Archive for May, 2011

Summer Events & Programs at Dunbar Library

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Toddlers and Preschoolers:
Storytime at Dunbar will include stories, songs and rhymes for toddlers and preschoolers and their parents or caregivers.  This is most appropriate for ages 18 months to 5 years.  The storytimes will be held on Thursdays July 7th to July 28th at 10:30 a.m.  Drop-in and enjoy!  Please remember that due to fire regulations, space is limited

School-aged kids:
Summer Reading Club time is almost here.  This is a free summer program for school-aged children.  Participants receive a reading record, bookmark and stickers to collect.  This year’s theme is Savour Each Word.  Come in any time from Friday June 17th onwards to register.   There will be special programs on Fridays July 8th to July 29th at 10:30am.

Now running year-round, teens from across Canada can read books, submit book reviews, participate in online discussion forums, take part in chats and win great prizes!  Register online:

Local Author Talk:
The Long Hello: the other side of Alzheimer’s by Cathie Borrie
Drawn from experience gained caring for her mother, Author Cathie Borrie shares compassionate insights that challenge the often negative stereotypes of dementia.
Wednesday, June 15, 6:30-7:30pm.

Helen Spiegelman

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Helen Spiegelman is a familiar face to the Dunbar community. Until recently, she lived on West 22nd Avenue. She claims that during the 25 years that she lived there she was hardly a shrinking violet.   If there was something going on in Dunbar, she was actively involved, whether it was arranging Labour Day block parties on her street, or broader initiatives through her affiliation with the Dunbar Residents’ Association. She planted a few long lasting seeds along the way including Salmonberry Days, which is celebrating its 14th anniversary in May.

Spiegelman is eager to give credit to Salmonberry Day co-founders Terry and Sharon Slack.  She and Terry Slack conceived Salmonberry Days as a way to call attention to the colony of Great Blue Herons that came back each year to nest in some trees near the edge of Pacific Spirit Park. They thought that the herons were both interesting and beautiful. In contrast to their graceful, Zen-like wading on the beach, they found the herons nesting habits at the top of very tall trees to be quite comical, and they wanted everyone in Dunbar to know about these extraordinary neighbours. The herons eventually left to nest somewhere else, as has Spiegelman, but the legacy of Salmonberry Days remains.

Every January, she and Terry Slack, and a team of a half-dozen people get together and set the calendar for the month-long Salmonberry Days festival. As far as she know this festival is unique to Dunbar. It not only teaches locals about the wild birds in the area, as well as the native plants, astronomy, geology, and other natural features of the Dunbar area, but also shares stories about the neighbourhood’s history.  Well ahead of it’s time,  the first Salmonberry Days festival (1998) featured a reusable bag with the Salmonberry Days insignia and the words Think Globally, Shop Locally. This year the organizers have created a beautiful, sleek nylon courier bag, made from recycled Dunbar Business Improvement Area street banners sewn by volunteers.

Salmonberry Days offers tours of some of the best gardens in Dunbar, including Sharon Slack’s extraordinary organic garden, and holds workshops for Dunbar residents to learn practical skills including gardening, tree pruning, hen raising, cooking, and foraging.

While Salmonberry Days is primarily an event designed with the Dunbar community in mind, several years ago an overseas tourist attended nearly all of the events. He had read about Salmonberry Days online before he left home. Spiegelman feels it must have been a great way to get the feel of a new city. Fortunately, thanks to founders Spiegelman and the Slacks, this event is right on our doorstep, and there is no need to hop on a plane to take advantage of this unique homegrown festival.

Spiegelman no longer has a garden in Dunbar, but like a migrating bird, she will come back each year to witness the unfolding of the seasons in her favourite Dunbar “garden”, Pacific Spirit Park, and enjoy the berries that ripen there each season, starting with the salmonberries in May.

To learn more about Salmonberry Days visit the Dunbar Residents’Association website

Dunbar Cycles

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

People love to hear success stories, and Dunbar Cycles’ longevity is one of them. Dunbar Cycles has been a fixture in Dunbar village since 1927. Many long time residents may even have bought their first bike there. The current shop has been in the same location for over 35 years, and was previously located across the street.  In the last three years, Dunbar Cycles has undergone such a huge transformation that you may not recognize the shop. The eye-catching artwork in the window features recycled bicycle gears. This contemporary art piece by North Shore artist Steve Mitchell gives a modern feel to the bike shop, while a tiled exterior archway lends a nice connection to the past.

Dunbar Cycles owner Robert Venables is an avid cyclist. Originally, from Alberta, he moved to Vancouver in 1993. Venables became acquainted with the shop as a cyclist when he used to ride with some of Dunbar Cycles’ staff. When he heard through the grapevine that the well-established bike shop was for sale, he jumped at the opportunity and bought the business. He had previous experience in everything from running a construction company, to building hockey arenas, as well as a background in other retail businesses; however the only experience he had with bike shops was as a customer.  This worked to his advantage as he creatively approached the business by thinking like a customer, and created what a customer would like to see in a bike shop.

At Dunbar Cycles, there is something for every cycling enthusiast including their top selling item, children’s bikes.  They also sell commuter bikes, cruisers, road bikes, and even a small selection of electric bikes.  Venables and his staff have a strong passion for mountain biking and therefore offer a great selection of mid to high-end mountain bikes.

There are many loyal Dunbar Cycles customers; yet, an individual who stands out for Venables is a 67-year-old man who started downhill mountain biking three years ago.  He is the most enthusiastic mountain biker of any age that Venables knows.  He comes in or calls every day with questions and stories of his riding.

Venables modestly claims that he handles everything, in small amounts, from taxes and payroll, to marketing and fixing flat tires. He gives kudos to his coworkers, and his general manager Tony. He believes that they are the best staff anywhere and are a huge asset to the business, as they are friendly, knowledgeable, and genuine team players.  Venables feels that his most important role is as team leader, and believes in working collectively.

Passion and enthusiasm clearly propels Venables’ successful business. As with most small businesses, it is a labour of love, and involves a seven-day work week.  He can be found in the shop four days a week, and the other three days he spends working on marketing, race team support and product testing.

Dunbar Cycles has its own downhill mountain bike race team called Team DC. With sixteen athletes on the team, this makes them the largest team Canada. The team includes three time national champion Andrew Mitchell, Dean Tennant who is second overall, and two of the top four women in Canada.  All four cyclists represented Canada at the World Championships last year.

Community involvement is of high importance to Dunbar Cycles. They are actively involved in sponsoring teams and races. They donate bikes to the bike/walk to school program, and provide bikes for children as part of an initiative with Queen Elizabeth Elementary School.  They sponsor two B.C. Cup races.  They donate to numerous silent auctions. They provided mechanical support for the B.C. Lung Trek.  The list is long, and Venables is clearly committed to the community.

Robert Venables takes great pride in Dunbar village and enjoys the small town feeling. He believes that Dunbar has everything that one needs, and with the combination of great shops, plus the distance from downtown, it encourages people to shop locally.  It is apparent that the Dunbar cycling community feels the same way with its support of Dunbar Cycles over the last 84 years.  A party is certainly in order in 2027 when Dunbar Cycles turns 100!

4219 Dunbar Street


New website

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

Dunbar Life is updating the website!