Douglas Magazine Talks to Steve Wallace

Douglas Magazine talks to Steve Wallace, the ex-politician/driving instructor/sports fanatic/entrepreneurial whirlwind who says what he thinks, damn the torpedoes, and, as the owner of Wallace Driving School, says he’s in the business of saving lives.

(Union Club member) Steve Wallace sports a wide-brimmed hat, a blue windbreaker and a grin as we set out in a car bearing the logo of Wallace Driving School.

We stop in Esquimalt where his student, a Syrian refugee, lives. The young man, Jawdat Belal, is one of more than two dozen Syrians getting lessons from Wallace. The instructions are free for heads of privately sponsored refugee families.

“Signal right and show me how good you are, and don’t scare the heck out of Jeff, right?” he tells his 17-year-old student as we head out.

Wallace’s trademark hat, to say nothing of his constant wisecracks, gives him a bit of a cowboy air, perhaps befitting someone who rode in from the Cariboo a decade ago to relaunch his business in B.C.’s capital city. He’s been a driving instructor for more than 40 years, starting in Quesnel’s school system (he’s a certified teacher) and then setting up his own business, which now serves Victoria and Vancouver Island. He’s also well known in political circles, having served as mayor of Quesnel from 1990 to 2002, as president of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) and even once running provincially for the B.C. Liberals.

Today both Wallace and his vehicles with their bright-green logos are familiar sites around Victoria.

“He’s the best,” Belal says of his instructor. “I feel good, yeah. It’s very nice since I start driving with Steve. I’ve started to get better and better.”

Belal hopes to get his driving licence to help him attend classes at Camosun College. Looking serious, he says little as he surveys the road and traffic conditions, hanging on every word from Wallace.

“No one-hand stuff,” Wallace chides him. “Don’t give me that Syrian [driving] stuff. Give me the old Canadian stuff. Look back. Now bring it back … more, more, more … and stop. Pretty good.”

And so it goes. In a one-and-a-half-hour lesson, Wallace covers the fundamentals of driving, while also touching on politics, baseball, hockey, philosophy, business, cars, tires and family.

Halfway through the lesson Wallace asks Belal, “How’s your dad doing? Good? Did his health problems get straightened out? On your gas … See the light?”

Certainly it’s a less intimidating environment than the Syrian teenager would have encountered in his hometown of Aleppo, the war-torn city where he lived before his family came to Canada a year and a half ago. Wallace is sensitive to the unique driving challenges they face.

“The people that come out of Aleppo who I teach, the mature people like Jawdat’s dad, they’re looking for the tops of buildings for snipers. They’re looking for IEDs (improvised explosive devices),” he says. “If the road is disturbed they don’t want to go over that section of the road because they figure it might blow up.”

His student, who he notes should be able to pass his driving test after a few more lessons, says driving in Canada is all about following the rules: “In Syria there are no rules.”

A Passionate Approach to Teaching

So why is this veteran driving instructor offering his services free of charge to refugees? Wallace credits his upbringing in Montreal: “My mother was the eldest of 11 kids, right? And she said, ‘Don’t ever refuse somebody who really needs your help.’”

But someone who has known Wallace for 30 years also sees this as the work of a savvy businessman. “I am not going to impugn his motives, but that is a very wise business promotion tactic,” says former Fort St. John mayor Steve Thorlakson, who, along with Wallace, used to hold court for the media at UBCM conventions in the days when they were both involved in municipal politics.

“Everybody down [on the Island] is to the left of Joe Stalin,” Thorlakson says of his perception of B.C.’s capital city. “I genuinely commend him, but I also recognize the cleverness of the business benefits he derives as the result of his not entirely altruistic heart.”

He describes Wallace as bright, articulate, creative and adaptable, “so it doesn’t surprise me that he is doing that with his business in Victoria.”

And there’s no doubt Wallace’s approach is working in what one of Wallace’s mentors, Josie Briton, describes as a fiercely competitive business. Briton is the owner of the North Shore Driving School in North Vancouver and Burnaby. She says Wallace is someone who is “always thinking of progress and touching all parts of the industry. He’s a very, very devoted, very passionate fellow towards driving schools.”

As for Wallace, he notes that his business has taught more than 25,000 people to drive, including the grandchildren of some of his first driving students.

At Wallace Driving School, Business Meets Sport

He’s also big on community. His business sponsorships include the Royals and the Grizzlies hockey teams, and the HarbourCats baseball club. A sports fanatic, he’s out almost every night, turning up at baseball, hockey, soccer and lacrosse games. There’s even a small baseball bat tucked down by the seat of his car. It’s just there, Wallace tells me, in case the car is ever immersed in the water and he has to break a window to escape.

At a recent HarbourCats game, I sit next to Rick Town, one of the instructors who works for Wallace and one of his old friends from their days at theUniversity of Manitoba in the early 1970s. Town notes Wallace’s “larger-than-life” personality and his support for the community and sports.

“Every time he walks by any group of people at all, people gravitate towards him and give him high-fives. That type of flamboyance translates into a really caring, giving aspect of his life.”

A flamboyant driving instructor? It hardly fits the stodgy stereotype — that of a middle-aged fellow with a conservative jacket and tie, sitting ramrod straight in the passenger seat, clipboard in hand, unsmiling.

At the HarbourCats game, I notice Wallace is constantly on the go. He starts the evening at the game greeting folks at the gate, then sits behind home plate, moves a few rows back with us for a while and also finds time to work the crowd, burger in hand.

He’s anything but one-dimensional. Case in point: While you’d think a driving instructor might not be a big cycling supporter, John Luton, a long-time cycling advocate and transportation consultant in Victoria, says Wallace is a keen supporter of Bike to Work Week and recreational cycling. In fact, Wallace and Luton have waged annual cyclist-versus-motorist commuting challenges that Wallace writes about in his Times-Colonist column.

“Others have blinders on about cyclists being uniformly scofflaws and parasites on the transportation system, and Steve is much more balanced, so he is refreshing in that respect,” Luton says.

Wallace happily accepts all the compliments. He says he’s doing a lot of things that set his business apart from the pack.

“The key thing with us is the instructors have to be the best in the business,” he tells me in an interview in his downtown Victoria office. “We choose them for success in parallel pursuits.”

Wallace Driving School employs about 15 instructors. One is a former captain in the navy, another is a former deputy police chief, one has a day job as a senior bureaucrat, one was a semi-pro baseball player, another a soccer coach and yet another, like Wallace, is a former municipal politician and UBCM president.

“We want people who have had stellar performances in a related field,” Wallace says.

“They can tailor their instruction to individual students, readily spotting those with special needs. They’re also people who have skin in the game. The majority of our instructors own their own vehicles and they own their own business and they exclusively contract with us.”

An Eye On the Future

Step into the office of Wallace Driving School and you enter a world with some of the latest in driver-training technology. In fact, it’s more a classroom or computer lab than an office.

Wallace’s wife, Joan, a shareholder and adviser, says, “Steve is the strategist. He’s always planning ahead.”

She holds a senior position with the Driving Schools Association of the Americas (something Wallace himself has done in the past), and they attend conventions throughout North America, keeping abreast of the latest innovations.

“Joan is the tactician,” Wallace responds. “She will say, ‘That’s a great idea.’ And I will turn to her and say, ‘How do we do this?’”

Today, Joan demonstrates the “Intoxiclock,” which tells drivers how long it would take to burn off a couple of drinks. There are also simulators that judge drivers’ reaction to hazards on the road. Then there’s the Promethean Board, which projects street scenes from London, Paris, Rome, or, for that matter, downtown Victoria, on a screen so students can plot their moves.

And, of course, there are tests, including Distract-A-Match, a distraction test that requires students to match brightly coloured foam pieces to shapes on a board, without using the same colour twice, and simultaneously counting backwards from 100.

The first time I try it, I fail with flying colours, hesitating 15 times, losing points, finishing with zero. The second time, I try it while wearing “drunk goggles,” which distort the images. This time I actually pick up the pace: “86-85-84-83…” I feel bewildered as I count. “Green twice!” Wallace snaps. “Look at him go. That’s fantastic. You drive better drunk, man!” I still end up with zero.

At the end of my visit, I’m left wondering if I could pass any of these tests or even get a driver’s licence today.

The courses here can cost up to $1,200 for the “full-meal deal,” which is the ICBC Graduated Licensing course that Wallace says is the best in North America. If students fail their driving tests the first time, Wallace takes them in hand and offers more instruction free of charge until they pass.

He says there are still driving schools that have rote instruction. “They don’t teach driving; they teach testing, [they] charge lower rates and don’t offer the Graduated Licensing course.”

The Proof is in the Driving

Ultimately, though, Wallace’s success rests on the success of his students. A few weeks after our interview, he calls me to let me know young Jawdat Belal passed his driving test. He is obviously pleased, having taken the young man under his wing last year.

“He’s very happy,” Wallace says of Belal. “He made only two minor errors. It’s like getting an A-minus on the test.”

How good a driver is Belal? “He’ll be good,” says Wallace. “He’s probably driven illegally in a war zone … So he had all these traits of someone who had been driving illegally because of the nature of where they were.”

Whoever he is teaching, ultimately Wallace says he’s in the business of keeping people alive on the road.

“If you have the most life-threatening activity known to mankind,” he says about driving, “and you have someone who is less than the best to do it, are you out of your mind? Why don’t you just get your dad to do the appendectomy on the kitchen table, or get the knife out and do a root canal for you — because they have about as much expertise doing that as they do teaching driving.”

And with that, he’s off to teach another lesson, a true believer in his mission to make the roads safer for everyone.


17 of London’s Most Exclusive Private Members’ Clubs, Ranked by Price

London’s private members’ circuit has come a long way since the days of the stuffy gentleman’s club.

The capital now boasts one of the most diverse selections of clubs in the world.

While areas such as Mayfair and Pall Mall are still synonymous with the members club scene, an explosion of more accessible, affordable, and arguably trendier clubs have shaken things up.

Whether you are looking for a well-being sanctuary, to indulge in the world of fine wine, fine art, live performances, and intrepid exploring, or just somewhere with cool rooms where cool-looking people hang out, each club has its very own niche, making it ever trickier to pick the right one.

We’ve rounded up a selection of London’s most exclusive private members’ clubs, which cost between £150 to over £5,000 — or the cost of a new car — for an annual membership.

Scroll down for a sneak peek inside some of London’s best clubs, ranked in ascending order by the price of a standard annual membership and joining fee.



Disrepute, a “hidden gem” nestled within an opulent Soho basement, offers an expertly curated cocktail menu and an atmospheric space perfect for secret late night sessions. It is one of the most reasonably priced members’ bars in London.

Membership privileges include priority reservations, the ability to book in parties of up to 12 people, and free access to special events, talks, and masterclasses.

A members’ bar not in the conventional sense, according to the club, applications are welcome from people of all backgrounds and persuasions. Non-members are also welcome to book a table, subject to availability.



Set in a Georgian townhouse in the heart of Soho above London’s oldest French restaurant L’escargot, the chic Upstairs Club is accessed via a psychedelic carpeted spiral staircase.

It’s a secretive hideout away from the hustle and bustle of the capital. There is an air of eccentricity to the club which offers its members access to a series of private rooms, including the salon noir, salon bleu, and salon rouge, which regularly host performances and general debauchery.

Under 28s can obtain a reduced membership of £250. If you don’t have a proposer, you may be asked to visit the club and meet with one of the membership team for a drink and a brief introduction.



Quo Vadis, easily recognisable by its iconic neon street sign, is another of Soho’s members’ haunts. The club consists of a first floor bar and lounge, and a dedicated members’ restaurant, which serves quintessentially British cuisine. The second floor is home to the “Blue Room,” an intimate, atmospheric lounge with open plan bar and first rate sound system.

It is popular among Soho’s creatives, foodies, and more generally seekers of relaxed business and serious pleasures. Members can enjoy £5 Martini Hours on Thursday and Fridays and half price Pie and Oyster Mondays.

Under 30s benefit from a discounted yearly rate of £300. The club doesn’t have a blanket policy for membership and says it instead looks at case by case applications, accepting people without airs and graces who are interesting and happy to be themselves.



The Chelsea Arts Club has a rustic and bohemian charm. The club centres around the Billiard Room, the Dining Room, and the secluded garden. There are also 12 bedrooms which members may book.

The club counts painters, sculptors, architects, poets, photographers, filmmakers, writers, actors, and musicians among its members, whose work is exhibited at the club year-round. Its parties are said to be “legendary.” There is no dress code.

In addition to offering a discounted rate of £210 for under 30s, the club distinguishes between “town” and “country” memberships, with the latter benefitting from a reduced rate of £403.

The Chelsea Arts Club says it has a waiting list for new applicants, who have to be sponsored by two existing members whom they have known for at least two years.



A newcomer to London’s private members’ scene, Albert’s Club opened its doors to the “Royal Borough” of Kensington and Chelsea in 2016. Albert’s says it provides local residents with an alternative to its Mayfair rivals.

Inside, the décor is “quintessentially classic peppered with eccentric British twists,” the walls are lined with Colefax & Fowler wallpaper, and there are two mahogany wood-panelled bars, a lively nightclub, and a restaurant run by ex-Cecconis chef Alessio Piras.

Lifetime membership can be obtained for a one-off payment of £2,500, or annual membership is £650 with a £250 joining fee. All members are required to be proposed by a current member, or to come in for a quick tour with their membership director.



Launched in 2001, The Century Club sits behind a discreet front door on Shaftesbury Avenue. It boasts four floors of members’ club fun, including Soho’s largest roof terrace.

Given its proximity to the theatres of London’s West End, it is frequented by people in the arts, media, and entertainment industries.

The club also offers an out-of-town reduced annual membership at £550, and an overseas membership of £400, plus a joining fee of £250. Under 30s membership costs £400, and the joining fee is waived.

To apply for membership, prospective members need to complete an application and attend an informal meeting with the head of membership.



The Hospital Club is a unique private members’ club targeted at the world of creatives located in the heart of Covent Garden.

The seven-story building has an award-winning TV and music studio, a gallery, restaurant and bars, a screening room, 15 hotel rooms (open to non-members) and a live performance space, The Oak Room.

The club has a reputation for showcasing emerging and established creative talent via its gallery and member spaces.

Under 30s and under 27s benefit from discounted annual subscriptions of £515 and £450 respectively, and the joining fee is waived.



Soho House at 76 Dean Street is a Grade II-listed mid-Georgian townhouse spread over four floors. It’s popular with the neighbourhood’s media crowd.

The club’s courtyard provides one of the few al fresco dining spots in Soho. The club also boasts the Screening Room, a fully air-conditioned 43-seat cinema offering a varied programme of advance screenings and new releases.

The membership application process is the same for both Soho House and Shoreditch House – you apply online with a couple of paragraphs about yourself and two current members as proposers.

Yearly membership costs £1,100 for a local house member (access only to the house you apply to), or £1,650 for an every house member (access to 18 Soho Houses around the world).



Shoreditch House is situated on the top three floors of the old Dickensian Tea Building in East London. It draws London’s “it” crowd.

The club is one of the few London private members’ clubs to offer a rooftop pool, which gives members stunning views of the city. It offers a number of other areas for members and freelancers to chill out, including the Sitting Room, the Square Bar, the Snug, Cowshed Spa, and the House Kitchen, which boasts a wood-fire oven.

The fourth floor features a glass walled gym looking out onto a backdrop of yet more awesome views, complete with spinning room, free weights, sauna, steam room, and comfortable changing rooms.

As with Soho, yearly membership costs £1,100 for a local house member, or £1,650 for an every house member. Hopefuls can apply online here.



67 Pall Mall is London’s first private members’ club for wine lovers. Born from “a passion for fine wine and a frustration at the egregious mark-ups on the capital’s wine lists,” the club’s mission is to make the world’s finest wines accessible to its members at sensible prices.

It offers over 500 wines by the glass using Coravin’s revolutionary wine access system, as well as an extensive list by the bottle from all corners of the world. The club’s wine list is expertly curated by 67 Pall Mall’s Master Sommelier, Ronan Sayburn MS.

The club also offers a Members’ Reserve facility, which allows members to store up to two cases of their personal wine collection in the club’s cellars to enjoy by the bottle in the members lounge as and when they please.

Candidates require a proposer and seconder from within the club’s existing membership.



Morton’s private members’ club has been at the forefront of Mayfair’s elite social scene for the past 40 years. The Grade II-listed building overlooks the length of London’s exclusive Berkeley Square.

The first-floor restaurant, with its lofty ceilings and panoramic balcony for summer al fresco dining, is the focal point of the house. Morton’s head chef, Dario Avenca, has devised a Mediterranean-inspired menu and the club claims to boast the largest wine list above any of its competitors.

Potential new members must be referred by two existing members. Applications are to be made to membership secretary Stephen Howard.



Home House is an exclusive private members’ club in London’s Marylebone, which “fuses 18th century splendour with 21st century style.”

The club’s facilities include a boutique health spa, a garden for al fresco dining and drinking, two restaurants, numerous bars, The Vaults decadent party rooms, elegant bedrooms and suites, as well as a full calendar of social events including legendary members’ parties throughout the year.

According to the club, “the best bit is that there are no stuffy rules, in fact there really aren’t any rules at all. Well, just one: ‘Nudity is discouraged.’ Naughtiness, on the other hand, is de rigueur.”

The club offers a number of different membership packages, including an under 35 annual rate of £1,275.



As its name would suggest, The Arts Club attracts people connected to or passionate about art, architecture, fashion, film, literature, music, performance, photography, science, theatre, and TV/media.

The 18th Century townhouse at 40 Dover Street in Mayfair counts Charles Dickens among its former members. It prides itself on being a hub for creatives and entrepreneurs to meet and exchange ideas.

The club’s art collection, curated by Amelie von Wedel, remains at its very core, highlighting international trends, as well as maintaining a focus on British-based artists.

Under 30s benefit from a reduced annual subscription of £1,000, plus a joining fee of £1,000. New members are accepted on January 1 each year.



Another relative newcomer, the “unashamedly luxurious and glamorous” Devonshire Club, located in the heart of The City, opened its doors in 2016.

Housed on over 60,000 sq ft in a Regency warehouse, it boast 68 bedrooms, a 110-seat brasserie, three bars, four private event rooms, a members’ gym, glazed garden room, outdoor terrace, and a private courtyard garden.

The club offers members an opulent space to both relax and conduct business and attracts the likes of financiers and city professionals, as well as creative execs based in Shoreditch and Hoxton.

Many of its members come through referrals, and every potential applicant is put forward to the membership committee. The club also offers “Debenture Memberships” for £24,000.



London-based Soho House and New York’s Sydell Group joined forces to create The Ned: the newest private members’ club to arrive on the London scene.

Set in the former Midland Bank building, it boasts 252 bedrooms channeling 1920s and 1930s design, nine restaurants, a range of grooming services, as well as “Ned’s Club,” a social and fitness club where members have access to a rooftop pool, gym, spa, hammam, and late night lounge bar.

Ned’s Club Upstairs has a heated pool overlooking the London skyline and two converted domes with outdoor terraces for eating and drinking. The Roof Bar features a retractable roof and heaters, and offers views of the City and St Paul’s Cathedral, with an international menu prepared on the rotisserie grill and wood oven.

Behind a 20-tonne, two-metre wide vault door is The Vault bar & lounge, an all-hours cocktail bar lined with thousands of original safety deposit boxes, ideal for a nightcap.



South Kensington Club is a health and fitness sanctuary inspired by the spirit of adventure.

Its offers a unique “Voyager Programme” headed up by polar explorer Christina Franco. The programme comprises three elements: a monthly lecture series, the opportunity to join tailor-made expeditions inspired by the lectures, and preparation and training for these adventures carried out by specialist fitness instructors at the club.

Other membership priveleges include a sky-lit gym, fitness classes and training programmes, a bathhouse (with a hammam, banya, and watsu pool), spa and beauty treatments, a Mediterranean restaurant, club sitting rooms, and a concierge service.

Membership starts at £365 per month, plus a £1,000 joining fee and an under 30s rate begins at £228 per month, with a £500 joining fee. However, the club offers a rate of £3,500 plus a £1,000 joining fee to members paying upfront.



5 Hertford Street is so exclusive and private that it wouldn’t reveal its membership price. We did, however, manage to get the above glimpse of its insides.

Described by Vogue as the ” loveliest club in London,” it is frequented by Hollywood A-listers and home to the impossibly cool Loulou’s nightclub for after dinner dancing.

Membership can be obtained only through application, but the word is some billionaires have been unable to score entry, so it’s best not to get your hopes up.


Luxury Lake Tahoe Hotel Adds $10 Million Lakefront Club

The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe hotel has opened a luxury perk for guests called the Lake Club on the shore of Lake Tahoe.

The hotel and spa is at the Northstar California Resort, which is mid-mountain at a ski resort in Truckee. The new Lake Club is about 20 minutes away on the lake.

Lake Club adds to the resort’s summertime offerings. In winter, the Ritz boasts a location where skiers can literally ski from the hotel to Northstar, with the hotel offering a ski equipment concierge.

The new club features outdoor dining by the lake or on an upstairs deck, a private boat pier for kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. It also has an outdoor spa, fire pit and a large lawn. The $10 million project was completed at the end of June, said Kira Cooper, spokeswoman for the resort.

The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe has 152 regular guest rooms, 16 executive suites, and three Ritz-Carlton suites, which range from 1,900 to 2,600 square feet. The presidential suite rents for between $2,000 to $5,000 a night, depending on season and other factors. The regular rooms and suites range from more than $400 to $1,900 a night, according to the Marriott International Inc. (Nasdaq: MAR) booking engine. The rates vary by season.

The new Lake Club adds another feature to what is already an amenity-laden hotel. Despite being a relatively small hotel by its room count, it features a huge 17,000-square-foot spa.

The Lake Club is available as a special room package for hotel guests, or it can be added to regular rooms for a $250 daily access fee, which includes food and most beverages. Fees vary on a seasonal basis.

The hotel runs an hourly shuttle between the lake and the main property, Cooper said.

The architecture and interior design of the club was done by Tahoe City-based Walton Architecture + Engineering, an architectural design, interior design and engineering firm.

Golf Is the Long Game for Affluent Brands

Golfers are passionate about golf and are willing to spend money to pursue their hobby as well as to keep up their lifestyle of quality products and travel.

You may not first think of golfers as those who seek out luxury and quality goods—in fact, if you’re not a golfer yourself, you probably picture them only as retired old men wearing a pair of cheap docker shorts with some old polo shirt from some golf trip they took a lifetime ago. But if that’s your mental image of golfers, you’re missing out on a great market with dollars to spend.

Despite smaller television ratings than football, basketball, and baseball—golf, by the numbers, remains a marketer’s dream. According to Nielsen, 27% of golfers earn $100,000 or more. And 43% of PGA fans are more likely than average U.S. consumers to own second homes, and 60% are more likely to own stocks or stock options, according to Simmons Market Research and Experian Information Solutions Inc.

“Golfers tend to seek out a luxurious type of experience with all of the products and services that they buy,” says Jon Last, vice president of corporate marketing, research and brand development for Golf Digest Publications. “In a lot of the research that we have conducted, the golf market tends to outspend even the most affluent people when you are looking in categories like travel, automobiles and real estate and, of course, within the golf categories as well.”

Stephen Lowe – A Bridge Between Cultures

Stephen Lowe was born in Quangdong and was long a resident of Victoria before his death from lymphoma at the age of 37.

Lowe spent most of his life in Victoria, beloved by students and collectors here. It’s inexplicable how he achieved such skill and produced so much in the short time he had. And it is even more surprising to realize that his work and his example are enormously appreciated in the burgeoning world of Chinese art.

Stephen, the eldest of five children, made his way to Hong Kong at age 17, and his determination to study art led him to Zhao Shaoang, leading exponent of the “Lingnan school,” a progressive and atmospheric style of painting that is the distinctive expression of South China. At the request of his grandfather, Lowe emigrated to Canada in 1956, at 18 years of age. He arrived to find his grandfather living in a lean-to in a ghost town, one of the few surviving emigrés still living in Cumberland.

Lowe’s talent and personality brought him valuable support in Victoria. Through connections from his first job, as a room steward at the Union Club, he was sponsored for a year in Hong Kong, where he continued his studies and met Eunice, his wife-to-be.

Fast forward over 50 years, to present day, and Club member Eunice Lowe is celebrating the release of the book she has been working on since 2005 – “Stephen Lowe – A Bridge Between Cultures”.

As Robert Amos states: “The book is a delight. The 330 pages include reproductions of 125 paintings in colour, some of the reproductions 50 centimetres across. The Chinese-language version has been published by the People’s Fine Art Publishing House of China, and the English-version, privately published. The quality of layout, paper stock and binding are beyond anything available in this country.”

Eunice Lowe has recently supplied the Club with copies of the marvelous book (in both English and Chinese), which are now on display and for sale in the Club’s display case.

Amos concludes: “What a story: A penniless immigrant lad, with nothing but native talent and the support of Victorians, created a timeless body of work in a few short years, far from home. And now Stephen Lowe’s reputation is reaching heights we just can’t imagine. Victoria’s art culture is rich.”

Get to Know a Golf Course Like the Back of Your Hand

With the Club’s UC Open coming up on Monday, September 25, we thought it would it would be neat to introduce you to the newest golf gadget that has all the Pro Shops talking!

If you’re in the market for the newest in on-course technology, Johnny Miller has something you’ll want to consider!

If you’ve listened to Johnny Miller often enough on NBC golf, you’ve probably heard him say that when he was playing his best, he used to ask his caddie to give him yardages in half yards.

If you are old enough to remember watching televised golf in Miller’s prime, which was the 1970s, you’ll know he was probably not kidding. Anyone who saw those desert victories in person or on TV will recall that Miller was able to hit it to within three feet of the pin on many occasions. He was that accurate, at least for a while.

We should not be surprised that he’s involved with a golf equipment company that has put GPS on the back of a golf glove: Zero Friction DistancePro.

Miller’s not just a spokesperson for Zero Friction, he’s part owner of the company. But he has the kind of track record that makes him an expert. If you look at his victories, you’ll see that he was a Tiger Woods type player in his era. In 1974, he won eight tournaments. In 1975, he won four times. In 1976, he won three, including the Open Championship.

Because so many of Miller’s victories were in the desert, he got a nickname: The Desert Fox, previously attributed to the WWII German general Erwin Rommel.

Miller won back-to-back-to-back at the Dean Martin Tucson Open (and then NBC Tucson Open) from 1974-1976. He won the Phoenix Open back-to-back in 1974 and 1975. And he won the Bob Hope Desert Classic back-to-back in 1975 and 1976. His strategy was simple. Hit it close to the flagstick.

Miller’s accuracy was uncanny, and so if he said he needed distances to within a half yard, who can disagree. Perhaps in the spirit of needing to know better distances, Miller and Zero Friction came up with the Zero Friction DistancePro GPS Glove. Yes. That’s right. GPS has migrated from your phone or watch to the back of your hand.

The DistancePro GPS device is a matchbox sized – for those who remember matchboxes – or a third of a credit card-sized GPS unit that attaches to the back of the golf glove with Velcro and a special metal dowel to hold it in place. The DistancePro GPS unit gives distances to the front, center and back of the green on more than 35,000 golf courses. To activate it, you download the Zero Friction DistancePro app and sync the phone to the GPS unit. When you get to the course, you’re ready to go.

You have to be within a 100-foot range of your phone for the distances to show on the GPS. So put the phone in the back pocket or park the cart close. The battery lasts for 400 hours, and it’s very easy to change as Joe Jung, the National Sales Director for Zero Friction demonstrated at the ING Conference at the World Golf Village earlier this season.

When you wear out the glove, you take the DistancePro GSP unit off that glove and put it on a new one. You’re ready to go again.

What will they think of next!?

New £10 Note Featuring Jane Austen Enters Circulation

The new, polymer £10 note featuring Jane Austen comes into circulation today.

Austen is the only woman – apart from the Queen – to now feature on an English bank note, following the withdrawal of the old £5 notes in May, which featured Elizabeth Fry. Fry was replaced with a picture of Winston Churchill.

Paper bank notes – £5, £10 and £20 – are slowly being replaced by plastic notes, which are more secure and resilient to counterfeiting, more resistant to dirt and more durable.

The paper fiver is no longer legal tender, and once the new £10 note enters circulation, its paper predecessor will be withdrawn from circulation in Spring 2018.

What Does the New £10 Look Like?

The new £10 note features English novelist Austen with plump cheeks and a calm expression, taken from a portrait which was commissioned after her death at the age of 41.

The note has already attracted some criticism due to the fact that Austen’s portrait appears to be “airbrushed”. It shows her noticeably prettier and less drawn than she appears in the only contemporary painting of her which exists (and is on display at the National Portrait Gallery in London.)

As well as Austen’s portrait, the tenner features a quote from Pride and Prejudice when Miss Bingley exclaims: “I declare after all there is no enjoyment but reading!”

Use of this particular quote has caused controversy as it isn’t spoken by Austen, but by one her most obnoxious characters, a woman who doesn’t actually like reading books at all.
The new note is around 15pc smaller than the current £10 and is the first Bank of England banknote to be printed with a series of raised dots in the top left-hand corner to help blind and partially sighted users.

This is in addition to the elements already incorporated in the banknotes for vision impaired people, which include tiered sizing, bold numerals, raised print and differing colour palettes.

The new £10 is expected to last at least 2.5 times longer than its paper predecessor – around five years in total, the Bank of England said.

Why Jane Austen?

Austen’s presence on the new £10 note was one of the first announcements made by Mr Carney after he took up his position as governor of the Bank of England.

He said: “Jane Austen certainly merits a place in the select group of historical figures to appear on our banknotes.

“Her novels have an enduring and universal appeal, and she is recognized as one of the greatest writers in English literature.

“As Austen joins Adam Smith, Boulton and Watt, and… Churchill, our notes will celebrate a diverse range of individuals who have contributed in a wide range of fields.”

What Will the Note Be Made Of?

The Bank of England has refused to bow to pressure to make its £10 plastic bank note tallow-free, despite anger from vegans and vegetarians. But the central bank has backed the use of palm oil in its new £20 note following the backlash.

More than 136,000 people signed a petition calling for the Bank of England to cease using animal fat in the production of currency.
When Will the Old £10 Note Cease to be Legal Tender?

The Bank of England says that the old £10, which features Charles Darwin, will be gradually phased out and officially withdrawn from circulation in Spring 2018, with notice given at least three months prior to the withdrawal date.

When Will the £20 and £50 Notes Be Replaced?

The new polymer £20 banknote will be issued in 2020, with the face of J.M.W Turner printed on it. The Bank has not confirmed whether the £50 note, featuring Boulton and Watt, will be replaced.

How Much Would a Tenner Have Been Worth in Jane Austen’s Time?

£10 in Jane Austen’s time would have been worth the equivalent of £786 in today’s money, according to analysis by Aviva.

If the Bank of England had wanted the new £10 banknote to have the same purchasing power that £10 enjoyed 200 years ago, it would need to be revalued as the £786 banknote. But thanks to the eroding impact of inflation, £10 today has a relative purchasing power of only 13p, compared with what it could have bought in 1817.

According to Mr Carney, £10 was half the annual allowance she received from her father while he was alive. A £10 note may also have had a symbolic meaning to her, as it was the amount she was paid by publishers Crosby and Co. for her first novel, Susan, he said.

A Club for People Age 35 and Over Just Opened in NYC

If you’re sick and tired of the flocks of selfie-taking, avocado toast–eating youths that fill up dance halls across New York City these days, a new club in Chelsea is the place for you.

RetroClubNYC, which opened its doors last Thursday at 161 W 23rd Street, is geared toward the 35-and-over crowd. Now open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, the spot features throwback music from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s and aims to be reminiscent of the bygone clubs of those eras.

“We’re catering to a slightly older crowd,” owner Jeff Wittels tells us. “I don’t think there are any dance clubs like that in the city.”

The bar is more of a celebration than a recreation of New York City’s discotheques of yore and is designed to attract people who twinkled their toes into the night when acts like the Bee Gees and Sylvester were at their height.

“We’re bringing back the vibe from the old days of Studio 54,” Wittels said, “except without some of the things that got them into trouble back then.”

If you’re a twentysomething who simply wants to groove out to some vintage jams, fear not. RetroClubNYC is open to anyone older than 21, and Wittels said that its debut last week attracted people of all ages (and an Australian tourist). He also said that the bar’s DJs are including some contemporary tunes on their playlists, citing Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk.”

Wittels first announced the concept for the club back in January, and it drew more hype than almost any other “trendy” bar opening in the city. Its Instagram account has amassed more than 13,000 followers since then, and the space has already started booking private events.

The bar is still working on its food and drink menu, but Wittels says it will feature small plates and “drinks that you don’t really see anymore,” including sloe gin fizzes, Long Island iced teas and a rotating signature drink called The Retro, the ingredients of which are kept secret.

For now, the club will open its doors at 9pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, but Wittels is hoping to add more days during the week this fall.

Wittels declined to tell us his age, but assured us that he is definitely older than 35.

Rescue Mission Underway for Rare Wine Collections Menaced by Irma

Adam Gungle, founder of Xpeditr Inc. professional wine movers, is pictured in Toronto, Ontario.

Swooping in ahead of Hurricane Irma’s feared weekend arrival, an emergency response team is rescuing rare treasures – some of them survivors of world wars and all of them liquid – from harm’s way in Florida and Louisiana.

Wine collections worth millions of dollars are being stashed out of reach of the Category 5 hurricane, moved from homes to local bunker-like storage units or shuttled to temperature-controlled warehouses as far away as New Jersey.

Many are owned by philanthropists aging the wine to perfection before donating it to a charity auction, often to raise disaster relief funds, said Adam Gungle, chief executive officer of Xpeditr, a high-end wine transporter based in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and Toronto.

“The wrath of a hurricane can ruin delicate pieces of liquid history,” Gungle said. “Hurricanes Andrew, Katrina and Sandy ruined tens of millions of dollars worth of fine wine.”

Hurricanes destroy wines by cutting power to carefully controlled 55-degree Fahrenheit (12.7-Celsius) storage units required by the finest vintages, whose corks pop or bottles explode if temperatures spike too quickly. Storm-fueled ocean surges are equally damaging when they flood wine cellars, peeling off signature labels and seeping into corks.

Wine fortunes ruined by Superstorm Sandy in 2012 were the impetus behind the Xpeditr Emergency Response Team, which has been contacting clients in Irma’s potential path to warn that preventive steps should be taken to protect wine investments.

By Thursday, September 7, 2017, 20,000 bottles worth as much as $5 million had been plucked from garages and crawl spaces in homes in Florida and Louisiana, some from collectors already stung by wine losses during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Gungle said.

“A lot of these bottles survived World War One, World War Two,” he said.

In Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, a storage facility with wine lockers built to withstand 157-mile-per-hour (253-km-per-hour) winds has turned away 10 potential new customers in recent days because it is filled to capacity, said Drew Feinberg, sommelier at Store Self Storage & Wine Storage. Current customers are rushing bottles from their homes into their rented lockers, which will be cooled by two gas-powered generators if electricity is knocked out by Irma, Feinberg said.


Renowned wines rescued from natural disasters include Chateau D’Yquem 1811 and 1847, worth $110,000 per bottle, saved after Superstorm Sandy, and Domaine Romanee-Conti 1945, valued at $60,000 a bottle, rescued from Hurricane Harvey, Xpeditr’s Gungle said.

When Irma lashed British billionaire and adventurer Sir Richard Branson’s private Caribbean island, Necker, on Wednesday, both fine wine and mankind sought shelter from the storm in a concrete wine cellar under his home.

The greatest risk to the wine was human consumption, the founder of the Virgin group of companies wrote on its website.

“Knowing our wonderful team as I do, I suspect there will be little wine left in the cellar when we all emerge,” Branson wrote

What’s Happening This Weekend in the CRD?


Join up to 9,000 craft-beer lovers to sample unique brews and meet the brewers behind the taps at the Great Canadian Beer Festival, Friday and Saturday at Royal Athletic Park.

It’s the 25th year for the two-day event, making it the longest-running craft-only beer festival in Canada. The micro-brewery industry has never been more popular in B.C., with close to150 companies. That’s a far cry from when the first festival was held 25 years ago, when there were only 12 to 15 companies in the whole province.

“It’s all about getting small breweries into a great venue in front of an appreciative audience,” said Gerry Hieter, the event organizer.

This year, participants can taste offerings from 66 breweries and two cideries, with more than 250 beers and ciders on tap.

“This year, we had 20 more breweries than we could accommodate,” said Hieter. “We have 14 new breweries this year, as well as five that have been with us every year for the past 25.”

You can belly up to the bar for a chance to sample dozens of variations on ever-popular India pale ales, pilsners, bitters and wheat beer.

New varieties include Dad Jokes Double IPA from Twin Sails, Captain Cooper’s Tart Cranberry Ale from Trading Post Brewing, Wild Brett Wasp Ale (a collaboration between Fieldhouse Brewing and Brassneck Brewery, it’s a must-try sour ale fermented with yeast harvested from a wasp’s gut), Numbskull IIPA: Ahtanum Edition from Lighthouse Brewing, Popinjay (a dry-hopped New World sour from Strange Fellows Brewing), Lucifudge Cherry Choco Porter from Swans, Belly Flop Apricot Grisette from Big Rock Urban and Fruity Mother Pucker Sour Ale from Axe and Barrel.

New this year is the Drake Eatery Cask Tent, with eight breweries serving unique cask beer.

While most of the suds come from B.C., the festival welcomes brewers from as far away as Halifax. New breweries this year include: A-Frame Brewing, Andina Brewing, Backroads Brewing, Hathi Brewing, KPU Brewing, Luppolo Brewing, Mt. Arrowsmith Brewing, Riot Brewing, Sooke Oceanside Brewery, Strathcona Beer Company, Twin Sails Brewing, Two Wolves Brewing, Whitetooth Brewing, and White Sails Brewing.

A variety of local food vendors will offer both West Coast and ethnic flavours, while local musicians and buskers wander the grounds.

“People tell us that what sets us apart from the competition is the event’s lively atmosphere,” said Hieter.

Any profits from the event are donated to CFAX Santas Anonymous.

Tickets are $40 per day and include a B.C. Transit Get Home Safe bus ticket. Beer tokens are $1.50 each (cash only). Each token can be redeemed for a four-ounce tasting.

The event runs from 4 to 9 p.m. Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday at Royal Athletic Park, 1014 Caledonia Ave.

For details or tickets, go to



Enjoy the last blast of summer at Metchosin Day, a community celebration always held on the first Sunday after Labour Day, on the Metchosin Municipal Grounds.

This is the 50th year for the celebration, which coincides with the regular Sunday Metchosin Farmer’s Market, with more than 100 vendors selling vegetables, meat products, fruits, crafts, artisan creations and more.

Take a hayride for 25 cents or upgrade to a backhoe digger for 50. Watch a sheep-shearing demonstration and see the winners of the baking, photography and produce growing competitions.

Watch youngsters in a gymnastic demonstration, in a pet show and showing off their 4H showmanship.

Car buffs will enjoy the collection of classic cars and motorcycles.

Members of the Victoria Motorcycle Club will set up an obstacle course with natural and manmade challenges to showcase their skills, with a show every two hours starting at 10:30 a.m.

The Metchosin Equestrian Society has several events planned, with local trainers, horses and riders demonstrating their skills between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the riding ring.

The Pioneer Museum is also nearby for those who want to learn more about the history of Metchosin.

There will be all-day entertainment by Metchosinites throughout the day on the main stage, with Morris Dancers performing around the field all day.

Food is available all day, including ice cream and hot, buttered, locally grown corn on the cob. Wash it all down with beer and wine in the beer garden.

Admission to Metchosin Day is free (donations accepted). The event runs 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Sunday on the Metchosin Municipal Grounds, behind the fire hall, 4450 Happy Valley Rd. Free vehicle parking with entry and exit via Rocky Point Road. Free bicycle parking behind the Community House, just past the disabled parking.

For more information, go to



The Vining Street Party on the Plaza is a humble neighbourhood block party that has grown to include a whole community, and now spans six hours with professional musicians and entertainers on the grounds of Victoria High School on Sunday.

This is the 10th year for the event, which this year includes Canada 150 celebrations. Organizers expect more than 2,000 people to show up at the party, which includes a community barbecue.

Family-friendly activities include giant puppets, a cardboard castle, The Great Goffini, face painting, dance and martial arts displays and magnet experiments.

More than 70 local artisans, vendors and exhibitors will display their wares in a marketplace and 400 silent-auction items will be available for bidding.

The street party is an important fundraiser for community projects, raising more than $21,000 last year.

This year, net proceeds from the event will benefit the Learning Curve Society, funding programs for children who experience learning and behavioural challenges.

Admission is free. The event runs from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday on the grounds of Victoria High School, 1260 Grant St.

For more information, go to


Get lost (and found) at the opening of the corn maze at Pendray Farm — and help raise food and funds for the Sidney Lions Food Bank on Saturday.

Organizers bill their field of corn as the largest family-friendly maze in Victoria, with 10 kilometres of trails on a 14-acre plot of land at the West Saanich Road farm.

This year, the design of the maze is a salute to Canada 150.

There will be activities for all ages, including a treasure hunt, children’s maze and corn sandbox.

On the opening day, the Pendray maze and two other local businesses — Werner Mayburry Wealth Management of Raymond James, and the Spitfire Grill — are banding together to collect food donations for the Sidney Lions Food Bank.

Collection boxes for non-perishable foods will also be located at the Spitfire Grill, 9681 Willingdon Rd., until Sept. 9. The restaurant and Werner Mayburry Wealth Management will be matching online donations up to $500 each for a total of $1,500.

Admission is $12 for adults and $5 for children three to 12 years old. The corn maze will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday at the farm, 9537 West Saanich Rd. For more information, go to


Discover a gem of a lake at Marvelous Matheson, a CRD Parks program that kicks off the fall season at Matheson Lake Regional Park, Metchosin, on Saturday.

The 157-hectare park, established in 1994, is neighbour to Roche Cove Regional Park.

It boasts a picturesque lake, set behind forested hills in Metchosin, with access to hiking, swimming and fishing activities.

On Saturday a CRD Parks naturalist will take adults 18 and older on a guided walk to uncover the cultural and natural history of this park.

There is a loop trail around the lake, with a sandy beach area perfect for a relaxing picnic or a refreshing dip.

The park is adjacent to the Galloping Goose Regional Trail, with some cyclists using the park as the starting point for a cycle day trip.

Those who like to catch their supper will find the lake well-stocked with Rainbow Trout.

Participants for Saturday’s hike are encouraged to bring a snack, some water and wear sturdy footwear.

There is no fee to join the hike but you need to pre-register. The hike runs 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday at Matheson Lake Regional Park.

Try to arrive 10 minutes before the start of the program. Please leave pets at home. For more information, go to Call 250-478-3344 to register and find where to meet.