Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

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Happy 100th birthday to John Harlow



Three generations of transit operators (from left to right) David, Michelle and John Harlow in front of the family home on Chambers Street. Photos courtesy of the Harlow family

Herbert Harlow and Rose Campbell met while working at Vancouver General Hospital. They married and had their first born, John, in 1917. In 1925, John’s wife-to-be, Georgette, was attending Norquay School. John and Georgette met when they attended South Vancouver high school (now John Oliver), married in 1939 and moved onto Chambers Street. Three of their four children would also attend Norquay School.

John would later build a new house on Chambers Street in 1950. He bought the double lot for $600. This is the house he still lives in today with his son David and David’s wife Sylvia. So, we have had a Harlow living on Chambers Street for more than 78 years.

We have also had a Harlow driving city buses in Vancouver since 1945. This is the year that John started driving city buses for Neville Transit. Even before that, John was a driver, driving trucks for the Boeing company on Sea Island during the Second World War. He remembers driving up to the gate one day and the guard told him to park the truck and go home. The war was over, the plant was closed and everyone was laid off! That same day, on his way back home, John would not only find a new job, he was taught his route and started driving that day!


John Harlow became a motorman, driving streetcars like this one for Neville Transit.

This was the job with Neville Transit that would start the continuing legacy of the Harlow family. John worked with Neville until they became BC Electric and later BC Hydro. During this time, John became a motorman, driving streetcars.

In 1978, John’s son David would join the transit team. It was around this time that the company would became Metro and then Coast Mountain. In 2004, David’s daughter, Michelle started driving, becoming the third generation of Harlows to do so. (John retired in 1979; David in 2009.)


Congratulations to Michelle and the Harlow family on this latest addition this year. Could this be the fourth generation of the Harlow-transit legacy?

For John’s 100th birthday, his family wanted to give him a ride down memory lane. So they rented a vintage 1964 GMC bus, provided by TRAMS, and along with family and friends, the day was spent touring with John down memory lane.

This tour included John’s old routes in East Vancouver; Sea Island where John worked with Boeing; past the school where he met his wife; and the church where they got married.

Needless to say, John had a fantastic 100th birthday.

Copyright 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Food Security Institute: Join summer gatherings at local gardens



Vanessa Richards (centre) of Woodword’s Community Choir leads a singing practice at the Norquay Orchard event last year. Photo by Dustin Ahjz

The Renfrew-Collingwood Food Security Institute (RCFSI) gathers neighbours around food. Together, we grow, we cook, we share and we build resilient communities. On the rooftop garden, at the Norquay Orchard and at our community gardens we aim to create a hub for our neighbours, both human and non, to share and increase knowledge around organic and regenerative food growing practices, soil systems, and wild and native plants.

This is an exciting time for us! This summer we will be joined by two new members of our team, Bo and Emma, who will be dedicating their time and expertise towards growing thriving communities both in the garden and out.

Bo is a creature of the cities and forests: a community organizer, activist and earth skills educator born to the traditional unceded lands of the Coast Salish – otherwise known as Vancouver, B.C. Bo identifies as genderqueer and uses They/Them/Theirs pronouns.

Bo is rooted deeply into their home and community, but never forgets that they are a visitor on this land. Their work operates in the intersections between earth, food, art and justice. They have spent countless hours learning from the natural world in academic settings, from elders and mentors, and from the living ecosystems themselves. They have worked on a number of projects concerning ecosystem repair, bioremediation, food forests design, biological pest management, rainwater harvesting and climate change resiliency and are so excited to be working with the RCFSI this summer!

Emma is a sociology student at Simon Fraser University and returning to RCFSI for a second year as a summer student. She loves growing, cooking, eating and talking about food. She is excited to spend time at the orchard and in the garden this summer, and to plant seeds for community growth and tasty veggies.

Summer events

This summer RCFSI will be working to foster a deeper connection with the land and each other, and are excited to invite everyone to our upcoming events:

Pruning Workshop at the Norquay Orchard (2732 Horley St.) – Saturday, June 17, 12 to 2 pm

Rooftop Garden Drop-ins at the Collingwood Neighbourhood House – Every Wednesday, 5 to 7 pm

Norquay Orchard Work Parties (2732 Horley St.) – Last Saturday of the month, 1 to 3 pm

There will be many more exciting opportunities to get involved. Keep an eye on the RCFSI Facebook page – Renfrew Collingwood Food Security Institute, or the website

If you are interested in volunteering contact

Copyright 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Students find their passion at Windermere high school


It’s hard to believe that my husband and I will soon become empty nesters. It’s been a long haul. We’d settled in the neighbourhood over 20 years ago, raising two kids here.

Words. Source: Vancouver School Board

Windermere’s motto “Facta Non Verba” means Actions, Not Words. Images source: Vancouver School Board

Now my youngest, Kate, will graduate this June from Windermere Secondary and leave home in September for university – and a life on her own. She follows her sister, Claire, who graduated from the same school three years ago and is also studying away from home.

We didn’t think twice about sending our kids to Windermere; after all, it was just a five-minute walk from our house. We also believe in public education. Still, we didn’t know what to expect from this small east Vancouver school.

We needn’t have worried.

Windermere Secondary is a neighbourhood gem.

Windermere High School

Sure, as Claire noted in her graduation speech, the bell doesn’t always ring on time and some windows are boarded up. But she received a tremendous learning experience as part of Windermere and its Leadership program, and by extension, she became part of a group of students who were active in the community. Claire learned a different point of view from the mainstream, learned to think on her own and take action, learned to be a leader – all qualities that have been invaluable in her adult life.

Claire describes a friend who volunteered with the school’s lifeskills class and discovered the rewards of helping students with disabilities. Her friend has gone on to study and work in the field, following her passion that she first found at Windermere.

More recently, another student was one of the lucky few to take part in the High School Science Week at St Paul’s Hospital’s Centre for Heart Lung Innovation as part of her career exploration experience. “I was happy to learn most of the students were from schools in the area and I was proud to represent Windermere,” she recalls in a report. She got to “play” with damaged organs, including hearts and lungs. “I felt like a kid in a candy store for the whole day!”

Which takes us back to Kate. Windermere gave her the opportunity to excel in sports and to volunteer as a score keeper and as an arts and crafts instructor to elementary school students. Most surprising to us, though, she found her passion the day she walked into her Grade 8 science class.

Today physics is Kate’s favourite subject, and she does well in chemistry, biology and math. She may study engineering. As someone who couldn’t understand physics and could only learn chemistry and calculus from good teachers, I can see that Windermere has excellent science and math programs.

As parents we put a lot of trust in the teachers who lay the foundation for our kids to succeed in life. Windermere has taught so many of our kids to be good citizens, to aim high and to dream that they can improve lives and, perhaps, even save the world.

Thank you.

Julie Cheng has been the editor of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News for almost 10 years.

Windermere stories

Over the years the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News has published many stories about Windermere high school. A quick search on leads you to stories that reveal:

Windermere staff are amazing:

Indigenous art project at Windermere: Reconciliation from the ground up – May 2017 issue
Judy Payne one of Windermere’s secrets to success – May 2015

Windermere students speak up about social justice:

Multinational corporation pays $15 a day for Hope water – Jan. 2017
Homelessness Action Week, October 12-18, 2014 – Nov. 2014

The students take action for the environment:

Windermere students celebrate Earth Day – Apr. 2017
Windermere students race to save the planet at the Great Climate Race – Dec. 2016

The students are everywhere in the community:

Windermere Organic Garden Team grows fruit, veggies and community – Nov. 2016
Celebrate Canada’s 149th birthday at Youth Celebrate Canada Day – July 1! – Jun. 2016

They learn to be strong and have a creative voice:

Film by Windermere Girls Group: Girls Are Just As Strong – Dec. 2016
Renfrew-Collingwood high school students create original play about addiction – Apr. 2017

Create Your Canada winners off to Ottawa

Create Your Canada Windermere winners

Windermere students June Lam and Gaelan Emo are off to Ottawa to see their bill introduced in the House of Commons by MP Don Davies. Photo courtesy of Don Davies, MP

Congratulations to Windermere students Gaelan Emo and June Lam for winning the Create Your Canada contest sponsored by Don Davies, the member of Parliament for Vancouver-Kingsway. Gaelan and June will travel to Ottawa to hear Don Davies introduce their bill in the House of Commons.

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

Gaelan and June were chosen for their idea to create a tax incentive that will encourage food producers, suppliers and retailers to donate perishable food to charities. Way to go, Gaelan and June! To learn more about this competition, visit

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Community rallies around local carpenter Rob Allen after house fire

Rob Allen – our neighbour, volunteer and contractor at Collingwood Neighbourhood House (CNH) –lost everything in a house fire early May. “I’m OK and so is the guy from downstairs!” he writes in an email.

Actually, he heroically saved his downstairs neighbour’s life by crawling through a smoky, burning basement and dragging him out of the blaze.

Rob lost everything in the fire. But as one friend said, quoting her parent’s wisdom, “Everything is replaceable except for you!” We’re grateful Rob is safe.

A talented carpenter by trade, Rob has worked on many projects around the neighbourhood and privately for folks who need woodworking help. Rob is a dedicated community volunteer who has spent many hours working on cultural infrastructure planning, making bird and bee houses in community workshops, teaching woodworking to homeschooling families and working with the city on dialogue around community representation. He also initiated the local Conversation Cafés.

His hearty chuckle and dedication to making the neighbourhood a better place – alongside his ability to see the positive in everything, including his own situation – is inspiring.

People at CNH and around the community have expressed a desire to help Rob. His partner has set up a GoFundMe page where you can donate online ( – thanks to all of you who have already donated.

If anyone has woodworking tools they don’t need anymore, he is happy to accept them as donations, as he plans to do more woodworking workshops for beginner DIYers.

You are welcome to drop off monetary donations to Collingwood Neighbourhood House, 5288 Joyce Street, by Friday, June 2, attention Sally. You can also drop off tool donations at the reception.

Rob is overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of the people around him and the community support has been important in helping him though this disaster with grace.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Collingwood Days 2017 – New location, same great family fun



The 14th annual Collingwood Days runs from Saturday, May 20 to Sunday, May 28. Photos courtesy of Collingwood Days

Collingwood Days Festival is an annual intercultural community festival that celebrates the diversity, history and natural environment of Renfrew-Collingwood. Traditionally taking place in the last week of May, this year’s event will be celebrating its 14th year from Saturday, May 20 to Sunday, May 28.

We have many fond memories of Collingwood Days at Sir Guy Carlton Elementary, but due to a fire at the school last year, the main festival day will take place this year at Gaston Park, at Euclid and Tyne.

Over the years, Collingwood Days has highlighted the contributions of various groups and members of the neighbourhood. This year, we are honouring and celebrating the contributions of the First Nations in our community. There will be music, dancing, storytelling and history.

Collingwood-Days-DancersThroughout the festival week, there will be activities in various parts of the Renfrew-Collingwood: a carnival at Graham Bruce Elementary, a Cantonese and Italian Opera performance and exhibition at the Italian Cultural Centre, a native plant walk at Norquay Learning orchard, a tea house event at Collingwood Neighbourood House, First Nations storytelling at Collingwood Branch library and much more.

On the festival day, May 28, local Lions Club members will serve up a pancake breakfast from 9 to 11 am. After our opening blessing at 11 am, festivities will begin with live music and dance from Bright Sunset Chinese Dance Group, Windermere Choir, Calpulli Cemanahuac Aztec Dance Group, Peter Yap, Alicia Crestejo, Kathara Indigenous Filipino Cultural group and others.

Collingwood-Days-SingersDrop by and check out the International Marketplace, Artisan Village, BMX and the Dog Agility shows and Collingwood Gardens Tea tent.

There are opportunities to volunteer, promote your organization or sponsor our event.

Please check out the Collingwood Days Facebook page ( for updates and Collingwood Days website ( for more information.


Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Indigenous art project at Windermere high school: Reconciliation from the ground up



Aboriginal artist Jerry Whitehead demonstrates the art of spray painting. Photos taken and edited by Olivia Lee-Chun, Harkarn Kaler and Tiffany Tu

This spring, look for a new mural at Windermere Secondary School that brings together nature and Indigenous culture. Windermere has received a $20,000 grant from the Betty Wellborn Artistic Legacies Foundation for an art project that features local Indigenous artists running workshops and working with students to paint this mural.

Fine arts teacher Alyssa Reid’s project proposal was inspired from reading Wab Kinew’s The Reason You Walk, a memoir about reconciliation and healing between father and son that may ultimately spark conversation about Canada’s own reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

Coincidentally, Windermere’s former vice-principal, Alison Ogden, had once posted outside her office a quote from the same book that Reid “really took to heart.”

The quote reads: “Reconciliation is not something realized on a grand level, something that happens when a prime minister and a national chief shake hands. It takes place at a much more individual level. Reconciliation is realized when two people come together and understand that what they share unites them and that what is different between them needs to be respected.”


Two students spray painting the stencil design they created.

Windermere’s aboriginal support teacher, Davita Marsden, suggested to Reid that local contemporary Indigenous artists Sharifah Marsden, Corey Bulpitt and Jerry Whitehead might be interested in working on the project.

“After speaking with the artists we decided on three workshops for staff and students that would give them some grounding and knowledge in Indigenous art that would lead to a large (1,000 square foot) mural on the front of the school,” Reid explains in an email.

“Our basis for the mural is a rooting in Mother Nature that links everyone to the earth and stresses the importance of nature and the earth to our Indigenous people done in the three very unique styles of each artist.”

The workshops started late April, with Sharifah Marsden teaching a beading workshop, Corey Bulpitt doing a stencilling and spray painting workshop, and Jerry Whitehead leading a design question/answer workshop. The painting begins in May.

Julie Cheng is the editor of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Let’s get outside and celebrate spring


Reconciliation pole raising at UBC

There were many hands eager to help at the reconciliation pole raising at the University of B.C. on Apr. 1, 2017. A day of history. Photos by Penny Lim

The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, the birds are chirping – spring is here at last! And that means stepping outdoors and getting together at the many events and activities happening around our neighbourhood. Here are a few ideas.

Join in a community celebration. Whether it’s a school carnival, a European festival or Collingwood Days, there are plenty of fun local celebrations for the family to enjoy. Come on out and meet your neighbours and discover local talents!

Explore by Skytrain. Spring is a great time to shop at local farmers’ markets, enjoy new food trucks or discover new neighbourhoods – it just takes a short hop by Skytrain to get there. For ideas check out the RCC News’ Skytrain Rambler series.

Show the Renfrew Ravine some love. Still Moon Arts Society runs workshops in the Renfrew Ravine and has an online guide to ravine self-walking tours. Evergreen runs its Uncover Your Creeks program in the Renfrew Ravine once a month.

Volunteer at a local garden. Dig into the opportunities at the Collingwood Neighbourhood House Rooftop Garden or the Norquay Learning Orchard, run by the local Food Security Institute.

Join a walking club. Drop by your local community centre or neighbourhood house to find a walking club or group day trip program that’ll take to you near and far.

Cranes Reifel Bird Sanctuary

The group taking the Killarney Community Centre trip to the Reifel Bird Sanctuary in late March saw gorgeous birds such as these sand cranes and mallard ducks.

Ducks Reifel Bird Sanctuary

Julie Cheng is the editor of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News. She has lived in Renfrew-Collingwood for 20 years and loves to get some vitamin D from the sun while gardening, cycling or walking outdoors.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News