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!