Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dress Rehearsal: The Great Tofino Tsunami

I was already up at a far-too-early hour yesterday when a call for the FH came in. He was slated to work already, but after the massive earthquake in Chile — which was about 8.8 on the Richter Scale (MASSIVE) — there were concerns about tsunamis in the Pacific and he had to get in earlier to start closing beaches.

Although the tsunami never came, one day it will. And so will an earthquake of significant magnitude. Both already have in the past. It does get to be a bit of a joke around here when we get tsunami warnings — people notoriously brush them off — but I'd like to make a public thanks to all of those people who spent yesterday closing beaches, putting out warnings, essentially working out the kinks in an emergency response system that is needed here — and will be one day in a big way — whether we like to think it or not.

Remember these signs? I'll bet people were giving them a second look yesterday.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tofino Spring is Busting Out All Over

So it seems that while I was down here...

(with my shorts and sandals sitting lonely and untouched at the bottom of my suitcase I might add) spring was arriving with a vengeance on the west coast — warm, sunny days resulted in a frenzy of blossoming on the west coast.

My friend Joanna saw her first hummingbird on February 21, feeding on the salmonberry bush we'd seen in bloom January 31.

Yesterday, when we walked down to Tonquin we noticed the carnage in the ditches from where all the bushes (i.e., salmonberry for the most part) had been hacked away by the village. Now I realize there are lots of salmonberry around, but it's still bad timing. Please don't start dredging the ditches now either. Amphibian eggs are soon to appear.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Surfing Capital of North America?

The people who've been surfing on the west coast since the late 1960s must be cringing with the news: Outside Magazine has named Tofino the surfing capital of North America. This, of course, is not necessarily good news in everyone's opinion. I am not a surfer, but I know enough of them — especially some of the older ones — to know this might just seem like the final nail in the coffin rather than "great news." I know, I know, surfing has done a lot for our economy and image (and it's great for our kids, too) but there's a good reason surfers like to keep their breaks out of magazines. I realize the secret was out years ago, but I still suspect a lot of the people who began surfing when you had to drive to California to get your gear would wish that most people would keep their surfing experiences to the virtual kind, something more akin to this...

Here's a blurb on the announcement from the venerable As It Happens, which you can listen to here.

Since fewer Canadians than expected seem to be owning the podium, it might be time for more of us to consider owning a surfboard. And we don't even have to leave the country.

Outside Magazine -- a magazine devoted to outdoorsiness -- has named the village of Tofino, British Columbia the continent's surfing capital. As the magazine puts it, "The best surf town in North America is in Canada. Who knew?'

Well, among many others, Peter Devries knew. Last fall, the Tofino resident beat out a hundred-and-forty international competitors to win the O'Neill Cold Water Classic in front of his hometown fans. It was the first time a professional surfing competition was held in Canada -- and Mr. Devries became the first Canadian to win a professional surfing event.

Since then, the popularity of Tofino as a Canadian surfing destination has snowballed. According to a Tofino tourism website the growth of surf culture there can be attributed to a number of essential factors, including: surfing is fun; surfing is cool, and everyone looks better in a wetsuit. To which we respond: who knew? Besides Stockwell Day.

Whatever the reasons, we are thrilled that Tofino B.C. is riding the wave of surfing. Once the current influx of tourists are through watching Olympic officials hanging medals on athletes, we strongly encourage them to stop by Tofino and try hanging ten. After some lessons and a wetsuit-fitting that is. We are also thrilled to have an excuse to play some surfing music. Here's Dick Dale with "Miserlou".

I'm curious. What do you think of the news?

[Update: I was curious to see exactly what was written in Outside. Wow, what a lot of press came of these 15 words: "Tofino, Vancouver Island. The best surf town in North America is in Canada. Who knew?" (That's the "article" in its entirety as part of the Editors' Choice Awards)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Two Weeks Until Whale Fest

I'm about 1500 miles south of Tofino and, brrrr, it is colder here than it is at home apparently. Things are looking mighty fine through the lens of the web cam at Cox Bay. Daughter P's class was barefoot and jacket-less on the beach at Ahous Bay yesterday.

It's two weeks until the Whale Fest and here are more details in two versions, for the streaker or the studier. (Actually, I can't seem to link up the longer version. Will try later, but I've got to run.)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

More Images from Haida Gwaii

Some more images of the art of Haida Gwaii for you. It's so hard to take a picture of an entire ceremonial pole. Once I started to look at each image more closely, I found them all quite beautiful and interesting in their own right. I hope you enjoy these!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Belated Heart from Haida Gwaii

I was on the road last week and will be for the next while as well. I wasn't planning on posting too much, but I thought I'd post a few things from my (mostly work-related) travels. Last week I had the pleasure of heading to one of my favourite places on the planet — Haida Gwaii. One of the many photos I took while there was this:

Lovely, isn't it? This was created by a class at Sk'aadgaa Naay Elementary School in Skidegate, Haida Gwaii. It is an eagle and raven design and is the logo for their school. I snapped the picture at the Haida Heritage Centre at Kaay Llnagaay, which you really must visit if you ever find your way to these beautiful islands.

More pictures from this trip tomorrow.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tofino in Vancouver

Busy week last week and the pace will continue for another week and a half or so. I doubt I'll be able to post much more than quick updates to "THIS is what we do here." For now, if you are in Vancouver for, for, for...what's happening there again? — you might want to stop by the O-Zone (or Zero-Zone, depending on your feeling about this all) for how Tofino is presenting itself to the world. Here's a link. I'm curious. Let me know if you visit! What is your impression? Do those cedar chips and piles of sand make you want to visit?

[Update: Here's one person's impression of the Tofino Booth and an article from Today's Vancouver Sun.]

Friday, February 12, 2010

Tofino Books: Beyond The Outer Shores

Although I work primarily as a writer and editor, my degree is in biology. And since I was raised on Vancouver Island and spent a lot of happy times at the seaside, it's no wonder that marine biology has been a lifelong passion. My first children's book was on the ocean and I spent three wonderful years teaching marine biology at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre. If you've been following this blog for awhile, you'll also know I have a passion for local history. So when Beyond the Outer Shores: The Untold Story of Ed Ricketts, The Pioneering Ecologist Who Inspired John Steinbeck and Joseph Campbell hit the bookstore shelves in 2004, I quickly snapped up a copy.

“An affecting and mind-expanding group portrait of three creative thinkers, but Ricketts glows the brightest, a friend to bums and geniuses who was happiest knee-deep in a tide pool.” — Review of Beyond the Outer Shores in Booklist

No doubt you've heard of John Steinbeck, and likely even Joseph Campbell, but outside of biology circles, few have heard of Ed Ricketts. That's a real shame, since he played such a role in the lives of these two more famous men, and was a fascinating character in his own right. I knew of Ricketts from the marine biology classic: Between Pacific Tides (he also co-authored The Sea of Cortez with Steinbeck, BTW). Between Pacific Tides is still an invaluable book on my bookshelf, snuggled alongside many other marine biology necessities.

In Beyond the Outer Shores, author Eric Enno Tamm (who grew up in Ucluelet) has revealed a new part of Rickett's story. Apropos to Tofino and Clayoquot Sound, Tamm unearthed the time that Rickett's spent on Stubbs Island, just off from Tofino, exploring the intertidal and collecting specimens. It's a remarkable story, and gives a wonderful glimpse of life on the coast in 1945, including life on Stubb's at the time (he stayed at the Clayoquot Hotel), Ucluelet and area. Ricketts was making preparations for a return visit, when he was killed by a train.

Be sure to check out the excellent website devoted to the book. There are excerpts, a synopsis, a slide show of species named after Ricketts (or Steinbeck) and more.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Early Tofino Spring

A biologist friend is monitoring the opening of salmonberry blooms on the coast. This multi-year project will help give indicators of climate fluctuations over time. (It will, in theory, be a loooooong study.) The first salmonberry blooms I saw in 2010 were on January 31 and a friend saw an entire bush in bloom that day, too. The salmonberry in my front yard is one of the "study bushes" and there is one bloom on that bush. It was out February 2. This seems early, but it has been a very mild winter. (Wet, but no frost for a long time.)

I thought it might be time to catch up on what George Jackson's days were like 83 years ago.

January 29
Rain — cut wood. Pete went over his traps — got a bunch of ducks. Pete shot two coons.

January 31
Fine day — cut wood. Killers [killer whales] killed a Finback Whale off Box Island this afternoon. Carcass came ashore on the beach at Hesawista [Esowista] it was badly cut up — great gash in belly and entrails hanging out. Killers apparently did not attempt to eat their victim but went out to sea again. Will go up next low tide and examine whale again and take measurements. Pete got another coon tonight but lost both dogs. Saw lots of deer down in slough. One nearly got in canoe when dog put it in the water. Hundreds of Widgeon in the field today.

February 1
Rain. Pete took up traps. Rastin [dog] came home — but Jasper [other dog] still missing. Got 2 Mallards. All went up to see the Whale and take measurement, found it cast up on the rocks, under driftwood. Could not get accurate measurement. Phoned Indians re. whale and a party came out here tonight to cut it up. They arrived here on the tide at 11 o'clock p.m. and I directed them to the whale.

February 2
The Indians found the whale today but before they got started to cut it up a big sea came in and took it out through the surf and they lost it. I went over the line east — all ok. Was accompanied by Pete and Muriel as fas as Sandhill Creek. They went onto Ucluelet via Wreck Bay. Big tide and sea rough, shifted driftwood considerable.

February 3
Blowing gale all night and today. Sea very rough worst storm for several years. 13 ft. tide. Shifted driftwood for several hours. Line down east from Ucluelet, all ok on my section. Maquinna laying at Ucluelet tonight too rough to get out. Jasper came home — all in.

February 4
Fine day. Maquinna laid at Ucluelet fifteen hours. Passed up this morning. Sea moderating, went over line west — found a windfall on line — five panels down made repairs.

February 5
Weather fine. Sea moderate. Worked on trail, clearing out windfalls and brush. Got mail this afternoon also Pete's batteries. Indian family came in today with canoe on tide. Counted more than two hundred ducks in the field this morning, some were in the yard and around the barn. White frost at night.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Tofino Books: Silent Inlet

For a small town, we have an incredibly creative population. There are many artists and creative types, including writers. (There's even a little section in town a few of us call The Writers' Block as there are six fairly serious writers living on it.) I've a stack of books in my office that I'll start profiling in a feature called (quite unimaginatively, I realize) Tofino Books. Books are, of course, a wonderful way to get a glimpse into a place and I'll begin with one of my favourites: Silent Inlet.

I'll come clean right up front — this book is written by my buddy Joanna Streetly. Set in a fictional Hanson Bay, Joanna has captured beautifully the nature of the west coast — the fog-draped mountains, the drippy gray days, the captivating beauty. In Silent Inlet she weaves together the stories of Harry (Harriet), a feisty older woman who lives alone "in the sound," Harry's daughter Hannah, who is returning to town with some heavy baggage (and no suitcases), Big Mack Stanley, a very large and thoroughly likeable, but troubled, Native man, and his nephew Lonny, who quickly charms his way into the reader's heart.

This is a bit from the jacket blurb: "As their lives intertwine, misunderstandings bring them to the brink of tragedy. Their story, of love gained and lost, of the bonds of family and community that can heal or destroy, is timeless. Their destiny is shaped by west coast history, First Nations culture, and the forces of Nature."

Joanna has captured not only the setting perfectly (and she knows this place well, having lived on a floathouse in Clayoquot Sound for many years), but also the people who, by choice or birthright, have made the west coast their home. It's a great read whether or not you are visiting the coast, but ideal if you are travelling anywhere from Port Renfrew to Prince Rupert.

More info:

An introduction to the book by Joanna where she writes:

Silent Inlet reaches for the raw physicality of people and place: people who are caught in the sea of turbulence, hardship and brilliance that characterizes the west coast. The story brings the elemental atmosphere of the east coast novel genre to a more complex, wild setting.

The challenge of this novel is to paint the west coast through different eyes; to lay out a spectrum of perspectives, caught in which the reader can grasp the diversity of human lives, as shaped by history and the forces of nature.

And here is a review from BC Bookworld.

Silent Inlet is published by Oolichan Books. (And if you are wondering what an oolichan [eulachon] is, check this out.]

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Artist Deanna Lankin

These pictures caught my eye a while back. They're by Tofino artist, Deanna Lankin. She was profiled in Tofino Time a few years back.

From that article:
[Deanna] likes to paint on whatever she can find, broken surf boards, skate boards, canvases and just about anything that paint will stick to. She works mostly in acrylics but has been known to play with water colours and charcoal. Deanna sees her artistic purpose as being there to "capture moments". Much of Deanna's work tends to be portraits and waves but she enjoys landscapes and commission work.

Currently, Deanna has paintings at Tofitian and Studio One. She will also be showing work during the Whale Fest, with paintings at The Wickaninnish Inn and Pacific Sands. For more info on Deanna and to see more of her work, check out her blog. Some of her images can be viewed here, as well.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Lady Comes to Tofino

This little ship...

is coming to Tofino.

Read about it here. I'm glad to hear she'll be staying on the west coast and a restaurant and some sort of maritime museum sounds like a great use. I have fond memories of the Lady Rose from when FH and I (and Daughter A in her early months) lived in Bamfield. The photo above is taken Bamfield Inlet.

If you're a visitor to the coast, I highly recommend trying to fit a trip on the Lady Rose's sister ship the Frances Barkley, which is still operating. In the summer you can embark or disembark in Ucluelet. It's not a car ferry so you'll have to arrange for a pick-up or link with the bus from either end, but it is well worth a trip if you want to see some of Barkley Sound, including the Broken Group Islands. Details on times and other info. here, at the Lady Rose Marine Transport site.