ENCORE: Fancy having the Nickelback band and signers Barney Bentall, Jim Cuddy, Shawn Hook and Stephen Kellogg perform at your Gleneagles waterfront home. That happened when the Obakki clothing line owner, Treana Peake, staged the second annual White Envelope fundraiser at her, spouse Ryan and neighbour Judith Stewart’s estate-style properties. Ryan is a Nickelback band member. The event reportedly raised $400,000 to help sustain the Obakki Foundation’s educational, clean-water and other sustainable projects in South Sudan and nearby nations. Treana welcomed former South Sudanese child soldier Emmanuel Jal who is now a Toronto-based singer, screen actor (The Good Lie), political activist and leadership lecturer. His maxim: “Turn your eyes inside yourself and, as you change, saturate yourself with information that can enhance your new skills.”
REVVED UP: The recent 10th annual Luxury & Supercar Weekend brought more exotic vehicles than ever to VanDusen Botanical Garden. As usual, a previous-evening reception filled Niels and Nancy Bendtsen’s Inform Interiors store.
Cars inside included the show’s darling, a battery-powered 1,900-horsepower Pininfarina Battista costing around $3.5 million. That would get you a tasty West Vancouver home or, to those fully exploiting the Battista’s mojo, perhaps a visit to crowbar hotel. On the Inform store’s Water Street sidewalk, a 720-horsepower McLaren 720S Coupe was tagged at $401,910. The sky-blue coupe complemented L&S Weekend co-principal Nadia Iadisernia’s Ferrari-red Diane von Furstenberg dress and Ferragamo heels that together cost less than the $1,460 needed for the McLaren’s optional coloured brake calipers.
FANCY DANNY: Parked beside swanky-panky dreamboats on the VanDusen lawn, an Ontario-built Pontiac Acadian cost maybe $3,000 in 1964. Today, having gained a 10.3-litre, twin-turbo engine developing 2,510 horsepower, it could be worth $1 million. That said, not much, if anything, remains of the ho-hum two-door sedan that Victoria-based Danny Jadresko bought in 1983. He and bride Sandy later honeymooned in it. With son Cody, and aided by Quebec-based custom-car builder J.F. Launier, the Jadreskos spent 18 years developing the Acadian into a “street outlaw” that can blow the doors of most European exotics. Meanwhile, their W&J Construction and Woodsmere Holdings firms opened the doors to thousands of single- and multi-unit homes they’d built, including 600 units in Langford that rent for $800 to $1,200 monthly.
HOMEWORK: For the principal of Port Coquitlam’s Terry Fox Secondary, David Starr, it entails writing books. His refugee-themed debut work, From Bombs to Books, and its seven successors were aimed at young readers. The latest, Like Joyful Tears, “is my first big-boy book,” Starr said. It has a Canadian woman help a South Sudanese massacre survivor relocate to Canada. Starr’s novel was aided by his own dealings with refugees, and polished by editor-wife Sharon, who is vice-principal at Port Moody Secondary. Partial royalties from it benefit the Obakki Foundation.
BREATH AND LIFE: At the Vancouver Playhouse recently, Philip Lyall and Nimisha Mukerji screened, 65_RedRoses, their 2009 film about since-deceased cystic fibrosis patient Eva Markvoort. The fundraising event promoted CF awareness and organ donation. Although the lauded movie wasn’t an Oscar contender, attendees Alison Snowden and David Fine won one for their animated short, Bob’s Birthday, and earned three other Oscar nominations. Like Markvoort, Snowden received donated lungs, but survived. After a virus destroyed her own, Snowden was put into an induced coma for a month and deemed to be too weak for transplant surgery. Business and personal partner Fine said “a breakthrough idea” entailed awakening her and rebuilding strength during non-stop treatment by ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) heart-lung-bypass technology. It worked. Donated lungs arrived, Dr. John Yee undertook the surgery, and Fine and the recovering Snowden completed another Oscar-nominated short, Animal Behaviour. Snowden’s proposed acceptance speech at the February, 2019 Academy Awards ceremony would have praised VGH, her surgical team and Canadian medicine generally. However, the award went to Toronto director-writer Domee Shi’s Bao.
BRAVO: The effectiveness of the 16-year-old VSO School of Music was clear when four students performed at Ronald McDonald House recently. Sequoia String Quartet violinists Catherine Teng, 16, and Kai Chow, 15, violist Davin Mar, 14, and cellist David Han, 13, played works by Handel, Mozart, Vivaldi and others, with intelligence, clarity and youthful confidence.
FOOTBALL FAME: B.C. Lions fans still sang “Roar, you Lions, roar” in 2003 when Pasquale “Wally” Buono left the Calgary Stampeders to be the local team’s head coach. Roar they did, through five West Division championships, two Grey Cup wins and one loss (2004 to the Toronto Argonauts). After retiring in 2018, Potenza-born Buono will be inducted into the Italian Cultural Centre’s Hall of Fame Oct. 4 and possibly called “the pride of all B.C.”
DOWN PARRYSCOPE: As we consider electing more parliamentarians with no more authority than pets on a leash, a Scottish high court judge has ruled that parliament’s role in scrutinizing the government is a central pillar of the UK’s constitution, which follows naturally from the principles of democracy and the rule of law.
District of North Vancouver rangers are limiting hikers on the overcrowded Quarry Rock trail to 70 at a time. Photo: Francis Georgian/Postmedia Francis Georgian / PNG
Strict parking and hiking restrictions introduced last year in Deep Cove brought a measure of relief to the village’s traffic-weary locals, but the recreational hot spot is far from the only one in Metro Vancouver under severe pressure from an increased numbers of visitors.
Planners and politicians like John McEwen, the mayor of Anmore and the head of Metro Vancouver regional parks, say the region is in need of more parks to serve residents and tourists — and more transit buses to haul them there — if there is any hope to smoothly satisfy demand for access to the outdoors.
“Careful what you wish for, but these parks are so amazing and the population growth has been so crazy,” McEwen said. “People want to get out into our parks and it’s really causing some challenges.”
McEwen said recreational areas around his village, like Belcarra Regional Park, “are at capacity at 9:30 a.m. on a beautiful day. … We now have signs alerting people several miles back on connecting roads saying the park is closed, don’t even come up here.”
McEwen wants the region to buy more land for parks, particularly in areas with rapidly increasing densities. And Metro Vancouver must continue talks with TransLink about expanding its service into recreational areas, he added.
“We don’t want to discourage people (from) coming out to the parks. The key thing we need to work on is accessibility through transit.”
In the case of Deep Cove’s popular Quarry Rock trail, district staff say it was never intended to be more than a local community resource. But traffic to reach the path is causing gridlock, frayed tempers, and bad driving.
Last year’s rule changes limited parking in a dedicated village lot to just three hours — not a lot of time for those intending to hike the popular trail then enjoy a bite to eat. This summer, longer duration parking is available in an overflow lot from July 8 to Aug. 25, and it was also available last weekend. Street parking is for short stops and it’s in high demand. Meanwhile, large tour buses that flout a stopping or parking ban on neighbourhood streets in Deep Cove risk a $500 fine, according to the district.
Those who do find a parking spot may also find they need to wait at the trailhead for a chance to start their hike. The district has limited the number of people at the Quarry Rock viewpoint to 70 at a time, and park rangers have taken to counting heads to limit access to the area on busy days, according to the district.
Steve Ono, the district’s acting general manager of engineering, parks and facilities, attributed some of the village’s rapid rise in popularity with tourists to actress Kate Winslet’s apparent love for Cove eatery Honey Doughnuts. Winslet has in the past tweeted her affection for the doughnuts and has been spotted in a shirt from the shop. That star support, coupled with the crushing popularity of the Quarry Rock viewpoint as background scenery for dating profile pics and Instagram posts, caused traffic in the area to skyrocket the last few years.
Local residents seem to be largely appreciative of the efforts the district has made, Ono said. “I think probably a lot of residents would rather see us be more restrictive rather than less,” he said.
District staff have acknowledged that parking in Deep Cove can be time consuming and frustrating and, despite the changes, they advised people against driving to the area on several days last year.
Lynn Canyon Park, another popular district recreation area in the district, had similar restrictions go into effect last year.
Through the summer staff asked visitors to consider going somewhere else to give the park and its neighbours a break. In August, staff advised in a tweet: “Don’t waste half your visit viewing the park through your windshield while you wait for parking. Consider coming by bike or public transit.”
Other areas overrun by visitors include spots like Lynn Headwaters Regional Park, Mount Seymour and “probably the whole Sea to Sky corridor,” Ono said.
He said the idea of introducing pay parking for parks — like that in effect at the base of the Grouse Grind — has come up in the past “and it will probably come up again. It’s another tool in the tool box.”
Alistair Knox, the owner of Arms Reach Bistro in Deep Cove, said he was against the parking restrictions when they were first proposed, but he found business to be about the same after the rules went in. He figured it may take a few seasons to determine whether the restrictions had any effect. The weather seemed to be the biggest determinant of visits to his restaurant, he said.
When U.S. climber Lynn Hill started grappling rock more than four decades ago, it was a different world.
As one of the most widely recognized and successful female climbers, she has been on the forefront of that transformation by pushing the boundaries of climbing and being a spokesperson for women in sports.
“When I first started climbing, people didn’t even recognize it as a sport,” said Hill, 58. “It was just some oddball activity that misfits and nonconformist-type people did.”
Rock climber Lynn Hill changed the perception of was possible in the sport with her first free ascent of The Nose on El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, California. (Lynn Hill Climbing )
All that has changed as climbing became more mainstream and accessible.
Indoor climbing gyms have become a staple in cities, the sport is heading to the Olympics for the first time in 2020 and climbing documentaries like Free Solo are becoming blockbusters.
“Accessibility is a big part of the changes,” Hill said. “And the media is a big part of it — the fact that Free Solo just won an Oscar is unheard of.”
‘We approach the rock differently’
The other big change: climbing no longer a predominantly male sport.
When Hill was starting out, spending months on end climbing in southern California and living in Yosemite National Park in the late 1970s and 1980s, she was almost always the only woman in her gang of hardcore climbers.
“Climbing was very highly influenced by a male culture,” she said.
Hill was one of the forces behind changing that, though, with achievements like her free ascent of The Nose on El Capitan in Yosemite Valley — the first time anyone, man or woman, had climbed it unaided.
Now in her 50s, Lynn Hill still climbs — at levels most merely dream of — and is very active in the climbing community. (Lynn Hill Climbing)
She’s in Vancouver, B.C., this week to be part of the conversation about women in adventure sports for the She Summits festival and to teach a women-specific climbing clinic at The Hive bouldering gym
“It’s a very different feeling to be in a roomful of women,” Hill said.
“We approach the rock differently. We have different physiques, with different strengths.”
For Hill, succeeding in any sport ultimately comes down to strength of mind and tenacity.
“You have to stay focused and believe in yourself,” she said.
Hill is one of several athletes participating in She Summits, which covers other sports including surfing, running and mountain biking.
‘She Summits’ features several movies about women athletes. Carla Cupido says part of the focus is to showcase role models and inspire people to try different sports. (Submitted by She Summits )
Carla Cupido, the director of the festival, believes creating community around sport is the first step to breaking down barriers.
“More people are jumping into adventure sports that didn’t traditionally feel comfortable doing so,” Cupido said.
“There needs to be safe places for women to try adventure sports because often the intimidation factor is high [in traditionally male-dominated sports].”
She Summits focuses on women and outdoor sports like mountain biking, running, surfing and climbing. (Submitted by She Summits)
It’s not just about gender, Cupido acknowledged, and other factors from race to economic background can have a role.
“Access to adventure sport is still quite limited and it’s a very privileged place to play,” she said.
“I have more questions than answers, but I would love to find out how we can create more inclusivity.”
Until recently, The Centaurs were one of those classic 1960s garage-rock bands that seemed lost to time.
“All that is known about The Centaurs is that they came from The Hague,” said the liner notes to compilation of Dutch bands from the “psychedelic sixties,” Flight to Lowlands Paradise. “Their only single came out on Polydor in 1967.”
The band did live in The Hague in the ’60s, but they were actually from Richmond, B.C.
After forming in 1964, the quintet played most every type of local gig you can imagine. They opened for movies at the Lougheed Drive-In, attracted 1,400 teenagers to the Peach Bowl in Penticton and were headliners at Vancouver’s first psychedelic hotspot, The Afterthought.
But they grew frustrated at being a garage-rock band in a rhythm and blues town. So in November 1966 they moved to Europe.
In Holland they were billed as the “Topgroep uit Canada,” opened for The Troggs and had a hit single. In Germany, they were offered a residency at the Star-Club in Hamburg, where the Beatles had honed their craft.
“They said, ‘We’d like you to stay, we want you to play here like The Beatles — but we’re not going to pay you,’ ” recalls drummer John Gedak.
“We said, ‘Why?’ They said, ‘We will make you famous.’ I looked at him and said, ‘Well, we’re already famous. We have a hit record in Holland with Polydor, we’re booked there as Canada’s top band.’ ”
The band was in Europe 18 months before they got homesick and came back to Vancouver. Gedak stayed behind to play with a German band, and The Centaurs broke up.
Fast forward five decades. Gedak is living in Tsawwassen and sells a drum kit to someone who wants to give it to a kid as a birthday present.
“He goes over to Victoria to this party, and who’s at the party but our old road manager, Don Moss,” says Gedak. “So I call (Moss) and he says, ‘By the way, I’ve got this box … I opened it up and there’s this tape in there.’ And I’m going, ‘Oh my God.’ ”
Before leaving for Europe, The Centaurs had recorded several songs from their stage show with legendary local producer Robin Spurgin.
They pressed about 20 cheap “acetate” copies to send overseas to try and get gigs, but the whereabouts of the original tape were a mystery until it turned up in Moss’s box.
Last week, their debut album was finally released, 53 years after it was recorded.
The four remaining band members got together at Gedak’s house to autograph copies of the vinyl album, and to reminisce about their unique career.
“We were one of the first bands in Vancouver to have long hair,” recounts guitarist Hugh Reilly, 76. “We had numerous confrontations where these greaseballs, for want of a better term, wanted to beat us up.”
“The Knight and Day on Boundary and Lougheed, they wouldn’t serve us,” says Reilly.
“There was another occasion where we walked through The Bay downtown and we literally stopped conversations, dead in their tracks. Walking down the sidewalks we had people with grocery bags walking into parking meters because they couldn’t take their eyes off us.”
Singer Ron Williams was a handsome buck and a snappy dresser, which made him a magnet for the women in the audience. But this didn’t always sit well with their boyfriends.
“There was one time Ron got into a confrontation with somebody, at a little disco club in Richmond,” says bassist Al West, 75.
“Oh that was a bad one,” says Gedak.
“After we packed up we were heading out to the parking lot and this circle was gradually forming around us,” says West. “It was getting pretty scary.”
“It was like West Side Story,” said Reilly. “There was a big circle of guys closing in on us, so we grabbed mic stands and stuff like that (to defend ourselves). The next thing the cops arrive, and escorted us all the way to Burnaby.”
“You beaned somebody’s car with a mic stand,” says keyboard player Bob Brown, 71. “They were pulling out and it went bang!”
“That was a different time,” says Reilly. “That was the rowdies from Prince George.”
Gedak was still in high school, and the principal threatened to boot him out unless he cut his hair. He argued he needed long hair for the band, so the principal relented, as long as he greased his hair down and combed it back.
“All the guys would come into the washroom and go, ‘Comb it down, we want to see what it looks like!’ ” says Gedak. “I’d comb it down and they’d go, ‘Wow, that’s so cool!’ ”
Originally they dressed in matching suits and turtlenecks, but quickly they adopted the mod look, picking up bright, snazzy clothes from the Bad Boys Ragge Shop in downtown Vancouver.
As cool as they thought they were in Vancouver, when they got to Amsterdam the scene was something else.
“It was a shock,” says Reilly. “Even in ’67 when the Retinal Circus (club) and the psychedelic thing was kicking off, compared to what was going on in Holland … (Vancouver was) a backwater.
“We felt like country bumpkins over there. Unisex was everywhere, the mini-skirts, the hair down to the butt, male, female, it didn’t matter.”
Initially, the band was scheduled to go straight to Germany. But the night they arrived in Amsterdam Gedak went out to see the sights.
“First music I heard, a club, I walked in and it was live,” he says.
“I said I want to talk to the manager, I’m in a band from Canada. This guy come out and says, ‘I’m Hans Van Oosterhaut.’
“He was manager of a band that had a hit called Ma Belle Ami, the Tea Set. He freaked out. ‘You’ve got a van and you’ve got your gear? I’ve got to hear you play!’ ”
Van Oosterhaut became their manager and in a short time they found themselves opening for The Troggs, who had recently topped the charts with Wild Thing.
“When we went onstage we came on really powerful,” says Gedak.
“So when (The Troggs) came on, they cranked everything up. Back then they didn’t have big sound systems like they do now. So they cranked their little amps up, but couldn’t keep up with our stuff, and the lead guitar player blew his amp.
“So here’s Hugh, our lead guitar player, having to lift his Vox amp over all the crowd to get it up to (The Troggs’ guitar player) so he could play his amp. I’ll never forget that.”
The band rented an apartment “on the main drag” in Scheveningen, a seaside town near The Hague, and six months of fun ensued.
“It was a rotating door there,” says Gedak. “You’d be playing all these gigs, and all these (female) fans — let’s call them fans — would be coming in and out like they owned the place.”
“Well, we needed somebody to cook for us,” deadpans Reilly.
They headlined all over Holland, but after six months their work visas expired and they got the boot.
“Our fans wrote in to the Queen (of Holland), ‘please allow this band to stay, blah blah blah, they’re Canadian, they helped us win the war,’ all this kind of stuff,” said Gedak. “Didn’t work. They wanted gigs for their bands, not Canadian or U.S. bands coming through.”
So they went to Germany, starting with the Star-Club.
“The place was just a dive, honest to God,” said Gedak. “Black. The Beatles paid their dues there. They played their heart out and wrote their music and said to hell with everything, we’re just going to get our stuff together. We weren’t interested in that, so we packed up and went south into Bavaria, where we had a lot of gigs lined up.”
After a year in Germany most of the band came back to Canada, which hadn’t changed all that much.
“I came back from Europe and the same guys were in the same cars at the same drive-ins with the same girlfriends,” says Brown. “And I’d had guns pulled on me in Holland, been chased by seven different kinds of German police, and had all kinds of adventures with girls.”
Brown remained a musician, playing solo gigs all over town. Reilly became a computer programmer for the City of Surrey and West became an engineer for a company that built robotic submarines. Williams moved to Williams Lake, where he died in an accident in 2015.
Gedak thrived in business.
“I started an art gallery chain called The Picture Show Art Galleries, which turned out to be 37 art galleries within three or four years from Vancouver to Winnipeg,” he says.
“I had a store in every mall. Then I started Getaway Vans (with his family). They were everywhere.”
Indeed. In his home he has a framed letter thanking for his help during the Papal visit in 1984, when Getaway Vans built the Popemobile that ferried Pope John Paul II around the Lower Mainland.
“It was a white pickup truck that we completely converted in the back with blue and gold upholstery that matched the papal colours,” Gedak explains.
“It had four captain’s chairs and an aisle way down the middle, all done up in velvet and carpet. So he could walk in and sit down or stand up, we had a handle there for him to stand up.
“The neat part was when I built it at Getaway I drove around in it and blessed everybody.”
But he kept playing drums throughout and got The Centaurs to reunite a few times for gigs. Then he met Jaime Anstey, a young guy who’s so obsessed with ’60s music he formed Regenerator Records to release some of it. (The label is co-owned by Larry Hennessey, of Larry and Willie fame.)
It took a couple of years to put out The Centaurs album, From Canada to Europe. But it’s a fabulous little disc, a lost garage-rock classic that mixes originals like On Your Way and You Never Let Me Do Nuthin’ with covers like Heart Full of Soul (by The Yardbirds) and Kicks (by Paul Revere and the Raiders).
Gedak is a pack rat and kept all sorts of mementoes from their career, including posters, fan letters and photos. There’s a colour photo shoot for their Dutch 45 that’s so psychedelic you get a contact high just looking at it.
The album jacket (on both vinyl and CD) is packed with selections from Gedak’s horde, and is worth the price of the disc alone. Fifty-two years after they broke up, a new generation can discover the power and glory of the “Topgroep uit Canada.”
BBG Constructive & Security Installation Consultants is a multi-disciplinary property and construction consultancy. Working with businesses on built-environment projects, we are client-focused with the recognised experience, knowledge base, expertise and track record to tackle projects irrespective of complexity from a position of strength.