Alive Inside documentary at Vancity Theatre August 8 – 14, 2014

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The iPod Project:

Watch what happens when seniors with dementia receive the gift of music.

Dan Cohen likes to listen to the music of his time, the 60s, anytime he wants. Thinking others might feel the same way, he began personalizing music for residents in NYC nursing homes back in 2006. Those playlists became the prototype for the Music & Memory Project, a non-profit foundation dedicated to bringing the healing power of music to isolated seniors.

Cohen’s vision of personalized therapeutic music is advancing westward across Canada, one seniors’ residence at a time.

New Brunswick’s Institute on Aging introduced Music & Memory as a pilot project with three seniors’ residences in Canada’s Maritimes.

Now the Alzheimers Society of Toronto is on board with plans to distribute 10,000 iPods to seniors in residences by 2016, according to a recent report by CBC’s Jennifer Van Evra. Here’s the link to Jennifer’s story: http://music.cbc.ca/#/blogs/2014/7/The-memory-key-how-music-is-unlocking-the-minds-of-people-with-Alzheimers

So far, Vancouver has the movie.

Alive Inside, a documentary about the extraordinary benefits programs like “the iPod Project” bring to people deep in the isolation of dementia, is playing at Vancity Theatre from August 8 through 14, 2014.

For information about showtimes and tickets for Alive Inside, here’s the Vancity link:

http://www.viff.org/theatre/films/fc8210-alive-inside

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Silver Harbour celebrates 40 years of community building

Shirley Lytle is among the members of Silver Harbour Seniors’ Activity Centre who are excited to be marking the centre’s 40th anniversary. Photo Cindy Goodman

Shirley Lytle is among the members of Silver Harbour Seniors’ Activity Centre who are excited to be marking the centre’s 40th anniversary. Photo Cindy Goodman

Laura Anderson
North Shore News
September 22, 2013

Taped and glued to the pages of a big green scrapbook, brown and brittle clippings from the North Shore’s newspapers of the day – the Lions Gate Times and The Citizen – chronicle a journey that began back in 1968.
A group of citizens came together back then, committed to building a drop-in centre with recreational facilities and programs to meet the interests of community members ages 50 and over. For years, in church halls and in private homes, seniors had been meeting to socialize, share information, learn and practise crafts. Some people believed the community’s senior citizens deserved better. Inspired by Silver Threads Activity Centre in Victoria, and led by the formidable Laura McWilliams, they set out to establish a local centre for seniors.
Approximately 170 citizens joined the Silver Harbour Manor Society, including North Vancouver Councillor Stella Jo Dean and her husband, Roland. Stella Jo and provincial minister without portfolio Grace McCarthy helped secure funding for the project. Rolly Dean co-ordinated a one-day drive to drum up community support. On September 21, 1970, 1334 canvassers, organized into 86 zones in 15 areas, visited 23,000 homes. When Silver Harbour Manor opened three years later, on September 22, 1973, 700 seniors signed up in the first week.
Shirley Lytle was there. As RCMP officers, resplendent in red serge, presided as the honour guard during the opening ceremony, their wives, Shirley among them, conducted tours of the new centre.
The next time Shirley came through the doors of Silver Harbour, it was the summer of 1996. She and her fellow lawn bowlers joined so they could enjoy the centre’s excellent lunches after a strenuous morning on the bowling green.
“My father told me, ‘When you retire, find something that you enjoy doing and volunteer. He should know, he lived to be 100,” says Shirley. “For many people, a seniors centre is a place where old people are waiting out the last stages of life. In fact, people embark on new learning experiences here with the bonus of more mature seniors to help along the way. If I had known then what I know now, I would have joined Silver Harbour earlier.”
Shirley made up for lost time. She’s been a student (10 years of tole painting) and a teacher (computer skills and slideshow presentations). She has served on the centre’s board, as president from 2003 to 2010, retiring this year after three years as past-president. Shirley is an original member of the centre’s digital storytelling program, which sees members create and produce short films from story all the way to screen.
Shirley exemplifies the spirit of Silver Harbour. She participates and she pitches in, mentoring new members and turning her hand to what needs to be done. One day last week, the power washer used to spiff up the newly painted centre had to be returned to the North Vancouver Lawn Bowling Club.  Shirley and executive director Annwen Loverin lugged the equipment across to the clubhouse. Earlier that day, which happened to be Shirley’s 82nd birthday, she helped fellow digital storytellers with their projects, sat for the photograph for this story and retrieved the Silver Harbour scrapbook from its home in the basement file room.
This year, September 22 has been proclaimed Silver Harbour Seniors’ Activity Centre Day by the City and District of North Vancouver and by the provincial government. (The centre got its new name in 2010.) Voted Best Seniors’ Service 2013 by North Shore News readers, the centre has logged a record 159,000 visits to more than 70 programs and services.
“People are active and they are keen to learn,” says Loverin. “They come for the programs and stay to volunteer, becoming our most valuable, and appreciated, asset. Independent individuals come together at Silver Harbour, building community and rewriting the story of aging.”
Although Silver Harbour’s official celebrations, a dinner-dance on September 21 and tea on September 24, are sold out, a slide show and a digital film (both with contributions from Shirley Lytle) are running continuously and the centre is offering free presentations as well as those famous lunches.

To learn more about Silver Harbour, call 604-980-2474 or visit silverharbourcentre.ca

The Morris method – giving so that others can also give

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Jackie Morris in her North Vancouver garden. News photo, Paul McGrath

Jackie Morris in her North Vancouver garden. News photo, Paul McGrath

by Laura Anderson,
North Shore News

“Is my will valid if it is not registered?”
To answer such questions, Jackie Morris established the North Shore Seniors’ Legal Advice and Referral Clinic.
Ten years ago, Jackie had retired from the law. She was ready to return to work within a couple of years, this time on her terms. No more commuting, the practice would be on the North Shore. It would specialize in Jackie’s areas of interest: wills and estate planning. There would be time for gardening and fitness and travel. All the boxes appeared to be ticked but something was missing. Jackie was looking for a way to give back.
She found it at an aquacize class. One of Jackie’s water mates posed “a question I’ve been wanting to ask: ‘Is my will valid if it is not registered?'”
“‘The short answer,’ I said, ‘is yes.'” Jackie goes on, “I realized there was a need for a place where these types of questions could be addressed.”
The need is there. Few of us, including seniors, require regular legal counsel. “That’s as it should be,” she says, “Legal advice is the kind of thing you need when you need it. People are reluctant to call a lawyer when often all they need is a simple answer to a simple question.”
In 2005, the clinic opened at Silver Harbour Seniors’ Activity Centre, which provides space and whose staff is the first contact. North Shore lawyers volunteer their time every Thursday by appointment and without charge. “People come in prepared,” says Jackie. “Their questions are in order and their documents are organized. That really helps us help them.”

Jackie Morris in her North Vancouver garden. News photo, Paul McGrath

Jackie Morris in her North Vancouver garden. News photo, Paul McGrath

Questions about estate planning, finances and consumer issues are most frequently asked at the free weekly clinics. Specialized or complex issues get referred to community agencies, lawyers and mediators, accountants and other professionals practising on the North Shore.
The volunteers do not anticipate a spike in queries resulting from Elder Abuse Awareness Day, marked June 15. “The clinic is a good place to start, however,” says Jackie. “We can discuss options and connect people with services. All visits are confidential, of course.”
Originally from the United States, Jackie and her husband, Jim, moved to Victoria where she taught math. They relocated to Vancouver in the 1980s and Jackie graduated from law at the University of British Columbia. By 1989, the family, now including two children, were living in North Vancouver, first Norgate and then Upper Lonsdale.
The family lives on Tempe Crescent, a former “skid row” route used to move timber from the slopes of Grouse Mountain to the North Vancouver sawmills. Their 1920s home is lovingly restored inside and the outside is a gardener’s dream, a testament to Jackie’s other passion.
A blend of native plants, bee-and butterfly-attracting flowers, fruit trees, berries and vegetables, the garden surrounds the house and extends to a terraced pathway that links 28th Street with Tempe Crescent. “We wanted to protect our garden from invasive plants,” says Jackie, “and the project grew from there.”
With the approval of the City of North Vancouver in 2009, the plants were removed and the land laid fallow to ensure no residual seeds or roots would take hold. Two years ago, the garden began to take shape around the stairway of brick and stone that Jackie designed. The result is beautiful, functional and always changing. Neighbours, children especially, are encouraged to help themselves to the strawberries – producing currently – and to the veggies that will appear throughout the season.
“People come by when we’re working in the garden,” says Jackie. “They want to know about this plant or that and will it grow in their garden.” The neighbours may not be aware they’re getting advice from a master gardener and longtime member of the Lynn Valley Garden Club. The Morrises like to keep it low-key.
With a free legal clinic for seniors and the gift of the Tempe Crescent garden path, Jackie Morris has given back to her community. In fact, the Morrises have done even more. The garden pathway encourages local participation and pride. Volunteers share their skills at the legal clinic. With the Morris method, everyone benefits.

For information about
the North Shore Seniors’ Legal Advice and Referral Clinic,
call Silver Harbour at 604-980-2474.

Desmond Power, West Vancouver’s ‘Old China Hand’

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Desmond Power and his China scrapbook.  News photo: Mike Wakefield

Desmond Power and his China scrapbook.
News photo: Mike Wakefield

Desmond Power with the resonant guitar, a gift from fellow prison camp internee, Earl West.

Desmond Power with the resonant guitar, a gift from fellow prison camp internee, Earl West.

Desmond Power was almost seven when he ran away from home, fleeing the consequences of an unfortunate incident involving matches and a sofa. Out on the dykes at the edge of the city of Tientsin, China, young Desmond appealed to a rickshaw coolie to transport him far, far away.

Request denied. “Aren’t you the grandson of ‘lao tai-tai’’?,” he was told. “It would be more than my life is worth.”

Desmond’s grandmother, Agnes D’Arc, whose title translates loosely as ‘aged matriarch’, was well known. Desmond remembers, “Even grandmother’s mynah bird would suddenly screech out for the whole city to hear, “Lao tai-tai! Lao tai-tai!”

Desmond was born in 1923, the youngest child of the D’Arc‘s only daughter, Grace, and Stephen Power, an Irishman who had emigrated to find work in Tientsin’s British Concession on his brother’s advice, “there’s a living to be made out here.”

Beginning in 1860 in Tientsin and in Shanghai as far back as 1842, the Chinese had assigned concession territories to most European countries. By the 1930’s, the mix of cultures had produced a worldly, sophisticated society where theatre, art and music flourished as war drew nearer.

When World War II broke out on the other side of the world, Desmond enlisted in the local Volunteer Defense Corps. He was only 17 but the uniform got Desmond into to nightclubs where he was introduced to hot jazz and swing performed by expatriate musicians in bands like Earl Whaley and His Coloured Boys.

By 1943, prison camps had been established in China by the Japanese. Black American musicians, who had found a haven from racism in the cosmopolitan environs of Shanghai and Tientsin, were not discriminated against by the Japanese, who interned them equally with the Allied nationals.

The musicians brought the life enhancing sounds of jazz and swing with them into the camps. Years later, Desmond remembers in his book, “Little Foreign Devil”, “What a godsend, that band, lifting the camp’s morale as nothing else could.”

At 20, Desmond entered Pootung, the first of three Japanese prison camps which would confine him for the duration of the war. The next camp, Lunghua, was a vast improvement, not least due to the humanitarian actions of the camp’s Commandant Hayashi towards the prisoners.

Hayashi arranged for Desmond to be transferred to Weihsien camp where he was reunited with his mother, half-brother and half-sister. There he became friends with another expat musician, guitarist Earl West and his wife, Deirdre. After liberation, Earl gave Desmond his resonant guitar, which he took with him to England and New Zealand.

In England, Desmond met and married Canadian Deborah Vass. The newlyweds immigrated to New Zealand in 1955 where Desmond designed and installed computer systems. They moved to Canada, settling in West Vancouver in 1960 and raising four children.

In demand all over North America for his expertise in the new technology, Desmond found time to locate and connect fellow prison camp veterans by sharing research through the Old China Hands network.

Earl and Deirdre West’s daughter, whom he had known as a toddler in Weihsien, was one such find. Another researcher used Desmond’s online resources for some time before chance revealed they are both West Vancouver residents.

In retirement, this third-generation China hand wrote his autobiography, “Little Foreign Devil”, and articles – the jazz scene and daily life in the prison camps, the experience of his D’Arc grandparents in the Boxer Uprising and the story of  their internationally acclaimed marionette troupe – an eclectic portrayal of periods, places and events whose effects continue to exert their influence.

On Thursday, June 6, 2013, the anniversary of D-Day in the European Theatre of World War II, Tomohiko Hayashi, who helped Desmond and countless others, will be recognized in the Canadian Parliament with a Statement of Thanks for his efforts to save and preserve the lives of prisoners in Shanghai.

Desmond continues to write, most recently about his stand-off with a bear on his daily walk. As the bear moved on to the home of Desmond’s neighbours, a Chinese family, Desmond reverted to his mother tongue, alerting them in Mandarin about the ‘gou-xiong’.

Desmond Power’s book and articles can be found on the website, Scribd.

Lynn Valley gardener’s vision a driving force

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by Laura Anderson
North Shore News

After 18 years, says Doreen Wakefield, “I’ve almost arrived at my dream garden.”

North Vancouver's Doreen Wakefield can often be found in her home garden, which she's long cultivated with the help of husband Wally. NEWS photo, Mike Wakefield

North Vancouver’s Doreen Wakefield in her home garden, which she’s cultivated with the help of husband Wally. NEWS photo, Mike Wakefield

The transformation of a backyard patch of grass and swing sets dominated by an enormous cedar began when Doreen retired. The cedar had always been there. Wally just designed and built the house around it. “He still cuts away the deck to make room as the tree grows,” says Doreen. The cedar and surrounding conifers determined the garden would be shady, mainly hostas and ferns, with plants in pots here and there for colour.

This tranquil green oasis hidden away on a quiet Lynn Valley neighbourhood evolved over time through the creative partnership of Doreen and her husband, Wally. It works like this. Doreen will imagine a feature, a simple bench, for example. Wally will design and build a comfortable sitting area, adding an arbour where more plants can grow.

“We do everything together,” says Doreen, “but I don’t want to sound too rosy. It’s been war and peace.

“There were only three houses on our street when we moved here in 1963.” remembers Doreen. “It was all bush, unpaved roads and no such thing as a driveway. There were deer on the street. It was lovely. Ours was the only one story house so we planted the trees for privacy. That’s where we disagree. I’d like more sun but Wally loves trees. He came from cement city. It was all pavement at his house.”

Wally and Doreen were in their teens when they met at a youth club in their hometown of Fleetwood, a fishing port near Blackpool. Doreen remembers British housing back then. A paved backyard was typical. “We didn’t have a refrigerator. We stored food on a concrete slab in the pantry. We did have an outhouse.”

Doreen got her first job with the delivery of a telegram. “The telegram scared everyone but it was only a message to call the post office.” She made the call from a phone booth, “the first time in my life I’d been on the phone.” For the rest of her career, Doreen worked on telephones, beginning with the Fleetwood post office switchboard, receiving incoming calls through bakelite ear pieces known as “horns” and putting them through on “a cord board”.

Doreen and Wally married in 1955 and moved to Canada in 1957. “If we didn’t like it, we would work our way back home. We chose Vancouver because it was the furthest point in the country and we loved it right away.”

Wally worked for a painting company until he started his own company and Doreen was hired at B.C. Telephone Company. “I only lasted a month. People wanted to be connected to places like Saskatchewan and I had no idea where they were.”

Doreen worked at the hardware wholesaler Fred C. Meyer until 1963 when the children started arriving and the family moved to Lynn Valley. Son Mike, their first child, is a photographer with the North Shore News and took these photographs of his mother.

When the children were grown, Doreen went back to the telephones as receptionist for a company at 1139 Lonsdale, site of the North Shore News’s old offices.

During Doreen’s career with the telephone, technology advanced. Cord boards and horns were in the past, cell phones were in the future and Doreen retired during the era of the pager. During her last 3 years there, the company was owned by BC Tel, allowing Doreen’s working life in Canada to come full circle, beginning and ending with the phone company.

In the early days of her retirement, Doreen helped care for her grandchildren and joined the Lynn Valley Garden Club, another ally in the development of the Wakefield garden. These days, with the garden close to completion, Doreen looks forward to more hiking and lawn bowling and, of course, time to enjoy the beauty and peace of her garden.

Is Doreen’s dream garden just that, a dream? Right now, Wally is busy repairing a trellis in the garden. What’s next? Every garden has room for another plant or a bit of building. It’s a simple matter of balance and flexibility, which Doreen and Wally have achieved during their 58 years of marriage.

Man of many trades pursues his passion

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Frank Walker displays some of his metal creations, which include miniature weapons, buckets and pitchers, made from copper, bronze and bits of scrap iron. NEWS photos, Mike Wakefield

Frank Walker displays some of his metal creations, which include miniature weapons, buckets and pitchers, made from copper, bronze and bits of scrap iron.
NEWS photos, Mike Wakefield

“I remember things so clearly now that I’ve started thinking about them, even from when I was a boy, not even four years old.”

Frank Walker sorts through the food and clothing ration books his wife Jane had the foresight to bring from Scotland. During the war, remembers Frank, born in 1938, “I didn’t see a real egg until I was seven.” The garden, and Frank’s mother, kept the family going while his father was away at war. The garden also fed an 8-year-old evacuee and two Polish colonels in Scotland to prepare for the D-Day offensive. They taught Frank the Polish national anthem, which he sings, word for word, in his soft Scots burr.

Frank has a photograph and a program from the year his grandfather Galloway won the Rennes Race, from France to Scotland, with his pigeon, Jenny Wren. Galloway was at the pub when Jenny homed onto the pigeon loft. The bird’s ring had to be clocked to confirm the win, but “rubbish, rubbish, canna be a pigeon as early as this,” the old man told young Frank, delaying confirmation of the bird’s time by at least five minutes.

Prior to moving the family to Fife in Scotland, Frank’s grandfather Walker worked in the Belfast shipyards on a ship called the Titanic. Frank’s father was born in 1912, the year the doomed vessel was launched.

In Scotland, all the Walkers worked for the giant paper company, Tullis Russell: grandfather, uncle and grandson, each named Frank, and young Frank’s father (his name was Joe), all of them industrial plumbers.

In those days, men mastered more than one trade. Young Frank attended night school three times a week for four years learning welding, blacksmithing, pipe and gas fitting, air conditioning and plumbing. Another year of learning trades at day school gave Frank “enough papers to paper a house.” In all the five years, Frank never missed a day of work or of school.

Frank was a runner like his father, who won the Powderhall, Edinburgh’s annual New Year Sprint. Like his grandfather Galloway, who won a cap playing for Scotland, Frank was a footballer whose all-star team, the Star Hearts, won the Fife Cup.

Football has always been his passion. Frank considered playing professionally, and did play semi-pro in Australia, but in Scotland “I just had too many irons in the fire”: running, cars and motorcycles, tennis, badminton, field hockey, golf and fishing.

When Frank and his father founded the Leslie Angling Club, Frank learned to tie flies. Typically thorough, he studied fly formation and took a course in entomology to learn their habits. He earned enough from selling the flies he tied to purchase his first car, an Austin Healy.

At 27, Frank decided it was time to see more of the world. He was in the company parking lot discussing the sale of the Austin Healy with a co-worker when along came another co-worker, Jane Drybrugh. “I hear you’re leaving and going to Australia. Do you have anyone to carry your luggage?” Married in 1964, Jane and Frank lived in Australia until suntanning on Christmas day grew tiresome.

A voyage across the Pacific brought them to Vancouver. Frank worked at British Columbia Building Corporation for thirty years, rising to trades foreman and systems supervisor for 162 buildings ranging from New Westminster to Powell River, from BCIT to Oakalla Prison.

12 years ago, Frank and Jane took early retirement, looking forward to increasing their total of more than 50 countries visited. It was not to be. Sadly, Jane passed away, suddenly and unexpectedly.Walker copper

When not traveling, Frank is an artist. At home in North Vancouver, Frank crafted sculptures, bonsai, animals and boxes from leftover bits of metal. On the coffee table in his immaculate living room he lays out miniature tools and weapons alongside buckets and pitchers that range in size from tiny to miniscule.

Frank has his golf clubs and fly rods still, keeps in touch by computer with family in Scotland and lends a hand to help his friends. He’s now interested in researching family history, but football remains his passion. It was fulfilled in April with the 2013 Premier League win by his team, Manchester United.

Fighter Still Fighting the Good Fight

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NormGautreau 

by Laura Anderson,
North Shore News

At 82, former Canadian welterweight boxing champion Norm Gautreau is fast.

Watch him sparring with shadows, bobbing and weaving, fists a blur of speed, the tough young fighter still present. Today, Norm brings his past to life with the perfect recall and colourful detail of a born raconteur.

Growing up in the 1930s, the boy from Moncton, New Brunswick, had a choice: a life of crime or boxing. Maybe it was hereditary. Norm’s father was a former bare knuckle boxer who supported Norm and his 13 siblings for a time by boot legging. Norm was about 10 when he and his pals broke into a candy store. They were sleeping off the sugar when Mr. Mills, the owner, kicked them out the next morning. In his teens, Norm appeared in court again after two years in reform school. Next time, promised the judge, it would be the penitentiary.

One punch removed Norm from the path of crime. He was at a restaurant on a date one night when someone took a swing at him. Norm hit back.

The man he kayoed was in town to fight Yvon Durelle, the Fighting Fisherman. On the strength of that punch, Durelle’s manager took on Norm’s training as a professional welterweight and the two boxers formed a lifelong friendship.

“My first fight was against K.O. O’Malley. He floored me the first time, floored me the second time. I seen an opening there and, jeez, I let a right hand go and he went down in a cloud of dust. He never got up. I knocked him out in that last round.”

Small, tough and able to fire a punch, Norm learned how to evade the blows thrown at him. “I learned to make ’em miss. That’s how I’m still OK in the head. In over 100 fights, I was knocked down but I always got up and I was never knocked unconscious.”One fight was an exhibition bout with Durelle at the penitentiary. “I knew just about every guy sitting around the ring. I could just as easily have been any one of them,” he says.

Instead, Norm embraced the gruelling life of a boxer. On what they called the “Greyhound route” through Eastern Canada and the U.S., he’d fight for small purses, never more than $100 and more often less, barely covering expenses. But Norm started winning more fights than he lost and travelling further afield, to Florida, Cuba and South Africa. Back home in Canada, he won the welterweight title and held it until he retired, often fighting, and winning, above his weight.

When Norm fought at Madison Square Garden in 1958, it was payback time for a certain candy storeowner. “Old man Mills said, ‘I hear you’re going to the Garden.’ He hands me a robe with Mills Candy embroidered on the back. ‘You wear this robe and we’re square,’ he said, and I did,” says Norm.

A fight in Syracuse, New York, opposite Dickie Di Veronica, was his last. Ten years after he stepped into the ring, Norm hung up his gloves, retiring at the age of 30.

After a stint in Los Angeles, Calif., training actors to avoid punches, Norm, his wife, Lucille, and their daughter, Judy, found themselves in Vancouver. “One look at the mountains and we never left,” he says. They settled in North Vancouver where son Dale was born. Norm tended bar for years, first at the Waldorf Hotel and later, at the Jericho Tennis Club. He sold real estate for a while and owned the Moustache Café on Marine Drive in North Vancouver. His workout routine at the local gym led to a friendship with a young boxer, Dave Brett, and to a management role at Brett’s Griffins Boxing Club.

In 1984, Norm was inducted into the Canadian Boxing Hall of Fame. Last year, he was invited to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Syracuse where he was welcomed by a host of boxing legends, including his final opponent, Dickie Di Veronica.

“Stormin’ Norm,” with fists of iron and the gift of storytelling, is the subject of a locally produced documentary. The work-in-progress was screened Saturday, April 27 at Griffins Boxing Club in North Vancouver to a packed house. For details, visit reellegacymedia.com.

Norwesters curling club a sweeping success

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by Laura Anderson,
North Shore News

Norwester on the ice. News photo, Mike Wakefield

Norwester on the ice. News photo, Mike Wakefield

At the opening of the World Curling Championship yesterday in Victoria, Canada met China in the first game of the series that will culminate with the Gold Medal game on April 7th.. Since the event began in 1959, Canada has won the world championships 33 times, bringing home the title for the last three years in a row.

Meanwhile, the members of the Norwest Senior Men’s Curling Club are digging out the lawn bowling balls, shaking out the golf clubs, dusting off the fishing tackle. Garth Phillips is one of the exceptions. He’ll be in Spain in May to compete at a bonspiel before returning home to play slow pitch ball all summer.

Curling is increasingly popular globally but the sport that originated centuries ago in Scotland is most firmly established in Canada. Curling has come a long way since the days when throwing rocks across frozen ponds was the primary winter social event on the prairies. Today, sportsmanship and camaraderie continue to be hallmarks of the sport but the game, now played indoors, is several degrees more comfortable.

Many of the Norwesters started out curling on those frozen prairie ponds, returning to the sport later in life. Rob Pellatt was introduced to curling as a teenager at Prince of Wales high school in Vancouver. He played until life in the form of family and work commitments took precedence. When he retired six years ago, Pellatt picked up a broom and came back to curling.

Others, like Marwyn Thomas, recruited by Pellatt, his brother in law, are new to the sport. Thomas, who admits he was “mostly afraid of falling on my behind”, was named the club’s Rookie of the Year. “Well, I was the only rookie,” he laughs. The great thing about curling, he says, is “no matter how old you are, you can keep on playing.”

Playing safely at any age is important in curling and using the right equipment helps. “Grippers” anchor feet to the ice, special headbands protect craniums and the curling stick can be employed to push the stones from a standing position.

Art Cameron, 92, with the club since 1980 and Herb Penner, 93, who joined in 1990, are the club’s most senior members. Walter Knecht, one of those who played as a boy on the prairies, is in his early 60’s, one of the youngest players. Most of the Norwesters are, like Thomas, Phillips and Pellatt, somewhere in between.

The Norwesters can put together a dozen four-man teams. Four team draws throughout the season ensure that players circulate and play different positions on new teams. The system gives players experience in all aspects of the sport and fosters the team spirit that is at the heart of curling.

For most members, curling is less about competition and more about exercise, both physical and mental. Curling, known as “chess on ice”, develops flexibility, balance and coordination of the body and the brain. Instead of expending energy to heave the rock from one end to the other, players focus on strategy and finesse.

Good sportsmanship is integral to the sport and reflected in its traditions. In keeping with the Spirit of Curling, matches begin with a handshake and “good luck”. Congratulations are exchanged over good shots and the winning team buys their opponents a beverage after the match. Après-curling, the camaraderie flourishes as the match is replayed and plans made for the next meeting of the men with brooms.

Come September at the North Shore Winter Club, the sheets are conditioned and the curling rocks are unpacked. Everyone from children to seniors is welcome to come “throw a couple of rocks” and get a handle on curling at the North Shore Winter Club. During the season at the club, Norwester volunteers participate in the Getting Started program, introducing children of all ages to curling. “It’s great to watch seniors who have played all their lives teach this great game to children and young people,” says Liz Goldenberger, Director of Curling.

For more information about the Norwesters, call Rob Pellatt at 604-985-3423 or email Walter Knecht at norwesters@shaw.ca. Liz Goldenberger at the North Shore Winter Club, 604-985-4135 ext270, has information about curling programs.

UPDATE: Canada won that first game opposite China and was aced ultimately by two points by Sweden aced at the 2013 World Curling Championships held in Victoria, BC.

North Vancouver accordion player an all-original

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Dave Baskerville shares his spirit with North Shore audiences

by Laura Anderson,
North Shore News

North Vancouver entertainer Dave Baskerville believes everyone is given a gift that is their own and that life is about sharing it with others. NEWS photo, Mike Wakefield

North Vancouver entertainer Dave Baskerville believes everyone is given a gift that is their own and that life is about sharing it with others. NEWS photo, Mike Wakefield

A glimpse of a pink accordion led me to a memorable meeting with North Vancouver’s Dave Baskerville.

Dave entertains at seniors’ centres and residences all over the North Shore, making music with his vintage accordion, adding comedy and spot on impersonations to the mix. “I enjoy it,” he says, “it makes the people happy and joyous.”

All the Baskervilles were musical. Father played the mouth organ and mother the piano and accordion. Her mother was a professional music teacher who played any tune on the piano without the need for sheet music. Dave’s twin brother, Gary played harmonica and Dave played guitar and accordion.

Back then, Elvis Presley and guitar bands were popular but Dave liked the accordion. “It was square but I didn’t care,” he laughs.

He was born in 1942 in Halifax, Nova Scotia where his mother, from Glasgow, and his father, from County Cork in Ireland, had met and wed.

The family traveled back and forth from coast to coast, purchasing a home in Nanaimo in 1949, only to rent it and return to Halifax. By 1954, the Baskerville family had decided the west coast would be home. When Dave’s father died, his mother settled in New Westminster, in a house that was built in 1912, one year after her birth in 1911.

After graduating from high school, Dave found work with a landscaper but it wasn’t long before he began to range further afield, working up and down the coast as a longshoreman, “in the old boom and tackle days”, he explains, “with 15 men to a hatch. Today, it’s all cranes and containers.”

From long shoring on the docks of Vancouver Island, Dave turned to cooking, his father’s trade, following in his footsteps to logging and mining camps further up the Inside Passage.

On March 24, 1975, Dave hired on as a custodian with school district 44, working at such schools as Windsor, Blueridge, Queensbury and Brooksbank for 24 years, retiring in December 1999. Dave was living in North Vancouver when a mutual friend introduced him to Jacinta Galicia, whom he married in 1981. Their North Vancouver home was built, like Dave’s mother’s home in New Westminster, in 1912.

Over the years, Dave continued to entertain at weddings and parties. His sideline in standup comedy and impersonations was popular but the music Dave coaxed out of his Hohner accordion was his personal favourite.

At one wedding, a guest, impressed with Dave’s performance, invited him to come have a look at a special accordion. The pink bakelite instrument, made by hand in 1942 by the Italian makers Mariano Dallapé, was a gift to Dave. “He said I want you to have it and enjoy it and my wife asked me why I was almost crying when I got home,” he recalls.

Within a few days, an accident. The Mariano slipped out of Dave’s grasp. Dave took the accordion apart and figured out how it worked. As he describes it, the accordion is an amalgamation of several instruments: a piano keyboard, clarinet reeds and the bellows from a bagpipe. As Dave explains, the mechanism works on the same principle as the pistons on an automobile engine.

The accident caused the chords on the inside of the instrument, held by beeswax and resin, to come apart but the reeds were okay and the wood wasn’t broken. With some carpenter’s glue carefully applied and a bit of sanding, the accordion was repaired and Dave was back in action.

One day last week, I speaking with volunteer Nancie Pearson at the West Vancouver Seniors’ Activity Centre information desk when along came Dave. As Nancie, a long time friend of Dave and Jacinta, says, “Dave is one of the kindest, most caring people I have ever known and one who travels to a different drum beat.”

Dave believes everyone is given a gift that is our own. Life is about sharing that gift, whatever it might be.

When Dave and Jacinta aren’t traveling the world (they’re off to Europe in June to celebrate their 32nd wedding anniversary) or tending their garden, Dave is out and about, sharing his music, his philosophy of life and his generous spirit.

Robert Sunter, influencing Canadian arts and culture

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Laura Anderson,
North Shore News

Ever wonder how performing arts programs – concerts, opera, theatre, dance – make it onto our radios and televisions? Someone has to say ‘no, or yes’. For 20 years at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, possibly the golden years of the mother network, that person was Robert Sunter.

West Vancouver's Robert Sunter played a major role in Canada's arts and cultural fabric, working as both a reporter and performing arts programmer over the course of his impressive career.  NEWS photo, Mike Wakefield

West Vancouver’s Robert Sunter played a major role in Canada’s arts and culture over the course of his impressive career. NEWS photo, Mike Wakefield 

Robert started in 1976 in Toronto as head of radio music and moved on to helm television arts and music. In 1987, he returned to British Columbia as director of radio and retired in 1996 as program director of CBC Stereo.

As a boy in Liverpool, England, Robert played piano and sang in his school choir – when he wasn’t practicing for hours on end, developing a left foot that was lethal on the football pitch, perfecting his snooker skills or performing magic as the Great Suntini.

At the after-hours parties upstairs from the family pub, young Robert was fascinated by the music hall tunes belted out on the piano by neighbour George Stevenson. “That’s just fun,” Uncle George told him and then from those ivory keys his enormous hands drew music Robert had never heard before, Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C-sharp minor.

Piano lessons were among Robert’s presents on his 10th birthday, November 20, 1941. After years of practice, a recording of Artur Rubenstein’s interpretation of the Prelude convinced Robert he would never attain the maestro’s artistry and he stopped the lessons. Robert did continue to attend concerts and opera, through school and during his National Service, consolidating his passion for the performing arts.

When his parents emigrated to Ontario, Robert went with them. A journalism course led to a job at the Peterborough Examiner newspaper under editor Robertson Davies. “I measured my progress as a journalist by the editing Davies did on my copy,” says Robert.

Lured west in 1965 to join the short-lived Vancouver Times, Robert found a spot at the Vancouver Sun as a deskman. Between editing copy and writing headlines, Robert and music critic William Littler talked about the concerts they attended. In 1966, when Littler went to the Toronto Star, publisher Irwin Swangard named Robert as performing arts critic.

When Robert left the paper in 1968, his secretary presented him with a collection of his reviews. The record of artists and performances preserved in these scrapbooks – Fonteyn and Nureyev, Stravinsky, the Bolshoi Ballet as well as from the local cultural community – represent a high water mark of the performing arts in Vancouver.

In the memoir Robert is writing, he describes a post-recital conversation with Artur Rubenstein. Robert confessed his experience with Rubenstein’s performance of Rachmaninoff’s Prelude. “Did it inspire you?” inquired the maestro. “Yes, it inspired me to stop playing the piano.” The response came after what seemed an eternity, “You don’t look or sound that stupid.” The conversation improved from there.

Robert, recruited as music critic for the Toronto Star, also served with the Ontario Arts Council and various music organizations. In 1976, while walking past the CBC building in Toronto, Robert was approached by Bill Armstrong, president of the corporation. “You’re Robert Sunter,” he said. “Guilty as charged,” replied Robert. “How would you like to be head of music for CBC Radio?”

The answer was yes, until 1984, when he was named head of television arts and music, responsible for all performing arts programming on national television. It was Robert’s most rewarding period at CBC. He considers the documentary Whalesong, a collaboration of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Vancouver Bach Choir, opera singers Judith Forst and Mark Pedrotti, and the songs of three orcas, Hyak, Finna and Bjossa, to be the most memorable among a host of memorable productions.

Though Robert retired in 1996, the extent of his contribution to the CBC as it was, and to performing arts in Canada, is remembered. Today, Robert plays tennis and volunteers as a cultural coach for immigrants at John Braithwaite Community Centre in North Vancouver.

There is a piano in the West Vancouver home he shares with his wife, Cynthia, but Robert does not play. He prefers to work on his memoirs, purely for his own pleasure and for the mental stimulation it provides, not for publication. For the benefit of our country’s cultural heritage, perhaps Robert can be persuaded to change his mind.