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Our Community: Embroiderers honour local Scots

When organizers of the Prestonpans Arts Festival in the southeast of Scotland planned to do a Scottish Diaspora Tapestry, members of the Embroiderers Guild of Victoria picked up their hoops and needles.
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Barbara Gilbert, left, and Pat Davis hold up tapestries that will be going back to Scotland. They are two members of the Embroiderers Guild of Victoria, which just finished four panels of famous Scottish immigrants.

When organizers of the Prestonpans Arts Festival in the southeast of Scotland planned to do a Scottish Diaspora Tapestry, members of the Embroiderers Guild of Victoria picked up their hoops and needles.

Twenty-four members of the guild recently spent more than 800 hours working on four embroidered panels, each depicting an important local historical figure of Scots extraction: James Douglas, Robert Dunsmuir, Simon Fraser and Agnes Dean Cameron.

Scots emigrated throughout the world, often leaving behind a profound impact on the areas where they settled. Outside of Scotland, Canada has the highest proportion per-capita of descendants of Scots in the world.

To honour the contribution and the roles they played over the centuries in communities far from the motherland, organizers of the festival decided to create a tapestry made up of 25 embroidered panels from around the world, with each depicting a local historical figure of Scots extraction.

“It was an exciting, intriguing and unique experience,” said Kilmeny Jones, a member of the guild. “Many of our members can trace their roots to Scotland and to be able to work on the tapestry was an once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

The Scottish organizers plan to take the assembled panels on tour to various locations throughout Scotland as part of the 2014 Year of Homecoming celebrations. Starting next year, the tapestry will be exhibited internationally in the different communities depicted in the panels.

For more information, go to or

Students study man’s effect on Gorge

On Friday, 135 Grade 8 students from the Glanford Middle School showed off the results of two weeks of research to answer one question: How have humans changed Victoria’s Gorge Waterway and what do you propose for its future?

To formulate an answer, groups of the students participated in dragon-boating on the Gorge and heard from a panel of local experts in different areas of Gorge history. They participated in hands-on science activities at the Gorge nature house and took walking tours of important historical sites for First Nations and former recreational sites.

The project took place over two weeks in the core subjects of math, science, socials and English. The students chose different paths for their projects based on their interests and assigned themselves outcomes in each subject in consultation with their teacher.

Regardless of the outcome, one of the goals of the project was to give students the experience of working collaboratively in groups of five or six.

The school’s educators acted as facilitators of the students as they worked through the real-world task of proposing change to an area with a vibrant history.

For more information, go to

Shred-a-Thon raises funds for foundation

More than 1,800 kilograms of confidential information was shredded at the Mount St. Mary Hospital Foundation annual Shred-a-Thon last weekend. Shredding services were provided by Access Records and Media Management by donation.

“The annual community shredding event encourages people to clean out their filing cabinets, wallets and recycling bins and properly dispose of confidential documents,” said Kathleen Burton, executive director of the foundation. “We are grateful to Access Records for their support in offering this important service to raise awareness and much-needed funding for the programs supported by the foundation.”

In addition to raising $1,600 for the foundation, the event should be an important reminder that shredding private information is a vital part of protecting oneself from identity theft.

For more information, go to

Donation brightens Comox Valley Airport

A new stained glass window now welcomes passengers to the Comox Valley Airport, thanks to a donation from the Old House Hotel and Spa Mayors’ Golf Charity Classic.

The window, dedicated to the Canadian Forces’ Snowbirds, was created by local glass artist Jan Lindstrom. It depicts the Canadair CT-114 Tutor, an aircraft used by the Snowbirds in their aerobatic and formation demonstrations.

The squadron, based in Moose Jaw, Sask., trains in Comox every spring prior to the start of air show season to familiarize the pilots with over-water manoeuvres and challenging topography. As a result, Comox Valley residents are treated to free aerial demonstrations for about two weeks every spring.

“The Canadian Forces have a major presence in the Comox Valley and have been an important part of this community for more than 70 years,” said Roger McKinnon, owner of the hotel and spa. “This is a wonderful way to recognize the contributions of the military to the Comox Valley and to acknowledge our appreciation for the spectacular display the Snowbirds put on for us each year.”

For more information, go to

Church fundraiser embraces the offbeat

Two local politicians — and an infamous American one — feature prominently at St. John the Divine Anglican Church’s fifth annual Most Divine Sock Hop on Saturday.

People can dance their socks off to Rukus, Victoria's hottest retro rock ’n’ roll band, at the fifth annual sock hop — a fundraiser for the St. John Emergency Food Services. People are encouraged to wear their crinolines, bobby sox, poodle skirts, saddle shoes, beehive or Jimmy Dean hairdo.

But it is the charity auction, with more than 70 items, that has raised a few eyebrows. Among the offbeat items up for auction include:

• A tour of the legislature and lunch at the legislature dining room with newly minted NDP Leader John Horgan.

• A walk through Emily Carr’s James Bay neighbourhood with Victoria Coun. Pam Madoff.

• Signed birthday and Christmas greetings from Richard Nixon (along with an official White House family photo). Nixon was the U.S. president who resigned in 1974 over the Watergate scandal rather than face impeachment.

More traditional items include a Robert Bateman print, Adrenaline zipline adventure, fine dining and tickets to the theatre, symphony and ballet.

The last four events raised almost $33,000 for the food bank of the church.

Tickets are $20. The event starts at 7 p.m. in the church hall, 920 Balmoral Rd. Tickets at church office, by phone at 250-383-7169 or For more information, go to

Belmont grad class leaves leafy legacy

Last week, the 2014 graduating class at Belmont Secondary School in Langford left behind a legacy for future generations to emulate.

As part of Belmont’s Dry Grad celebrations, students of the Grade 12 class, under the supervision of Langford’s parks staff, planted 24 trees along the entrance to Langford at the Leigh Road interchange. The plantings are part of a school tradition of marking their graduation ceremonies with a gift to the community.

“It involves a lot of hard work on the students' part,” said Jane Waters, parks planner for Langford. “The enthusiasm and efforts of the students involved is really amazing and gratifying to see and share.”

She said the project is a wonderful way for the students to give something back and leave a lasting, positive impression on their community. For more information, go to

MS triathlon raises $15,000

Last Sunday’s Fort Street Cycle Beginner Tri for MS, organized by TriStars training, raised more $15,000 for the South and Central Island chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. The 88 participants braved the rain to take part in an untimed triathlon, with a 500-metre swim, 17.5-kilometre bike ride and four-kilometre run. For more information, go to

Victorians honoured for community work

Three Victorians were among 32 British Columbians honoured at the recent 11th annual B.C. Community Achievement Awards.

• RCMP officer Donald Brown was recognized for being a lifelong community leader, volunteering in sports and recreation, notably 45 years associated with lacrosse. He has also served as a school trustee and parks and recreation commissioner.

• Bonnie Leadbeater is a professor of psychology at the University of Victoria. She was honoured for her work on anti-bullying programs for primary and middle-school children. Her program is in use by 500 schools across Canada.

• Daphne Goode has worked for 20 years as the program director and community relations and access co-ordinator for Shaw. But that pales in comparison with the estimated 150 years of volunteering she has amassed for different groups, including 20 years as head of volunteers at the McPherson Playhouse.

For more information, go to recipients.php.

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