Endangered Vancouver Island Marmot Foundation

August 24th, 2009 @ 2:41pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

My only up close and personal experience with a Vancouver Island marmot is toying with a stuffed plush MukMuk at the Olympic store. The endangered species, which is a recently upgraded Olympic mascot for 2010, is now facing another challenge; the Vancouver Island Marmot Foundation‘s funding has been cut by the BC government.

Photo credit: gfroese9 on Flickr

According to the Globe and Mail, “Viki Jackson, executive director of the Nanaimo-based Marmot Recovery Foundation, said last week that her organization is battling a $133,000 shortfall after a Ministry of Environment decision to chop its annual funding from the 2009-10 budget.”

mukmukslippersThe Foundation operates a Marmot Recovery Centre, manages the captive breeding program, assists the wild population and conducts research. The marmot, known as the “most endangered species in Canada” is down to a population of 200, which is up from 30 just a few years ago.

Without sufficient funding, the Foundation would be left high and dry by next year, right when we are welcoming the world and showcasing the species-inspired MukMuk.

You can educate yourself by reading up on the Foundation or by checking out this post by Vancouver Island blogger (and my good friend) Keira-Anne, which is a part of her Island Profile series.

You can also donate to the Foundation online, purchase a plush toy or sign up for the Adopt-a-Marmot program.

Fairburn Farm

August 24th, 2009 @ 10:23am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

As our little tour van rolled up the dusty gravel road toward Fairburn Farm, I knew we would be in for a treat. I hopped out and had to let the scenery soak in a bit. We stood in front of a lovely farm house surrounded by pastures, mountains, and lush green hues that sprouted up from the ground and hung over our heads under a canopy of fruit-bearing trees.

Fairburn Farm Fairburn Farm

Mara Jernigan met us just off the porch and picked some white alpine strawberries for us to taste before we even finished making our introductions. Growing right along the house these sweet, melt-in-your-mouth berries (that resembled little bright white LED Christmas lights) were the first of many treats in store for us that day.

Fairburn Farm History

Since it was established 115 years ago, Fairburn Farm has only had two separate owners. Although the products, business, and land have evolved, the same down to earth goodness and values still exist today. The 130 acres are maintained by the Archer family who run the Cowichan Water Buffalo Dairy, while the Culinary Retreat and Guest house are under the direction of Mara Jernigan.

Mara offers culinary getaways, cooking classes, education in eating local, and was a driving force behind the slow food movement in the Cowichan region. She founded the Vancouver Island Feast of Fields, which is an annual fundraising event that connects farmers and chefs as well as farm folks and city folks — all through food.

Breakfast Frittata

We were treated to breakfast on the porch, which consisted of a free range egg frittata, a chicken sausage (pasture-raised chicken from Cowichan Bay Farm), chicken of the woods mushrooms, fresh greens, and coffee. Mara pulls in everything from corn and mushrooms, to garlic, lavender, and kohlrabi into her cooking. “When the vegetables are fresh, you don’t have to do a lot to them,” she noted adding that ideas for delicious meals just come that much easier when you have resources like these.

Fairburn Farm Garlic

Throughout our Vancouver Island tour, at each farm house, vineyard or artisan shop, everyone spoke so highly of everyone else in the community. Hilary’s Cheese served bread from True Grain, and the milk from the Water Buffalo at Fairburn Farm goes into Natural Pastures Buffalo Mozzarella (which we had on the frittata). Mara is a proud member of this community who joked, “if you marked the dollar bills [around here] you’d just see them going around and around.”

Fairburn Farm Fairburn Farm

She also orchestrated the Slow Food movement in Cowichan, helping it gain status as the first-ever North American city to be designated Cittaslow. To become a Cittaslow city you need to be approved on many levels, from sustainability and environmental impact, to signage on the roads. With an influx of big box stores in the region, Mara thought it was vital to showcase local businesses in a positive light, instead of being negative about the economic and industrial changes in the Cowichan Valley.

Fairburn Farm

Fairburn Farm is a guest house with several rooms and Mara offers cooking classes such as Field to Table, and Culinary Boot Camp. At the Boot Camp participants will learn skills such as harvesting from the garden and making home made pasta. She teaches classic French and Italian techniques but with local ingredients. Mara also runs culinary tours to Italy several times a year.

Water Buffalo

Out on the farm, Darrel Archer tended to Water Buffalo who during our visit, who were out in the oat field. He’s got such a great relationship with the animals whom he refers to adoringly like children, joking about their characteristics and quirky traits. We walked around back to visit with some of the baby water buffalo, who came bounding out of their barn like school children when we approached.

Baby Water Buffalo

We met a few more water buffalo and also got a tour of the milking operation for the production of the mozzarella cheese.

Fairburn Farm Fairburn Farm

Water buffalo in the pasture

We washed our hands after petting all the baby water buffalo and piled back into the van to head to the next stop on the tour. Rolling down the winding gravel passage that took us away from the farm a member of Tourism BC that was on the trip said it best, “at the end of every dirt road in BC there is a fantastic story.” I must agree, and the story of Fairburn Farm is definitely one I’ll continue to share.

I recently toured the South East portion of Vancouver Island with Tourism BC. You can read all of my posts from the trip under the tag: ‘Cowichan‘.

Mac Tune Up Giveaway

August 24th, 2009 @ 9:35am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

I was converted from PC to a Mac in 2007 and I haven’t looked back. The transition took a bit of time (mostly because of my nerves and I was paranoid I’d lose all data in a big fiery mess) and I’m not sure I would have taken the plunge if not for the support and patience of my husband. Having that extra bit of motivation, or knowing you have a bit of a safety net, makes taking that leap that much easier.

How John learned to use a Mac

I was recently approached by Macinhome to do a contest involving their services and I thought it would be a great idea. I have not used their services, nor have they paid me to write this post however I sincerely appreciate “going to the pros” when there’s an issue or if you need help. Macs are incredibly user-friendly but if coming from a Windows background there is a learning curve. I’m just hoping to pass on a bit of assistance to a reader so that they can avoid some of the headaches I endured.

Macinhome is listed on the official Certified Apple Consultants list and is locally owned and operated. They also have an arsenal of Windows pros so they’re no stranger to multiple operating systems.

They offer several services including everything from iCal tutorials, to setting you up on your Mac (going from the box, to everyday use) and helping you convert from a PC to an Apple computer.

disk mode

I’m sure you could spend time trying to figure things out for yourself but having some help is always beneficial — which is why I even created a full category on my site for Mac vs PC.

The contest is for a Macinhome consultation, which will go to one reader who needs some Mac support.

Prize description:
Two hour spa treatment for your Mac, with some tutoring on getting the most from your setup – (valued at $190). An Apple-certified Macinhome consultant will visit your home to basically perform a tune up on your Mac, doing the computer equivalent of an oil change & tire rotation.

How to enter:
If you have a story about how you switched from a PC to a Mac, about why you love using a Mac, or even some of your frustrations, please share it in the comments to enter. I’ll draw a winner on Thursday, August 27th.

Ambleside Dog Park Photo Walk

August 23rd, 2009 @ 9:48am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

We decided to do an impromptu photo walk last night and ended up at the Ambleside Dog Park. I love being over at Ambleside as you get a different perspective of the city and it’s just such a nice walk through the trees, which ends up right along the beach.

Ambleside Photowalk

Ambleside Photowalk

Loving the change in seasons, I was excited to see orange on leaves although I’m not sure if it was a sign of autumn, or a scar from the heat wave a few weeks ago. Regardless, summer was definitely in full swing yesterday as we took our sunny stroll.

Ambleside Photowalk Ambleside Photowalk

Ambleside Photowalk

Ambleside Photowalk Ambleside Photowalk

Ambleside Photowalk

Ambleside Photowalk

Ambleside Photowalk Ambleside Photowalk

Ambleside Photowalk Ambleside Photowalk

Ambleside Photowalk

It was good to get more Vancouver photos into my Flickr stream since I’ve been away from the Lower Mainland so much lately. On top of that, it was really nice to slow the pace down a bit and take a leisurely evening stroll with friends.

WordCamp Fraser Valley in Surrey Today

August 22nd, 2009 @ 9:26am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

WordCamp Fraser Valley is happening today at SFU Surrey and I’ll be giving a talk about how WordPress can go beyond being simply a blogging platform. In 1998 I worked in Surrey Place Mall, and now I’m speaking at a conference in the University that sits atop it — it’s pretty surreal.

Winterfest 2009 in Surrey

I’m really looking forward to hearing some of the other speakers who have been scheduled in beginner, intermediate, and Twitter-related tracks. In particular, the inspirational and insighful Glenda Watson Hyatt.

WordCamp Fraser Valley WordCamp Fraser Valley

WordCamp Fraser Valley

I’ll be updating throughout the day (in what a call a “Day Blog” style) so photos and updates will appear on this post as we carry on.

Twitter Feed

I did a quick interview with Gary Jones of Bluefur who is the organizer of WordCamp Fraser Valley.

He does mention that we’re running behind but I think that’s probably a good problem to have as the sessions, speakers and conversations are all really informative and positive.

I also did a quick interview with Kimm Mitchell who is @paddlinggeek on Twitter.

She’s a self-proclaimed geek (hence the name) and organized H20 Geeks, a team of dragon boaters in the Paddling for Kids fundraising campaign.

Should YVR be renamed Terry Fox International

August 21st, 2009 @ 7:24am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Toronto has Pearson, Paris has de Gaulle, New York has JFK, and Liverpool has John Lennon while we have Vancouver International Airport or simply, YVR.

terry fox
Photo source: wiki

Over the years many have been tossing around the idea that the three airport code letters “YVR” don’t do our region justice and recently this school of thought has been gaining momentum. It would seem the popular choice for renaming Vancouver International would be after Terry Fox — our local hero who made a big impact on the world.

Terry was born in Manitoba but he grew up in Vancouver before moving to Port Coquitlam. In 1980 Terry Fox set out to cross Canada on foot as a part of his Marathon of Hope to raise funds and awareness for Cancer research. “Terry was only 18 years old when he was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma (bone cancer) and forced to have his right leg amputated 15 centimetres (six inches) above the knee in 1977.” – [source]

He wanted to bring hope to inspire a nation by going across the country — 8,000 kms from St John’s Newfoundland to Victoria, BC. He dipped his toe in the Atlantic and set out on the journey. When he reached Thunder Bay, Ontario about 143 days in (and over 5,000 kms through) he had to stop for medical reasons. He was brought back to BC and shortly after he passed away.

Each year, to honor his legacy, Canadians participate in the Terry Fox Run to raise funds for his cause. Recently he was named one of the single Greatest Canadians who ever lived.

A website has been setup to get online signature for a petition and a Facebook group is gaining support in favour of Terry Fox International Airport.

Although he never got to dip his toe in the Pacific Ocean, his mission is legendary and lives on through education, research, and each man, woman and child who participates in the Terry Fox Run around the world.

“It occurs very rarely in the life of a nation that the courageous spirit of one person unites all people in the celebration of his life and in the mourning of his death….We do not think of him as one who was defeated by misfortune but as one who inspired us with the example of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity.” – Pierre Trudeau to the House of Commons about Terry Fox.

Despite all of this, many still feel the airport would lose an international identity without the word “Vancouver” in the name. Toronto International was renamed Lester B. Pearson International Airport (known to many as Toronto Pearson) in 1984, after our 14th Prime Minister and many others have also been renamed. However, the debate is not out of a lack of respect or honor for Terry’s legacy, but many simply see it as a poor business move when it comes to identifying Vancouver on the world stage.

Should YVR be ranamed "Terry Fox International"

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Update October 7, 2010: This is in the new again as online petitions grow. “Vancouver Liberal MP Hedy Fry said Wednesday she thinks it’s an excellent idea and said she’s looking to present a motion in the House of Commons calling for the name change.” – CBC

Cowichan Bay Village

August 20th, 2009 @ 6:18pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

I went on a mini photowalk in Cowichan Bay Village, which was one of our stops during this trip.

The journey so far – View Larger Map

The village is really cute, with floating homes, pubs, shops, and spectacular views.

Cowichan Bay Village

Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre Cowichan Bay Village

Cowichan Bay Village Reflection


I was guided over to the maritime centre to get some shots and it just so happens that it’s a place I linked to in my history post.

Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre

Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre

Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre

We had some lunch at Hilary’s Cheese & Deli and had our nostrils teased by the aroma of fresh-baked bread at True Grain.

Hilary's Cheese

Hilary’s wife Patty gave us a tasting of their Valley Blue, Red Dawn and You Boo Blue. We learned a bit about the blue cheese making process and the differences between cow and goat’s milk. We also sampled some delicious goat cheese curds. Hilary’s deli is open for lunch daily with homemade soup and sandwich specials as well as a nice selection of local products for sale in the shop portion.

Hilary's Cheese

Cowichan Bay Village is a where all from the valley is showcased, from the mountains across the bay to the blue goat cheese on our plates.

Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre

Stop in for some oysters, a glass of wine, or just to hang out on the dock with an ice cream enjoying the scenery.

I recently toured the South East portion of Vancouver Island with Tourism BC. You can read all of my posts from the trip under the tag: ‘Cowichan‘.

Thursday Morning Link Fest: Weekend Events

August 20th, 2009 @ 8:00am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

The month of August is flying by but there has been no shortage of events, festivals, and activities across the Lower Mainland this summer. Here’s quick Link Fest for what’s coming up this weekend.

Photo credit: rbostyle on Flickr
  • Friday August 21st is Community Fun Day over at Renfrew Park from 1:30pm – 4:30pm. It’s a free event with activities for all ages.
  • It’s Movie Night in Connaught Park in Kitsilano on Friday as well with an outdoor screening of the film, Up. The film is free however if you’d like to come early a chef will be preparing fresh pizzas on demand ($23-$29)
  • Another outdoor movie series film is being shown at Holland Park in Surrey. Alert your daughters because it will be the Hannah Montana Movie.
  • The West End Dog Show is this Saturday at Nelson Park.
  • It’s the Slow Food Cycle Tour in Agassiz this weekend. All you need is $10, a bike, and an appetite for fresh local ingredients and cuisine.
  • The Bowen Summer Market takes over the Boardwalk in Snug Cove on Saturday starting at 10:00am. You can hop a quick ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Bowen Island explore for the afternoon.
  • Many other local farmers markets are still in full swing including Burnaby, and Gastown.
  • This Saturday is the 3rd annual Quayside Festival and Sale at Quayside Park in New Westminster. Collectibles will be for sale from 100s of locals and vendors along with entertainment on the Boardwalk.
  • Spend on a Trend is August 21, 22 and 23 at the Scotiabank Dance Centre celebrating independent Canadian designers and their fall fashions. Thanks to Steve for the comment about this.
  • Multiples More Fun is happening in Ladner on Saturday. If you have a multiple birth family, come and join the festivities at Memorial Park.
  • Sunday August 22nd is opening day of the PNE’s 99th season and tomorrow I’ll do my draw for the family pack of tickets. One special note is that the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society is going to be setting up a mini Canstruction display. Look for their tent and if you can, bring by any non-perishable food items to donate during this summer season.