Queens Cross

What happens when you cross a bike race with a mud bog?

Queens Cross, that’s what.

Saturday’s driving rainstorm may have deterred all but the hardiest spectators, but dozens of riders from beginners to elite men and women relished the chance to battle each other and the elements at New Westminster’s Queen’s Park in the fifth race of the eight-race Vancouver Cyclocross Coalition’s series.

Cyclocross is an off-road version of a road cycling criterium race in which riders lap a number of circuits on a two or three kilometre course comprised of dirt trails, grassy meadows, over barriers and across creeks or gullies. It evolved in Belgium and Northern France in the early 1900s as a way for road cyclists to stay fit during the fall and winter off-season. Sometimes getting to the warmth and shelter of the nearest café or brasserie meant cutting across farmer’s fields and through forests; cyclocross replicates that experience.

Saturday’s cold torrential downpour was worthy of the worst weather of the Ardennes and turned most of the course at the west end of Queen’s Park into a track of thick, viscous muck. At the end of each event, the line at the hose station was 20-30 muddy cyclists deep. Even through their exhaustion, many managed a smile. After all, there’s often a rainbow at the end of a rainstorm.

Full results of the Queens Cross.

Canada Day in New Westminster

Canada Day fireworks are at the New Westminster Quay on July 1, 2015
Canada Day fireworks are at the New Westminster Quay on July 1, 2015

For Canada Day fun in New Westminster, head to Queens Park and the Quay this Wednesday, July 1.

The festivities begin at 11:30am in Queens Park, with activities and displays from community organizations and live music in the Bandshell until 3:30pm. The spray park and petting zoo will be open as usual, so there’ll be lots for families to do.

Then, after 3pm head down to River Market for face-painting, balloon-twisting and other activities for the kids. For the adults, head out to the boardwalk to catch some live music outside the Paddlewheeler Pub. The shops at River Market will be open late for those who want to pick up dinner on site.

For the literary-minded, there is a Poetry in the Park event from 6-8pm in the Queens Park Bandshell, featuring poetry readings and an open mic. Poetry in the Park is a weekly summer event hosted by the Royal City Literary Arts Society.

The day will finish with fireworks on the Quay at 10pm. Gather on the Quay Boardwalk near River Market for a great view, or watch in style from the Wild Rice patio (reservation-only seating after 8:30pm, so book ahead if that’s your plan!).

How do you plan to spend Canada Day?

Happening in New West: Thursday, June 24-Wednesday, July 1

Starting this week, writer Laura Grady is contributing a weekly selection of events, activities and other fun stuff to do around New Westminster. If you have an event to add to this list, or want to let us know about something that’s coming up, please leave a comment to let us know about it! 

Opening this week

Mermaids Are Real: A photography exhibit presented by the Arts Council, June 23 - July 19.
Mermaids Are Real: A photography exhibit presented by the Arts Council, June 23 – July 19.

Arts Council of New Westminster: Mermaids are Real
Dive into the mystical world of swimming mermaids. Through a series of stunning photographs, visitors will be swept away into a beautiful underwater world. The exhibit includes videos and the children’s book The Pink Mermaid and Other Tails.
June 24–July 19
1pm to 5pm
Queens Park Continue reading “Happening in New West: Thursday, June 24-Wednesday, July 1”

Stay cool, New West: Summer fun at spray parks, splash pools, and beaches

Summer heat came early with a May that was one of the driest on record, and it’s only getting hotter. Thankfully, New West has a pretty great list of spray parks, splash pools and even a couple beaches where you can suntan on hot sand.

Spray Parks: Open from 10am-7pm, Victoria Day to Labour Day

  • Queens Park – A classic spot for summer fun, the thick trees of the park make it easy to find a shady spot to cool down. The spray park features a water table feature for toddlers as well as a varied collection of sprinklers for older kids and adventurous tots to run through. The spray park is next to the Queens Park Petting Zoo (open 10am-5:30pm), a concession, and the Rainbow Playland playgrounds.
  • Moody Park – Located Uptown at 6th Ave. & 8th St. next to the playground, this older spray park is earmarked for an facelift soon. Water lines were recently upgraded in preparation for the new spray park. I’m not sure when the new spray park is due to be installed, but this could be the last summer to enjoy the tree-stump sprinklers in the old park.
  • Ryall Park – Next to a toddler playground, an all-wheel park, and the Queensborough Community Centre. The community centre includes a small branch of the New Westminster Library – a good spot to step out of the sun for a while to check out a book or do a puzzle with your kids.
  • Sapperton Park – Blessedly close to Starbucks and a short walk from Sapperton SkyTrain, this smaller spray park at Sherbrooke & East Columbia is a great spot to meet up with friends. I often find at larger parks like Queen’s, the kids run off to play in different areas. It’s hard to keep up a conversation while you’re chasing them to opposite ends of the playground! At Sapperton Park, the kids are always within eyesight, which makes it easy for the parents to enjoy their “playdate” too.
  • Old Schoolhouse Park – Not a true spray park, but this Queensborough park includes a playable water feature for kids where they can get as wet as they want to. At Ewen Ave & Derwent Way.
  • Hume Park – Resurfaced in May/June 2015, this is now open for business! Really nice re-do of the splash park, that uses recycled tires for the surface – non-slip and a bit squishy on the feet.  Located off East Columbia Street in Sapperton.

Outdoor pools – Open from the last weekend in June until Labour Day

  • Moody Park – The newest pool in New West is conveniently located in leafy Moody Park. Changerooms are clean and spacious, and while the pool isn’t the biggest around, it is a beautiful spot to cool off in summer. Open for public swim from 1:15 to 7:55pm in July & August. Adult swim from 8-9:25pm on Tuesdays & Thursdays; youth swim from 8-9:25pm on Wednesdays.
  • Hume Park – Pair your swim with a walk through the trails in Lower Hume or take the kids to the new adventure playground next to the pool. Hume Park is great fun. Open on fair weather days from 1:15pm-8pm.
  • Grimston Park wading pool – Open from 12-4pm in July & August, this is one of the few remaining free, public wading pools in Metro Vancouver. Staffed by a lifeguard, who often brings water toys and may offer face-painting if you are lucky. Grimston is a lesser-known park in New West, located in the West End a short walk from 22nd St. SkyTrain.

Free admission to Moody Park Pool & Hume Pool on weekends, and just $2 for adults / $1.50 for kids and seniors during the week.

Beaches

  • The not-so-“secret” beach in Queensborough is a lovely and quiet little patch of sand. You probably don’t want to go swimming in the fast-moving Fraser River, but you can cool your feet at the river’s edge and benefit from the cool air off the water and surrounding shade trees. Located off the Port Royal Riverfront Walk, on the Poplar Island side.
  • The Pier Park Urban Beach is accessed via the Quay boardwalk and a new pedestrian overpass at 4th Street (via the Parkade). While you can’t go swimming here, it’s breezy and beautiful, with trees and sun umbrellas for shade and even hammocks to relax in. The City is adding new water ‘misters’ to provide some relief from the heat (should be complete in the second week of July).

Further afield: 

When a beach where you can swim is the only thing that will do, you have to settle in for a bit of a drive or public transit adventure. Here are a couple of favourite ‘field trips’ from New West:

  • Our family’s favourite swimming beach near New West is Centennial Beach at Boundary Bay Park in Delta, which is about a half-hour drive away. It’s a long, sandy beach with shallow water that heats up to the temperature of bathwater. When the tide is in, you can go out wading until you are just a tiny speck on the horizon and still not be more than waist-deep. When the tide is out, the area is full of tidepools to explore. There is a playground and concession near the main parking lot, but if you are willing to walk a ways you can usually find a quiet spot in the seagrass where you can spread a picnic blanket. Just remember to bring lots of sunscreen and your own shade: it’s mostly scrub bush and grass out there rather than trees.
  • Sasamat Lake’s White Pine Beach is 40 minutes away and features a beautiful beach surrounded by mountains and tall evergreens.
  • English Bay Beach in downtown Vancouver is 40 minutes by car or an hour by public transit. The beach is gorgeous, and you can pair your visit with a walk around the Stanley Park Seawall or a bit of Robson Street shopping in the West End.

What about you? Where do you go to cool off on a hot summer day?

Parks, Culture, and Recreation Summer Movie Series Returns!

After the success of last year’s four outdoor movies at Queens Park, the City of New Westminster, G&F Financial and local realtor Derrick Thornhill have decided to expand to eight movies throughout the summer for a free community viewing series. Beginning July 12th, the community is invited to bring their blankets and/or chairs every Friday night to Queens Park Stadium to watch one of the eight all age friendly movies that were selected by a voting process. In total, 244 unique (one entry per ip address) votes were made to narrow the twenty six possible movies down to the eight that are being shown. Voting was fierce, but the clear runaway favourite was Back the Future. The summer movie series will kick off July 12th with that very movie, starring BC’s own Michael J Fox as the time travelling high schooler with a sweet ride and a kooky professor sidekick.

There isn’t a concession, but everyone is welcome to bring your own snacks (just remember to pack out your trash or place it in the trash can!). Movies start at about 8:30pm, but the stadium will be open at 7pm so feel free to bring a picnic and boardgames and enjoy a warm summer evening before the movie starts.

In the weather isn’t cooperating, call the Parks Hotline 604-527-4634 on the Friday morning to see if the movie is still on. Queens Park Stadium has lots of parking and is accessible via transit.

Download the poster here. The complete schedule is:

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CharacterLeaning_SummerMovies

Queen’s Park Garage Sale is about more than bargains

A child's sign advertising lemonade sales for Canuck Place at the Queen's Park Garage Sale.
A child’s sign advertising lemonade sales for Canuck Place at the Queen’s Park Garage Sale.

It’s a bargain-hunters’ Shangri-La, and I will attend every year for the rest of my life—but not for the bargains.

Every May the Queen’s Park neighbourhood hosts a community garage sale and it’s one of the events that I really look forward to, but it’s probably not for the reasons you’d think.

Yes, you can get some absolutely fabulous bargains and it’s no secret that I love to get a deal. It’s also an event that builds community because it’s a good excuse to chew the cud with your neighbours, and we all end up buying some sort of junk from each other. I’ve picked up lots of things for our Arts & Crafts bungalow including vintage framed prints, a craftsman-style front porch lamp, and even a wooden door for my art studio. In fact, it was during this annual sale that I bought one of my most prized possessions–my fireplace surround. I love that I know which house it came from and the connection it gives me to the heritage of my city. So yes, great deals, neighbourliness, the treasure exchange, and the proverbial “hunt” for a great deal are all reasons to shop at the Queen’s Park Garage Sale.

But even if I was never to buy another thing, I will always attend. This sale will always be close to my heart because each year it is held in support of Canuck Place Children’s Hospice.

Back in 1995, Frank Wright, a local realtor, decided to sponsor the Queen’s Park Garage Sale in support of the then-under construction and first free-standing children’s hospice in North America. The doors opened that year in November. And only two days after their opening, my husband and I and our two daughters walked through the shining new front doors for our first stay there. In 1994 our oldest daughter, Brenna, was diagnosed with Batten Disease, a rare, degenerative neurological disease. During the next few years after our inaugural visit we received respite at the hospice and, later, palliative and bereavement care there.

Despite what you might think, the hospice is a place full of life–children in wheelchairs zooming around, siblings playing video games with the occasional visiting hockey player and families enjoying time and relaxation together. But children do die there: Brenna passed away at our “home away from home” on the last day of summer, September 21, 1997. The funds raised by the Queen’s Park Garage Sale from 1995 to 1998 directly supported our family while we used Canuck Place.

Another New Westminster family, who live just a few blocks from us in Glenbrook North, needed Canuck Place too when their younger daughter, Madison, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour. Says her mom, “Madison passed away in January 2004 at Canuck Place. And we are forever grateful for the care she received.”

The Queen’s Park Garage Sales continued and the funds raised during that time directly helped and supported their family. Then a few years ago, we found out that another young boy living in the Queen’s Park area also received palliative care and subsequently passed away at Canuck Place. Once again, this family was helped in their time of need by the community through the dollars donated during the Queen’s Park Garage Sale. Families receive all the services provided (accommodation, respite, cooked meals, psychological & emotional support, etc.) at no charge, a blessing at such a vulnerable time in a family’s life.

Now the tradition continues. On the Saturday of the Mother’s Day weekend, May 11, people from all over the Lower Mainland will crowd the streets of Queen’s Park for the 18th annual sale. It starts at 9:00am and continues until 4:00pm.

Some are there for the deals; others come to get a glimpse and walk around one of the area’s favourite heritage neighbourhoods. New Westminster—“The Royal City”–and once our provincial capital, is a great place to view Victorian and Arts & Crafts era heritage homes and bungalows.

The families who host the sales do so for many reasons. One woman told me it’s a way to clear out her house each year and she knows the funds she donates will be going to a good cause. Another told me she does it because she never wants to take her children’s health for granted.

But it’s the children who touch my heart the most–the kids with the cookie or lemonade stands and a big sign that says “All funds go to Canuck Place” or “In support of Canukc [sic] Place.” Over the years parents have told me they encourage their children to participate because it teaches them about civic responsibility and how giving back to their community and to a facility like Canuck Place is important. It’s children helping children.

One final reason why I will never miss the neighbourhood garage sale? It’s my opportunity to thank garage sale participants. Sometimes it’s awkward because people don’t know what to say when I tell them who I am and why I’m thankful for their support. But that human connection is always worth the effort because it is a concrete way to express the great appreciation and esteem held in my family’s hearts for what the people of Queen’s Park have done for us and others in our time of profound distress and need.

Now through this post, I have the opportunity to say thank you more publicly. I also want to thank Frank Wright for the years he sponsored the event and now Dave Vallee and his team who have taken up the cause. If you are a participant in the sale, thank you from my heart to yours, for cleaning out your house and supporting the families who use Canuck Place. If you live in the Lower Mainland and have purchased or intend to purchase items at the sale, thank you too.

On that note, for those who plan to attend this year–please spend, spend, spend! How often do you get to do something so entertaining and fun and be certain that the funds donated really do make a difference in people’s lives?

Canuck Place has made it possible for many families like mine to go through the loss of a child and come out the other side mentally and emotionally healthy. For the many families who have benefited from your support through the Queen’s Park Garage Sale, that old adage, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure” has never been more true or carried such deep meaning.