Brant Daugherty, starring in the Hallmark movie The Baker’s Son, outside the Owl’s Nest Bakery and Bistro in Chemainus during filming. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Brant Daugherty, starring in the Hallmark movie The Baker’s Son, outside the Owl’s Nest Bakery and Bistro in Chemainus during filming. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Forgettable year did have some prominent highlights

Looking back at some of the top stories of 2021 in the Chemainus area

And we thought 2020 was bad. There’s no candy-coating it, 2021 was a lot worse for so many reasons and we’re all feeling it or have been impacted in one way or another.

COVID-19 rages on, the province has been ravaged by floods and fires and many people are struggling to make ends meet with prices on just about everything rising rapidly.

On the local front, there were a few tidbits during the year that brought a smile to our faces and some good stories about how Chemainus and the surrounding area is managing to cope in the face of adversity.

But, overall, it’s been a bleak one, and everyone’s hoping our spirits will be lifted with a complete turnaround in 2022.

In Part One of the Courier’s annual Year In Review Top 10 stories, we present the bottom half of the countdown.

10. Grayson Magee/Federal Election (tie)

The best good news story of the year was Chemainus Secondary School student Grayson Magee springing into action to assist senior Nancy Bright after she fell in Askew Creek Park. It’s great to know chivalry is alive and well, especially among young people.

Related story: Student’s actions to assist senior after a nasty fall appreciated

Bright was most appreciative of Magee’s actions and presented him with a $50 cash reward.

“I was daydreaming instead of watching my feet,” Bright said of the incident that caused her to take a tumble.

“I just lay there, glasses mashed against my face, unable to move. Eventually, I was able to turn on my side and then sit up when this young fellow came to my aid. He asked if I was alright, if I wanted him to call 911 and offered to help get me up. When I managed to get on my knees and hands he knelt and offered his knee for support on which to put one hand so I could push myself up with the other. He said that he was trained in first aid and his quiet assured manner proved that he had learned his skill well.”

“When I saw her face down in the dirt, it was like ‘oh, gosh.’ I run over and I guess instinct just kicked in,” Magee said.

Bright did not require medical assistance, but suffered bruising on her face, mid-section and leg. Magee stayed with her to ensure she could make it home.

“Don’t let fear stop you from helping other people,” he said.

At the other end of the spectrum was an unnecessary federal election, the second in three years, called by Justin Trudeau. Making it even more of a farce was the fact the results turned out to be almost exactly the same as 2019.

Alistair MacGregor won his third term as the Member of Parliament for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford while the New Democratic Party’s Lisa Marie Barron took over the MP’s post for the Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding from the Green Party’s Paul Manly.

Related story: NDP’s MacGregor wins convincing victory in Cowichan-Malahat-Langford

“I’m very thankful to the people of this riding for putting that kind of trust on my shoulders again,” MacGregor said. “I think they’ve reviewed my last six years in office and decided that I am the right person for this riding. I will go into the 44th Parliament trying to live up to their expectations.”

9. RASTA Sanctuary

The health of founder Lucie Cerny resulted in the demise of Chemainus’ Rescue And Sanctuary for Threatened Animals on Chemainus Road.

Some animals were transferred to Michelle Singleton’s A Home For Hooves Farm Sanctuary in Duncan and others were put into foster care temporarily.

Related story: Health of Chemainus sanctuary founder forces transfer of animals, some assets to Duncan facility

“I’m deeply saddened to share that I have some serious personal health issues which are prohibiting me from continuing in the capacity I have for so long,” Cerny indicated. “Everyone who knows me personally knows that I have always put the animals and their needs ahead of my own and often at the detriment to my own health and well-being which unfortunately has now materialized into a serious health condition that I can no longer continue to ignore.”

Cerny’s RASTA organization has been in operation for more than 20 years, beginning in Alberta before moving to Chemainus in 2015. She’s devoted herself to the animals and their care seven days a week and 18 hours or more a day from the beginning.

“I love the animals more than anything in the world which is why I’ve devoted my entire life to helping them,” she pointed out.

Cerny relocated to Alberta where it all began and the RASTA property was sold to a young family.

8. The Baker’s Son

The filming of a Hallmark movie early in the year brought a lot of excitement to Chemainus, even with protocols in place. It was actually amazing the production was able to go ahead at all, with the movie and entertainment industries among the most affected since the start of the pandemic.

Chemainus became known as Windward, Washington as the backdrop for The Baker’s Son.

Related story: Chemainus provides the perfect small town atmosphere for movie shoot

The majority of the filming was done on Willow Street at the Willow Street Cafe and Owl’s Nest Bakery Bistro. Scenes were also filmed in Cowichan Bay and Brentwood Bay and spliced into the final production.

Ironically, McBride’s was used as the replacement name for the Willow Street Cafe. McBride’s, of course, carries a significance in Chemainus as the community’s iconic service station.

Banners reading “Welcome To Windward, Washington,” a place apparently established in 1830, lined Willow Street and there was also a Windward Realty office next to McBride’s. Large American flags were placed at the entrance to the Western Forest Products Chemainus sawmill.

“We selected it because it’s so great,” said Steve Kinghorn, the location manager. “It’s a very pretty small town.”

“This is the best thing that could happen to Chemainus and put them on the map internationally,” said Don Goodman, co-owner of the Willow Street Cafe, who also lives upstairs and had a bird’s eye view of the filming.

“This is a natural location. Every year there should be something.”

The Baker’s Son eventually aired on the W Channel in June, with reruns later in the summer.

7. Still Standing

Yet another filming project that brought attention to Chemainus was the arrival of CBC Television crew members of Still Standing and host Jonny Harris.

Related story: Still Standing with Jonny Harris still has legs

Unfortunately, there was minimal participation allowed from the community due to COVID. A limited number of people were invited to the live show that was held in a makeshift tent on the former St. Joseph’s School grounds.

Still, it was another big boost for Chemainus, with the segment due to air on CBC in January of 2022.

Harris, who also portrays George Crabtree on another popular CBC-TV series Murdoch Mysteries, provided comic relief as a much-needed remedy to a public ailing from COVID overload.

Being from Newfoundland where other mural projects have popped up, Harris was familiar with the story of the Chemainus murals. “Chemainus is a town that was on our radar for a while,” he said. “It was sort of neat to see the place where it all started.”

Related story: Chemainus depicted in all its glory for Still Standing

The series focuses on the many interesting people from communities hit hard by various economic impacts but developing creative ways to move forward. The Chemainus story, naturally, revolved around the previous sawmill closure in the early 1980s and how tourism evolved through the mural program to keep the town going.

That naturally meant an interview with Chemainus Festival of Murals guru Karl Schutz whose name brought a built-in joke from Harris. He talked about playing a younger Schutz in a TV special to be called ‘He Schutz, He Scores.’

Other segments were filmed with Michael Marks, Penelakut artist Maynard Johnny, Brittany Pickard, Lucie Cerny and Aly Tomlin and Ralf Rosenke.

Based in Toronto, Harris, 44, has now criss-crossed the country the last several years to film 79 episodes of Still Standing.

6. Chemainus Fire Department

It was a bittersweet 100th anniversary for the Chemainus Fire Department. COVID prevented any public events to mark the occasion and two former fire chiefs known for their remarkable dedication to the community also died during the year.

Related story: Tom Millard

Tom Millard died on June 4. He started with the Chemainus Firehall in 1956, retiring in 2001 after 45 years of volunteer service. Millard spent 12 years as deputy chief and 15 as chief.

Among his many accomplishments during that time with the hall was the planning and construction of the Chemainus Safety Building. He also volunteered with the Chemainus Ambulance Service for 10 years between 1970 and 1980.

Dick Stanton died Oct. 21 at the age of 93 and will always be remembered for his kindness, caring nature and dedication.

“Selflessness and giving, volunteering, that was his life and he did it very modestly,” said son Ken Stanton. “He never took any compliments, other than thank you and no ego at all.”

Related story: Stanton leaves a legacy of volunteering

Dick Stanton served 32 years with the Chemainus Fire Department, including 13 years as chief before retiring from firefighting at the end of 1985.

“I’ve decided to leave completely,” said a 57-year-old Stanton at the time. “Fighting fires is a young man’s game. As you get older, you get slower.”

Stanton did a yeoman’s service for the department over the years and inspired the younger generation like his son Ken, Rob Sharp, Eric Thomsen and others to get involved with the department.

“He was a good role model,” said Ken. “He really brought up the standards of volunteer fire departments.”

2021 Year in Review

 

Alistair MacGregor and members of his team gathered at the campaign office to watch the election results roll in, with MacGregor securing his third term as MP for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford. (Photo by Kevin Rothbauer/Cowichan Valley Citizen)

Alistair MacGregor and members of his team gathered at the campaign office to watch the election results roll in, with MacGregor securing his third term as MP for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford. (Photo by Kevin Rothbauer/Cowichan Valley Citizen)

Federal election signs at the corner of Herd and Osborne Bay Roads. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Federal election signs at the corner of Herd and Osborne Bay Roads. (Photo by Don Bodger)

There was little fanfare, but 2021 marked the 100th anniversary of the Chemainus Fire Department. (Photo by Don Bodger)

There was little fanfare, but 2021 marked the 100th anniversary of the Chemainus Fire Department. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Chemainus Secondary School student Grayson Magee came to the aid of senior Nancy Bright. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Chemainus Secondary School student Grayson Magee came to the aid of senior Nancy Bright. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Jonny Harris doing his Still Standing presentation on Chemainus inside the tent at the parking lot of the old St. Joseph’s School. (Photo by Susan Margetts)

Jonny Harris doing his Still Standing presentation on Chemainus inside the tent at the parking lot of the old St. Joseph’s School. (Photo by Susan Margetts)

Jonny Harris on the scene of Still Standing filming in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Jonny Harris on the scene of Still Standing filming in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Jonny Harris strolling up from the Chemainus wharf Monday while in town for filming of the CBC-TV series, Still Standing. (Photo by Chris Armstrong)

Jonny Harris strolling up from the Chemainus wharf Monday while in town for filming of the CBC-TV series, Still Standing. (Photo by Chris Armstrong)

Lucie Cerny, RASTA founder, with one of her beloved pigs. (Photo submitted)

Lucie Cerny, RASTA founder, with one of her beloved pigs. (Photo submitted)

Alistair MacGregor won his third term at Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Alistair MacGregor won his third term at Cowichan-Malahat-Langford MP. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Michelle Singleton took over the care of some of the former RASTA animals. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Michelle Singleton took over the care of some of the former RASTA animals. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Former Chemainus Fire Chief Tom Millard. (Photo submitted)

Former Chemainus Fire Chief Tom Millard. (Photo submitted)

Still Standing’s story producer Shayla Howell gets everyone organized at the live show venue in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Still Standing’s story producer Shayla Howell gets everyone organized at the live show venue in Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Dick Stanton was a much-admired and respected community member. (Photo submitted)

Dick Stanton was a much-admired and respected community member. (Photo submitted)