By Cherie Thiessen via BC Magazine
The northern reaches of the Strait of Georgia are gently rippling today, and in the background the lofty Coastal Mountains still wear a skiff of snow while overshadowing the gentler profiles of the Discovery Islands. I’m glad we have 45 minutes aboard the refit relief boat, Quadra Queeen II; time to savour the pristine, open view before arriving at Whaletown on Cortes Island, British Columbia.
We let our senses quietly expand and absorb. The day will culminate in Hollyhock’s hot tub overlooking the Strait of Georgia and Twin Islands, after three relaxing ferries and leisurely Vancouver and Cortes island drives. Oystercatchers will be calling close by our beachfront cottage and my friend, Pat Crossley, and I will fall asleep listening to the slurp of waves.
Canada’s foremost Leadership Learning Centre, Hollyhock has been a bright beacon on Cortes’s eastern shore for 34 years. The centre is a not-for-profit sanctuary for learning, connection and cultural transformation, and the founders and staff really walk their talk. You can see it in their eyes and open smiles. This year the centre is offering more than 90 sessions, dealing with everything from leadership to healing, fitness to fine art, gardening, grant writing, cleansing and this week, dancing your bliss and evolutionary leadership. We’re going to check out some of that bliss tomorrow at the presenter’s evening.
While most visitors to Hollyhock come for the courses, led by influential leaders like Robert Bateman (art), Dr. Andrew Weil (wellness), Gabor Maté (addiction and stress) and Stephen Jenkinson (Orphan D.W. Wisdom School), some like us simply come to breathe in Hollyhock. We come to experience abundant and beautiful gardens, the delicious and varied organic meals, the connectivity, the healing energy, the people and the activities and presentations that everyone can partake of.
The next morning sees us up at 6:30a.m. to take one of Rob Selmanovic’s Somatic yoga sessions. Gentle, healing and non-threatening to either our spirits (we’re yoga novices) or our mature bodies, we float out feeling every nerve alive and licking, and we’re ready for breakfast. Meals are a community affair. We join a table and meet Deb from Calgary, a psychologist who always takes courses here to help enhance her practice. This year she wants to see how she can incorporate dancing into some of her treatments. David and Terri are a couple from Vancouver camping in Hollyhock. They’re our age and come every year. Today they join us on the garden tour after breakfast where we’re amazed to learn that during June, Hollyhock’s gardens have been producing 200 heads of lettuce every two weeks!
Then, independently, we walk through the 18-hectare property’s trails, heading to the sands of Smelt Beach, a honey of a park where we fling off shoes and thread our toes into the sand—alone on a long long sliver of nirvana.
That night after dinner, CEO Dana Bass Solomon welcomes new guests and introduces the two course leaders: psychotherapist and movement expert, Rachel Fleischman, and internationally renowned master facilitator Gibran Rivera, whose lively and enthusiastic following comes primarily from America’s eastern states. “We need to create, but we can’t do it alone,” he reminds us, while Fleischman points out that while most of the time we live from the neck up, we are wired for joy.
Over the next several days we dance and steam up the Raven, a 700-square-foot round cedar building, with Fleischman guiding. We sit silently in meditation in the sanctuary, and we go on a two-hour guided nature walk escorted by Bill Ophoff, a geologist and Hollyhock’s resident naturalist for over 20 years who really knows his stuff. (Did you know there are over 800 types of mosses and 1,200 kinds of lichen?) He shows us a 700-year-old Douglas-fir with a near12-metre circumference.
DID YOU KNOW? Cortes Island is part of the Discovery Island chain. It’s 130-square-kilometres and roughly shaped like a kite, with a population of about 1,000 residents.
The next day we swim in Hague Lake, visit the island’s vibrant museum that packs so much interest into such a small space, swim in the ocean in front of our cabin, taste oysters raw and barbecued on the beach with a variety of condiments and have a misty morning excursion with 10 other paddlers in a colourful canoe. And we still find time to relax on our deck, explore more of the island and chat with endless fascinating and friendly staff and visitors.
We need more Hollyhocks.
Savour Fall Savings!
Choose Your Hollyhock Special!
Enjoy the quiet beauty of Hollyhock in Autumn. Beach and forest walks. Cozy fires in the lodge. Locally inspired kitchen goodness served up fresh three times a day. We have four great offers sure to make you smile.
Massage Package – Stay any 2 nights from Sep 28 to Oct 26 and receive a complimentary bodywork session. Holiday bookings only.*
Extended Stay Package – Stay longer. Save more. Holiday bookings only.*
- Stay 7 nights or more between Sept 23 until Oct 26 and receive 30% off,
- Stay 14 nights or more and receive 40% off, or
- Stay 21 nights or more and receive 50% off!
October Special – Stay with a friend in the same room and enjoy 15% your meals and accommodation packages. Holiday bookings only.*
Winter Sabbatical – Cozy up in your own Hollyhock cabin this winter. Enjoy stunning views and charming accommodations Nov 1 – Mar 31. Contact email@example.com or phone 250-935-6576 x240. Great monthly prices, amazing opportunity.*