Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver


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New trails open up the wonders of Renfrew Ravine

New walkways take residents deep into Renfrew Ravine. Photos by Julie Cheng

BY JULIE CHENG

“Have you come across the coyotes yet?” the walker asked me one morning.

It’s a completely different world down here, deep in Renfrew Ravine. The peace of the forest surrounds you; the sounds of the birds and rushing water soothe you. Then there are the coyotes.

I’d taken the steel stairs and timber steps leading from the Boyd Diversion entranceway near 22nd Avenue, past newly planted native plants and down to a boardwalk that winds its way alongside its creek, Still Creek.

The walkways are part of a park renewal that’s been years in the making. In October 2018, the Vancouver Park Board finally completed the construction of the new trails around Renfrew Community Park and Renfrew Ravine Park.

Renfrew Ravine Park is located between the 29th Avenue SkyTrain station and East 22nd Avenue. It’s the only park in Vancouver with a creek in a natural ravine. It’s never been culverted over, like many other Vancouver creeks, apparently because it was too far east and too steep.

The boardwalk runs along Still Creek.

The boardwalk runs along Still Creek. New trails around Renfrew Community Park and Renfrew Ravine Park were completed in October 2018.

Members of the Still Moon Arts Society, a local arts and environmental organization that co-produces the Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival, have long envisioned a trail system around the ravine and were key in getting these trails done.

Still Moon Arts has also been instrumental in the return of chum salmon to Still Creek. This happened for the first time after 80 years, in 2012. Since then, salmon have been seen spawning behind the Canadian Tire on Grandview Highway in late October or early November.

Access to nature has been linked to enhanced mood and well-being and lowered stress and depression. So it’s wonderful that residents young and old are discovering the wonders found in this urban forest, at the creek’s edge.

Just beware the coyotes.

A cascade of sword ferns above Still Creek.

A cascade of sword ferns above Still Creek.

How neighbours can help the salmon and the ecosystem in Renfrew-Ravine

  • Do not use harmful chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides. These run into the storm drainage system and may end up in Still Creek.
  • Dispose of garbage, chemicals, paints and other liquids properly. Do not dump chemicals down the storm drain.
  • Wash your car without soap or with phosphate-free soap.
  • Join the Still Creek Streamkeepers to monitor the health of Still Creek and run activities that help improve water quality and ecosystems. You can also take part in monthly meetings. Find more info at stillmoon.org/learn/streamkeepers/

Renfrew Ravine improvements

  • Staircases with better access to trails
  • Accessible walkway into the trail system from the parking lot on Renfrew Street
  • Bridges across Still Creek
  • Dog off-leash park near Renfrew and 22nd Avenue
  • Fencing and benches

─Source: City of Vancouver

Copyright 2019 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Family Tree Tips: Using Ancestry Library Edition at the Vancouver Public Library

BY LORETTA HOUBEN

The avid family tree researcher knows about ancestry.com or ancestry.ca. This is a powerful database with billions of genealogy documents stored online, accessible through an expensive membership unless purchased on sale. But are you aware that the ancestry site can be researched at your local library?

I attended a class to learn how to do this at the Collingwood Library in December 2018. Deanna from the Central Branch taught the hour and a half session. There were nine spots available, but only three people showed up that evening. We each were provided with a laptop to work with, and this made it easy to follow along as Deanna projected what she was doing onto a large screen.

Anyone with a library card can sign in to the computers available at the library. The Central Branch in downtown Vancouver has several computers with blue tags on top that can directly log into the Ancestry Library edition.

First you sign into Firefox, then add your library number and pin. Click the accept button, and then click on Digital Library, then choose Online Resources. Enter Ancestry Library Edition, then click on Find, then Access Now.

You will be able to search the census, vitals, military, immigration and quick links with member trees, birth, marriage and death records. Ancestry Library Edition includes most of the information found in a paid membership site, but the content is not exactly the same and some documentation might require paid membership to access. If you would like to know what databases are not included, the Central Branch has a printout for this, and other helpful printouts on tips for searching the Library Edition.

Deanna helped us navigate through some of the search pages by using the name John Smith. The class learned how to narrow down the different fields. For example, we explored the 1921 census for Canada. A map was shown under the search button, and we could click on it and narrow the search to a specific province.

When you discover a document you’d like to save, you can send the document home by email or add the information to a USB stick. I tried emailing and it was very easy to do.

The tips I learned were that if you do a broad or narrow search on names you will get a better result. Sometimes it’s difficult to find your ancestor’s name on a census, as the census takers often made up the surnames!

Another neat trick I learned was that the hammer and wrench tool on the side of an image means that if you click on it, you can print, download, rotate the image right or left, or flip horizontally!

Part of the database for the Ancestry Library Edition includes the 1851 to 1921 Census of Canada, US Border crossings from the US to Canada from 1908 to 1935, Canada City and Area Directories from 1819 to 1906, Canada Obituary Collection 1898 to 2015, Canada Ocean Arrivals 1919 to 1924 and Canadian Passenger Lists 1865 to 1935. To see the full list, pick up a printout at the Central Branch. The United Kingdom, England and Wales, Northern Ireland, Europe and the USA are also included.

To find out when the next Ancestry Library Edition class will be offered, search events on Vancouver Public Library online. The next one is Tuesday, January 15, 2019, at 6:30 pm until 8 pm.

I highly recommend taking a class. It will be like opening Pandora’s Box, and you will be surprised and delighted. You may also disappear down a rabbit hole or two for a few hours. Best of all, it’s free!

Loretta Houben is the author of the Family Tree Tips series published in the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.

Copyright 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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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