When doctors told Joey and Darryl Simon that their son Jet’s premature birth could result in learning disabilities, the couple immersed him in the world of art as a means of helping him overcome any educational obstacles. Their tutelage and care paid off, resulting in an impressive array of paintings from their child at a very young age. Jet’s talent and creativity inspired his parents to establish 4Cats Arts Studio in hopes of unleashing the inner artists of other children as well as adults. The Simons accomplish this mission through hands-on sessions in mixed media, painting, and Artist Focus classes, which concentrate on the histories and styles of certain artists, such as Picasso’s cubism and Andy Warhol’s self-portraits of soup cans.
Fraser River Bike Tours & Rental's Tom Littlewood has been an avid cyclist for nearly 30 years. When the former psychologist first hit the roads of New Westminster, especially the Queensborough Bridge, the most common sight was of big rigs as they rumbled past. Now, with bike-friendly routes such as the Queensborough Loop being built along the Fraser River, Littlewood and other cyclists hear not the roar of traffic but the bark of sea lions as they park themselves on the shores for a front seat at the salmon runs. Eagles, heron, and other wildlife also congregate during runs, forming a rich, natural tapestry that cyclists pedal by on one of Tom's bike rentals, often during guided tours. At first, biking for Tom was not a passion, but a prescription. At 33, his doctor gave him a choice—undergo open-heart surgery or saddle up on a bicycle. Tom soon incorporated his prescription pedalling into both his personal and professional life. He began advising his own patients, who were afflicted with anxiety or sleep disorders, to cycle for the exercise, the fresh air, and the sassy feeling of wearing spandex in public. Later, he worked with disadvantaged children to teach them bicycle mechanics in a program he also helped establish in other places, including Cuba. Today, Tom estimates that he bikes 300–400 kilometres a week. He laps the Queensborough Loop five or six times a week with groups. As an advocate of biking who strongly associates the sport with weight loss, good health, and peace of mind, Tom enjoys sharing his passion with others at Fraser River Bike Tours & Rental. Perhaps even more than relaxed group rides, he likes his power rides. So even on days after he's led tours, he climbs aboard his two-wheeled steed and begins pedalling without a moment's hesitation.
More than two decades ago, Frank Gregus and Maurice Hamilton set out on a venture as amateur home winemakers. Their cottage industry flourished into Pacific Breeze Winery in 2005, and since their first professional release in March 2007, their family-owned garagiste—or "garage winery"—has hauled in more than 50 international medals, including Intervin's "Best Winery of the Year" award in 2010. From grape to barrel, barrel to bottle, and bottle to kiddie pool, Pacific Breeze Winery's lavishes meticulous attention to each small-lot, handcrafted product. This diligence infuses every sip of robust reds and elegant whites, each of which begins its journey at premium vineyards across North America.
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With Langley's picturesque countryside as its backdrop, Neck of the Woods Winery concocts red, white, and sparkling wines using grapes grown primarily in the surrounding Fraser Valley. The facility takes advantage of the area's cool climate–which is similar to that of Northern France and Germany–to oversee the entire production process from pressing to bottling. After spending quality time with their maker or a court-appointed barrel, products migrate to store shelves throughout Fraser Valley and Vancouver, or stay right at home in the winery's tasting room. There, visitors pass through daily to sample the varietals, or hang out in the showroom, warmly stocked with rustic casks and a crackling fireplace.
Honeybee Centre buzzes with professional apiarists and busy hives, which work together to support Surrey's agriculture and inform the next generation of beekeepers. Most of the staff's time is spent renting out hives to pollinate fruit crops, then harvesting the resulting honey⎯whether from blueberry, cherry, or pumpkin plants⎯to sell in their store. The insect experts also provide an extermination alternative by removing and relocating pesky colonies of bees and wasps.
Additionally, the centre devotes significant resources to education, whether through kid-friendly exhibits or basic to advanced beekeeping courses, which help students manage their own hives and join in the bees' ritual dances. In the Bees & Bugs lab, kids of all ages tackle hands-on educational activities and watch live bees and other bugs. Afterwards, visitors can relax in the centre's Tea Hive Café, noshing on cookies or pie while sipping locally roasted coffee in a greenhouse.