All Aboard!

Looking for some family fun? Love trains? Love to soar the Sea to Sky highway? Check out the West Coast Railway Association (WCRA) and their amazing rail rides that provide hours of fun for the whole family. Located at 39645 Government Road in Squamish, families can visit the Royal Hudson Steam Locomotive, with an extreme blast to the past.

There’s nothing quite like the history of a steam train, the sound of metal on metal and all the amazing history of travel. There’s also the Mini Rail, a large 1/8th scale miniature to see in the park. Worth the trip to Squamish, there’s lots of fun to keep the whole family active, open daily from 10am-5pm all year round!

A special treat is the Polar Express, coming back to the WCRA! Get the family in the holiday spirit with a ride on this mystical train that teaches the true meaning of Christmas.

The WCRA is also looking for new members and volunteers to help restore old locomotives! Get involved with other train lovers and help to do bodywork, paint, sanding, woodwork and get involved as a family.

For more information, times and more, check out

Project Empty Bowl

Since its inception in the early 1990’s Project Empty Bowl has fed thousands of individuals with HIV/AIDS locally and tens of thousands globally. It began when John Harton, a teacher in Bloomfield, MT, asked his high school ceramic students to make enough bowls to give a luncheon for the school staff. For $5 each, the guests received a simple meal of soup and bread, served in one of the handmade bowls. Guests were asked to accept their now empty bowls as a gift and to keep them as a reminder of all the empty bowls that still need filling. The money raised was donated to the local food bank.

The energy of those young potters, their teacher, and their guests breathed life into what has become the Empty Bowls Project. Since then, groups of potters have raised and donated millions of dollars to organizations like A Loving Spoonful that fight hunger the world over.

The premise of Empty Bowls is profoundly simple and has been repeated thousands of times by small groups and large. A few people get together to create bowls. They invite guests, as many as they have bowls, to share a simple meal and to donate a small sum, which provides food to those in need. In return, guests take home their empty bowl as a reminder of the continuing hunger within their own community.

In 1997, Rachelle Chinnery and Linda Doherty of Mudslingers Clay Studios brought the concept of Empty Bowls to A Loving Spoonful. They had the blessing and enthusiastic participation of the Potters Guild of British Columbia and the Canadian Craft & Design Museum. Together, they created Project Empty Bowl as a benefit for A Loving Spoonful.

Project Empty Bowl has become an annual signature fundraising event for A Loving Spoonful. The sole purpose of Project Empty Bowl is to raise funds so that A Loving Spoonful can continue delivering free meals and nutritional counselling & education to men, woman and children fighting HIV/AIDS.

Attend the latest event, to support this great cause, Thursday June 2, 2016 at 6:30pm at the Coast Coal Harbour Hotel. Tickets are $100 and go to an amazing cause.
Buy your ticket today !

Mortgage Tips for Families

We all know the real estate industry is hot here in Vancouver, and for many, getting into the housing market can be a pipe dream. With tightening government and lending regulations, historically low interest rates and soaring housing prices, it can be a daunting endeavor for anyone.

Whether you are a first time home buyer, wanting to upsize to accommodate your growing family or purchasing an investment property, these are the factors that lenders will be looking at and will determine which mortgage type and interest rate will be available to you.

Know Your 5C’s:

Collateral- The property that you are hoping to purchase.

Capital -Where is your down payment coming from? At a minimum you need 5% down for a “high ratio” insured mortgage or a “conventional” mortgage with 20% down. This money can come from your own resources or can be gifted from a family member. Requirements will vary so make sure to check with your mortgage professional.

Credit– Do you have proven credit and show a good history of repayment?

CapacityThe most important by far! How are you going to pay for your mortgage? Proof of income and requirements differ depending on whether you are salaried, self- employed, paid hourly or somewhere in between!

Character– Are you a super person? This is the least important factor these days to most lenders.

Just as important to consider when deciding on your mortgage, is to determine your current financial situation and long term goals. This will help you decide which mortgage term (for example 5 years) and mortgage type (variable or fixed) is best suited to your current and future needs. Finally, don’t forget to discuss the FEATURES that come with your mortgage as this could save you thousands of dollars and potential grief over the term of the mortgage.

Mortgages are not a one size fits all so always make sure to contact a mortgage professional BEFORE preparing to find the home of your dreams.

by Jordan Thomson, Mortgage Professional, City Wide Mortgage Services, | 604.725.1607

Take a Tech Timeout!

A new study that looks at the impact of technology on people’s lives suggests that electronic devices are destroying family vacations.

Between all the digital distractions for families and parents who stay connected to work at all times, 50 per cent of Canadian parents agree that technology is ruining the family vacation, according to the Tech Timeout™ survey conducted online by Harris Interactive and sponsored by Foresters™. Additionally, about half (49 per cent) find family members’ use of electronic devices on vacation annoying.

Whether families travel over the summer months or enjoy a staycation, this powerful video produced by Foresters highlights the encroachment of digital devices in our lives:

The Tech Timeout challenge started by Foresters™ in 2013, ( encourages families to take a daily break from technology. Participating families are encouraged to disconnect from all things electronic with the goal of helping spouses, parents, and children build stronger bonds and get more involved in each other’s lives. By pledging to take a Tech Timeout while on vacation, families can have more time to relate on a more personal level.

Foresters, an international financial services provider, launched Tech Timeout after becoming concerned about society’s growing dependence on technology and the impact it could have on family well-being; in some cases even fostering social isolation among people who live under the same roof. More than 15,000 people have already signed/downloaded the Tech Timeout pledge.

Survey Statistics Regarding Vacation/ Time Off

  • 51% of heads of families find family members’ use of electronic devices on vacations annoying.
  • 47% of heads of families agree that, between all the technological distractions and parents who stay connected to work at all times, technology is ruining the family vacation.

Survey Statistics Regarding Vacation/Time Off – Among those who are employed

  • 64% would like to be able to leave work and not have to respond to emails and requests when they are at home
  • 43% agree that electronic devices make it impossible to truly “leave work at work” and be fully present for their family
  • 40% would make a New Year’s resolution to “leave work at work”
  • 38% feel compelled to respond to work issues after work hours, on weekends, and/or when they are on vacation
  • 34% say their employer expects them to respond to emails after hours
  • 32% agree that they can’t leave work behind when they are on vacation
  • 30% feel compelled to check their cell phone during business meetings

This survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Foresters between October 10 and 22, 2013 among 2,528 adults age 25-55 who live with one or more family member.

Timberline Ranch Family Day

On Saturday, April 26th, Timberline Ranch in Maple Ridge will be hosting their second annual Family Festival! There’s lots to do, eat, and listen to at this awesome annual event.

The Timberline Family Festival will feature loads of events such as hourly western shows, pony rides, hay rides, a petting zoo full of snuggly animals, and a western photo booth where the whole family can dress up. You can also try your hand at archery, make your way up the climbing wall, have your face painted, and roast marshmallows!

There’s also door prizes, and a whole array of other exciting activities that are fun for families of all ages! And don’t forget to bring cash for souvenir purchases at the General store and to buy some tasty BBQ.

If you pay in advance online, it’s just $4 entry (and $5 at the door), with a $15 family maximum.

The first 200 people who visit will also get entered for the Early Bird draw.

For more information, check out the Timerberline Family Day website.

The Pumpkin Train Pulls Into Squamish

Take your kids on a Halloween adventure without all the scary stuff!

This pumpkin train is a 40 minute round trip train ride. Children of all ages will travel with their parents to the magic pumpkin patch where they will search for the magic pumpkin. Choose a pumpkin and if you are lucky it may contain a magic surprise. Draw a face and have your pumpkin carved by train conductors to take home. Other treats include mini rail rides ($3), multiple games and craft stations followed by the train trip back to the starting point.

Reservations highly recommended!  book online at or call 604-898-9336
39645 Government Rd. Squamish, B.C.

You can also take this opportunity to book a trip on the ever popular Polar Express Train ride coming this way during the Holiday Season

Be a Tourist in Your Own Town in May

This May, Tourism Vancouver and over 26 of Vancouver’s world-class visitor attractions are teaming up to celebrate Vancouver 125 with Be A Tourist In Your Own Town. From May 3rd to 29th, B.C. residents are invited to be tourists in their own city by taking advantage of over 30,000 free tickets to participating attractions!

Each day, during the 27 days of the promotion, a different area attraction will be revealed as the “attraction of the day” offering B.C. residents a limited number of free admission tickets to their location. Tickets are only valid for one day, but on that day the lucky locals who snag tickets can expect a fabulous day out that will leave them inspired to share their experience with visiting friends and relatives. Many attractions will also offer special events and offers on their free ticket day.

So how do you get in on the fun? Beginning May 2, follow Tourism Vancouver on Facebook or Twitter (@MyVancouver), or visit first thing each morning to find out the attraction of the day. Locals simply have to register at to download their coupon for two free admission tickets, valid for the following day. But you have to be quick: there is a limited quantity of complimentary tickets available for each attraction, and tickets will go quickly!

More partners are still being added, but participating Be A Tourist In Your Own Town attractions include:

• B.C. Hydro Stave Falls Powerhouse
• Beaty Biodiversity Museum
• Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art
• Bloedel Floral Conservatory
• Britannia Mine Museum
• Burnaby Village Museum
• Capilano Suspension Bridge
• Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
• Fort Langley National Historic Site of Canada
• Greater Vancouver Zoo
• UBC Botanical Garden and Greenheart Canopy Walkway
• Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site
• Harbour Cruises & Events
• Hell’s Gate Airtram
• H.R. MacMillan Space Centre
• Maplewood Farm
• Minter Gardens
• Roedde House Museum
• Science World at Telus World of Science
• Stanley Park Horse-Drawn Tours
• Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre
• UBC Museum of Anthropology
• Vancouver Art Gallery
• Vancouver Lookout
• Vancouver Maritime Museum
• Vancouver Police Museum


Are Our Children Paying the Price for Our Work-Life Imbalance?

It’s no secret that it’s expensive to live in Greater Vancouver. When parents need to spend much of their time working to make a living, children undoubtedly feel the effects. But who will support our children when we can’t? Should our extended families or the community bear some of the burden? Does childhood poverty lead to a future without options? How can we ensure that every family earns a “living” wage while ensuring that our children get the care and attention that they deserve?

No one ever said being a parent would be easy, but many didn’t know it would be this difficult. Please join UBC on March 28th, 2011, for UBC Dialogues: Burnaby and find out how we, as a society, can put our children first.

Moderator – Shiral Tobin, CBC Journalist
Panelist – Paul Kershaw, PhD’02; HELP Scholar of Social Care, Citizenship and the Determinants of Health, UBC College for Interdisciplinary Studies
Panelist – Michael McCarthy Flynn, MA Community Development, National University of Ireland; Living Wage for Families Campaign Organizer
Panelist – Diana Mumford, BA’74; Burnaby School Board Trustee

To RSVP and for more information contact Nicola Wootton at or 1-800-883-3088.

Monday, March 28, 2011
6:30 – 9:00 pm

Michael J Fox Theatre
7373 Macpherson Avenue
Burnaby, BC, V5J 2B7 – map




Lights Out for Earth Hour!

On March 26, 2011, millions of people and businesses all around the world will be shutting off the lights from 8:30pm to 9:30pm in support of Earth Hour.

Earth Hour is driven by the global community to protect the planet we share.  Earth Hour’s incredible growth – from a single-city initiative in 2007 to a global movement across 128 countries in 2010 – is indicative of the growing desire for a cleaner, healthier world.

Earth Hour has appointed the globally loved animated character Pocoyo as the first Global Kids’ Ambassador of Earth Hour, Beyond the Hour.  Pocoyo will reach out to millions of preschool-aged fans across the globe, fostering “Learning through Laughter,” to inform children about environmental issues.

A Pocoyo activity book, promo, screensavers and wallpaper can be found at, and check out the 2011 official video of all of the international landmarks and cities that turned out their lights in 2010 at

Parents and their children can support the initiative by throwing an Earth Hour Party to help spread the word on saving our environment. Here are some tips courtesy of Pocoyo:

  • Make invitations out of recycled paper or send an email invite.
  • Use organic and locally sustained food.
  • Serve finger foods to skip using plates and utensils, and use cloth napkins that can be washed and used again.
  • Make dishes that don’t require the oven or electricity to prepare.
  • Be creative with food, licorice ends can be cut off to make edible straws for the kids.
  • Family craft project – decorate canvas shopping totes with eco-friendly paint, old buttons, etc.
  • Have a nighttime, outdoor, eco friendly scavenger hunt by flashlight – hunt for garden tools, seeds, egg cartons, etc.  Once the items are found, explain how they are used for recycling and to save our environment.
  • Have a recycled book exchange for the kids and adults, instead of favors.
  • Have fun and remember to have enough candles and flashlights for everyone to see!



UPDATE!! PLEASE NOTE: To be eligible for this contest, you MUST follow BOTH @wcfmag and @HarrisonResort on Twitter, AND “Like” the Harrison Resort Facebook Page ( Contest entries that do not follow these steps will be ineligible to enter!

WestCoast Families has teamed up with Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa, one of B.C.’s top vacation escapes, to offer one lucky online reader a fabulous Spring Break getaway for the whole family at Harrison Hot Springs Resort!

WIN! The Following Family Prize Package (Over $400 in value!):

  • 2 nights accommodations
  • Breakfast for 4 each morning in the Lakeside Café
  • In-room pizza and movie one evening
  • Unlimited family fun in the hot springs pools

AVAILABLE DATES: March 20 – 24, March 27 – 31, April 4 – 8, April 17 – 21, 2011.


  1. Make sure to “Like” the Harrison Resort Facebook page ( and follow @HarrisonResort and @wcfmag on Twitter.
  2. Then post a comment within this post, listing your top THREE favourite activities for kids in Harrison Hot Springs! MAKE SURE to include your Twitter and Facebook identity, so that we confirm that you have followed Step 1.
  3. If you prefer for your Twitter/Facebook identity to remain private, please forward this info to and it will not be published on our blog.

(Hint: Ideas on child-friendly activities in Harrison Hot Springs can be found on Harrison’s Resort Facebook page and Twitter profile, so be sure to check them out if you’re looking for a little inspiration!)

CONTEST DEADLINE: March 17, 2011 at 11:59pm.

To learn more about Harrison Hot Springs Resorts, visit their website at