Pointhouse Wine Cellar

An interest and appreciation of fine wines often leads to a desire to collect. For the serious collector it means a special space dedicated to storing, displaying and enjoying wine. Sometimes these are true cellars buried on lower levels but more often now they’re incorporated into living spaces as features.

At the Pointhouse, a round climate controlled cellar was created as a focal point at the junction of the kitchen, dining room and media area. With a challenging diameter of only 8′, all the fittings,storage system and interior and exterior cladding required custom solutions. The collaboration between architect Frits deVries, Billy Carpenter of Vin de Garde, sculptor Richard Marmion, our builder Dave Gray,  Heather and other local contractors resulted in a unique and beautiful design perfectly integrated into the spectacular setting.

The Design


The capacity is 442 bottles. Custom fir panelling and tapered pegs create the backdrop for the wine storage. The wavy sculpted  wall cladding is punctuated with a glass door and  illuminated by LED strip lighting tucked up under an encircling valance. More glass covers the cork floor-literally thousands of corkssous vid (estimated at 3400). Half were collected by us and friends over the preceding few years, each telling a personal story; the other half , no name corks rescued from the local winemaking shop, will eventually be replaced with the new cork collection. Contributions gratefully accepted.

My Tastes

I  like wines with complexity, balance and length and prefer reds but there are many whites that fulfill this criteria.ie. Jackpot Viognier, Roussanne Marsanne from Road13.  I favor old world tastes like tobacco and leather in my reds but am partial to the fruit forward right bank style and the GSM blends as well. I’ve got an area in the cellar specifically for aging, an area for wines to drink now as well as an area which is safe for Heather to pick a wine when I’m gone (she is quite worried about taking the “wrong” wine).

The cellar keeps the wine about 55 degrees and 80% humidity. I also keep my sealed bags of coffee beans in the cellar to keep them fresh. I seldom drink a bottle without having it rest in the cellar for a short time after purchase. It takes a while for a wine to get its legs back after sitting on a shelf and then being transported home. I also try not to buy older wines that I can’t guarantee have been stored properly.

The Wines

I’ve resisted joining wine clubs as I like the hunt. Most of the original cellar bottles were purchased at discount outlets in Grande Prairie(Costco/Superstore/Joeys)  as we still living in Dawson Creek while construction was underway on the Sunshine Coast.  Many 90+ rated wines can be sourced from big retailers. Others were purchased at LCBs, private wine shops and directly from  wineries. I use the “wine ratings” on my Wine Spectator App for the ratings, tasting notes and aging suggestions. Its amazing what great wines can be discovered  at obscure stores  and what appears out of the blue at LCB stores.  Dawson Creek has a great supply of one of my favorites – the Thelema Shiraz. The Schild Shiraz suddenly appeared then disappeared (into my cellar) in Squamish while I was working there.  The LCBs stores are happy to order special wines for you. Kitt at Park Royal was able to put together a case of quite a few of the W. S. Top 100 for me this year.

Cheers, Bob (the self proclaimed, but not licensed, Pointhouse Sommelier)

Ron Basford

The property that is now the Pointhouse was purchased from the estate of Stanley Ronald “Ron” Basford, PC , in Dec 2005. Basford, a long-time Canadian Cabinet minister in the Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau, was known as “Mr. Granville Island” for his support of the Granville Island redevelopment project in Vancouver. A park there now bears his name.

Basford, first elected as a young lawyer of 31, served from 1963-1978 representing Vancouver ridings, Burrard  then Centre and holding portfolios as Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs (1968-1972),Minister of State for Urban Affairs (1972–1974), Minister of National Revenue (1974–1975) and Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada (1975–1978).

As Vancouver’s leading cabinet minister, Basford is credited with helping to scuttle plans for an expressway along the city’s waterfront that would have leveled the Gastown and Chinatown neighborhoods, for encouraging local planning and neighborhood improvement, and for helping win federal support for the construction of thousands of units of co-operative housing in the city.


As Consumer and Corporate Affairs minister, Basford shepherded the passage of legislation that dramatically reduced pharmaceutical prices. This gave Canada the lowest drug prices in the industrialized world into the late 1980s when the legislation was repealed by the Mulroney government. Basford also had passed into law the Hazardous Products Act that eliminated flammable children’s bedding and clothing from the market. His most controversial move, at the time, was the adoption of the SI (metric) system as Canada’s official standard of weights and measures. This provoked strong opposition from many Canadians, but has since been accepted.

As Justice minister, Basford arranged a clemency agreement that kept abortion rights campaigner and practitioner Henry Morgentaler out of jail. He was also Justice minister in 1977 when Canada abolished capital punishment, and when the Canadian Human Rights Act was amended to require equal pay for equal work regardless of gender. On a local note, as Sargeant Bay Society director in 1978 , and  the current Justice minister, he was instrumental in preserving Sargeant Bay for a provincial park.

Basford retired from cabinet in 1978, and did not run in the 1979 election. Read More about his life after Ottawa in the article by Alex Waterhouse-Hayward.

Having owned his Sargeant Bay property since 1975, he finally built a home base here in 1990. He eventually made the move permanent till his death in 2005 at the age of 72. He is fondly remembered by former neighbors and Sunshine Coasters for his gregarious nature, inquiring mind, energy and sharp wit.

Although we didn’t have the pleasure of meeting him personally, we have come to know him through his house, his garden, his notes, and his history. We appreciate his forethought  and hope to continue some of his legacy at Sargeant Bay. We suspect he’ll be happy when we finally get our flag pole erected and the property is once more flying the maple leaf. Raising chickens may be another story .

Excerpts from wikipedia. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

Parti d’Aerie

A parti or parti pris comes from the French prendre parti meaning “to make a decision”. 

Often referred to as “the big idea, it is the chief organizing thought or decision behind an architect’s design presented in the form of a basic diagram and / or a simple statement.  A parti can describe experiential and aesthetic sensibilities and can depict massing, spatial hierarchy, site relationship, core location, interior circulation, public/private zoning, solidity/transparency, entrance,  or many other concerns.

The parti expressed by architect Frits deVries for the Aerie guesthouse was that of a basic box with two smaller boxes inserted into the larger shape.  My original brief

Frank Lloyd Wright's Seth Peterson cottage
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Seth Peterson cottage

included examples from iconic small houses like FLW’s Seth Peterson’s cottage in a Wisconsin wood as well as Phillip Johnson’s Conneticut glass house- a tall order. Simple, open to nature, modern and beautiful.

Perched on the edge of a moss and lichen covered bluff, the resulting glazed aerie is more than I had hoped for. A graceful butterfly roofline and sweeping expanses of glass blur the boundaries between interior and exterior spaces. Surrounded by the open arbutus and fir canopy, this modern treehouse deftly channels both Wright’s and Johnson’s ideas and reflects a contemporary twist on traditional West Coast typologies, especially corrugated metal boat sheds and cedar clad cottages ( the boxes of the parti).

The intimate views of surrounding forest as well as the rugged BC coast reinforce the connections with nature .

Beach, Bog, Berm

The natural diversity of Sargeant Bay Provincial Park provides a variety of opportunities for visitors to enjoy the beauty of the Sunshine Coast.

This 155 hectare park protects a wide range of habitats from the marine environment at the head of Sargeant Bay, the barrier berm and it’s associated wetlands, to the pristine bog of Triangle Lake.

Winter storms from the Georgia Strait bring logs and driftwood ashore, making Sargeant Bay an exciting place to explore. The gentle slope of the sand and gravel beach make it ideal for swimming on a warm day. Canoeing. kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and fishing from small boats are other favorite activities on the bay.

A unique feature of Sargeant Bay is the barrier berm, which has created a natural walking trail and an excellent place to observe the park’s abundant wildlife. The berm, with it’s dry salty environment provides habitat for plants like chicory with it’s beautiful blue flowers and gumweed, named for the sticky gum-like substance surrounding it’s flowers.

Enclosed by the barrier berm is Colvin Lake, a wetland habitat for interesting species of waterfowl, salmon, cutthroat trout, river otter and beaver. A fish ladder aids the return of spawning fish to the creek above the lake.

Upland from the beach and berm is Triangle Lake, a true bog that receives it’s water from rain only. Spagum moss, bog cranberry, bog laurel, labrador tea and insect eating sundew are some of the plants that grow in this part of the park.

Access to Triangle Lake is via a 3 km trail from Redrooffs Rd. through varied types of forest. Coastal rainforest with lush moss covered maples, massive douglas fir, as well as patches of shore pine and arbutus trees scattered in the drier sites. Black tailed deer, black bears, red-tailed hawks and barred owls make their homes here.

Forest Bathing & Coast Mountain Biking

Forest bathing, or Shirin-yoku in Japanese, is defined as a short, leisurely visit to a forest and is regarded as being similar to natural aromatherapy.

A forest bathing trip involves visiting a forest for relaxation and recreation while breathing in volatile substances, called phytoncides (wood essential oils), which are antimicrobial volatile organic compounds derived from trees. Incorporating forest bathing trips into a good lifestyle was first proposed in 1982 by the Forest Agency of Japan It has now become a recognized relaxation and/or stress management activity in Japan.

I first heard the term from one of my Tuesday bike group ladies. I recognized our weekly rides not only gave us the usual exercise benefits but the other intangibles of forest bathing-the airborn compounds research has now validated as having real effects on health and well being, including a valuable immune system component that helps fight cancer.


The new science of forest medicine(2007) has several published findings. In one study the Profile of Mood States (POMS) test was used to show that forest bathing trips significantly increased the score of vigour in subjects, and decreased the scores for anxiety, depression and anger – leading to the recommendation that habitual forest bathing may help to decrease the risk of psychosocial stress-related diseases.

Other studies on immune function looked into whether forest bathing increases the activity of people’s natural killer (NK) cells, a component of the immune system that fights cancer. In two studies, small groups of men and women respectively were assessed before and after a two-night/three-day forest bathing trip. During the trips the subjects went on three forest walks and stayed in a hotel in the forest. Blood tests were taken before and after the trip, revealing a significant boost in NK activity in the subjects in both groups. The increase was observed as long as 30 days after the trip. Follow-up studies showed a significant increase in NK activity was also achieved after a day-trip to a forest, with the increase observed for seven days after the trip.

Qing Li ,a senior assistant professor at Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, attributes the increase in NK activity partly to breathing in air containing phytoncides, emitted from trees to protect them from rotting and insects.

Japanese forest species that had an effect on NK activity included cedar, beech, cypress and oak however any patch of decent forest (generally defined as land with a tree canopy cover of more than 10 per cent and area of more than .05 hectares) anywhere in the world would have a beneficial forest bathing effect. Forests on the Sunshine Coast would definitely qualify.

Li says while forest bathing it’s not important to do heavy physical exercise (in my case mountain biking) but rather one should  enjoy the forest through the senses: the murmuring of a stream, bird’s singing, green colour, fragrance of the forest, If you eat some foods from the forest and touch the trees (ie do an end over the handlebars) so much the better. In fact geophagy-dining on dirt or clay-soothes the stomach and may also eliminate bad bacteria, viruses, fungi and toxins from the gut. Animals as well as people in tribal and rural societies (particularly pregnant women and young children) have been doing it since the dawn of time

Dr Li’s prescription for forest bathing:


  • Make a plan based on your daily physical activity and do not get tired during the forest bathing.
  • If you take whole day forest bathing, it is better to stay in forest for about 4 hours and walk about 5 kilometres. If you take a half day forest bathing, it is better to stay in forest for about 2 hours and walk about 2.5 kilometres.
  • If you feel tired, you can take a rest anywhere and anytime you like.
  • If you feel thirsty, you can drink water/tea anywhere and anytime you like.
  • Please find a place in the forest you like. Then, you can sit for a while and read or enjoy the beautiful scenery.
  • If it is possible, it is better to take a hot spring bath (a spa) after the forest bathing.
  • You can select the forest bathing course based on your purpose.
  • If you want to boost your immunity (natural killer activity), a three-day/two-night forest bathing trip would be recommended.
  • If you just want to relax for reducing your stress, a day trip to a forest park near to your home would be recommended.
  • Forest bathing is just a preventive measure for diseases; therefore, if you come down with an illness, see a doctor –not a forest.


Most of Dr. Li’s tips can be easily incorporated into a stay at the Pointhouse .with Sargeant Bay provincial park almost next door and mature second growth forest enveloping the property. Add the benefits of salt air and you have a built-in therapeutic environmental milleu.


Black Oystercatchers

The screaming meemies-Black Oystercatchers-are back. Their irritating shrill trill sounds like they’re in a continuous flap about something. Before I was able to match the sound with the bird, I was always put on edge by their cries. The call escalates and falls much like their fluttery flight path low over the water.

Actually Oystercatcher is somewhat of a misnomer, they prefer thinner-shelled limpets or mussels whacked or chiselled off the rocks with their long red bills. Their crow-shaped black body and knobby kneed fleshy legs make their whole appearance a bit clownish. Not an elegant or delicate shorebird.

Crows and Ravens prey heavily on their exposed rocky nests making many hatching attempts necessary. Since their food source requires some technical knowhow, surviving young birds stay on for up to a year, to learn foraging skills from their parents. Masterful birds can live 30 years.

Black Oystercatchers frequent rocky shores with rich intertidal life and are often seen(and heard!) around Sargeant Bay’s numerous islets.



The most common waterfowl seen during winter in Sargeant Bay are the rafts of Goldeneyes congregating sometimes in the hundreds especially on a nice sunny day. Their everchanging swimming formations look like a masterfully choreographed water ballet.

Both Barrows and Common Goldeneyes hang out here though the Barrows predominate. Estimates indicate that the BC coast supports up to 90% of the world’s Barrows Goldeneyes. When groups take off, their flight creates a distinctive whistling sound hence the knickname “Whistlers”. They also associate with Scoters, bigger birds with large triangular bills.

The two species share many similarities including as you might suspect, small golden eyes. They also resemble Buffleheads in their colourings though are larger birds. The differences in Goldeneyes are seen in the markings. Male Barrows have a white crescent moon on their purplish iridescent heads as well as a white fingermark on their black flanks. Common males have a round white spot on their cheeks and all white under flanks. Both females have brownish heads with more gently sloping forheads belonging to the Common Goldeneyes. Female Barrows are distinguished best by their yellow beaks.

Courtship between the sexes is entertaining to watch. Lithsome yoga posturing and interesting sounds. Goldeneyes are tree hole nesters so each spring breeding females must house hunt, usually by inland lakes, for available aspen or cottonwood cavities. They will sometimes use nest boxes though with the bird sanctuary next door and upland forests, the likelihood of finding suitable temporary accommodation is high around Sargeant Bay.


Electric Car Sunshine Coast Road Trip

Electric vehicle owners visiting the Sunshine Coast can plug in for a fast charge at one of four locations, with at least 9 more coming in 2013.  Here is a list of the 4 locations and some things to do while you wait for your car to charge:

  1. Sechelt Library – 5797 Cowrie Street, Sechelt
    WHILE YOU WAIT – Next door to the Sechelt Visitor Centre and an easy stroll to all the shops in downtown Sechelt as well as the waterfront Snickett Park and seawalk.
  2. Sunshine Coast Regional District Office – 1975 Field Road, Sechelt
    WHILE YOU WAIT – A short walk from the Chapman Creek section of the Suncoaster Trail which starts at the Sechelt Airport. Explore the rainforest while your vehicle charges.
  3. Olson Electric – 5588 Inlet Ave, Sechelt
    WHILE YOU WAIT – A short walk to Capilano University or all the shops in downtown Sechelt.
  4. Cypress Power – 1115 Sunshine Coast Highway, Gibsons
    WHILE YOU WAIT – A short walk to a number of shops and restaurants, Sunnycrest Mall, and the Gibsons Community Recreation Centre.

Granary Neogenesis

The Granaries on Bear Mountain

If you build it – A Renovation Story
What the heck is a granary?

The NEW INTERNATIONAL WEBSTER’S DICTIONARY & THESAURUS of the ENGLISH LANGUAGE lists “granary” as granary (gra’ner.e, gran’er-), n. pl..ries [L. granarium, a granry, from grana, pl., grain.]

1. A storehouse for grain

2. A country or region where grain grows in abundance

Original round bin for circular granary pavilionDawson Creek has a long tradition of preserving bits of prairie and pioneer architecture. The Art Gallery is a converted grain elevator annex.

The museum / tourist info center is housed in an old train station and then there’s Pioneer Village; a collection of several churches, schools, homes and other buildings resurrected to give a glimpse of the town’s early history. The latest offering is a truly unique bed and breakfast, The Granaries on Bear Mountain.

Many people start with property on a lake then build a cabin. We began by building a lake first, then trucking in three vintage wooden granaries to our rural acreage and transforming them into luxury holiday digs. The roughly 400,000 gallon pond was excavated to various depths to encourage a diversity of wildlife to visit and left to fill by nature. The various granaries were transported to the site, dumped in their approximate locations and eventually put in place with help from a picker service, our suburban and a tow rope.

What was done:

The original skids that the buildings were on survived the move but needed replacing since they were to become the foundations of the new complex. It was decided that each building should remain separate and free floating to accommodate our freeze thaw cycles and allow for settling. Functions were assigned to each granary – sleeping, bathing, and living. Separate power and water systems were installed and an additional line trenched to the enlarged sewage lagoon. Another road entrance and driveway were also constructed to provide vehicle access.

OpenFaceNext came the exterior and interior upgrades. We wanted to retain as much of the original character of the buildings as possible so shiplap siding was left intact but the roof shingles became kindling and a new corrugated metal roof was installed. The inside framing was strengthened with plywood and strapping, then finished with insulation, vapour barrier, bead board paneling and dry wall. Flex board was used to fit the interior curves of the round granary and cedar shingles were chosen to camouflage the exterior and weather to match the other granaries.

NNew old granary roof construction

Because the remnants of original round bin top had to be removed to fit under power lines en route to it’s new home, a new traditional cone shaped roof was constructed with beams radiating from a slightly larger central ring. A round skylight was fitted to that and overlapping metal roof panels custom fabricated to harmonize with the smaller granaries.

Five pairs of garden doors were installed as well as 4 single French doors and another skylight to flood each building with light and connect to a circular deck. The original granary openings were fitted with salvage glass and two additional demolition windows helped to reduce some of the glazing costs. Old cedar decking and fence boards were used for authentic weathered exterior details and window trim.

After many fruitless hours with a heavy sander on badly warped floor boards we decided to lay locally-milled tongue and groove aspen paneling for new flooring in the two smaller granaries. The round granary floor was made of much stronger stuff and was still in excellent condition.

Finally, a new double jetted tub and vintage bathroom fixtures were installed in the bathhouse. An antique Victorian cast iron fireplace surround was added for character and flanked by built-in cabinets.

Sunstream280In the round pavillon, a beautiful Victorian buffet was plumbed with a little bar sink and reconfigured to hide a MW, two burner hot plate,& bar fridge. Small curved shelves display glassware and canisters. Dishes, crockery and other small appliances are tucked into the end cabinets so guests can prepare light meals if desired.The final stage of construction involved tying the whole compound together with a shingle-clad wall that connects the two smaller wings and echoes the curve of the round granary. One of the original granary doors serves as the entrance to the courtyard from the driveway and parking area. A round metal grate was inserted at eye level and framed with more barn wood.

The fun stuff:

Once the major work was finished inside and out, my real work began. I learned a bit about taping and mudding and got lots of practice. My crew of teenage daughters (not really “pressed” labour) helped with sanding, painting, and staining all the trim, floors, doors, walls and furnishings. Sewing machines whirred; black and gray toile fabrics were chosen for their timeless appeal . Furnishings and antiques were discovered at local shops and auctions as well as stores in Edmonton, Grande Prairie, and Vancouver. I borrowed several items from our own quarters. Knickknacks throughout have an old world or vintage feel.
The black and white decorating is carried through to some of the artwork. Framed B&W vintage photographs hang in the bedroom and plaques by Sid Dickens are mounted in the bathroom. A local calligraphic artist composed an illustrated work and a grand mural is currently coming to life in the round pavilion evoking the vistas and emotions of a Tuscan tableau as it encircles the room. The work, by Laine Dahlen , a well-known local artist, draws the viewer into the landscape and transports them miles away in both time and space.

The gardens:

Lakeside picnic blanketWhile the interiors were still being outfitted, the initial landscaping was completed. In the fall of 2002, we selected big rocks from gravel pit up the road and hired big hoe to place them round lake for more natural appearance. Tadpoles and bulrushes have arrived on their own to further the impression The cat also distributed the stockpiled earth from the lake excavation. It was used to contour and fill some of the slopes round the lakes and add a raised planting area at one end of a elevated boardwalk.. When all the destructive earth moving machines were finished, there was a narrow window of good weather to lay the sod, plant the trees, shrubs and some perennials to blend with the native scrim left by the first bulldozers. The “pretties”, as one garden designer labels them, were added the following spring plus more structural specimens to flesh out the new garden areas.


The transformation of almost derelict farm outbuildings to luxurious accommodations required a major effort and quite a lot of faith. The whole process, from concept to completion, occupied 3 years. My degree in physiotherapy/occupational therapy did not really equip me for the sort of rehabilitation required but helpful contractors, supportive friends and family, and a love of design kept me going. We were all quite proud when close to 500 amazed people trooped through the granaries on the local Horticultural Society garden tour last July. It’s been the talk of the town since then and many people have suggested it should be in a magazine. Perhaps someday it will.