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Our Community: 1897 sailboat returns to Island; pets of Point Ellice House

Travis, Sabrina and their four children were able to move from a room in a friend’s house into a stable, affordable home on Wednesday, thanks to Habitat for Humanity.

Travis, Sabrina and their four children were able to move from a room in a friend’s house into a stable, affordable home on Wednesday, thanks to Habitat for Humanity.

“We both work solid jobs and it still wasn’t easy for us to get ahead in the housing market in Victoria. This was make or break on whether we had a home or not, and now we do thanks to Habitat,” said Travis.

They were the ninth family to move into Habitat Victoria’s 10-unit multi-family complex in North Saanich — their largest build project to date.

“There is an ongoing demand for affordable home ownership in Greater Victoria and we are grateful for the opportunity to give Travis and Sabrina’s family a hand-up,” said Sandra Raath, board president at Habitat for Humanity Victoria.

The federal government provided $32.4 million over three years — from 2019-2021 — to Habitat for Humanity Canada and its affiliates.

“Every Canadian deserves safe and affordable housing, and that is why our government is happy to support Habitat for Humanity in their goal of providing Canadian families like Travis’s and Sabrina’s a place to call their home,” said Housing Minister Ahmed Hussen.

Acquiring land to build affordable homes continues to be the single greatest challenge for the non-profit. The 10-unit Habitat development was possible because of a donation of land from the Berglund family, who are local developers.

Founded in 1990, Habitat Victoria has built 34 homes in the capital region to date.

1897 sailboat returns to Island

Dorothy, the oldest registered operational sailboat in Canada, is back on Vancouver Island after hitching a ride on one of the newest vessels on the B.C. Ferries fleet on Tuesday.

Commissioned by W.H. Langley, Dorothy was built in Victoria in 1897 by John J. Robinson.

Dorothy was the flagship of the Victoria Yacht Club and one of the very first yachts in the area,” said Angus Matthews, former owner and current board member for the Maritime Museum of B.C. “She was beautiful, graceful and moved like a rocket.”

When the Maritime Museum of B.C. acquired Dorothy in 1995, age and the elements had taken some of the wind out of her sails.

In 2012, B.C. Ferries gave her a free ride to Tony Grove, a boatbuilder on Gabriola Island.

“As I worked on Dorothy, it became clear that she was overbuilt to some extent, which has factored into her longevity,” said Grove. “With the restoration work done, and some regular maintenance, Dorothy should have a lot of good years ahead.”

Dorothy hasn’t dipped her toe in the water in more than 20 years and, although complete, needed a week in dock to allow her planks to expand before she could sail. The closure of the shipyard on Gabriola meant no good options for her eventual launch.

B.C. Ferries agreed to give her a lift to Vancouver Island, where she will travel by land to a temporary port of call with the Ladysmith Maritime Society until the Maritime Museum of B.C. establishes a permanent home.

On the horizon, the museum sees a return of Dorothy to Victoria’s Inner Harbour, where she first cut through the water and drew the gaze of admiring onlookers more than a century ago.

On Tuesday, the 125-year-old classic caught a ride aboard a hybrid-electric Island Class ferry, which should appeal to the environmental sensibilities of most mariners.

Tires recycled for projects like Nanaimo playground

Municipalities, registered non-profits and First Nations settlements on Vancouver Island are some of the recipients of grants by the Tire Stewardship B.C. to use recycled tires in their community projects.

Projects using repurposed tires include playgrounds surfacing, walkways, parks and gathering spaces. A total of 13 organizations across the province are set to receive the grants for giving new life to 14,928 scrap tires.

“These grant recipients will use B.C. rubber for the surfacing of various communal areas, making them durable, non-toxic and low maintenance,” said Rosemary Sutton, executive director of Tire Stewardship B.C., a not-for-profit group dedicated to the collection and recycling of scrap tires in British Columbia.

Suttons says rubber surfacing made from B.C. scrap tires is also non-slip, and creates a soft landing in playground areas.

Projects on the Island include a playground at Maffeo Sutton Park in Nanaimo, the Quw’utsun Community Gathering Space and Outdoor Play in Duncan, Ladysmith Spray Park, Naturescape Playground in North Saanich and Wellness Park in Sidney. The playground at Maffeo Sutton Park project will use the equivalent of 1,709 recycled tires.

To date, Tire Stewardship B.C. has awarded more than $5.8 million in community grants.

The Animals of Point Ellice House

Get to know the dogs, horses, cats, chickens and other animals that called Point Ellice House home more than a century ago at the heritage site’s latest feature exhibit, The Animals of Point Ellice House.

Ever since Point Ellice House Museum and Gardens became a provincial heritage site in 1975, the visitor experience at the historic home has been centered on the stories of the O’Reilly family, the human inhabitants. The new exhibit delves into their relationships with animals that were directly tied to their social status, religion and lifestyle.

“This exhibit draws upon the vast collection of our museum to bring the stories of historical human-animal relationships to visitors,” said assistant curator Christeah Dupont.

Dupont said the centrepiece of the exhibit is Kathleen O’Reilly’s side saddle, which shows how Victorian women were expected to handle a horse “while maintaining a ladylike appearance.”

The exhibit is rich with illustrations and photographs. Learn about horse whispering, cats with two hats and the family’s multi-generational love of dogs.

Admission is by donation (minimum $5 per person suggested).

The 19th-century Victorian home and garden is open to the public from noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at 2616 Pleasant St.

Completed in 1862 along the water in Victoria’s Rock Bay neighbourhood, the house is a national and provincial historic site and boasts a collection of more than 12,000 artifacts and two acres of heritage gardens.

Quartet Fest West at St. Andrew’s church

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church is hosting Quartet Fest West at the church’s sanctuary, at 2 p.m. Sunday.

After two weeks in workshops at the University of Victoria School of Music, four quartets will perform a variety of classical music selections.

Admission is by donation. The concert starts at 2 p.m. July 3 at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, at the corner of Douglas and Broughton streets.

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