Friday, December 9, 2011

A Tofino Christmas, 1904

I was given a little gift a few weeks ago, courtesy a couple doing a bit of purging — six boxes of old newspapers from the west coast. Only a history nerd like me would probably think that was cool, but I'm slowly going through the musty piles, gleaning some gems here and there. I'll share a few from time to time, but I thought that given the time of year, some of you might enjoy reading a bit about a Tofino Christmas before plastic (and electricity, water and sewer for that matter), circa 1904, written by Alma Sloman. Alma was the first child — and only daughter — of Jacob Arnet, one of the area's first settlers, and his wife, Johanna. This was printed in The Sound in December 1990. (Copyright gods, please forgive me for the direct cut-and-paste, but I feel fairly confident that all involved will be okay with this.)

A Child's Christmas in Tofino, 1904
By Alma Sloman (nee Arnet)

I was born on December 22, 1897, at what is now known as Grice Bay. Our home was across the bay at Metla Moses. In the native Indian tongue "Metla" is understood to mean "between" and it could be that it means a point of land between bodies of water. 1897 is a long time ago and I have these many years of memories to look back on.

As my birthday was so close to Christmas it was a very special time of year for me. I am remembering back to the beginning of this century — about 1904 — and my family had settled in Tofino by that time. What an exciting time of the year it was and what a busy time it was. There was the baking to be done and the cooking to be done and, of course, the cleaning and polishing of every corner of our house!

My father would cut a pine tree and it would be set up in our living room. My mother had saved ribbons and brightly coloured paper during the year and we would decorate the tree with them, cutting and forming the paper into attractive shapes. Cedar boughs were brought in and placed above pictures and about the house.

I helped my mother with the baking and what a lot of baking there was to do before Christmas. The steamed puddings had already been made a month or so before and were mellowing in their bowls. Ours was a Norwegian Christmas so we made sugar cookies and lefse with its delicate cardamom flavour (spread with butter and sprinkled with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon, it was food for the gods!). We made fatigmands and jule kaka, which is more commonly known as Christmas stollen. It is a sweet bread with the addition of raisins and other dried fruits and nuts and while still warm an icing glaze is applied. We made krum kaker which when baked we quickly rolled around a wooden shape that formed them into cones. When served, they were filled with whipped cream and were so delicious.

My father had a herd of Herefords — those lovely red and white beef cattle — and we had the black and white Holsteins for milking so there was plenty of rich cream and fresh milk. My mother would make her own sweet butter. She had two dozen Leghorns — those big white chickens with the bright yellow legs — so we had fresh eggs.

My mother would make me a dress for Christmas and this would be sewn on her hand-operated sewing machine. It was made in Germany in 1885 and my mother brought it from Norway when she came to Canada in 1896. It was one of her most prized possessions and my mother made most of our clothing with this sewing machine.

Our Christmas dinner usually consisted of stuffed wild goose and venison and gravy and mashed potatoes, carrots, and turnips. I was the eldest in my family and you can imagine the fun we had in later years when I had been joined by my six brothers! We all sat around the big table that had been made by my father and there was so much joy and laughter. In memory, I can still feel the warmth that was given off by our big "Majestic" wood stove. There was a compartment for water at one end so we always had plenty of hot water. It was ladled out for dishwashing or personal use. My parents and any guests who had shared in the dinner would have their coffee — it was sipped in the Norwegian fashion, a cube of sugar being placed in the mouth to sweeten it.

We bought our major supplies at Mr. Walter Dawley's store over at Clayoquot (Stubbs Island) — there was no store in Tofino in those days. I can remember some of the ships that served the area and most of the West Coast. There was the Maude, Queen City, Willapa and Tees and as they all called at Clayoquot at various times, we were not entirely isolated. We would row over in our boat and my mother would look for suitable materials for the clothing she made. At Christmas time Mr. Dawley always gave us a five-pound tin of hard candies and included in the assortment would be a long ribbon candy so hard and brightly coloured, and there were "satins" in pastel shades with coconut centres. And we had apples and oranges and nuts, too.

Sometimes we had snow for Christmas but I remember the weather being pretty much as it is now. When we visited our neighbours at Christmas it was by boat. We went everywhere by boat as there was no road and the trees came right down to the water's edge in those days. I can remember visiting our neighbours, the Wingens. They still lived at Metla Moses and Mr. Wingen operated a sawmill there.

After visiting, it was back to the coziness of our home and I remember the coal oil lamps and the welcoming glow they shed. And I remember the beautiful braided rugs made by my mother and myself and how pretty the room looked. And sitting there near the Christmas tree was my doll, given to me by the doctor in Ucluelet. She had a china face with pale pink cheeks and her blue eyes opened and closed. She had blonde hair and wore a blue organdie dress with matching blue shoes and real silk sockettes.

One last peek at the tree and then off to bed after an exciting fun-filled Christmas Day in Tofino, eighty-six years ago.

[Published in The Sound, Vol. 1, No. 21, page 7.]

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Drifter's Log & Performance Anxiety

Last Thursday evening I experienced an event that gave me a little boost at this busy time of year. It was one of those events where I was so happy to be a Tofino "local." Although tourists would have loved the event too, no doubt, there was a special "in" for those of us who knew the performers and much of what they spoke of in the event, "Performance Anxiety," which was put on by several writers in the Clayoquot Writers' Group. So thanks Chris, Jo, David, greg and Janice (with help from Reno, Jan, Jan and Therese) for a wonderful evening, that came just at the perfect time for me.

Joanna wrote a bit about it and shared some of her haiku on her blog, Drifter's Log, which you should all check out!

I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to attend (or give) a traditional "reading."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tuff City Beer

My buddy, writer Matt Simmons, spent some time with the Tofino Brewing Company folks awhile back. The result? This article from TAPS: The Beer Magazine.

[If you double click on the article, it should get larger and legible!]

Monday, November 28, 2011

Watershed Forum - Today!

If you are interested to know more about the research work being done in Clayoquot Sound, come to today's Watershed Forum, sponsored by the Raincoast Education Society.

It begins at 1 pm at the Community Hall.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tofino Legion Drive

In many ways the Tofino Legion is our de facto community hall. Apparently that status is in jeopardy and there is a membership drive this evening. Here are the details:

"Hi everyone, please get involved in this. The liquour control board is trying to shut down the legion as our gathering location for live shows in Tofino. If we all get involved and become members of the legion then there is nothing they can do.

If we dont succeed in doing this then the legion will be closed as a venue. We have all had amazing nights there and seen amazing bands. We will have special privileges for members such as ticket hold backs on sold out shows for members only.

The legion is an integral part of our community and it would be sad for us to lose it for such events. The legion has also been there for us in our times of need to pay tribute to those in our community that we have lost. Get involved, tell your friends. Please like this, repost this, or whatever you can to help spread the word."

Gromlayer Productions!

Check out this video by my young Tofino friends. It's great to see how they view Tofino in the summer. It looks pretty amazing to me!

Summer - by Gromlayer from on Vimeo.

You can follow them here, and I'll try to link to more of their videos. (And don't forget to vote!)

And while I'm mentioning the creative things that young Tofitians are doing, here is Daughter P's blog, Here, There and Everywhere. She takes wonderful photos, but is a little slow to post them. Perhaps you can encourage her, because the Nagging Mother Act is wearing thin and not producing results.

Please send me links to other "young people" (why do I feel so very old writing that?) from Tofino.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Life on the Mudflats/Voting Day

More than just mud, indeed. I've been hearing about these wolves for quite awhile now. What a show that must of been. Our town may not be perfect, but there is so much to celebrate and hold on to — I guess I am just a glass is half full sort of person. We all have a role to play in keeping/making Tofino the town we want it to be. That means being involved. I'm sorry; constant complaining and bitching won't cut it. (At least with me.) Do something instead. How about we start with voting? Historically, Tofino has had quite a high vote turn out. It will be interesting to see how it plays out today.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sutton Pass Web Cam

Finally, a web cam for Sutton Pass. (Ironically, when I went to post this, the camera was down.) Check it out before your venture out (or drive back home). Now if we could just get the Ministry of Highway to re-position those ridiculously placed highway warning signs! Don't you think it would make sense if one was at the junction and the other just past Sproat Lake?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Stellar Steller Sea Lions

Consider this the public service announcement part of my blog. The editing impulse is just too strong and after seeing this error in print, yet again (and in a fairly major report, no less), I needed to act. If nothing else, it's therapy for me.

Folks, when it comes to sea lions and jays on the west coast, they are Steller, not Stellar.

Steller sea lions and Steller jays (or Steller's) are named for Georg Wilhelm Steller (1709-1742). Steller was the naturalist on Vitus Bering's last voyage across the North Pacific. Apparently he was the first non-native to step foot on what would eventually become Alaska. He has several animals named after him, including the now extinct Steller's sea cow, a North Pacific relative of the dugong and manatee, the Steller's eagle and the Steller's eider.

Steller and the boys had quite the adventure and you can read all about it in the highly readable, Where the Sea Breaks Its Back: The Epic Story of Early Naturalist Georg Steller and the Russian Exploration of Alaska by Corey Ford.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Meet the Tofino Candidates...

or at least put a face to a name with this video:

Tofino Municipal Election All Candidates Oct 26, 2011 from TofinoTech on Vimeo.

There is another all candidates meeting on November 16th, starting at 7 pm at the community hall. Voting day is November 19.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Sea Otters of Clayoquot Sound

For the rest of Canada, the beaver was the driving force that led to so much change and, eventually, the formation of Canada. But on the west coast, it was a different furry beast — the sea otter.

The search for sea otter, which was launched as soon as James Cooks' crews sold a few sea otters pelts in China for "princely sums" changed the west coast forever. Within a few years, traders were in Nootka and Clayoquot Sounds, and elsewhere along the coast, trading the native people for furs. It was a lively trade and there's a lot of stories to tell, but within about 50 years, the trade was all but over. The main source of the frenzy - the sea otter - was gone.

But...the sea otters are now back in Clayoquot Sound. For some people, that's great news. For others, not so much. (Complicated stuff and something for a longer, well-considered post.) For now, here is a great piece from Rod Palm, explaining recent events that saw the sea otters once again setting up in its traditional territory.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Meares Island Big Tree Trail

Are you one of the thousands that have hiked The Big Tree Trail on Meares Island? Here's a little bit of history, courtesy Tofino writer Joanna Streetly via the Tofino Guide!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Lighting Up the MUP

There has been a lot of discussion lately over whether to light the MUP (multi use path), which is, IMHO, one of Tofino's greatest assets. This came to the fore after a tragic death in town.

Personally, I am not in favour of lighting the MUP. Aside from my concerns over light pollution, ongoing maintenance and the like, I feel it ignores our personally responsibility. It is pretty easy - and inexpensive - to light yourself on the MUP. Lights on the front and back of bikes and flashlights held by pedestrians will alleviate most of the dangers. (I say most, because there are other "dangers," often surprising and almost inexplicable. As a pedestrian, I was hit by a cyclist in the middle of a sunny summer day.)

This fall a Light the MUP initiative began. I applaud local people trying to make things happen, but, again, I was concerned over heading down a road that we could not maintain when there is a simpler alternative, so it is great to see that they've started with a great initiative — making free lights available at three accessible locations. From the story in The Westerly:

"Launching on October 22 is the group's first efforts in lighting up the way for Tofino residents.

The group of volunteers have purchased bike lights that will be available at three different site locations along the MUP: one in town, one near Beaches and Live to Surf, and one near the Cox Bay information centre.

"If you need a light at night, you can grab one and drop it in a box when you are leaving," said Mussato.

There will be small keychain lights available for pedestrians as well."

Bravo. To all those involved, thanks for your efforts.

Please consider donating a light to this positive initiative.

Learning Nuu-chah-nulth One Day (and Word) At a Time

Interesting in learning a bit of Nuu-chah-nulth language? Then check out Nuu-chah-nulth Speaker on Facebook. Today's phrase? It is really raining - miƛaqaqʔiš. Very appropriate.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Thursday Freecycle Event

By chance and a mutual friend, I met a relative of Ivan Polivka's this week. They are slowly clearing his house, so have some items to give away, all in good condition. Here are the details:

Lots of free furniture and household items available to view/cart away, Thursday, October 27, 9 to 12 am ONLY @ 1305 Lynn Road: oak computer desk; 27" TV and stand; 2 bookshelves; ElnaPress 1004; stereo stand/shelving unit; several picture frames; microwave stand; 2 captain's beds (twin); 2 bookshelves; 2 x 3-drawer filing cabinets; LPs; books; misc. small kitchen appliances; inflatable kayak; wine making equipment; kayak (from kit); Lazy-Boy-type chair; kitchen cart, etc.

SInce it might be busy, you might want to park on the road and walk up the drive, at least for viewing.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Big Day!

The Big Year was released last night. Tofino has a bit part, as do a few of our locals. Here's more:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Learning from the First Peoples

Tofitians love their food. With so many excellent restaurants, local food-related events, such as the Tofino Food and Wine Festival, and initiatives such as TUCG, that provide us with fresh seasonal food, it's no wonder we have so many "foodies."

The west coast is a bountiful place. Although we have more access to "local" foods, the word local is relative. Peaches aren't really local, but salad and red huckleberries are. Lamb or turkey wasn't a staple of the past, but venison, duck, fish of all species, and even whale were on the diet. The natural bounty of this place sustained the First Nations people for thousands of years. It was hard work all that hunting and gathering, but food was relatively plentiful. It had to be to support populations of more than 10,000.

The connections to traditional foods have weakened over the years, but a great initiative from Uu-a-thluk, part of the Nuu-chah-nulth Fisheries, have produced some wonderful resources on traditional foods and their preparation. (Uu-a-thluk means "taking care of.") Curious about eelgrass and herring eggs or how to prepare food in a steam pit? Then this is a great resource to check out. Their Nuu-chah-nulth Traditional Foods Toolkit, includes six booklets — Eelgrass, Candy of the Sea; Herring Spawn; Quu-as Tips for Drying and Smoking Salmon; Steam Pit Cooking; Low Tide Foods; and the Nuu-chah-nulth Traditional Foods Reference Guide. Proceeds from the purchase of these items go towards their programming, which includes feasts where youth learn about traditional foods from their elders.

Here is a great video describing the project.

And here's an article about the project.

Make sure you also check out the wonderful cookbook put out by Uu-a-thluk, camus.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Cougar Questions?

If you live on the west coast, no doubt you have a few questions about cougars. Why have there been so many incidents lately? Are there more cougars? Are they stressed in some way? You can learn more about what is locally known at a talk tomorrow evening. (Details at the end of this post.)

Please take advantage of this opportunity. I've found it interesting — and somewhat distressing — to see how many "instant experts" have emerged of late, and how very strident opinions their opinions can be without a depth of background. Emotions are fine, but we need to temper them with decent information. Here's a chance to learn more.

Understanding Recent Cougar Events: An evening with Bob Hansen from Parks Canada.

Thursday October 6th, 2011
7:30 - 8:30 pm
Tofino Ecolodge at the Tofino Botanical Gardens (the talk will be held upstairs in the classroom)
1084 Pacific Rim Highway (please call us if you need directions - 250 725-2560)

This has been a remarkable year for interactions with cougars. The attack on a child, several other incidents resulting in cougar destructions, and on-going warnings about cougars in the area. These events have raised concerns around human safety and about the stress and toll on cougars. Currently there is evidence of three cougars in the Pacific Rim area. One in the Millstream/Port Albion area, one in the Long Beach area, and another in Tofino. Bob Hansen, wildlife expert, reports that some of the most frequently asked questions about cougars are:

- How is the decision reached to destroy a cougar?
- What happened in the recent incidents?
- Why is Swim Beach closed?
- What might be behind these events?
- What should I do to reduce the chance of running into a cougar?
- If I do see a cougar, how should I react?

Bob will attempt to answer these questions and provide as much information and clarity as possible for those interested in understanding recent cougar activity. Please join us for a much anticipated and very important community event.

This event is sponsored by the Raincoast Education Society.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Win a Kayak!

Help support Ucluelet Seconday School's kayaking program — one of the great perks of keeping our kids in school on the west coast, close to home — by purchasing a raffle ticket. Contest details can be found here. The prize is a custom kayak or a gift certificate to Mountain Equipment Co-op.

You can find the tickets at Tofino Sea Kayaking, Majestic Ocean Kayaking, Blackrock Resort, Remote Passages or at the CLayoquot Biosphere Trust office at 316 Main Street in Tofino.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Beauty on the Mudflats

The open ocean gets a lot of attention out here, but one of my favourite places is the mudflats, on the quiet, sheltered side of the Esowista Peninsula. Check out this beautiful video by Josh Lewis, that gives a glimpse into this habitat. (The link to Josh's name will take you to lots of other videos shot in the area.)

Tofino Mudflats from Josh Lewis on Vimeo.


Looking for a way to get to or from Tofino? Here's a new option.

HitchTofino was created by two web geeks in Vancouver, following the success of HitchWhistler, a rideshare site dedicated to getting shredders to the hill for less. As spring arrived we decided to launch a sister site for surfers and HitchTofino was born. Surf more. Spend less. That's our mission statement.

The completely free site allows people to register as a Driver or a Hitcher and then post or view trips from various locations in BC including: Victoria, Tofino, Vancouver, Whistler, Nanaimo and Ucluelet. Driver's can specify how many petrodollars they want for the trip and Hitcher's can message them through the site. In the process everyone gets a top up of green karma, saves some cash and meets some like-minded people.

A valid email address is needed to register and the site's feedback system allows for extra security so you can check a drivers profile before accepting a ride.

Update: A reader alerted me to another long-standing option, Tofino Ride Share.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Governor-General Comes to Call

As this article mentions, Canada's Governor General, David Johnston, is coming to Clayoquot Sound.

It's not the first time a Governor General has paid a visit though. The earliest was when Lord and Lady Willingdon travelled the coast on the Princess Norah in the late 1920s. There are some wonderful photos of that visit, which I unfortunately don't have the rights to post. But I found a few online, here, and here. The second one is one of my favourite photos of Tofino. The Girl Guides were all dolled up and waiting on the dock for Lord and Lady Willingdon. I believe this also might be from the same visit.

Here is what Walter Guppy wrote about the visit in his book, Clayoquot Soundings:

"The arrival of the Princess Norah in Tofino on its inaugural trip with Lord and Lady Willingdon, the Governor-General of Canada and his wife among the distinguished passengers, was a gala event with nearly all the people from the surrounding area gathered on Tofino wharf when the ship came in. School children, Girl Guides and Scouts and a delegation from the local Legion branch took part in the event. Indians performed their traditional dances against a back-drop of native designs painted on canvas. Japanese girls in colourful kimonos added their contribution and the Japanese fishermen presented the Governor-General with a sturgeon iced down in a long-shaped box. It was probably an accidental catch, not typical of the area, but apparently considered to be a "royal fish" appropriate to the rank of the recipient."

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tomorrow is the Great Shoreline Clean-Up

Sadly, even here in beautiful Clayoquot Sound there are beaches that need cleaning. Here are the details on tomorrow's event. There are others later in the week as well.

Please join the Raincoast Education Society, Uu-a-thluk, and Surfrider for the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.

What: Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup (West Coast chapter)
Where: Cox Bay. Meet on the beach in front of Pacific Sands
When: 11 am, Saturday September 17th, 2011


The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is now one of the largest direct action environmental events in Canada, engaging tens of thousands of participants annually in every province and territory. Each year, the public support and general awareness of the program has increased ( September 17th marks the kick-off of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. If you cannot make it to the cleanup on Cox Bay then please check the other locations below and find one that works for you!

Clean Dates & Locations:

September 17th, 11 am: Cox Bay. Meet on the beach in front of Pacific Sands Beach Resort

September 20th, 6 pm: Mackenzie Beach. Meet on the beach in front of Ocean Village Resort

*September 22nd, 10 am - 2pm: Tonquin Beach & Centennial Creek

*This clean-up is a school program for the students of Wickaninnish Community School. Please contact Dan Harrison at the Raincoast Education Society if you would like to help with this clean: 250 725-2560

If you would like to help out with clean-ups in Ucluelet, Ahousaht, or Hot Springs please contact Katie Beach at:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Friday, August 26, 2011

Lantern Festival, This Sunday!

[Lantern by Marion Syme. Photo from the Raincoast Education Society]

One of the best nights of the year in Tofino is this Sunday. It's the annual Lantern Festival. There is still time to make a lantern, just check out the details on workshops and the festival itself here.

Tofino vs. Whistler

A Tale of Two Towns. An interesting take on the differences and similarities between Tofino and Whistler. I will resist the urge to edit. (Okay, I have to say one thing. It is not "Coast Salish" iconography. It is the Nuu-chah-nulth on the west coast.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Jack and Tofino

Apparently Jack loved Tofino, too. Our country has lost a powerful advocate just at his peak. Today, life feels very unfair.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world. ~ Jack Layton

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Yard Sale Day — Clearing out for Change

August is turning out to be a perfect storm of just too much to do. A tsunami of work, holidays, and personal and professional changes (daughter A off to university; job transition for me) is keeping me well away from here. I should be back at it by mid-September. For now, in an attempt to minimize a tsunami of stuff that was threatening to take over, we're having a huge yard sale today. 380 GIbson Street from 11 to 2. Some highlights:

- costumes (the girls "tickle trunks" have been emptied)
- good quality books, games, toys, puzzles
- a beautiful cruiser bike
- a smoker
- small household appliances (hand mixer, wok, microwave, etc.)
- kitchen items (dishes, etc.)
- push mower
- some furniture (bar stools, dresser, etc.)
- craft supplies and fabric
- sports and outdoor equipment
... and a whole lot more!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Looking for Tofino Gardens

The Tofino Community Food Initiative is having its 3rd Annual Edible Garden Tour on Sunday August 21st, from 3-7 pm. The purpose of the tour is to inspire locals with the abundance and variety of foods that people grow in Tofino plus highlight some of the special ways that people grow food on the west coast.

The TCFI is looking for folks who would be interested in showcasing their vegetable gardens and greenhouses on the tour. The hosts would be asked to be available to show their gardens from 3-7 pm on Sunday August 21.

Everyone is encouraged to participate, however large or small, new or old your garden may be!

If you or anyone you know would be interested in showcasing your garden, please email by Sunday August 14th to make sure we get your garden on the map. You can also send us a message via Facebook or simply reply to this posting!

We look forward to hearing from you!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Tofino Tea Party - This Sunday

I'm busy in the yard getting ready for Sunday's tea party. Hope to see you there!

If anyone has a children's-size table and chairs they could loan for a few hours, please let me know!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

West Coast Books For Sale

Just passing this on:

Rare book sale, July 9th-13th, 10am to 6pm
Atleo Room at Tin Wis Resort, Tofino

David Ellis, Bookseller, will be in Tofino July 9-13,
to present for public sale, rare books.
He will have a large selection of First Nations books,
as well many on west coast history, ethnobotany, art,
traditions, and language.
Special local Tofino books including editions by Luke Swan,
Stanley Sam, Peter Webster, Earl Maquinna George, Dorothy
Haegart, Philip Drucker, Dorothy Abraham, Charles Moser, Paul
George, Ron Aspinall, Adrian Dorst, Cameron Young, Walter
Guppy and George Nicholson.
Historical reports on mining, salmon farming, fisheries,
Natural history titles, including books on whales,birds, and other marine life.
David Ellis - cell 604-916-6081, for special book requests

Monday, June 27, 2011

Cougar Annie's Makes the Design Blogs

Cougar Annie's Garden was featured on the design blog, Poppytalk, today. For the story of Annie and her garden, read Margaret Horsfield's book, Cougar Annie's Garden.

Here is Peter Buckland discussing how he restored the gardens.

(I am pretty sure you can't just arrive at the garden. It is private property so double check before you just arrive on the garden's entry path!)

Reducing SPLATs on the Pacific Rim Highway

Barb Beasley has been an (almost) one-woman amphibian ambassador on the west coast for the last decade or so. The SPLAT project (not it's actually name, but as we affectionately call it: Society for the Protection of Little Amphibian Tragedies [or Little Animals Trampled]) began years ago when Barb was trying to get a sense of where amphibian corridors meet the highway. She enlisted the help of volunteers who would go out early in the morning after a rainfall to count the "splats" on the highway. From there she determined the main amphibian freeway, which is near the junction. Then Barb erected the little fences you have probably seen. These coralled the amphibians and she then carried them across the highway. (Yes, you read that correctly. I told you she was dedicated.) Now those fences funnel the amphibians toward their own tunnel.

Thanks for all of your hard work and dedication, Barb!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Thoughts on West Coast Education

[Ucluelet Secondary School, 2011 Grad Class]

I have been thinking about education on the west coast for 13 years. Thirteen years ago, Daughter A entered elementary school in Tofino. Today is her last day of public school.

Before I start, I want to make it clear these are my thoughts about what has worked for my family. I realize that what works for one child may not work for another (and since I still have a child in “the system” this is still the case for our family). My words are not to pass judgment on others and their decisions, but I do hope they get people thinking and talking. And I hope you’ll leave your thoughts and experiences, too.

When I talk about education with people, these have been my refrains:

Life is not perfect. In my opinion, one of the best things we can do for our children is to help them be resilient. Give them the tools to deal with less-than-perfect situations and people. That comes from experience. Was every last one of your teachers “perfect” (whatever that means)? I’d suggest the answer is no. Was every course you ever took the best it could be with the most incredible resources and instructors? I doubt that too. This doesn’t mean we should just acquiesce and not ask for better, but telling your children that school can be as good as they make it has some merit. Don’t wait for things to happen. Help make them happen.

Educate yourself. If you are going to say how "bad" the school system is on the west coast, please make sure you’ve talked to someone with a child who actually goes to the school. I’m sure peoples’ eyes must glaze over when I start ranting about this, but I find it irritating and, frankly disrespectful to those who are teachers out here, to just brush our schools off without our own experiences. “Oh, I’ve heard [insert school here] is such a bad school.” Really? And please keep in mind that teachers and administrators change all the time. The high school my daughter entered five years ago, bears little resemblance to the one she just graduated from. In the end, the school may not be the right fit for your child, but at least gather your own experiences.

Learning doesn’t happen Monday to Friday, September to June. Make learning a respected and on-going, life-long goal and your children will be fine. (I will never in my life forget the time I was talking to a group of children at the Bamfield Marine Station where I worked for a time. We were probably doing something “boring,” like, uh, leaning over a salt water tank learning about sea stars and sea cucumbers, while actually being able to handle them. One child looked at me and said with a big sigh and a bored look, “Are we learning now?” Good lord.)

Don’t give schools all the credit for educating your child. Perhaps this sounds a bit counter to what I’m going on about, but, with all due respect to our teachers, what happens within the confines of the school is not the be-all and end-all. Give your children opportunities — and goodness knows there are plenty of them out here — and they will have a rich and varied education. I am constantly reminding my kids that while they live in a small town, they don’t live in a small town. Consider all of the music, theatre, literary events, guest speakers, outdoor opportunities, recreational opportunities (surfing, flamenco, synchronized swimming, ballet, marital arts, and more), culinary experiences, and incredible natural “amenities” that people from around the world come to see and I think you’ll agree we are far from educationally impoverished. You just need to take advantage of what is before you. (Yes, we don’t have many organized team sports, which I realize is a big one — I played organized sports during all of public school and I know how valuable they can be — and some courses (and instructors) come and go, but there is a lot going on here.) Maybe we should look at what we have, not what we don’t have.

Consider that you are a role model. If you think education on the west coast sucks or that a teacher is “bad” and not doing what you think they should be, then please don’t talk about it in front of your children. If you say something sucks, children may very well begin to think it sucks, too, and will act accordingly.

You can make up your list of what is less-than-perfect about west coast schooling, but here are a few of the things I think we should celebrate.

Family. There are a lot of things to say about this. For us, it was important to keep our family together. We could have sent our daughter away for high school, but chose not to. She’ll be gone soon enough, so we decided to try it out even though most of her friends from elementary school had moved. It worked out just fine. And what I just noticed at the high school grad these kids are, in many ways, like a big messy family. Some of them have been together for 13 years — most of their lives in fact — and there’s something to be said about that. My graduating class had almost 500 people. I hardly knew a soul. And from what I gather from Daughter A, the teachers and staff become part of that family, too. I mean, how many long, philosophical discussions did you have with your school custodian?

Opportunity. Through school, my daughter has travelled to Japan, Mexico, and Quebec, as well as several field trips within British Columbia. (Next year's Global Education class is going to China.) She has also earned her assistant kayak day guide certification and ended her grade 11 year by kayaking through the Broken Group Island. At the school awards night the other evening, I saw some pretty incredible furniture and art as well.

Education. There were six students in my daughter’s Physics 12 class. Need I say more? For students wanting and needing academic courses, the numbers can be in their favour. I was also pleased at how the school tries to make as many opportunities available for students, for instance looking at Grade 11 and 12 students as a unit so that when you are in Grade 11 you may be able to take a Grade 12 course that can only be offered every other year. I know, I know, there are many courses that are not offered, but the students have access to dozens of correspondence courses as well (Daughter A took photography, French 12 and Comparative History by correspondence. I realize correspondence is not for everyone, but it’s possible.)

Community. Teachers are our neighbours and part of the community too. There’s something to be said about seeing your teachers out in your community doing what they do. Yes, teachers are people too! This extension of family really struck me when a local teacher lost his wife in an accident. There were many of his young students at the funeral, giving him a hug, showing their love and support as best they could. At the recent graduation ceremony, it seemed like the entire community was out to celebrate, even those without someone close graduating that day. The community celebrated together. (And I was also struck that several of my daughter's teachers from elementary school came up and gave her a hug, a card, a gift, and even something she had written in grade two. That was very cool.)

And the greater community supports our schools too — in a big way. At the graduation ceremony a few weeks ago, $98,000 in scholarships were awarded to our grads. (This was for a grad class of about 30 students. You do the math.) Apparently that is the largest scholarships per capita in the entire province. One scholarship is worth $40,000.

So, these are my thoughts. (For now, no doubt I have more.) What are yours?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Be A Raincoast Host

If you are working the "front lines" during the tourist season you should check out the Raincoast Host program offered by the Raincoast Education Society. The one day course gives you an excellent grounding in the natural and cultural history of our community and the surrounding area. The next course is June 28 so sign up fast (by this Friday).

Here are the details:

Date: Tuesday June 28th, 2011
Time: 9am - 5pm
Location: EcoLodge at the Tofino Botanical Gardens
Cost: $69 (discounts available for non-profits and businesses sending more than four staff)
Registration deadline: Friday, June 24th

Is Lone Cone really a volcano?
How do you pronounce Tla-o-qui-aht?
What are those plants with the huge leaves?
Where is that foam on the ocean coming from? Discover the answers to these questions and many more during the Raincoast Host program. Raincoast Host is a fun and informative full-day course in local ecology and cultural history. The course enables participants to answer commonly-asked questions about the environments, communities and cultures of the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere region, and deliver key messages about how to explore the area safely and respectfully. A great compliment to the Tofino Long Beach Chamber of Commerce Ambassador Program this course is perfect for anyone who wants to expand their knowledge of the area.

What is the difference between the Raincoast Host course and the Ambassador Program?
The Ambassador Program is a half-day introduction to the area and services offered here, and includes a brief section on natural and cultural history. The Raincoast Host course is a full day course that offers an in-depth overview of the natural and cultural history of the region. It’s a great course for guides (kayak, whale watching etc.), any staff who answer lots of curious visitors questions, and for anyone who just wants to build on and expand their knowledge of the area.

Course Instructors:
Josie Osborne (local naturalist and marine biologist, Raincoast Education Society)
Gisele Martin (Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, owner Tlaook Cultural Adventures)
Jen Pukonen (local naturalist and ethnobotanist, Raincoast Education Society)
For more info and to register please email, call 725-2567 or check out our website at

Raincoast Education Society
PO Box 815
Tofino BC V0R 2Z0
tel 250-725-2560
fax 250-725-2435

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Welcome, Tofino Box

For awhile I had a "What's Going On" sidebar on this blog, but it took far too much time to update. The Tofino Time site lists event, but now there is an even-more-up-to-the-minute site, Tofino Box.

Tofino Box is extremely comprehensive, with classifieds (jobs, places to rent, stuff for sale), events (from garage sales and knitting classes to foodie events and market days), music listings (live, open mics, karaoke and more), and "Healing Arts, Getting Yogic & Sportin' Sweatpants, which is pretty self-explanatory. It's easy to post on and troll through, so take a look if you're ever tempted to ask a Tofitian "What do you do in this town?" - a question that never ceases to amaze me. There is SO MUCH to do here.

And, of course, there is also a physical Tofino Box, which is a nice gift for visitors wanting a taste of Tofino.

My favourite thing on the site, though, is the revolving text on a non-active button, with things only insiders will "get," like "Turtle for Mayor," "Give up the kibble and everything will be cool," (from the Co-op cats), and "That's not John Travolta's house."

Good work, Tofino Box! "Open the box, get the local goods."

Friday, May 27, 2011

Tofino Market is Open

I missed the first day of the Tofino market last weekend because I was off relaxing elsewhere, but I will be out tomorrow, with wares from Postelsia Press. We'll have a few copies of our latest book, 18 Meditations on Chesterman Beach. Marion has done a beautiful job of book design, with a hand bound cover no less. Drop by to say hi!

[Later clarification. This book is NOT the Chesterman Beach Anthology. That book will be published later this year.]

Vargas Island History - 2

[Continued from here.]

One young Englishman who obtained land on Vargas was Harold Monks Sr., originally of Wigan, Lancashire. Monks was in contact with a distant relative, Harry Hilton, who had already come to Vargas. By the time 21-year-old Harold landed at Hopkin's Beach in 1914, there were no beachfront properties left. Harold's homestead was inland near the northwest corner of the island. The other 30 or so Vargas settlers included families that may still be familiar, at least as place names on local charts and maps: Eby, Abraham, and Malon, as well as a Captain Cleland who lived on Open Bay. Harold Monks Sr. recalled Cleland's driveway of sand that ran from the beach to his homestead. Cleland hired Harry Harris to do chores for him, which included taking Cleland's mother for buggy rides up and down the beach.

The start of World War I was the beginning of the end for the Vargas Island settlement. Thirteen men from Vargas, including Harold Monks and Arthur Abraham, enlisted. (Harold returned, while Arthur did not.) With the young men gone, it became too difficult to maintain homesteads. Land became overgrown and homesteads collapsed.

One settler, Ted Abraham, however, did return. He came back to Vargas with his new bride, Dorothy (nee Allard) to join his mother, Mrs. Malon and his siblings. At first, the newlyweds stayed at the Malon's waterfront home (near where the Vargas Inn is today), but eventually moved to Ted's place on the other side of the island, which Dorothy described in her memoir, Lone Cone, as being "beautiful, rugged, terrifyingly lonely." The only other settler on the island when they returned was Pierre Hovelaque, who married Ted's sister Violet in 1920. The lack of neighbours miffed Dorothy somewhat and she wrote: "...although I am not vain, [there is] no one to see all my nice English trousseau...we might have gone about in fig leaves or less."

Eventually the challenges on Vargas became too great. "Our money was dwindling fast, and we had nothing in sight in the way of a living, one cannot live on love and scenery forever!" Dorothy wrote. They too eventually moved to Tofino, then a growing town of about 300.

If you are interested in more about Vargas Island, Margaret Horsfield's book, Voices from the Sound, has some wonderful sections on Vargas.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Vargas Island History - 1

In the early 1900s, Frank Garrard, the first lightkeeper at Lennard Island made the move from that island to Vargas Island. After the tragic death of their infant son Edward, who died after ingesting lye, it became difficult for Annie and Frank Garrard to carry on at Lennard. The younger children went to school each week and Tofino and the boat crossings often brought anxiety. (One time, the children capsized enroute home.) With Pierre Hovelague, Garrard leased and pre-empted 1280 acres of land on Vargas Island. In 1906, the Garrards left the light and moved to Vargas, bringing their cattle and goats along too. Hovelaque and Garrard got busy on their respective homesteads, clearing land, building small cottages, planting gardens and fruit trees. Now all they needed were some neighbours.

Garrard placed an advertisement back home in England, encouraged others to homestead on Vargas. And come they did. Before too long, after journeys by train, ship and, eventually, skiff, eager settlers were offloaded on to Vargas beaches. The boggy land was useless for farming but the men made out as best they could, clearing land (there were a few oxen and horses on the island to help) building cabins, hunting, fishing and picking up odd jobs. Several men built and maintained two trails: a rough corduroy "road" then went from Malon's Bay to Open (Ahous) Bay and a trail connected to the north-island homestead to a the cross-island trail. Eventually, a crude telephone wire followed these two trails. (The trail from Malon's Bay to Ahous Bay is still the cross-island trail today and bits of corduroy are still visible.) For a few years, CPR ships would stop at the northwest corner of the island, at Port Gillam, to deliver mail or offload supplies.

I'll do another installment, tomorrow, but I wanted to mention the Malon's in this post as the Vargas Inn, which I wrote of yesterday, is built on the same property at the Malon's home.

(Thank you to Neil Buckle for the photo.)

This was what the home of Helen Malon and her children. Mrs. Malon kept a journal and here is how she spent May 24th (and a few days before and after) in 1916.

Tuesday, May 23rd
Lovely day. [Perry?] and Eileen went over yesterday evening to dance in Tofino. Tommy here at work also A. H. making a path, clearing stump. Made cakes, scones, etc. in the morning. Working a little in the garden after tea.

Wednesday, May 24th
Empire day. Glorious day. M and I with Yvonne and Pierre took our lunch with us and went to Open Bay. Had tea and supper with the Clelands, and did not get home until nearly 9 o'clock. The three girls all slept on the verandah.

Thursday, May 25th
Another lovely day. Worked in the garden directly after breakfast, preparing the ground for potatoes and then cut out dolls clothes for Yvonne's doll. Rested after lunch and then planted potatoes later.

Friday, May 26h
Foggy all day. Stayed in bed until late. Worked a little in garden. Made buns and scones after lunch. All going to sleep on the verandah tonight.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Weekend Island(s) Getaway

One of my favourite places to relax is just a 30 minute boat ride away.

We did a lot of this.

But we hiked across to Ahous Bay, read lots, played Yahtzee and ate some wonderful meals too. (Wine-o-clock seemed to arrive a bit early on the island, but so did bed time and the time we rose.) We also putzed around, exploring the inn, trolling the beach, snooping through the amazing workshop.

And then, as a bonus, we also went to Stubbs Island for the annual open house. Stubbs Island was the location of Clayoquot, the first non-native community here (it was formed long before Tofino). Today it is privately owned and there is an open house on the May long weekend. This continues the historic tradition of "Clayoquot Days," where people from around the sound would gather at Clayoquot for food, games and celebration. Here is a remembrance from Ian MacLeod (from Settling Clayoquot by Bob Bossin):

"[Clayoquot] was sure a great place to go for sports. On the 24th of May, that was the place for your competition. I was good at the running broad jump. When I was 17 I could make 21 feet, but Isaac Charlie, ... , he could make over 24 feet, 25 maybe. According to Major Nicholson and the judges in those days, he broke the world record, but it was unofficial.

You had some of the toughest competition in the world. There would be twelve or fourteen hundred people from Tofino, Ucluelet, the reduction plants, the sawmills, the hatcheries, the mines, from Hot Spring Cove, Ahousat, Nootka. There would be dozens and dozens of fishboats. The first day you had feats of strength, running and jumping and then on the second day it would be water sports, boat races, the greased pole. The big event was tug-of-war, with the biggest men in the area for anchor men. Arnie Lista, he was the anchorman for awhile. He could lift a 400 pound anchor up to his waist. People would stand back and sing for each side, Indian songs, Norwegian Viking songs. I heard my dad singing a Gaelic song one time. He was the anchorman and he was singing a Gaelic song to the Norwegians."

Low Tide in Tofino - 4

Technically, this is not Tofino. We spent the weekend on Vargas Island, so here are two versions of my little troll from a beach near the inn. (Taken on some tables with nice beach-glass-like patina, don't you think?) Next post will be pictures from the weekend.

Love the intact jingle shell (aka, rock oyster) and the greenish heart-shaped stone my sister found to add to my collection.

Can't get enough of the beautiful swirls from the moon snail.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Clayoquot Days: Stubbs Island Open House

One of my favourite Tofino events is coming up this weekend - the open house at Stubbs Island. (Also known locally as Clayoquot Island, but that's not the correct name. The village of Clayoquot was on Stubbs Island.) Here is a great article about the history of the island, then and now, from today's Globe and Mail.

Pack a picnic and plan to stay all day. The open house is 12 to 5, Saturday and Sunday. Shuttle boats leave the 1st Street Dock. See you there?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Interested in Arts, Culture and Heritage?

...then a new committee of the District of Tofino would like to hear from you. People love to bitch and complain about was does (or doesn't) happen in this town, so here's a chance to try to be on the "trying to make a difference" side instead of the it's "easy to bitch (especially anonymously)" side. Here's the scoop.

The District of Tofino is calling for interested members of the public to serve on the newly created Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee. This committee will research and make recommendations to Council on matters pertaining to art, cultural and heritage initiatives within the District. If interested, please email Sally Mole, Director of Parks and Recreation at stating your area(s) of interest and any related background information.

The Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee is a Select Committee of Council.

The Committee will act in an Advisory role and will make recommendations to Council on matters pertaining to Art, Cultural and Heritage initiatives within the District.

Scope of the Committee's Work

The Committee will research and make recommendations on developing a Master Plan for the Sustainability of Arts, Culture and Heritage for the District of Tofino. The Committee will develop and recommend to Council a policy on Public Art.

The Committee will review existing Arts Grant policy and will recommend to Council a framework for the adjudication of Arts, Culture and Heritage Grants.

The Committee will seek to inform the Downtown Vitalization Committee of its findings as they pertain to that committee's work.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

It's Shorebird Festival Time!

Daughter P is 14, which means Tofino's 14th Annual Shorebird Festival is upon us. Hard to believe we got it rolling all those years ago. She went to that first festival swaddled in a snuggie. Every year the Raincoast Education Society puts together a great program and this year is no exception. And it's so nice that the awareness of the importance of our area to shorebirds has increased so much over the years. Thanks to everyone who put this year's program together. See you on the beach and mudflats!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Most Beautiful Cemetery

If you read this blog on occasion you'll know that I'm very interested in local history. Although I am, of course, most interested in the local history of our region, I'm also drawn to the local history of places I visit. (So, less interested in the "big stories" we learned about in high school, primarily war and politics, but more in the stories of the people who actually did the day-to-day living in a place.) During my travels I am often drawn to cemeteries. Not only are they peaceful, and often quite beautiful, they also have many stories to tell. (While I'm talking about local history, I know some of you have been waiting for the walking tour book for awhile now. It's coming, it's coming. With only two of us running Postelsia Press, and it not being much of a money maker yet, it means we have to keep up with other work. Here is a sneak peek of the cover though!)

We have two cemeteries in Tofino. The newer one is on the outskirts of town. If you have never visited, you should. It is a beautiful spot. But my favourite is the original cemetery, which is on Morpheus Island. A road out of town wasn't really in place until the 1940s (and the road to Port Alberni wasn't through to the coast until 1959) so the ocean was the highway. The crew of the Lifeboat Station (predecessor to the Coast Guard) often carried the coffin (and dug the grave) and a flotilla of boats would follow with family and friends. The Morpheus Island Cemetery is a gem. Thanks to the people who helped do a bit of clearing over the Earth Week — an event sponsored by Tofino Sea Kayaking. Tofino Photography had some questions about one of the gravestones and sent me a few images. Here is a taste of what is over there. There are more images on Tofino Photography's website (just click on the tab for Morpheus).

Fred Tibbs and Rowland Brinckman were two Tofino characters. I wish I'd met them both. Tibbs originally came to the coast in his early 20s and pre-empted land at Long Beach where he was created Tidal Wave Ranch. Well, there wasn't much of a ranch, but he did have a little house near today's Greenpoint Campground. He eventually moved into Tofino, purchased an island (now Arnet Island), where he cut every tree but one. He built a wooden "castle" and then build a scaffolding around the single tree, which he often climbed to the top of and would play his cornet. Can you see why I would have liked to meet him?

Brinckman, or "Brinky", also seemed to be a wonderful character. Most of what I've heard of him is that he created wonderful plays and stage shows, and he would get the entire community involved. Here's a bit about Brinky from Anthony Guppy's Tofino Kid:

"I remember Mr. Brinkman, the night watchman at the lifeboat station. He organized a dramatic society, arranging with the village council and the school board to put on stage plays for special occasions. Mr. Brinkman had an unusually wry sense of humor. No matter what he was putting on, whether a war story or something from Shakespeare, he always gave it a special twist. His plays always filled the Legion and community halls for repeat performances. He would do everything himself, from designing the sets and painting the backdrops, to auditioning actor, to directing the entire production. He had a gift for costuming his cast of actors and would often call on my mother to dig into the trunk full of costumes she's saved for masquerades. He helped put on the school's Christmas plays."

When you are next in the Village Office, check out the hand drawn map on the wall. It was drawn by Brinckman.

Both of these men died young. Tibbs was tending a harbour light when his boat slipped away. He swam after it and managed to make it to Stubbs Island, but died shortly after. Brinckman died of pneumonia when he was 42. At the time he was planning to leave for work in Ottawa. He was packed and ready to go, but never made it.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fun Fair and Box Parade - TODAY!

I've had my head down with no time for blogging. (The 30-Day Yoga Challenge has been wonderful, but it's been that and work for the month!) So, sorry for the late notice, but most of you probably know of two annual and much-loved events in Tofino:

The Fun Fair at Wickaninnish Elementary School from 4:30 to 7:30. There will be a dunk tank - a new event this year. Rumour has it they're trying to get Ralph T. on the block...

And the Annual Box Parade. Meet at Arnet and 1st at 6 pm. No idea what I'm talking about? Look here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tofino Photographer - Chris Pouget

You MUST check out photographer Chris Pouget's blog. Do it every day because he is adding a photo every day for a year. If he does a person every day then you'll have "met" over a fifth of Tofino's population by next year. Once you've cruised the blog, check out the rest of his website. Grab a coffee and settle in because you'll need some time to scroll through all of the fabulous images.

[A little Thursday update. Chris has graciously allowed me to post a few of the photos from his blog here. But this is just a taste so get yourself over to the real thing and take a look.]

Stefan from Aftanis Design.

Natalie of Pacific Elements Yoga.

Matt from Crab Apple Floral.

Low Tide in Tofino - 3

While we're thinking about Tonquin Beach and the Lighthouse Trail here's the third in my little "found art" series. All from Tonquin Beach. About 90 percent of the garbage in the ocean is plastic. It wasn't too bad at Tonquin, but it's the little bits that hurt wildlife the most.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tofino's Lighthouse Trail

Finally found the photos that had gone AWOL. A couple days a week I start my day with a walk with a dear friend. I don't have a ton of time, so we usually take a quick jaunt to Tonquin Beach. Now, with the construction of Tofino's very own version of the Wild Pacific Trail, we have options and can do loops instead of backtracking. Yeah! A lot of locals are loving this trail. Eventually it will go through to Middle Beach. For now, you can access the trail from Tonquin Beach or from the corner where Leighton Way turns into Peterson Drive. Here are a few peeks.

Monday, April 18, 2011

More Storm Creations from Struthers

Here is another time-lapse of an Andrew Struther's design for Storm Surf:

And here's a link to another recent design. (Babies surfing!)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Earth Week in Tofino!

I had a whack of photos to post, but they seem to have disappeared from my camera. While I search, remember that today is the second day of Earth Week in Tofino. And it's looking like a beautiful day to get out there and "be with the Earth" however you choose. You can start at the 8th annual pancake breakfast at the Village Green. It runs from 9 until 12. And then this afternoon there is a paddle over to Morpheus Island, the site of our original cemetery. This is a real treat — it's a beautiful day, it looks as if the water will be calm, and Morpheus Island is a gem few people get to visit. Call Tofino Sea Kayaking if you're keen.

I rode my bike on the MUP yesterday. Thanks to everyone who was out there cleaning!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Low Tide in Tofino - 2

Here's a second instalment in my Low Tide in Tofino series." These bits are from Chesterman Beach.

Fresh Veggies for the West Coast

In the last few years the options for fresh, seasonal, local(ish), organic produce have been on the rise on the west coast. Green Soul seems to be thriving, which is a great thing, and Bobby Lax and the TUCG are ferreting out some amazing products for us. For years, several of us have been part of Nanoose Edibles' CSA program, which sees a delivery of a box of organic produce once a week from mid-May to mid-October. It is time to sign up for that program again. I've posted a letter from the farm below. (There is still time to sign up for the spring boxes, but they need to know asap.) Please contact the farm if you want more information, or you can also contact me and I can send you contact forms and more information.

Dear Friends and Customers,

This is a letter to all our valued customers of the CSA Box Program. Firstly we wish to extend our thanks for all your support last year! Your commitment provides the farm with a stable income enabling us to pay our staff and take care of the up-front costs of running the farm.

In order to provide our customers with flexibility around when they receive our veggie boxes and to also spread the costs over the entire growing cycle, we have split the program into three seasons. Hopefully you will be onboard with us for all three seasons; that would be great! For those of you who may be away for part of the year, or grow your own garden, or like to take in the farmers markets, we have given you some choices.

Sign up for 1, 2 or 3 seasons (spring, summer and fall). Each season lasts for eight weeks and you will receive one box per week. The spring season starts the week of May 15th (weather and growing conditions permitting) and will take you through to the first week of July when school ends and the summer holidays begin. The summer season starts the week of July 10th, ideal for customers who aren’t going away and don’t have a garden of their own. The week of September 5th marks the start of the fall season, which will take you through to mid November. Summer would be a great time for a farm visit, but you can come by any time to pick up some extra goodies from our year round farm market and have a break and walk about the farm.

This year we have a feast of new gourmet treats. We are introducing a new range of greens mixes; heritage varieties of sweet and hot peppers; a host of heritage tomatoes in all colours and sizes; six or more varieties of sweet summer onions; good winter keeper squash and sweet melons.
Let us know what you like and fill in the attached produce survey and either email it or send it back with your registration/payment form.

The cost remains $40 per box, a total of $320 for each of the three seasons, paid in advance of each season. There will be no additional charge for West Coast customers; however minor alterations in volume of product to offset the cost of containers and freight may occur.

The farm requires a minimum number of members for each season. Please help us to get the word out. Print the attachments for distribution or email them to family, friends, or community groups. To continue our customer service there will be a telephone feedback opportunity in the coming weeks, we hope you will participate.

Once again many thanks for your continued support. We look forward to providing our produce to you throughout the seasons and for many seasons to come!
Kind Regards from All at the Farm

Lorne & Barbara Ebell
Nanoose Edibles Farm

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Thanks, Tofino!

Thanks, Tofino! We had a wonderful evening on Sunday. I think about 140 people showed up, we had a fabulous meal together, and we raised $2105 for Japan. There was lots of spirit and good will in the hall that night and lots of wonderful moments, like the one of my sweet friend Toby emptying the contents of her piggy bank (nicely rolled, thank you!) in the donation bowl.

I have more to report on the evening, but I need to get a bit of work out of the way first.

Poetry Night in Tofino

Well, actually, it's poetry month in Canada, but I thought that had a nice ring to it especially given that the season at the moment is not really "spring," it's "hockey."

There is a local event on Saturday, April 9 from 3 to 4 at the Tofino Public Library. Local poet, Chris Lowther, will be reading, as will other west coast writers.

As a teaser, here is a poem from Chris's most recent book, My Nature.

Just another jaunt to Tonquin

After a long day under the curse of the thin-skinned,
I took my seat and pulled the door closed;
you started the ignition, familiar whine of your electric truck.
A flubbed sentence sounded like an old joke of ours,
unintended reference to some past hilarity and we erupted,
the tension departing our shoulders like lava.
You had to set the brake again.
At the park, falling sunlight fired up the forest
a rich green-gold, we could have drunk it dripping like honey mead
from all the bright branches.
And through that light, through those trees, smooth sand stretched
free of footprints, the expanding freedom of low tide.

The creek fanned out to cover most of the beach,
so shallow it was no longer a stream
but barely moving veins of shining wet sand.

You declared the close-packed mussels to be like wedding bouquets,
those tightly crammed arrays of firm unopened rosebuds.

Who started the colour show? - sunset-tinted seastars on rocky outcrops
blazed against the grey, and suddenly the sky spilled
amaranth and coral. One moment the pale barnacles
remained ivory and passive, the next they shouted with sunset.
They couldn't help taking some of that on,
so much colour it must be shared, spreading
like the creek, seeping into stone and shell and skin. You looked
sunburnt, gazing at a tidepool where mermaid's hair seaweed streamed
that crazy, effulgent green. When I looked up
from it, the sky had flamed, setting our hair alight.

Been coming here eighteen years, yet here I was exclaiming
over everything and there you were showing no sign
of being tired of any of it: sunsets, mussels, barnacles,
same old trees, same old jokes, my rhapsodizing, me.

And since we're speaking of local writers, Jackie Windh did a nice post here that profiles some of us.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Creating "Babies Surfing"

Are you a fan of the t-shirts from Storm Surf? Here is a great video of the creation of the latest design by ex-pat Tofitian (we still claim him), Andrew Struthers.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Picturing the Unimaginable

Tonight our community is gathering to do something — small, but still something — to help those in Japan. After the earthquake in Haiti, we did a similar thing. There was a community spaghetti dinner and the money raised went to Haiti. I remember that dinner because it brought such a cross-section of the community together. This can be a fractious place at times, so I hope this will do a little good for us as well as a little good for those across the water. As a friend said the other evening, the one thing we all have in common is that we all want to be here. Very few people are forced to live in Tofino.

I found this article from NPR where photojournalists have posted photos of Japan and Haiti side-by-side. Picturing the Unimaginable indeed.

Hope to see you tonight.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hands Across the Water: From Tofino to Japan

Okay, things are rolling for the fundraiser. The word is getting out and we're working on a few nice surprises. Please continue to spread the word. If you would like to distribute posters by email (or print), just let me know and I can pass on a pdf of the poster. (Or some hard copies. I'm doing a blitz this afternoon, but if anyone can help, I'd appreciate it!)

Thanks to Marion Syme for whipping the poster together for me!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tofino! Let's Send a Tsunami of Support

This can be a tough time in Tough City. The days are still cool and wet, we're surfing down the wave of Whale Fest into quiet times again (good for some, but perhaps not for businesses who are forking out far more cash than is coming in), work can be scarce and there is still rent to pay and groceries to buy. Still, we know we are blessed in comparison to the tragedies that are unfolding elsewhere in the world.

Before we zipped away for Spring Break our family was thinking of ideas for ways we could do something for Japan. We usually donate money, but I felt we needed more of a community effort. We tossed around a few ideas and then I read this post by part-time Tofitian Julie, and she gave me the boost I needed. Don't you think it's time we came together as a community to share a meal and send some support west? Our community has a strong connection to Japan — just check out the pre-WW II school photos in the library — and we also share a similar natural environment. It happened there; we know it could happen here.

So let's do dinner. Here's the plan.

What: A Community Potluck

Where: Tofino Community Hall

When: Sunday, April 3 (Yes, this Sunday)

Why: To raise money* for the Red Cross's relief efforts in Japan.

Time: Please arrive at 5:30 so we can get the food set out. The meal will begin at 6 pm. (We'll try to have a few activities to keep the young ones occupied.)

What can I do? (I'm so glad you asked.)

- Bring a dish to share. (Or two dishes if you're brining a large contingent.)
- Please bring your own plates, cups and utensils.
- Bring cash donations.*
- Volunteer if you can. We'll need help setting up, taking down, making tea, cleaning in the kitchen, etc. I would also love to hear from musicians willing to entertain for a bit or people willing to organize a few quiet activities for children. (Simple origami perhaps? Reading stories based in Japan?) Leave a comment below if you can help, or call me at 5-1288.
- Spread the word. If you work in the food industry, please consider a food contribution if you can. (No pressure. I know it's short notice.)
- Consider bringing someone — an elderly friend perhaps? — who might not otherwise come. Let's get a great cross-section of the community out.

* Just so you feel comfortable that I am not going to go to Mexico with this cash I will have two other people count the donations with me and will have them verify the cheque going to the Red Cross. (They can put it in the mail, too.)

Here is how the Canadian Red Cross is helping:

The Japanese Red Cross has an official role as part of the National Disaster Response Plan in Japan. Their role focuses on supporting emergency medical care, hospital care, psychological support, and distribution of relief supplies such as blankets, food and basic supplies.

The Canadian Red Cross has also been part of a high level support team that recently deployed a disaster response specialist to Japan. The team is assisting the Japanese Red Cross in addressing current critical gaps and in creating a longer term recovery plans.

And here's a message from the Japanese Red Cross:

"The compassion the Canadian people have demonstrated over the past week through their generous support to the Canadian Red Cross is incredibly uplifting at a time when we are dealing with a such an immense humanitarian tragedy. This financial support is very much needed and continues to be welcomed to help the hundreds of thousands of lives that will forever be changed by this disaster."

Satoshi Sugai
Director International Relief Division
Japanese Red Cross Society

Thanks, everyone!