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