Hello Sunshine Coast, welcome to my very first column for Area E.
When I tell friends I have taken over for the fabulous Gayle Neilson in the Coast Reporter’s Elphinstone Chronicles, I am immediately asked why I’ve been chosen to write about the local high school.
Just as quick as you can say “it’s not an island,” I’ve launched into my educational speech on what, exactly, Elphinstone is. More than just the name of a secondary high school, more than the dorsal fin mountain behind each setting in The Beachcombers, Elphinstone is a specific area, not quite town, nestled in Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw traditional territory between Gibsons and Roberts Creek. That’s right, that area is its own community, with its own name. We are not big enough for a mayor, but if we were, Donna McMahon would be our champion, elected in 2018 to be our Area E Director and representative at the SCRD. Although we are the smallest physical electoral area in the SCRD, we have the biggest population; 3,883 as of the 2021 census, and growing like everywhere else.
I first got involved with the Elphinstone Community Association when I dropped into one of the monthly meetings. It was fascinating. Here was a welcoming group composed mostly of animated older citizens, sucking back decaf coffee and sharing baked goods in the Frank West Hall, complaining about all manners of typical, growing rural problems. It was enchanting in its way, to have the chance to complain about that pothole on Reed and find a chorus of support and camaraderie. It was incredible to have a minor local celebrity, our area director, who at the time was Lorne Lewis, sit through each of these meetings and weather a battery of questions, from the mundane to the impossible-to-answer, and he did it all with grace and a sense of humour. I was especially surprised, having grown up in Elphinstone my entire life, to see the rich history this older generation celebrated with particular zest. These meeting attendees were the record keepers for this piece of paradise, waxing poetic about street names or award-winning farm jam, of creeks that had been displaced and moved by development, of the history of forest fires and old wells, of friends, family and residents of legend, long deceased who came as settlers to this area and made it a home from back when ol’ George Gibson began to colonize the Coast with his pals. In every sense there was a passion for community at this assembly of Area E humans.
With a little playfulness, community meetings are something really special. They are what we’re missing, something our local Facebook FYI pages strive for, but cannot achieve. They connect, educate and bond us together. And not just Elphinstone meetings, every SCRD area has its own community meetings. I encourage young and old to go try one, especially in person. They will welcome you with open arms, celebrate you for getting involved and fascinate you by taking a magnifying glass to your neighbourhood.
The Elphinstone Community Association is putting on their annual Summer Social on Sunday, July 24 at Chaster House in Bonniebrook if you would like to get to know some friendly faces in Area E. It’s a casual drop-in potluck from 3 to 7 p.m., and they are looking for fresh, interesting projects to take on for 2022/2023. The ECA regularly meets the second Wednesday of each month, currently on Zoom. All are welcome to attend. If you have Elphinstone news to report, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.