Archive for July, 2013

Blue Canoe Waterfront Restaurant

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Cottage Comfort on the Pier

One would think that Jim van der Tas, managing partner of the Blue Canoe Waterfront Restaurant, has lived in Steveston his entire life based on his passion for and commitment to the village, yet he and his family moved here in 2004. In a short time he has planted many roots and he may just be one of the busiest men in Steveston.

Not only is Jim van der Tas devoted to his business and his family; he also actively gives back to the village as he sits on three Steveston board of directors. He feels that Steveston is the jewel of Richmond, if not the Lower Mainland, and is committed to promoting all that the area has to offer.

Jim van der Tas and his wife Janet own the Blue Canoe in partnership with Janet’s brother. Jim van der Tas says the decision to open their business “happened almost by accident.”  While visiting Steveston with a friend they walked along the pier to take in the view. They discussed the area’s potential and his friend joked that Jim van der Tas should buy a restaurant  (stemming from his background as director of food & beverage at Vancouver’s Marriott Renaissance). This conversation quickly turned into reality when the van der Tas’ made an offer to purchase two former Steveston businesses, which they renovated into one larger space to create Blue Canoe Waterfront Restaurant.

There was an immediate sense that something fresh and fun was going on when Blue Canoe’s logo appeared featuring an Adirondack chair perched beside the water’s edge, and a full-scale lifeguard’s chair appeared at the entrance to the business. The concept was to create a cottage style atmosphere. “It’s rustic and beautiful, like kicking back at a lakeside cottage,” says Jim van der Tas.  The restaurant’s name celebrates the blue ocean and is also a tribute to seafood that is featured prominently on the menu.

What is the history behind the rustic canoe that is suspended from the dining room ceiling? Jim van der Tas put feelers out to find the perfect canoe and discovered this one, circa 1954, which had been stored inside a barn in Quebec. It was stripped, waxed, and true to Jim van der Tas’ sense of humour, he installed two small signs indicating, “this canoe is blue” when people began to question its natural colour.

The canoe is a focal point, along with many special touches including the wood sided walls, mirrors that look like window panes, a cozy gas fireplace framed by river rock, and a selection of Langley artist Jill Hall’s cottage style furniture and decor throughout the restaurant. Add in the fun signage throughout, including the amusing outdoor directional sign, cozy throws on the backs of patio chairs, charming outdoor lighting along with patio heaters which, if you close your eyes, can mimic sitting by a campfire, mix in the ocean air and fishing boats bobbing at the dock, and you feel like you are on a relaxing seaside vacation.

Every so often Jim van der Tas pinches himself to make sure he is not dreaming that this spectacular location is his ‘office.’ He is grateful for the countless friendships he has made in the five years since Blue Canoe has been in operation (June 8, 2008 was the official opening date).

The restaurant offers something for everyone, both young and old, in a casual and cozy environment that is known for its unique selection of beer and wine, along with chef Danilo Ibarra’s fresh local cuisine.

Chef Ibarra works closely with Jim van der Tas on menu development. Jim van der Tas says the menu is always evolving to keep the dining experience fresh and exciting, as well to engage the customers and the staff, and over time has shone the spotlight more heavily on seafood. A small sample of the current offerings include a selection of burgers (a cottage experience is not complete without this staple) along with local, wild, line caught salmon (wrapped in corn husk, summer succotash, preserved lemon cream), West Coast salmon chowder (salmon, corn, sweet potato, bacon), heirloom tomato and strawberry salad (burrata cheese, D-Original Sausage Haus spek, mustard greens, honey balsamic vinaigrette) and a delicious dessert menu including a heavenly lemon meringue pie.

Blue Canoe is proud to buy from local fishers (Organic Ocean) and farmers. Jim van der Tas is very excited about the relationship the restaurant has formed with local farmers that have been growing seasonal produce for Blue Canoe including lettuce, potatoes, berries, mustard greens, and herbs. Jim van der Tas says he would take great pleasure in owning a farm. In his dream he would grow his own crops to use in Blue Canoe’s kitchen although he laughs and says his wife won’t allow this idea to transpire.

In the early years of the business Jim van der Tas was at the restaurant virtually every day, however over time he has is now able to take well-deserved days off. Jim van der Tas describes his front-end role as similar to that of an old-fashioned maître d’. His amicable nature is suited for this role as he effortlessly circulates and is attentive to the well being of the customers and the staff. Janet van der Tas, a certified general accountant, is equally busy with her work behind the scenes managing the accounting. Jim van der Tas is full of praise for the Blue Canoe’s staff, which he describes as one big happy family. During the busy summer season the restaurant employees a staff of seventy. He is also deeply grateful to the loyal customers, many have supported Blue Canoe since it first opened.

The winter months allow Jim van der Tas some free time to coach his sons’ Richmond Minor hockey teams. Ben (8) and Aiden (10) thoroughly enjoy the family business and Jim van der Tas would be pleased if they elect to work at Blue Canoe when they are older. The boys have already expressed interest and have inherited their mother and father’s charm and social nature.

Running one of Steveston’s most successful restaurants keeps Jim van der Tas extremely busy yet he finds time to volunteer on three Steveston not-for-profit organization boards. He is the President of the Steveston Merchants Association, which he founded with Vince Morlet (owner of Tapenade Bistro) in 2009, as they believed a voice for Steveston businesses was sorely lacking and felt work had to be done to attract more people to visit the village. In addition, Jim van der Tas is the co-chair of the Steveston 20/20 group that meets to discuss current issues and the long-term vision for the village as we move towards the year 2020. Finally, Jim van der Tas also sits on the Gulf of Georgia Cannery’s board. Janet van der Tas is also active in the community with her sons’ school and sports.

“Steveston has so much potential to be an even better and more vibrant community. I want to help it grow in a respectful, carefully thought out manner for generations to enjoy its beauty and history,” says Jim van der Tas. When we see how the couple has made Blue Canoe Waterfront Restaurant a local landmark, and the creative ideas that Jim van der Tas devotedly offers the village, it is easy to believe his vision will come to fruition.

Blue Canoe Waterfront Restaurant 140-3866 Bayview Street Richmond BC V7E 4R7  Telephone 604-275-7811

A Monkey Tree Emporium

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

A Monkey Tree Emporium’s inquisitive and somewhat cheeky monkey logo peeks from the window at passersby on Moncton Street. It is an image that has morphed over time yet has always been a part of the shop’s branding and symbolizes owner Odile Gagné’s affinity for monkeys. Gagné opened A Monkey Tree (the business’ original name) in 2001. In the early days she sold specialty silk flowers, plant arrangements and trees, however over time she dreamt of expanding her merchandise to include the gift and home décor that we are familiar with today.

Gagné was born and raised in Montreal. She studied interior design and later moved to the West Coast to pursue a job in the travel industry. Gagné’s first visit to Steveston reminded her of life along the canal in Montreal. She was attracted both to the active commercial fishing industry and to the close-knit feel of the quaint village, and determined that she would like to open a business here. Prior to relocating to Moncton Street, A Monkey Tree Emporium was situated on First Avenue (now home to Bell’s Bake Shop) for nine years. Two years ago Gagné moved the shop, added the word “emporium” to the business name as she had always liked the word, and thought it suited her array of products. This past February she rearranged the interior for a fresh look.

Indeed A Monkey Tree Emporium is true to its name with its eclectic collection ranging from kitchenware to humorous greeting cards, stationery, prints on canvas, small carpets and mats, folk art, prints by local photographers, jewellery and Lampe Berger.

Whenever possible Gagné strives to support local artists.  She is always on the hunt for unique and seasonal items and updates the store frequently which her loyal customers certainly appreciate.

Coming from a background in interior design Gagné has a creative eye and loves colour. You will see her personal taste and sense of humour reflected in much of the merchandise. Gagné says that her customers come to A Monkey Tree Emporium to have fun and enjoy the quirky selection of products. She feels passionate about her business and is motivated by the capricious nature of her store.

What are some of this summer’s must have items? Kitchen gadgets are always popular including the Lid Sid, citrus spray and the silicon lid products. In addition Gagné suggests that you can’t go wrong with her collection of cards and stationery.

In her spare time Gagné enjoys walking, photography, playing squash, and spending time at her country home on the Sunshine Coast with her partner Peter.  She also loves to cook with a glass of wine in hand. Gagné says that all of these passions inspire her and contribute to the products that she selects for her emporium.

Gagné is thankful to her supportive customers and fellow merchants. She is an active board member with the Steveston Merchants Association, which she joined when it was founded in 2009. She likes to shop locally to support the village’s businesses. Gagné is grateful to her loyal staff including Karin, who has been a part-time employee for the past seven years.

In appreciation of her customers’ support Gagné believes in giving back to the community through donations to a number of local fundraising events throughout the year.

Gagné promotes A Monkey Tree Emporium through social media including Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. She is continuing to expand her social media presence by featuring daily greeting cards, décor inspirations and in the near future recipes.

A visit to A Monkey Tree Emporium will satisfy your need for gifts, kitchen gadgets and home décor, and you may even leave the store chuckling about some of the items you bought.

A Monkey Tree Emporium, 105-3900 Moncton St, Steveston Village, Richmond BC V7E 3A6

Telephone 604-448-9234

The Dynamic Burke Duo

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Dance and Pilates Studios Relocate to Steveston Village

Have you heard the news? The dynamic mother (Mary Burke) and daughter (Elizabeth Burke) duo have recently relocated their two well-established businesses, Burke Academy of Dance and The Pilates Group to new quarters located on the corner of No. 1 Road and Chatham Street above Coast Capital Savings.

Elizabeth Burke (who co-owns The Pilates Group with Elvina Savage) and Mary Burke (owner of The Burke Academy of Dance) report that the Pilates studio has doubled in size, while the dance studio has downsized to reflect the new direction of the company.

The new home of these joint studios is beautiful. The combination of relaxing white and teal accent walls along with grey/white oak laminate flooring creates a peaceful atmosphere. A cozy foyer with tasteful artwork and change rooms greet you at the entrance, along with a reception desk radiating instant bling appeal with a chandelier hanging overhead.  A sample of The Pilates Group merchandise hangs on display with more coming soon.

The renovations took two months to complete and involved installing new windows, new ceiling tile, dimmer lights and adding a glass wall which separates the dance and Pilates studio, while still maintaining a sense of togetherness and allowing in plenty of light.  When dance classes are not in session the space is used for Pilates mat and barre classes.  On the other side of the glass wall is the Pilates studio where reformer and chair classes are held.

Mary Burke and her husband Tom are originally from Northern Ireland. They relocated to Saskatchewan in 1972 where their children Brian and Elizabeth were born, followed by a move to Steveston in 1977 when Tom Burke received a promotion through his work.

Her passion for dance began at age 8. By the time she was age 15 Mary Burke had won a full scholarship to attend The Hammond School of Ballet in Chester, England. She went on to dance professionally followed by teaching dance.

It had always been Mary Burke’s dream to own a dance school.  The dream became reality in 1977 when she opened her original school in the Presbyterian Church on No. 2 Road.  When the Burkes built their home Mary Burke ran classes in an attached studio where the school operated for 17 years. As enrolment continued to climb the dance studio moved to No. 2 Road (London Landing) where it operated for 13 years. The Burke Academy of Dance and The Pilates Group shared space at this facility, however the impending demolition of the building forced them to search for a new location. They opened for business in their new space in early July.

Burke Academy of Dance is a business name synonymous with Steveston.  Former students have danced with The National Ballet of Canada, Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Ballet B.C., however, Mary Burke says that one of her most gratifying achievements has been to witness self-conscious young teens enter her studio at the beginning of the year, and watch as their poise and confidence surge as time progresses.

Mary Burke is shifting her focus away from teaching full-time and will no longer run the large dance school with exams, competitions and recitals.  Her new program, Tiny to Teens, focuses exclusively on ballet and is designed for students (ages 3 and up) who have a passion for dance and would like to dance once or twice a week. Mary Burke believes in building self-esteem and confidence through the art of ballet and sees the latest evolution of her company as “more of change of course.”  She says, “the measure of success for a program like this isn’t that each child ends up in a ballet company but that each child ends up being successful for themselves.”  She is excited to begin teaching Tiny to Teens on Tuesdays and Saturdays commencing in September.

Under her mother’s tutelage, Elizabeth Burke began ballet at age 4. Not many people leave home at age 11, however, Elizabeth Burke did so; she attended the National Ballet School’s year long program in Toronto. During her teens she also spent two full years with The Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s professional program. In addition Elizabeth Burke trained with a number of prestigious North American dance companies, which ultimately led to dancing professionally. In her early 20s she began to teach dance with her mother, and then embarked on her current career teaching Pilates.

Elizabeth Burke says, “I fell in love with teaching as it is in my blood. My mom encouraged me to start my own Pilates studio. I literally started from scratch running a mat class every Sunday out of her ballet studio. From there the business started to grow and 8 years later here we are in the largest and now most lovely Pilates studio in Richmond.”  She gives kudos to her mother who has always supported her dreams.  Mary Burke is a devoted Pilates Group participant who happens to look like she has found the fountain of youth.

If you are not already familiar with Pilates, it is a method of exercise done completely in movement that helps to stretch, strengthen, and balance the whole body.  Pilates develops core strength, elongates muscles, improves posture and increases joint flexibility with a focus on proper breathing.  Several types of classes are offered including mat and barre, reformer and chair equipment classes.

The Pilates Group opened in 2005 while Elizabeth Burke was still teaching dance. In 2011 Elvina Savage, who was a Pilates Group client, became Elizabeth Burke’s business partner to aid with the growth of the busy studio. Both Elizabeth Burke and Elvina Savage received their Core Dynamics Pilates certification in New Mexico with master teacher Michele Larsson.

As directors of The Pilates Group, they are committed to a high standard of training for their instructors. All of the teachers are fully certified and enjoy sharing their knowledge and passion for the Pilates method. They feel that smaller class sizes and personal attention is essential to help clients reach their fitness goals and potential.

Classes are offered for all fitness levels, body shapes, sizes, ages (from teens to clients in their 80s) and mobility levels. The studio is wheelchair accessible via an elevator.  Elizabeth Burke points out that the Pilates method has been of benefit to some clients recovering from hip replacements. She derives satisfaction from seeing the changes Pilates can help make in people’s lives, and this includes not only the physical merit, but also building confidence, improving posture and helping some clients with health issues. If you are interested in exploring Pilates Elizabeth Burke recommends being consistent by attending class twice a week.

Elizabeth Burke enjoys teaching teenagers Pilates. She started Pilates classes when she was 15 years old and felt that it took the focus away from questions such as “How do I look?” and “Am I thin enough?” and instead make her think about new muscles in her body and how she could change her jumps in dance to be higher and stronger. She also credits Pilates with making her breathe, and says, “as an over achiever this calmed my whole body and mind. I felt I was learning, getting stronger and feeling better with my Pilates routine and that in turn gave me a sense of confidence.”

She would like to start a class for teenagers 2 to 4 times a month to teach them Pilates by donation. Although she was an extremely athletic teenager Elizabeth Burke is fully aware that there are many teens that may not perceive themselves as athletes, however she believes they need to be educated to look after their bodies and health.

Much like Mary Burke’s philosophy, Elizabeth Burke feels,“ If I can help share my experience and knowledge with teenagers, and they feel good after class, then I get a real sense of happiness.”

Ultimately the Burke duo is giving back to Steveston by  sharing their passion for dance and Pilates while helping to enhance their clients’ physical and mental well being. With this new central location in the heart of the village one can expect enrolment in both businesses to soar, along with their students’ health and happiness.

Burke Academy of Dance 200-3960 Chatham Street Richmond BC V7E 3A6 Telephone 604-271-1271

The Pilates Group 200-3960 Chatham Street Richmond BC V7E 3A6 Telephone 778-895-4148

Steveston Museum, Post Office and Visitor Centre

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

Steveston’s past and present have merged harmoniously within one of the village’s most colourful heritage buildings located on the corner of Moncton Street and First Avenue. This bustling facility sees many locals and visitors pass through its door on a daily basis as it houses the Steveston Museum, Visitor Centre and post office.

Constructed in New Westminster, the prefabricated building (1905) was floated down the Fraser River to Steveston where it was assembled and became the town’s first bank, the Northern Crown Bank, and later the Royal Bank of Canada which moved across the street in the 1960s.

The building then became a day clinic run by Dr. James M. Campbell, providing the town with its only medical practice at that time. Dr. Campbell renovated the main floor but kept the original bank manager’s office intact. In 1977 he sold the building to the City of Richmond to be preserved as a heritage structure. The Steveston Historical Society oversaw its restoration, and the museum and post office officially opened in 1979. The building became a city designated heritage site in 1989.

In 2010 the small building next door on First Avenue was relocated to the Steveston Museum site. Built between 1890 and 1900, the Japanese Fisherman’s Benevolent Society building is the last remnant of the Japanese Fishermen’s Hospital complex, which was constructed in response to a typhoid epidemic. It is undergoing extensive interior and exterior heritage rehabilitation and it is expected to open later this year.

One year ago Tourism Richmond’s Visitor Centre joined forces with the Steveston Museum and the post office, when they moved into the premises to showcase the best that Richmond has to offer. In addition, Tourism Richmond operates a second Visitor Centre (close by on Bayview Street), which is open during the summer. This attractive wooden kiosk is a legacy of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Planning a vacation has never been easier with the wealth of resources waiting for you at the Visitor Centre. As a member of Destination B.C.’s (formerly Tourism B.C.) provincial network of nearly 150 visitor centres, Tourism Richmond offers Destination B.C. travel guides which are packed with must see and must do recommendations throughout the province.

Embarking on a summer camping trip? The Visitor Centre carries B.C. campground guides, and for a small fee, you can purchase a B.C. road map, eliminating the hassle of tracking down a map at a gas station, which seems to happen to my family every time we go on an expedition. B.C. Parks parking passes are also available.

If your goal is to explore Richmond the friendly Tourism Richmond travel counsellors will orient you to the community and all that it has to offer. They will provide you with a free map, and assist with booking hotel rooms, transportation and tours.

Through the Visitor Centre you can secure discounts for both visitors and locals to some of Metro Vancouver’s top attractions including the Vancouver Aquarium and Capilano Suspension Bridge. In addition, these pre-paid ticket vouchers offer the time saving convenience of front of the line access to certain attractions.

If you are hosting an event (think weddings, school reunions, and large family get togethers) and are looking for things to do with your guests, the Visitor Centre staff is happy to be of service. They will provide copies of Tourism Richmond’s Official Visitors guide along with a map of the area listing businesses, attractions and restaurants. They can also offer suggestions about things to see, and places to dine for small or large groups.

In addition to providing Visitor Centre services, Tourism Richmond actively promotes its members, and provides information about Steveston’s excellent selection of restaurants, one-of-a-kind shops and services to fill all your needs.

If you are looking to buy stamps, post a letter, postcard or package, the full service post office is at your disposal. Photocopy and fax services are also offered.

There is certainly a lot going on in this little building; in fact, this gem of a facility is really a perfect microcosm of Steveston, where loyal locals and valued visitors converge.

Steveston Museum, Post Office and Visitor Centre

3811 Moncton Street

Visitor Centre, Telephone 604-271-8280

Steveston Museum, Telephone 604-718-8439

Post Office, Telephone  604-271-6868

Hours: Monday – Saturday  9:30 – 5:00 Sunday  12:00 – 4:00

Sea of Blue and Yellow

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

My running partner and I ran the Sun Run on April 21st. We trained diligently for 13 weeks with our Steveston Sun Run Training Clinic friends, and while I have participated in many races, this was a day like no other I have experienced.

Running is an activity that my friend and I truly love. In fact it was running that launched our friendship three years ago when I asked if she would like to train with me. It takes a certain passion and commitment to get out of bed at 5:50 a.m. twice a week to squeeze in an early morning run, and as neighbours we are a perfect match. Through the winter we ran in darkness, when even our glowing sports watches were impossible to see. As spring (and daylight) arrived we witnessed some amazing sights. We saw Hooded Merganser ducks with their bicycle helmet-like heads; we enjoyed viewing a container ship passing Garry Point at daybreak while an early morning kite buggy enthusiast was already seizing the morning wind. We saw the sun rise numerous times. We fought driving rain, strong winds, and we experienced perfect runs that charged our batteries for the day.

The devastating news of the Boston Marathon bombing six days before Vancouver’s race weighed heavily on us. My initial reaction was to pull the plug and not attend the event. It took a day for me to realize that the terrorists had succeeded from 2,500 miles away. It was with new determination that my friend and I, along with the other 48,000 entrants, would not be stopped from completing our goal.

While I was expecting there would be tributes to our Boston friends, I was completely taken aback by the volume of blue and yellow clothing, headbands, face paint and messages of hope that runners had pinned to themselves. Like the runners who had been motivated to keep calm and carry on, so had the crowds who lined the streets, exemplifying goodness in society, which moved me beyond words. My friend and I told each other to treat this run like any other, where we talk the entire time, yet we often found ourselves speechless, other than to point out the sheer beauty of the scenery or the acts of human kindness that surrounded us.

My heart cracked in two when a little boy extended his hand to offer up high fives to anyone who would take them (who could resist slowing down for that?). Throughout the 10 km route, emotionally charged bystanders cheered us on as if we were heroes, while others held inspirational and witty signs, rang cow bells, and offered up words of encouragement at just the right time. It was a sight to behold. Around the 8 km mark, a group of supporters along West 6th Avenue were so energetic with their cheering and dancing that I wasn’t sure whether I should laugh or cry.

I am fortunate to experience the runner’s ‘high’. I find running to be both exhilarating and empowering.  The level of empowerment was immeasurable at this particular Sun Run. Through the surge of goodwill, it felt like we could take on the universe, and as the sea of runners filled and took back the streets, we sent a message through our collective kinetic energy that good will always prevail.

Violet Hill Fashion Boutique

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

On a summer evening in 2008, Nicola Gillam was sipping apricot ale on the patio at O’Hare’s GastroPub with her parents and enjoying a discussion about the changing face of Steveston when they had a collective light bulb moment. They determined that Steveston was lacking a chic fashion boutique, and it was then and there that the early seed for Violet Hill Fashion Boutique was planted.

Prior to this, Gillam had attended UVIC where she earned a degree in political science and history. She had worked in retail at both The Gap and Aritzia, and although she had always had a keen interest in fashion it was never her childhood dream to run her own business. All that changed on O’Hare’s patio. Once the seed was sown Gillam methodically wrote a business plan, gathered information and prepared to open Violet Hill, which she named after a song by Coldplay.

Her vision was to offer Steveston a stylish and unique boutique where women could feel comfortable shopping. Her parents, Andrew and Carole Gillam, co-own the business and actively assist their daughter. Her father is fondly referred to as the ‘Chief Financial Officer’ and her mother lends a hand in the store when needed.

I recall walking by Violet Hill prior to its opening in September 2010, and peeking in the windows. I was impressed with the extremely tasteful interior with its high ceilings, mouldings, bold navy blue paint, and of course the crowning glory, a white chandelier. Gillam worked with a local contactor to achieve this look, which she describes as “a clean and sophisticated aesthetic that allows the clothes to speak for themselves.”

How does Gillam keep on top of fashion trends? She does extensive online research, follows blogs, visits local fashion showrooms, and goes on occasional buying trips to Las Vegas. She says, “you have to know your customers and be well ahead of the game with buying” which is often done six to eight months in advance. As a 20-something business owner, Gillam is social media savvy. She works closely with fashion bloggers to get the word out about Violet Hill, and in addition writes her own blog.

While her customers come from across Metro Vancouver it is Stevestonites that Gillam thanks for supporting her business year round. It is undeniably a challenging time for independent retailers. Online shopping, cross-border trips and larger chain stores entice shoppers, however, they do not offer customers what owner-operated businesses can, which is customer service bar none and expert product knowledge. Gillam applauds customers who prefer shopping locally and help their community to thrive. These customers appreciate the experience of shopping at a boutique, and seek brands that may not necessarily be found at a shopping mall. In fact, Gillam has recently responded by launching her own Violet Hill online store through her website.

What are the hot looks for the summer of 2013? With an emphasis on maxi dresses and skirts, combined with bright neon shades, and a “music festival bohemian” twist where long, flowing clothing meet prints, it appears that styles from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s have melded into one happy marriage. Violet Hill offers an assortment of accessories including shoes (flats and sandals for the summer), jewellery, along with handbags and colourful long flowing scarves, which complement the boho look.

Operating one’s own business (Gillam only has one employee) does not leave her with an abundance of free time. She gives back to the community by sitting on the Steveston Merchants Association board of directors. In her free time she enjoys horseback riding, as she was a competitive equestrian for most of her childhood and teen years. She is proud to report that she recently completed her first Sun Run.

As a long time Steveston resident how does Gillam feel about the changing face of the community? She believes that change can be a good thing, and at the same time she acknowledges that it can be hard to be embrace. She celebrates the beauty of the area and feels that there is even more potential here, although admittedly questions whether the charm will be lost along the way.

As for our west coast style, which is notoriously more laid back than eastern Canada, Gillam believes women like to look cool while being comfortable. She encourages us to “not be afraid to style up and accessorize.” As for what she finds satisfying about her business Gillam replies, “I get really excited when I can help a woman feel amazing about herself and what she wears. When she leaves the store with a huge smile of satisfaction it makes me feel truly happy.”

Violet Hill Fashion Boutique
108 – 12211 No. 1 Road, Steveston Village, Richmond BC V7E 1T6
Telephone: 604-274-3563

Update: Nicola sold her business on June 30, 2013 to John and Bernadette.