Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver


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Collingwood Corner: Renfrew Auto Camp

RenfrewAutoCamp1930s

Vintage postcard image found online, circa 1930s. Located at 3690 Renfrew from 1927–1946. Image courtesy of Loretta Houben

BY LORETTA HOUBEN

The lure of the open road in the summer months beckons to all who are ready for fun and adventure! Even when automobiles were new, people wished to pack up and go exploring. The Model T Ford car was available for purchase in 1908, 110 years ago, although at first the ordinary working man couldn’t afford a car.

By the 1920s, automobile ownership and use increased, especially for holiday travel. The price had fallen dramatically so more people were choosing to buy a car, and the concept of camping with one became popular.

According to the 1927 BC Directories, there were a total of 11 auto camps in Vancouver and the vicinity, including one in Central Park in Burnaby, which “provided every facility for the convenience of motorists.”
One such camp existed from 1927 to 1946 in the Collingwood area. After finding a Renfrew Auto camp postcard image online, I turned to the BC Directories for more information.

The Renfrew Auto Camp was listed at 21st Avenue and Renfrew. In 1930 the address was listed as 3690 Renfrew. Edgerly Payne along with J. Flander were the first owners. I checked out where Edgerly Payne lived, and was surprised to discover he lived at 3177 East 22nd Avenue, a few blocks from the camp. In 1945 my paternal grandparents bought this house, and my dad grew up there.

In later years, Mrs. K. Ellen Leighs was the proprietor of the camp, remaining until 1946, the last year the camp existed. When auto camps first became popular, tents were available, then cabins or bungalows. A common open space, or court, provided safety and a place to park the car.

Motels, a word combining motor and hotel, took over and became popular in the 1960s. Kingsway had a number of motel courts. You can see the last remaining auto court motel, built in 1946, at 2400 Kingsway near Nanaimo. The name, 2400 Court Motel, reflects the address. There are tiny white bungalows on a green lawn on three acres with picnic tables and a place to park your car. For more information, you can read about the history of auto courts on this website.

Loretta Houben is a long-time resident of Collingwood and a frequent contributor to the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.

Copyright 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Collingwood’s humble kitchen expert

Barry Londry and Esther Yuen

Barry Londry tells writer Esther Yuen his story at the Collingwood Neighbourhood House community kitchen. Photo by Julie Cheng

BY ESTHER YUEN

To commemorate the 20-year anniversary of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News, we’re revisiting past stories that have particularly inspired us. This article was first published in January 2013.
I got to learn about Barry’s rich and fascinating backstory. He’s a significant contributor to this community and it was an honour to interview him.
− Esther Yuen, writer

Barry Londry stands out from the crowd, literally. At six feet tall, he towers over most people in the Collingwood  neighbourhood, yet his warm smile and kind words put people around him at ease.

Barry’s a humble expert in the kitchen and can be often found tending shrubs in the Cheyenne community gardens. He’s also well known to improvise and create delightful dishes out of discarded food materials.

Just like these dishes, Barry could have easily thrown away parts of his life, but chose to create a meaningful life for himself that has positively impacted those around him.

You see, Barry had a thriving career as a chef―but this all of this came crashing down one day.

Years before Chef Barry joined the Renfrew Collingwood Food Security  Institute, Barry was just another kid growing up in the Vancouver eastside  neighbourhood called Diaper Hill. His parents, who moved here from the Prairies after the Second World War, fed Barry the typical Prairie diet of meat and potatoes―and on the rare occasion, they would cook him a delicious steak dinner.

Barry’s tastebuds were more adventurous, and even though Vancouver’s population then was quite homogenous, Barry was still able to develop a palate for exotic flavours. Every so often, Barry would hang out at his friend’s parent’s Chinese restaurant, and would visit ethnic restaurants with friends.

Whenever he found a dish that he enjoyed, he would ask the cooks for the recipes. Thus began his fascination with international foods.

While cooking was a hobby, he pursued a career in sports and business during his 20s. He studied restaurant management and completed a diploma in international business. He became a ticket distributor for sports games and even managed sales for the Stanley Cup games in the 80s. He also sold cider to the States!

Barry was business-savvy, but eventually realized that he couldn’t deny his passion for cooking. After he was laid off from a job in the beverages industry, he enrolled into the top cooking school in Vancouver, and then worked across the Lower Mainland in various food services capacities. Eventually, he found full-time employment as a chef in an assisted-living seniors’ centre.

In 2005, doctors discovered Barry had dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition  common among taller athletes. His heart was enlarged and was only at 13% capacity. As a result, he would often be tired and short of breath.

Determined to get well, Barry entered a recovery program. Unfortunately, weeks into the program, the heart specialist told him he was never going to be able to work again.

This hit Barry like a tonne of bricks. His life was going to be radically changed. No longer could he be independent, but had to be government-dependent, take on disability status and give up his car.

After dealing with the shock and the self-pity, he asked himself, “[Am I] going to sit here and moan or do something about [my life]?”

Barry went into action mode, and motivated himself to complete the  paperwork that accompanied his diagnosis.

Soon, Barry moved into the Collingwood area. Who knew that this would be another turn in his life?

In 2008, Barry went to an open forum at the Collingwood Neighbourhood House, intending to voice his opinion about the transit system. Instead, he met Stephanie Lim, then coordinator of the Renfrew Collingwood Food Security  Institute, who relentlessly pursued Barry to be involved with her programs.

He got his feet wet by building the Cheyenne Gardens with Jason Hseih and Steph, then eventually led and taught in food programs.

A few months later, Barry was asked if he could volunteer with Nadjia, who coordinated the community kitchen at Collingwood  Neighbourhood House. Barry thought he would volunteer for a few weeks, but eventually became a consistent participant, assisting Nadjia run the program to this very day.

Barry is still committed to perfecting the fine art of experimental cooking. He rarely writes down any of his recipes and almost never cooks the same meal twice, but he knows how to exactly combine foods to bring out the flavours.

His friend George, from John’s Market, once said, “[Barry’s] a better cook than me!” Those who have tasted his cooking would probably give him the same type of praise.

Esther Yuen is a communications specialist and graphic designer. She is passionate about positive social change and is active with the local arts and culture scene.

Copyright 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

 


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Let’s celebrate literacy in September

BY JANICE BEXSON

From the time we wake up and until we go to sleep, literacy plays an integral part in everything that we do.

Literacy Is Life logo

Image source: decoda.ca

Whether we are checking the weather forecast, reading the instructions on how to make a breakfast shake, knowing the number of the bus that will take us to our destination, reading and answering emails and texts, ordering lunch and paying the bill, driving to a new destination, buying groceries, helping a stranger or tourist read a map to find a specific Air BNB, checking a bank statement, reading a story book to a child before bedtime or setting the alarm for tomorrow, we need and use basic literacy skills in order to achieve these activities in our work and in our daily lives.

However, these literacy skills are not just about learning how to read and write. They also involve knowing how well we use our literacy skills so that we can participate more fully in our community. Using existing and gaining new literacy skills increases our self-confidence, encourages connection to others, and expands our health, social and economic opportunities.

In British Columbia (B.C.), Decoda Literacy Solutions (Decoda) has declared September “Literacy Month.” Decoda supports community organizations in B.C. (including Collingwood Neighbourhood House) with funding, training and resources for a variety of literacy initiatives. Decoda’s “Literacy Is Life” campaign raises awareness about literacy and hosts a variety of activities throughout September.

As the lazy days of summer gently ease into fall, children return to school and adults generally shift from leisure to work mode, so September is the perfect month to think about how we can continue to foster literacy.

How can I foster literacy?

Well, there are many ways to involve literacy learning in your busy lives during September. A few examples include:

  • Play board games that inspire spelling, mathematical and logical thinking, such as Scrabble, UpWords, Qwirkle and Rush Hour.
  • Read a book out aloud, instead of silently.
  • Instead of using your GPS (global positioning system) to help you find a new destination, try using a good old paper map (the most updated copy you can find).
  • Challenge yourself and discover what 20 abbreviations or acronyms mean (e.g. GPS, ASAP, etc.)

Fostering our literacy skills involves constantly challenging ourselves, so that we continue to maintain and strengthen those skills. “Practice makes perfect”’ as the saying goes or “practice makes better,” as I prefer to say.

So, go ahead – this month, find out what literacy initiatives exist in the Renfrew-Collingwood neighbourhood, and take some time to visit Decoda’s website (www.decoda.ca) and view the Literacy Is Life campaign. Have a good Literacy Month!

Janice Bexson is the literacy outreach coordinator at the Collingwood Neighbourhood House.

Copyright 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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Family Tree Tips: Begin at the beginning

Family-Tree

An example of a family tree. Also look online for examples of pedigree charts. Image courtesy of Margaret Houben

BY LORETTA HOUBEN

The majority of us are the descendants of immigrants. Not too far in our distant past, either our parents, grandparents or great-grandparents relocated to this wonderful country of Canada, and somehow wound up in the Renfrew-Collingwood area.

While growing up here I was aware that my mother’s side of the family lived in Oregon and my father’s side of the family lived in the Lower Mainland. While researching my dad’s past in 2011, I became obsessed with the “hows and whys” of their move from the prairies where they previously lived.

My dad was born in Spalding, Saskatchewan, but his parents both came from Wales. His father came alone to Canada in 1910, and his mother arrived in 1927 as a young woman of 19, along with her parents and siblings.

Although my grandpa was born in North Wales, and my grandma in South Wales, they met on the prairies and eventually wound up here on the West Coast.

My mom’s family are German and moved to Texas, USA in 1910 to escape political and religious turmoil in the land of Russia. They got out just before the Russian Revolution and the First World War erupted close to their farm. Due to their farming expertise, they were able to save up money and purchase acreage in Amity, Oregon.

Through a series of events, my parents met and wound up in the city of Vancouver, far removed from their farm roots. It’s fascinating how the dots connect and if you know how to research you can connect them even further back and discover clues as to how and why your ancestors chose Canada or the USA to move to.

The word genealogy means “a record or account of the ancestry and descent of a person, family, group; the study of ancestries and histories; and the descent from an original form or progenitor; lineage; ancestry.” Everyone’s genealogy will of course be different and unique, which is why genealogy is now so popular, especially with the TV show series Who Do You Think You Are in Britain and the USA.

Thanks in large part to digitized documentation being uploaded to the internet by various organizations, a search into the past is now convenient and fairly easy, although when I began my journey of genealogy research I never knew how addictive it would become! If you have patience and your family information is intact, you will be rewarded as you search.

The first thing to be done is to fill in a family tree. Begin with yourself and your birth date and place of birth. Add your parent’s names and their birth dates and place of birth. If your parents are living, ask them for the names of their parents and dates/places of birth. Hopefully you will have this much to begin with.

I keep my paper copies in binders, inserted into clear plastic sheets. I found some lovely binders at Daiso Dollar Store in Aberdeen Mall in Richmond, which already have the clear sheets inside. They are a reasonable cost of $2 each and have 40 pages. Also keep a copy of everything on your computer and remember to do weekly backups.

A home photocopier/scanner unit is a marvellous asset in your family tree hobby. A clear concise way of keeping track of the information you will be adding is a definite must in genealogy research. You need to make files and update them regularly. Each person has their own system.

There is no right or wrong way to do this. Part of the hobby of genealogy is gathering information which is turned into charts but the fun part is the stories that come to light!

Here is a chart so you can begin as soon as possible. The best goal in your family tree research is not to put off to tomorrow what can be done today! And who knows, maybe you have someone famous or well known in the branches of that tree.

In the next installment, popular genealogy websites will be discussed, as well as a local British Columbia genealogical society who host free monthly meetings at the Vancouver library central branch.

Loretta Houben is deeply involved in researching the mysteries in her paternal family tree and has been quite successful in 2013.

First published in the September 2013 issue of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.

 


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Collingwood’s Family Place celebrates 30 years

Family Place CNH

Julie Cheng, the editor of the RCC News, fondly recalls the times she spent at Family Place with her kids, about 20 years ago now. “Family Place was a lifesaver for me. It was priceless to meet other new parents, talk to adults and see my kids have fun with lots of new stimulating activities. I looked forward to Family Place every week.” Photos courtesy of Collingwood Neighbourhood House

BY PAUL REID

Congratulations to this wonderful program that has been providing a warm and nurturing place for local families for the past 30 years. Open to parents and caregivers of children (newborn to six years old) Family Place at Collingwood Neighbourhood House has been the place to meet others while enjoying a cup of coffee and conversation. There are arts and crafts for the children plus story time, circle time, and many fun toys to play with.

Satinder Singh

Satinder Singh has been with CNH’s Family Place since its very beginning in 1990.

One cannot talk about Family Place and not first learn more about Satinder Singh, CNH’s family services coordinator. She has been with the program since its very beginning in 1990. Satinder loves to work with both children and their parents at Family Place. “I still have the same passion as when I first started just from seeing the excitement each day in the children’s faces.”

“Collingwood Neighbourhood House is a very special place. It is very holistic. You get to see the amazing cycle of life.” She has seen the young kids grow up and become active members of the community. “Children who I remember at five years old now volunteer as adults! And after all these years, she keep in touch with a great number of these families.”

Satinder came to Canada in 1990, from Manama City, Bahrain (close to Saudi Arabia), where she had lived for 10 years. She is from India, growing up in the city of Lucknow in the north. Satinder still returns to Lucknow frequently to visit her family there.

The city is known for its fine schools and universities. “They have famous and successful alumni all over the world.” Satinder grew up here in a school that was straight out of Harry Potter. “I remember my uniform with the knee-length socks. We were learning British English. If we spoke in anything other than English, we would get fined.”

After meeting her husband, who was an engineer working for the merchant navy, a job that enabled him to move around, Satinder and he moved to the beautiful city of Manama in Bahrain. Satinder had it very well there. She was a “woman of leisure” with nannies and housemaids.

After 10 years in Bahrain, her husband thought that it would be a good idea to move to Vancouver. This proved to be a very lucky move since the Gulf War of the 1990s was about to explode all around Bahrain.

Satinder wasn’t exactly thrilled in the beginning. Life was suddenly a bit of a struggle as her husband’s job, though eventually hugely successful, in the beginning had him earning less.

This was a massive change for Satinder; in addition to what must have been a huge culture shock, just from the highly different environment on its own, this woman of leisure now also found herself needing to find a job!

It was then, during the summer of 1990, that Satinder walked into Collingwood Neighbourhood House. At this time, it was just the little storefront on Kingsway. A woman named Laurie Winters asked Satinder if she would care to volunteer. Sure, she said.

By fall 1990, Satinder was sent to a training program and began working with the Nobody’s Perfect program and Family Place.

In the early years, these programs ran once or twice per week out of the basement of the old two room schoolhouse at Carleton Elementary (the one that would later catch fire and be taken over by Green Thumb Theatre). It was during this time that Satinder worked at CNH in the day and her early childhood education certificate at night.

It would be five years down in the basement before Family Place would move into its current cozy room at CNH, complete with couches and fireplace in CNH’s new home on Joyce street.

All this time, she has been growing with CNH and the Family Place program. She recognizes and is thankful for the help of dedicated volunteers, staff and the families that take part. “It’s a communal effort.” In 30 years, Satinder has had only three assistants – something she attributes to their outstanding dedication.

In the beginning, Satinder was mentored by CNH director Oscar Allueva. “Together we developed the program and he taught me many things,” says Satinder. “I have also been working all these years with Sharon Gregson, CNH director of the early years. She has always inspired me. Paula Carr was another huge inspiration, taking us from the small storefront to our current location.”

This is Satinder’s second home in which, through her own experiences as an immigrant, she was able to create a loving, welcoming environment for people looking for help.

“When I came to Canada, I remember feeling lonely for quite awhile, not knowing anyone. It took years to find friends that I could relate to. So I know those feelings of loneliness and isolation for those who are new here.” A large percentage of the Family Place participants have come to Canada as new immigrants.

Satinder is thankful that she can be one of the few who truly loves their work. “I don’t think I ever want to retire. I want to work here up to the time I die.”

And although things started out rough for her in Vancouver, Satinder has long since felt that she is fulfilling her destiny here in Collingwood and Family Place. “I went full circle – from a life of exclusion, to one of inclusion.”

The program runs four days per week, from 10 am to 12 noon, Monday to Friday (excluding Thursday). It is open to everyone. There is no wait list.

“Everyone is welcome to join. It’s a great place to start and make new friends in a warm and nurturing environment. The children learn social skills in addition to music and dance. The parents learn too and everyone has fun participating. People bring their relatives, people get to know each other. It’s real community development.”

Let us end by congratulating Satinder and Family Place for recently winning an award of excellence. Well done and happy 30th anniversary!

Copyright 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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Cambodia

Cambodia Robert Edwards

Photos courtesy of Robert F. Edwards

BY ROBERT F. EDWARDS

My dear friends and readers, I would like to share with you my visit once again to Cambodia. This time I was not travelling alone as a single backpacker, but was with a group of well-established charity organizations. One charity was the Developing World Connections, and the other a worldwide organization known as World Vision.

To commemorate the 20-year anniversary of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News, we’re revisiting past stories that have particularly inspired us.
Among our ongoing contributors over the years has been the very personable Robert F. Edwards, who wrote engaging stories, offered his opinions and educated readers on various topics. The personal accounts of his travels around the world through his charity work has been inspiring. This particular story from July 2013 stood out for me as Robert talked about his experiences working with aid organizations to influence communities and bring personal joy to his own life. ─ Lisa Symons, sales and distribution

During my time spent with Developing World Connections, I had the opportunity and privilege of working alongside tradesmen and farmers in the southern part of Cambodia around Kep. This area, like most of Cambodia, is extremely poor and the farmers have no electricity or toilet facilities, just to mention a few things which they lack. Developing World Connections built not only two latrines but then went on for an irrigation system and completed smaller diversions to irrigate fields for the crops that are desperately needed. One of the most important of these crops is rice. It was a wonderful experience to help these farmers have a better life in the bare essentials that we take for granted.

The second part of my trip was equally, if not more, rewarding for me personally. I was given the opportunity by World Vision to visit four of my sponsored children in Cambodia. Along with this opportunity, I also shared some of the remarkable things that World Vision is doing. One was going to a school and talking to over 300 children about Canada. This general area has over 2,400 sponsored children through World Vision.

My most important part of my visit to Cambodia was to visit my wonderful sponsored children and their siblings as well as the mothers. My first child was from a district that the mother and daughter had to travel on one bicycle over eight kilometres with the temperature exceeding 34°C. I had a wonderful time (through an interpreter) sharing these precious moments with this wonderful girl and her mother. It made all of us realize and especially me this precious young girl was not just a face on a photograph.

Cambodia 2 Robert EdwardsIn the following days, thanks again to World Vision’s help, I visited my other three sponsored children who are much younger. The mothers and the siblings of these three children accompanied them on a long journey from one of the outposts in the district that World Vision was operating.

After sharing a considerable time with some things that I’d brought from Canada, the three children along with their mothers and siblings and World Vision personnel with myself all went to a Chinese smorgasbord. It was here when we sat down and started to enjoy the food that one of the World Vision’s personnel said to me, “you have a large family.”

We all had a good laugh for I lost count of how many children along with the three mothers were gathered around me. Walking up to the buffet, the little girl grabbed my hand and the little boy took my other hand and led the way. I truly felt not as a sponsor but as a grandfather enjoying my grandchildren.

The reason I’ve written this is not only to share sponsorships but relationships. Though these children and their parents were unable to communicate on a common language, we shared the most important thing that people can share in their lives together: happiness and love from all that were present.

Robert F. Edwards is a local resident who sometimes writes for the RCC News as The Other Guy’s Opinion.

Copyright (c) 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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Family tree tips for creating a memory box

Loretta Houben created this memory box as a tribute to her grandma Helen.

Loretta Houben created this memory box as a tribute to her grandma Helen.

BY LORETTA HOUBEN

A fun way to keep your family history alive is to create a memory box. Many sizes of boxes are available and can be purchased from Michael’s craft stores, Dollarama or Winner’s Homesense. They range in price from $3 to $25.

The focal point of the box could be a favourite photo or a personal keepsake. In my case I chose the earliest photo available of my maternal grandma, Helen Brutke. She was a talented seamstress so I lined the back of the box with fabric similar to the era in which she did most of her sewing.

I glued the fabric to the back of the box and added lace, which I had purchased years ago at my grandma’s favourite fabric store in Salem, Oregon. I included vintage buttons and a scrap of antique lace from her button box.

I played around with where to place the framed photo and the other items, and had fun while doing so! Whenever I look at this special memory box, I wish I had been able to know Grandma Helen, but she died when I was 10 days old. In this way I can’t forget her, thankful that I inherited her love of sewing.

A memory box also makes a wonderful gift for a loved one. (Remember Mother’s Day is on May 11th!) For my dad’s 80th birthday I bought a large box and included photos from all decades of his life, embellished the photos with scrap book images from the dollar store, and used coloured lettering from Michael’s craft store. It was fun to choose the pictures that represented his long life.

This year I’m working on a very special project to celebrate the upcoming First World War centenary. My great uncle, William Williams, who I wrote about in the April 2014 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News Family Tree Tips article, died after being wounded in battle in Salonika, Greece in 1917.

I plan to use a larger memory box and include a photo, a copy of his war medal card, photo copies of Salonika, a photocopy of the newspaper clipping describing his bravery in battle, and possibly his original war medal which was sent to his family after his death. (If I can coerce it from my dad’s possession.)

Visual mementos are a lovely way to keep the memory of our relatives alive, especially if they lived long ago or are ones you never met. Younger generations will appreciate the care and thought which went into making them, and one day they will be precious family heirlooms.

Next month’s installment will focus on searching old journals or diaries, notebooks and even receipts for family clues.

Loretta Houben is a member of the British Columbia Genealogy Society and enjoys finding ways to keep her family history alive and well. Please check the society’s website at www.bcgs.ca for free meet-ups once a month. First published in the May 2014 issue of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.

Copyright (c) 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News