Well, this is a throw back for us, a blast from the past. We haven’t had a sale at the Willow Point Hall, just south of Campbell River, since 2014. That feels like 100 years ago! But for many years the Lion’s Hall was a spring staple for us; we had seven consecutive events there, the first one in 2008. It’s another of Vancouver Island’s grand halls, built in 1940, and locally famous for its floor, which is a bomb-proof construction of plywood strips set on end.
And for me the connection with this area goes back even further: behind the hall, looking east over the Salish Sea you can see Marina Island, where I had a shellfish lease during the 90’s. That speaks to another advantage of booking the Lion’s Hall: it’s the only one of the many dozens of halls that we have used over the years that has its own waterfront. Even if the day wasn’t particularly good, we could always go and sit on the beach after work!
The sad fact was that when we started to give up our less lucrative venues, Willow Point had to go. Campbell River was going through a difficult time. Traditionally a resource town, the fishing industry had been mostly shut down since the 90’s, the forestry boom was past its prime, and the long-anticipated final blow came in 2010 when the huge Catalyst pulp mill shut down. By 2014 many of the small businesses that had stayed on as long as they could were going under, and a boarded-up bleakness hung in the air.
In the intervening years Campbell River, similar to towns like Nelson before it, has had a re-invention, and recently was one of the hottest property markets on the Island. The mood is, apparently, far more optimistic, and we are looking forward to going back.
Travelling up-Island in May/June is always such a pleasure. The road sides are a riot of flowers – lupin, paintbrush, daisies among them – the dogwoods and arbutus are in bloom, and even the invasive broom, blazing yellow, can briefly be forgiven. Given the specialness of the occasion we decide to go the slow way, up along the coast on the Old Island Hwy, past Qualicum Bay (Hi Hall!), Denman Is. (Hi Senior’s Center Hall), Union Bay (Hi Hall!), Royston (Hi Fallen Alders Hall!), and Courtney (Hi Driftwood Mall, Hi Legion Hall!).
You know you aren’t far from Willow Point when the highway comes down past Oyster River and runs so close to the beach that it’s not uncommon during big south-east blows to get ocean spray coming over the road, and even, a memorable time or two, driftwood logs.
Besides being waterfront property, the Lion’s Hall is smack in the middle of downtown Willow Point. This is great for us, as we can go for a walk through the chainsaw sculpture gallery just north of the hall, and come back through the small mall opposite where there is both a BC liquor store AND the Sundance Java cafe AND a great little consignment store. In the other direction is a pub/restaurant with a outdoor patio – we watched the 2011 Stanley Cup Riots, uh play-offs there – a supermarket, a second hand store, and the always-worthwhile Willow Point Old and New, stuffed full of an eclectic collection of flotsam and jetsam, brick-a-brack, ephemera, curios and whatnot.
At least there used to be. We, of course, had to cancel the Willow Point sale this year. I hope that our favourite businesses there have survived, and that we, too, will be back sooner rather than later.
All the best to Willow Point and to all you lovely readers! Thank you for coming to our virtual Willow Point event, and hope to see you next week when we are back – virtually – at our old stomping ground, Cobble Hill. You can, of course, have a tour through our store and rug gallery anytime – just click the button, and you’re on your way! And while you are there, check out the special deals on our featured rugs.
Or drop a line and say hi!
Your purveyors of pop-up,