A fresh perspective




Throughout our 10th anniversary year, we’re looking back at some of the people, places, and endeavours that we featured in our very first issues. We’re following up on a handful of stories from Volume 2 (Spring 2015) to see what’s changed—and what those changes reveal about the continuous evolution of the place we call home.

Puntledge Paddling Festival

The annual Puntledge Paddling Festival had been running for nine years when we first featured it. Our original article highlighted the ecological and environmental implications that were carefully considered when planning the festival—a process which involved three years of meetings between BC Hydro and various stakeholders. Unfortunately, the festival, which regularly attracted over 200 paddlers from around the world each spring, shut down three years after our article due to land access issues, with 2018 being its final year.

This has been a significant loss for the kayaking community, who hope to one day resurrect the festival. The Vancouver Island Whitewater Paddling Society reaches out to the relevant landowners every year to see if there have been any changes to the land access question.

Regardless of the continuation of the festival, and although access points are limited, the Puntledge River remains an exceptional place to paddle when the water levels are right, from Nymph Falls and Stotan Falls all the way down to Condensory Bridge.

Elevate the Arts

Elevate the Arts emerged in 2012 from a shared group of friends with a passion for community building and a desire to create barrier-free access to art, culture, and recreation. (Read the original article here.) The group’s Downtown Courtenay Street Festival ran for six years; the final event, in 2018, was Elevate the Intersection, which celebrated Pride with the installation of a new rainbow crosswalk on 5th Street at Duncan Avenue. They continue to produce Moonlight & Magic for Downtown Courtenay every November.

In 2019, Elevate launched a free summer concert series in Cumberland, funded entirely from proceeds from the Village’s Market Day and Foggy Mountain Fall Fair. During the two-year COVID-19 hiatus, they supported the Village Bat Gallery participatory art project, where over 125 individuals and families painted bats and hung them around Cumberland. They also funded Small Town, City Blues, a documentary about housing insecurity and gentrification in the Village.

In 2023, they produced Cumberland’s 125th anniversary celebration, Belonging 125, and coordinated the Village’s Halloween and Tree Light Up events. More recently, Elevate championed a series of “disruption events” and a new after-school program to bring band back to Cumberland, and they’ve got lots of plans for summer and beyond—all involving art, music, and creativity—because this small but mighty team continues to be a catalyst for “making sh*t happen.”

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Royal LePage Snow to Surf

The first edition of what is now known as the Royal Lepage Snow to Surf Adventure Relay Race kicked off in 1982. (Read the original article here.) Now in its 42nd year (with a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19), the multi-sport relay takes participants from Mount Washington to the Comox Marina. This year’s event takes place April 28.

From 48 teams of six, the race now regularly attracts well over 100 nine-person teams from all over Vancouver Island and beyond. The original legs were alpine and Nordic skiing, running, road cycling, and canoeing. Mountain biking and kayaking were added in later years due to an increase in popularity.

In 2015, a year with very little snow, organizers had to adapt the race due to the early closure of Mount Washington. They rebranded the year’s event, calling it Turf to Surf, and modified the first three alpine sections to accommodate the conditions: alpine ski, snowshoe, and Nordic skiing became various running legs in rejigged locations on the mountain.

This annual event has evolved into much more than a race. As their website explains, “it has not only become an exhilarating and unforgettable race, but a monumental community-building celebration that brings together hundreds of volunteers and spectators of all ages.”

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Exquisite Auto Creations

This automobile restoration business in Merville has now been in operation for 31 years. (Read the original article here.) Co-owner Casey Schoenfelder notes, “Not much has changed over the last decade.” Their projects are typically two- to four-year builds—a long-term commitment for their clients—so things move slowly.

One change Casey and his father and business partner, Russ, have noticed is that their client base is getting younger. These are people looking for the classic stylings of a vintage vehicle—perhaps one reminiscent of their father’s truck or an old family car—with all the handling and performance of a modern one. They are seeking a more visceral driving experience, with more noise and a raw mechanical feel, as a contrast to the mundaneness of modern vehicles.

The two Schoenfelders continue to love their work and are always pushing to produce a better and more refined finished product—one that will last a lifetime.

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Silent Season

Over the past decade, the music label Silent Season (launched in 2007 by local DJ, music collector, and creative Jamie McCue) has continued to produce heady electronic music inspired by the serene forests of Vancouver Island. (Read the original article here.) While the label’s release pace has slowed in recent years, its dedication to crafting ethereal soundscapes persists.

Silent Season’s unique sound has spread both globally and within the community thanks to McCue’s ongoing efforts, but recently he’s felt a growing desire to step back and contemplate the future path of Silent Season. Fans of deep ethereal music should see this not as a halt, but as a period of introspection to set the stage for the next chapter. New inspiration and perspectives will emerge after this period of introspection, but what will persist is the desire to make music that connects people with the natural world, and with each other.

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