Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver


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4 gardening tips for fall

Hydrangea

Do not be afraid to cut hydrangeas back quite drastically once they finish flowering. Photos by Julie Cheng

BY SOREN ELSAY

The days of tank tops and bare feet in the back yard have come to an end. However, as experienced gardeners know, garden work is a year-round process. While the spring and summer are where the excitement happens, what you do during the fall and winter plays just as crucial a role in your garden’s fortunes.

The conditions may be less than ideal for being outside, but make sure you find time to properly put your garden into hibernation mode by following these tips.

1. Plant bulbs

The best way to make sure springtime starts off with a bang is to plant bulbs in the fall. Aim for planting them from the middle of October until the end of November to see them emerge in full bloom in the spring. Make sure they are planted four to eight inches below the surface and most types, such as the ever-popular daffodils, should be planted in groups of five or more per hole.

Unfortunately, bulbs are a favourite treat of the local wildlife. Try deterring them by coating your bulbs in baby powder just before they get put in the ground.

Keep your bulbs dry at all costs while storing them. Wet bulbs tend to go bad very quickly. If a bulb is black or mushy, don’t put it in the ground and expect it to grow.

2. Cut down perennials

Perennials, as opposed to the one-season-and-done “annuals,” are plants that return every year. But that does not mean you let them wither and die though the winter. Cut down them down to the ground once they turn brown or begin to look unpleasant. They will be back.

Cut down perennials like peonies right to the ground once they turn brown.

3. Prune hydrangeas (if you have them)

Although brilliant when they flower throughout the summer, hydrangea bushes tend to get overgrown and hard to manage very quickly. To keep them under control, do not be afraid to cut them back quite drastically once they finish flowering. It’s not unheard of to prune it down to two-thirds or even one-half of its initial size. Always make your cut just above a fresh bud or at “crotch” (where a branch meets another branch).

4. Leave the leaves

Understandably most people like the tidy look of not having brown leaves scattered across their lawn; however, I would advise leaving or even putting a layer of leaves on top of your garden beds once the plants are done for the season. The leaves will provide both insulation against the cold for the bulbs still in the ground as well as an influx of nutrients as the leaves decompose over time.

Soren Elsay has worked as a professional landscaper. He is an aspiring writer with a bachelor of arts from the University of British Columbia.

Copyright 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Eating Out in RC: Zorro’s Pizza and Spaghetti House

Zorros-reopens

The man now behind Zorro’s, taking over the legacy, Wayne Bergquist. Photos by Paul Reid

4453 Boundary Road, Vancouver
Free delivery (after 4 pm)
Phone: 604-438-6446
Now accepts debit as well as cash

BY PAUL REID

Greetings food fans. I was very excited to review this next gem in that jewel-encrusted crown of RC eateries, Zorro’s Pizza and Spaghetti House. Yes! Zorro’s is back! Many of you already know, since it happened back in February – Zorro’s reopened!

Many were stunned and saddened by the passing of Tony Siliverdis, the man behind Zorro’s. The pizza became legendary. As RC’s Eating Out restaurant review guy, I was saddened to find myself having never tried it. The more I heard about how great it was, the more I regretted having never had the experience.

Alas! Wayne Bergquist and his mom, Cynthia Ostonal, have come to the rescue, apparently just in time. “When we contacted the Siliverdis family, we found that they had pretty much given up looking for someone to take over the business and were getting ready to sell everything at an auction.”

Thank goodness for Wayne and Cynthia. Short of building a time machine, there was no way for me to ever try a legendary slice of that Zorro’s pie.

The Jerry's Special lives up to all the hype.

The Jerry’s Special lives up to all the hype.

It’s the exact same menu. I had to have the legendary Jerry’s Special (named after Tony’s son). Bacon, salami, pepperoni, onion, mushrooms, olives, green peppers, pineapple, fresh tomatoes and lean beef.

I was not disappointed. My Jerry’s actually lived up to all that hype. It was old school: thick and delicious and I will definitely be back to try more. Now, as admitted, I never had a true one of Tony’s creations, so I cannot compare, but I can honestly say that I was very impressed. A deal at $22. Yes, this baby is so thick, one slice is pretty much a meal for some. I had about four of the eight because it was just so good and I was stuffed!

Wayne is using the exact same recipes for the dough. I found the crust to be like a freshly baked pastry – chewy, delicious and thick – but not too heavy. Even the thick crust at the end, which you often might leave behind, was good to the last bite.

Well done guys! Mikeal Hunt, Zorro’s new pizza chef, should be proud.

Zorros-chef

Zorro’s pizza chef Mikeal Hunt should be proud.

Wayne has been enjoying Zorro’s pizza since he was about 16 years old. He’s about 40 now, so that’s a lot of Zorro’s. Wayne knows how it should taste. “We’re making it the same, but we’re making it better,” he says. “Maybe a little less ‘wet.’ We’re also going to be adding some new pizza to the menu. We now have a Double Cheeseburger pizza and Sweet BBQ pizza.”

And what does Billy Hopeless of the Black Halos – (un)official ambassador of Zorro’s pizza, say? “My picture is up on the wall with Tony’s—that’s gotta say something. I only hope they can keep it as faithful as they have to the legacy they are carrying on as there has never been a better pizza than Zorro’s. If I wasn’t so busy planning my next attack with the reunited Black Halos and living in Gastown so far away from my old hood, I’d probably have jumped in to keep the old oven cooking.”

Well friends, what are you waiting for? Get on the phone and get yourself one of the best deep dish pizzas. Bon appetit.

Comments from the RCC News website regarding Tony Siliverdis

Mr. Dunlop

Rest in peace, my friend, you will always be remembered as a great man with a beautiful family; hardworking and best pizza in Vancouver for sure. You delivered pizza to my family for 30 years. We will miss talking to you about anything and everything; going to miss you; love you.

J. Mihaichuk

My family home was up the street in the 70s to the late 90s. I was at Zorros Pizza way too much. I loved the family and of course the pizza was amazing. Still after all this time I remember the great man Tony was, always a smile, sometimes a glare, but always a person all of us could trust. He will be missed. I only wish I could have brought my kids to Zorro’s to meet the man, the Legend.

Len

I recently went to Zorro’s for pizza as I live out of town. I’m sorry for your loss as your father was a wonderfully kind human being. I worked shift throughout the early 1990s and would drop by for food to take to work and chat with your mom and dad. They were very kind people. I was pleased to be able to introduce my 8-year-old son to your father about a year ago and chatted like the old days. My son liked your father and your dad gave him a free can of pop. Your father was old school and will be sorrowfully missed. My son told everyone your father’s pizza was the best he ever tasted.

Read more about Tony Siliverdis of Zorro’s

Copyright 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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Three cheers for community volunteer Carla Nissen

Carla-Nissen

Carla Nissen is someone who just loves to give back to her community. She recently helped the RCC News to scan years of old issues, soon to be available on our website. Photo by Paul Reid

BY PAUL REID

Our community is so lucky to have its volunteers. Our spotlight falls this time on Carla Nissen, who recently came to the rescue of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.

As you know, we are celebrating our 20th year this year, and a couple of months ago we had a small celebration to mark the occasion. One of the things that happened at that time was that an old stack of hardcopies of the RCC News was brought back to light, having been hiding in a storage locker for nearly a decade.

The old issues really became a hit — people were leafing through them, reminiscing about the stories going back over 20 years. (Our 20 years did not include the precursor “newsletters,” but those were there, too.)

And now, thanks in full to the generosity and hard work of our wonderful volunteer, Carla Nissen, all of those old issues have been scanned, rotated, edited and transported into a digital format to be enjoyed by all for years to come.

Until now, these hardcopies, for the most part, were the only surviving copies of each issue. Soon these digital copies will be uploaded to our website to join the more recent issues.

You may recognize Carla. She has been a friendly face at our local Safeway for the past 17 years. She has also lived in our community for the past 11 years. She has always been interested in giving back.

Carla first began volunteering when she lived in Coquitlam, with the Greater Coquitlam Crisis and Information Line. Following two weeks of intensive training and armed with a big binder full of info, Carla began taking calls. Over three years, she heard a lot.

“It was an amazing feeling, to be there for people in their most vulnerable time, when they had nowhere else to turn.”

Usually, the calls resulted in Carla pointing people in the right direction. “We were not there to try and solve peoples’ problems ourselves.”

Carla liked this work so much, she eventually became a group leader, training others to do this work.

“Working with the other volunteers also made it special. We were all treated very well; we were appreciated, and it was all very touching. We could feel the benefits that we were making in others lives.”

Back in Collingwood, Carla has been volunteering for Collingwood Neighbourhood House for about a year. She started off working at the front desk, but feels she really found her niche in the administration office: making phone calls, stuffing envelopes, and most recently, scanning of the RCC News.

“It took roughly 12 hours to scan and edit everything.”

As volunteers often do, Carla learned some new skills. In this case, she learned to use CNH’s office scanner; also Adobe Acrobat. “I also used Google to answer some questions, such as how to rotate pages in Acrobat.

“It was exciting for me to go through the old issues. I saw pictures of friends, stories about my workplace (Safeway). I sent some stories over to friends, via my phone. They were delighted to see them. I sent one to a co-worker who had been mentioned in the old Rants and Raves column.
She couldn’t believe it.

“When I saw the posting for archiving, I was so excited. I had been reading the paper for years and years and I thought, what better way to help my community than to make this available. Overall, it was an interesting and fulfilling experience.”

On behalf of the RCC News and the RC community: Thank you Carla Nissen.

Copyright 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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Ancient cedar’s journey home

Blessing of the ancient cedar photo

Blessing of the ancient cedar. Photo by Andrea Berneckas

BY ANDREA BERNECKAS

On June 25, 2018, community members gathered in front of Collingwood Neighbourhood House to share in the blessing of the cedar log. The event was honoured by the presence of Councillor Morgan Guerin of the Musqueam band as well a performance by Tsatsu Stalqayu (Coastal Wolf Pack).

Elder Jewel Thomas offered a blessing on behalf of the community and Jennifer Gray-Grant, executive director of Collingwood Neighbourhood House, explained the importance of this project to the community.

After the blessing and acknowledgements, participants were invited to join participants of the Families Branching Out program as they celebrated with a wonderful salmon dinner.

Lead carver Gerry Sheena has had a long creative partnership with the Renfrew-Collingwood neighbourhood. His work can be found at the 29th Avenue SkyTrain station (Guardian of the Park), CNH (Multicultural Gateway) and Synala Co-op, to name a few projects.

Gerry is joined by apprentices Yvette Muskego, Roxanne Charles and Veronica Rose Waechter Danes. Local youth will be assisting at the site.

Gerry explained the significance of the animals in the design:

The Eagle perches and watches from the highest point of the carving and represents both home and journey. She is always soaring and finding new places to rest along her way. Eagle is nesting Eaglet in her lap to say that although Eagle travels widely, she is rooted in her home and family.

Bear is the protector, supporting Eagle and Eaglet from below with strength and wisdom. Bear is the guardian of the forests and streams.

Bear holds Salmon out front. The artist holds great respect for Salmon because Salmon feeds everything in the forest. Salmon always returns home to begin the cycle of Life. Salmon appears in all of Gerry’s work.

Carving begins on the cedar log

Carving begins on the cedar log. Photo by Nathaniel Frank Piché

The carving is made of a 600-year-old red cedar tree. This ancient tree’s journey is intricately intertwined with our community’s journey. Red Cedar found its way to us to support the carver and apprentices in their journey to reveal the spirit of this ancient being for all of our community.

Once carved, Red Cedar will find a new home, standing solidly and firmly at the Collingwood Neighbourhood House Annex as a guardian and emblem of all of our journeys. Red Cedar’s presence will prompt us to feel rooted in our places together, here in this beautiful land, to honour all of the stories that led us to this place we call home.

In October community members will be invited to join in a parade and blessing as the pole travels to its new home at the Annex.

Please drop by and check out the carving project. If you would like to schedule a group visit to learn more, contact Andrea at aberneckas@cnh.bc.ca.

Copyright 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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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