Summer Family Fun
By Light writers: Marion Van Driel, Jack Taylor, Carmaria Wedler, Brianna Deutsch, and Jenny Schweyer
As is our tradition here at the Light Magazine, we want to welcome the sunny season with enthusiasm and encourage our readers to do the same with our annual Summertime Fun list of some different activities. So we rallied our writing troupe again, and asked them to share some of their favourite things to do in the Lower Mainland during the summer.
Of course, this is by no means a complete list. The possibilities for fun are endless – and they will require you to leave the privacy of your backyard or the air conditioned confines of your condo. And why not? Part of the fun of summer is getting out there and meeting new people.
For more information about any of the fun faves listed below, be sure to check out the handy web links provided at the end of each.
Without further ado:
Ladner Village Market
It’s unmistakable. Creativity flourishes here every second Sunday from mid-June to mid-September as Ladner comes alive with booths displaying high quality wares of every kind: food, art, crafts and local agricultural fare. The main ‘downtown’ section is closed to vehicle traffic as folks from all over the Lower Mainland – some with small children and strollers (and the occasional friendly canine) – amble along, chatting with vendors and other treasure-seekers. Here you can find that special gift, a plant for the empty spot in your garden, fresh local produce, gourmet preserves and artisan breads and cheeses, not to mention Sunday lunch.
Various businesses along the main street offer sidewalk and in-store browsing and sales. When you get tired of walking about, just find a chair in front of the live music tent to enjoy performers guaranteed to get your feet tapping and your smile on.
This is the place to be – the largest open-air market in Western Canada. It’s very likely you’ll meet friends here, either old or new. You never know what or who you’ll find!
June 14 & 28, July 12 & 26, August 9 & 23, Sept 13
Ladner Village Market is open 10 am – 4 pm. (Parking can be hard to find on sunny Sundays, so consider car pooling, cycling or public transportation.)
Shipyards Night Market
When my husband and I decided to go and check out the Shipyards Night Market in North Vancouver all I could think of was: “YAY! Greasy food made in trucks! Wow! Was I ever pleasantly suprised. Not only was there delicious healthy snack food options but also fresh fruits and veggies. This market is about more than food, and showcases a beautiful array of handcrafted wares – everything from jewelry and clothing to soaps, jams and skilled artwork. Top all that off with great live music from a talented local band (live music plays until 10 pm), set against the stunning views of ocean and downtown Vancouver, and you’ve got yourself the makings of a very lovely family friendly evening or a romantic date with that special sweetheart. Make the trip even more special by taking the Seabus ride across the water from Vancouver Harbour to Lonsdale Quay. The Shipyards Night Market runs from May 1 to Sept 25, Friday nights from 5 to 10 pm at the shipyards near the Lonsdale Quay.
Hitting the roof in Coombs
If you’re on Vancouver Island, the Old Country Market in Coombs is a winner. A highlight of the many attractions includes rooftop goats that enjoy the smorgasbord of grass on the sod rooftop. These goats make for an excellent photo opportunity. A five- year-old ram named Daniel, with a beard that would have shamed any Santa Claus, munches nonchalantly alongside his offspring and three others. Tourists of all ages gawk to catch this unusual sight. The bulging belly on the goat shows that this rooftop field has all the treats he could desire.
The Old Country Market, started in 1973 as a fruit stand, was the vision of Norwegian immigrants Kris and Solveig Graaten. The goats were brought in to keep the grass trimmed during the spring and summer. Current owners, Larry and Lene Geekie have upgraded the venue to become one of the top tourist destinations in British Columbia.
To the side of the market a quartet plays from their perch on the upper patio of a nearby church. They play mixed gospel and contemporary country for anyone who will listen. Buskers play and sing in the square nearby. The Market’s ice cream is a top choice for most visitors. Summer is the perfect time to stop on by the Market with its wide variety of artistic shops, statues, and mouth-watering delicacies. A Mexican take-out restaurant, Taqueria, is open for business. Coombs is on the Alberni Highway about 45 km’s from Port Alberni on Vancouver Island.
Bowen Island is a natural feast for the eyes and a pasture for the heart. This cozy 52 square km island in Howe Sound is only three km from the Mainland. The ferry service from Horseshoe Bay takes you right into Snug Cove where the 3,500 residents of the island keep a beautiful, peaceful municipality for about 1,500 visitors during vacations.
One of my favourite activities is perching halfway up the island’s hill overlooking the ocean and scanning the kayakers skirting between sailboats, along with seals, paddle boarders, and numerous pleasure craft making way for the ferries. Zoom in on eagles riding the thermals and dozens of other birds darting through the forest with a good camera or binoculars. Bowen Island is a writer’s paradise.
The market and sidewalk restaurants are filled with chatty people from all over the world. The crafts and artistic works of the residents are on display at galleries and outdoor displays.
The deer are plentiful and this is a traditional hunting ground for the Squamish and Musqueam peoples who have long inhabited the Coastal area. Homesteaders first came to the island in the early 1870’s. Over the years industry included brick making, explosives manufacturing, logging, and mining. Fishing and hunting were always popular among mainlanders who took advantage of the Steamship Companies that operated until the 1960’s. Church picnics were common here. There are beautiful trails around Killarney Lake, great places to relax by Tunstall Bay, Cates Bay, Sandy Beach or Crippen Regional Park, and good cultural activities to enjoy.
Well worth a day trip, a weekend or a week.
The wind cascades across my face, my bare feet are planted in the smooth, silky sand – I’m at rest, at peace. Glancing up from the beach, there sits the quiet town of Ladysmith. It’s a quaint haven located 23 km’s north of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. From the Mainland, you take a ferry from Horseshoe Bay, across the breathtaking Georgia Straight before arriving at Nanaimo’s Departure Bay (about an hour and half sail). There is a tangible change in the atmosphere the moment the ferry docks at Nanaimo – the hustle and bustle of Metro Vancouver becomes a whisper and you become enmeshed in Island peace.
Downtown Ladysmith consists of one long street, with a couple of hotels, and locally run businesses. The town is known for its many heritage buildings. Edwardian-era structures adorn the main street, and there are heritage walking trails to the waterfront. For history buffs, be sure to check out the vintage railway machine shop and the Marine Museum.
Ladysmith is rich with old world charm, but it’s just a town that feels like home to a city-girl like me. Most of my summers were spent there visiting close relatives. I made friends at the local video store, ate the deliciously decadent peanut butter cinnamon buns at the Old Town Bakery (be sure to check that out) and collected sand dollars like trading cards. This summer I plan to go back to Ladysmith, to explore and absorb its welcoming spirit like never before. May I suggest you do the same too – you’ll never know the benefits of a small town until you experience one for yourself.
Hitting the trails
Hiking Golden Ears Provincial Park
As a family, we’re big into the outdoors, and have tried to integrate family life with getting outside since our children were little. All three are teenagers now, but one thing they still enjoy doing as a family is hiking the Lower Falls Trail at Golden Ears Provincial Park in Maple Ridge. The trail parking lot is approximately 12 km past the park entrance, and from there the trail winds gently up a mountain alongside the spectacular Gold Creek for about 2.7 km’s.
Don’t be daunted by the idea of a mountain hike. The upward slope is so gradual that every family member from preschool age to grandparents can easily manage. For littler ones, a baby carrier/backpack will be handy. What my husband and I have always liked about the Lower Falls Trail is that even though it is easy for little ones to manage, it still offers enough of a challenge and so many spectacular natural sights that it remains engaging for families with older children. There are places to wander off the trail and explore the creek up close, skip stones and wade or even swim. There are all kinds of other interesting things to look at: giant hollowed-out tree stumps, natural indentations in the earthen hillside (“mini caves” as my children called them when they were little) and giant boulders to climb. And of course, at the end of the trail (about a 40-minute walk one way with older children, 45-60 minutes with littler ones) is the breathtaking Lower Falls spilling down from a crevice in the mountain. Don’t worry, there’s a new, clean and well-maintained outhouse at the end of the trail, too.
For Top 10 Day Hikes around Metro Vancouver: unifiedstream.com/top-10-day-hikes-near-vancouver-british-columbia