We’ll be warm for the winter, thanks to the Wood Camp boys

The camaraderie of splitting and stacking your winter wood with pals, and the payoff through the cold months

We’ll be warm for the winter, thanks to the Wood Camp boysDo you still burn wood in a fireplace? For most of us, fireplaces are becoming ornamental. We heat homes with natural gas flares emitted from faux metal logs, or carefully machined wood pellets bought in bags at Canadian Tire or plastic-wrapped bundles of kindling and fire logs purchased at gas stations for $9.99. The whole…

Swinging and sipping in the South Okanagan

In the Osoyoos region, there’s an authentic, unpretentious aura that’s impossible not to appreciate

Swinging and sipping in the South OkanaganThe sting of a messy double-bogey on the first hole at the Osoyoos Golf Club doesn't last long. After traipsing up to the second tee, I grab my big bad driver and survey the scene. Below me a sweet, serpentine fairway careens toward a beautiful sand-guarded green that hangs high above the lake. In all…

‘There’s a bat in the house!’

Falling asleep with bat gear ready, you don't know what to expect. You just have that Boy Scout sense that you’re prepared

‘There’s a bat in the house!’“There’s a bat in the house!” shouted our daughter, fresh off the plane from London, just as she was preparing for a restful night in her parents’ country house. My wife and I were prepared, to tell the truth. The previous night we had heard the telltale swish of batwings in our bedroom and in…

Adrift and perilously close to abandoning ship

After more than a little high-seas misadventure, the Frankie finally proves seaworthy – and sanitary

Adrift and perilously close to abandoning shipBack in 2012, we had a dreamboat, an 18-foot Hourston Glascraft. It was brand-new, had a magnificent 150-horsepower Yamaha four-stroke outboard, and quickly became the envy of the Skelhp government wharf. We paid monthly wharfage dues all summer and used it to fish and cruise. We christened her the Francine, after my then 90-year-old Mom.…

Powell River celebrates its progressive roots

Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring to be performed at PRISMA. In 1913, the ballet unleashed a mad torrent of modernity on the members of Parisienne high society

Powell River celebrates its progressive rootsOn the May 29, 1913, the Paris premiere of The Rite of Spring took place at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees. The Russian ballet’s choreographer was Vaslav Nijinsky and the symphony’s composer was Igor Stravinsky. Together that night, almost exactly 105 years ago, they unleashed a mad torrent of modernity on the members of Parisienne high…

Spring surprises at Skelhp: red tide and Cuddles

Fir pollen on the water (perhaps), black bears on the prowl. All part of a spring visit to Skelhp

Spring surprises at Skelhp: red tide and CuddlesI recently made the trip up the Sunshine Coast from Vancouver to Skelhp under sunny skies with spring projects in mind. It’s still a month before the vegetable garden needs to be seeded, but it’s time to rake in some fireplace ash and turn the soil in the rows. The raspberry canes need pruning, and…

My fireplace just helped renew my faith in humanity

A household calamity, an accommodating retailer, some dirty and hard work, and a twofold payoff at the end

My fireplace just helped renew my faith in humanityThis time of year, one of my country morning rituals is cleaning last night’s ashes from the fireplace and laying the beginnings of this evening’s fire. We have what is now considered an old fireplace – it has a brick-lined fire chamber with a small rectangular ash-emptying door in the centre of the fireplace floor.…

Vancouver stories that resonate far and wide

The coastal city is uniquely placed, by geography and patterns of global investment, to bear intelligent witness to international currents

Vancouver stories that resonate far and wideVancouver has a long history of welcoming new citizens, first at the end of steel or fresh off the boat. Five generations of Chinese, Japanese, East Indians, Filipinos and even Hawaiians have joined a broad European diaspora in building a port city on the lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh. All of these people…

Spring arrives at Skelhp and the wildlife parade follows

Orcas, otters, a majestic eagle, a marauding racoon and a diminishing deer family all herald the changing of seasons on the coast

Spring arrives at Skelhp and the wildlife parade followsIt was a long February. As my neighbour, a veteran of several more Skelhp winters than I, likes to say: “Cold, dark and wet.” Exactly. And then a day like March 3 happens. It dawned lighter. That’s normal up here this time of year. More light starts creeping in around 7 a.m. each morning. It’s…

How B.C. can escape its painful housing trap

Instead of targeting affordable housing, B.C. government should be targeting housing affordability

How B.C. can escape its painful housing trapBy Josef Filipowicz and Steve Lafleur The Fraser Institute The B.C. government’s recent budget included a 30-point plan aimed at the province’s housing woes. The aim was off the mark. Most of the plan’s points fit into two broad categories: reducing demand by raising property transfer taxes, for non-residents and on homes over $3 million,…

A new wave of B.C. small-town cultural renaissance

Let's be honest, most of B.C.’s artistic community has always lived on the Gulf Islands, on Vancouver Island, up the Sunshine Coast, in Haida Gwaii rather than in Vancouver

A new wave of B.C. small-town cultural renaissanceMy grandfather arrived in Vancouver from England, via the Empress of Canada and the fledgling Canadian Pacific Railway in September 1909. At a goodbye dinner in London, he had been advised by a family friend to “Stay out of the towns – find your fortune in the countryside.” He took that advice literally and found…

B.C.’s Sunshine Coast gets a taste of the raging wildfires

70 years of Smokey the Bear and aggressive wildfire suppression efforts filled the forests with a tinder load just waiting to blow

B.C.’s Sunshine Coast gets a taste of the raging wildfiresThis past week has been a record breaker for B.C.’s Sunshine Coast. People started to notice what at first was euphemistically called ‘haze’ on Tuesday. By Friday the view south from Skelhp, roughly two- thirds up the coast, was a series of increasingly brown clouds that completely hid Texada Island, and covered half of Nelson…

Exploring the islands of B.C.’s Nuchatlitz lagoon

From sublime beauty to mysteries of an unknown world tucked away at the edge of the Pacific ocean

Exploring the islands of B.C.’s Nuchatlitz lagoonNuchatlitz lagoon, framed by a formidable offshore wall of reefs and rocks, is sprinkled with small islands. Consulting the Canadian Hydrographic Service chart entitled Esperanza Inlet, one is quickly puzzled by their odd place names. While Nuchatlitz Provincial Park and four IRs (Indian reserves) are prominently badged, the entire flotilla of Nuchatlitz islands (I counted…

A BC coastal community orchestrates a new role in the global economy

Powell River's PRISMA on the Beach is part of a global movement of summer music festivals in towns that love to organize, fundraise and volunteer for the arts

A BC coastal community orchestrates a new role in the global economyA local history of volunteerism and love for the performing arts have given Powell River a cultural base for its second coming. Every year for the past five years, this community on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast has hosted the Pacific Region International Summer Music Academy – PRISMA. The whole experience is festival-like and runs for…

Curating kindness: the acts of humanity that inspire daily life

Amidst the turmoil, simple acts of kindness: feeding a homeless man, art classes for apartment kids, and Wood Camp with Steve

Curating kindness: the acts of humanity that inspire daily lifeMy wife and I had dinner with old friends last month. One continues to work in the final year of distinguished academic service as a professor; the other has recently retired from a career in planning and consulting. In these situations, I find that our conversation tends to focus on the partner who has made…