No sooner had a collective sigh of relief gone up after the 8+ month logging strike on Vancouver Island ended when Covid-19 hit. Businesses, school and churches across Canada were forced to close their doors during the first wave of the pandemic. While waiting for the okay to reopen, St. John Gualbert Church in Port McNeill quickly regrouped and rethought the way they deliver programs to the community. Some of the regular programs like choir and weekly potluck lunches were shelved indefinitely. Others like Sunday services were revised with strict Covid guidelines. And funding was applied for and received for new programs like a monthly lunch for seniors called Picnic in the Park.
Founded in 1963 St. John Gualbert Church has always been known as a true community church. In the early days the church was shared by many denominations including: Anglican, United and Catholic. In 1972 the church became what’s known as an Anglican-United Fellowship. The name St. John Gualbert originates from Saint Giovanni Gualberto the patron saint of forestry workers.
In a serendipitous conversation with a church board member months ago, Leslie Dyck who is the North Island Staff Coordinator for a program called Loaves and Fishes based in Nanaimo forged a relationship with the church. Originally delivering only to Port Hardy the food distribution program now includes Port McNeill twice a month.
Peter Sinclair, is the executive Director of Loaves & Fishes Food Bank in Nanaimo. He explains, “usually a food bank means food scarcity but Loaves & Fishes find they have an over abundance of food.” Providing a brief snapshot of the program Sinclair says, “in 2011 the program gave out $800,000 worth of food. In 2012 the program added food recovery meaning food that would have otherwise been thrown away. Sinclair adds, in 2019 that number rose to $4.6 million and this year he anticipates it will top $5 million.
Deborah Murray, an appointed Church Elder at St. John Gualbert, explains that every second Wednesday the church offers food to whoever needs or wants it. Echoing Sinclair’s assertion, “it is not a food bank. This is food distribution. We don’t hang on to any of it. And you don’t have to qualify or sign up.” Word quickly spread organically by word of mouth as well as through notices on social media. Local grocery store IGA donates food to the program and during the summer months local residents also donated excess garden produce.
Along with Loaves & Fishes the church provides a hot take-out dinner program twice a month. Again Murray is quick to point out there are no rules as to who can participate, “the meals are for everyone at no charge but donations are accepted.” Serving 40 to 80 people, the dinners are homemade, hearty & healthy and packaged to go.
Another North Island connection in Victoria prompted a group called Soap for Hope to reach out to the church. A non-profit group, Soap for Hope provides hygiene kits in BC & Alberta to food banks, schools, low income seniors and First Nations communities. So far two shipments have been delivered to Port McNeill that include: soap, hair care products, body wash & lotion, toothbrushes and deodorant. Organizers have developed a way to get freight here at no cost through someone who works in Port Hardy but lives in Victoria. Murray adds, “if there is a specific request such as dog food or teen snacks the group will try their best to help.”
Here are a few ways you can help St. John Gualbert’s community programs:
⁃ Donate books to A-Frame Bookstore. Books for all ages are donated and the bookstore is run by volunteers 6 day a week.
⁃ Buy a Christmas tree (an annual church fundraiser)
⁃ Help your community with cash or food items
⁃ Attend the mini Christmas Craft Fair at the church Dec. 5th from 10am-2pm
For more information contact the church at 250.956.3533
On Facebook at: St. John Anglican United Church or A-Frame Bookstore
The season gets under way when merchandise starts showing up on store shelves right after Hallowe’en. Gradually it gains momentum and this week Port McNeill is positively buzzing with activity. Bucket trucks have been stringing lights downtown, imaginative displays are going up at local businesses and the special red post office box is ready for our letters to Santa.
Nothing beats Port McNeill’s small town, big spirited kick off to Christmas
Between now and December 25th there’s plenty to fill your calendar including: craft markets with artisans and food vendors, holiday movies at Gate House Theatre, official tree lighting ceremony, a parade, free skating sessions at Chilton Arena and plenty of chances to chat with Santa.
Rain or shine, come and help count down Christmas “light up” in front of IGA tomorrow night. Three local mompreneurs from 19 North Apparel are creating a decorated shelter with comfy chair so Santa can stay visit and have his picture taken. Bring your own camera — there’s no charge.
Don’t miss this special night of great deals, door prizes and sweet treats. Participating stores include:
Island Dawn’s Gift & Consignment
Shoprite Logging, Marine & Outdoor Sports
Tia’s Cafe — MJM Apparel will have a booth set up at Tia’s
The North Island Gazette has been raising funds for Christmas Hampers since 1980. With the strike between WFP and Logger’s Union now into its fifth month there are more North Islanders than ever struggling financially.
A new group called North & South VI Logging Communities United is also taking registrations for Christmas Hampers this year. Visit their website at: https://looniesforloggers.com/ This group has held numerous beer & burger fundraisers up and down the island and been collecting cash and food donations. Their trailer has visited Port McNeill once already and will be back again before Christmas.
Don’t miss Port McNeill’s biggest craft show of the year. Treat yourself to homemade treasures like jewelry, soaps & candles, clothing, paper crafts and edible delights by more than 50 vendors. At the Scout Hall next to the Old School have a browse through the annual fundraising garage sale and enjoy sweet treats & hot chocolate. We won’t make you guess who the special guest is — it’s SANTA. With another opportunity to tell him what’s on your list this year and have your picture taken.
Lunch includes Julia’s homemade peroghies and cabbage rolls — trust us when we say — delicious !!
For more information about events in other North Island communities have a look at this ultimate winter fun guide on Vancouver Island North Tourism’s webpage.
Spring has arrived. The day are longer. Warmer. And the sunshine. Is it just me or is everyone smiling lol. Local garden centres are getting ready for their first shipment of flowers. The Volunteer Fire Department is sporting a brand new facade. There are yard renos and road works happening all over town. Things are happening !!
There was big excitement at CFI Gym on Saturday March 16th for the Mount Waddington Special Olympics annual powerlifting competition. The gym is home to the Port McNeill powerlifting group called “Team Chisel” and they welcomed visitors the “Courtenay Crushers” to this year’s exhibition.
Meet Team Chisel: Thomas Tinney “Bam, Bam,” Anthony Schofield “The Hulk,” John Bee “Ninja,” and Dominic Parsons “Dominator”
Family, friends and community members watched the two teams as they competed in squat, bench press and deadlift events. The crowd cheered on the athletes as they made personal bests. John Bee, who weighs 160 pounds smashed his own record on the deadlift picking up an impressive 365 pounds — more than twice his own weight.
Volunteers (including members of the local RCMP detachment) assisted loading the weights, spotting the athletes, judging the lifts, keeping track of scores and serving refreshments and snacks to athletes and spectators.
Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9-10am the athletes hit the gym with coaches Chris Stewart and Rob Engel. When asked about his thoughts about the event Coach Engel said:
“It’s all about seeing “the kids have that moment of glory, where they have that recognition, the growth and confidence it gives them makes it all worthwhile.”
Team Chisel is getting ready for a big road trip to the upcoming Special Olympics BC Power Lifting competition in Victoria May 5th.
Looking for a fun night out? Spaghetti Night at the “A-Frame Church” is a regular monthly event and open to the community. Singles, couples and families are all welcome. Dinner is served in the A-Frame Bookstore. RSVP in advance if you can or just show up for a delicious homemade meal.
Come and find out more about Phase 3 of the Rotary Trail at this year’s Spring Fling. The evening includes dinner, entertainment and a live auction with all funds going to the trail extension. And mark your calendar for the annual Rugged & Wild Race on May 4th. Walk, run or bike the 5km or 10km route to raise awareness & funds for the trail.
The epitome of shopping local — the Farmer’s & Artisans Market has a strict make-bake-grow mandate. Always offering a wide variety of edibles like fresh eggs, jam & jellies, produce, pastries and baked goodies along with original art, greeting cards, soaps and and so much more. May 4th the market will be set up at the Rotary Club’s Rugged & Wild Race and then takes place every other Saturday from 10am-2pm until September 24rd at the Port McNeill harbour. Helpful hint: arrive right at 10am for the best selection.
Another popular event is the upcoming Ladies Only event “On the Rocks.” Browse & shop at the 20+ vendor tables, sign up for a spa treatment or sit and visit. The event is licensed and there will be appys for sale.
Not sure where to access what’s happening in Port McNeill? There are some great links on Facebook including:
Who says there isn’t anything to do on the North Island?
Port McNeill Community Events
Shout Out to Port McNeill
Port McNeill & District Chamber of Commerce
Town of Port McNeill
If you’re still kicking it old school there are bulletin boards located at:
Port McNeill Post Office
Port McNeill Laundromat
Many store windows.
Check out this comprehensive list of community and recreation groups on the Town of Port McNeill website:
Pop up retail is a new concept for me. It’s been hovering right there on my periphery but I wasn’t really sure what it meant. Last night at Black Bear Resort in Port McNeill I experienced my first one. Vendors from Port McNeill, Port Hardy, Port Alice, Sointula and Campbell River all gathered together to showcase their merchandise in an intimate setting. Organic marketing with a Facebook event page and posters around town gathered at least 100 customers together for the one night event.
Disclaimer – Megan is my daughter and the main reason I gave up Netflix and a warm fire on a chilly Thursday night. Megan sews baby & toddler toques made from organic cotton and flannel receiving blankets and burp cloths. Our adorable grandson Bowen was her first model and as he grows so does the selection of toque sizes she offers. The patterns are funky coastal with trees, whales, mountains and mermaids.
Michele was the organizer of the event. Meeting with some of the other vendors at Orca Fest in August they kept in touch on Instagram and came up with idea of the pop up in Port McNeill. The lobby and meeting room at Black Bear Resort were packed with displays and they’re already talking about another one next month.
Yes, I was extremely happy to buy a few Christmas gifts at Sandra’s table. I won’t mention what those items are in case that family member reads this post 😉 I can tell you that Sandra sells jewelry, bath salts, body scrubs, cards & gift tags, different sized heatable bean bags and more.
Neva is one of the founding members of North Island Farmer’s Market and she’s a huge supporter of the burgeoning home business movement. Her foaming lavender hand soap is my absolute favourite and anyone who has tried her salsa raves about it. Definitely got a bit of a kick !! Neva is always experimenting with essential oils for her bath bombs and bath soaks.
Things I learned tonight from Jodie & Kirstin. Their product Hempworx is Hemp Oil that people use topically or internally for all sorts of ailments. It’s basically cannabis without the THC and completely legal. There’s loads of information about the product on the official website or ask Jodie & Kirstin directly about buying or selling the line of oils & sprays.
Those yellow pie shaped sheets in the lower left of the photo sparked a very interesting conversation with Belen. They’re used in place of plastic wrap to store leftover fruit and vegetables. The beeswax in them keeps produce fresher, longer and is so much better for the environment. She also had some warm & cozy looking wool socks for sale as well as some cool looking wooden combs and retro plant hangers.
New to the North Island Gabriel has been living in Sointula for ten months. Her jewelry is all hand crafted and the majority of it are one piece originals. Very passionate about her craft Gabriel shared details about some of the stones, wire & process that go into each piece. Sooooo pretty — it’s amazing I walked away with only one small bag. But I know she’ll be back again soon.
My apologies to Deborah that I missed coming back for a proper chat. But reading the business card I can share with our readers that you sell: all shapes and sizes of beeswax candles – pillars, tea lights and wax melts as well as hand dipped taper candles. Also soy wax candles, soaps and bath products.
Young Living Essential Oils has landed on the North Island in a big way. Facebook pages are popping up with instructional videos and “make & take” parties where you learn a bit about oils and make your own foaming soap, bath bombs or rollers. Incredibly versatile oils can be used to make your own household cleaning products, lotions, soaps and rollers. I call one of mine “nighty night” and it smells wonderful !! Laura’s mother-in-law Lynda Biggs is an incredible artist. I’ve seen her floral arrangements and and canvas paintings but last night she was displaying painted tiles. Vibrant North Island vignettes of scenery and flowers. She’s also looking for students for a limited class in tile painting scheduled for the new year.
Michelle sells Lip Sense. It’s a water proof, smudge proof long lasting lipstick. Seriously you can put it on and rub your lips and there won’t be one tiny bit of residue on your fingers. An amazing array of colours – it’s very popular with busy moms. You can eat, drink and carry on with your day without worrying about reapplying. Megan & Michelle shared their table and were joined by their friend Jaylene. Heartwarming that these three young moms have known each other since elementary school, are married and have children. I’m so proud to be a 3-generation family in Port McNeill.
Stay tuned for the next Pop Up Port McNeill Shopping Night sometime in December. An event page will show up on Facebook. Other vendors have already approached the organizers so get ready to do some Christmas shopping !!
Always on the hunt for the next story I asked a friend if she had suggestions on which local business I could approach. Her immediate and enthusiastic response was Kirstin Baron from Green Baron Gardening. And then that thing happened. It happens to me all the time. That new name now on my radar keeps cropping up — on Facebook and in conversations.
Busy people, busy lives. It just wasn’t working out for Kirstin and I to meet face-to-face so she kindly answered my questions by email. Horror of all horrors they were lost in space the first time she sent them. I’m grateful she gave it another go — second time was the charm !!
A wonderful example of entrepreneurial spirit, I’ll let Kirstin tell you in her own words how a serendipitous gift gardening of tools, tremendous community support and an encouraging business mentor have all resulted in success.
Why are you in this type of business?
Because I had the schooling and work experience, and I saw a real need for it in our town!
What is your background, education, work experience?
My education background is in horticulture. I took 3 years of the Horticulture Apprentice course at Kwantlen College, focusing more on the greenhouse industry than landscaping. I also worked for a few nurseries during that time, in Surrey, Aldergrove and Nanaimo.
Can you provide me with a description of your business?
Yes, we are primarily a landscaping business, but have included other exterior services such as gutter cleaning and pressure washing homes and driveways.
How long have you been in business? In this business? In other businesses?
This is our second year in business as the Green Baron Gardening, and our first business!
How did you get started in this business?
I actually received a gift for a birthday a few years back that included some gardening tools and a wheelbarrow, as I was thinking about starting a gardening business at that time. So I used what I had and started slowly working casually for friends and family.
How did you get the background and skills necessary to run this type of business?
I believe a lot of it came from my schooling and work experience in the greenhouses. Some of it I learned as I went, and a few skills may have been bred into me, as my grandfather, mother and her siblings all have a green thumb.
Do you know who your competitors are?
Yes but I don’t consider them competitors. So far I have had a wonderful relationship with them, and we work together to help each other.
How do you market your business? How are people aware of your business?
Our main form of advertising is through our Facebook business page, but I have found that word of mouth may have been the biggest form of awareness for us!
Where do you see your business in the next year? In the next five years? The next ten years?
I see our business growing and diversifying to meet the needs of our clients on the North Island. It’s already changed so much from what I thought it would be. I also see my daughter taking over in the next 10 years — at least that’s what she wants. She has her mind made up already!
Whom do you seek advice from for your business?
First and foremost my business mentor. He’s been a great source of knowledge and encouragement. I also seek advice from my aunt who owns a large nursery in Lone Butte, my mom who is incredibly knowledgeable about all things garden, and my dad and 2 brothers who are also entrepreneurs.
Do you have employees? How many?
Not at this time, but we had 5 employees over the spring and summer. They were all wonderful!
Can you describe your customers?
Most of our customers are busy business owners themselves or work full-time and just don’t have the extra time to tend to their gardens or home exterior. Some are new moms or people who have injured themselves and need some extra help. I find a lot of our customers have one or 2 overwhelming projects that they want our help with.
What are the biggest issues for running this business?
Weather is probably the biggest issue! There are a few things we can still do in the rain but it makes most of our work very difficult.
What is the future for this type of business?
I think the future is bright as long as we work with our customers and their budget to provide quality services. There seems to be a need for these services.
What has been your greatest moment of success?
I really feel most successful when our customers are happy, and loving the work we’ve done.
What do you do to recharge when you’re feeling drained?
Taking a whole day off here and there to just relax is what I need! This type of work is hard on the body!
Can you share strategies for making the best use of your time?
Turn off the tv and close Facebook!
On October 20th at the Port McNeill & District Chamber of Commerce Recognition of Excellence Awards Gala I was taking pictures for the Chamber of Commerce. Jon Lok from Strategic Natural Resource Consultants was the presenter for New Small Business of the Year Award.
“This business is said to show excellent workmanship, care of their clients and great community spirit. This business has grown in the past year and now has several employees. They deliver quality work and always looks to layer new products to their business in order to remain sustainable. They understand the concept of starting small and growing with demand. The winner of the New Business of the Year award is: The Green Baron Gardening Services.”
Since I first approached Kirstin about this article, her husband Matt power-washed & removed pounds of disgusting gunk from our gutters. Two more names to add to their expanding list of happy customers !!
Their services include: weeding, mowing, spring & fall clean-up, pruning, landscaping, yard waste removal, sod, lawn care, sweeping & line painting of parking lots, pressure washing buildings & driveways.
“It’s an eclectic mix of local artists that’s just amazing to behold.” That’s the enthusiastic response I got from shop owner Carol Ellison when I asked her for the store’s elevator speech. Located in the Pioneer Mall since 2014, Carol aka The Bead Lady has been creating for most of her life. And for those who have never visited the store don’t let the bead part of the name fool you. The emphasis is definitely on gallery.
The short story is: while running Windsong Marina near Simoom Sound out in the Broughton Archipelago Ellison started selling her beadwork at the gift shop. That’s where she sold her first beaded hummingbird back in 2000. Once the marina sold Ellison moved to Shawl Bay and opened a gallery of her own. Eventually making the move to Port McNeill in 2014, Ellison settled into the old Pacific Coastal Airlines office. Admitting, “people just weren’t going by my place that much,” Ellison picked up and relocated to her current location. She says, “here I get everybody. Not just my old-time clients that are boaters but I get visitors that are driving past. It’s the best exposure area in town.”
Ellison may have started off selling her own beadwork but soon branched out carrying other artist’s work. Fifteen different artists are now exclusive to the store. Over time the store has morphed into carrying a few small antiques and eventually expanded into ladies clothing as well. Wish I could come up with a flashier cliché but you really have to see it to believe it. The gallery includes: ceramic & glass art, mosaics, First Nations carvings and woven hats, teas, soaps & lotions and jewelry.
Ahh the jewelry. Rings and bracelets and hundreds of pairs of earrings. An explosion of sparklies. Buy them ready-made or poke through the drawers full of beads to make your own. Trying to get enough people together for classes didn’t work out but Ellison kindly offers, “if someone wants to learn beading I will teach them.”
Funding from Community Futures of Mount Waddington has allowed Ellison to buy stock and to expand her line of clothing. Colourful flowing dresses, tops, leggings, wraps and scarves. Stylish and comfortable clothing for every day or a special occasion.Carol keeps a wish list for customers if you’re not sure what to buy your special someone.
According to Ellison loyalty is the number one reason customers select her store over others. “We try to make the customer’s visit enjoyable. The whole ambience is to make you feel relaxed and comfortable.” She adds, “just a small thing like the fireplace being turned on makes a difference.” Admitting with a smile that there’s no heat coming from the fireplace — people just want to sit there.
There are challenges to being the owner/operater of a small shop in a small town. Ellison has a friend and fellow artist who steps in to take care of the store occasionally but the feisty senior vows she’ll run the business until she’s not able to anymore. Ellison adds, “with the economic state the way it is on the North Island and sitting afraid of the softwood tax and what it’s going to do to the logging industry — people are holding their money close.” Another challenge is people spending their money down island or on the internet. Stating very matter of factly, “shop local and support your local businesses or one day we’ll wake up and find there are no local businesses left.”
Things you may not know about Carol Ellison & The Bead Lady’s Gallery. She donates to local groups…a lot !! Whether it’s a purse or hand crafted jewelry Ellison does what she can to help local groups and their fundraising efforts. And in a previous life she was master florist for 27 years specializing in wedding flowers.
Slow down next time you’re walking by the shop. Ellison’s creativity includes the ever changing window display. There’s something fresh and new for each occasion or sometimes display ideas just pop into her head, that she thinks “are funny or would be cool.” Just wait until Christmas !! The store goes all out for Christmas. A few hints – trees, teddies and a train. You’ll just have to wait.
Living in a small town means Facebook is quite often my first source of local news. That’s how Kids in Motion hit my radar. The idea was born last year when Lani Siminoff and her partner Matt Martin talked about creating an indoor play space. Port McNeill has its share of inclement weather. Rain. Lots of rain. Lani and Matt took the idea to friends and then the whole community. They formed a non-profit society. Fundraisers included: a ladies movie night at Gate House Theatre, a hot dog sale, petting zoo at Orca Fest and a gofundme campaign. In November 2016 Kids in Motion opened their doors and now six months later they’re planning phase two. Matt Miller, who is also Secretary of the society, kindly answered my questions about how it’s all working out and what’s next.
Do you have a strategic plan? What key things are you trying to accomplish?
We want to grow the society such that we can offer programs that fill unmet, or undermet, needs in the community. Currently our main goals are to establish two new programs (in addition to our Play Centre) – the Summer Day Camp as well as the Toy Library & Makerspace. Once the new programs are established, we’ll likely need to enter a phase of consolidation.
The key objective is to make Port McNeill the undisputed best place on the island to raise a family. The single best way, in our view, of improving the health of society is to invest in the lives of children aged 0-6. The literature and experts agree that early intervention and investment in children sets their health trajectory for the rest of their lives.
What are your most urgent needs?
Our most urgent need is cash donations. We have been lucky enough to be the successful applicants for a number of grants, however it took leveraging of donations to get those grants. We are still raising funds for our combination Toy Library & Makerspace.
What do you wish people knew about Kids in Motion?
We believe what we are doing is making, and will continue to make, a big difference in the lives of children and families in Port McNeill. Having said that, we aren’t doing anything that extraordinary, and while it’s taken a lot of work it hasn’t been that difficult to start making our vision a reality. So, there are many people out there who have ideas about what they would like to see done in our community – we want people to know that things are not going to change unless they make that change happen themselves. People say that they don’t have time but I would like to challenge them to reconsider and ask if they really did have the time if they re-prioritized what they do. It’s often over-used, but we really believe in what Margaret Meade said, “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world.”
What would be the greatest difference in helping Kids in Motion get better at what it does?
More volunteers who can dedicate energy to helping us develop new programs and consolidate our existing ones.
What differentiates Kids in Motion from other kid’s groups?
I think we have more of a focus on being an umbrella organization. What other kid’s group do is great, however they seem to exist in silos from each other. The advantage of being an umbrella organization is that it allows us to start building a brand, which helps with people recognizing us. It also allows us to expand the number of grants we can apply to.
Goals for the next 5 years?
We hope to be a small part of big improvements in health and well being outcomes for children (for example those tracked by the Early Development Instrument). We also hope to be a small part of a big cultural shift in Port McNeill whereby a larger percentage of the population is partaking in healthy activities and getting involved in the community.
Is there a board and/or leadership team?
Yes, we have a Board of Directors which consists of 6 people… we all work and have young families and do our best to volunteer our energy when we have it.
Are you collaborating with other organizations? If so examples. How would you like to enhance these efforts?
We’ve received support from other service organizations, numerous businesses and individuals. We have reached out to other societies such as the North Island Community Services and the CreativeNISS Society to explore ways to collaborate. Our Summer Camp will feature numerous guests such as foresters, biologists, artists, nurses, dietitians, yoga instructer, etc., to help provide an amazing experience of kids. We will also be working with the Vancouver Island Regional Library during the summer as part of our Summer Camp. We’ve talked to the A-Frame church about use of their community garden. We have numerous individuals who will be putting on workshops at our Makerspace. Beyond that, and going forward, we’d love to chat with any individual or group who would be interested in collaborating with us.
How do you express appreciation to your members/supporters?
First of all we offer discounts to our members to help reduce the financial burden as much as possible. We also try to be mindful of how reliant we are on community support – truly, what we offer will live and die depending upon if its something the community supports… so, we try to thank people as much as possible. We thank our volunteers on the facebook page we have set-up for them, we thank and highlight them in our newsletter as much as possible. For our large cash donors we have posted announcements on our facebook page, and have taken out newspaper ads to publicly thank them. In the case of our Play Centre we created a window decal to display the logos of our large corporate donors. We definitely try to give our thanks to supporters, but there is always room to do a better job of that.
Are you happy with the group’s results/stats so far?
We are happy as we feel we’ve come a long way in a relatively short amount of time. As we are talking about shifting culture and health outcomes, we will likely need to wait a few years before we start to get a good picture of the difference we are making. Even then it will be hard to know if outcomes are changing because what we are doing, or because of the cumulative affect of all the changes/interventions that are happening in our town. Having said that, what we do know is that we’ve had well over one thousand children visits to our Play Centre. We’ve had a senior who volunteers with us and has expressed that doing so makes her feel more connected to her community. We’ve had a mother tell us that she feels that because of the Play Centre, her older child is able to be a better big brother to his sister. We’ve had parents and children stay for 3-5 hours at a time at the Play Centre because it’s given them a place they feel they want to be. All of those results are really encouraging for us and help signal that we are on the right path.
Do you issue tax deductible receipts to donors?
Receipts are available upon request, however we are a registered non-profit society, but not a registered charity at this time. That may change in the future, but in the meantime we can not offer tax-deductive receipts to donors in the same way a charity could.
Can you please explain Phase 2 – Makerspace & Toy Library
The combination Toy Library & Makerspace is going to be an all-ages space where people’s imagination and creativity will be fostered. The Toy Library is a repository of toys – children will be able to borrow toys, take them home, play with them, and return them. We believe that this will end up saving families hundreds, and potentially thousands, of dollars over time and will level the playing field for kids of different socio-economic backgrounds.
The Makerspace is a place to make things, invent, create, learn, and share. Makerspaces are relatively new, and most have a focus on exposing people to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Ours will also incorporate the Arts (STEAM). We will have tools such as a 3D printer, robotics, computers, sewing machines, a serger, a silk-screen press, crafting tools, etc. We have lined up numerous locals who will be putting on workshops for how to learn/use these tools and skills. When workshops aren’t running, the space will be available to use the tools and their new found skills.
Grants that are in the works?
We have applied to a number of grants – some which are a bit of a longshot, and others we feel we have a fighting chance to get.
How do you keep your members/supporters up to date?
We have a facebook page which we update regularly, and have a monthly newsletter. The newsletter is posted to our Play Centre window so that it can be read from both the inside and outside, and it is posted to our facebook page (www.facebook.com/pmkidsinmotion). We are also developing a webpage which we hope to have up and running soon.
How can someone get involved?
People can get involved by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or sending us a message via Facebook
Saturday night the hottest ticket in town was the 2nd Annual Rotary Spring Fling. The Rotary Club of Port McNeill created the event last year to raise awareness and funds for an indoor climbing wall in the North Island Secondary School gym. For many of the 100+ people in attendance it was their first view of the completed wall. Interested climbers quickly signed a waiver, donned the proper gear and strategized their route of footholds to the top.
Acoustics in a school gym are always a challenge but local band The Shifters was a crowd pleaser performing sing along, make you want to dance oldies but goodies.
Well done !! to the 24 students involved in setting up the venue, meal prep and serving the meal. Some of them are Interact members which is a service club for young people ages 12 to 18, sponsored & supported by the Rotary Club. Interact fosters leadership, service to others and international understanding. And a shout out to all the cooks in the kitchen — dinner was absolutely delicious !! Big bowls of Greek and Caesar salad followed by a generous serving of lasagna. Garlic heaven !! For those that still had room (heck ya I did) there was an ice-cream sundae bar with choices of sorbet, ice-cream, sprinkles and sauce.
After dinner the Masters of Ceremony Chris Stewart and Cheryl Jorgenson (who were an awesome tag team and no they didn’t pay me to say that) outlined the history of the climbing wall and the ongoing efforts. The main focus of the this year’s fundraising however is the Rotary Trail. Phase 1 of the trail leads from the intersection of Mine Road & Campbell Way to Hwy 19. Phase 2 continued the trail from the t-intersection heading north to the first logging road creating a huge loop. The vision is to extend the trail from the t-intersection of Hwy 19 & Campbell Way south to the airport.
After the dinner plates were cleared away the live auction started. So here’s how it worked. Donated items displayed on the tables were all numbered. That number was placed in a helium balloon. Then the auctioneers would tell us which category the balloon was in — either $30 to $50 range or $50 & up range. The successful bidder would then be given the balloon to pop and find out what number item they’d won. Being a multi-generational event the first items were geared to the younger guests. When all the balloons were purchased the auction moved onto the bigger items in a real live auction. There was a signed Trevor Linden jersey, a trip to Nimmo Bay Resort, a helicopter ride with West Coast Helicopters and loads of gift certificates.
When I asked Rotary President Deborah Murray yesterday how much money they’d raised she told me they don’t have a final tally yet but it was a very successful event.
Coming up Saturday May 6th is the first Rugged & Wild Rotary Race a 10km run/walk/bike race. Entry is $10 and there will be entertainment at the start/finish line. The Farmer’s Market will also be set up onsite. Murray envisions the race morphing into something runners/walkers will add to their list of events. Next year there will be timers and participants will be given a number.
For more information visit on the race or Rotary Club please visit:
Whether you’re selling homemade jam at the farmer’s market or the largest company in town — how a customer is treated can make or break a business. The Bargain Shop in Port McNeill strives to provide excellent customer service and it shows.
April 1st will mark the ten year anniversary of The Bargain Shop opening and Michelle Monk was part of the original team. Originally as a “key holder” and one year later she was promoted to manager. I recently sat down with Monk to find out what makes The Bargain Shop tick.
“We’re a smaller more personal store where you can find almost anything you need right from clothing and shoes to houseware products or light bulbs. It’s the store where you can get more personal service. It’s an every daystore. You can pretty much find or we can get in anything you need.” ~Michelle Monk ~
One of the biggest challenges, according to Monk, is competing with stores that offer online shopping. She notes, “we’re a a smaller company and we may get there but we’re not there yet. People from this town can get anything they want or need and easily order it from home, not having to leave their house or shop and look. Tough to compete with that and it’s getting bigger. I see comments on Facebook that someone has just received a big order for food and I can’t comment, but I’d like to say come and check out our prices.” Many items are the same price as stores down island and sometimes they may be priced a dollar or two higher but Monk stresses the importance of keeping business in town.
When asked about attaining personal Monk explains, “some people have a knack for it and those are the ones I want to hire.” Staff are told “never to point” to an item but to personally take the customer and show them where the item is located. That’s also why there are no aisle numbers in the store. It gives the staff a few moments to chat with the customers and make them feel welcome. Monk asks her staff how they feel when they walk into a store without being acknowledged. She says “all it takes is a hello or a how are you and in a small town it is easier knowing so many people.
For those who don’t pay attention to receipts have a look next time you shop at The Bargain Shop. There is a website to visit and fill out a quick survey. If you give them your email address you’ll receive a 10% off coupon and you can also enter a monthly contest for in store gift cards. Monk proudly told me the store scores, “very high on the survey that people can take after visiting the store. My District Manager has me train other stores because we get 80 to 90% on customer service all the time. I remind the staff daily that customers come first and we never ignore a customer.”
Many customers are surprised to learn Michelle is the manager. She spends more time behind the counter than in her office. And not wanting to be just the boss Monk admits, “the staff are family to me. I promised myself when I became manager that I would take all the good points from previous bosses. Firm, fair, helpful and work as hard as the associates.”
For me the store is like a treasure hunt and I’m always astounded at the random items I find when cruising the aisles. I asked Monk to tell me something about The Bargain Shop that people might not know. She admits, “since SuperValu closed people are now becoming more aware of how many food items we carry, also medicine like children’s Advil and other pharmacy items we’re allowed to carry.” She adds,” our canned goods are cheaper, coffee is cheaper and cereal is cheaper here.”
Future plans for The Bargain Shop? The chain of 155 stores does want to expand and according to Monk, “will probably grow bigger and change into Red Apple within the next five years.” All the surveys customers fill out online are printed out and given to head office. Those results are analyzed to see what can be done better and when a store does something outstanding it’s recognized and shared with other stores. Monk encourages customers to fill out the survey “good or bad,” explaining, “we can’t fix something if we don’t know.”
Once a year members of our business community and individuals gather together to celebrate excellence. And the Port McNeill & District Chamber of Commerce really knows how to throw a party !! This year the event moved to the Lion’s Hall which was magically transformed with draped tulle, crisp white table linens and intimate lighting. The glamorous ambiance entirely fitting to honour this year’s nominees.
Multi-tasker extraordinaire Gaby Wickstrom was the master of ceremonies. Wickstrom is not only this year’s Chamber President but also manages the organization from her home office: answering the phone, the email messages, attending conferences and meetings. This night she was head cheerleader reminding us of the excellence & passion businesses and people provide the community.
Originally I was going to post a picture of my dinner. Instead I’ll just mention the buffet was delicious and plentiful. And the extra hot horseradish served with the roast beef was a big hit at our table *insert watering eyes here*. Thanks Yanni and staff from the Sportsman Restaurant for all my favourite winter comfort food. But I do digress.
Generous sponsor support enabled the Chamber to bring up Steven Falk and Richard Jansen, motivational speakers from “Switchback” who entertained and educated in their effective tag team delivery. Their message was simple but profound. Whether you’re a faller in the woods or a Chamber it’s essential to be on a team that comes together rather than falls apart when under pressure. Not sure I’ve heard the word bullshit so many times in one presentation but it effectively underscored the negative, dark place we go when in fight or flight mode.
New Business of the Year
The nominees in this category were:
Carson Roofing Ltd.
Cluxewe Cafe & Waterfront Bistro
43K Wilderness Solutions
The Garden Shack Garden Centre
The Rock Pub
This company moved to the region in 2014. The owner is a home grown North Islander returning to the region, employing local people. They are known for quality work and excellent customer service. In a predominantly male led industry, this young woman is carving a name for herself.
New Business of the Year Winner — Carson Roofing Ltd.
Small Business of the Year
The nominees in this category were:
The Bike Shed & Outdoor Store
Carson Roofing Ltd.
The Clothes Inn
Community Futures of Mount Waddington
Mugz Coffee & Tea House
Ragged Edge Community Network
Robin’s Pet Supplies
Timberland Sports Center
They go above and beyond with customer service and if they don’t have it in the store they will surely get it for you in a timely manner. They are supportive of the community and have a wide range of products for people of all income levels and interests. Their staff is friendly and knowledgeable and have created a biking group who are dedicated to improving people’s health.
Small Business of the Year winner — The Bike and Outdoor Store
Home-Based Business of the Year
The nominees in this category were:
Carson Roofing Ltd.
The Green Baron – Landscaping by Kirsten Baron
Leanna Masterman – Epicure
Shayla Fraser- Steeped Tea
Trine Pederson – Hairdresser
This home business’s client base has grown from last year. They are committed to the Farmer’s Market and have an excellent product, customer service and customer loyalty. As a business owner they are involved in the community in many areas.
Home Based Business of the Year winner — Kallie’s Cupcakes
The nominees in this category were:
BC Ferries – Port McNeill Terminal
James Willson – Silver King Ventures
Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures
MacKay Whale Watching
Nimmo Bay Resort
North Island Marina
Stubbs Island Whale Watching
Telegraph Cove Resort
This business has dedicated their lives to tourism and is always full of people in the summer. They are expanding and upgrading their facilities each year. The owner has been involved with the regional tourism advisory committee. They hold annual events open to other communities. In the summer the place is a bustling community with people visiting from all over the world.
Tourism Award winner — Telegraph Cove Resort
Customer Service Excellence
The nominees in this category were:
Carson Roofing Ltd.
Jennie-Lynn Noel – Technician at People’s Drug Mart
Kayla Long – Tia’s Cafe
Kimberly Bentley – The Clothes Inn
Liquor Store Staff
Michelle Monk – The Bargain Shop
North Island Marina
Pharmacist Brittany Swanson – People’s Drug Mart
Robert Russell – The Shed Outdoor Store
Robin Neil – Robin’s Pet Supplies
Stacey Coy – Gus’s Pub
Some of the things said of this recipient were: She is always helpful and has a huge smile on her face when you come into the store. She will find what you need and goes out of her way to find it at the other store or order something in to keep customers happy. When you come out of the change room looking fabulous, she squeals and it’s an instant sale. She is an amazing person to deal with and work with.
Customer Service Excellence winner — Kimberly Bentley from The Clothes Inn
Professional Merit Award
The nominees in this category were:
Dr. Priean Armogam
Dr. Brian Bostrom – Dental Clinic
Brenda Isaac – VIHA
Christie Dreger – Community Futures
Greg Muirhead – Teacher at NISS, Fireman, Ranger
Jonathon Fintoft – Western Forest Products
Jonathon Lok – Strategic Natural Resource Consultants
Terrence Eissfeldt – West Coast Helicopters
This person is an active, gung-ho teacher of Outdoor Pursuits helping to mold young people into well rounded individuals. They are also involved with the Junior Canadian Rangers and the Fire Department.
Professional Merit Award — Greg Muirhead
Senior of the Year
The nominees in this category were:
Tom & Julia Hopkins
Some of the things said of this recipient were: A retired school teacher/principal Kathy Martin has spent her life caring about literacy by fostering a love of books & reading, through drama and education. A master grant writer Kathy wrote for and received funds for the Mother Goose program — a traveling bus full of books taking literacy to children on the North Island . Those same grant writing skills resulted in Missoula Children’s Theatre coming to Port McNeill many times over the years. Fostering creativity and engaging youth in the arts Missoula is an amazing program that takes a group of kids and in one week has them learn lines and perform a play for the community. Kathy is a past Rotary member where she was active in literacy programs such as Born to Read (packages for newborns) and selling books for beginner readers at Craft Fairs.
Senior of the Year winner — Kathy Martin (Unable to attend the gala)
Youth Entrepreneur Award
The nominees in this category are:
Both of these nominees are exceptional young people in our community. The recipient of this award is super involved in the community in many areas: guides, quatse hatchery, science fair, etc. She has her own photography business, is an honor roll student and an exemplary ambassador for our community.
Youth Entrepreneur Award winner — Danielle Lacasse
From time to time the Chamber, where we see someone is achieving this, will give the innovation award to a business who truly thinks outside of the box in achieving success.
This year we are giving this award to a special group of young people who started a company with a vision of a better cup of coffee. If you have not have the privilege to have a tour of their school and what they have achieved, you have missed out. Their teacher Doug Abbot saw an opportunity and allowed the students to run with it. In building their business they collaborated with many disciplines: computer science, woodworking, metalwork and the list goes on. Prior to the tour, I had no idea what went into roasting a coffee bean. They are garnering attention from other Island schools and this summer they provided all the coffee for Kingfisher kayak tours.
Innovation Award winner — 1Eleven Roasting Company – NISS Students
Community Spirit Award
The nominees in this category were:
The Gazette Hamper Fund
North Island Farmer’s Market
Port McNeill Events Committee
Port McNeill Kids in Motion
Port McNeill Rotary Club
Robin Neil – Robin’s Pet Supplies
Steve & Jessica Jackman – North Island Marina
Terry Eissfeldt – The Gate House Community Association
This group of people is dedicated to developing a market where locally produced products are sold. This little organization has grown every year, is inclusive of the other regions and is involved in establishing food security for the North Island. They work incredibly hard not only to develop their own products, but support one another in order to be successful. They are inclusive of all communities and try to rove around the island so that they have a presence in each community.
Community Spirit Award winner — The North Island Farmers and Artisans Market Association
Chamber Spirit Award
This special award is given to a chamber person who is dedicated to building up the business community. This year’s recipient has owned many businesses through the years. She is a passionate community person, who is known to give back. It’s in her nature to make her community better. She is supportive of business and always looks at ways where we as a Chamber can serve to make the business climate better. She has volunteered as our Treasurer for the last year and a half.
Chamber Spirit Award winner — Annie Leblanc (Unable to attend the gala)
Community Arts Award
The nominees in this category were:
Alana Collins – Portside Dance Academy
Gate House Theatre
Heather Brown – Artist
Pewi Alfred – First Nations Dance and Language/Alert Bay
Teresa Charlton – Highland Dance
Wild Heart Music
Some of the things said of this recipient were: They have successfully run for the last four years and have branched out into many communities. They perform, bring in professionals for young people to work with and sing with enthusiasm. Their program has been approved by the School District 7 schools and participating with: NISS, AJ Elliott, Sunset, Cheslakees, Sea View, Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw & Eke Me-xi Learning Centre.
Community Arts Award winner — Wild Heart Music
Business of the Year
The nominees in this category were:
Coastal Community Insurance Services
Cluxewe Waterfront Bistro
Mugz Coffee & Tea House
Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort
Petro Canada- Port McNeill & Hyde Creek
North Island Marina & Fuel Dock
Robin’s Pets Supplies
The Rock Pub
The Shed Outdoor Store
Strategic Natural Resource Consultants
Timberland Sports Centre
West Coast Helicopters Maintenance & Contracting Ltd.
This winner meets and exceeds the criteria of their nomination. They employ our youth, providing them with valuable work experience and morals. Each time I go there I am greeted by a working student or local and I recognize that importance. The ambiance there is great and offers peace, quiet and privacy if you want it. You can pop in for a quick specialty coffee or stay awhile in a relaxing ambiance with some great comfort food. They are community minded donating gift certificates & coffee/goodies to many local events.
Business of the Year winner — Mugz Tea & Coffee House (Unable to attend the gala)
Congratulations to all the nominees and winners and special thanks to the sponsors and those who donated to the silent auction. Each one of you helped make the Gala a sparkling success.