Kilby Historic Site: Circle Farm Tour

May 1st, 2009 @ 8:00am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

The next stop on the Circle Farm Tour for my group this week was the Kilby Historic Site in Harrison Mills [Google Map].



Kilby was a bustling whistle stop destination home to thousands at its peak where Mr Acton Kilby ran the general store (1906), post office, hotel, and most elements you’d find in a turn-of-the-century town.



When the rail lines changed and the gold rush ended, it became a ghost town however many elements from the 1920s and 30s era were preserved by Acton Kilby. In the 1970s the Kilby family decided to turn the whole place into a museum – from old gas pumps, barns, elevated boardwalks, and of course the general store. Mr Kilby had collected so many items over the years – rooms full, really – including everything from turn of the century cigarette tins, to canned goods and clothing, the diversity of the collection is remarkable.




Aside from the museum, they have a farm (with goats, bunnies, ducks, chickens, and cows) and they work together with the local 4-H Club.




The gift shop is filled with goodies from local artisans and their restaurant serves up hearty meals from old-fashioned recipes including hand-squeezed lemonade, fresh baked pies, and their pulled-chicken sandwich.



You can visit Kilby from Thursday to Monday (11:00am to 5:00pm) and as of May 14th they’re open every day from 11:00am to 5:00pm. The family admission price is $24 (for families of any size) and they also have seasons passes, $22 for adults and $52 for the whole family.


They also have special events throughout the year including a Black Powder Festival, a Thanksgiving meal, and even spooky haunted Halloween tours.


The Kilby Historic Site is also adjacent to a campground (with 22 spots) in Harrison Bay where I’m certain my family has stayed before but will merit another visit sometime soon. The history, natural beauty, farm features, and stories told at Kilby definitely make the trip worthwhile.

Tulips of the Valley Festival: Circle Farm Tour

April 30th, 2009 @ 9:30am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Our first official stop on the Circle Farm Tour was at the Tulips of the Valley Festival on Seabird Island [Google Map] where we were greeted by owner, Kate Onos-Gilbert.

Agassiz, BC

Having a working farm with a million tulip bulbs spanning over 40 acres means Kate is one busy woman. She told us that she wanted to open up the fields to the public so all could enjoy — and thank goodness she did, welcoming thousands last weekend along. Kate also has a goal to provide Canadian-grown bulbs so everyone can enjoy tulips at home in their own gardens, and said that since the bulbs have been in this soil for three years now, they are now considered Canadian.

How it all works

The lifecycle of the tulip process spans over months but for a few short weeks in the spring Kate opens up her tulip farm to visitors for the festival.

40 Acres of Tulips

40 Acres of Tulips

40 Acres of Tulips

40 Acres of Tulips

You can head out among the other 30 varieties of tulips, take photos, enjoy the scenery, as snack on some bannock made by June Harris.


Kate has been growing and cultivating the tulips for years and seeing what types work best in Canada, since they are not indigenous to this country. You can currently purchase almost 20 different kinds of bulbs from her fields on-site as and she also has a permanent stand at 1694 Tranmer Rd in Agassiz.

Princess Irene

The 2009 festival only runs until May 3rd so this weekend is your last chance to check it out before the greenhouse tulip life cycle begins again.

Day Tripping: Minter Gardens

April 30th, 2009 @ 7:57am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

I have been a guest of the Harrison/Agassiz region for the last 24 hours and although I have numerous entries yet to come about our stops on the Circle Farm Tour, our first destination was Minter Gardens. I thought this would be perfect opportunity to expand my Day Tripping series.

Minter Gardens

Located just off Highway 1 [Google Map], I’ve driven by the Minter Gardens turn off for almost 30 years and have never stopped to visit, which is a really a shame. Just 90 minutes from downtown (which is the actual time it took me) Minter Gardens is more than just a show garden. Its unique location, landscape, and collection of horticultural wonders make it a fantastic place for a stroll, for a colourful photowalk, or for an avid gardener who wants to pick up some ideas.

Minter Gardens

When we arrived we were greeted by Erin Minter, the daughter of founder Brian Minter, in the Trillium Restaurant who gave us a tour of the gardens. Erin took us along the “self guided tour” path, for which visitors will get a map when they first arrive. The map points out different spots of interest along the way, as well as a few other trails for exploring. Erin encourages everyone, when doing the self-guided tour, to stop at the points of interest and do a 360 degree turn, “you’ll get a different view each time.”

Minter Gardens

Arbour Green

The 32-acre show garden has 100,000 tulips, a 1,000 rhododendrons, unique species, and thousands of other beautifully groomed and cultivated trees and plants. There is also a kids play area and Minter Gardens is dog-friendly (although they ask that you keep your pup on a short leash).

Minter Gardens

There are several water features throughout the gardens which Erin explained not only help the plants, naturally, but they also serve to create lovely, natural sounds (drowning out the vehicles over on the highway), while also creating movement and a quiet place for visitors to site, rest, or reflect.

One of many water features

Water Wall

Erin said they already have 83 weddings booked for the season at both of their wedding sites in the gardens.

Wedding Pavillion

However, you will notice there are no fish in the ponds, creeks or the Lake Garden, “ask the herons and raccoons,” Erin said. Many of their sites and gardens need to be planned according to what type of creatures it might attract, aside from bloom-loving humans. Being nestled near Mt Cheam means bears might also pay them a visit in the gardens.

Minter Gardens

At many spots on the tour she also noted plants and collections that were donated to the gardens such as the fern garden. “You never do something this massive without the help of the community.” This is something that I felt resonated throughout the day, and carried through to every other place in the Agassiz/Harrison area that we visited. The sense of community out here is uplifting and inspiring.

The Ivy Lady

Chinese Penjing Garden

There is indeed a strong sense of community in the area and it was great to hear about the family business at Minter Gardens. Erin said her 86 year old grandma still helps out in the Country Garden Store — the retail location for plants, bulbs, blooms and pots that the family also runs. Erin said that many often get ideas for their own gardens when at Minter, and can then go to the Garden Centre to pick up the necessities try things at home.

Minter Gardens

Right now is a good time to visit Minter Gardens since the blossoms are emerging, however due to the harsh winter, the plants are about 3-5 weeks behind their natural schedule. Things are also beautiful in the fall, when everything turns bright red, gold, orange, and rust-coloured in the tree tops. The Gardens officially close from October to March, however they run special events and activities during the Christmas season.

Minter Gardens opened on Mother’s Day in 1980 and this year for Mother’s Day they’re hosting a special brunch in the restaurant. They often host special events however simply stopping by the gardens any day seems like a good idea to me.

Rose garden

Admission is $16 for adults, and they have rates for seniors, youth, and kids 5 and under are free. They also have a family rate and I would recommend getting the “seasons pass” as it’s only $5 more – then you can come back anytime and see the seasonal changes in the plants. They also have a special printable coupon online, which you can download from here.

There are other show gardens around but none compare to the unique location and setting of Minter Gardens – combined with its features, collections, amenities, as well as family and community pride.

Libre Tea Promotes Tea Moments

April 29th, 2009 @ 10:00am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

I first heard about Libre when I was running my contest for the Genie Gift Box. I finally met Wendy of Libre recently and learned a bit more about her product, loose-leaf tea, and the Sunshine Coast.


Libre is a portable tea “to go” mug made of glass and polycarbonate, and the mouthpiece is BPA-free plastic. Basically you can put hot tea right in there (or cold), watch it steep, and take clean sips thanks to the little strainer screen.


If you have black tea or a finer blend, you can flip it upside down to steep and clean out the strainer before taking it on the go. It’s also ideal for blending matcha powder with just a few shakes.



Wendy brought me their “Glass’n Poly” as well as their all-glass style, which is just beautiful. She also supplied me with some local tea from the Tiny Tea Company in Gibsons.

Tiny Tea Company, Gibsons, BC

It was really nice to hear about local businesses and what Wendy calls the “lost corner of the 604″ since Gibsons is also in the 604 area code.

You can purchase their tea glasses online and right now Wendy is also offering up the following: 10% off on the Glass’n Poly style with 25% of proceeds to a well-known non-profit for clean water. Also if you purchase 3 or more she’ll throw in free shipping.

Photo credit: Libre Tea on Flickr

If you do get your hands on a Libre glass, take a photo and share your “Tea Moments” on their Flickr group.

This was definitely a great reminder that the next Bollwitt day trip adventure should involve heading over to the Sunshine Coast (and that I should be drinking more tea).

Disclosure: I was not paid to write this post however I will be enjoying some local loose-leaf tea in my Glass’n Poly.

NHLTweetup in Vancouver This Thursday

April 28th, 2009 @ 5:49pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

After the resounding success of the first NHLTweetup in Vancouver, I’ve joined forces with the king of Canucks tweets, Richard Loat, and plotted the Round Two tweetup.

What’s a NHLTweetup?
An in-person meetup (eat, drink, chat) for people who are on Twitter and like to cheer on the #Canucks. You can read my post from the last one for more information and a recap.

Where will this be?
Richard has secured the big room at the Shark Club on Georgia Street for our group.

When should I show up?
6:00pm on Thursday April 30th – it’s short notice but hey, we just got the schedule.

Canucks: Game 1 of 2009 Playoffs

I am also personally pretty excited to wear my shiny new jersey out in public for the first time since the recent purchase.

If you can come by, just RSVP on the Twtvite page (or using the Twtvite RSVP panel on the main page of my site) and we’ll count you in. All you need to do is show up and watch the game with the rest of us and we’ll have a great time.

Should you or your company be interested in sponsoring a raffle prize or perhaps a round of beer, please leave a comment or message Richard or me on Twitter.

Pet Area on BC Ferries

April 28th, 2009 @ 11:00am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Last weekend I discovered what it was like to be a walk-on pet owner on a BC Ferry. Keira had told me before that the “designated pet areas” on BC Ferries were pretty lacking but I certainly didn’t imagine this.

When you walk in the door there’s a sign that says you must remain with your pet at all times, meaning you’ve paid just as much money to ride the ferry as everyone else but you must sit on a metal chair, in a metal room, in the middle of a car deck for your entire 80-minute voyage. Meanwhile, other passengers are upstairs with basic amenities such as clean drinking water and restrooms (I won’t even mention the cushioned seats, cafes, cafeteria, magazine stands, vending machines and work spaces). Pet owners also don’t get to hear the safety messages so I had no idea where I could grab a life vest in case of an emergency.

I understand that having a pet is a choice, and deciding to take that pet on a ferry as a foot passenger (not driving a car) is a choice as well. However these facilities just seem a bit lacking. I would at least imagine that pet owners would get a discounted fare for enduring the trip in the metal box they call a “pet area” as I certainly could experience the difference – but not in a good way at all.

If you have something to add to this discussion please do so in the comments of this post.

BMO Vancouver Marathon This Sunday

April 28th, 2009 @ 8:34am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

This weekend the city will be taken over by the colossal BMO Vancouver Marathon 2009.

Photo credit: thelastminute on Flickr – Duncan Rawlinson /

On Sunday May3rd, there will be the marathon for elite and recreational runners (42.2km), a half marathon (21.1km), an 8km run (for runners or walkers), and the McDonald’s Kids Marafun.

Leading up to the event, there is a sports expo down at Concord Pacific Place in False Creek (Thursday, April 30th from 4:00 to 8:00pm, Friday, May 1st, 11:00 to 8:00pm, Saturday, May 2nd, 10:00 to 7:00pm, and Sunday, May 3rd from 7:00 to 3:00pm).

There is an extensive list of road closures downtown for Sunday, which include several major thoroughfares downtown, in the West End, in Kitisilano, Point Grey, Chinatown, Gastown, and False Creek. You can also view race maps for an overview of the route.

I have been told by organizers that they are also in desperate need of volunteers for Sunday so if you’re interested in helping out you can sign up online. All volunteers get a Saucony t-shirt when they check in as well as a certificate for hours volunteered.

Just as I suspected, Wyn will be running the marathon (before heading to Halifax and NYC) so best of luck to her and the other participants on Sunday.

Related post: Check out my fun run roundup for more running events in Vancouver this season.

Drina Read Candidate Interview

April 27th, 2009 @ 7:14pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

While discussing her campaign over a mango smoothie on Davie Street I realized that it was probably Drina who got me started with all of these interviews back in the fall.

Drina Read is the Green Party of BC candidate for Vancouver West-End and being a long-time resident she’s very passionate about her community as well as the issues in which the Green Party strongly believes.

Drina Read - Vancouver-West End

Drina has lived in the West End on and off for over 20 years as a renter and as such the renovictions and concerns of renters hit close to home. She spoke at the Renters at Risk Rally in the fall and told me that, “we have to fix the Residential Tenancy Act not only for renters, but for landlords too.”

She says, “the biggest issue of course is raising the rent – just thinking that any moment you could get a notice saying ‘oh by the way, we’re fixing up your apartment, you have to get out‘ and then when you come back you might not be able to afford it.” Drina would also like to see an amendment that would include something like the right of first refusal, so that you can have first dibs on your newly renovated apartment when it’s ready.

She attributes the money grab by developers and property owners to the Vancouver 2010 games, and noted “after the two week party, what happens to the community? That’s my concern.”

On the general housing issue, “the Green Party has a very strong policy on building safe, affordable housing and we would commit 1% of the total BC budget yearly towards building housing for people with disabilities, low-income, people with addictions and allot of programs to help them as well and not throw them out on the street all the time, like the way it has been happening.”

However aside from housing and rent issues she said there’s an even bigger beast: The Gateway Project.

“Billions and billions of dollars being wasted on a freeway and a bridge when we could have that money go towards housing, education, health care, you name it. All of that money could be used much better to improve the transit services, buy more buses, it just goes on and on.” Drina’s been a fan of rail, for freight and passengers, for many years and said that when she heard Stephen Rees speak at the Green Party conference, “everything he said just made sense.”

I’ve profiled Stephen as a blogger but he’s also a Green Party of BC candidate in Richmond. During his talk Drina said he brought up the fact that a UBC study discovered that for the cost of the new Port Mann Bridge, 200km of light rail line could be purchased for the Lower Mainland and the Valley. She also agreed with something else Stephen had mentioned about communities noting that we need to connect communities and not just move people to the downtown core. Connecting places like Surrey, Maple Ridge, Langley etc. is paramount.

With regards to cuts to the arts budget in the province, Drina pointed out the difference between her party and others. “Our members vote on our policies so we will not waiver from the policies as written. We will stick to them – it’s not political expediency that drives us, it’s whats best for everyone and we see a vibrant arts community as being integral to the society of BC.”

You can reach Drina online or through her Twitter account as she notes that using social media “definitely has an effect especially with younger voters from all over BC.”

The BC General Election & Referendum on Electoral Reform takes place May 12, 2009. Other candidate interviews include Spencer Herbert (NDP, Vancouver-West End) and Haida Lane (BC Liberals, Vancouver-Hastings).