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Vancouver Island Mamas - Page 4

post #61 of 108

Hey Van. Island Mamaswave.gif!! We are seriously considering a move your way. I'm wondering if you mind answering a few questions for me about the Cowichan Valley. Dh and I have both lived in Victoria and some of it's surrounding areas before but with real estate prices being beyond crazy in Victoria and our wanting to be somewhere more rural we are considering a move to the Duncan or the Cowichan Lake areas from the Okanagan.


I'll assume that you don't mind and jump right in with a few questions. First of all: is there a great health food store in the Duncan area or should I expect to be traveling to Victoria for my grocery shopping? We eat organic, gluten free, vegan foods so at least half of our grocery items fall under the specialty foods category. Also, what's the weather like? Do you get much snow in the winter? Heat in the summer? Is the climate very different from Victoria?


Is there anything that you feel I desperately need to know? Please share it with me if you do!

post #62 of 108

Duncan has a good health food store.  The weather is pretty similar to Victoria as far as I can tell.  Mild and wet in the winter, but can get pretty hot in the summer.  Not quite as hot as the okanagan though.  We got snowed in one day last month but within a week you couldn't even tell there had been snow in most places. 


We have a lovely La Leche League group, there is a waldorf school so there are lots of waldorfy types, the farmers market is big...   :D


I've only been here since August so I am still finding my way, but so far it's pretty good.  We are house hunting (rental) and are hoping to find something in the outer areas of Duncan.  

post #63 of 108

We've been here for almost a year. The CFS that weliveintheforest linked to is awesome. And they have a cafe in the same building with lots of gluten free treats made from organic yummy ingredients. It's our favourite stop for hot chocolate and tea! No, you absolutely would not need to shop in Victoria for food. 


As we've only been here one year our experience with the weather is limited to that. We are up a bit (about 150 metres above sea level) and we got a couple of nice dumps of snow here so far, but it was less severe downtown. Summer had a very hot spell but we cooled off daily in the Chemainus river. We live in the Sahtlam area. I've hiked around the area with my dog and there are many lovely parks in the Cowichan, swimming in the river (Cowichan and Chemainus rivers). A very good (and practically new) community centre with library, pool, and ice arena.


I can't say enough great things about this community. The Cowichan has such an active local food, arts, etc community. The magazine the Village Voice is published every month and is available free around town at various locales and that really helped us learn about this place and where to go for all kinds of wonderful foods, crafts, etc. This is locavore heaven: there's a guy in Cobble Hill making sea salt, farms doing CSA's, lots of crunchy folks, organic boutiques, etc. It's super easy to get anywhere between Nanaimo and Victoria and we regularly travel within that region for stuff. Great homelearning community, too. 


And yes, I love our LLL group but I am partial given that I'm one of the two leaders. ;-)

post #64 of 108

Thanks for responding Sheila! I'm not sure if you remember me from Kelowna (I'm Marianne IRL) but I remember you and your lovely family. Congratulations on your pregnancy!


I'm glad to hear that there's a LLL group there. Do they have a day or evening meeting? Is the group a bit more active than ours here?


Are you part of the Waldorf school community? Do they open their festivals up to the public?


I'm pleased to hear that there is a big Farmer's Market. It's always nice to go to the Farmer's Market and get local stuff. Are there many organic farmers at the market or are they mostly conventional?


Good luck with your house hunting.

post #65 of 108

Thanks for your response Piglet. For some reason your message didn't show up when I responded to Sheila earlier.


Your description of the Cowichan Valley makes it sound idyllic. Where is the Sahtlam area? From your description it sounds like it may be forested. Is it?


I was asking about the LLL as I am a leader as well. Our group is not very active and we do not have many calls or new mothers coming to the group often. I have to admit that I do not put much into the group as I do not have much spare time right now so I'm certainly, at least partly, to blame. I'd love to experience a group that has a real community feel to it. It sounds like yours might. If we decide to come over for a visit I'll try to time it so that it coincides with a meeting.


We are unschoolers as well. I've joined the homeschooling yahoo group to see what types of organized activities are happening in the valley. Are there less formal groups of homeschoolers organizing less formal activities as well?


I'm feeling more and more excited about this possible move! I hope that our financing comes through so we can start looking and visiting soon. Thanks for taking the time to respond!!!

post #66 of 108

Hi Marianne, yes I did recognize you :)  Thanks for the congratulations. 


The school does open up it's festivals to the public.  The farmers market has a few organic farmers and I think some are not certified but still good (grassfed meat and stuff.)  Our LLL meetings are in the morning, first wednesday of the month.  It's still a pretty new group but I think there was a really big demand.  There are a few casual homelearner activities, such as library day on monday where we play board games or other activities, and on fridays there is a park meetup.  It looks like there might be a self design learning circle starting up soon but we are still in the talking about it stage.  


Sometimes I feel limited since we have to take the ferry to get to the mainland, but if you have lived in Victoria before you know all about that aspect of island living!

post #67 of 108

> Your description of the Cowichan Valley makes it sound idyllic. Where is the Sahtlam area? From your description it sounds like it may be forested. Is it?


Sahtlam lies to the West of downtown Duncan. It is forested in places but there are lots of farms around here so many open fields, etc. It's a rural area but close enough to town to be very convenient. We are on 4 acres but only 15 minutes from downtown.


Our LLL group is new, just started up in October. But already we've got a core group of people attending and have 3 interested in becoming Leader Applicants. I lead with my co-leader, Lisa Wilson. We're starting to make connections with the local birthing and health communities so excited about future prospects.


Most of the homelearning activities are organized and posted on the Yahoo group. Some are formal classes and others are just get-togethers. Right now the message page is dominated by a big discussion around getting a Self Design Learning Centre set up in Duncan. 


There are literally dozens of farms in the immediate Duncan area that sell their fresh produce and free-range, unmedicated meats. Only a handful are at the Farmer's Market on Saturdays but many have on-site sales. You will find that you can get any kind of ethical meat here as well as local produce, honey, tea, cheese, stone-ground flours, lovely ciders and cider vinegars (check out Merridale Ciderworks), etc. They just released a map this year that was distributed all around the community showing all the places to buy such foods (check out this web site for more info).


I've also recently been researching cob buildings and permaculture and discovered a thriving community here for such things. Check out O.U.R. Ecovillage.


I know I'm positively gushing but when we moved here I really had no idea what to expect and was worried about finding like-minded mamas, so I have been wonderfully surprised and pleased with what the Cowichan has to offer. 


(another nice thing about being in Duncan is it's close to Nanaimo with its two ferry terminals so you have more than one choice of route to the mainland).

post #68 of 108

OK I'm sold! We're working on our financing and once that's in place I'll be stopping by for a visit to Duncan. I so wish that we could afford 4 rural acres. I am truly jealous.


It sounds like you've put a lot of work into your LLL group. I can only imagine how much effort it must take to get a brand new group going. Congratulations!!!


It's funny that you should mention Merridale Ciderworks Piglet as dh's grandfather was the founder of the cidery. Dh spent lots of time helping get it going.


Thanks for the link to O.U.R. ecovillage. I stumbled across their info recently as well. I'm totally interested in intentional communities as well as sustainable building so I'm hoping to pay them a visit when we travel up your way.


Thanks again for taking the time to respond joy.gif.

post #69 of 108

We're probably heading out your way to check out a place this weekend. In which hotel/motel do you think that you would stay if you were visiting Duncan?

post #70 of 108

Definitely the Best Western in Duncan. It's the nicest one there (other than B&B's, of which there are many lovely ones if you like to go that route). It's not five star or anything, but it's clean and comfortable and has a dining room. And it's conveniently located, too. My MIL stayed in the Super 8 and said it was not pleasant, and she doesn't have very high standards, lol. 

post #71 of 108

Thanks for the quick recommendation Piglet :). I had time to read it but not to respond before we left.


We ended up just staying with my ILs in Langford. We took a day trip up to Duncan and looked at a couple of houses. We put an offer in on the one we loved and it was accepted so we are now waiting for the home inspection before we get too excited.


We went to the Community Farm Store. Wow!! What a beautiful place. I hope to be joining you all there very soon. Thanks for taking the time to answer all my questions.

post #72 of 108

So happy to hear it! Keep me posted on your move dates. We'd love to see you at our LLL meetings after you're all settled in. 

post #73 of 108

bawling.gifAs it turns out we will not be joining you soon. The home inspector found tons of issues with the house including (but certainly not limited to) black mold, rotting foundations and carpenter ants. I am totally depressed. This home was quite literally my dream house and someone ruined it by doing terrible DIY renovating gloomy.gif. We're going to keep looking and hopefully one day soon we will find something equally fantastic. What do you all think of Chemainus and Ladysmith? We're considering widening our search to them as well.

post #74 of 108

Oh that is terrible news :(  Thank goodness you found out though.  I don't know that much about Chemainus and Ladysmith but I have a friend who lives in Ladysmith and really likes it!

post #75 of 108

Oh, that's so disappointing! But of course better that you found out ahead of time!


Ladysmith is a lovely little town, rather hilly, but consequently with amazing views of the ocean. The downtown is kind of divided into two parts that are separated by about 3 - 4 minutes on the highway. We go to Ladysmith 2x per week for martial arts classes and it takes us about 30 each way (door to door; from the highway it's about 15 min). Last time we were early and stopped at Transfer Beach Park which is really pretty and has a large playground that the kids really enjoyed. It's very convenient to Nanaimo (about 20 minutes) so you have easy access to "the big city".


I have only been in downtown Chemainus once (had to get gas) but it seemed like a pretty seaside town. Chemainus is very handy to Duncan.


Basically, with the way the communities are laid out along the highway, even though we live in Duncan we frequently go to events as far north as Ladysmith and as far south as Mill Bay without considering it much of a hassle. That's one of the things I love about the Cowichan Valley - you are moving to one community but it is so readily connected to many others (Cobble Hill, Cowichan Bay, etc) that you feel like you have easy access to a wide variety of places. 


Keep us posted on your house-hunting adventures!

post #76 of 108

Thanks for the input about Ladysmith and Chemainus. We're going to take sometime to decide how far North we're willing to go. Part of the reason for this move is so that we can be close enough to Victoria to make day trips there. I'm not sure at what point I feel that it will be too long of a trip to Victoria. An hour and a half seems long but an hour seems totally fine KWIM? Really Duncan seems like the perfect middle point to everything. If only there was a great house that we could afford there. I'll keep my chin up and keep wishing that it will show up :0).

post #77 of 108

My Dad and Stepmum live in Victoria (Prospect Lake area) and its definitely an easy day trip to visit them. Since we travel during off-peak hours it's less than one hour from door to door. I would say even from Chemainus it's an easy trip. Getting up towards Ladysmith I'd start to think of it as more of a smallish road trip and not such an easy outing. But it all depends on how much you like driving. It is all highway until you get into the city limits, and there is no traffic to speak of except the evening rush out of Victoria, so it's easy driving.


Fingers crossed that something comes up for you guys!

post #78 of 108

Hey everyone,

I'm so happy to find this tribe!  I live in Chemainus (for the last 3 years) and just had my baby at the end of January.  It would be great to get to know some other moms in the area, as none of my friends here have kids.

tomtemama - I would recommend Chemainus or Ladysmith for your house search.  I love living in a small town, but still close enough to Duncan or Nanaimo for shopping/activities.  We go to Victoria occasionally and it usually takes about 1 hour to the Victoria suburbs, and a little longer to downtown.  Just make sure you don't go at rush hour!

I'm curious about the LLL meetings, is it just a get together? What exactly do you do?

I'm looking forward to getting more involved in the community!

post #79 of 108

Hi Laura!


LLL meetings are just get-togethers for mums interested in breastfeeding, or who are already breastfeeding. If you are having difficulties we can help, or if things are going smoothly you can help by providing support, encouragement, and tips for other mums in the group. It's very much a mother-to-mother support system. 


It's also a great way to meet like-minded mums and build community. 


We meet on the first Wednesday of every month at the Alexander School Annex (Family Resource Centre) on Beverly Rd in Duncan. It would be an easy drive from Chemainus as you wouldn't have to go through town (the Beverly light is the first one as you enter Duncan, past the Cowichan Commons shopping centre).

post #80 of 108

Great, I'll try to be at the May one!  What time do you meet? I'm not really having too much trouble breastfeeding, but I'm still pretty new at it.  It will be nice to talk to other moms.






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