A day at the museum

With two months of open doors the new MONOVA Museum of North Vancouver is a great place to spend an afternoon learning about Lynn Valley and North Vancouver’s diverse history. More than 20 years in the making the new facility highlights the connection, passion for place, and the industry and enterprise of our community. 


The brand new museum is packed with information and interactive displays. The experience begins with an exploration of a genuine North Vancouver streetcar, before entering the flex space where presentations and education sessions are offered throughout visiting hours. Soon, MONOVA will also have an Indigenous planting garden on its terrace. From this central space, visitors have two options – visit the rotating feature room (estimated opening April) or walk through an atmospheric trailhead to the permanent gallery. 

“The museum and archives were founded in 1972,” said Stephen Irving, marketing and communications specialist for the museum. “About 20 years ago the agreement was forged that the District would provide space for the Archives and the City would provide the museum. The District delivered the archives building in 2006 and here we are 15 years later with the museum.”

Following the tradition of extensive online access already in place for the archives, the museum has also just launched a series of virtual experiences.

“There are nine videos that can be explored at home in an armchair or you can come in and use them as a guide,” said Irving. “This is a lesson from the pandemic. We want to be prepared and have offerings for a contactless visitor experience.”

Through an online virtual reality platform, visitors will enjoy exploring The Stories of Belonging on the North Shore through dramatic monologues, storytelling, songs, and supported with images and artifacts from the collections. 

The most recent innovation at MONOVA starts next weekend: sensory-friendly mornings. For people and families of all ages who are neurodiverse, the museum offers a calmer, quieter experience and respite spaces. Staff have recently undergone training with Canucks Autism Network to support this initiative. Upcoming dates include Feb. 20, March 20, April 17, and May 15. 

Our story

At the centre of the main gallery is an Indigenous welcome circle. The intimate space will be perfect for discussions and small-group learning opportunities, said Irving. The entire project was done with guidance and support of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations, said Irving.

The museum has three key themes that guide the gallery celebrating connection, passion for place, and industry and enterprise. Each of the unique neighbourhoods and communities of the North Shore has representation. The permanent space has kid-zones on either end, but with flaps to open and drawers to explore there are hidden delights for kids to explore throughout the gallery (sure to delight: animal diets both the native plants and resulting scat).

To learn more about Lynn Valley on your visit try to discover the answers to these questions:

  • Before it was known as Lynn Valley, this community of loggers and shingle makers was known by what name? 
  • Which Group of Seven artist briefly called Lynn Valley home?
  • Which North Shore pioneer described himself as “…a sort of way-faring scribe, fascinated by the historical past and a lover of Nature’s handiwork in geology, botany and varied subjects?” 
  • Which Lynn Valley icon was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 2015? 

If you aren’t quite ready to visit the museum in person but would like to learn more about Lynn Valley, MONOVA has created a unique family Geocaching experience starting at the Archives building beside Lynn Valley Elementary. For details scroll to the bottom of MONOVA’s events page

How to visit

MONOVA is located in the Shipyards neighbourhood and is open Thursday – Sunday: 11 am-5 pm at 115 West Esplanade.

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.

Healthy goodness Valley to Shore

Inspired by her own adventures in growing food led an Upper Lynn mom to take on the mission of providing local, quality produce to North Vancouver homes. All it took was meeting the right farmer to help launch Valley to Shore Harvest Boxes. 

Planting seeds

Healthy living and eating has always been a priority for Dana Dykema. When possible she buys local or grows her own food. 

“It’s been a journey of years for me changing how I think about food,” she said. “We don’t go on extravagant holidays because I have to feed our eating habit of buying farmer direct.”

That care for her own family led to Dykema to seek out a farm partner and launch a small business this past fall. 

“I was looking on Instagram and went down a rabbit hill when I saw the name Local Harvest. I thought: ‘Oooo I like that.’ I saw the trailer for a gardening course,” she said.  

Hooked by the quality of the online course, soon Dykema was making the trip out regularly to Dan Oostenbrink’s market garden farm. 

“I was going out to the [Fraser] Valley a lot to pick up what was seasonally available, to pick cherries, ” she said. “I have been frustrated with the lack of Fraser Valley produce on the North Shore. It’s so good and it’s right there. Why isn’t it in our stores?”

As she got to know Oostenbrink, and his family, and to experience the quality foods he grows, Dykema felt compelled to offer it to other families who might not have the time to source high-quality food. 

More than a box of vegetables

Last fall Dykema tested the CSA (community supported agriculture) waters by organizing a veggie box delivery as a Thanksgiving fundraiser for Upper Lynn Elementary. Students got to learn about local food security, visit the farm first hand and help pack the boxes. The interest in that project was the proof of concept needed to launch Valley to Shore. In the weeks since Dykema has been making the trek to Chilliwack and returning with a car full of produce. 

“It’s more than just delivering a product to the North Shore,” she said. “There is a lot more in what he gives in a harvest box than a typical CSA. It tastes better. There is nothing that compares. It’s also about education and building community around this food and seasonal eating.”

Dykema takes the time to offer inspiration and information with each box. Her social feeds chronicle the dishes she cooks for her family and later this month Dykema will be launching her website, valleytoshore.com, where there will be recipes, blog posts and more. 

“Because of the way [Dan] farms there is a large variety of foods available throughout the year,” she said. “Some of the ingredients are new to people so it’s a culinary adventure.”

Some items in the Harvest Boxes might come as a surprise. Those lucky enough to grab a Christmas box were surprised with Fraser Valley grown ginger and lemons – items more typically imported from China or South America. 

“Traditionally any lemon you get at a store has been sprayed with who knows what. This lemon is pure good food,” said Dykema. “The food tastes better than anything you find at the grocery stores. It’s picked at peak freshness – not picked before so it can travel thousands of miles and sprayed with preservatives. It is often picked as I am putting boxes together.”

Local Harvest, like a handful of other Fraser Valley Farms, is not officially organic. Having chosen to invest in organic farming practices but not the bureaucracy to get certified. In addition to organic practices, Local Harvest uses no sprays of any kind, as well as regenerative practices. Regenerative gardening also considers the emissions and waste when working the land. 

 “Knowing Dan, how he farms with the practices he uses brings me a lot of comfort,” said Dykema. “Being a farmer is not easy. People will look at the box and think $65 is a lot of money but I think we are valuing quality and responding to the value of people’s hard work and caring environmental choices. Society wants quick and easy convenience but that bottom dollar idea is bringing bottom quality.”

The past couple of years have been incredibly challenging for Local Harvest. The covid pandemic has limited workers (Dykema said this is a three-fold issue – limited migrant workers means stretching local workers thinner, no students applied to work the past summer versus the typical 100 applications Oostenbrink would get and income programs lead to more part-time workers instead of full farming season help). And then there is the weather. November’s devastating floods were felt throughout the Fraser Valley. 

“I think it has shown us how important these farms are,” said Dykema. “I was making a six-hour round trip to prepare the boxes during the worst of the floods.” 

Seasonal abundance

The winter is the slow time for harvesting in the Fraser Valley. Dykema and Oostenbrink are putting together one more box for a Jan. 18th delivery before taking a break until the Spring. Boxes are $65 and can be ordered by sending an etransfer to [email protected]. Boxes are then picked up Tuesday evenings and Wednesdays at Dykema’s Upper Lynn home. In addition to North Shore customers, she has people come from Vancouver and Richmond to get their share. 

“I love being hospitable and this is a way to do that by introducing people to a farmer and showing them a different way to take care of their families,” said Dykema. “I can’t invite all these people to my house and cook for them but I can help care for their families.”

She hopes in the spring to be able to offer 100 boxes a week. Dykema will launch a “taster” box in mid-late April, with hopes to kickoff the season in May. Details will be on her website (launching soon) and her Facebook and Instagram

“These dollars stay in the community, support local farm families and in return, I get nutrient-dense foods to feed my family.” 

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.

Kids community choir launching this spring

There will be a bit more music gracing the hills of Lynn Valley this spring. The Lynn Valley Voices Choir is expanding to include a children and youth choir this April.

Banding together

The established community choir at the Lynn Valley United Church, Lynn Valley Voices, is growing with the grit and adaptability it sowed over the pandemic. 

Frank Zieginson

“Music is big here,” said Frank Zieginson, minister of music at Lynn Valley United Church. “One of my things here is the LVV community choir (LVCCC). Once it was established and had its feet under it, I wanted to open up community singing to children and youth.”

While the adult choir has been going for a number of years now, covid has made it challenging to start the new project. Crossing his fingers for the appropriate public health orders, Zieginson hopes to launch the new Lynn Valley Voices Kids Community Choir April 7

“Like all programs at the United Church the choir is about inclusion,” he said. “Whoever you are, wherever you are. Experience singer or not. You just have to be open to learning these skills.”

Children and youth six years and up are invited to join the choir for a weekly afternoon practice on Thursdays. 

“We want to create a safe place for all ages, regardless of identity, or faith. 

The music is thoughtful and uplifting,” said Zieginson. “The power of singing or making music together creates a sense of community connection of being able to achieve something they don’t think they can on their own.”

Adapt and thrive

Zieginson has seen those achievements first hand when he launched the adult choir and had to adapt it to be a covid-safe online version. 

“We held zoom rehearsals every week. It was a bunch of heads in boxes singing Brady Bunch style,” he explained. “Sometimes they would rehearse and record pieces solo and send them to me. I would produce them and layer them together so people were singing beside who they would in person. We would then play that at rehearsal to show how they were progressing. It was a lot of work but it was really important to gather regularly.”

Together the choir and director were able to host virtual concerts and for the start of the 2021-22 season return to in-person rehearsals. 

“There is something about a song sung in a choir,” said Zieginson. “When a song and a message takes hold it changes the way they sing and can even change the way they look at the world.”

How to raise your voice

When the children’s choir launches in April it will be more than two years of limited social and community connections for children – especially the arts. The hope is to provide an important outlet of expression and a chance for like-minded kids to work together, said Zieginson. The goal is to join the LVVCC at its annual spring concert in June. 

Interested families can sign up here. Children do not need to audition to participate. There is a $100 fee for the duration of the program, but in the spirit of inclusivity families with financial concerns can reach out to Zieginson to ensure participation for all interested kids. As full vaccination becomes available, youth are expected to present proof of vaccination.

The adult LVVCC officially launches its season in September but welcomes singers to join at any time. Participants can register here. Adults are asked to participate in a non-determining audition. Basically, an assessment to see where you best fit within the choir and to determine how the choir can best support your musical growth explained Zieginson. The choir is especially in need of bass and tenor voices. The winter term has a delayed start of Jan 20th in guidance with current health priorities. Proof of vaccination is required.  

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.

Good Neighbour 2021: Bob McCormack

It is our greatest pleasure each year to recognize a person in our community for the work they quietly do to make Lynn Valley and the North Shore the best place to live. While the world saw him take the Olympic torch over the Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge in 2010, it’s likely that in his more than 60 years of community work Bob McCormack has tried to make your life a little bit better. 

Good Neighbours

This year LynnValleyLife.com has been inundated with nominations for our Good Neighbour Award – from people like Jabeen Boga who leveraged the virtual neighbourhood to raise the spirits of local health care workers to Paul Gemino for covid community building through music. Most names we are going to tuck away for your future files because we know that the volunteers in our community don’t just show up once or lend their time to a single organization. They are people who show up week after week and year after year and make our neighbourhood better.

Lynn Valley legacies

A chat with Bob McCormack is peppered with references that slowly form of web centred on Lynn Valley. His cousin was born at homestead on the other side of the suspension bridge. His dad (a fireman) and his uncle helped establish Little League and softball in the community. His family ran the concession in Lynn Canyon in the 1940s. 

At 17 years old, McCormack’s own life changed where the Black Bear Neighbourhood Pub sits today.  At the time it was a services station and McCormack was involved in a car accident that resulted in the loss of his leg.

“My accident created me,” he said. “I saw the community coming to help. The community cared for me and my family. I was determined not to let my life stop because I lost a leg. That community spirit drove me in my heart to give.”

In addition to his long career in purchasing and logistics, with Vancouver General Hospital and Vancouver Coastal Health region (he brought the first MRI into BC) as well as other private companies, McCormack has a volunteer resume spanning decades. At 80 he is still sitting on the board of the North Shore Disability Resource Centre and working with Friends of the North Friends of the North Vancouver Museum and Archives Society. His involvement spans several recreation clubs and oversight commissions, countless community service organizations within Lynn Valley and the greater North Shore area, as well as significant time and heart invested in supporting community members with special needs. 

Community reflections

Lynn Valley has benefited from McCormack’s dedication for decades. 

Bob was one of the original members of the group that set up Lynn Valley Services Society to operate the Mollie Nye House on behalf of the District of North Vancouver,” said Margaret Fraser, past president of the Lynn Valley Services Society board of directors. “Bob works tirelessly to ensure inclusion of all in the community and served on the very first LVSS Board of Directors until 2016. Bob has continued his support and interest of LVSS – supporting Christmas events, the Heritage Fair in 2017 as a committee volunteer and organizer – one of 76 volunteers hosting over 400 residents in and around Mollie Nye House. He is passionate about all things Lynn Valley and is always ‘in touch’ with what is happening in our community.”

Taking risks and saying “Yes!”

If there is just about anything community event going on, at some point in the past 40-60 years, McCormack has hand in making it happen.

“It’s about seizing opportunity,” he said. “I didn’t always know what I was getting myself into. I was talking to someone recently who didn’t think their voice would be listened to, I said ‘I as long as I am on the board – everyone gets to be heard. If you want to spend your time volunteering, we have a space for you.’ They didn’t feel they were good enough – you just need time and a good heart.”

The reward is in making things better and making people happy, he said.

“At 80 years old, people wonder why I don’t stop – I love to do it.” Laughing McCormack adds, “It keeps my brain going.” 

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.

Rocking in a covid world

Artists often say art isn’t what they do, it’s who they are. When the Covid-19 pandemic began in March 2020 there were no more gigs for musicians like Paul Gemino. A passion to play began on a rainy front porch one night at 7pm, soon a neighbourhood was coming together through music and the Allan Road Band was born.

The day the music died

The shocking shutdown of life in March 2020 had local musician Paul Gemino lost. 

“Suddenly there was nothing,” he said. “Psychologically it was like there was a black cloud all around me. I couldn’t be all of me. It was like I was lonely or lost.”

The sounds of pots and pans brought Gemino out of his house one night. As a musician and composer with more than 35 years of professional experience – and encouraged by wife Faye Slevage – Gemino thought he could lend his guitar to the ragtag orchestra acknowledging front-line workers and healthcare personnel. 

“I played three songs that first night in the pouring rain on my covered porch,” said Gemino. “One guy came by. The second night there were three. Then a few more and more. But that first night, in the pouring rain, that first guy began [to clap], and it might as well have been a crowd of 10,000.”

Gemino’s thoughts echo countless other live performers who also lost not only their livelihoods but also the outlet for their passions. 

“I have been playing music since forever,” he said. “It’s in my DNA to be a musician.”

After the solo success of the first few nights, Gemino gave a call to a fellow musician and then two. Gaining momentum, another friend joined and another until the six-piece Allan Road Band was formed. 

“Eventually we did 40 days in a row – never repeating a song,” he said. “It was an organic sort of growing. We started to get people noticing, not just here but all over the world. My wife would put her cellphone up on a stand and record it and we would share it. Then I got a message from London, England asking me to play Jimi Hendrix’s Fire at an upcoming show. It’s a bit of a crazy song – but I thought ‘Yes.’ This whole thing has been about saying ‘yes’ to what could be.”

The current Allan Road Band has a lot of others saying yes too. Gemino is joined by Bill Schatz, Brian Carballo, Peter Lepine, Les Toth and Ron Froehlich. His wife Faye Savage picks up the other jobs like sound technician, PR and photographer.

Normalize the neighbourhood

What the Allan Road Band didn’t know was that their passion was also becoming a weekly beacon of light and hope in Lynn Valley. 

“We were living in strange times,” said Colleen Eschner, who lives in Gemino’s neighbourhood. “It was one hour to look forward to each week – and I really looked forward to it. It was a chance to see people you care about, to see neighbours, to experience something as a community and to do something that was safe – and normal.” 

As the weeks went on word of mouth spread and the sounds of music drew people to the unadvertised events. It was a chance for people to be outside and together but also socially distant, said Gemino.

“It was invigorating to see people talking and connecting – checking in, shuffling over to give space,” he said. “I didn’t know we had two paramedics on the street. Here I was thanking essential workers and they were out doing the work.” 

The weekly concerts were time to put aside the challenging time and escape for a little while.

“I had covid – getting quite sick,” said Eschner. “It was almost a shock to sit quietly and listen to the music again. It was hope. It was respite. It was so normal but everything was different. We were looking at the world through a different lens.”

One of Gemino’s joys was getting requests from patients in hospital. 

“I had one rule – no downers. Someone fighting for their health needs to hear energy or happy.”

Come together

As the summer and year went on the audience grew and was always appreciative. 

“I had a family move in next door and two days later I am pulling out gear and the ‘dad’ is dumbfounded. It’s not every day you move next door to a rock band,” laughed Gemino. “The ‘mom’ was about eight months pregnant and they came out with their 18-month-old that day and have been great supporters.”

There were other stand out memories like the connection the band fostered with DNV Firefighters during the Arglye grad parade, the 88-year-old neighbour from down the block who called her kids and grandkids and had a family picnic, and little three-year-old Nora who brings her ukelele and joins the band. That little maestro led to an entire kids concert with more than 15 ukeleles.

“Mabye three could play – and it was noise but it was fun noise,” said Gemino

The passion and joy of the band is palpable on show days, said Eschner. It draws the community out of their homes.

“When you go and sing along for an hour or just sit with a friend, it was so healing,” she said. “It holds on to you and echoes around in your head and body and stays with you.”

The path forward

As the regulations change the band moves forward – not onward. Gemino has been able to return to his other job, a taekwondo instructor but live music gigs are limited and not the same as before with restrictions like no dancing. As rough as that is for the Allan Road Band members’ other musical pursuits, it does mean they will be returning to the driveway as weather allows. 

“There is no question we will keep doing it. It’s all passion – and so much fun,” said Gemino. 

There is little doubt Eschner will be listening. 

“I so look forward to it and I so appreciate the time and effort of the entire band.” 

To learn more about the Allan Road Band check out their Facebook page. They hope to have concert number 75 soon. More on Paul Gemino can be found on Facebook and this page

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.

Local student’s art to help LGHF

When he couldn’t quite put his thoughts into words, turning to art helped Bjorn Thor be heard. The Lynn Valley Elementary Grade 7 student is the winner of the Lions Gate Hospital Foundation’s annual greeting card contest.

Colourful creation

A piece from a young local artist is doing double the good on the North Shore. Thor’s piece of original art had a first life as a line drawing design for a colouring contest for Lynn Valley Elementary students. Now, full of colour, the piece is gracing fundraising greeting cards and will soon be on tables and mantels across Canada and beyond. 

“It’s warm, it’s whimsical and it makes you smile,” said Yolanda Brooks, communications manager. “Not only did Bjorn choose bright and bold colours, his illustration is full of small, subtle details that show that he is talented beyond his years. Everybody at the foundation loves the design and we’re sure the community will too.”

“It’s amazing,” said Thor. “Nothing has ever happened to me like this. I am really happy.”

The bold design chosen by the Lions Gate Hospital Foundation features a sunset, snowman and gingerbread house. Those details were noticed by the selection committee at LGHF.

The joyful image was designed to inspire other kids to get creative, said Thor.

“Since it was originally going to be for a colouring contest I wanted it to be really fun and make them want to draw,” he said.

Art as a way of life

Thor says art has been a part of his life since he could hold a pencil.

“I wasn’t very good at saying stuff when I was little, so I would draw it out,” he said. “So basically I have been drawing my whole life.”

Thor’s art opened an important communication avenue that gave him an early voice, said mom Ainsley. 

“He was a bit hard to understand, and I would say ‘Draw it for me.’ and I would get it right away,” she said. “Bjorn could draw better at two than I can at 40-something.”

Today, Thor is falling in the artistic footsteps of his father and grandfather who both attended Emily Carr University of Art and Design. 

“It makes me really happy while I am doing it. It’s something that I can always get better at,” said Thor. “I am not really a sports person, so for me art is the best.”

There are benefits for the family too.

“I don’t have to stand in the rain on Saturday afternoons,” laughed Ainsley. “But I do have to buy some expensive pens – which we are happy to do – and visit some sketchy places to check out the latest graffiti.”

Inspiration IRL and on Instagram

Inspiration from other artists’ social media accounts, like Germany’s Smoe Nova and Toronto’s Uber5000, motivated Thor to practice his skills enough to start his own Instagram. In a push to be like the artists he admired, Thor began to focus on his art improving and evolving his style. On his feed, you can see the transition from an early ink-and-paper style to digital art.

“My goal is to paint large pieces of graffiti on legal walls,” he said. “An Ipad or paper is pretty small. I wish I can do murals someday.”

The family is supportive of Thor’s passion, embarking on local graffiti walks and visiting prominent skateparks and graffiti alleys during a cross-country road trip last summer. A highlight was being able to see some of Uber5000’s work in person.

“If a kid loved science, the family would visit science centres,” said Ainsley. “For him, it’s graffiti. We are so proud and I love that he is doing what he loves.”

The LGHF greeting cards (12 for $15) are available at their foundation’s office, 231 East 15th Street, and will soon be on the shelves of local Save-On-Foods. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go towards the purchase of a second MRI machine at LGH. To check out Bjorn Thor’s art follow him on Instagram or check out his website

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.

Looking for our Good Neighbour 2021

Some would say 2021 was another year of crisis. Lynn Valley has seen some horror, some change, some upheaval, and most definitely some hope. We want to celebrate the community members that share their time and skills to make our neighbourhood better. We are once again looking for nominations for our Good Neighbour for 2021. 

Notable neighbours

Day-to-day we try to gather interesting and innovative stories about Lynn Valley but one thing that can be missed is the quietest of stories. The good that goes on in our neighborhood every day – often unnoticed beyond the person or the organization helped.  Perhaps it’s an essential worker pushing hard or a volunteer that adapted and pivoted to keep supporting the cause they are passionate about. 

We have people step up in times of tragedy, we have those that day in and day out give of their time, money, and energy. We have those that invest in our schools, our community groups, our churches. We have those that are staples on our streets who step up and help neighbours and friends whenever it’s needed. From helping refugees to outstanding coaches to people who are practically community institutions.

Outstanding contributions year after year

The Good Neighbour Award has been going strong since 2012. We receive heartfelt nominations – some short, some long. Check out some previous winners and read their stories – we have an exceptional community! Last year we recognized walkstar Donna Moore. We were able to celebrate Matina Spiropoulos in 2019.  The year before, we had Linda Munro, a local who puts her hands in so many local groups. In the past, we have had Tim Green, a tireless supporter of the Lynn Valley Services Society and Molly Nye House. Dave and Wilna Parry are passionate advocates for refugees and immigrants. In 2015 we were proud to recognize Cath Bates Dimmock a volunteer with Argyle Secondary for more than 10 years! We have shared the astounding work of Lizz Lindsay and her charity Sharing Abundance that brings people together through food and programs that address food insecurity and social isolation. We love hearing about who makes a difference in your life and our community.

How to nominate your good neighbour

Who might our Good Neighbour be for 2021? Please send us a note telling us why you think your nominee makes Lynn Valley a better place to be. It doesn’t have to be long and fancy – just from the heart! Please send your suggestions to [email protected] before November 26, 2021. Lynn Valley’s Good Neighbour will receive a plaque, a restaurant gift certificate, and some well-deserved recognition!

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.

Stepping up for sick kids

Just weeks after leaving BC Children’s Hospital Beatrix Reilly spent her summer summiting 10 mountains. The nine-year-old is bagging peaks to bring IV medical treatments to sick kids.

A day’s play turned life upside down

Much of Reilly’s free time is spent outdoors. A typical North Shore tween she spends a lot of time in the forest. More than average kid, she thrives outside: tackling road and mountain biking, participates in a weekly forest school program and follows in the footsteps of her trail running mom. This is a lifestyle for the Lynn Valley family – her dad Ryan even runs  a business renting emergency locator beacons to weekend adventurers. It all stopped last April when a normal day of normal play resulted in a cut on Reilly’s knee and within 24 hours she was a long-term resident at BC Children’s Hospital. 

“Many people with this type of infection do not make a full recovery,” said mom Caroline. Severe necrotizing fasciitis kept Reilly in and out of Children’s and Lion’s Gate hospitals for two months. As her health improved she was offered a relatively new program that got her home and active again.

 “Towards the end of her stay she only needed to be there to get IV antibiotics,” said Ryan. “We were able to be a part of the Home IV program. It was a portable pump that went around her waist. She was able to go back to school, get back riding her bike. It gave her freedom again.”

The family was one of the first handful to take advantage of the new technology. 

“I was excited to give it a try because I wanted to see my friends,” said Reilly. 

As Ryan points out, for anyone juggling family, jobs and a sick child is difficult but a long hospital stay for a child is even harder during the covid pandemic. Visitors were very limited to only one family member. The addition of this new program frees up hospital resources and gets kids home and back to normal quicker, he said. 

From adversity to adventure

In March, before her injury, Reilly was getting excited about ‘peak bagging’ – that is the hobby of hiking to summit as many peaks as possible. The south coast has a number of informal groups and challenges encouraging people to get outside and active. In the early season with snow still on the ground, she reached three summits. The idea of continuing the challenge as part of her recovery led Reilly to launch her “Peak bags for IV Bags” fundraising challenge – on until Oct 31. The medical program is so new, Reilly’s fundraising will help with training and education materials for the Home IV program for staff at Children’s Hospital.  

“Peak bagging feels like an accomplishment more than a hike,” she said. “It’s an adventure. My favourite was Goat Mountain because it had lots of ropes and was really fun.”

Even with 13 peaks under her belt since March, like most kids, Reilly doesn’t always love hiking, said dad Ryan.

“There can be resistance, but getting to the top was her goal,” he said. “She like that we were tracking her peaks and that there was a leaderboard. She also liked seeing what [her mom] and I do for fun.”

Most of the hikes were done with family and progressed slowly to match Reilly’s improving health. When asked if the hikes were easier now, Reilly gave a clear ‘No!’

“I think you have gotten so much stronger, but you are choosing hikes that are also growing in difficulty,” chuckled Ryan, with a  look to Reilly. “The last week of September Beatrix reached Tim Jones and Seymour peaks for her ninth and 10th post-injury peaks.”

Big goals, big rewards

With the drive of helping more kids access the IV technology that made a difference to her quality of life, Reilly learned the power of setting goals. 

“I liked that I was raising lots of money,” she said. “And Slurpees at the end!”

For Reilly, the key motivation was her fundraiser but she also has other advice to get kids out, active, and bagging their first peaks:

  1. Good company – “Go with someone you want to spend time with, like a friend.” She noted little brothers don’t always make the best peak-bagging partners.
  2. Good Food – “Bring good snacks – like chocolate.” A rare treat for Reilly, who also finds gummies a good “but not as good as chocolate” choice.
  3. Good rewards – “Something like hot chocolate or a Slurpee at the end is the best.”
  4. Good timing – “I really liked sliding down when there was still snow.” A clear day also helps to enjoy the view and fully appreciate the summit, adds mom Caroline. 

To start bagging peaks all you need are some good hiking shoes, said Reilly, adding her mom carries a pack with an emergency blanket, safety gear, water, extra food and clothing, and a phone. For routes, fellow peak bagger and North Shore teen Harry Crerar has written a family hiking book

To donate to Beatrix Reilly’s Peak Bags for IV Bags challenge visit this page

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.

Local writer tackles youth mental health

Suddenly managing schooling and health care during a pandemic, on top of working and parenting, Lynn Valley’s Lisa Bournelis turned to writing for respite. Her first novella hit the shelves at the local library and online stores in July, and she hopes it will help kids with their mental health.

Lived experience

Being a parent is hard. Being a parent of a child who is unwell is harder. Being a parent negotiating the mental health system is exhausting. For Bournelis, her journey into this world began a couple of years ago as her son showed signs of obsessive compulsive disorder. 

“As a parent, we can’t step in and can’t make this go away – that was the hardest thing ever,” she said. “I started to see these compulsions and I was unwittingly enabling him.”

Bournelis credits her son’s hard work, the care of the BC Children’s Hospital, and its exposure and response therapy (ERP) for his improvements. According to Dr. S. Evelyn Stewart, the medical director of the Provincial OCD Program, OCD is a disease characterized by obsessions and/or compulsions that cause significant distress, take up a great deal of time or limit a person’s functioning. An obsession is a repetitive, intrusive thought or image, and a compulsion is a recurrent action or mental act that is intended to reduce distress related to the obsession.  

“It’s horrible – not what is portrayed in the movies like washing your hands a lot, or compulsions shown in a funny way,” Bournelis. “That is not what it is. It is a compulsion that if you don’t complete it something horrible will happen to you or your family. Therapy has been incredible, to learn OCD ‘lies’ to you. One in 40 people globally has OCD. People are good at hiding it.”

Despite it typically beginning between seven and 18 years old there is little information readily available to parents and schools. Frustrating because early intervention can help prevent adult crises, she said. 

“It’s actually very debilitating.”

Cutoff by Covid

Similar to school and other health supports, when the covid pandemic began Bournelis’s family also lost access to therapy. 

“A lot of the good, hard work he had done, was undone,” she said. “Like many parents with children with complex health needs, we found ourselves unable to access therapy when we needed it most. We had to go back to look at our notes and step in as therapists.”

Soon the repetitive days were wearing thin. 

“I was really stuck – it felt like a perpetual groundhog day,” she said. “I set an intention to write every day as a release. The story of Louie and the Dictator flowed out and I hope it helps other anxious kids. I poured my heart and soul into this book.”

With fingers to keyboard Bournelis penned the story of Louie and the Dictator.

I wrote an uplifting children’s novella that will help anxious and neuro-divergent children see themselves as heroes of their own stories. They will be able to apply some of the fun ‘tools’ in the story to help them remain calm, or shift mindsets,” she said. 

Her son offered important insight and enthusiasm during the writing process.  

“He loves it,” she said. “He is my biggest cheerleader. I did consult with him throughout the process and ask how he feels, if he wants it published. He was very much a collaborator. He would give insight into his compulsions and I also added in others he didn’t have. A lot of the experiences you will read about did happen to him or our family. 

“He is loving reading the reviews coming in and knowing he is helping other kids.” 

The story also weaves in aspects of the pandemic. Bournelis says she wanted to help address the ongoing challenge and growing anxiety facing children.

“We have all experienced trauma in the last 18 months,” she said. “The health care system is seeing more mental health concerns, more agoraphobia, more anxiety, more repetitive things because people are worried now. This isn’t just my son, this is the experience of many children. They are worried about the air they breathe, what school will look like, will they see their friends.”

One of her goals with the book was to support the very programs that helped her son. Bournelis will be donating some of the profits to the OCD program at Children’s Hospital. The other goal was to empower children.

“This book shows that kids can have control, that change is incremental and small shifts can improve our circumstances.” 

Early reviews of the book are very positive. Learn more by visiting Bournelis’ website or check out Louie and the Dictator at the NVDPL and online.  

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.

From local bike shop to Olympic elite

With years of international experience, Adam Trotter landed in Japan last month as part of Canada’s Olympic delegation. It was his second Olympics as head mechanic of the mountain bike team. 

Climbing to the top

Following his bike from Ontario to Lynn Valley, Trotter has been on the road with professional teams and Team Canada since 2009. But you may have unknowingly had your bike tuned in the past by one of Canada’s top mechanics, with Trotter’s downtime often spent at Lynn Valley Bikes. 

“Rio was my first Olympic Games,” said Trotter. “I had some ‘major games’ experience doing the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto and the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland by that point so I was used to that environment as it’s quite different from a World Cup or World Championships. It was memorable for the fact we won a bronze medal [Catharine Pendrel] in the women’s race – so that was special for sure.” 

Trotter’s career began as a shop mechanic before doing event support and later joining Cycling Canada’s elite downhill, cross-country (XC), and cyclocross teams. 

“We select our staff from among people working with professional teams,” said Karine Bedard, Cycling Canada. “Adam is a trusted mechanic on the Enduro World Series and has also been part of the Canadian team for many years.”

Canada’s best

“I can’t recall where I heard this but a mechanic can’t win the race for an athlete but they certainly can lose it,” said Trotter. “I’ve got my systems in place that I used during my pre-race checks so that I’m confident that each bike that I put a number plate on is race-ready when it rolls to the line. In terms of stress, I just make sure I’m dialed and relaxed and if the riders see that then they’re chill as well. If I’m freaking out, they’re freaking out and that’s not good.”

Bedard echoes the importance of the mechanic-athlete relationship.

“The riders have to trust that their equipment is in the best condition possible, and the mechanic needs to be a calm presence who knows what to say and what not to say even in stressful situations,” she said.

“It’s just an honor to be able to support our best athletes on that stage,” said Trotter. “Athletes always say it’s special to wear the jersey representing your country and I feel the same way wearing my T-shirt.”

The Olympic experience

The Tokyo Olympics were a different experience than a typical international competition. Pandemic protocols limited how the athletes, staff, coaches, and crew could interact with each other, the events, and the entire Games itself. 

“Last season I traveled internationally for some EWS races and MTB World Championships so I’m used to all the added layers of travel these days,” said Trotter. “I got my first shot in May and my second one while I was traveling in France so I was fully vaccinated by the time I got to Tokyo.” 

Even for someone used to the constant travel and competition, this Olympics was a whirlwind. 

“I felt Tokyo was over pretty fast,” said Trotter. “We flew in from a camp in Europe, got settled, did our training days, and we were on a plane home 24 hours after the last race. It was also unique that we weren’t in the main Olympic Village but three hours south in Izu at a summer resort transformed into a satellite village. It was just mountain bikers for the first six or seven days until the road and track athletes began showing up.”

Behind the scenes

LVL: Can you describe event day from your perspective?

Trotter: The night before I wash and check over the bikes and get all my things organized for the next day – like spare parts and wheels that I bring to the tech/feed zone. Race day Tara [team physio]  and I head to the race early on the bus to get our pit area at the venue set up. The riders get driven to the race with [Coach] Dan. Then I just hang out and help as needed – putting a bike on a trainer or some tire changes. With 15 minutes to start, I’ll walk down to the tech area and set up my tools and spare wheels. Sometimes I help with bottle feeds.

LVL: Can you describe the relationship between elite riders and their mechanic?

Trotter: All the athletes we had at the Olympics I’ve worked with plenty over the years on National Team projects. I know how they operate on race days and as people. Some racers like to talk and joke around before a race, some just tune out and get in the zone. Andreanne [ALN] is one of the athletes I work with on the Rocky Mountain Team and I’ve known her since she actually raced XC on the National Team before switching to Enduro. She calls me her psychic, just from working together for so long. It’s also a relationship where communication is important. They need to be able to talk to you about bike stuff, set up, tire choice, and you need to be able to understand them as well. 

Of course, they also have to trust you that their bike is going to perform as well every single time you hand it back to them.

LVL: Were the crew and riders as surprised as they appeared to be on TV about the removal of the ladder between training and racing? [During training runs a boulder leading into a drop had a ladder eliminating the drop. Not all riders appeared to be informed of the change, resulting in some crashes.] 

Trotter: I haven’t actually watched the coverage of the race. I do find it strange that they took it out, but also strange that it was there in the first place.  

Quick pitstop

Just like the athletes, Trotter’s 2021 mountain bike season is continuing as he heads to Europe this week. When it wraps you might see him at Lynn Valley Bikes, riding the Shore, or hanging out at home in Lynn Valley. 

“The trails are right here, the riding community is amazing and having a bike shop in the area is awesome! I’m a mountain biker for sure,” said Trotter. “It’s really why I moved out here from Ontario. I love a good Seymour lap, my favourite trails are over there.” 

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.