Be Excellent to Each Other

In 2009 I jumped at the chance to contribute to Tenth to the Fraser. The site’s mission – to connect New Westminsterites to one another online – was something I could get behind. When the site’s founders moved to Montreal to pursue an opportunity they couldn’t refuse, I decided to keep Tenth going.

Together with Johanna, a talented local graphic artist I’d partnered with on many paying gigs over the years, we launched the print edition of Tenth to the Fraser. We published seven bi-monthly editions along with frequent online-only content. The issues were compact and well-received.

I am still grateful at the generosity of many writers, artists, photographers, editors, and distributors who helped keep it going by writing for free or cheap, and to the subscribers and advertisers who put cash in the bank so we could pay the printing bills. In the end, though, we weren’t able to sustain it. In April 2017, we made the decision to shutter the business-side of stuff and discontinue the print magazine.

For just over a year, Tenth has sat more or less dormant while I worked out what to do with it, and how to make space for it in my life. The longer it has sat, the bigger a mental load it has become. I think Tenth still has value; people still read Tenth online and they still access the social channels.  After a lot of thought, I’ve decided it needs a new format and a new volunteer keeper.

So now, along comes Carly. Or rather, @theregoesCarly.

You may have seen her online, at the farmers market, or out pedestrian-ing in our fine City. I’m super pumped to be handing the reins over to Carly Fryer for another reimagined Tenth that will reflect where New West is now, and what people want to see from the … I don’t know… institution? that Tenth to the Fraser has been.  She could use help, so get in touch if you’re into it.

I’m still around in the community and you might see me pop up on Tenth as a contributor from time to time. If you know me, we’re probably already connected online, but you can find me on Twitter or Instagram if you don’t. Thanks for being a part of this with me. Stick around for the next chapter and please make Carly feel welcome.

~jen out



What’s Going On With Us

Our April issue was delivered to distributors and mailed/dropped off to all subscribers. If you’ve picked up a copy and read the editorial, you would have learned that the April 2017 issue is our last print issue for now as the Tenth team made the decision to discontinuing printing. Financially, we were not able to make a go of the print magazine after a year and while I’m disappointed to be shutting down print operations, I know that we’re in good company with numerous now-defunct local media outlets, and I know we did good things in the community for a year. We give sincere thanks to our advertisers, subscribers, writers, photographers, and readers for their support this past year. We tried, we learned, but we’re also smart enough to know when its not working. There is a vast difference between giving up and strategically disengaging, and we choose the latter.

The good news is that the website will still operate. We are mildly amused every day with what people search for that brings them to Tenth. A post from seven years ago still is our most popular post, and you people are a snoopy lot – names of locals are also popular search strings. When the site was started in 2007 (Wow! Ten years went by fast!), its goal was to connect New Westers to one another, and we’d still like to help do that. You can contribute your events and stories. Trust me, you do not need to be a professional writer or photographer. We’re here to help.

You can also support Tenth by purchasing advertising for our website. The ads are modestly priced so that non-profits and community groups can access them: $50 + GST for a week, or $150 +GST for a month for a 300px X 100px ad that you supply. The advertising covers the expenses of running the site and helps pay for things like venue rental fees for events we organize in real life.

You may have also noticed a bit of a refresh on our website. (thanks Catriona!) We’ve folded the magazine articles into the regular archives, and we’ve done away with themes. We’ve also made it easier to search the archives, and find the recurring series – check the sidebar for those. And yes, we still want to know what happens with Oscar and Willa!

Anyway, that’s what’s going on with us. What’s going on with you? Speak up, New West, and let’s talk online.

Monthly Theme: Family

Family. It’s complicated, right?

If I asked the 70,000-odd people who live in our city how they define a family, I’d have 70,000 answers, possibly more. There really is no way to define “family” so it will resonate with everyone.

Truthfully, I think it’s best not to worry too much about whether your family is typical. For me, I look for the qualities that make me feel like I’m immersed in a family, no matter who the members are or how they’re linked to me. Love. Kindness. Patience. Humour. Warmth. Understanding. Safety. Loyalty.

In our print issue now available and for the rest of this month online, we showcase a cross-section of what “family” means to people who live here. Every family is meaningful and deserves acknowledgement but we only have 56 pages, not 70,000.

Every family changes and can be changed. “Family” might be a legal definition, but in practise family is what you make it, and you get to choose who’s in yours.

PS: Our cover this month comes from the New Westminster Museum and Archives (IHP6510) and celebrates a well known Queensborough family in all its posed portrait studio glory: the Basran family. Ron Basran (back, right) was born and raised in Queensborough and is a third generation trucker. He opened the Frankie G’s Boilerhouse Pub in 2000, which was intentionally built and decorated to preserve some of the history of New Westminster. In late March 2016, Frankie G’s, a neighbourhood anchor now operated by Calvin, Ron’s son, was damaged in a roof fire and hasn’t yet reopened. We all miss it!

PPS: You can pick up a copy of our current issue at a number of outlets. Check the list. Or consider subscribing. (Also at that <– link!)

With thanks to the following advertisers for their support in our current print edition – without them what we do would not be possible. Please tell them you heard about their great support of the community through Tenth to the Fraser.


Monthly Theme: Beginnings

Welcome, 2017. A lot of people have been anticipating your arrival.

It feels so wonderful to be back to the routine, in a new year, despite the arctic weather than refuses to shove off.

Here at Tenth, we considered but decided against a year-in-review post. We’re focused on looking forward. A fresh beginning. It’s why we’ve chosen “beginnings” as our theme this month and we encourage you to share with Tenth readers your thoughts on “beginnings” in the comments. You can also see the end of this post for ways you can help contribute to the site.

Here in New Westminster, the community starts the year with a peculiar immediate need. The Arenex, a beloved part of our community, has collapsed due to the accumulated weight of the snow. I know many people are waiting to hear what exactly happened, but there have been hints that the new roof’s insulative properties may have contributed to the snow not melting fast enough. We all await the engineer’s reports. A huge kudos to the staff members who took action when they heard unusual noises of creaking. So many people would have just ignored it. Their actions ensured that no one was injured.

It’s so unexpected, isn’t it? “Collapsed due to the weight of the snow” is nowhere near the top of my list of possible building failures here in our southern West Coast town. I would have expected earthquake (see also Richard McBride) or even arson before “snow weight”. For so many now, the return to routine also begins the work of relocating and rebuilding clubs and programs that relied on this community resource. Clubs like the Shasta Trampoline who have lost essential training equipment (there’s a gofundme campaign to replace their equipment if you’re able to help). A Facebook Group has been created to share memories and I am loving reading all the stories—especially of things I didn’t know much about, like the boxing club and the rifle range, or of important moments in the lives of New Westers: first steps, first awards, first friends. The Arenex’s future is a story I’ll personally be following closely. It does represent an interesting beginning for our community.

This month also marks an important month to consider ourselves. You don’t need to make resolutions, but I find January the most perfect time to start something new or refresh a part of my home with a bit of decluttering. On Boxing Day, we all went through our drawers and closets to find clothes and shoes to donate, and I went through my overstuffed craft cupboard to do something more meaningful with unused supplies.

We hope the stories we bring this month inspire you in some small way to begin something afresh, too.

One little bit of housekeeping: we’re looking for volunteers interested in helping our site. We know the site is well trafficked and that people search for community information – lots of it. Not a week goes by when someone doesn’t come looking for the “best barber in New West”. The reality is that although the print magazine is slowly gaining some traction, the website doesn’t generate revenue and unfortunately falls to the bottom of my list after family and paid work, where it competes for precious time allocated to volunteering for a number of causes. If you’re itching to write or get involved where you live or work, we offer a lot of flexibility and support to get you going on contributing, including story ideas and editing support. I am constantly asked to cover stuff in the community—whether it is events or fundraisers or new businesses or new ventures or new societies or important issues—and there’s just no way for me to get to all of the requests. A lot of the groups that ask for coverage aren’t able to muster the volunteer power to write about it themselves, so this is a really great way to contribute. Get in touch with me if you can help.


Monthly Theme: Celebration

We chose “celebration”as this issue’s theme because we wanted to showcase the diversity of what celebration means in New Westminster. Instead of a collection of predictable holiday stories (though I assure you there will certainly be some of those), this issue explores celebration from other angles—the challenges of creating celebrations in our city, celebrating ourselves, our traditions, our families, and celebrating both life and death.

In the dark of winter, I take comfort in bright sparks that light my way: meeting a friend I haven’t seen in a long time, warm mugs by the fireplace, making time to read a book, brown leaves crunching under boots, and maybe a few too many of my favourite cookies*.

Whatever you celebrate in December—or don’t—I hope January 1, 2017, feels like opening a brand new notebook: a fresh start for a new year and a renewed sense of celebration of the life we live together, here in New West.  

No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Nests (aka Poopstacks)
No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Nests (aka Poopstacks)

*My Favourite Cookies – No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Nests

These cookies are super sweet and really simple to make. You can easily adapt to be vegan, gluten free, or nut free if you’d like.


  • 2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • ⅔ cup peanut butter
  • About ½ cup flaked coconut
  • ¼ cup unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup milk (I sometimes use coconut milk)
  • ¼ cup butter or margarine


  • Line cookie sheets with waxed paper. In medium bowl, mix oats, peanut butter, coconut, cocoa and vanilla; set aside.
  • In 1-quart saucepan, heat sugar, milk and butter to boiling. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Pour over oat mixture; quickly stir to mix well.
  • Immediately drop by heaping teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheets; cool. Carefully remove from waxed paper to serve.

The print magazine:

Our December/January issue is now available at an expanded list of distributors. I’d like to say thank you to our subscribers and this issue’s advertisers, whose support is the reason we are able to bring you this magazine issue after issue. Please support their businesses!

For a complete index of all of the articles in this print edition, please visit the issue page.


Monthly Theme: Memory

We’re hard at work putting together the December/January issue of the print magazine, which means my list of stuff to do is full of cryptic, single-word notations, rather than my usual explanatory phrases jotted down thoughtfully. Without the list, I’d forget so much, but even taking 45 seconds to write the list seems like a poor use of time. But I don’t trust my memory the way I used to and so I scrawl “just enough” into my notebook to stay organized.

Memory is funny—we spend so much time talking about it and working to improve it and yet, when we actually need to access it, we sometimes are bad at it. I’ve listened to quite a few podcasts lately (Serial and Someone Knows Something are two I’ve enjoyed) that deal in themes of how a person’s memory can fail or fade, especially in stressful situations. There’s lots of science exploring false memories, and recent research even suggests false memories can help people in unfamiliar situations.

dad-huntingRecently, I had the chance to share some memories about my dad with a friend I’ve only known a few years. Through talking about him, I eventually got chatting about what life was like growing up as a west coast kid living in a small town where industry and economy was dictated by resources. My dad logged, hunted, fished, and worked various jobs: on fish boats, at the pulp mill, in the bush, eventually settling on repairing furnaces and boilers—work he’d learned in the Navy.

I have a memory of him that has such startling clarity, I feel like I’m watching a movie. Dad would come home from work, wearing the exact same outfit he always did: a navy polo shirt, work jeans, pull-on work boots, wool socks. He’d come in through the basement door, take off his flannel, plaid, lined work jacket. He’d head directly down the hall to the laundry room and wash his hands in the concrete basin using a scoop of powdered Sunlight detergent. Once “clean”, he’d take a glob of Vaseline and smear it into his work hands to try and soften the callouses and prevent dryness. He’d clap his hands together, and they would make a particular squooshy sound. As a six year old, I loved watching this ritual. It must have signalled that Dad was home for the day.

If I asked my brother or my mom about this, there’s a great chance they wouldn’t have the same memory at all, or that the memory would be different than mine. But this memory forms a really important part of how I remember my dad, and in how I organize my thoughts about him; it is an example of the hard work I know he put into his jobs.

This month on Tenth, if you haven’t already guessed, the theme is Memory. We’d love to hear from you about your memories, ways you use them, and perhaps even some recollections of the New Westminster of days gone by. We’ve got some posts ready to give you advice on how to share and preserve those memories, and I’m hoping to bring you some in-depth articles I’ve been working on that will hopefully jog your memory and compel you to act about situations facing our community, such as seismic mitigation of schools or transportation.

Please feel welcome to contribute your writing, photos, events, and art. You can reach out to me on Twitter or via email.

One last thing: 2016 Remembrance Day Service

New West’s Remembrance Day service is outdoor, at the cenotaph located in front of City Hall at 511 Royal Avenue. The service will commence at 10:30am. Parade assembly is at 10:25am at Queens Avenue and 6th Street. Wreath pick up from tent on City Hall front lawn begins at 9:00am. All members of the public are invited to attend. For more information please call 604-527-4581 or email