving brain function, and it is said to elevate exercise performance; schisandra is stimulating and increases brain performance, ca pacity and endurance, and supports fitness; reishi mushroom aids in sleep health and reduces stress.

This is just a sample; there are many more adaptogens on the market, including a whole host of adaptogenic mushrooms, mojo-boosting maca, stress-reducing tulsi basil and stimulating astragalus.

One of the most promising areas of adaptogen research is in countering the undesirable effects of perimenopause and full menopause. For example, rhodiola can help to balance the hormones that cause mood swings, anxiety and hot flashes, while schisandra has been shown to stimulate the central ner vous system, improve cognition and balance neurotransmitters.

This all sounds pretty good, right? Brain-boosting, stressreducing, anti-inflammation—yes, to all of that!

So how do we go about taking these magical elixirs? An important first step is to be clear on what symptom you are most interested in tackling and plan accordingly. Some adap togens are calming and others stimulating, so while it is okay to combine them, you want to be sure to time your consumption accordingly. For example, don’t take a large dose of rhodiola with your evening meal unless you want to pull an all-nighter, on account of its stimulating effects.

Dosage is also a consideration, as is duration of consump tion. Most adaptogens build up in your system over time so there is a benefit to sustained use. However, some can become less effective over time, so it is advisable to cycle your use ac cordingly.

The most important step to taking adaptogens to is to do your research, keep track of what you are taking and what effect (if any) it is having on whatever symptom you are hop ing to improve. It is this nutritionist’s hope that adaptogens are used as a tool to create the space needed to tackle the stresses of life, to clear them out and ultimately make room for activities in life that bring joy and wellness. As tempting as it is, they should not be used to take on more work and further compound the stressors of life.

Adaptogens will not make you a superhero but they might make you super enough to clear out some of your more over whelming tasks and projects.

Note: if the stress in your life feels overwhelming to the point of altering your ability to enjoy activities that you have enjoyed in the past and is causing depression or anxiety, please couple your adaptogen use with help from a mental health professional.


Top chef

good taste

Dennis Peckham’s passion for the culinary world



ennis Peckham’s high-school home economics teacher worried about his future self. After he failed the class, she told the Williams Lake native that she hoped he would one day find a partner who knew how to cook; she feared he would otherwise starve.

Oh, if that instructor could see him now!

As corporate executive chef for Glowbal Restaurant Group, Dennis oversees the company’s seven Vancouver restaurants, with another opening in Toronto next spring. After studying culinary arts in Vancouver, Dennis built his career on experi ence at acclaimed dining establishments such as Lumiere, West and The French Laundry, a Michelin three-star restaurant in California, among other places.

Over the years he has also worked for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and operated his own food business. A competitor on Top Chef Canada’s Season 7, Dennis earned the title of Chopped Canada champion during its third season.

The path from flunking a high-school cooking class to being one of the country’s most in-demand chefs wasn’t straightforward. Although he helped out at his dad’s strip-mall diner before leaving Williams Lake—washing dishes and making clubhouse sandwiches and breakfast burritos—Dennis pursued construction upon graduating. He hated it. But when he landed a job as a dishwasher at the Colwood Golf Course, it clicked.

“It was an Anthony Bourdain moment,” Dennis recalls. “I remember by day three, I loved it. I took to the culture quite

quickly. I loved the excitement of it, the stress, the drive of it. The chef was this cool guy, and I just thought, ‘I want to be that guy.’ Then I thought, ‘I want to be better than that guy.’ I developed a passion for it.”

Passion is just one characteristic needed to “make it” in the restaurant business, an extraordinarily competitive industry known for its long hours. Dennis’ role involves overseeing Glowbal Restaurant Group’s multiple properties: Glowbal; Black+Blue (a sexy, sleek steak house with an enormous glass-encased meat cellar, aglow against a wall of Himalayan salt); The Roof; Five Sails (at Canada Place); Coast; Trattoria (Kitsilano, Burnaby and Park Royal); Italian Kitchen; and its newest addition, Rileys Fish+Steak. He’ll be leading the launch of Black+Blue in Toronto, a homecoming of sorts for Glowbal founder Emad Yacoub, who got his own start in the business there after moving to Canada from Egypt. It will be the group’s flagship restaurant. The stakes, so to speak, are high, but it’s a challenge Dennis embraces.

“It’s a very personal project for me, and it’s important I do my best to make sure their vision comes to life,” he says.

Across the board, Dennis creates tantalizing dishes, enhanc ing menus while supporting individual chefs at each property with their ideas for new items. At Black+Blue, for instance, he recently helped introduce a lineup of indulgent options: a show-stopping lobster carbonara with pecorino and squid-ink linguine, the latter dramatic in black; tender green asparagus with sauce gribiche and cured yolk; creamed spinach with


crispy fried pancetta and a sunnyside-up egg; and the Black+Blue Steak Diane, a modernized classic.

Then there’s the new Miyazaki Wagyu; Black+Blue is the only restaurant in Canada to hold an official certifi cate to serve the Japanese kuroge washu beef, one of the most in-demand meats in the world (and also one of the most marbled, to a lusciously buttery effect).

“We push ourselves creatively to build dishes that people will appreciate and not be intimidated by,” Dennis says. “If you’re a painter, you can be as creative as you want within those borders. It’s the same thing with food. What [Glowbal] is looking for with all of the locations is to create that box for the chefs to work within. Each envi ronment is different, but that doesn’t stifle your creativity; you just find your creativity within those parameters. And anybody, no matter what their culinary knowledge or experience, will find something on the menu that will satisfy them.”

Playing with ingredients is just one small part of Den nis’ role, however. Quite literally running from restaurant to restaurant in the downtown core, he mentors people and handles administrative and financial duties. Then there’s fist-bumping: high on his list of priorities is inter acting with staff members.

“Every employee, from the bussers to the dishwashers to the managers to the GM, knows that if they need any help or assistance, they can pull me aside,” Dennis says. “We’re in a people business, and having a positive culture is really important to me.”

Being a chef has influenced his life outside of work: Dennis is accustomed to structure and routine, for one, and his fridge is always clean and organized. His kitchen staples include Valentina hot sauce, hummus, egg whites, ground flax seed and watermelon when it’s in season. His freezer is a food fanatic’s dream. At the moment, it’s stocked with goods like Bolognese sauce made with veal, pork and lamb; two loins of albacore tuna from Tofino; wagyu beef; foie-gras torchon; fish, chicken and veal stock; and chicken-curry gnocchi. There’s always at least one kind of stuffed pasta—maybe tortellini with ricotta, English pea and lemon. He loves the process of making noodles from scratch, desiring it as meditative and disciplined. During the pandemic, he hosted intimate multi-course dinners at his home, announcing dates on Instagram with guests required to show proof of a dona tion to the SPCA.

Work-life balance is crucial to Dennis, and he’s rou tinely outdoors with his beloved Doberman Pinscher, Gyver. (Many of his tattoos pay tribute to the three dogs he has had, all from the same lineage.)

With a keen interest in health and fitness, he loves swimming, hiking and running. He’s also passionate about reading world history.

“Being a chef is what I do, not who I am,” he says.

Whether he’s inside a kitchen or not, Dennis draws on an important lesson he’s gleaned from his years wearing whites.

“Be confident,” he says. “When you’re working with confidence and you are confident in your ability and your knowledge, everything flows. It’s easier to work when you’re not second-guessing yourself, and you end up more excited.”

“I took to the culture quite quickly. I loved the excitement of it, the stress, the drive of it. The chef was this cool guy, and I just thought, ‘I want to be that guy.’

Inhaling the still beauty of the Cariboo

Echo Valley Ranch & Spa


Arrive at Echo Valley Ranch and Spa in BC’s Cariboo country and the silence is deafening. But for the gentle rustle of the light breeze in the trees and the bubbling of the nearby creek, there’s complete and utter stillness. It’s a silence that invites you to calm your mind, absorb the peaceful ness and rid yourself of the restless energy that’s so contagious in the city.

To reach the ranch we drove two hours northwest of Kamloops to Clinton, taking a winding dirt road for the last 34 miles and just barely avoiding a flooded beaver pond.

Located on a crest, Echo Valley overlooks sweeping views of Cariboo grasslands skirted by thick swaths of boreal forest. Hillsides descend into a creek surrounded by lush greenery, and between the Marble Mountains in the distance and the Fraser Canyon nearby, it’s a breathtaking location.

It instantly captured the hearts of Norm and Nan Dove when they first visited the area back in 1994.

The couple bought the 160-acre property on a whim and turned it from a small homestead into a luxurious boutique ranch defined by log cabin-style accommodations. They built an airplane runway, a gym, an indoor swimming pool and a stable, and over the years created a range of innovative activi ties that married their interests of wilderness pursuits in the Cariboo coupled with Thai-based spa treatments and gentle yoga.

Tour the property and their love, respect and reverence for the Cariboo is evident at every turn. The Doves invited First Nations artists Michael Blackstock to carve living faces on the trees and Theo Mahood to carve intricate wooden murals on the exterior of their Lookout Lodge. The art is a symbol of their deep respect for the area’s Indigenous stewardship and a recognition of the distinct spirituality that pervades Echo Valley.

This is wildlife country. Bear sightings are common. Cougar tracks have been spotted. Bighorn sheep still roam the canyon and a marmot feeds nearby the lodge at dusk, almost com pletely unafraid. The ranch is home to three border collies, six cats, 19 horses and a massive pet swine called Lucky, who, un like his late companion, avoided a deadly bear encounter, thus earning his name. A verdant vegetable garden and hothouse

supply farm-fresh veggies and herbs at mealtimes, while eggs come straight from the chicken coop and pasture-raised ranch cattle are harvested for the beef.

Activities, personalized to individual guests, are delivered one on one. On my first evening on the ranch, I try fly fishing with Darrel Nippard, learning how to cast a line on land be fore we head to two ponds writhing with rainbow trout. Dusk is settling in and swallows swirl overhead as I cast and pull in with the clumsiness of a newbie, repeatedly catching my hook in the weeds. With saint-like patience Darrel untangles the line, repeats the instructions and watches quietly until eventually I nab a fish, wrestling briefly with it before it breaks free and disappears beneath the surface.

Darrel is also the ranch’s archery and shooting instructor, canyon guide and survivalist expert. Time with him is pep pered with fascinating anecdotes of his two years in the early 2000s living in a hideout on the Cariboo’s Poison Mountain, where he kept himself alive by hunting, fishing and harvesting wild onions, mushrooms and berries.

He takes me on a canyon tour, driving a road that’s full of switchbacks and sheer, vertical drops to Cougar Point, a 3,800-foot precipice overlooking the Fraser River Canyon. The mountain range, scorched by fire in 2009, is beginning to rejuvenate with fresh foliage growth. And as he recounts the history of gold panning on the river, Darrel stops to taste wild raspberries, black currants and crabapples growing by the roadside.

We walk to an overlook where he gestures at the handful of farms on the slopes alongside the river below.

“Almost everyone out here lives off grid, farming cattle and using wind turbines for energy,” he notes.

The landscape is magnificent in its rawness, one full of wildlife but equally full of harsh weather and unforgiving conditions. Most of the area farmers are seniors now, Darrel says sadly. How will a younger, city-raised generation of farm ers ever manage to fill their shoes?

Darrel lives and breathes this land and knows it well. On our survivalist excursion he points out krinikini, a plant favoured for Indian tobacco; yarrow, a natural antihistamine; willow (“you boil it to treat headaches”) and mullein, whose


soft leaves make a great substitute for toilet paper.

“This is a great survival food,” he says, grabbing reindeer moss off a tree.

“Boil it and though it doesn’t taste good, it’s full of starch,” he says.

I taste bitter, tiny soap berries filled with vitamin C and learn their boiled leaves are a natural laxative. Before we head back to the ranch Darrel shows me the juniper berry, which, chewed, will stave off thirst if you’re lost in the bush.

“Your brain is your worst enemy if you ever get lost because it can set you in panic mode,” he cautions. “Always calm down until you can control your mind. Then, and only then, consider your supplies.”

You don’t have to think much about supplies at Echo Valley Ranch, because the cost of accommodation includes all meals prepared and presented white-tablecloth-style by an expert chef, alcohol, transfers from Kamloops airport, as well as activities, spa treatments and use of the facilities. Upon arrival, guests are presented with activity options, and a daily itinerary is carefully curated on their behalf.

That’s how I come to spend a delicious afternoon in the spa, surrendering to the capable hands of a Thai masseuse who leaves me in a floating state of utter relaxation. I explore the boreal forest on a guided e-bike ride, careening effortlessly along the trails and inhaling the sweet fragrance of pine trees. I hike down to the creek for a dip in the icy, fresh mountain water and I spend a morning on horseback with Mike Chris tensen, ranch wrangler and general manager, meandering on a gentle walk through Crown Land.

It’s the stillness that stays with you at Echo Valley, a ranch where luxury accommodations, an insightful selection of activities, a deep respect for the environment and an astoundingly beautiful natural arena merge effortlessly.

Before heading out on any guest ride, Mike leads a “horse acquaintance” session, explaining how to use pressure and release to establish leadership with a horse.

“Horses are living, breathing animals and we believe that any ride needs to start with a relationship—it’s not like hop ping on a bike,” he says.

My session with Monty, a 19-year-old gelding, begins with exercises in trust and connection. Only when we’ve nailed that can we head onto the trail.

We cross a creek, heading uphill on a forest carpeted in moss. A grouse startles and flutters away with a heavy beat of wings and a woodpecker chatters in the distance. Apart from this and the breath of our horses, the forest is still and the air thick with the hot, dry heat of August in the Cariboo. It’s the stillness that stays with you at Echo Valley, a ranch where luxury accommodations, an insightful selection of activities, a deep respect for the environment and an astoundingly beautiful natural arena merge effortlessly. Visit this unique destination and you get to savour the beauty, learn new skills and leave with awe and respect for BC’s untamed Cariboo.


Echo Valley Ranch is a four-hour drive from Whistler, BC, and 2.5-hour drive from Kamloops. Open year-round, Echo Valley Ranch visits include car transfer from Kamloops, meals, alcohol, access to all activities and spa treatments. Visit or call (800) 253-8831 for details.


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the new


Immerse yourself

New King Tut exhibit is unlike anything you’ve seen before



Tutankhamun, the 12th pharaoh of the 18th Egyptian dynasty, became king of Egypt when he was only nine years old. He ruled for less than a decade, from approximately 1332 to 1323 BC, before dying at the age of 19. The cause of his death has never been determined but a new immersive art show coming to Vancouver looks closely at his life and death.

When British archaeologist Howard Carter first arrived in Egypt in 1891, most of the ancient Egyptian tombs were thought to have been discovered, although that of the boy-king Tutankhamun, or “King Tut,” was still unaccounted for.

Carter searched for years. Then, on November 4, 1922, he and his Egyptian workmen discovered a step leading to the tomb of King Tutankhamun in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, an area that was thought to have been exhausted many years before. The step to the tomb was hidden in debris near the entrance of the nearby tomb of King Ramses VI.

Carter contacted his financial backer, English archae ologist Lord Carnarvon, and about three weeks later they entered the interior chambers of the tomb together. Carter peered through a small opening.

“Can you see anything?” Lord Carnarvon asked.

“Yes, wonderful things,” Carter famously replied. The interior chambers were incredibly intact.

This remarkable story seized the imagination of the whole world in the early decades of the 20th century, with Egyptian motifs proliferating in jewellery, textiles, architecture and decorative objects.

Now it is being revitalized by a new, next-level immer sive experience commemorating the discovery. Beyond King Tut: The Immersive Experience, produced in part nership with National Geographic, opens in Vancouver on November 4, the 100th anniversary of Carter’s historic discovery. Selecting the Vancouver Convention Centre East as the venue, the city was chosen for the special anniversary opening.


The show is billed as “the next generation of visual storytell ing exhibitions.” The creative goal is to transport visitors into the past through a powerful narrative of the 3,000-year-old story of King Tut and his untimely death.

The three principal firms behind the experience are National Geographic; Paquin Entertainment Group (Beyond van Gogh; Beyond Monet); and Immersive Experiences, a firm whose creative director, Mark Lach, supervised the design of King Tut: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs, an artifact show that toured between 2005 and 2012.

Together, they created the immersive experience as a work of art, using high-tech sound, projection and animation. The production owes much to National Geographic’s participation, including the use of its extraordinary photo collection, its extensive video archives and its expert academic oversight.

As creative producer, Mark Lach directed the various teams involved, including Normal Studio from Montreal, and worked closely with Kenneth Garrett, the National Geographic’s Egyptian photographer. “The participation of National Geographic is really what makes Beyond King Tut such a suc cess,” he said. “I would not have been comfortable doing this show—and I’m certain we would not have achieved the qual ity of this show—without them.”

Beyond King Tut is the next generation of the immersive experience art form.

According to Mark, “As with the art shows like Monet and van Gogh, the audience is there to lose themselves in the art, and let it all happen around them.”

Those immersive art shows were beautiful, but Beyond King Tut is something else.

“The King Tut experience has a storyline with a beginning, middle and ending. It’s an amazing story to tell, and one that might otherwise have been lost in the pages of history if not for this incredible discovery,” Mark said, adding, “The exhibi tion captures all we love about ancient Egypt.”

The emphasis is on the mystique of the storyline and the visually dazzling content, created in a nine-gallery multisen sory experience and a huge immersive room in the convention centre venue, where high-res visuals are projected on 22-foot walls. It journeys through Carter’s discovery, his exploration of the tomb, and the removal and cataloguing of the objects it contained.

Perhaps the most spectacular of all the archeological finds in the actual burial chamber was a stone sarcophagus containing three coffins nested within each other. Inside the final coffin, which was made out of solid gold, was the mummy of the boy-king Tutankhamun, preserved for more than 3,000 years. Beyond King Tut has entire rooms devoted to the mum mification process and the funerary procession and features a 15-minute animated film that imagines Tut’s journey into the afterlife. The story unfolds in vivid imagery projected on all four walls, as well as the floor, which at one point blazes with video fire beneath visitors’ feet.

Just as the tomb’s discovery fascinated the 1922 art world, and the everyday world became obsessed with Tut-mania during the Roaring Twenties, the immersive impact of Beyond King Tut has the power to transport Vancouver audiences to another time by enabling them to immerse themselves in the mystery of ancient Egypt, the young pharaoh’s brief life and reign, and the exquisite artifacts he left behind.


Forest Lawn

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Ocean View

Boal Chapel

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A custom home build is quite often the single largest investment in one’s life. This is a tremendous responsibility to entrust to the construction community.

Understanding this concept and exceeding customers’ expectations are what Westeck strives for and is at the core of the Westeck culture.


QUICK FACTS Renovation time: 10 months Square feet: 6,800 (house) 1,000 (cabana) Floors: 3 Bedrooms: 6 Bathrooms: 5 Chandeliers: 14 Amenities: Gym, two offices on the main floor, double-sided fireplace, courtyard pool, hot tub, media room, bar Details-rich renovation imbues artistry, whimsy and functionality WORDS DARCY NYBO X PHOTOGRAPHY LIA CROWE
hot properties


ana and Bob Reiter purchased their Tommie Award-winning Tuscan home in West Kelowna in 2009, one year after Balehowsky Built completed it. While they loved the initial layout, they realized they’d like to see more of their fantastic view. Thirteen years later, their vision and renovation were solidified into the stylish house they have today.


In 2014, the Reiters purchased the lot beside them and brought Jay Balehowsky back to build their pool and cabana area. They added an 18- by 40-foot swimming pool, an outdoor kitchen, outdoor bar and eating area, and a bedroom with a bathroom in the pool house.

In early 2021, they again contacted Jay to see if he would do their renovation. He agreed and the results are stunning. Dana was very hands-on with the reno, choos ing everything from basic design and flooring, to lighting fixtures and more.

Also helping bring Dana’s vision to life was Westside Curb Appeal, which worked on demolition, structure and framing for the new main-floor layout and addition, and turned a lakeside wall into full windows and doors to aug ment the view. The company was also involved in many of the finishing details, such as the coffered ceilings, glass wall, custom millwork, exterior rock.

Shawn Corrigan, owner of Ecotec Electric, handled the wiring systems for the new lighting, which encom passed full lighting control, elegant crystal chandeliers, recessed accent lighting throughout, a full wiring rework, landscape lighting and a motorized light lift installed in the attic for the main 200-pound chandelier above the great room.

“A few times during my career as an electrician and business owner I’ve had the privilege to be involved in a project that truly leaves me with a sense of great pride— and this was one of them,” he said.



As you walk up to the front door of this Tuscan-style home, you are greeted with the relaxing sound of a stone fountain. Step in through the double solid mahogany doors and you are transported into a welcoming space with a feature fireplace and fabulous lake and mountain views.

To the left is a powder room, and to the right sits Bob’s office with floor-toceiling bookcases.

Walk up three stairs and you come face to face with the double-sided fire place, which rises up to the top of the second floor and faces the front door and the living area. There’s a curved wall hallway to the left that is backlit and covered in glass-beaded wallpaper. The chandelier in the front greets you with a whimsical feel.

“I think it’s reminiscent of a vine or branch. I just love it,” Dana said.

The back wall of the main floor is mostly windows and folding glass doors, which cover the entire kitchen, dining and living room areas. It’s here where you get the most stunning Okanagan views.

“I really love the cabana area,” Dana said. “It’s right off the living area and it’s a great place to relax. We created this space for us and our family and friends to enjoy. It has an outdoor kitchen, a dining area that seats 12, a beautiful fireplace and a pool house with a bedroom and bathroom. We completed the look with a water wall that adds the right amount of ambiance to create a serene feel to the space.”


The Reiters wanted several smart home features such as multi-zone audio, security cameras and learning thermo stats, and Mission Audio Visual was contracted to make this happen.

“We proposed a Savant Home Auto mation system, which would integrate with everything we were installing and greatly simplify their experience by controlling everything fluidly through a single app,” said Drew Mervin, com pany spokesperson.

Every aspect of the house—from the


lights to the home theatre system—can be controlled through the phone app or on wall-mounted iPads that were installed.

“Pre-programmed scenes make it even easier, as select ing one will activate a number of features at once,” Drew explained. “For example the ‘away’ scene will shut off all audio throughout the house, turn off all the lights, arm the security cameras and adjust the thermostat to an energy conserving mode. Convenience doesn’t get any cooler!”


Dana loves to entertain. Once the cabana area was com plete, it was time to create a more open kitchen and let in more of that great Okanagan sunshine.

“It originally had quite a large butler’s pantry at the far end of the dining room/kitchen area. This didn’t take advantage of the lake views, so we tore out the walls, and put in larger windows. We built a smaller butler’s pantry just off the kitchen, and complete with lots of storage space and a dishwasher.”

All the appliances were upgraded, including the star of the kitchen, the eight-burner Wolf stove and oven with pot filler. There’s also a custom-designed overhood to round out the space. The main focus of this kitchen area is a 16-foot Cala catta matte porcelain island, with waterfall, which comfortably seats 10 people.

The kitchen prep area has Cristallo Quartzite, which is also in the butler’s kitchen. To tie it all together they took up the

wood flooring and replaced it with 24” x 24” marble from Spain.

“I also had the three 30- by 32-inch kitchen chandeliers installed, which really adds elegance to the space,” Dana said. “Then we replaced the sliding doors with folding glass doors, which leads onto a 680-square-foot patio.”

The open-concept design includes the dining area and the living area, which are complete with a 500-pound chandelier and 12 transom windows to let in even more light. There’s also a wine cellar directly across from the seating area in the living space.


Two rooms on the main floor reflect Dana’s creative flair, featuring an infusion of colour and texture. Walking down the hallway to her office, you can see the walls are made of mini pearlescent tiles—a testament to Dana’s fun side—while the Roberto Cavalli leopard print floor tiles in the office and pantry show off her style.

“My office is a reflection of me,” she said. “I’m really creative, so I love this space.”

Colour abounds in this house. Dozens of family photographs are mounted on raspberry walls near merlot-coloured cabinets. At one point in her life, Dana created a line of children’s cloth ing, so the shelves in her office are filled with colourful fabrics. (During the COVID-19 pandemic, she crafted colourful masks, and now has her eye on creating unique handbags.)


There’s a touch of whimsy in the laundry room where colourful flower wallpaper on the ceiling and vintage turquoise penny tiles generate a fun vibe.


To the right of the fireplace, stairs lead up to the sleeping area. Once you reach the top of the stairs it’s hard not to stop and take in the view from the Juliet balcony.

A few more steps down the hallway and you’re in the master bedroom, which is divided in two with a built-in storage headboard.

“We left the master bedroom pretty much as it was; all we changed was the paint and wallpaper.”

A large walk-in closet sits behind the divider headboard and there’s also a display area where Dana can store her impressive collection of shoes. The master bathroom comes complete with a soaker tub and large shower with two rain heads. His-and-hers sinks complete the space.

Paint and wallpaper were also the only things changed in the other two guest rooms and the four-piece bathroom.


“The lower level of the home didn’t require much renovation,” Dana explained, “but we did add a few things. We took out what was in the seating area and added a raised platform and eight recliners—four on each level. Now we can all sit comfortably. We also put in a long bar-style table where we could sit and eat and still watch a movie.”

Just behind the recliners is a large pool table and an exit onto the lowerlevel patio.

If movies or billiards aren’t on the agenda, there’s always the gym, infrared sauna and a full bathroom. One can easily imagine having a great workout, going for a swim and then getting comfy in the media room to watch a movie.

“Everyone can have their own space if they need it, and then we can all get together in the cabana area, have a meal together and relax with a movie, or watch the sunset.”

Opposite the pool table is a full-sized bar, with an under-lit bar top. To the left of that sits one of the lower-level guest rooms, replete with wall-to-ceiling bookcase. There’s a second bedroom next to the gym that also leads out to the lower deck.


While the Reiters’ children are now all grown, some with children of their own, the house isn’t too big for this close, active family.

“The kids and grandchildren come and visit quite a bit. It’s nice having all this extra space for them, so they feel right at home,” Dana said. “Everyone can have their own space if they need it, and then we can all get together in the cabana area, have a meal together and relax with a movie, or watch the sunset.”



& Interior Design/ Builder: Balehowsky Built Framing/ Finishing: Westside Curb Appeal Electrical: Ecotec Electric Smart home, whole house audio: Mission Audio Visual Plumbing: Deans Plumbing and Heating HVAC: Cory Gould Flooring: Ozon Construction Millwork: Metro Furniture Countertops: Madeira Stone Naturally Detoxifies Indoor Living Spaces Negative CO Emission Technology Improves Indoor Health & Productivity Plant Powered Air Purification Furnishing Fresh Air TM 1-888-414-0840 The Pinnacle 2

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spaces we love

Illuminated living

harmony and exquisite craftsmanship in this gorgeous kitchen


To illuminate the ultimate in luxury living, enter Chateau Anmore and feast your eyes on the craftmanship and details of the grand kitchen, designed by HAVAN member Sublime Interior Design with builder Blaze Holdings.

Your eyes will immediately be drawn to the La Cornue range and custom vent hood, which—centred between the kitchen backsplash highlighting bookendmatched Calacatta gold marble stone slabs—anchors the kitchen’s design details.

The ornate design of the range is carried throughout the room with harmonizing tones of gold and black hardware adorning the custom-built solid wood cabinetry and creating a natural break along the panelled white walls.

However, it is the oversized custom-built island that takes centre stage. The back-lit Italian-quartz-countertop island, complete with LED light channels along the edging, appears to float in the middle of the room. Adorned with nine customdesigned chairs tucked perfectly into the island, ease of access is possible without encumbering the room’s flow. A mirrored


base further blurs the line between floor and island, elevating the sense of floating.

Gazing up, your eye catches the ultimate in custom lighting. A Nella Vetrina gold chandelier, imported from Italy, warms the room, while adding sparkle and whimsy to the surrounding crisp white cabinetry. Offset by a wall-papered ceiling and detailed crown moulding, the room is grounded with imported pure white Italian marble floors.

Complete with hidden wok room, plus a private entry from the garage via mudroom, concealed doors create a seamless

transition, keeping all the arduous work from the sight line, but remaining within arm’s reach for the ultimate in functionality.

Adjacent to the family room and private outdoor patio and gardens, light pours across the room, showcasing the kitchen’s natural and harmonious environment, created by a fastidious attention to craftmanship and design detail.

By collaborating with the professionals, everything is as it should be—illuminated.

To view a wide array of custom-built and designed homes, check out



A breath of fresh air

48 BOULEVARD business
Origen’s plant-based
filters take air
to a new level
Andrew Crawford and Susan Blanchet of Origen Air.

Serial entrepreneur Andrew Crawford is passionate about plants, but the origin of his latest venture— Origen Air—came after an unlikely discovery.

“Origen Air was born out of an unfortunate truth,” ex plains Andrew, Origen’s co-founder and chief development officer. “I’d started a living-wall company in Victoria with the intention of delivering the cleanest, greenest and most stun ning plant-based installations for my clients. Over the years we completed some great projects, but kind of like when you buy a puppy for your kids and you’re initially the hero, within a few months, you start to become the only person that wants to take care of the dog.”

Andrew says the same thing happened with the living walls—after all the excitement wore off, it was just a living thing on the wall that nobody wanted to take care of.

“It was this emergent pain point that drove my desire to develop a more sustainable business model that delivered more than just green aesthetics,” Andrew says.

Determined to make things healthier and happier indoors using plants, Andrew started digging into scientific research data hoping to prove his belief about the restorative power of plants.

“I was raised by an accountant, so numbers need to talk, and I quickly learned that a normal plant growing inside a pot doesn’t really do much of anything for improving the overall air quality,” he says.

But that disappointing discovery quickly led Andrew to the University of Washington (UW), where Dr. Stuart Strand had developed a tropical houseplant that had been scientifically proven to remove man-made toxins from indoor air. Calling it a “watershed moment,” Andrew contacted Dr. Strand to see if he could secure the distribution rights for the so-called “magic plants” capable of removing airborne toxins 80,000 times smaller than the best HEPA filters.

“At that point, I realized I needed to get very serious, very quickly, on a level that I was not qualified for,” says the 45-year-old father of two. “Luckily, I‘d already found my soul mate and life partner, Susan, and I asked her if she wanted to launch a cleantech company with me.”

Origen co-founder and CEO Susan Blanchet picks up the story here, saying, “I was still practicing as legal counsel for the Province of BC, although I have always been very into environmental causes. I have a degree in environmental stud ies and I’d done a lot of contaminated site litigation, but over the years, I just found I wasn’t doing the things that I loved, and the pursuit of litigation wasn’t the fastest way to make a change.”

An expert at negotiating legal contracts, and born with an entrepreneurial spirit of her own, Susan was able to obtain the rights to UW’s genetically-modified plants and Origen Air—which uses the plants for indoor air purification—was founded in 2019.

It didn’t take long for Susan to leave her secure government job to become the CEO and co-founder of the company. But a few months later, the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything.

“COVID slammed us, yet it also put us on a different path,” recalls the 48-year-old mother of three. “At the time, we had no intention of building the units ourselves. But we realized there was no way we could build them with someone else quickly enough, so we said to our engineers, ‘Just build it!’ and we did—in our 1,500-square-foot office!”

“I think the pandemic really galvanized us as a company and escalated our ‘why?’” Andrew adds. “The reason we left all of our offices and ran home was that a significant airborne threat was now present in our shared airspaces. This invisible virus suddenly forced the world to scrutinize the health and safety of our indoor environments.”

“So it’s streamlined, automated nature that makes the plants feel as though they’re growing up a tree in Costa Rica as opposed to being deployed in a corporate accounting office in downtown Vancouver.”

Origen’s original team of two has now grown to 16 and the company has installed around 20 units—from KPMG in Vancouver and CHEK Media and the Bay Centre in Victoria to office buildings in Toronto. Production is ramping up and 200 units are under construction now, with another 200 planned for Ontario early next year.

“We’re breathing life back into buildings. We want to welcome people back to their offices and collaborative work spaces,” Andrew says. “You breathe 18,000 litres of air every single day. If the air you inhale isn’t good, it’s going to have a compounding effect on your health.”

Looking toward the future, Origen Air is planning the devel opment of a smaller, living air purification unit for the home market. The current flagship model, known as The Pinnacle, has been designed, built and priced to serve larger commercial and institutional spaces.

“Our systems represent the divine intersection of biotech, engineering and modern design. It is as alive as the people it protects,” says Susan.

“On the tech start-up road, it was a steep uphill climb,” she adds. “Everything I applied for was a ‘no,’ and there were a lot of sleepless nights, and a lot of tough decisions. We had to stay afloat on small grants, subsidies and our personal bank

accounts. Maybe my mistake was thinking it would move faster, but I kept holding strong and making sure we had a plan to stay alive.”

“Giving while living” is an important motto to the couple. They have mandated for every 10 units that a single company buys, one brand new Pinnacle unit will be donated to a non-profit such as Ronald McDonald House or Habitat for Humanity. And, in true entrepreneurial fashion, they also have another moon-shot goal on their to-do list.

“We’re working over the next 12 to 18 months to produce a building integrated version. This nature-based solution, dubbed The Canopy, will take existing green-roof technology and amplify both health and energy efficiency benefits by an exponential margin for building owners and occupants. If you imagine a gigantic greenhouse on top of a building filled with tropical plants, you get the basic idea behind this energy efficiency-driven project.

“I am inspired by a future vision of flying into a city, looking down at the urban metropolis below and seeing our lush green canopies capping the tops of buildings. It’s a grand vision, and one that keeps me inspired and thrilled to be a part of this company,” Andrew says.

“Nature always wins,” he smiles.

“I am inspired by a future vision of flying into a city, looking down at the urban metropolis below and seeing our lush green canopies capping the tops of buildings.”

bride reimagined

Bold bouquets and brightly coloured bridal attire. Boulevard explores a new trend in nuptials, where brides are throwing out the rule book and daring to be different. Here’s a chance to create with colour, be inspired by texture and accent with blooms that are sustainable, seasonal and locally grown. Created by Julie Rémy, of Fleuris Studio & Blooms, each floral piece here reinvents wedding ideals with bouquets that highlight individual uniqueness and personality, and show different approaches to the wedding dress, with versions of complexity and simplicity. Photographed at Gabriel Ross in Victoria.

Angelica dress in goldenrod by Ulla Johnson ($1,038) from Bernstein & Gold; floral belt from Fleuris Studio & Blooms.


Poppy blazer by Smythe ($795), Poppy pant by Smythe ($450), both from Bernstein & Gold; silk camisole (stylist’s own); “West Boot” in celery green by Alohas ($328) from Footloose Shoes; greenery by Fleuris Studio & Blooms.

Metallic crop jacket by French Connection ($65), from House of Savoy; evergreen skirt by Fleuris Studio & Blooms; gold metallic shoes ($135) by Chinese Laundry from The Bay.

Headpiece by Fleuris Studio & Blooms; vintage fur coat by Kristina Eberts ($625) from House of Savoy; silk camisole (stylist’s own).

Blue strapless dress by Frock! by Tracy Reese ($68), blue satin shoes by Stuart Weitzman for Browns ($125), blue sequin glasses by Dolce & Gabbana ($250), vintage blue bracelet ($28), all from House of Savoy; “Margot” earrings by Avu Jewelry ($65), blue opaque tights by Narasocks ($19), both from Footloose Shoes; florals by Fleuris Studio & Blooms.

Peach gown by KABUInternational ($375), cut glass and gold earrings ($68), both from House of Savoy; floral ice cream cone by Fleuris Studio & Blooms.

Model: Émilie Hamel Makeup and hair: Jen Clark Production assistant: Christina Compton

Photographed on location at Gabriel Ross. A huge thank-you to Gabriel Ross for hosting our team.

The icing on the cake

It’s a new era in the world of weddings

The COVID-19

pandemic has affected so many facets of our lives, but couples trying to tie the knot have faced particularly difficult chal lenges. In the first year of the pandemic, in particular, weddings were postponed, often multiple times, and uncertainty ruled the day.

Jane Carson and her husband Tyler Leblanc were engaged in 2019 and set to marry in September 2020.

“When the pandemic started in March, we thought we would be in the clear for September, but obviously we were not,” says Jane. “We kept trying to make the best out of a bad situation, but with the ever-changing restrictions, we found it very stressful to try to plan a wedding.”

Jane and Tyler had several small celebratory events along the way to the altar, including a party to celebrate the anniversary of their original wedding date with immediate family. Finally, on their third at tempt, in August 2022, the Victoria couple married on the beach in Tofino.


“It turned out to be everything we wanted,” says Jane. Cristina Fazio and Sam Powell, also from Victoria, became engaged in the summer of 2021. They’d seen friends forced to cancel and rebook their weddings, but they were hopeful that, with the first year of the pandemic over, they could keep their summer 2022 wedding date.

“We’d always intended to have a good-sized wedding, so we gambled that COVID would let us go through with our plans,” says Sam.

The couple tried to remain flexible and not to get too invested in what they were planning.

“If we couldn’t have had a larger wedding, we would have still kept the date,” adds Cristina.

Fortunately, they were able to proceed as planned with their August wedding.

“Couples now have so much appreciation that they can actually get married,” says Diane Hall, former president and publisher of Weddingbells and senior editor of WeddingWire Canada: “When they plan their weddings, they aren’t taking anything for granted.”

Here’s a look at wedding trends that will likely persist even after the pandemic is well and truly—we hope—in our rearview mirrors.


Prior to 2020, wedding styles were heavily influenced by celebrities and influencers, says Diane.

Not as much today: “Couples are personalizing their wed dings to a much greater extent and are far more intentional with their wedding spending, whether that takes the form of hiring a diverse wedding vendor team, supporting local suppli ers and charities, or reducing their carbon footprint.”

We’re also seeing more “relaxed formal” weddings, she says: “Couples remain interested in stylish weddings, and using Instagram-worthy photography to document their wedding style remains a very important part of the day.”


While a mandated requirement during the most serious days of the pandemic, smaller guest lists have remained popu lar with many couples, says Jessica Minnie, owner and creative director of Vancouver’s Petite Pearl Events.

“As people witnessed beautiful, intimate celebrations, they became more comfortable making that decision for them selves.”

Smaller guest lists also allow couples to create a more luxuri ous wedding experience for themselves and their guests.


Hiring a wedding planner is always a wise investment, even more so during uncertain times.

“With this decision, you will have experience in your pocket every step of the way and be able to enjoy the planning jour ney, as well as the weeks leading up to your wedding day and of course the wedding day itself,” says Jessica.

Wedding planners also help couples demystify vendor con tracts and make sure cancellation policies are in place.


Wedding vendors have learned to build more contingency plans into their recommendations, knowing that things could change. For instance, that beautiful custom floral arch can now be used indoors or outdoors and moved around, says Diane.

“It may have been an altar first, but also can be positioned behind a wedding table or used as a backdrop for a photo booth.”


Sara Laking, photographer/owner with Sara Spectrum in Tofino, has seen continued growth of elopements, or “minimonies,” where it’s typically just the couple, the photographer, perhaps a wedding planner, and an officiant in attendance for the ceremony, and a party is held at a later time.

“There’s no distraction and they’re really able to relax,” she says. “It creates a very authentic experience.”

Jessica has seen more couples getting legally married before or after the actual ceremony.

“Couples now have so much appreciation that they can actually get married…When they plan their weddings, they aren’t taking anything for granted.”

“We encourage couples to make it legal during their rehearsal or privately immediately following the cer emony for a very special moment together, toasting a drink and getting some beautiful captures of this huge moment in their lives,” she says.


At WeddingWire Canada, Diane has noticed that the outdoor setting remains very important to Canadian couples—and not just to prevent possible COVID-19 transmission.

“Outdoor weddings allow for a lot more creativity around decor, tent rentals and other details,” she ex plains. “Couples can have food trucks and mobile bars in old vintage trailers to create a festival vibe.”

Outdoor weddings also open up the possibility for aerial photography.

“It’s about really using Mother Nature to create that beautiful environment,” adds Diane.


Travel bans originally led to this trend, but hybrid wed dings appear to be here to stay, especially in cases where travel costs would be prohibitive for the guests.

“They also give the couple permission to have more of a luxury experience for their in-person event,” says Diane, adding that the virtual coverage can be quite elaborate and inclusive. “Couples can also create a signature cocktail and send their virtual guests a recipe for it or a gift package with a mini bottle of bubbly, wedding cake and party favour so they can feel part of the celebration.”


After the isolation of the first two years of the pandemic, couples and their guests are ready to let their hair down.

“This generation still really wants to get married,” says Diane. “While the onus is now more on the couple as to the safety measures they take, everyone wants to really celebrate.”

Cheers to that!


All about appies

Nosh and nibble while you mix and mingle

food and feast

The world is opening up again. After a two-year slumber, we are rubbing weary eyes and opening them to bright and sparkling merriments filled with family, friends and food. We are once again embracing loved ones at jubilant gatherings and clinking glasses at long-awaited celebrations.

Birthdays, baby showers, engagement parties and weddings are finally finding space in our social calendars. You may, in fact, as the benefactor of one of these festivities, be feeling a wee bit rusty follow ing such a lengthy hosting hiatus. What to wear? How to decorate? How to have natural-feeling and normal-sounding conversations with fellow humans again?

While I can’t help you with any of those quan daries, I do have some suggestions on my personal favourite part of a party—the food!

Depending on the venue, vibe, guest list and goals, you might be considering a sit-down dinner or a more casual cocktail-style soiree. Today I’m here to make a case for the latter. If planned optimally and prepped appropriately, a finger-food affair can offer greater ease for the host, and a more manageable mix-and-mingle environment for the guests.

You can take many of your most loved dishes and craftily convert them to bite-sized offerings, which will rest beautifully on a platter, waiting dutifully for guests to help themselves. A stack of napkins and perhaps a few aesthetically pleasing buckets in which to discard used vessels are all you really need by their side, and after all your hard work in the days prior, you—dare I say it— can actually enjoy the party yourself (gasp!). Make as much as you can ahead of time and save any necessary last-minute assembly for day-of duties. If it doesn’t feel too fussy (or confusing for guests), I may even suggest labelling your discard buckets if you’re wanting faster cleanup and easier sorting of food scraps, recyclables and dishware.

If planned optimally and prepped appropriately, a fingerfood affair can offer greater ease for the host, and a more manageable mix-andmingle environment for the guests.

Speaking of dishware: I find when serving appies, it can be frustrating for guests if the dishes are too messy. No one wants to scoop up some slop with the palm of their hand, frantically slurp it up, dumping dribble all down their silk dress or nice white shirt. No one! And yes, I speak from embarrassing expe rience. Instead, a neat, tidy and inventive vessel can not only provide a safe serving option, but an aesthetically pleasing!


Everything tastes better wrapped in carbs. Fact. And a fluffy little bun is no exception! Slider buns are easy enough to find, but if you’re feeling particularly unstoppable you can make your own. Personally, when hosting an event I want to minimize the busy work (you have enough to do already) and recommend sourcing slider buns from your grocery store, or even contacting your favourite local baker to see what they have on offer. Either way, you’ll want something light and soft (think brioche texture) for maximum eating ease.

Some of my favourite things to serve in a bun include pulled pork sliders with creamy crunchy coleslaw, crispy fried chicken sliders with homemade spicy pickles, or even just classic beef burgers with aged cheddar and bacon jam.


One of my favourite party tricks is taking my most beloved salad-du-jour and putting it on a skewer. Pear, brie and baby kale on a skewer is always a crowd pleaser; fig, prosciutto and arugula is an elegant and eye-catching choice; or simply go with the ultimate classic of cherry tomatoes, bocconcini and basil for a deconstructed caprese. All of which, I might add, go wonderfully with a balsamic reduction drizzle.


Take some soup. Put it in a very small mug. Place something bready across the rim. I promise your guests will thank you. It’s cute, Pinterest-able and Insta-worthy, but also just really

delicious and satisfying. I mean, who doesn’t love a warming shot of soup and a hearty something to dip in it?

And of course, if you’re hosting a party in the summer months, you can easily do this with a chilled soup like zucchini gazpacho with some focaccia. For something a bit more fall and winter appropriate, I suggest a classic butternut squash soup with some rustic sourdough or a soul-soothing tomato soup with a grilled cheese sandwich slice.


Something meaty or hearty on something saucy or creamy. It’s a good starting point for constructing your stuff-on-spoon creation. Think Greek-style lamb meatballs on tzatziki, pan-seared scallops on minty smashed peas or crispy roast cauliflower on baba ganoush. Then give it some a colourful zip with a garnish of fresh herbs or microgreens.


Everything and anything can go in a tart shell and taste deli cious. Sweet, savoury, rustic or elegant, there’s nowhere you can’t go (and no one you can’t please) with stuff in a flaky crust. Most of all, it can be completely and entirely make-ahead friendly, whereby all you really need to do is warm it (if need be), plate it, add garnish and serve. No mess. No fuss. No extra dishes to wash. Just bite-sized brilliance!

And don’t overthink it. A micro quiche with caramelized onion and goat cheese is always a winner, as is a classic herb and mushroom tartlet. Even beloved pies like pumpkin or apple lend well to the mini-tart-shell option.

Of course these are simply a few of many suggestions. Jars, cones (both paper and edible), wraps and even shot glasses all lend well to a mix, mingle, nibble and nosh sort of do. When in doubt, think of some favourite foods and imagine how you could make them mini, bite-sized, finger-friendly or hand-held and hopefully not too messy. And if guests leave with sauced dribbled down their chins and onto their outfits? Well, like wine spills on a tablecloth, I say it’s a sign of a good time.


Herb and Mushroom Tartlets

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Makes about 24 tartlets


2 tbsp unsalted butter

2 large leeks, trimmed/peeled and thinly sliced

1 lb mixed mushrooms, thinly sliced Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

1 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped

1 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped ½ cup Parmesan, grated

1 large egg, lightly beaten 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed as per instructions


Preheat oven to 400 F. In a large pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the leeks and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until soft. Stir in the mushrooms, add a bit of salt (about 1/4 tsp) and pepper (about 1/8 tsp), and cook together until the mushrooms are soft (5 minutes). Stir in the herbs and cook together until fragrant (2 more minutes). Turn off the heat and set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry until it is about doubled in size. Using a 2- or 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut the pastry into rounds, and fit them gently into a non-stick mini muffin pan. Repeat with a second pan if needed.

In a medium bowl combine the egg, Parmesan and mushroom mixture. Spoon it into the prepared pastry. Bake until golden and bubbly, about 15 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes in the pan and then serve immediately.

*Note: While best served immediately, store tartlets in an airtight container in the fridge and reheat in a 350 F oven for 5-7 minutes.

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Pan-Seared Scallops with Minty Pea Puree

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Makes 12 canape spoons


12 medium-sized scallops

¼ to 1⁄3 cup unsalted butter, divided 2 cups water

2 cups frozen peas, defrosted ¼ cup fresh mint leaves (plus extra for garnish)

Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


Add the water to a medium pot and bring to a boil. Add the peas, fresh mint and a pinch of salt. Reduce the heat and simmer until the peas are tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the peas and mint in a colander. Transfer to a food processor, add about 3-4 tbsp of butter and purée. Slowly add the olive oil until you’ve reached your desired texture, either chunky or a smooth paste. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside, or transfer to an airtight container to store in the fridge for up to one week.

When you’re ready to serve, heat a large pan on high and melt 1-2 tbsp of butter. Turn the heat down to medium and

Roasted Tomato Soup

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Makes 6-12 mini mugs (depending on their size)


3 pounds tomatoes (e.g. roma or plum), cut in half or quarters 6 cloves garlic, peeled 3 tbsp olive oil

Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper ¼ cup olive oil, divided

1 sweet onion, thinly sliced ½ cup fresh basil leaves

1-2 tbsp fresh oregano (or 1-2 tsp dried) ½ cup broth, depending on how thick you like it *Note: you can also use cream (e.g. coconut, regular heavy cream) for a richer flavour. I personally like to do half broth, half cream.

Optional garnishes include fresh basil, oregano, grated Parmesan, chili flakes, etc.


Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a large baking sheet with parch ment paper. Place tomatoes and garlic cloves on the baking sheet and drizzle liberally with olive oil (about 2 tbsp). Gener ously season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 40-45 minutes.

While the tomatoes are roasting, heat a large pan on medium and add 2 tbsp olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally and checking every few minutes until it

place as many scallops as can fit (you may need to do this in batches), flat side down, allowing for some space between them. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper and flip to the other flat side once one side is just beginning to get golden brown. Sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper and cook for a couple more minutes until slightly golden brown on both sides and cooked through.

Transfer to a plate to cool. When ready to plate, smear a small amount (1 tbsp) of pea puree into a deep canape spoon. Place a scallop on top, garnish with mint and serve.

is translucent and golden (20 minutes). Once tomatoes and garlic are done roasting, allow them to cool slightly before combining them in a food processor with the basil, oregano, onions and broth/cream. Blend on high until smooth. Trans fer back to the pot, turn to medium-low heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow soup to simmer 10 minutes before serving.

To serve, transfer to small cups (like an espresso or cappuc cino mug), garnish and place a grilled cheese slice on the edge of the cup.


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Maple Balsamic Bacon Jam

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour

Makes about 1 cup of bacon jam


250 g thick cut bacon

1 large sweet onion, chopped

¼ cup maple syrup

¼ cup water

¼ cup strong brewed coffee (I used decaf espresso)

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar


Cut the bacon into half-inch slices and add to a large frying pan (don’t worry if the bacon pieces stick together; they will come apart as they cook). Sauté on medium-high heat for about 10 min utes, stirring frequently until the bacon is cooked but still chewy (a few crispy bits are okay). Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the pan. Pour out all but 1 tbsp of the bacon drippings. Add the onions to the pan and cook for 5-8 minutes, and then reduce the heat to low. Add the maple syrup and continue to sauté until the onions have caramelized, about 20 minutes.

Add the reserved bacon and coffee and increase the heat to medium. Continue to cook, stirring about every five minutes, until it’s thick and jam-like (about 30 minutes). Remove from the heat and stir in the balsamic. Taste for seasoning and salt, if necessary.

Use immediately or refrigerate for up to a week. Bring back to room temperature before serving (there will be little spots of white fat when you take it out of the fridge, but as the jam comes to room temperature, these will disappear).

*Shown here served in beef sliders made with mini brioche buns, aioli, arugula, and aged cheddar.

Balsamic Reduction

Cook time: 15 minutes


1 cup balsamic vinegar


Add the vinegar to a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring often, until thick and reduced, about 15 minutes. The timing will depend on your desired thickness (the balsamic will also thicken as it cools). Store in an airtight container at room tem perature until ready to use.


Aa unique talent

Audrey Sung is a rising piano star

udrey Sung is a dedicated and warmhearted Vancouver-born 12-year-old emerg ing musician, currently studying at Harrow Interna tional School Hong Kong. Audrey is the Ambassador of Pacific Rim International Music & Education Soci ety (PRIME Society).

Audrey has been studying piano since age six; her first guiding teacher is renowned pianist and composer Edward Han Jiang. Mr. Jiang’s passion and rigour for music have greatly influenced Audrey as he tries to uncover her potential and help her pur sue her dream and thrive as a musician.


After living in China briefly, Audrey studied with professor Beihua Tang and internationally acclaimed pianist Shikun Liu. Audrey has shown prodigious talent ever since her first encounter with the piano, winning multiple international competitions within a few years of studying, including the gold prize in the Pacific Rim International Music Festival (PRM) junior category, “Tchaikovsky Memorial Award” of the international youth piano competition concerto group, etc. As the gold-prize winner of PRM, Audrey

was invited to perform at the renowned Carnegie Hall in 2019. She is also the ambassador of Shanghai International Kids Arts Gala. Under the guidance of her teachers and her own effort, Audrey has improved significantly over the past few years and can now perform challenging repertoires at a high level, laying down the foundation for her to become a renowned pianist.

In September, Audrey honourably donated her assorted performance winnings. Her generous


donation of $30,000 will fund the development of Canadian music education in her home country. Audrey hopes that the fund will create more opportunities for other aspiring musicians to continue to master their musical skills and love of music. This event has garnered much attention from the media, including CTV National, CTV Vancouver and Phoenix Satellite Television North America—all reporting on this grand event.

Audrey has a Steinway D in every home, including Hong Kong, Xiamen and Vancouver. She says: “Where there is home, there will be a Steinway D.”

Half a dozen of us stand mid-stream in the most picturesque river you can imagine. In Mexico’s southernmost state of Chiapas, the Rio San Vicente flows like a winding green ribbon out of the mountains and down a forested slope of stately Sabino trees to fields of sugarcane below.

“Close your eyes,” says Ángel, our guide, “and then walk forward until I say stop.”
Where culture and adventure collide Exploring the rich and wonderful Chiapas, Mexico

We’ve made our way along the river by jumping off ledges and letting the current carry us from one rocky outcropping to the next, where we climb out and joyfully jump in again.

The more daring among us jump or dive from the tops of waterfalls as high as seven metres into the frothy water below.

Now, we follow Ángel’s instructions and hold hands to keep our balance as the current pushes against our legs. When Ángel tells us to open our eyes, we let out a collective gasp.

We’re standing near the brink of a spectacular waterfall. Just metres away, water surges over a wide limestone lip and plunges 60 metres, replenishing the natural turquoise pools below.

This tour with Las 3 Tzimoleras takes place on just the second day of our week-long adventure in Chiapas, but I’m already enthralled with a state that’s so different from the picture of Mexico I carry in my head.

Instead of basking on beaches, listening to canned music and hearing mostly English spoken at a resort favoured by foreigners, I’ll be exploring rivers, listening to live music and practising my minimal Spanish with locals in some of the oldest towns in Mexico.

And because we’re here in December, we also get to see how Mexicans in Chiapas celebrate Christmas.

Our first evening we’re in Comitán, a pueblo magico close

to Mexico’s border with Guatemala. The town square is ablaze with colour. People arrive on foot, walking under an archway of stars and pausing to have their photos taken next to rearing reindeer or from inside enormous baubles.

A large Christmas tree wrapped in red ribbons dominates one corner of the square while the Spanish colonial town hall sparkles with columns of light. A marimba orchestra—with trumpets, drums and, of course, a marimba (a type of xylo phone) —plays Cumbia-style music, a genre quintessential to Mexico.

The marimba is thought to have been brought to the new world from Africa by slaves. Today, it’s heard throughout southern Mexico, but Chiapas is known for its ensembles that combine two or three One day, we ride horseback to the town of San Juan Chamula, another Tzotzil community, where the church of St. John the Baptist resembles a Mayan temple. Inside, thousands of candles flicker in the dark and incense perfumes the air. People sit on the floor—there are no pews— and perform various rituals, including animal sacrifice.

We watch in astonishment as a young woman silently strangles a chicken, its legs twitching from the top of a bag she’s holding it in, while her children sit beside her drinking from a bottle of Coca-Cola.

“They come to the temple when they have a problem,” our


guide, Ramses Borraz Balinas, explained later. “It could be someone is sick, your sheep are sick, maybe you have a bad neighbour.”

Drinking coke, which causes burping, facilitates the release of evil spirits, he added.

If San Juan Chamula feels a little dark and oppressive, the town of Chiapa de Corzo is bright and joyful. Christmas celebrations begin the evening we arrive with the lighting of the tree in the main square. Afterwards, the crowd gathers around an orchestra including a couple of marimbas, each played by four men using long-handled mallets.

Two special guests stand head and shoulders above every one else in the crowd. They’re mojigangas—giant puppets with expressive faces on heads made from papier-mâché. One is a buxom brunette in a skirt, the other a man wearing a red checked shirt and black pants. They bounce to the beat of the music, their cloth arms swinging freely. Mojigangas were brought from Spain by colonizers in the 17th century or earlier.

Back at our hotel, La Ceiba, more entertainment awaits. The owner wants to give us a taste of the Great Feast, a festi val held every year from January 4 to 23. It recalls the legend of a wealthy Spanish woman who arrived in the 17th century in search of a cure for her sick son. Local men dressed up as pale-faced Spaniards and danced “para el chico” (for the boy). Miraculously, the boy was healed.

Today, male dancers—parachicos—wear wooden masks with blue or green eyes and bristly blonde wigs along with striped ponchos. Accompanied by musicians, they shake chinchines (maracas) and dance in honour of three Roman Catholic saints. Women are even more colourfully dressed, wearing full, flouncy skirts and blouses made from satin and embroidered with flowers.

Over dinner, which includes soup flavoured with chipilin, a wild herb that’s popular in Chiapas, we’re treated to an authentic musical performance. In 2010, UNESCO recog nized the dance of the parachicos as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Even though you can see men dressed as parachicos elsewhere in Chiapas, the Great Feast is held only here.

And that’s the thing about traveling off the beaten track. You never know what you’re going to find, but whatever it is, it’ll be like nowhere else.

For more information, go to

Instead of basking on beaches, listening to canned music and hearing mostly English spoken at a resort favoured by foreigners, I’ll be exploring rivers, listening to live music and practising my minimal Spanish with locals in some of the oldest towns in Mexico.

and lives — AND THE 7 SINS with


third-generation Vancouverite, Faith Wilson has spent the last 30 years carving out a spot at the top of the real estate industry in her home community and beyond, always leading with her heart.

“I think certain people thought I might be too sensitive to go into this business—and you do have to be able to take your punches—but that empathy helped me connect to people and help them achieve their goals,” says Faith.

Real estate, at its core, is a service industry, she says, and it all comes back to doing your best by your cli ents. And this commitment to service was a big part of Faith’s motivation in opening her own brokerage in 2011.

“I had an idea of how I wanted things to run, and I wanted to be able to control the outcome; having my own firm allowed me to give better service to my clients,” she explains.

And then in 2017 she partnered with Christie’s International Real Estate, becoming president and CEO of faithwilson | Christie’s International Real Estate.

“We had the same mindset of boutique luxury,” she says, adding, “Luxury isn’t just a number and it’s not just a product. It’s a way of being. I know this from being in the service business. We provide that luxury to all our clients; it doesn’t matter if it’s a $500,000 condo or a multi-million-dollar property. Ensur ing we provide that same level to all clients is important.”


Prior to entering the real estate industry, Faith spent a number of years working in typography and design, having gone back east to learn her craft.

“The things that you learn along the way lead you to your next steps,” she says. “Learning that trade helped me when I started my real estate career because I under stood the value of good design and marketing.”

And while she enjoyed it and excelled in her job, once Faith came back to Vancouver, she found herself craving a change.

“I really wanted to get out from behind a desk and work with people,” she says.

Having worked closely with realtors in the typography and design business—and coming from a family of entrepreneurs, including a mother in real estate—Faith decided to take the course, and the rest is history.

For her own residence, Faith sought out a property across from the beach. It’s clear during our conversation that she revels in the coastal lifestyle offered by Vancouver and the simple pleasure of walking along the coast with her dog each morning.

“I truly value the start of each day and the quiet mo ments it brings; the sensory experience of hearing the sounds of nature and bird calls, the waves lapping against the shore, and the scent of the salt in the air grounds me. I’m grateful to live in this beautiful city and experience the changing beach scene every morning.”

The 7 Sins ENVY:

Whose shoes would you like to walk in? Oprah Winfrey. I didn’t watch many of her shows as I was pretty driven in my career, but one show I did see stood me in awe of her ability to stay objec tive, reasonable and in command when under fire by her audience.


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

Healthy Noodle House on West 4th Avenue. Colin makes the best soup; I have it with thin noodles, all the veggies and chicken dumplings. Their homemade hot sauce is amazing, too. I could eat this for dinner every day. They have other variations, and one day I’ll try one of those.


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

A cottage by the lake. Somewhere private with an el egance to it, great light and a terrace that looks out over the water.

WRATH: Pet peeves?



Where would you spend a long time doing nothing?

At my cottage by the lake. I would dip my toes in the water, enjoy morning and evening swims as the sun rises and sets and sit in front of the wood fire—basking in the quiet and serenity.


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

Making the decision to get my real estate license against others’ advice. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.


What makes your heart beat faster?

A good game of squash. I’m kind of obsessed with it right now. I know, nothing very racy in the racy sense, but it does get your heart beating faster.

“Luxury isn’t just a number and it’s not just a product. It’s a way of being.”
78 BOULEVARD narrative


hen I got married, I naturally believed there would be children and grandchildren, even though my future husband and I never had a serious discussion about the subject.

But there were some strong intimations. My prospective mother-in-law was a faithful Irish Catholic who had given birth to eight children. And also, as I once read, the Irish have many children, not because of their religion, but because they sincerely love children.

I had definitely seen signs of this love and enchantment in my husband-to-be during our courtship. If there was a child in the room, he was down on the floor playing and engaging with him or her. On the other hand, being the youngest in both my extended families, I had little experience with babies. I did babysit but I was usually relieved if the children were in bed. What would the future bring?

After a few years of marriage, we were blessed with two chil dren, first a boy and then a girl. We headed out on the journey of parenthood, with all its stresses and strains, good times and bad, frightening illnesses and the usual, varied catastrophes of family life.

But, oh, what joy, love and laughter and wonderful memories came along with us. At times, it seemed like an arduous trek with little thought of the future. But eventually, our offspring grew up and began pursuing their own hopes and dreams. We found our selves in a new phase of family life, widely referred to as “empty nesters.”

We noticed that discussions of grandchildren entered into conversations with our peers. We started considering what our legacy would be if we were blessed with a grandchild. I enjoyed writing and had already been making attempts at a family memoir. I wondered what it would be like to hold a child of my child in my arms. But we also knew that the people in the next generation were marrying later, if at all. Their work experiences were more diversified and it was increasingly difficult for them to afford a home. As the years passed and the biological clocks kept ticking, we tried to accept that being grandparents might not be part of our future.

One evening, as we visited with our son and his wife, they an nounced over dinner that they were going to have a baby. Tears welled up in our eyes and at the same time smiles appeared. Ev erybody was hugging and crying and my husband and I ignored them when they said, “It is early days yet.”

Suddenly, our world and our future had changed. Our life had more meaning and plans had to be made. I would have to get busy on that memoir. We returned home and I started browsing for baby clothes. I parcelled up our son’s first baby gift, a cloth book, and sent it off to them because they are both book lovers. In my card I wrote, “I know it is early days but we are just so thrilled!”

At the time, a pandemic started raging across the country, and on nice days we liked to take long walks around our beautiful

harbour. It was on one of these walks that our cell phone suddenly rang, and it appeared to be our son calling, which is always a welcome occurrence.

But my husband’s smile started to disappear and immediately I knew the reason for the call. “No! No!” I started sobbing with no thought to the people around me.

The call ended and we continued our walk with broken hearts and a conversation that included words like hospital, leg pain, blood clots, bleeding and ultrasounds that confirmed the terrible outcome. The words “it is early days yet” suddenly haunted us.

We returned home, poured some glasses of wine, and sat on our balcony. It was a lovely day, but our mood was mournful we as sat speechless and reflected on the new reality. We were shattered.

Suddenly, a delicate white butterfly appeared dancing in the sun like a ballerina. I’d never seen one on our balcony before. It flew around us and then alighted on my leg for a time. Eventually it fluttered off over the railing and into the distance. I imagined and then believed that this was my grandchild coming to say good -bye, and I started to gain some comfort that I had met my first grndchild. I told no one, but continued to feel some lessening of my grief.

I have recently read in reference to a different tragedy that “but terflies are said to tell us that a loved one is fine.” So even though our loved one could not stay with us, he or she will watch over us and always be part of our heart and soul. I felt at peace. My first grandchild was truly loved from the minute he/she became a part of my life.

One day, on a quiet, solitary walk I again spied a white butterfly. It flitted around me and then flew off. This happened again and I knew I was sharing my walks with my first grandchild! A feeling of serenity overcame me and I smiled.

A year has passed since that grief-stricken day and we have been blessed with our second grandchild, a beautiful baby boy, and our hearts are full of amazement and love. We are totally enthralled with this little person and spend hours cuddling, feeding, burping, rocking and sometimes just staring at this small and overwhelming miracle.

The weather is warm and sunny and one of our favourite activi ties is to take our grandson for a walk. When we return one day, I sit outside on the patio with my grandson sleeping soundly. His mother joins me to get some needed rest and enjoy the sunshine.

As I sit, basking in this peace, I am so grateful for the happiness that surrounds us. And then, I see it. In the garden not far from us, a small perfect white butterfly dancing in the fall flowers. Can it be? Our first grandchild has joined us to meet the newest member of our family. Eventually, the lovely white butterfly leaves us to our thoughts. I think about sharing my story with my daughterin-law but do not want to break the spell. I know that one day our grandson will be playing in this garden and he will be joined in his games by a delicate white butterfly that will enchant him and fill his world with joy.


behind the story

For Boulevard’s current “bride reimagined” fashion story, we worked with floral designer Julie Rémy, owner of Fleuris Stu dio & Blooms, who brought us the idea and concept of an unconventional bridal shoot. Her approach to the florals— in this shoot as well as in her business–is about thinking outside the box and designing with flowers in an artistic way to dare to transcend who you are. All the flowers and green ery were either grown directly in Julie’s flower garden or sourced locally from trusted growers, since she works with sustainable floral ingredients and design techniques. In planning the shoot, Julie wanted to show, playfully, how to get creative with per sonal wedding flowers, asking, “What would happen if you could reinvent your wedding florals?

Julie says, “I love when I get to create something that hasn’t been thought of before and figure out how to do it.

Flowers to the floral artist are what paints are to a painter— exciting creative ingredients. When we go back to our core, our main limitations, but also our strengths and uniqueness, are our imaginations and the fragile and ephemeral nature of the flowers we work with.

Flowers come in almost infi nite colours, striking shapes and lines, perfumes and tex tures to create something big, heartfelt and meaningful: a universal art form offered by nature to celebrate love and connections.”


Julie Rémy, of Fleuris Studio & Blooms.
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