Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver


Leave a comment

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

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Family tree tips for using the 1921 Canadian Census

At Ancestry.ca, once your ancestor’s name is entered, providing it’s in the 1921 census database, it will show up highlighted. Image courtesy of Loretta Houben

BY LORETTA HOUBEN

The Canadian census is a wonderful tool for genealogists, and the recent 2013 release of the 1921 census is a marvellous resource for those of us tracing our Canadian ancestors from 92 years ago.

Canada has a 92-year privacy law, unlike England’s law of 100 years or the USA’s law of only 72 years. I’m not sure as to the how and why of these laws, but I was delighted to begin searching the 1921 census online the day it became available in August 2013.

Since that time, the census has been fully indexed on Ancestry.ca. This means that you don’t need to know where your ancestor lived, but you can simply enter the name and if they were living in Canada at that time, you will find them.

The 1920s were a decade of great change. The settling of the West took place, along with Prohibition and women’s rights. On June 1, 1921, enumerators were sent to every part of Canada, and the questions asked on the census form were dated from the first, meaning that anyone born after that date is not included in the census, and anyone passing away after the first is still on the census.

There are 8.8 million records in this database. A new technology is used for the first time at Ancestry.ca for this census. Once your ancestor’s name is entered, providing it’s in the database, it will show up highlighted. (Please see example shown.)

The first national Canadian census was taken in 1871. At first it was taken every 10 years, but after 1956 it was taken every five years. From 1911 to 1921 there was a 22 percent increase in the population of Canada. Thirty-five questions were asked on the 1921 census.

If you go to Ancestry.ca and click on “card catalogue” and then “search” you will find a list of options. Choose “1921 Census of Canada” and fill in the form. This is completely free but you need to create an account by using an email address.

I was thrilled when I entered my paternal grandfather’s name and discovered that, as of June 1, 1921, he was married to Ellen and had one son named Edward H. No one in my family knew her real name as she died in 1926; we only knew her by the nickname of Nellie. This was my first real clue and confirmation as to her name. Also, Edward was called Harry, probably his middle name, and he died in 1925, so this is the one and only time he and his mother appear on a census.

The 1921 census covers a lot of material. In the first section, the dwelling number, number of family members, names of each person, parish, section, township, range and meridian of farms for addresses in the country.

The next section asked a series of questions about the house itself; was the house rented or owned? How much per month if rented? What is the class of house? What are the materials of construction? Even the number of rooms is included.

A personal description including relationship to the head of the household, sex, marital status, age at last birthday, nativity (where born; give province or name of country) and citizenship, which included year of immigration, year of naturalization and nationality, were all asked. Racial or tribal origin, language; English or French, language other than English, religious body, denomination with abbreviations such as Meth: Methodist; RC: Roman Catholic; CH of E: Church of England; Pres: Presbyterian; Bapt: Baptist.

Other questions, which were all tallied in columns on a large page, included education; can he read, write, how many months has he been in school since September 1920. Profession, occupation or employment, with specific questions on status of employment. Even income and unemployment earnings for the past 12 months are listed and whether the person was employed on census day.

As you can see, that is a wealth of information! For 92 years it was kept secret, and now we can all access it, thanks to Library and Archives Canada, which has released it to Ancestry.ca for free. If you are really interested, you can go to YouTube and view a discussion on the above by Ancestry.ca—this is what I used to understand the 1921 census more fully.

It’s all there at your fingertips, and I encourage you to try it to trace your family roots. You will be pleasantly surprised at what you discover!

The next installment in family tree tips will focus on Vancouver City Directories and Cross Directories for hunting down clues to where your family lived.

Loretta Houben has enjoyed writing these family tree articles and would love to know if any of you have had success with your own family tree these past few months. This article was first published in the February 2014 issue of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.

Copyright 2019 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


Leave a comment

Family tree tips for the new year: Storing and saving your family photos

NewYears1970-low

New Year’s Day, 1970: Loretta Houben (in the middle) with her two sisters and her dad.

BY LORETTA HOUBEN

Hopefully you had time during the busy Christmas season to look over a few of those old family photos you’ve stashed away in the closet. Maybe you shared your newfound passion with the older generation, and verified a name or two.

Older people love to reminisce about the past, which isn’t really that long ago. I urge you to do this while you have your grandparents and great aunts and great uncles around. I had an aunt who told me to do this with my Grandma way back in the 1990s. Fortunately my Grandma hand wrote on all her photos, but what if she hadn’t?

One of the best ways to preserve your valuable family photos is to scan each one into your computer. Scanners are now a great price, with many options available at your local Staples, Best Buy, London Drugs or any similar store. There are good ones available for under $100, and well worth the investment.

Once the scanner is hooked up to your computer, simply read the instructions and begin to scan and save each photo in the best resolution possible. If you scan at low resolution, your photo will be too small, and if you wish to view it later for details, alas, you won’t be able to.

I found this out the hard way when I scanned in a family photo (please see my article from December 2013) at a very low resolution, and now am unable to determine a specific clue due to the fuzziness of the image. Scanning takes time and commitment but is truly well worth it for yourself and future generations.

You will need to store the photos in files on your computer, so take time to label the folders using a system that makes sense to you, so you’re able to locate the photos at a later date. There are many ways to do this, as each computer program is different.

The fun part comes after the photos are saved. You can then share with other family members around the world, providing they have a computer too.

One of my favourite ways to do this is to upload my photos to Facebook. I make sure only family members are able to see them. I’ve created a family group on Facebook, and invited family members only. So far no one else has shared any photos, but I’m hopeful the idea will catch on!

There are also blogs. I use Blogger to upload my photos for free, new and old. Since I began in 2009, I’ve had a few relatives which I had lost track of contact me and reconnect, so this is very exciting indeed.

Family genealogy is currently one of the most popular hobbies, and people use the internet as a tool to search for family members. My mother’s maiden name is very unusual (Brutke) so when that name is entered into the search engines, my posts with old photos pop up immediately! I make sure to leave my email address on my blog so relatives can contact me.

Another fantastic site to post and keep your photos for free is Flickr.com. You can store hundreds of photos for no cost, so if something should happen to your computer, your mind can be at rest. Of course, the best option of all, once you’ve scanned in your precious photos, is to have two back-up devices: one that you keep, and one that you store off site, maybe at your in-law’s or parent’s home, or at work. These devices are now reasonably priced and small enough to carry easily.

Of course, after the scanning is complete, you should save and store your actual paper photos safely, too. I store mine in the sturdy cardboard boxes sold at Michael’s craft store. They have cardboard dividers that you can label and insert between photos so that you can section them in year order. One box can hold many photos, and it’s a convenient size and can stack well in a closet. They are often on sale for $2.50 each.

If you work on this project one night per week, in no time you will be finished, and you’ll experience a feeling of great accomplishment! Then you can return to searching for more names to add to that family tree.

The next installment will feature aspects of the 1921 Canadian census (a great genealogy tool), which was newly released to the public in the summer of 2013.

Loretta Houben looks forward to a new year getting deeper into genealogy research, and wishes all of you following these monthly series on family tree tips all the best for a successful year. First published in the January 2014 issue of the RCC News.

Copyright 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


Leave a comment

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


Leave a comment

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


Leave a comment

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

 


Leave a comment

Annual Moon Festival lights up Renfrew-Collingwood

MOON FESTIVAL POSTER 2018

16th Annual Renfrew Ravine Harvest Moon Festival, Saturday, September 22, 2018

BY JUNE LAM

The annual Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival is back for the 16th year on Saturday, September 22, 2018!

A free event packed full of family fun, live music and art, the Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival has something for everyone. Each year, the festival attracts upwards of 5,000 participants from local East Vancouver neighbourhoods to enjoy displays of colour, light and music that pay homage to one of the last vestiges of urban forest in the city.

Co-produced by Still Moon Arts Society and the Renfrew Park Community Association, the festival celebrates the harvest abundance and the full moon.

The festival spans the afternoon and evening, going from a harvest celebration during the day to a lantern festival at night. As dusk gathers, a procession will form along the banks of the ravine, featuring lighted lanterns beautifully hand crafted by local artists, community members and students.

MOON FESTIVAL SCHEDULE

Harvest Fair: 4–7 pm
Slocan Park

The Moon Festival kicks off with the Harvest Fair, a home-grown harvest competition featuring entries by local gardeners of some of Renfrew-Collingwood’s best fruits, vegetables and flowers. Enter for a chance to win some awesome prizes! Alongside the presentations will be live music and food. You can also explore the booths of local organizations, artisans and non-profit groups from the community.

Twilight Lantern Walk: 7–7:30 pm
Slocan Park to Renfrew Park

The Twilight Lantern Walk is a sunset parade from Slocan Park to Renfrew Park. Festival-goers will light their own lanterns and walk the trails along the ravine, serenaded by live music as darkness falls. Passing by the river-stone labyrinth, you will be invited to join in a walking meditation surrounded by music and light. The parade will pass by art installations and maybe even surprise performances until it reaches Renfrew Park.

Lantern Festival: 7:30–8:45 pm
Renfrew Park

At nightfall, time slows down as you take in the beauty of candlelight, exquisite lanterns, ethereal music and the shimmering stream. Just outside of the stream, you will find musicians playing at the main stage, a Tea Garden full of delicious treats for you to enjoy and a final spectacle featuring dancing, stilting, fire spinning and fireworks.

PRE-FESTIVAL LANTERN WORKSHOPS

Take part in public lantern-making workshops prior to the festival. For a small fee, you can come out to the Collingwood Neighbourhood House Annex (on Vanness Avenue between Boundary and Ormidale) or Slocan Park Fieldhouse (at Slocan and East 29th Avenue) to make a lantern to bring along to the twilight walk!

Sept. 10, 11: Salmon Lanterns (47 pm) at Collingwood Neighbourhood House Annex
Cost: $25

Sept. 12, 13: Bird Lanterns (47 pm) at Collingwood Neighbourhood House Annex
Cost: $25

Sept. 8, 15: Bird-Themed Community Art Installation (14 pm) at Slocan Park Fieldhouse
Cost: By donation

Sept. 17, 18: Globe Lanterns (47 pm) at Slocan Park Fieldhouse
Cost: $15

Sept. 19, 20: Glass Jar Lanterns (47 pm) at Slocan Park Fieldhouse
Cost: $10

ADDITIONAL ACTIVITIES

Mooncake Workshops

Reserve your spot by calling 604-435-0323 or paying in person at Collingwood Neighbourhood House front desk.

Sept. 7 at 10:30 am–12:30 pm (Chinese)
Sept. 11 at 5:30–7:30 pm (English)
Where: Collingwood Neighbourhood House Annex
Cost: Pay-What-You-Can, suggested donation $20

Moon Music (57 pm)

Sept. 10: Renfrew Park Community Centre
Sept. 14: Collingwood Neighbourhood House Annex
Sept. 17: Slocan Park

For more information, visit stillmoon.org or Facebook @stillmoonarts.

June Lam is a long-time resident of Renfrew-Collingwood and the communications coordinator for Still Moon Arts Society.

Copyright 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News