Sunday, July 22, 2012


While I won't flatter myself to think that there is actually someone out there in the blogosphere wondering where I've been, I thought I just check in and give a quick update. (I do have a few followers!)

A lot has been happening the past few months, which has meant I've had to focus my efforts. Much as I love it, The Heart of Tofino had fallen off what is doable for me at the moment. So, I'm officially going to take a hiatus until after Labour Day and cross "Update The Heart of Tofino" off my To Do list for a few weeks. If nothing else, I'll go easier on myself.

I will be checking in over at Long Beach Wild ( from time to time, however.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Tofino Collective & Mr Booth (again)

Why have I not seen this before? Reading it made me feel a little old and extremely un-hip—especially since I've known Zina since she was a baby—but finding things like this makes me fall in love with Tofino all over again. Knowing we have such a well of creative people who want to be here, makes it one of the best places on the planet. Make sure you check out the Like Minds page. I see they're just re-emerging after a little hiatus (believe me, I know how that happens when you're trying to run a blog or five), but I look forward to reading and seeing more of what they'll create very soon. And speaking of creative Tofino folks, Duncan Booth has two more podcasts up and available for download here.

Hera Medal Comes Home

The President's award, given to Nigel Campbell over 100 years ago for his part in the rescue of passengers from the Hera, has returned to Clayoquot Sound thanks to the efforts of The Tonquin Foundation. You can read more about it here. Thanks to everyone who played a part in its return.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Monday, May 28, 2012

Debunking Tofino's Volcano

The tourist season is upon us, so let's just nip this bit of misinformation in the bud: Lone Cone, on Meares Island, is not a volcano. It was serendipitous that I was thinking about this. Yesterday I came into a treasure trove of west coast history books. Most of them I had, but there were some gems I was delighted to add to my library. In the box was Lone Cone by Dorothy Abraham, which I already have, but am always happy to see and be reminded of. Some lucky friend or family member will get this copy.
Lone Cone is a memoir of Dorothy Abraham, a World War One war bride who found herself in the Tofino area (her husband homesteaded on Vargas Island).
It may have been Dorothy who actually started (or at least put the "fact" in print) that Lone Cone was an extinct volcano. On page 17 she refers to Lone Cone, "an extinct volcano." So, sorry, Dorothy and others who want to believe. Lone Cone is not a volcano, extinct or otherwise. Geologist and writer, Jackie Windh, debunked this years ago in an article in the local paper, The Sound. Then, just yesterday after I was going through the box of books and did a little Google search, I found this article.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Congratulations, Hjalmer Wenstob!

I am so proud of my friend and local carver, 19-year-old Hjalmer Wenstob who is having a carving installed in the Vancouver Airport this afternoon. He was one recipient of a YVR Art Foundation scholarship. [I've updated the photo, which was obviously taken at the event. Here is Hjalmer and his grandfather, Wayne.] There are a few short stories here and here. (And here's the original article from when he first won the scholarship.)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Repatriating Historic Hera Gold

No doubt you know that this coastline is often referred to as The Graveyard of the Pacific. Hundreds of shipwrecks litter the waters just offshore. In most cases, the "first responders" to these wrecks were local people who rescued, sheltered and returned the survivors to Victoria. At times, they were honoured for their part in these rescues with medals like this one:
The inscription reads: To Nigel L. Campbell in recognition of his heroic services in effecting the rescue of five men from the wreck of the American schooner "Hera," November 27, 1899. This medal is now in the hands of a dealer in the UK and Tofino's Tonquin Foundation is trying to repatriate the medal, which is estimated to cost about $2000. Here is more on the story and you can read a bit more on the Hera here. It would be great to see this important artifact back in the region. Please consider a donation, large or small, to the Tonquin Foundation.

How do you "Picture Tofino?"

If you haven't had a chance to complete the arts, culture and heritage survey, please take a moment to do so now. Here is the on-line survey. Give the arts, culture and heritage committee (of which I am part) your thoughts and visions around these topics. For more on the projects of the Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee, visit here.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

It's Tofino Shorebird Festival Time

The days are warmer and longer, the salmonberry bushes have been flowering for months, geese are flying overhead. Spring and the migration of wildlife - including shorebirds - is on its way. As Tofino has been doing for 15 years, this weekend we will celebrate the shorebirds that stop on locla mudflats and beaches. There is a great slate of activities ahead, which you can read about here. I'm particularly looking forward to the reception on Friday evening with Peter Clarkson - local artist (and park warden) who uses beach flotsam as the media for his 3-D sculptures. (You can see more here.) He will be joined by another artist, Anne Hansen, who uses "oystercatchers as an art form."

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day in Tofino

This is the last day of a fabulous week of Earth Day events in Tofino. I've been busy with several of them (plus trying to finish my taxes and paint a bedroom), thus this post is probably just this shy of useless for most of you. If, however, you don't know what's going on today, Earth Day, then have a look here. There is a fabulous line-up of events, including two this evening. One is a fundraiser at Shelter by that fab. gals at Studio One. The other is an open mic night at Humanity, the newest hang out and hotspot in Tofino. Almost overnight it has been a much-cherised event space in Tofino. (And as a parent of teens, I'm glad it provides them with a place to go. Something we are sadly lacking in Tofino.)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tofino Community Potluck: TODAY!

Last year, we had a fabulous community potluck. We raised over $2000, which was a great thing, but it was also a really fun event. So many people said that we should have the community potlucks on a regular basis. Great idea. So we're doing it again tonight. This time we'll raise funds for a cause a little bit closer to home: people in our communities who are struggling to put enough food on the table.

It's a quick, early event. Just at the right time for after the Lighthouse Trail clean-up and before the hockey game. Here are the details. I hope you can come and please spread the word.

Today, Sunday April 15
Tofino Community Hall
5:30 to 7 pm (you're welcome to come a little earlier to set out the food)
Please bring a dish to share (with the appropriate serving utensil), your own plates, cups and utensils.
Admission by donation. All money raised will go to the Food Bank on the Edge and Fish & Loaves.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Sea Wench Naturals: Hand-crafted from Clayoquot

One of the most popular posts on this blog is from my third month writing The Heart of Tofino, way back in 2009. It's this one. Back then, I was getting my first "tastes" (well, my skin was) of the products from Sea Wench Naturals, hand-crafted right here in Clayoquot Sound from wild and organically-grown plants and algae. I loved the products then and it seems that many readers did too. It was difficult for many fans to find the products once they left Tofino and when potential customers would go searching on-line, they'd often find their way to my site. So I am very pleased to see that Sea Wench Naturals has its own brand-new, squeaky clean website. (No doubt it would smell fantastic if such a thing were possible.)

The products are also more widely available in the region than they were when I was first writing about them. I figure if they're in the local pharmacy and not just relegated to speciality shops and spas, that speaks volumes about the appeal. (Plus, I know from the blog that people who'd bought the products while visiting Tofino, soon were trying to find a source from Vancouver, Toronto or beyond. That speaks to the products' appeal as well. Now it's simple to get in get in touch directly with the creators of Sea Wench products.)

The business has really expanded their product line, and a new brochure and a troll through their website finds everything from shampoos, body washes, bath salts, oil and bubbles, to bar soaps, lip balms and candles made of soya, natural butters and oils. There is a new line just for babies in your life, too.

When I cruise through the list of products I'm baffled — and inspired — at how such a tiny company can churn out such a variety of excellent products. But then, when I see the gardens that the folks behind Sea Wench tend, it's clear what hard-working, committed people they are.

So all this may sound like an ad, but part of what I want to do on this blog is showcase the great things that are at the "heart of Tofino" (and beyond, in Clayoquot Sound). Sea Wench Naturals certainly exemplifies the heart of all that is creative, positive and entrepreneurial in our region and I particularly appreciate how the products are so based in place. Just look at some of the ingredients: infused oils of plantain, nettles, alder, willow buds; the seaweeds kombu and Laminaria; devils club root, horsetail, yarrow and coastal glacial clay (from BC's Great Bear Rainforest, no less).

If I had to pick my favourite product - and that is a difficult very task - I'd have to say that it is the Body Wash, which is good for face and body. Pop open the bottle and the essence of cedar is powerful, but not overpowering. A bit of coastal rainforest with every shower.

So please head on over to Sea Wench Natural's new website and take a look. (True to Sea Wench's philosophy of staying rooted in Clayoquot Sound, they also used a very talented local company for the web design, Four Mind.)

[All photos courtesy Sea Wench Naturals.]

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Did the Chinese Discover British Columbia? New from The Tyee

Re-writing "history?" At least as we know it or assumed? Here's an interesting article, Did the Chinese Discover British Columbia ?, with some great links to our region, including Tofino, Ucluelet and Clayoquot Sound.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tsunami Debris Updates

As the anniversary of the 2011 Japanese tsunami has just passed, there have been several articles an updates, specifically focussing on the debris that will inevitably wash up on our shores, in the news. Here's one and another.

And here's more on tsunami debris and footage of yesterday's storm. Anyone coming to the coast to storm watch, got their money's worth.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Monk's Point

This house is one of my favourites in Tofino. Harold Monks was its last resident and I miss our conversations an awful lot. As I collected stories and histories of Tofino, Harold was one of my "go-to guys," who was always generous with his time and stories. I so enjoyed visiting him at his home and garden, where we'd have a cup of tea or coffee and he'd answer every one of my questions in great detail. (He was a stickler for detail too, and never shy to point out even the tiniest error. I appreciated that.)

I also appreciated that he left his family's house and property to The Land Conservancy as a historic property. The house is a west coast classic — and there are so few left — and the gardens are beautiful as well. I can just image what might have been built there if it had been sold. Eventually we hope that the property will be open to the public, but for now visitors can stay on the guest cottage on the property. Details here.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Whales are on Their Way

Soon, most of the chatter and news about Tofino, Ucluelet and Pacific Rim National Park will be all about whales, whales, whales. It's just a few weeks until this year's Pacific Rim Whale Festival and the local whale watching companies are getting their boats and crews together for the start of the new season. It's the migration of the grey whales that drives this festival, as on their northward migration they stay quite close to shore. Here's an article that talks about the migration and the festival too, but it was the mention of Varara a grey whale from the western Pacific that piqued my curiosity. She's a tagged whale so we can watch where she's been. Here's a map tracking her movements from a few weeks ago as she started her journey north from Baja.

Grey whales were protected in the 1930s, when their populations were perilously low. While the population of grey whales from the eastern Pacific has recovered (more than 20,000 individuals) and is no longer considered endangered, the same cannot be said for the western Pacific population which is a dismal 130 animals or so.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Retrospective of Artist, Roy Henry Vickers

Tofino's Eagle Aerie Gallery is hard to miss on Tofino's main street (which is not Main Street, but Campbell Street; more on that in a later post.) Inside and out is the work of Roy Henry Vickers. For an overview of his range of work, check this out:

Friday, February 3, 2012

Tofino Needs Two New Reps. for the CBT Board

Hey, Tofitians, here's your chance to represent your community on the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust board. As specified by the CBT's by-laws, choosing a rep. must be an open call to the community for expressions of interest. More here from the District of Tofino's press release:

Expression of Interest
District of Tofino

The District of Tofino is accepting expressions-of-interest from District residents to serve in a volunteer capacity as a Director and Alternate Director on the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust Society (CBT) Board of Directors. The Director and Alternate Director will serve a 4-year term.

The CBT exists to support research, education and programs that advance conservation, the understanding of natural processes in the marine and terrestrial ecosystems and that promote the health of individuals and communities in the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve region. The CBT also facilitates the sharing and exchange of knowledge and experience both locally and globally. The CBT is the west coast’s community foundation. Directors are the public face of the organization and gather input from their community to share with the CBT Board and staff, as well as report back to their community on CBT business.

All CBT Board Directors and Alternates are expected to uphold the principles, interests and objectives of the CBT at all times. The CBT Board meets approximately eight times per year.

All CBT Board Directors and Alternates are also expected to:

have demonstrated experience and interest in research, education, or programs, or bring other substantive experience that is directly related to the core activities of the Trust;
be knowledgeable about research and education organizations and initiatives in the region;
be willing to work in a consensus and team oriented environment;
be willing to implement the regional vision for research, education, and programs to guide Trust activities;
be willing to demonstrate leadership on behalf of the Trust and to advocate for the Trust and its operations;
be willing to put the interests of the region before the interests of their community;
be willing to abide by the CBT Constitution, Bylaws, approved policies, and guidelines relating to conflict-of-interest; and
have experience working with non-profit boards.

Interested District residents should submit a cover letter outlining their related experience and include a detailed resume to the District of Tofino Council c/o Braden Smith, CAO, PO Box 9, 121-3rd Street, Tofino BC V0R 2Z0 by 9:00AM on Monday, February 13, 2012 or by email to

Please visit the CBT website at for further information regarding the designation of Clayoquot Sound as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and the activities of the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Pressing West Coast Problems (circa 1986)

I've been trolling through boxes of old newspapers, finding lots of gems that I'll share from time to time. This is from Expo Year - 1986 - from a short-lived newspaper called The West Coast Journal. It's a column called Street Talking and the question was "What is the most pressing West Coast problem today?" Thought you might like to see the answers (and how some "problems" never change):

What is the most pressing West Coast problem today?

RD: "The transition from one primary industry to another. Fishing and logging to the new primary industry of tourism is very difficult — if it is even possible."

VH: "Economic Development: new projects to create employment and attract new residents to the area; and to work towards sustaining our tourist season."

AM: "Unemployment, education and medical. It seems all money is going towards Expo, and whatever happened to the best universities we used to have."

NR: "There are so many concerns: probable job loss in the forest industry, cutbacks in funding for our local hatchery, lack of commitment and involvement in all of these issues. If people were to become committed on just one issue—they would be contributing a lot."

PV: "Too much rain. There's also not enough work, unless you create your own, or unless you want to get wet."

RF: "As far as I'm concerned, we need to get a permanent resolution on the conflict which exists between resource utilization, Clayoquot Sound in particular. Now we have a temporary solution to the Meares Island situation, but we are not very encouraged at what we hear about (similar) situation in South Moresby."

JB: My answer is that question is a problem. It's like a three-side question. As far as sustaining communities in what west coasters want; what local government priorities are set at, and what the federal and provincial government have designed for the west coast."

KA: "We've got a lot of problems. Our town council is trying to prevent vending services at the junction — which help bring people to Ukee. THere are problems with fishing — costs are going up, but prices are down. Thievery — there's too much of it on the coast."

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Long Beach Radio's Valentine to Tofino

With Valentine's Day on the horizon, Geoff, over at Long Beach Radio, put together this video explaining why he loves Tofino.

Why do you love it? (Assuming you do or did?) Let Geoff know via Facebook or Twitter. Just look for longbeachradio.

Tofino Hearts Yoga

For the size of the town, I suspect that Tofino has a higher than average number of yogis per capita. There are over a dozen (likely many more) yoga teachers and classes at our lovely studio and other venues are always fairly popular. (Still intimate though, especially if you are used to large classes in the city. "Large" here is about 20.) There are workshops and teacher's training, many of which are offered by Natalie at Pacific Elements Yoga. (Saying Natalie is passionate about yoga and weaving it into all aspects of her (and our) lives, is an understatement. Get to one or ten of her classes if you can.) But Natalie is not the only one bringing Tofino to the west coast. You can meet many other teachers — April, Nicole, Robert, Mariah, Tracey, and more — at the Coastal Bliss studio, while Dede is doing a fabulous job bringing yoga to moms and babes, tots, kids, youth, seniors and more (check the recreation departments from Tofino and Ucluelet), and Eoin often offers classes and courses when he's here, and then there are Flickerine and friends down in Ucluelet, and Milagro Retreats, and, well, more. Lots of teachers, lots of classes, lots of options. No excuse not to try.

Every month it seems, there is a workshop, special guest teacher, or new class to try. Not bad for a town of about 1500 people. In a couple of weeks — Feb. 17 to 19th — there is a homegrown yoga festival. No need to go to the city to get your fix. Here are the details. If you're new to town, or new to yoga, it's a great chance to see the variety of teachers and classes we are lucky to have on the west coast.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Virtual Tour of the Kwisitis Interpretive Centre

Here's a virtual tour of the Kwisitis Interpretive Centre (formerly the Wickaninnish Interpretive Centre) in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. I worked with Donald Gunn Design on the redesign, doing research and writing for the project. In the video, you'll see Donald leading the tour.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Family Legacy of Tofino Surf

Here's a great video with Raph and Catherine Bruhwiler and Catherine's son, Kalum, talking about growing up surfing in Tofino. From Got Surf.

Seeking for a new port - TOFINO from on Vimeo.

Float House Living in Clayoquot Sound

Here's an article by Phillip Vannini from The Tyee profiling some of those living off the grid and on the water in Clayoquot Sound.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Great Tsunami of Hype

I've been holding my tongue on this one, but since the chatter has settled down, I'll have at it. I am not saying that the debris from the devastating tsunami in Japan last March is not coming our way, but it's not here yet. (At least the bulk of it. There are a few exceptions — large fishing floats washing up in Oregon were confirmed to be from the tsunami. More on that below.) A few bottles with Japanese/Korean/Chinese writing on them is nothing new and I'm a bit distressed that people don't realize that. This stuff is always on our beaches (and yes, toothbrushes and kiddie socks, too!) so the cause-and-effect — there was a tsunami here so, ergo, all of that Asian garbage on our beaches is from that tsunami — is not lining up.

Ocean currents do not make a beeline across the Pacific. There are large currents - most quite slow moving - that circulate ocean around the Pacific and the world. This link shows the moving of the debris and modelling that predicts when we might expect the bulk of the debris. Of course it is going to depend on the "floatability" of the debris, but there's not much here yet. What there is though, is a lot of ships out in the Pacific, tossing their crap over the side.

Please don't get me wrong. I am not saying this is not an important issue, but it's too soon to equate the tsunami with the debris. Snarkiness aside, I am glad the media ran with the story (well, sort of, because so few of them did any good research) because we do need to start planning. I just hope it's not to early because when the bulk of the debris does begin to arrive, we need to have a plan. And it needs to be coordinated across jurisdictions. I just hope we haven't lost interest by then.

This article, by Tofino's Keven Drews, presented a balanced point of view. Thanks, Keven, for doing a bit of legwork to get a well-researched story that didn't ramp up the hype. And you can listen to a podcast from CBC's The Current, taped on the beach in Tofino, which does a pretty good job as well. Here it is.

I'm glad that the province will be setting us a tsunami debris working group - let's hope it gets done soon. In the meantime, do keep an eye on what's on the beaches and, as always, pick up the crap.

There is a good link here, written by Curtis Ebbesmeyer, who has been studying the activity of debris in the North Pacific for decades. Note that he says that debris could arrive by October, 2011, but qualifies that by saying it is large debris (really large) that would mostly be above water, thus being sailed by winds quite a bit faster than just travelling in an ocean current.

A local surf shop, Live to Surf, has been asking people to submit things they find on the beach. Here is their link.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

On The Horizon

I've been working on this baby for years now, so I'm delighted (and relieved) to be able to tell you that Long Beach Wild [insert long subtitle here] will be released in April. We'll actually have a pre-release event here on the west coast as I'll be doing a presentation at the Pacific Rim Whale Festival. More launches, parties and general brouhaha to follow.

Since have lots more to share than I could squeeze in the pages of this book, I've started yet another blog where I'll post specific to Long Beach. (I'm hoping others will share photos, stories, memories, too.)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Multi-Talented Mr. Booth

I'm not sure why I haven't posted this before. It always makes me laugh.

Squatterman is, of course, the multi-talented Duncan Booth. And thanks to Tofino Guide and Twitter (which I really need to get on more often) I learned that Duncan is starting a new podcast, The Booth.

The Booth - Episode 1

I started my Saturday by listening and you should too. (You get super bonus points for playing Tom Waits, Duncan!) Duncan is exactly the sort of person that makes it great to live in Tofino. This town is full of interesting, talented, creative people who just get things done. (And Duncan makes great food at The Wildside Grill, which is always appreciated.)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

This is a Test: Tofino's Tsunami Sirens

Tomorrow, Jan. 5, the District of Tofino is testing its tsunami sirens at Chesterman Beach and Cox Bay between 10 am and 1 pm. You can help the district assess their efficacy by taking this survey after the event.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Celebrating St. Columba in Song

Wow. A song and video created about Tofino's St. Columba Church. (Thanks to Malcolm Johnson for the head's up to this beauty via Twitter.)

St. Columba from Mike Edel on Vimeo.

This is an especially nice discovery because I am currently working with the ACW (Anglican Church Women) from St. Columba, writing a history of the church celebrating its centenary in 2013. We're planning a few get togethers so people can reminisce as Bev does in this video. If you'd like to share your stories (and photos), please leave a comment here or email me. (I'm also in the phonebook.)