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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.

    Cowichan Bay History

    August 19th, 2009 @ 8:03am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    A young Keira
    in her Cowichan sweater

    The last time I was in the Cowichan Bay area, I was playing high school rugby. Since I’m spending so much time here this week I thought it would be neat to share some of the history of this area.

    The Cowichan Valley is between Victoria and Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. You can get here by taking a ferry, or plane to either and driving over. The resort where we’re currently also has a heli-pad in case you’d want to explore in rockstar fashion.

    Aside from their prime rugby talent, Cowichan is also world-famous for their sweaters made by the Cowichan band of the Coast Salish First Nation.

    The town of Duncan is pretty much the hub of the Cowichan valley. It was the last stop south on a trail from Nanaimo after which people would take a boat over to Victoria [source]. In 1886 when the railway was completed between Nanaimo and Esquilmalt, a Mr Duncan was asked to if they could put a stop on his farmland. The site of this farm and stop are now a part of downtown Duncan. [source]

    Cowichan River delta – Photo credit: GerryT on Flickr

    Quick facts:

  • Rugby truly is huge here and dare I say this is probably the rugby capital of Canada.
  • Cowichan is home to the second oldest grass tennis courts, the oldest aside from Wimbledon.
  • The original mission is a stone structure called “Butter Church” built in 1870. Its construction was financed by the local farm that produced butter, hence the name. There’s a neat blog about the building along with old and modern photos here.
  • There are a few museums to check out, from the Cowichan Valley Museum & Archives to the really neat-looking Cowichan Bay Maritime Centre.
  • I learned last night that the historic Kinsol Trestle (below) was named after King Solomon.
  • Cowichan Bay was recently named North America’s first “Slow Food” (or “Cittaslow”) city. [source] [source]
  • White Rock, south of Surrey, has a connection to the Cowichan, “According to romantic legend, the boulder was tossed onto the beach by the son of a Salish sea-god who fell in love with a Cowichan princess.” [source]

  • Photo credit: gdbate on Flickr

    From salmon fishing, hiking, resorts and B&Bs to fertile farmlands and a strong agricultural past, this area is definitely worth exploring. I’ll be heading out to a cidery today along with a few wineries and then stopping in with a cheese maker. The whole idea of a Tourism BC trip is so that they can introduce us to people and places in the hopes that we’ll tell their stories. I’m looking forward to all that is in store.

    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‘.

    Vancouver Island Getaway with Tourism BC

    August 18th, 2009 @ 6:06pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    This morning I took a Harbour Air plane over to Victoria to spend a few days exploring the Island and all of its wonderful offerings alongside Tourism BC.

    Saltspring Island from the air

    If you haven’t done the sea-plane thing to the Island I highly recommend it. The Harbour Air flight was great (and they have wifi in both terminals) but there’s also Westcoast Air (with whom I had a quick tour earlier this summer), as well as a few others like Saltspring Air and HeliJet.


    Arriving on in Victoria’s inner harbour we took a water taxi with Holly from Tourism Victoria to Fisherman’s Wharf. The pier was packed with families and folks on their lunch breaks enjoying some fish & chips in the sunshine.

    Fisherman's Wharf - Victoria Fisherman's Wharf - Victoria

    The next stop was Spinnakers where our small group ate. I’ve been to Spinnakers before but I’ll have a post up about our particular menu later on this week.

    From there we hopped in a van and ended up at the Aerie Resort, which is along the Malahat Highway between Victoria and Nanaimo. We’ll be here for two nights before heading up to Courtenay and Comox (a few places I’ve explored a bit before with Keira).

    Best Jacuzzi View Ever

    I’ve never really visited this particular region (the Cowichan Valley) so I’m really looking forward to learning more about the wineries, farmers, and artisans that we’ll be visiting.

    Vancouver Island - Malahat

    I hope to share information with my readers about BC-fresh products as well as a few ideas for weekend getaways. The itinerary says we’re even going to see some water buffalo before they get milked — can’t wait.

    You can read all of my posts from the trip under the tag: ‘Cowichan‘.

    Vancouver History: Before and After Photos Part Two

    August 18th, 2009 @ 9:45am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    Last week my Vancouver History: Before and After Photos received such a great response that I’m making this a weekly feature. I started thinking of themes so this week’s series will feature bridges. As with last week, the original images are available through the City of Vancouver Archives.

    Burrard Bridge

    Major Matthews collection


    Photo credit: Proggie on Flickr

    PNE and Playland Family Pass Giveaway

    August 17th, 2009 @ 2:00pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    Since before I could walk, I’ve been going to the Pacific National Exhibition with my family. I remember piling into the family van, driving for what seemed to be all morning, then taking the Hastings exit of Highway 1 past Empire Stadium and into the fair parking lots. Then, from my stroller, I would watch as my big brother and sister rode the rides that I was too small to enjoy.

    Playland 1982

    When the helicopter ride (which I thought simply went in circles) lifted itself off the ground I cried so hard that I was promptly returned to my stroller. I was only to be consoled with a warm, fresh, blueberry scone from the food pavilion.

    Playland 1983

    The log ride was a staple, as were the bumper cars and when I was older (err… taller) the Coaster was the ultimate rush. I rode the Super Big Gulp and dozens of other rides that have come and gone over the years.

    Playland 1984

    Our family would walk through the stables, get our Polaroids taken in front of green-screened combat equipment at the Armed Forces pavilion, and point out where we lived on the giant relief map of the province in the BC Pavilion. When we would return to the van after an action-packed day we’d have swag bags full of stickers, brochures, and our PNE buttons (which we made sure to collect every single year from guest services).

    Of course my teenage years at Playland and the PNE with friends garnered different experiences. These involved ogling axe-swingers at the lumberjack competition or demolition derby, riding the Enterprise in a car all by yourself, playing mini golf like Happy Gilmore, and heading to the Petro-Can to get someone’s queasy stomach a dose of Pepto Bismol.

    Each trip with friends, family, and familiar faces made for new memories, which at this point are endless. Now in its 99th year, the Fair at the PNE is offering up even more “free with admission” fun for all while celebrating 50 years of the old wooden (world famous) coaster.

    Some PNE and Playland fast facts:

  • Playland is currently running a 2-for-1 promotion for ride passes on Tuesday after 3:00pm (valid until August 18th)
  • With a recent investment from the Government of Canada, the PNE can now offer over 800 “free with admission” shows, the most of any year in its history.
  • Included concerts feature Barney Bentall & the Legendary Hearts, April Wine, Randy Bachman, En Vogue, Rick Springfield, Tom Cochrane with Red Rider, Chris Isaak, and more.
  • In order to help you create and pass on the joy of a day out at the PNE, I approached them to put together this contest. I’m giving away a family pack of tickets which includes 4 gate admission tickets along with 4 all-day ride passes for Playland.

    Photo credit: Keira-Anne on Flickr

    To enter to win the family pack, leave a comment below including one of your favourite PNE or Playland memories. If you can fit all of that into 140 characters, re-tweets will also be accepted. Alternatively, if you’ve never been, you can just explain why you would want to go. I’ll draw the winner on Friday August 21st. The winner will have 24 hours to confirm as the passes, and the Fair, will only be around from August 22nd until September 7th, 2009.

    Update: I drew the winner and it’s maria b – thanks to everyone for sharing some great memories and if you’re up for a tweetup or group day at Playland or the PNE, I’m in!

    Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre in Whistler

    August 17th, 2009 @ 9:02am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    During our weekend visit to Whistler, we decided to walk over to the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre. John and I love feeding our brains, learning about different cultures and learning more about the history of the places we call home.

    The Squamish and Lil’wat Nations are two very distinct cultures that have always lived side by side. Whistler is actually situation in shared territory.

    “In 1997 the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) met with the Lil’wat Nation to consult about opportunities for the Nation’s participation and presence in Whistler BC. Out of these discussions, the idea of a world-class cultural centre was born and a relationship in the spirit of goodwill and cooperation evolved.

    Mindful of the historic precedence of shared lands and the overlapping interests in land stewardship, the Lil’wat Nation met with the Squamish Nation in 1999 to discuss land use and planning in areas of traditional territory overlap. As a result, in 2001 the two Nations signed a Protocol Agreement, which formalized our mutual relationship. This historic Protocol Agreement commits us to continued co-operation in matters of cultural and economic development, and co-management of shared territory.” [Tale of Two Nations]

    Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre

    The Cultural Centre is a gorgeous new building with traditional touches and features. At the start of our tour we watched a movie about the land and the people, which was beautifully made.

    Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre

    We were guided by our Ambassador through galleries, taught some amazing facts, and told several twists on ancient stories. We learned about things such as how you should only take two hand-widths of bark from a tree (so it doesn’t go into shock) when using it for weaving and how it took them 6-10 years to complete a wool blanket. The First Nations people were the ultimate masters in sustainability. They knew how to use the land, plants, and animals respectfully and so that they would be able to enjoy the resources for generations.

    Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre

    Making my Cedar bark bracelet Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre

    Outside the centre there is an underground pit house, a long house, and a forest walk. In the long house our Ambassador taught us how to make bracelets from Cedar bark and along the walk we learned about how various vegetation was used in everyday life.

    Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre

    On the top level of the centre is an impressive gallery with items for sale, such as works by Maynard Johnny Jr who did the gift boxes that were presented at the Juno Awards this year. Various other artists were showcased through their work with masks, paddles, paintings, and even snowboards.

    Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre

    We also learned that the reason why it took so long to make the impressive wool blankets, as our Ambassador explained, is that they collected wool from mountain goats that was caught on plant life or tree bark — they didn’t actually pull it right from the animal as they did not believe in harming it. They would also use hair from a special breed of dog for the wool. With each stitch and knitted loop they would also say a prayer or blessing. They have an impressive collection of items in their galleries including the blanket Chief Joe Capilano took all the way to England in 1906 when he met with King Edward VII.

    We thoroughly enjoyed our time at the Cultural Centre and have been wearing our hand-made Cedar bark bracelets ever since. It’s a small token of our time there but it packs a lot of meaning behind each twist of the bark. I’m a first generation Canadian and through the education, passion and thousands of years of heritage that these cultures take the time to share with us, I feel even more of a connection with my home and ever-more respectful of theirs.

    Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre

    Modern footprints like old

    There was so much to do in Whistler this weekend, from village shops and restaurants, to gondolas, hikes, bikes, and cheese rolling. However taking that quick stroll over to the Cultural Centre next to the river is definitely something I would recommend for others. On your way up to Whistler you may also want to consult the Cultural Journey map for points of interest along the way.


    The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre is open daily from 9:30am – 5:00pm and is located at 4584 Blackcomb Way in Whistler, BC. The admission rate for adults is $18 although they do have an annual membership program, which would be your best value.

    Delta Whistler Village Suites

    August 16th, 2009 @ 10:36am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    This weekend we drove 90 minutes north of Vancouver to take in a weekend in Whistler. Thanks to the Delta Whistler Village Suites, we had a comfortable, roomy, well-equipped suite for two nights.

    Peak to Peak at Whistler Blackcomb

    August 15th, 2009 @ 6:47pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    Today we crossed from Peak to Peak on the world’s highest lift of its kind, 1427ft above the valley floor. Starting out in Whistler Village we took the Village Gondola up to the Roundhouse. From there we could view the peak of Whistler, trails and runs.

    Village Gondola


    We hopped on the fairly new Peak to Peak gondola (admission included in our sightseeing pass) and rode a steel cable gondola line 2.73 miles (4.4km) over to Blackcomb.

    Peak to Peak - Whistler Blackcomb Peak to Peak - Whistler Blackcomb

    Peak to Peak - Whistler Blackcomb Peak to Peak - Whistler Blackcomb

    Peak to Peak - Whistler Blackcomb Peak to Peak - Whistler Blackcomb

    The village and slopes were crazy-busy with Kokanee Crankworx action but up on the Peak to Peak we had an entire gondola car to ourselves. We saw some other passing cars where others were taking advantage of this — from couples making out to pre-teen boys dancing around & flexing their muscles without shirts on.

    Peak to Peak - Whistler Blackcomb

    The ride was incredibly smooth and once we were on Blackcomb, we decided to do a small hike. The Alpine Walk seemed like the quickest as according to our trail maps it was 0.96 miles (1.6km) and would take 60 minutes. It actually took us about 15 minutes to get half way through but we were hauling it up the trail, which did have some rough parts over rocks and boulders.

    Peak to Peak - Whistler Blackcomb

    Regardless, it was a nice little loop with scenic viewpoints perfect for photo ops. From the Fitzsimmons Lookout we could even look down on the Peak to Peak gondola line.

    Alpine Walk Alpine Walk

    Alpine Walk - View of Peak to Peak

    Alpine Walk

    Alpine Walk Alpine Walk

    Next time we visit we’re going to do a few more trails (perhaps the Overlord Trail) or one longer trail as we both enjoy a good hike.

    Peak to Peak - Whistler Blackcomb

    On the way back down I even spotted two bears from the Village Gondola (luckily nowhere near the mountain bikers). It was a great morning activity with John who did really well considering his fear of heights.