Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

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August 2016 issue of RCC News is here

August 2016 RCC NewsThis issue of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News is full of the many wonderful people, events and programs happening in our neighbourhood!

Get your latest issue of the RCC News at your local coffee shop, grocery store, library and community centre.

Or click on the cover image to view the new issue.

In this issue:

  • East Enders 8th annual reunion
  • Local farmers markets
  • Joyce-Collingwood station upgrades
  • Eating Out in RC: Off the Grid Waffles
  • Sculpture honours lost streams
  • Save our neighbourhood schools
  • Videos tell the story of INTERactive project

Do you have a local story to tell or an event to share? We’d love to hear about it! Email

The deadline for the September 2016 issue is August 10. You are welcome to submit a story from 300 to 400 words. Accompanying photos must be high resolution in a jpg file at least 1 MB large and include a photo caption and the name of the photographer.

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Solving a 90-year-old family mystery


Nellie Grandpa's First Wife Feb 1919

Nellie Williams: mystery woman, 1919. Photo courtesy of Loretta Houben

Growing up I would sometimes hear stories about Nellie, my Grandpa John Williams’ first wife. She had died in 1926 out on the barren Saskatchewan prairies of a broken heart.

An old photo of Nellie taken in 1919 intrigued me. She was young and pretty wearing a large Edwardian style hat, but looked quite sad and mysterious. What was her real name and her maiden name? Where had she come from? How did my grandpa meet her?

I love genealogy, the study of family history. For years these questions had perplexed me, and after solving other family mysteries recently I felt it was time to discover more about Nellie. On the 1921 Canadian census I discovered her real name was Ellen (see the February 2014 RCC News article “1921 Canadian Census Tips”). I searched for a few years for her surname but the fee from Saskatchewan Vital Statistics was too pricey for me to track down her marriage certificate.

However, taking my own advice, I joined the Saskatchewan Genealogy Network on Facebook, and began asking questions about family research in Naicam, Saskatchewan, the place where Nellie had died.

I was advised to join the Naicam Homecoming group. The very day that I asked for help regarding Nellie and her maiden name and how to search further for her marriage certificate, a researcher at the Naicam Museum Facebook messaged me her death certificate! I had never thought to look for a maiden name on that type of certificate, but there it was; her father’s name, Edward Egerton!

Also included was Nellie’s date of birth and birth country, her length of residence in Canada, her address, her husband’s signature, her date of death and her cause of death; croupous pneumonia due to low vitality; in other words, a broken heart. This was because her young son, Edward, had died in 1925.

Now I had facts to help me in my search for further clues to Nellie’s past life, and I quickly found the dates of her voyage to Canada on the ship’s passenger lists online, but this presented another mystery, as she had lived in Toronto for four years, returned home to Wales for a time, then took another sea voyage in 1918 with the destination of Three Hills Alberta, where my grandpa was residing. No one would go to such a tiny town without a purpose, so I believe she was headed there to marry John.

Did they meet back in Wales and keep up a correspondence since 1910, when John had immigrated to Canada? It’s just another mystery to solve. Now on to the next one, and have fun with yours!

Loretta Houben is a long-time resident of the Collingwood area and enjoys poking around on Facebook in her spare time, always on the lookout for new family clues.

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Skytrain Rambler: Vancouver Art Gallery’s spectacular Picasso exhibit is just a few stops away

Picasso: The Artist and His Muses is now showing at the Vancouver Art Gallery until Sunday, October 2, 2016

Picasso exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery

The Picasso exhibit is showing at the Vancouver Art Gallery until October 2. Photo by Julie Cheng


If you want to inject a little more creativity and leisure into your life, start with a visit to the Vancouver Art Gallery this summer and check out this show on the first level, and wander around at the other three floors. You might be surprised at the value and pleasure derived from sauntering through an art gallery—you might even leave inspired.

Directions: Take Skytrain on the Expo Line westbound from Joyce/Collingwood station to either Granville Station or Burrard Station. For information on admission rates and opening hours, check Admission by donation is Tuesday nights from 5 to 9 pm. If a recent Tuesday in mid-June is any indication, expect long lineups and certainly do not wait until the last minute to see the exhibit.

Let’s go back to October 2010. I’m at the Seattle Art Museum. It’s a monumental art show to say the least. Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musee National Picasso, Paris, takes up the top floor of the museum, and it features artistic highlights from Pablo Picasso. Its placement is apt. It’s right next to the arts of Africa and Oceania; people queued next to a stark display of African masks. (Picasso was influenced by the arts of Africa and Oceania.)

I follow the other museum visitors into the first crowded room. What I discovered was not only the results of an imaginative and unusual artist, but roomfuls of the different ways one can approach life in the name of creativity.

A good example of Picasso’s ability to think creatively was Bull’s Head. The name reflects the idea and shape of the sculpture, but what’s surprising is the medium of the work: a bicycle seat, some handle bars. Picasso had found these items in a pile of garbage in Paris. He simply welded the metal seat to the metal handlebars, mashing together two found objects to create a modern work of art.

There’s something still alien and uncommon about being able to see beauty and potential in discarded objects thought of as trash. Furthermore, sometimes context is everything. Picasso created Bull’s Head in the early 1940s during the Second World War. To create something beautiful is incredibly life affirming, especially in the face of turbulence and turmoil.

In total, I spent four hours looking at Picasso’s art that day in Seattle.

Fast forward to 2016, and the Vancouver Art Gallery in downtown Vancouver is exhibiting Picasso: The Artist and His Muses, a summer exhibition of Picasso’s artworks influenced by the many women in his life.

The pieces come from as close as the collections of the Vancouver Art Gallery and as far away as places like France. One particular artwork supposedly is still in the frame that Picasso himself picked out and is making a rare appearance outside of its usual museum home.

If you ever have been the least bit curious about Picasso’s life and career, it’s definitely a recommended excursion. You’ll find that publicly funded museums and art galleries are not bastions of elitism, but places where all can be transformed by the experience of seeing art.

If you are a night owl, don’t miss their FUSE program where the Vancouver Art Gallery opens late from 8 pm to midnight, and augments their art exhibitions with performance and music. Next one will be Friday, July 15, 2016. And don’t forget the admission-by-donation Tuesday nights from 5 to 9 pm.

John Mendoza is a long-time resident of Renfrew-Collingwood and a regular contributor to the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Battling the European chafer beetle

A chafer beetle in the back yard

A chafer beetle in the backyard. Photos by Julie Cheng


Those pesky chafer beetles star started showing up earlier this year—from late May right til the end of June.

They first showed up coming from underground and creeping up strands of grass on the lawn, where I’d stomp on them, wincing at every loud crunch. Mid June found me outside with a broom whacking my tall rhododendron where they swarmed at dusk, hoping, I reasoned, to ruin their sex lives so they wouldn’t mate and lay eggs on my lawn. I later used the more dignified tactic of spraying them with the hose.

Late June I found some dead ones in my backyard. I imagined them burrowing down into the grass, laying their 300 eggs or so, then dying, their life spent but fulfilled.

Signs of chafer beetle

Chafer grubs

Chafer grubs can be found in lawns from fall to spring.

Adult European chafer beetles are copper-coloured beetles. Females lay eggs, which hatch in about two weeks and grow into grubs. These soft, white grubs chomp on the grass roots, destroying lawns.

My lawn will start showing damage from fall to early spring. During this time, the resident skunk and the crows make a buffet of them. I don’t mind these critters digging up the lawn, I think they’re doing me a favour by eating as many of the grubs as they can.

Otherwise, I’d be digging them up myself. I have been known to smash a few with my shovel out of frustration, but mostly I dig up 10-20 a day and feed them to my neighbour’s chickens. You have to love those yummy, protein-rich chafer eggs the chickens produce.

Fighting chafers naturally

It’s important to keep your lawn healthy. This means regular aerating, watering and mowing, as well as applying lime. Try overseeding your lawn with tall fescue grass, which the beetles don’t like to lay their eggs in and the grubs have a hard time feeding on. Microclover is also a good choice.

In the city of Vancouver, you’re not allowed to use pesticides to treat chafers, but you may use nematodes, which are microscopic worms that attack the grubs. You can buy nemadoes at a garden store.

Make sure you apply the nematodes early mornings or evenings or on a cloudy day and keep the soil moist for four to seven days afterwards. You may purchase a water exemption permit from the city to sprinkle your lawn extra days (

For more information:

City of Vancouver

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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MP Don Davies takes Kingsway students to Ottawa


Don Davies, MP, with 2016 Create Your Canada winners Mabel Huang of Windermere Secondary School and Judy Gong of Gladstone Secondary School. Photo by Chelsea Charman

Two Vancouver Kingsway students, including one senior Windermere Leadership student, were the lucky recipients of an all-expense paid trip to Ottawa from June 12 to 14 to participate in Canada’s Parliament through the 2016 Create Your Canada contest, hosted by our local member of Parliament, Don Davies.

Started by Don Davies in 2009, this annual contest is open to all Vancouver Kingsway students taking Grade 11 or 12 classes.  Create Your Canada challenges students to propose ideas that they feel will make a better Canada or a better world.

The winning idea is submitted by Davies to Parliament where it is drafted into federal legislation in the form of a Private Members Bill. This year, the winning entry was jointly submitted by Mabel Huang from Windermere Secondary and Judy Gong from Gladstone Secondary.

Mabel is in Windermere’s Leadership program and has volunteered with a number of organizations including Youth Celebrate Canada Day and Windermere’s Climate Change Conference. She and Judy were selected for their proposal to introduce a national pharmacare strategy.

“We were inspired by the discussion of health care in my Law 12 class. We then researched and found out that of all the countries with a universal health-care system, Canada is the only country where prescription drugs aren’t covered,” said Mabel.

“We are looking for a feasible solution to give everyone an equal opportunity to access prescription drugs, since many citizens are not taking prescribed medications they need because they can’t afford it,” added Judy.

The winners were treated to a jam-packed two-day tour of Parliament Hill where they visited the House of Commons, Senate, Peace Tower, Library of Parliament, Sir John A. MacDonald’s office, and met many politicians from all parties. They also had time to visit the Supreme Court of Canada for a tour and the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec.

“This is a great way for youth to share their vision for our country,” said Davies. “I think it’s also an engaging and fun introduction to Parliament and the legislative process.”

Honourable mentions for the 2016 Create Your Canada Contest go to:

  • Robin Horner from Windermere Secondary School for her idea to create a national strategy for mental health services for youth.
  • Thien Ho from Sir Charles Tupper Secondary for his idea to create a national incentives program for the purchase or lease of electric and hybrid cars.

Don Davies funds the Create Your Canada program entirely by himself, and no taxpayer funds are used.

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Still Moon Arts takes youth on a caravan along the Fraser


The Still Moon Arts team started off at Mount Robson, the headwaters of the Fraser River. Photo courtesy of Still Moon Arts



Youth from the Still Moon Arts Society spent a week in June travelling along the Fraser River watershed in the 2nd annual Wild Salmon Caravan!

The Wild Salmon Caravan, taking place from June 6 to 11, was a journey from Mount Robson to Vancouver celebrating the spirit of the wild salmon through indigenous communities in Chase, Adams Lake, Kamloops, Lillooet, Lytton, Chilliwack and Abbotsford.

“The journey was really about celebrating, recognizing and honouring the spirit of the wild salmon, and how it is interconnected with First Nations culture as well as the rest of the environment,” said Henry Lau, one of the youth from the Still Moon Arts Youth Team.

The spirit of the salmon is something that influences across cultures and communities, representing more than just the ecological health of the land or water but also the relationships communities have with nature and each other.


It was an honour to take part in the Lytton ceremony. Photo by Chitha Manoranjan

Groups from across British Columbia joined the Wild Salmon Caravan in this travelling collective of culture, art, drumming, music and storytelling. It sought to connect with people and express the significance of salmon to the well-being of our cultures, communities, food systems and nature from an indigenous perspective.

“What I witnessed reminds me about how food is important to me in my neighborhood of Renfrew-Collingwood and how that is connected to the ways that First Nations groups access culturally relevant food in their own indigenous landscape,” said Crecien Bencio, who also participated in the journey.

The Wild Salmon Caravan also stressed the importance of building strong relationships with indigenous communities and conducting meaningful reconciliation processes. Threats of development and climate change endanger the well-being of the wild salmon that are so intricately linked with the land and its people. The Wild Salmon Caravan carried the wishes and hopes for what relationships with wild salmon was in the past, what it is in the present, and what will be in the future.

Still Moon’s previous youth engagement coordinator Chitha Manoranjan expressed, “I’m proud that we were able to take a small team of youth from this community up on this journey to share stories of our community’s successful efforts at bringing chum salmon back to Still Creek and bring some of Still Moon Arts’ creative energy. More importantly, it was an honour to be so warmly welcomed to different indigenous communities and be witness to the rich cultures and experiences that these communities have.“

The journey was part of Still Moon Arts’ Youth Engagement Project funded by the BC Arts Council. The youth team was made up of two Grade 9 students from the Leadership 9 Ecology class who have been working in the Renfrew Ravine this past year, and two long-time youth volunteers (and dedicated board members).

The team returns to the community with deeper knowledge, experiences and stories that are necessary to continue to act as stewards of the salmon and inspire the community to create their own intercultural experiences around food.

To find out more about Still Moon Arts Society’s journey on the Wild Salmon Caravan, visit or find out more about the Wild Salmon Caravan at

Lucas Chan is a summer student with Still Moon Arts Society.

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News