Wednesday, May 20, 2009

It's a Sign!

The sign says it all, no? Welcome to Tofino. This is our home. We know there is a whole lotta' Tofino love going on in this country and, many say, even the world. Yes, Tough City is well and truly on the map. But there's a lot more to Tofino than a surf lesson and a crab dinner. Those are fine things, we agree, but there's a community at the heart of this place and that's what we aim to home in on here. 

In this, the first post of The Heart of Tofino, it's apt that this Welcome to Tofino sign lies in the heart of our village of 1500. The sign was designed and carved by the late Henry Nolla. I didn't know Henry well, and I'm sad about that. He was a fixture here for years, living at the "nude end" of Chesterman Beach for years before he had to cover up with the coming of a high-end inn. Until he died a few years ago, his carving shed was both a gathering place for locals -- artists and friends and others just poking around for a visit -- as well as curious tourists. Henry's legacy lives on though, in many places -- the carvings on the Roy Henry Vicker's gallery (the Eagle Aerie), the adzed posts at the Wickaninnish Inn and the Common Loaf Bakery, and many private commissions here and around the world. His carving shed is still on the beach and one day soon I'll introduce you to the artists to carve there now. My friend Jackie wrote this tribute to Henry. I'll bet after reading it, you wished you'd known him too. 

Behind the Welcome to Tofino sign lies another gem at the heart of this place. Today, I want to end with a big shout out to the people who had the good sense to leave a "village green" smack in the centre of this place. And to those more recently who said, "You know, it's okay to put a skate park smack in the centre of town, too." On almost any day it's not raining, this place is pulsing with boarders and tennis players and kids playing in the playground. People have a picnic or play their guitar (or bongos...) in the gazebo and every Saturday from now until the fall there will be a Saturday market where people flogs the wares they "make, bake, or grow." 

So, here's to the start of this adventure. Welcome to Tofino. 

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