Local forests inspire author

A love of art and local forests – including Kirkstone Park and the beaches of the North Shore – have inspired author Darren Lebeuf to create his first book. The project so successful two more Vancouver-inspired books are in the works. 


It’s all in the details


Photographer and artist Darren Lebeuf has a busy, globetrotting life along with his wife, a teacher, and their two young children. From bustling Hong Kong to the mountains of North Vancouver, from the canals and cafes of Amsterdam to the prairies of Alberta, but he is always drawn back outdoors.

“I would take my daughter out for walks in the forest with my camera. When you try to photograph a forest it just looks like a bunch of trees that sort of blur together,” said Lebeuf. “So I had this idea – what of instead of one big photograph I instead took hundreds of photographs of the small details. That sparked an idea for an exhibit of hundreds of photographs the captured the forest in a different way.”

An exhibit which inspired Lebeuf to create a book that shared his point of view with children.

“It was capturing the different shades of green, the texture of bark, the shape of a leaf,” he said. “I don’t know what inspired the leap from this idea to a book but it mirrored what I was doing with my young daughter at the time.

“I try to get them outdoors and surrounded by nature when I can. Like yesterday, we went out to collect sticks and I brought some string to see what we could create. It’s not really intentional to make art – it’s to play.”


My Forest is Green


Lebeuf’s first children’s book, My Forest is Green, follows a young boy through the forest with a backpack full of art supplies. It chronicles his journey encountering all the details one can find in the forest if they choose to look. The beautiful illustrations created by Ashley Barron support Lebeuf’s words encouraging children to slow down and use all their senses to explore. 

“I don’t think there is a distinction between learning time, art time or playtime,” he said. “I think at at young age you make sense of them and do what comes naturally at the time.” 

You can find My Forest is Green at the North Vancouver District Public Library or local book stores. 


More on the way


With more ideas than can fit in one book, Lebeuf is working with his publisher, Kids Can Press, on two more books. Partnering again with Barron, My Ocean is Blue is planned for publication next year and My City Speaks – a story from the perspective of a visually impaired child – has moved into the illustration phase. 

“They all are inspired by Vancouver,” said Lebeuf. “But I think they are also universal. It’s really exciting to see what will happen this book. It’s a union of art and nature, perspective and interpretation.”  

Lebeuf has even more ideas – in between his work as a photographer he continues to write. His current inspiration leans towards humour –  and food. 


Looking for more?


There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.

Check out the North Shore Writers Festival

Celebrating its 20th year the North Shore Writers Festival comes to Lynn Valley April 5th and 6th.


Bringing writers together


The annual North Shore Writers Festival has both writers and libraries uniting for two days this April. Together North Vancouver District, North Vancouver City and West Vancouver Memorial Public Libraries are presenting the 20th anniversary edition of the festival.  All the events are FREE thanks to the generous support of the Friends of the North Shore Libraries and there is even three hours FREE parking at Lynn Valley Village.

This year favourite events return like the 7th Annual Literary Trivia Quiz hosted by CBC’s Grant Lawrence on Friday night. From panel discussions to practical workshops Saturday is packed with something for all writers and readers.


2019 Schedule


7th Annual Literary Trivia Quiz Night hosted by CBC’s Grant Lawrence

Friday, April 5 | 7:30pm–9:30pm

Test your mental mettle and compete for prizes and glory! Register teams of 3-6 at nswftrivia@gmail.com. Doors at 7pm. Cash bar. 19+. COMMUNITY ROOM

First Nations Welcoming Ceremony

Saturday, April 6 | 9:55am

Come early to get a seat, enjoy coffee, and attend the official festival opening. Doors open at 9:30am. COMMUNITY ROOM

Finding Your Audience: a North Shore Writers’ Association Workshop

Saturday, April 6 | 10:05am–11:30am

You’ve spent years honing your skills, months drafting, and weeks editing…all you need now is an audience! How do authors find their readers and how do readers find new authors? There are many paths to publication. Join Mahtab Narsimhan, Rod Baker and Wiley Ho as they share their successes and challenges getting their works out into the world. COMMUNITY ROOM

A Storyteller’s Journey with Monique Gray Smith

Saturday, April 6 | 11:45am–12:45pm

Award-winning Cree, Lakota and Scottish author Monique Gray Smith will share her personal journey as a celebrated YA and children’s storyteller. Monique will read from her latest release, Tilly and the Crazy Eights, an epic road trip with Indigenous Elders from Vancouver to Albuquerque for a Pow Wow.

COMMUNITY ROOM

Local Author Book Fair: A Showcase of Local Writers

Saturday, April 6 | 12:30pm–4:30pm

Explore local creativity and talent at the book fair! LYNN VALLEY VILLAGE HALL, outside the Community Room

Lunch Break Lounge & Writers Café

Saturday, April 6 | 12:45pm–1:45pm

Enjoy a free light lunch! Aspiring writers are invited to chat with Mahtab Narsimhan, Rod Baker and Wiley Ho to get the inside scoop on all things related to the writing life. Bring your questions and comments. LEARNING LAB

The Art of Narration with Erin Moon

Saturday, April 6 | 2:00pm–3:00pm

Award-winning Audiobook Narrator, Erin Moon, will discuss the art of becoming a narrator and the process involved in developing an audiobook. Erin will also explore the diverse ways that narrators capture the reader’s imagination and bring stories to life. Sponsored by Recorded Books. COMMUNITY ROOM

Writing the Personal: Lindsay Wong with JJ Lee

Saturday, April 6 | 3:15pm–4:15pm

In conversation with fellow memoirist JJ Lee, Vancouver-based Lindsay Wong chats about her darkly comedic memoir and Canada Reads finalist The Woo-Woo: How I Survived Ice Hockey, Drug Raids, Demons, and My Crazy Chinese Family. Lindsay outlines how she wrote this deeply personal, smart and funny book, while exploring themes of youth, parenting and mental illness. COMMUNITY ROOM

Strength and Resilience through Storytelling: Darrel McLeod with Alexander Dirksen

Saturday, April 6 | 4:30pm–5:30pm

Join Cree author Darrel McLeod in conversation with Program Director for Community Knowledge Exchange, Alexander Dirksen. Darrel discusses the powerful themes of love, family, resilience and identity within his 2018 Governor General award-winning memoir Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age, as well as the impact his book has had on its readers to date.

COMMUNITY ROOM

Writers + Readers Reception with JJ Lee

Saturday, April 6 | 5:15pm–7:00pm

Join us for music and refreshments while mingling with fellow festival-goers as we close out the 20th festival! Hear the winners of the North Shore Writers’ Association writing contest and a very special announcement from the North Shore libraries. LIBRARY LOBBY

Think Red for the Holidays

With the busyness and frantic obligations of Christmas and the holidays, we are featuring some of Lynn Valley’s best options for holiday solutions. From finding that perfect something for that hard to buy relative to finding something small and sweet for someone small and sweet: we want you thinking red for the holidays.


One last Christmas


The long-time institution in Lynn Valley where you alway knew you could find just the right gift – 

The Red Tulip Gift Gallery – is closing.  After a fourteen year journey that has taken owners Janice Rothenbush and Lynda Buchholtz from Deep Cove to Lynn Valley Village to Lynn Valley Centre, they are retiring from the retail business this January.

“We have gotten to know so many people,” said Buchholtz. “We have seen families grow up – little kids shopping with parents are returning by themselves as young adults. We live in North Vancouver and love how supportive the community has been. It has been a pleasure to do business here – but it’s time.”


Tulip picks


During this last holiday season Buchholtz and Rothenbush have selected some beautiful pieces to fill your home, tree or gift box. Everything in store is now 20% off as they kick off the holidays with a bang.

Topping the list are tiny felted mice Christmas ornaments. The warmth and whimsy they add to a tree is proving very popular this season, said Buchholtz.

For the bold and creative there are a wide range of Sock it to me Socks – with cheeky designs and bright colours they are the perfect choice to make someone smile.

For the smallest Lynn Valley residents, they have books from local author Tory Townsin, beautiful and delicately soft Jelly Cat stuffies, as well as some locally-made onesies to assert hometown pride early.

The perfect hostess gift are Lucia luxury candles and scents. The Red Tulip is currently carrying the scent Les Saisons with aromatic notes of softwood and pine – no one will know you don’t have a real Christmas tree with this authentic scent.

With simple, elegant designs Rothenbush’s handmade-jewelry line Red Chandelier is sure to add a touch of shine that will delight anyone on your list.

The Red Tulip is located inside Lynn Valley Centre at 1199 Lynn Valley Road.


Childhood delights at Red Door


Tucked away on the campus of the Vancouver Waldorf School, 2725 St. Christophers Road, is a Red Door. Inside you will find a non-profit, parent-run shop dedicated to the wonders of childhood.

“We take great consideration in choosing the toys and art supplies that we offer in our school store,” said Ella Pedersen, manager of the store and Waldorf School parent. “Many of the companies we order from hold values similar to ours in their care for quality, tradition, sustainability and inspiration to engage the senses of children in their development.”

The little shop is elegantly packed with items just calling for a child’s touch. The wooden figures have soft rounded corners and simple paint jobs. The felted dolls have delicate features but simplistic beauty. There are the occasional quality handmade item contributed by Waldorf family, hard to find children’s books, rocks and crystals, even parenting books and sought-after wet weather gear by Abeko.

“We carry quality items – like gorgeous dolls and wooden figures from Germany,” said Pedersen. “We carry good quality craft supplies so it lasts and it’s a pleasure to use.”

Most of the items and supplies in store are hard to find in Vancouver and have artists and art teachers making the pilgrimage to Lynn Valley to pick up molding wax and drawing materials from Stockmar and Lyra.


Whimsy and wonder


Delightful, hard to find books will immerse children in nature and the wonder of the season.

Quality wool felts and felting supplies are a treat for the eye and hands. They are wonderful to work with. Abeko products are sought after in Lynn Valley – they’re essential for outdoor kids.

The details in the tiny dolls and wooden figures are beautiful and thoughtfully created. The designs encourage imaginative hands on place.

The carefully curated art supplies are both ethically and environmentally responsible. They are long wearing and natural – perfect for small children.

Lynn Valley Live and Local concert series

The twice-weekly concert series is returning to Lynn Valley Village again this summer. Wednesday and Friday nights local artists will hit the stage for free evenings of entertainment. Mark you calendars for the special family days and dance workshops all put on by North Van Recreation. 


July dates


  • Wednesday July 4, 6-8 p.m. – Active Antics. Enjoy a musical comedy show with the Myrtle Sisters and try games and circus arts with teh Red Fox Healthy Living Society.

    Gary Comeau and the Voodoo Allstars

  • Friday, July 6, 7-9 p.m. – Deanna Knight & The Hot Club of Mars (Swing / Jive)
  • Wednesday July 11, 6-8 p.m. – Little Mountain Brass Band. Bring the whole family for an evening of British-style brass tunes and upcycling crafts with Thrifty by Design.
  • Friday July 13, 7-9 p.m. – En Karma (Bhangra)
  • Wednesday July 18, 6-8 p.m. – Sean Ashby Live! Guitarist, singer, songwriter Sean Ashby joins us for an intimate summer evening performance.
  • Friday July 20, 7-9 p.m. – Terminal Station (Blues / Rock)
  • Wednesday July 25, 6-8 p.m. – Let’s Dance! Interactive dance workshops featuring Chinese ribbon, Middle Eastern and Hip Hop dance styles.
  • Friday July 27, 7-9 p.m. – Gary Comeau and the Voodoo Allstars (New Orleans Roots and Blues)

August dates


  • Sam Spades

    Wednesday August 1, 6-8 p.m. – Family Fun Night. A shared evening of artistic and creative workshops for families to enjoy together.

  • Friday August 3, 7-9 p.m. – Sam Spades (Rockabilly)
  • Wednesday August 8, 6-8 p.m. – Village Beat. Feel the rhythm of percussion and test out a variety of instruments with the Fairfield Music zoo.
  • Friday August 10, 7-9 p.m. – R&B Conspiracy (Classic Rhythm & Blues)
  • Wednesday August 15, 6-8 p.m. – SHINE Young Artist Music Showcase. Come out and enjoy some of the North Shore’s up-and-coming talent from Creativ Music Centre, backed by a live band.
  • Friday August 17, 7-9 p.m. – Big Easy Funk Ensemble (New Orleans Funk)
  • Wednesday August 22, 6-8 p.m. – Colours of Bollywood. Join Bollywood star, Karima Essa, for a vibrant performance and dance workshop. Enjoy henna art and a community weaving project.
  • Friday August 25, 7-9 p.m. – Adam Woodall Band (Folk Rock)

Keeping the hills alive with the sound of music

For decades parents have been supporting their children’s dreams and keeping Lynn Valley’s hills alive with the sound of music. The 36th Annual Argyle Music Association fundraiser Cabaret is taking place this weekend.


Annual Cabaret funds scholarships


“It’s for students graduating from the Argyle music program, “ said Sheila Balzar, parent and volunteer fundraising coordinator. “It varies from year to year, but last year we had, I believe, 25 applicants and everyone received something.”

The annual evening of music, silent auction and dining will take place at May 12 at 6 p.m. at Mulgrave Theatre in West Vancouver. This year’s event – titled Jazz to Jukebox will showcase the talents of students as they perform their skills in an industry-level performance. As a fundraiser, it is one of a handful held throughout the year that supports students, the curriculum and trips the students take.

“Cabaret is strictly for scholarships and bursaries,” said Balzar. “Over 100 students will be performing. It is the pinnacle of the jazz students curriculum – they are expected to perform as if they are a professional and this is a paid gig.”


Exceptional program, bright futures


For those who have not been through Argyle, they might not be familiar with the school’s extremely well-regarded music program. Parents with a child in music automatically become a part of the Argyle Music Association and their dedication is essential to the program.

“We are there to support the music – these teachers put so much energy and time into creating this quality program. They need to be able to focus on teaching,” said Balzar.

The investment in students is paying off in so many ways, she said. From outstanding opportunities to tour in Europe to creating foundational music and technical abilities that have students stepping out of high school and into industry jobs while pursuing post-secondary education, and ultimately full-time employment.

For her son and daughter, it has not only meant a passion for music but technical skills to support the performances as well.

“My son discovered sound and lighting in Grade 7 when a teacher suggested he help with the school play,” she said. “That dovetailed nicely into the sound and lighting crew at Argyle. He had the opportunity to become a leader at young age, putting in incredible hours and now is working in the industry at 19 doing events at Rogers Arena.”


Exceptional program, bright futures


“Music is a huge part of these students,” said Balzar. “The program at Argyle is outstanding. There are opportunities to perform with members of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. It is elevating their musical experience – the level of commitment, the preparation, the excellence to do that. Just to put themselves out there to perform at the level – its huge.”

For some the music program is an opportunity to be part of something bigger – to be part of team.

“There is a sense of belonging in the music program – working together,” said Balzar. “The progress is phenomenal throughout the year and to see them from Grade 8 to Grade 12  — it’s exponential.”

Senior choir at Bach’s Tomb

The work is paying off. During the school’s most recent senior trip to Europe their reputation for excellence afforded them the unique opportunity to perform Bach while at Bach’s tomb – something that could only happen because of their skill, said Balzar.

“It’s a massive program,” she said. “So many people put so much energy, so much love in to 300-plus students to enrich their high school experience and change the rest of their lives.”


How to help


There are plenty of opportunities for the community to support this program. In addition to attending Cabaret or donating auction items, the teachers have wishlists, she said.

“With a new school being built, we need to remember it is just the shell of a school and to run an excellent program there needs to be equipment,” said Balzar. “This is not in the capital budget; this is not in the operating budget.

“There are so many ways to help: come out to concerts and performances,” said Balzar, noting there is a list on their website. “If a student knocks on your door – try to say yes to purchasing some pie or chocolates.”

To create a lasting legacy of support contact the Argyle Music Association for current needs at fundraising@argylemusic.ca. The group has come up with some fantastic passive fundraising options as well that support students throughout the year. If you shop at SPUD you can purchase your produce and support students – details here or purchase SPUD gift cards and use them later – details here. Same goes for fantastic North Shore Two Rivers Meats – details here.

Lynn Valley-made Spring Break Solutions: Art

With March Break fast approaching there is always a bit of panic: how will the kids keep busy when you are at work? LynnValleyLife is looking at three made-in-LV solutions to engage and challenge children and provide some experiences far different than the classroom.


Growth through art


From textiles to Picasso to Murakami, Kudzu Studio will be offering four classes this spring right here in Upper Lynn.

Artist Jeri Engen has been working with children for decades from creating grassroots arts education programs in the Seattle, to launching programs with the North Shore Arts Council, to guiding students through the Vancouver Art Gallery. Even with all those plates in the air, for the last few years Engen has been offering popular classes through her home studio.

“This is something I am incredibly passionate about – not necessarily to grow fine artists but to create an excitement about and a passion for art,” said Engen.

Kudzu Art StudioThroughout out the year Kudzu Studio offers classes to children from preschool to teens. The popular classes tend to fill up from word-of-mouth praise, but she is open to creating new classes if there are at least four students interested. To get a taste of what Kudzu is like, Engen is offering four classes this Spring Break as well as week-long camps throughout the summer.


Life Skills


“Art is a great share with kids social and historical events,” she said. “It also gives them an opportunity to make sense of their own world – often they can’t verbalize it but they sure can draw. It’s such a privilege to work with kids and share in their experience and get them excited.

“To see them gain confidence in what they are doing – to seem them take risks, take chances. To learn that mistakes are okay. That’s part of life. To think ‘Oh no, I don’t know what to do’ and still give it a shot and if doesn’t work give it another shot – and again. It’s a great safe way to do that.”


Kudzu Art Gallery


For elementary age children they will explore the latest exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery by Takashi Murakami and other art currently featured in local galleries in Art Around Town.

“My biggest objective is that they have fun and create but my second objective is to get the kids excited about art and the artist – to start a relationship that will inspire them to see the original work. They can take their parents and have an experience beyond the studio here,” said Engen.

Her second elementary program will feature the works of Picasso and fostering courage and resilience.

“I think everyone knows Picasso but there is so much more to Picasso than people think,” said Engen. “His always did the things he didn’t think he could do in order to learn to do them – and that is the underlying theme of this camp – go forth and do things you can’t do. Taking the techniques of Picasso like drawing upside down and having the child draw what they want – but upside down. We always have one child who love cats – so that will be their subject matter ”

There are also two tween/teen camps featuring textiles and drawing. In textiles students will explore silk, felting, embroidery and much more. In drawing Engen will cover basic foundational skills and then introduce new techniques that students likely won’t have tried at home – but could if they resonate.

“It is about creating art and it is also about learning some life lessons and having the courage to try something new,” said Engen. “These things they don’t always realize they will carry forth into other aspects of life.”

For details of classes and dates visit the Kudzu Studio website. For registration visit her here or call 604-971-1147. 

Are you or your organization offering spring break art activities in Lynn Valley? Feel free to let the neighbourhood know by posting directly onto our Facebook page!