Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

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Remembering Chris Taulu

Renfrew-Collingwood loses a force of nature


In May 2019, Chris Taulu was recognized for her contributions to the betterment of Renfrew-Collingwood. She received the first-ever Community Excellence Award at the Collingwood Days festival, supported by her colleagues at the Collingwood Community Policing Centre, friends and community members. Chris is pictured here with Jennifer Gray-Grant, executive director of Collingwood Neighbourhood House. Photo by Mark Evans

Local resident Chris Taulu was the first executive director of the Collingwood Community Policing Centre (CCPC) and retired in her early 80s. She passed away on January 15, 2023.

CCPC’s current executive director, Partap Sahota, called her a community advocate, mentor and friend.

Partap Sahota remembers

Through the years, Chris was a staunch advocate for the community she served. It is the reason why Vancouver as we know it has flourished because of the work she started.

She was a strong leader of what was then a non-profit organization called the Community Crime Prevention Office, which later became the Collingwood Community Policing Centre in April 1994. Chris opened the door for other community policing centres to start up in other communities.

Her skills to draw people together and get the job done made things possible for other organizations to start and grow to what they are today.

Her ability to work with organizations, for example, the City of Vancouver, Vancouver Police Department, transit police, and municipal, provincial and federal governments, set the tone that the real goal was for everyone to have a better quality of life.

She was a mentor and a strict and fair teacher. She wanted people to succeed. Through the years, so many people moved forward and benefitted in interacting with Chris. Her joy was to see the community she loved grow to a safe place to live in. She accomplished that goal.

People respected her. What you see is what you got. She would drive her point until you got it, whether you agreed or not. She was a fighter to the end.

Let us remember a person who possessed a strong will, passionate beliefs and a caring spirit. Chris, you have left a mark on people you touched in your lifetime. Your legacy is solid; your torch will shine brightly as a rallying point in the city that you loved. We will miss you, dear friend. 

Jennifer Gray-Grant, executive director of Collingwood Neighbourhood House called her a “force of nature who tackled issues with unbelievable vigor.”

Jennifer Gray-Grant remembers

Chris made a huge difference for Collingwood Neighbourhood House (CNH) and for Renfrew-Collingwood.

She became active in response to the proposed SkyTrain route in the 1980s. CNH was just forming at the time. Chris, as a local resident, was a driving force behind forming and running the Joyce Station Area Planning Association, comprised of residents concerned about the development. Joyce Station Area Planning Association and CNH joined forces to ensure that the SkyTrain project, and the related development, helped rather than hindered the neighbourhood.

The negotiations around the development of Collingwood Village resulted in the first community policing centre in Canada, as well as the CNH Joyce facility, among other amenities such as Evergreen Community Health Centre, local parks and Collingwood Community School.

Chris remained active in the neighbourhood. When the possibility of new amenity space arose in 2010, with the redevelopment of the block bordered by Boundary, Vanness, Ormidale and the Kingsway laneway, Chris was keen to work with CNH to get the amenity for the neighbourhood. I was a brand-new executive director then, and Chris was a mentor.

Chris was always laser-focused on working collaboratively on figuring out what the neighbourhood wanted and then fighting for it. She supported the vision of CNH operating the new amenity space as the Annex. I fondly recall the city council meeting on the development. When Chris went to the podium, every single councillor and the mayor put down their electronic devices and focused on what Chris had to say. That’s the night city council voted to support the one-block development, including the Annex.

Chris, what a difference you made a what a legacy you created.

Celebration of life for Chris Taulu

A celebration for life for Chris Taulu will take place at the Collingwood Neighbourhood House Annex (3690 Vanness Avenue and Boundary) on Saturday, March 25, 2023, at 1 pm in the main multi-service room. Please email for information.

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Local model train shop Central Hobbies for sale as owner retires

Go-to destination for train enthusiasts from all over B.C. and beyond


Kathy and Hal at Central Hobbies are looking forward to retirement. Photo by Paul Reid
Kathy and Hal at Central Hobbies are looking forward to retirement. Photo by Paul Reid

“Every train has a caboose,” quipped a customer, in reference to Hal’s upcoming retirement.

“Now that’s something I’ll miss,” says Hal to me, ”all the little fun remarks just like that.”

Yes, the caboose is here for Central Hobbies (located at 2825 Grandview Highway and Renfrew). Hal will surely miss his long-time customers, and they, him. For the past 35 years, Hal and his Central Hobbies have been the go-to destination for train enthusiasts from all over British Columbia and beyond.

You see, Central Hobbies is like a mecca for train-heads. Take Calvin, who alerted us to the store’s closing in his online post:

“I managed to find some downtime to make the pilgrimage into Vancouver to visit Central Hobbies, which is slated to close in June 2023.

“Where I live, there isn’t a model train-focused hobby shop, so you can imagine dropping me into the midst of a store the size of Central Hobbies would be much like shooting me into space. I spent over two hours browsing the store … I even had to step outside one time to collect myself – the selection was just THAT wild! I felt like a kid again.”

Every now and then a celebrity
comes to Central Hobbies - Kathy and Rod Stewart. August 2014 Central Hobbies News
Every now and then a celebrity
comes to the store – Kathy and Rod Stewart. August 2014 Central Hobbies News

So I met with Hal and yes, it’s true. “Body says it’s time,” he tells me. So, this spring, Hal and his gang (Kathy and Bill) will be preparing to wrap things up. For Hal, the owner, this means he has put Central Hobbies up for sale. Know anybody? How about that gent talking to Kathy in this photo here? He might have some cash.

Kathy has been with Hal at Central Hobbies for about 25 years. “When she started, she knew nothing. Now, she runs the store.” Hal and Kathy definitely will retire whether the store sells or not. Bill, well, I hear Hal might throw him in with the deal.

The price? That too you can iron out with Hal, but you might be looking at somewhere around a million dollars, as that is about the value of the current stock. The buyer would also receive the excellent reputation and connections that Hal and the gang have been building all these years.

And the return on investment. Fugget about it. I’ll leave that to you and Hal to discuss, but with sales booming more than ever right across North America, it sounds like the new owner will stand to pull in a fairly pretty penny.

Hal had always loved trains – ever since he was a young boy. So, later on in his life, when the opportunity to buy Gary’s Train Centre (on Broadway) presented itself, Hal jumped at the chance. Actually, he was hesitant at first, but with the encouragement of a friend, Hal went all aboard, bought Gary’s, and soon, Central Hobbies was to be born here in Renfrew-Collingwood.

So that’s the latest news from Central Hobbies. Hal, Kathy, Bill – wishing you all the best! To our readers, keep your ear to the track when it comes to a new owner.

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Remembering dad on Remembrance Day


Ian Fergusson’s army photo. Photos courtesy of Bryden Fergusson
Ian Fergusson’s army photo. Photos courtesy of Bryden Fergusson

Remembrance Day often brought mixed feelings in our family. My father had all the trappings of a successful World War II veteran – Normandy veteran who landed on Juno Beach, medals, veteran’s pension, war memorabilia – along with the respect and gratitude from family, friends and the community. We were able to buy our home with the help of a mortgage from the Veterans Land Administration, a federal board created in the 1940s to assist veterans in buying homes.

Growing up, I was the envy of my friends – wow, a dad who fought in the war – displaying and playing with war memorabilia such as bullets and shell casings. When older, I travelled to Europe, visiting Normandy, war museums, cemeteries and areas where he would have fought and eventually be wounded.

My dad would often watch Remembrance Day ceremonies on TV, but he rarely attended ceremonies in person. My mom had to persuade him after many years to get his medals that were stored in Ottawa and apply for his veteran’s pension resulting from his war wounds.

He rarely, if ever, talked about his war experiences. At most, he would describe the funny experiences, like always getting lost even though he was part of a reconnaissance unit whose job was to locate the enemy and report back their location. He only joined the Legion in his later years, even though he enjoyed a good pub.

What people did not see was what we saw at home. Physical signs such as large burn scars, deafness in one ear, an eye that wept, shrapnel embedded and never removed. Emotional scars were less visible: nightmares, excessive drinking and fear of large crowds and loud noises.

Remembrance Day means different things to different people. I often attend Remembrance Day ceremonies and have brought my children so they can better understand the sacrifice that veterans like my father experienced.

My father was part of a large silent group that found the memories too painful to attend ceremonies or participate in the benefits and gratitude of being a veteran.

D-Day letter sent to troops before their departure for Normandy in 1944.
D-Day letter sent to troops before their departure for Normandy in 1944.

Bryden Fergusson is a longtime resident of Renfrew-Collingwood.

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