Westholme Tea Company is celebrating its 10th anniversary. (Courtesy of Westholme Tea Company)

Business notes: Westholme Tea Company celebrates 10 years in business

Here are some of the highlights of what is happening in the Cowichan business community

The Cowichan Valley’s Westholme Tea Company, an 11-acre organic tea garden, tea shop, and gallery, is marking its 10th anniversary.

In celebration, beginning on Oct. 10 (the 10th day, of the 10th month, of the 10th year of the company growing Canadian Tea), Westholme will be officially launching new creative products from both of its co-founders; Margit Nellemann and Victor Vesely.

From Nellemann, the official and permanent re-opening of The Gallery at Westholme, plus a brand-new series of ceramic works fresh from the kiln will be launched.

And from Vesely, a new and extremely rare, limited-edition Westholme-grown tea called #10 Reserve Black, which is made from the finest, most delicate pluck of the tea bushes this year.

The company will be holding a staggered event, to deal with social distancing guidelines, over the 10 days, from Oct. 10-20, with new products being made available each day at the online store and in the tea shop.

Westholme will also be holding a daily giveaway.

The tea farm is located at 8350 Richards Trail. For more information, see their website at westholmetea.com.


Golden Hanger consignment boutique on Jubilee Street shut its doors for the final time this week.

Owner Denise Tacon bought the store, which specializes in providing dresses for weddings, graduations, galas and other events, almost four years ago and business had been good before the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March.

She said she has been assessing her business since reopening the store in May.

“I would normally have between 90 and 100 people looking for dresses for events over the spring and summer, but I had just about 10 or 12 this year,” Tacon said.

“The market for my specialized items, like antiques, has also decreased with the lower number of tourists this year. It’s really a shame because Duncan has the best village-style shopping on the Island. Unfortunately, I expect more businesses will follow.”

Tacon said she’s not concerned about her own future as she has a few options.

“I have a skin-care line with clients across the country, I look after seniors on the weekends and I also paint,” she said.

“I’m pretty resilient and have a few eggs in my basket.”


The new and unique hamburger joint in Lake Cowichan that will be situated at the old gas station on Cowichan Lake Road is now expected to open sometime in October.

Mike Hallatt, owner of what will be called Black M at the Riparian, said the restaurant was supposed to open in July, but progress got tangled up in some bureaucratic red tape at town hall which has a bylaw limiting the number and types of trees that can surround the business, which intends to use meat from Russian wild razorback boars for its hamburgers.

He said the trees he intended to place around the restaurant were an important part of the ambience he is trying to create.

“I didn’t anticipate the trouble over the trees,” he said.

“We’re hoping to have the building ready to open in October, but we’ll have to see, as I’m also busy with my campaign to be the next mayor of Lake Cowichan.”


Timber Terrace Apartments in North Cowichan, and Ladysmith’s Island Pacific Transport, are among the finalists in their categories at the 13th annual Vancouver Island Real Estate Board Commercial Building Awards.

The awards ceremony were held virtually this year, and winners will be announced through a video that was released on Sept. 30.

A near record total of 43 projects from across Vancouver Island are up for the event this year, which celebrates the best in commercial, community and industrial buildings north of the Malahat on Vancouver Island, which were completed between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2019.

A team of independent judges chose the winners in the 11 categories of these awards, which include Apartments, Hospitality, Industrial, Institutional, Mixed Use, Office, Retail, Retail-Renovation, Seniors, Social-Community and Townhouse.

The gold sponsor of this event is the Coastal Community Credit Union.

Category sponsors are NAI Commercial, Yellow Sheet Review, Herold Engineering, MNP LLP, RE/MAX Commercial, BDC (Business Development Bank of Canada) and Canadian Western Bank.

“We are excited about the new twists that will be part of our first ever virtual event,” said Mark MacDonald of Business Examiner Vancouver Island, which coordinates the event.

“We’ve obviously had to adjust due to COVID-19 concerns, but we are confident the event will get even more exposure than it has in years past, just in different ways.”


During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the topic of workplace skills and employability in the new workplace atmosphere has been a major topic of conversation.

The national workplace skills program UP Skills For Work held nine workshops targeted to people with developmental and cognitive disabilities, called The WEST Program (Workplace Essential Skills and Training), in Duncan last fall at the Vancouver Island University campus.

The organizers are now gauging the interest to hold further UP Skills for Work sessions and workshops in the Cowichan Valley during 2020.

Anthony Alfred, founder of Aspire Communications and speaking on behalf of ABC Life Literacy Canada, said during the health crisis, the need is greater than ever to raise awareness of the program in the region.

“[The program] is designed to assist students’ development with personal, interpersonal, and employment skills required to obtain and maintain employment,” he said.

“The overarching program goal is for the students to gain skills necessary to foster personal growth and independence. Students will acquire and develop vocational, academic, work, and essential life skills.”

To learn more about the program in Duncan, and future sessions, call 778-223-3731.


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