Darts Hill Garden

On Tuesday, June 21, 2011, we attended an open house event at Darts Hill Garden (http://www.dartshill.ca/). I had never heard of this site before, but it is truly a treasure. Set on 7.5 acres in South Surrey, the garden features a collection of rare plants, shrubs and trees.

The garden was cultivated over a period of sixty years by Edwin and Francisca Darts, and Francisca subsequently donated the site to the City of Surrey for public enjoyment. The gardens are cared for by the Darts Hill Society, which makes annual memberships available at a cost of only twenty dollars.

Among other benefits, members can enjoy monthly visits to the garden including guided tours and access to guest speakers. For non-members, the garden is generally open four times per year. Guided tours can also be booked at a cost of five dollars per person.

one of many flower beds

In addition to the abundant flora, there is significant fauna in and around the gardens. We saw evidence of deer and raccoons. Apparently, the ponds are inhabited by frogs, and the forest canopy supports a wide array of bird life.

The City of Surrey and Darts Hill Society continue to seek ways to preserve and enhance this incredible natural legacy, and there is talk of partnering with a local post-secondary institution to offer horticultural training. Watch for future open house events in the autumn. In the meantime, I recommend considering taking out a membership in the Darts Hill Society. For the nominal cost involved, it would definitely be an excellent investment!

a striking plant in the forest


New Moka House at Guildford Mall


Moka House Coffee has opened its newest location in Guildford Mall.  All of their blends are both fair trade and organic, and the price point is fairly competitive (just over $2.00 for a large cup).  On top of all that, the coffee was brewed to perfection.  Moka House will definitely give the green mermaid a run for her money!

Sanduz Estate Wines

Sanduz Estate Wines

Sanduz Estate Wines

Friends of ours recently told us about Sanduz Estate Wines, which offers a range of fruit and grape wines in addition to syrups, jellies and honeys.  We headed over to their winery and tasting room in Richmond, BC this afternoon.

They have an interesting selection of fruit wines, from granny smith apple to rhubarb.  I tasted the granny smith, blueberry and blackberry.  They were all delicious, but the blueberry wine was particularly impressive.

Sanduz was founded in 2006 and has won numerous awards, which surprised me because I had never heard of it.  Their products aren’t in any other stores, so you will have to make your way out to there if you want to get your hands on a bottle or two.  You won’t be disappointed.

Please note, the writer did not receive any monetary or nonmonetary consideration for this post.

CBC Nooners

Nooner concert series at CBC Plaza

So, I have not been blogging much.  Probably because I have either been chained to my desk or on the road.  I actually got away from my desk at lunch today, and headed over to the CBC building on Hamilton for their “Nooner” concert series.

Every weekday this summer, they are putting on a free live concert during the lunch hour.  Today, Juno award winning Greg Sczebel and his band played a rousing set.  It was a little rock, a little jazz, and a whole lot of fun!  Sczebel will be touring with Paul Brandt in the very near future.

The best part is that I was able to combine two of my great loves – the CBC AND good coffee!  Adjacent to the CBC’s outdoor stage area is a very quaint JJ Bean cafe, complete with green roof and patio seating.  Talk about a great location!

CBC’s “Live Chemical Reaction” in Vancouver


CBC Studios (Vancouver)

My wife and I had the pleasure of sitting in on a live taping of Go!  (CBC’s “live chemical reaction”) in Vancouver last Friday.  It was the western finals of the Canada Writes competition, and there were a few surprises in store.

The Go! cast warmed up the audience (and presumably themselves) with banter and a skit.  After that, the show started, and Brent Bambery soon introduced the guest judges.  The panelists included film maker Mina Shum, Spirit of the West frontman John Mann, and commedian Sugar Sammy.


The Judges

The contestants were introduced, and they each performed a piece written earlier on the worst advice they had ever received (memorable among these were “dude, let’s take your Dad’s van”, and simply “jump!”).

In the second round, a vocalist delivered new lyrics that the aspiring authors penned for popular songs.   One hapless contestant had to rewrite the lyrics to a Spirit of the West classic!  After that, it was time for the first contestant to be ejected from the contest by way of the show’s metaphorical trapdoor.

The remaining contestants had to write a movie pitch in five minutes with assigned titles including “the Fourth Cauldron” (shades of 2010, anyone?), and then produced their shortest works of fiction ever (with a 60 second time limit, no less).

In the midst of all of this, John Mann performed two numbers, and Ian Hanomansing popped in to promo a new NHL themed game that he created.  By the end of the show, one more contestant had been ejected and the two Western finalists were proclaimed.

If you live in the Winnipeg or Toronto areas, additional Canada Writes shows are coming up, and tickets are free!

Most urban aboriginal people opt to stay in city


My initial reaction/rant regarding this story:

While the national Urban Aboriginal Peoples Study bore noteworthy results, this CBC story demonstrates an appalling lack of sophistication. The piece states that “almost half of Canadian Aboriginal people are city dwellers” (this part is true), and goes on to say that “many have no plans to return to their home reserves” (this is terribly off the mark).

What’s wrong with the latter statement? It is a gross generalization. It seems that the terms “Aboriginal” and “First Nations” are being used interchangeably in much of the print and radio coverage today, but these words are not synonymous. The Constitution Act of 1982 recognizes three Aboriginal peoples: Indian (First Nations), Inuit and Métis.

As anyone with a passing knowledge of Canadian history should know, Métis and Inuit people do not have reserves to return to. Moreover, many Aboriginal Canadians – including First Nations people whether or not they hold status under the Indian Act – have been in urban settings for multiple generations. Of course the cities have become home!

As a person of Métis descent, I can attest to the fact that many Aboriginal people feel strong connections to their ancestral homes; however, these bonds are far more varied and complex than this story would lead us to believe.

I still love the CBC!

CBC has shuffled much of its line up, presumably due to budget constraints.  Unfortunately, it seems that many of the late night rebroadcasts that I previously mentioned (e.g., Curious Orange, Deutsche Welle) seem to have fallen out of rotation.  One silver lining is that they are now broadcasting Radio Canada International’s Link, a two hour show that is intended to “connect new immigrants to Canada and Canada to the world”.

Last night, they featured the Royal Ontario Museum’s Fakes & Forgeries exhibit.  A wide range of artefacts –  and their counterpart counterfeits – are on display.  These include bank notes, ancient Mexican rain gods, classical Greek statuettes, fossils, and even software.  Visitors are given a few clues and challenged to spot the fakes.  According to the commentator, the exhibit will make its way to Surrey (although I haven’t found any details online so far).

A little later, the commentators discussed a recent fatwa issued by twenty North American Muslim clerics in response to the recent underwear bomber.  Released under the banner of the Canadian Islamic Congress, it highlighted the fact that North America’s ten million Muslims have complete freedom to practice their faith.  It also included an opinion that any attack on Canada or the USA would also represent an attack on Muslims as well.

The Link broadcast also featured music by a number of artists including Melissa Bel, a talented young woman from Burlington, Ontario.  Her vocal quality was slightly reminiscent of Janice Joplin and her repertoire is apparently fairly broad, spanning jazz, pop and rock.

And at some point, I finally managed to get back to sleep…