Another year, another Bowfest!


First Published on August 31, 2016 Written by Sasha Buchanan

Myself and Bowfest would first of all like to thank Bowen Island for being such an amazing and unique place which provides the platform for our annual community festival; Bowen is the full reason why and how Bowfest has successfully run for the past forty one years, and hopefully will do for the next Forty one.

Bowfest committee is run by a small yet truly remarkable and diverse group of volunteers who work year round. I am lucky to call these people my college and friends, so thank you to Jessie Cotrell, Robyn Fenton, Linda, Henfry, Candace Hannah, and Rob Wynen for everything you have done, and the number of grey hairs you have all spared me with your insights, hard work, wisdom, and dedication.

But of course Bowfest is not run solely by six committee members so, thank you to John Stiver our stage manager and booking agent,  Mike, Andrea and The Children’s Centre for hosting this year’s Beer Garden, Maureen Sawasy for being our Potluck organizer a first of what is sure to be an annual tradition, PAC and the CSA for manning the doors in your continual effort to raise money for a all ages playground, Sarah Haxby and Bowen Agricultural Alliance at the Country Fair, Kate Brew for organizing the Lip Sync, Margaret Miller at the shooting range, Bowen Loggers, Anne and the Bowen Flaggers, Dave and Louse at the Boat Building, and Hillary Butler at the Rotary Run.

It was also a great year for sponsors! Thank you to Artisan Office Services  for all our printing costs, The Undercurrent for your continual support, Bowen Island Sea and land Taxi for our new and improved Slug Race Track, First Credit Union for sponsoring the Main Stage, Bowen Building Centre for sponsoring the Country Fair tent, Party Perfect for the donation of the Dunk Tank, Reforma Architecture for sponsoring the Lip Sync, BIM for waiving all Bowfest park fees, Friendly Cedar Fencing for the beautiful cedar beer garden fencing, USSC for the beautify  picnic tables, Doc Morgan’s for the lone of two very last minute kegs, and Heart Stone Brewery for donating 3 kegs.

Thank you you to all the food, community and craft vendors! Thank you to all the musical talent. Thank you to all the volunteers who helped set-up, tear down, and clean up, parade judges, and everyone who attended Bowfest 2016.

VERY special thank you to David and Shael Wrinch (NEED OTHER NAMES). Bowfest was very close to being a very dark event this year, you absolutely saved the day!

And of course Bowfest’s very own fair god mother: Adam Taylor.

Hope to see every on 26th August for Bowfest 2017!

Many thanks,

Sasha Buchanan

Bowfest 2016 Chairperson.

And very, very special thanks to David and Shael Wrinch and Jack Callister. Bowfest was very close to being a very dark event this year – you absolutely saved the day!

And of course Bowfest’s very own fair god mother: Adam Taylor.


First: Kate’s Hill Chapel

Second: Doc Morgans & USSC

Third: Bowen Building Centre

Honourable mention: BIHORA

Lip Sync:

Thriller Marie and Roxy Pedley, Malia and Savary Van Strein, Jade and Kate Atkinson, and Shelby Jennings

Country Fair

Tallest flower grown on Bowen winner: Julia Tweten’s 12’2” sunflower

Biggest Zucchini by weight

adult David and Aubin van Berckel’s 14.5lb monster zucchini, and youth Kaija and Ryder Flory’s 6.6lb zucchini.

Strangest Looking Vegetable: youth Alissa and Michaela Schaly’s crazy carrots came in first place and Levi Seaberly’s monster banana squash came in a very close second.

Favourite Animal or Farm Animal Award: Aoife Buckley

The Lego Contest: Jack Hammond

The Fiber Arts Finest award went to Susanne Koeplin and the felted necklace made with her friends and some local wool. The heartfelt story that went with the necklace made the contest judges tear up!

Slug Races: all eight lanes were filled with racing slugs for both races! The 12:45 race was won by the slug “Dread Pirate Roberts” and racing crew of the same name. Dread Pirate Roberts crossed the finish line! The 1:15 pm race was won by Henry’s “Scaredy Slug”at the Country Fair Tent!

What a Year for Tourism Bowen Island!


First Published on Aug 3, 2016 Written by Tourism Bowen Island

Now having completed Tourism Bowen’s first full year as a registered non-profit society, we are doing some navel-gazing and planning for next year! We invite you to join us on Tuesday August 16, 4:30 – 6 PM, for a little summer socializing and our annual general meeting. Refreshments will be served. We’ll share some of our news and recent activities and would love to hear how your summer is going. Here’s a bit of a snapshot of our first year.

We have received amazing support from the Province’s DestinationBC ….  Awarding us Official Status as a Visitor Centre for the cottage on Cardena Road.  Tourism Bowen agreed to be the operators for 2016 as the Chamber of Commerce, years ago, operated an Info Centre out of this site which was subsequently run by the Bowen Island Arts Council the past few years.    Visitor Centre status has afforded us the luxury of some amazing training for our staff, a budget that has allowed us to upgrade the facility and to cover some of our overheads and to increase the staffing so we can have a staff member greeting visitors as they walk off the ferry.

Also, DestinationBC has a wonderful young lady, Heather McGillivray who is responsible for media relations for the Vancouver Coast & Mountains Tourism Region.  She has been so amazingly supportive and her work has resulted in us posting over a dozen articles about Bowen on our website.  Never before have we had so much coverage by travel writers.  It seems like we are posting a new article almost weekly!  Reading through the stories makes one so very proud of our ‘awful island’.

Speaking of media coverage, whether we deserved it or not, so many other articles gave credit to Tourism Bowen for the new Tourism Brand, “tell your friends it’s awful here”.   This resulted in well over $150,000 in ‘free’ press (aka Earned Media) from all across Canada, into the USA and bloggers from around the world were posting and re-tweeting links to the brand.  A huge thank you to the Economic Development Committee’s Branding Committee and to islander, Chris Staples from Rethink for coming up with such an amazing catch-phrase.  The Economic Development Committee and Rethink will be doing the OFFICAL LAUNCH of the ‘Bowen Brand’ at Bowfest.   Come by the booth and spin the wheel to win some amazing prizes!

Tourism Bowen is a 100% volunteer run organization.   There is a handful of people who have worked diligently on behalf of all of the B&B’s, vacation rentals, pubs, restaurants and shops on the island who deserve to be recognized.    Our Vice President Maureen Sawasy (The Undercurrent), Treasurer Alison Morse (representing the  Bowen Golf Course), Basia Lieske (Bowen Island Events), Jacqueline Massey (Bowen Island Arts Council), Glenn Cormier (Bowen Pub .. who hosts coffee and meeting space for us monthly) and ex-secretary Jody Lorenz (Bowen  Island Tours) who recently became our Visitor Centre Supervisor.   Also attending all of our meetings is the amazing Denise Lawson of Windshift Design who has done remarkable things with our website.

Speaking of our website, our volume of ‘hits’ has risen over 75% since that “awful” presentation to Council.  We hope you are using the EVENTS page as your ‘go-to’ page to find out what is happening on our island. We would love you to link our on your website.  It is a member-driven site that offers many options for coverage.  It is one of the most active sites on the island and the perfect place for you to link to and join.   There is a ‘membership’ icon at the top-left of the home page for Membership.  Click on that and find out all of the ways you, too, can be part of our island’s promotion.

Now the sales pitch. On Tuesday August 16 we will be holding our first annual meeting at the Visitor Centre, 432 Cardena, from 4:30 to 7pm.  It’s going to be a drop-in affair with a little business thrown in for legality purposes.  We need you, not just to attend but to become involved.   When we were the Chamber, we had over 120 members.   Right now Tourism Bowen has only about 30.   The Board is volunteer.   We have one part-time staff member, 3 part-time students for the summer and a couple of awesome islanders who volunteer as Bowen Ambassadors once or twice a month.  We need board members from all aspects of the business community…. restaurants, shops, accommodation, etc etc.   We have the financial support of the municipality, DestinationBC and we were even the recipient of a grant from our MLA Jordan Sturdy.   Now we need the support from the island.

Remember, every Bowen Islander promotes tourism year round.  Every time you invite a mainlander or an international friend or relative to the island, you are welcoming a tourist to the island.  Every dollar spent by you and those visitors while they are here gets circulated at least three times through the island’s economy.

We all know it’s NOT really awful here… it’s just our little bit of heaven we love to share with the rest of the world.

Tourists Vs Visitors


Originally posted July 14, 2015 written by Murray Atherton

TOURISM on Bowen!

TOURISM…Some think it is a bad word on our island.  A concept that only creates lineups on the ferry, congestion on the trails and noise from the Vacation Rentals down the street.

TOURISTS are those day-trippers who come from the mainland or from afar.  Some come for a day to experience our trails. fresh air and friendliness… others will stay in one of our many B&B’s or Vacation Rentals for a week or a weekend.

VISITORS are the friends and relatives you have visiting you from near and far throughout the year.   When you invite your friends for a day, weekend or extended stay, they are in fact, part of TOURISM.

Both are the same… wonderful economic generators on our amazing island.  I remember one merchant at Artisan Square saying many years ago, “if it wasn’t for the tourists and the Hood Pointers I’d have been out of business years ago”.

Bowen is a small island, population-wise.  3,500 (some say 3,700) is not sustainable a marketplace for most entrepreneurs.  I remember trying to convince financial institutions to open on Bowen and hearing the same thing over and over again…. “come and see us when you’ve got 5,000 full time residents”.   Thankfully, our population does grow to that magic number in the summer months and with the tourists and visitors spending their disposable dollars our small business owners are able to eke out a living.   Tourism numbers say that the average day-tripper will spend about $62 per trip.  An overnight guest will account for over $115 per person expenditure (sure, YOU might be the one spending the money on their meals etc) but it all goes into the  island’s economy.  That money circulates as wages, rent, supplies, money for gas, food and luxuries.  It is spent with our carpenters, labourers, housekeepers and our local municipality.

With the demise of the Chamber of Commerce (much to my chagrin as I spent 7 years as President up to 2009) the municipality convened an Economic Development Advisory Committee almost 3 years ago, to explore the need for a true Economic Development Committee of Council.   Over that first year, we identified Tourism as one of the primary economic generators on the island.

A small group of islanders gathered together and formed a separate committee and named it Tourism Bowen Island.  In mid-June of 2014 we became public by hosting a pancake breakfast prior to the start of the Martin Marine Round Bowen Sailboat Race.  We generated a whopping $740 bank account that allowed us to get a foothold into the provincial tourism marketing programs.   Through the assistance of Vancouver Coast & Mountains Tourism Association, we were able to update our Tourism Plan and develop a Marketing Plan and Budget and at the end of the provincial government’s fiscal year we were able to receive over $7000 in matching dollars for our previous activities.

In this past 12 months, we have become a Registered Non-profit society.  We have worked with Destination BC (the new name for TourismBC) in their new programs and given them input (that they actually listened to and put into action) on how to work with smaller communities.   We have worked with the Steamship Days Society at two Outdoor Adventure Shows, joined Tourism Vancouver and have attended their Showcase in conjunction with the Clef d’Or (hotel concierge) and Info Centre staff throughout Metro Vancouver.   We are working closely with the Vancouver North Shore Tourism Association and have taken out a membership with the West Vancouver Chamber of Commerce and have participated in two of their TASTE BOWEN initiatives and the Bowen Showcase this past spring.

We are co-oping with the Bowen Island Arts Council in the operation of the INFO Centre on Cardena (come on down to get your copy of the amazing TRAILS MAP developed by the Bowen Island Rotary Club) and with the First Credit Union in the building of the Dick VanAelst Memorial Welcome Centre on the Pier by the ferry ramp.  We have worked with Rotary and many amazing people in the development & coordination of trail initiatives.  An exciting initiative we have just started is the BOWEN AMBASSADOR program where volunteers are riding the ferry, chatting to those camera-toting tourists and visitors making sure they know where to go for information and how to get to their desired destination or find the activity they are anticipating.

With the receipt of the Provincial Marketing Funds, we were able to hire a contract Tourism Coordinator who is working diligently on a new Membership-driven web site and Community Calendar.  We are very active on Social Media with the website, a very informative Facebook page, a Twitter account and are front and centre on Instagram.  We are developing a Photo Library on the Tourism Vancouver and the HelloBC websites.

NOW all we need is the support of the community.  At present, we have less than a dozen paid members.  We are putting in countless volunteer hours on behalf of the island’s economy and can only continue with the support of a strong membership base.  We do look for your support.

– Murray Atherton, Chair Tourism Bowen Island.

Behold the Green Man

Artwork by UK Fantasy artist Lisa Parker

Originally posted May 6, 2015 written by Shelagh MacKinnon

Around noon on Saturday May 16th, Snug Cove will be transformed!  Flowers will decorate even the telephone poles!  Music will be heard, with a medieval sound to it, and a juggler will walk by.  The beautiful Maypole will be erected outside the Library with its wonderful spray of multi-coloured ribbons dancing in the sun.  The squeals of happy children will fill the air.  And the clothing!! Costumes carefully worn with some even being winged!
And then, the Green Man himself will appear….Where is he coming from? He is coming to us from the mists of time, coming from ancient England where he has been a part of their world for many, many hundreds of years.  If you travel to Great Britain you will see his likeness, a man with oak leaves on his face, in Christian cathedrals and in ancient garden walls.  He is older than the Christian story in Britain.  And he comes to reassure the people that winter is over and spring has arrived.  He is so covered with leaves and branches that you will not be able to see his face at all! He is Green! The colour of new life, new growth and the buds of this season.  HIs job is to defeat winter and send it packing….
Who represents winter? Why the Ice Queen, of course.  She is sometimes called the Frost Queen and she is beautiful in her icy outfit.  She wants to hang on to the weather for a while longer and make winter last. She carries a wand complete with icicles! She needs to be defeated so that we can enjoy summer!
There is a huge “battle” in front of us as you can clearly see!  So, we need young people, and other people of all ages to cheer these two on.  There is face painting for the two sides: bugs of green on the Green Man’s supporters; and ice crystals on those cheering on the Frost Queen!  The beautiful May Queen will be crowned at the end of the “battle of words.”
Come on down for the experience of hearing the Towne Crier inviting us to participate.  Plan now to wear a medieval type of costume!  We will see you at 11:30 at the Library and the patch of Union Steamship Land where the Summer market opens later in the summer.  There will be wand making  and singing and wonderful feasting.  We are grateful to our sponsors and supporters, and the musicians and jugglers and the committee of organizers
We would love it if you would pass along the word about this Green Man Festival to your friends!  We are a child centred, gentle (inspite of all our “battle” language) festival bringing an ancient practice to our little island.  By the time the first ferry of the afternoon arrives, we are all done!
What do the pictures of last year’s festival show?  They reveal people delighted to be part of this celebration of Spring handed down to us by ancient ancestors.  We hold this festival in order to share our own pleasure at this ancient festival.  Hope to see you there!

– Shelagh MacKinnon, Organizer

Punching above our weight


Originally posted March 25, 2015 written by Mayor Murray Skeels

I need your help. As Mayor of Bowen I’m part of the Mayors’ Council that is proposing you all pay more taxes. Did you feel that little twinge in your stomach when you read, “pay more taxes”. That was a gut level response; we all have them all the time. Usually they serve us well and our thought process stops there. But this is one of those occasions when you would be well served to put a bit more thought into the matter. Start with “how much”.

The new tax will be 0.5% of PST taxable items. Unless you love math, that isn’t much help.  Another way to put it is that your family will pay about 35 cents per day. Two thoughts probably just popped into your head. First came “What do I get for it?” But the second was “That’s not very much”.  If somebody convinces you that you won’t get anything you get to stop thinking again. Somehow 35 cents every day sounds like a lot of money. You don’t stop to consider that is less than the cost of one cup of coffee each week.

But getting back to what you get for your $2.45 each week; the short answer is that you won’t get stuck in a traffic jam every time you go to town. But the long answer is better if you stop to think about it. The $125 your family contributes every year will be matched by almost a million other families living in Metro Vancouver. Because we’re paying a sales tax everybody who travels into the area and businesses also pay. Between them they double the amount collected. This takes us to $250 million dollars every year to be spent on buses and another Seabus and subways and trains. There are also multipliers and spinoffs and all kinds of good things but I don’t want to bore you. And I want to get back to why I need your help.

You should now have received in the mail your ballot to vote in the plebiscite. I’m asking you to be sure you vote and mail it in. And I’m asking you to vote “Yes”. While everybody from the David Suzuki Foundation to the Board of Trade have presented innumerable reasons to vote yes I’d like you to consider it from a slightly different perspective.

Bowen is a very tiny part of Metro Vancouver. The number of votes we can contribute to the Yes side is tiny and aren’t likely to carry the day. However the votes are going to be announced by Municipality. We will be told what percentage of voters cast ballots and what percentages voted yes and no. The Mayors will be inhaling these numbers like air. And they will remember for a decade which Municipality cast the highest percentage of ballots and which had the highest percentage of Yes votes. If I happen to be the Mayor of that Municipality I’m going to be a very popular guy for a while. And that is exactly what Bowen needs.

Crippen Park provides many islanders with a very pleasant recreational amenity and the taxpayers of Metro Vancouver pay it for. Unfortunately the heritage cabins in the Orchard have been in need of restoration since the park opened 30 years ago. This is a major project and one we’d like to see completed in the next three years. To get the approval we’re going to need all the friends we can get.

Another priority for Municipal Council during this term is creating a transportation master plan. Implementing it will almost certainly require some help from Translink.  I’d really like them to have a warm and fuzzy feeling about us when I pitch the changes we’ll be proposing.

You can see where I’m going with this. We’re the mouse sleeping beside the elephant and we don’t get to do favours for the elephant very often. This is one of those rare opportunities when we get to be the kind of people whom others want to be friends with. And the bonus is that all we have to do to earn that respect is to do the right thing.

Just in case you still have to be convinced that spending $125 per year on transit is a good investment let me share some history with you. Between 2001 and when we hosted the Olympics in 2010 there was virtually no increase in the amount of traffic on Metro Vancouver roads. That’s because the growth in public transit exceeded the growth in population. Since the Olympics that has changed; the population is still growing but transit isn’t keeping up and traffic congestion is once again increasing. Without stable ongoing funding for buses and an added Seabus getting on or off of the  North Shore during rush hour is simply going to take longer and longer. Sixty percent of Bowen workers commute to the mainland so we shouldn’t think that congestion on the North Shore wouldn’t ultimately affect our quality of life.

So please do yourself and me a favour, vote “Yes” and get that ballot into the mail.

 – Mayor Murray Skeels

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