Phoenix Riting! – February 29th, 2024


The show I went to last Friday night could not have been more different than last week’s metal bash at Joe King. I went to see the MADDWEve concert (Musical Alternative to Dark, Dreary Winter Evenings). I had my brains adjusted to hear classical music recently, starting when I first reviewed Festival classical concerts, and have since exposed myself to various forms of live classical music and enjoyed them all. I find I enjoy any music, performed live and well.


About these concerts: “MADDWEve is a concert series which aims to bring fresh young talent from UVic, UBC and beyond to perform on Hornby Island during the season when nothing much is happening there besides rain. In short, musicians with more talent than reputation to play for an audience hungry for live classical music.”


A group of five student musicians presented a program of chamber music. There was a piano, cello, double bass, viola, a violin and one vocal piece. The pieces were played in different combinations, solo or two to three instruments together, until the end when all five instruments came together to play four movements of a longer piece. I did not take note of the musicians’ names nor their school; I wish I had.


Classical music strikes me very differently than the forms of music I am accustomed to. Its complex melodies and harmony lines tell winding tales that stroke and caress my nervous system strongly yet delicately. I felt carried rapturously into another world. It was a wonderful evening of stellar talent! Thank you to MADDWEve for bringing this music to our island, and for giving these young performers the chance to play for a friendly and receptive audience.


Then on Sunday, HIRRA (Hornby Island Residents and Ratepayers Association) hosted a 50th/70th anniversary celebration at the Hall (they first started in 1954, incorporating as a society in 1973). As a past member of the Executive, I felt honour bound to go. It was so interesting! The memories! The cake!


I was vice-president in 1993, when Lynda Maloney was president. I learned when I was president and took it on myself to read through all the old minutes books that ours was the first year that a woman was president of HIRRA, let alone two women as both vp and president. Not only that, we were both young single moms. We made history! I was amazed it took Hornby so long for that to happen. Women had been on the Executive from the beginning, yes, but only as secretaries and treasurers.


I first joined HIRRA on February 13, 1991, a fact I know only because I happened to randomly flip open the membership book at the celebration and there was my name at the top of a page. I began to take notes at meetings and write the story for the First Edition, in an effort to entice more folk to come to meetings. My articles gained me notice and I was eventually invited to join the Executive. This made me feel special until I was elected by acclamation and learned that in fact, nobody else wanted the job.


This meant my stories for the First Edition had come to an end; the Peter Principle in action. In our two years, we implemented some changes that have lasted to this day. We could not keep a secretary, as nobody wanted to keep minutes, so we hired Janet LeBlanc as administrator, a job that Reina LeBaron holds today. After that a bookkeeper was hired as well. There had been no paid assistants up until then, but we could not do without them now.


In my day, Jack Kent, head of the Regional District, made it his project to force the island to adopt a conventional form of government. They offered us a few untenable options including becoming a municipality. But HIRRA prevailed, and here we are, thirty years later, still doing it our way. The downside of participatory government is that you have to participate or decisions may be made that you neither know about or agree with, but that’s easily remedied. Go to meetings! I recommend it. I don’t go to meetings regularly myself, but I try to check in now and then.


The previous Executive had instituted the practice of sitting in circle at meetings and we continued it. It was a much friendlier format and everyone seemed to prefer it. Sitting in circle meant everyone could hear and be heard, and everyone could see everyone else. I was disappointed when I returned to the island after a few years away to find they had returned to the old head table format. They did return to the circle format a few years later, for a while, I learned.


Now, thanks to Covid, meetings take place mainly on Zoom, while a few intrepid souls gather in person at Room to Grow to view the Zoom screen together. Zoom is more convenient, certainly, and accessible for folk who are not on the island, but something personal and precious has been lost, and it’s sad.


Really inspiring to see such a young Executive this year! Go to to find out who they are and more about our local government.


That’s what I think! What do you think? email me at