Paws 4 Peace with the Canadian Red Cross

Add a Comment by Rebecca Bollwitt

The seventh annual Paws 4 Peace walk will take place June 7th at Second Beach in Stanley Park. This initiative by the Canadian Red Cross is to raise awareness of the work done by their Humanitarian Issues Working Group.


Every day around the world, many people lose their life and limbs to explosive remnants of war such as landmines and cluster bombs. Millions of people living in over 80 countries must think twice about where they walk, as they fear the deadly legacies in the ground. People who survive these life-changing accidents must live with their injuries for the rest of their lives. Paws 4 Peace will raise awareness on this crucial issue while raising crucial funds to help the survivors of landmine and cluster bomb accidents. [Read more…]

The walk is 3km around Lost Lagoon and as the name of the event suggests, dogs are very welcome. Participants are encouraged to register and raise funds for their walk or anyone has the option of simply donating to the cause. Friends, family, and children are also welcome on the walk and there will be refreshments, music, displays about the cause, arts & crafts, and “ask the trainer” services for dog owners.

Paws 4 Peace will serve to educate, inform, and help those who need the humanitarian support offered by the Canadian Red Cross.

Vancouver History Tidbits: Pauline Johnson’s Legends of Vancouver

Comments 8 by Rebecca Bollwitt

It’s been a few years now since I discovered the work of Pauline Johnson and I’ve been enchanted by her writing ever-since.

Pauline Johnson

Pauline Johnson (1861-1913) was the child of a Mohawk chief and an Englishwoman and as a writer and poet, she traveled across North America and England giving readings of her work and performing on stage. She retired to Vancouver and continued to write for the Province basing her articles on stories shared by her friend Chief Joe Capilano of the Squamish people of North Vancouver.

Important woman in Vancouver history

In 1911, to support Johnson who was terminally ill and not wealthy by any means, a group of friends organized the publication of her stories under the title Legends of Vancouver [source: wiki]. Pauline included “a 100-word foreword telling of her debt to Chief Joe Capilano, his role in the Legends, and mentioning that most of them were being told in English for the first time.” [VancouverHistory] In 1913 she died of breast cancer at the old Bute Street Hospital in Vancouver.

I would highly recommend looking up some of the stories and poetry she wrote and documented based on local lore. You’ll find things like The Two Sisters (the story of the lions), Siwash Rock, The Isle of the Dead Men (Deadman’s Island in Stanley Park), The Lost Island, The Great Grey Archway, Deer Lake’s Lost River, and one the personally chills me, The Lure in Stanley Park. Legends of Vancouver is available at local book stores (call ahead to any Book Warehouse location to check), the library, and you can also find a few of the stories online.

Lost Lagoon – Photo credit: Danielle Bauer on Flickr

Her tales of a Vancouver not many know or perhaps have heard nowadays combined with her international career not only make her a pioneer in this city, but in so many other realms. She was even commemorated on a postage stamp in 1961 — being the first aboriginal-Canadian, first woman (other than the Queen), and author to ever be honored in this manner. Johnson was also credited with giving Lost Lagoon its name since before it became land-locked in 1916 it disappeared at low tide.

At the entrance to the Sequoia Grill parking lot

The Pauline Johnson memorial in Stanley Park, which was built in 1922, is just off the road between The Teahouse and Third Beach. It’s overgrown and the fountain no longer flows but next time you’re in the park, stop on by to tribute this legend.

Vancouver History Tidbits: Queen Victoria

Add a Comment by Rebecca Bollwitt

It’s the May Long Weekend here in BC and for many that means getting the boat out of hibernation, pitching a tent for the first time this year, lazy days at the beach, and tuning into daytime TV and wondering what happened to Bob Barker. The long weekend is due to Monday being Victoria Day and if you’re wondering what Queen Victoria’s influence has been on our province here are some quick facts:

  • The city of Victoria (BC’s capital) is named after Queen Victoria
  • The Empress Hotel in Victoria’s harbour is named after the Queen, who was the Empress of India
  • Victoria Peak on Vancouver Island was named after her.
  • Richard Moody (one of the most important figures in Greater Vancouver’s early history) named the area we now know as New Westminster, “Queensborough” – in honor of Queen Victoria. She then actually suggested it be named New Westminster and because of this name change, it became known as the Royal City and capital of the Crown Colony of British Columbia. [source: VancouverHistory]
  • Queen Victoria passed away in 1901 and all of the nations in the Commonwealth mourned her death after her 63 years as monarch (she reigned longer than any other). Her birthday was May 24th 1819 and the holiday we now celebrate is in honor of her birthday.

Now that we know a little bit more about the origins of today’s stat holiday we can get back to our BBQs, movie marathons, and head out to a local outdoor pool that is opening for the season as of this weekend (as long as the weather holds).

Morning Cycle Around Town with Opus

Comments 4 by Rebecca Bollwitt

To celebrate a successful (yet somewhat soggy) Bike to Work Week I ventured out this morning for a tour of downtown with Dave from Opus. I was going to take photos along the way but I thought it best to pay attention to the routes, the perspective, and the glorious weather at atmosphere that was all around. I know Roland has mastered the art of snapping photos and taking videos of his daily bike commute using small devices but my camera just wouldn’t be able to handle that. However, I did collect tons of information about cycling in Vancouver.

We started off by crossing downtown with ease, using bike lanes and maneuvering the streets of the West End (that are sometimes like a maze for a car). Dave said his favourite spot to scope out the latest bikes is in front of the HSBC building on Georgia Street, where all the couriers hang out. We then headed over to the new convention centre although the bike paths are not yet complete – this meant we had to carry our bikes down several flights of concrete stairs to reach the seawall in Coal Harbour. Over to Stanley Park, Second Beach, English Bay, and up to Burrard Bridge we went as we made the crossing to Kitsilano. Winding down to Vanier Park (where the Childrens’ Festival is taking place) Dave showed me the proposed location for a new BMX and mountain bike park.

Walk Bike Walk

While we were in the area, we stopped by Museum of Vancouver to pick up some information about the upcoming Velo-City exhibit (June 4th, 2009 – September 7, 2009) before heading back over the Burrard Bridge.

The entire time I was riding a Cervin Urbanista bike, by Opus. An upright cruiser-style bike that had 8-speeds, hand brakes, fenders, kickstand, and a basket (that made me want to go pick up some groceries on the way home). We’ve been living car-free since 2005 so we’re mostly just walkers and transit takers however getting up on a bike, crossing town in a breeze, and realizing that this city actually is highly accessible for cyclists made me want to go out and pick us up some two-wheelers. We’ve talked about it a lot and would use the bikes for things like getting to work and more importantly, the beach in the summer. I really liked the Cervin because it was comfy, casual (not hard-core mountain bike style) and still totally functional with the multiple gears. I used to BMX in my punk teenage years (and mountain bike before that) but I find this type of bike best suits our needs as it’s not only functional, it’s a step up from being a simple cruiser.

My bike for the day from Opus

In case you’d like to check out an Opus bike for yourself, you can head to Mighty Riders (Broadway and Ontario & 4th and Burrard), Ace Cycle (West Broadway), Jubilee Cycle (Imperial, Burnaby), Obsession Bikes (Lonsdale, North Vancouver) and Cove Bikes (Main St, North Vancouver).

Remember it is the law to wear your helmet and please be alert when you’re out on the roads. Bike to Work Week is coming to an end but check out the Vancouver Cycling Coalition for upcoming events and information. This is a city of cyclists and I look forward to being a part of it all in the very near future.

Irashai Grill in Coal Harbour

Comments 14 by Rebecca Bollwitt

Last night we were invited to a special dinner at Irashai in Coal Harbour. It features upscale Japanese cuisine and tapas and is quietly tucked away on West Pender, between Jervis and Broughton. Within walking distance of home, and in close proximity to Stanley Park (or the #19 Stanley Park bus), this gem’s been hidden from us for far too long.


John and I sat down at a table with Heather, Sherman, Joyce, Daniel, Eddie, and Irashai’s hired gun marketing whiz, Danielle to enjoy the following feast from their dinner menu.


We began with specialty cocktails (that start around around $8.5) and had our choice of Yuzu Crush (sake, cointreau, rum, yuzu, melon), Sake Martini (sake, vodka, gin), Litchi Whisky Sour (rye, litchi juice, whisky sour mix, soda water), and the Mango Cosmo (mango juice, malibu, vodka).


The first course was the Asparagus Salad with ikura and egg sauce.


This was followed by Rib Eye Beef Tataki with garlic ponzu jelly and ponzu sauce.


I really enjoyed the Tai (Snapper) Sashimi — and as you can see their presentation is just lovely as well.


This was followed by Hamachi Sashimi with daikon salad and pommery mustard dressing.


The Yam Fries were awesome, deep fried in a super light tempura batter.


Fresh Spot Prawns were up next. “They were swimming just 2 hours ago,” said our server, Christine. She also took the heads once we were done, had them deep fried, and brought them back for us to sample. This dish was a real highlight for the group.


The Ice Wine Tuna that came after was delicious – you could really sense the sweet, supple taste of the ice wine in this dish.


The Pearl Chicken Karaage was made with tiny pebbles of rice cracker, which gave it a great crunch.


The Summer Roll (prawn tempura, masago, and cucumber, topped with tuna crunch avocado, sweet soy and spicy mayo) was served alongside the White Slope Roll (real crab and avocado topped with scallop and spicy sauce). The summer roll was also a huge hit with our group and I tell ya, there’s nothing like a California-style roll made with real crab.


Probably my favourite roll of the evening was the Alaska Crab Leg Roll (Alaska King Crab, mango, masago and lemon mayo, deep fried before serving). I’ve had mango in a roll before but this was so subtle that it didn’t overpower any of the other flavours with its sweetness. I’ve also become a huge fan of the lemon mayo.


We called this the “cheeseburger roll”, the Spicy Beef Volcano (beef, cream cheese and asparagus, sprinkled with cheese and baked, topped with spicy sauce) was indeed topped with melted cheese. It’s taking fusion to a whole other level and I must say, it tastes pretty darn good (though may be a bit too rich for some).


Following the rolls we sampled some Sable Fish with savory Yuan Sauce.


The final dinner menu item of the evening was the Aigamo Duck, which didn’t disappoint.


There were too dessert options including Macha Crème Brûlée as well as Mascarpone Tiramisu. I’m regretting the fact that I didn’t get any photos of the green tea crème brûlée once we cracked into it but it was gobbled up pretty fast.

Irashai Irashai

Irashai is located at 1368 West Pender and they’re open for lunch with bento box combo specials that range from about $8-$16. Given the quality of the food, the taste, the atmosphere, and the presentation, I think it’s a decent value for a nice sit-down meal — this ain’t your average one-roll sushi joint. They also have a few strategically-placed televisions that don’t distract too much unless you’re a hockey fan.


For more information you can follow them on Twitter @Irashai, join their Facebook group, or even add your delicious photos to their Flickr group. They also have a special event coming up near the end of the month so it will definitely be worth paying attention.


You can view the rest of my photos from the evening in my Irashai set on Flickr and Sherman’s got his review up already on his site.