Having encouraged her toddler’s artistic side so successfully that by age 4 he was creating impressive paintings, artist Joey Simon was urged by her community members to start art workshops for children. Beginning in 2005, she did just that, hosting classes out of the basement of a Victorian home on Vancouver Island. Today, 4Cats Arts Studio has locations throughout North America, including the Port Moody studio where children’s workshops are flanked by adult classes and family events on the packed schedule. In addition to making its community members a more artistic bunch, the business gives back by hosting food drive events in the winter.
Oscar's Pub immerses patrons in a casual neighbourhood atmosphere while immersing stomach interiors in hearty pub fare such as wings in 10 sauces ranging from spicy to sweet. Burgers and entrees feature AAA Canadian beef marinated in au jus, as internationally inspired eats such as wonton soup traipse across the menu for a more global experience than slumber parties held by U.N. ambassadors. Ever-changing upcoming events include wings and ribs nights as well as karaoke Sundays, which urge guests to flex their vocal pipes. UFC, European soccer, football, and Canucks games shine down from 11 high-definition wide-screen televisions to illuminate revellers and intimidate french fries into lying still.
What's proper etiquette for the Queen's sommelier? West Coast Wine Education's John Gerum confronted this question head on when he served Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Apparently he made the right choice, as he went on to pour wine for Prime Ministers, Presidents, Provincial Premiers, and cultural icons during his 20-year career. Gerum's achievement distills three generations of fine dining experience that was passed down from his father, a chef, and his grandfather, a maitre 'd. Wine education was always his passion, so when starting out, he sought personal instruction from the master sommelier Andrew Laliberté and demonstrated a palate refined enough to earn him membership and certification from the International Sommelier Guild. Gerum often merges his know-how with other wine educators to cultivate a roster of classes and hone their delivery. These experts join in delineating Scotch terroir and describing the bouquet of a student's favourite pinot-stained shirt with an easy professionalism that has enthralled groups of up to 300 people. They share their expertise with casual drinkers and professionals during two-hour workshops, in consultation for store openings and events, and through appearances on Global TV.
The rugged beauty of nature meets the comfort of vacation amenities at REO Rafting Resort, a secluded getaway on the edge of Nahatlatch River. Throughout the Fraser Canyon, experienced guides lead groups on whitewater rafting day-trips and multiday excursions, helping beginners and advanced rafters alike to navigate class III and IV+ rapids. Some of the trips take place along the Nahatlatch and others venture to the Stein, Thompson, and Fraser rivers, all of which are less than 45 minutes away from base camp. Relaxation and pampering follow at the resort's facilities, where a hot tub, massage therapists, and glasses of beer or wine await to reward campers for their rugged displays of human heartiness.
At nightfall, guests cozy up around a campfire, but they need not roast hot dogs or trap varmints for sustenance. A team of professional chefs prepares meals for guests, which also helps prevent the risk of forest fires and bears moseying into campsites for a snack.
Grappling upon a history that spans eight decades and 300 locations worldwide, the instructors at Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu carry on the Gracie family's tradition of brazilian jiu-jitsu. In 1925, Carlos Gracie Sr. opened his first school in Rio de Janeiro, popularizing the combat art as a competitive sport. He then passed on his knowledge to his brothers, who went on to thrive in Brazil's combat circles, and would eventually inaugurate his son, Carlos Gracie Jr., into this "gentle art." Gracie Jr. grew up immersed in brazilian jiu-jitsu, honing his skills and values while grappling with his father, uncles, brothers, and cousins, all of whom were some of the most influential fighters in brazilian jiu-jitsu's history. Dedicated to upholding his family's legacy, he opened Gracie Barra in 1986 to share his passion for the sport with students of all experience levels and backgrounds.
Specializing in group and private instruction in the ways of brazilian jiu-jitsu and muay thai kick-boxing, his instructors teach not only combat techniques, but also the values of self-respect, discipline, and integrity. Throughout the pristine studio, students of all ages train in circles or spar with one another to perfect their moves, writhing on target pads like snakes slicked in butter. The instructors foster a free-form network of friendship and support, and teach students to channel the self-confidence acquired in class throughout every aspect of their daily lives.
A quick glance at Vashti Fairbairn’s resume is telling. At local theatre company Fighting Chance Productions, she has directed the critically lauded Little Shop of Horrors and The Mystery of Edwin Drood, both of which magically combine music with dramatic arts. At her own Music Box Music and Theatre Academy, Fairbairn, along with a team of dedicated teachers, does the exact same thing on a daily basis. Children’s group classes give little ones as young as 6 months old a chance to strut their stuff on the dance floor, belt out their favourite show tunes, and learn to tickle the ivories like a seasoned elephant sitter. Private lessons are open to adults as well, and expand the instrumental scope to include strings, music theory, and the speaking arts. The latter comes in handy during the school’s drama clubs, which teach kids 3 years and older how to use their imaginations to create real-life and fantasy scenarios. Outside of their educational programs, the facility entertains visitors to the River Market with free music and theatre performances in the Music Box Presents series.