Sunday & Monday on The Island

On Sunday morning my buddy Todd gave me a lift from Victoria to Brentwood Bay with a pit stop at The Roost Bakery in Saanich. We had heard reports of roosters wandering the property where everyone dines on the porch or picnic tables on the lawn, but we didn’t see anything wilder than an 80-year-old female cyclist in Spandex. The eggs Benny made with free range eggs and homemade Hollandaise was better than average but still not on par with my all-time favourite from the Sunday Brunch at Wynn Las Vegas.

While we were there Todd picked up the new, larger ‘Blackberry’. It appears to have a slightly curved screen but the anti-glare coating was horrible, it’s very heavy, won’t fit in my pocket, and it seemed to be overheating even though it was just off the shelf. I was not impressed.

I got to the Brentwood Bay ferry about 90 minutes before the next scheduled departure so I spent some time chatting with the group of retired teachers who are doing a 400 km cycling trip through BC. They rarely travel more than 20 or 30 km per day so there is plenty of time for lounging around at places like the Seahorses Café. You can’t beat the view from this place.


There are eight daily sailings of the Brentwood Bay – Mill Bay ferry. The ferry covers three nautical miles in about 25 minutes, but it’s about an hour quicker than driving south to Victoria and then north to Mill Bay, unless of course you came up from Victoria, as I did. I wasn’t taking the ferry for the quickest or most direct route to Mill Bay but rather to give me another reason to get back on the water with the BC Ferries.


Jane Rees, the former GM of Barrie Raceway and Georgian Downs, was on the ferry dock to meet me in Mill Bay. She is now retired and living part of the year in Cobble Hill, BC. She offered to put me up for the night. I may have smashed some kind of a record in accepting that invitation.

On the way back to Jane’s home we stopped at Shawnigan Lake School. Jane’s daughter Jen teaches at this world famous private boarding school. With 450 students and over 40 buildings, it’s an impressive complex. And I guess it should be with tuition ranging from $22,900 for those attending day school to $56,300 for an international boarding student.

Broadcasting mogul Jim Shaw attended the school in the 1970s and in May he donated $19 million to their current fundraising campaign. It looks like they’ll meet a goal of $40 million to fund a few little renos in time for the school’s 100th anniversary in 2016.

We made a detour after leaving the school and headed for the Kinsol Trestle. According to on-site signage, the former railway trestle was completed in 1920 and measures 44 m (144 ft) high by 188 m (617 ft) long, making it “the largest wooden trestle in the Commonwealth and one of the highest railway trestles in the world.”

The last train crossed the Koksilah River in 1979 and the Kinsol trestle (named for local employer King Solomon Mines) was abandoned a year later. After sitting unused for another 20 years, a number of individuals, community groups, and various levels of government came together in 2009 with a plan to rebuild the historic structure. The project was completed in 2011 and today the Kinsol trestle forms part of the Trans-Canada Trail – the longest trail in the World.

After stopping for bread in the picturesque community of Cowichan Bay, we got back to Jane’s home in time to see Rory McIlroy win the PGA Championship in a dramatic race against daylight. When Rory was posing with the trophy a commentator mentioned that he was born on May 4, 1989. I was kicking off my last summer on the Island that week. Don’t ask how old that makes me feel!

Jane and husband Dave have a beautiful home in the gaited golfing community of Arbutus Ridge. At least that’s what the sign says; I’ve heard it referred to as Arthritis Ridge. If you ask me, it’s pretty close to paradise no matter what the average age might be.

I was so glad to hook up with Jane and David after little or no contact for far too long. It was great to hear tales of their recent road trips from BC to Florida and David’s 1970s backpacking trips through the US and Canada. David was a pioneering executive in the international courier business with stints in The Caribbean, UK, Rhodesia, South Africa, and Canada. I could have listened to his travel stories all night.

Jane’s daughter Jen and her husband Andy Shephard and kids Rueben and Grace joined us for dinner. The barbecue was fired up and as if by magic, a marvelous meal appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Credit Jane for accomplishing that feat.

“Any salt on that steak, Mike?” I was asked. It just so happens that raw tomatoes and grilled steak are two of the foods that I might add additional salt to. But this wasn’t your everyday Sifto table salt so the decision was even easier. Andy is an accomplished chef, serial entrepreneur, and now artisanal salt harvester. His company, Vancouver Island Salt Co., bills itself as “Canada’s First Artisan Sea Salt Harvestry.”

He is also one of four finalists in the Telus – Globe & Mail Small Business Challenge 2014. The winner walks away with $100,000 in seed money so needless to say, Andy would appreciate your vote. He has a fascinating story so if you have a few minutes, take the time to read about it here:!telus-small-business-challenge/c1jxf

On Monday afternoon I will head to Nanaimo and on Tuesday evening I will take the Horseshoe Bay ferry back to the mainland.

Check back Wednesday to see what Diana Krall, Pamela Anderson, an abandoned stone church, and the Guinness World Record for Longest Outdoor Ball Hockey Game have in common.

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