Planta Point: the story


Quayle Property – Planta Point Nanaimo
3560 Planta Road/ 3550 Stephenson Point Road

There is a cedar bench beneath an Arbutus Tree on a point of consolidated rock above the sea. We call it Planta Point, my family home for over fifty years.

Planta Point History.

This has been a good place to live for a long time: traditions from the Snuneymuxw First Nations traditional territory, to mid-nineteenth century Europeans who found the protected harbour and bay to the south, for which they adopted an anglicized name, Nanaimo. A generation or two later, two sea captains, Yates and Stephenson, noted a point of land and rock along the coast a half-dozen kilometres north of the town limits – nestled between a rock bluff rising to the south of the property and a rock bluff down to the Georgia Strait. Ideal for summer homes to get away from the bustle of Nanaimo in the early years of the twentieth century.

Nanaimo itself was originally carefully planned around nineteenth century principles of beautiful cities; incrementally the City limits moved south and north and by the 1970s Planta Point was part of the central city as adjacent marshlands were drained for housing. From a rural route address, the city grew up around Planta Road – a federal ocean research station and beach-side amenities were now within walking distance, a modern ferry terminal and marina, hospital and impressive golf-course within a ten-minute drive. By the twenty-first century a new arts centre, and a new convention center were complete, and a a new cruise-ship terminal under construction. Yet Planta Point with its second growth timber and buffer of Planta Park remains secluded in the city.

The Traditional: A Brown House.

In the early days of the twentieth century, Captain Yates built a home for his wife, Beatrix Planta, next door to the Brown House. It does not survive, but our Brown House of the Planta Point property at 3560 Planta Road was completed likely at the same time, sometime around 1915-17 by Captain Stephenson. It has the original fir floors and stone foundation and chimneys built of rock, rock not indigenous to BC but likely from Hawaii, brought back as ballast on ships which took Nanaimo coal to those islands. We always called it The Brown House growing up because, well, that’s what it was and is. My father, Dr. Dan Quayle, a marine biologist and islander from a coal-mining family, bought it for us in the early 1960s. I was the third-generation of Quayles in greater Nanaimo. We were all enchanted by the feathered namesake quails which parade through the property every spring.

My Dad was born to a sea-faring and coal-mining family. A aircraft navigator in the war, he was one of the many success stories of survival and then post-war access to advanced education. His love of the sea led to marine biology and later a respected world authority on bivalve molluscs (oysters were his friends).

Dad’s work often took him into the field for studies in distant and secluded bays for weeks at a time, so many memories of growing up are pretty much a two- person cast: Mom and I. My mother was the first public health nurse on the Island, and laughingly recalls how she gamely pointed her 1940s Fords north to help smaller villages and communities. By the 1960s she had her hands full with a new daughter. She discovered around the same time that a combination of a rocky soil and cute vegetarians called deer made life as a gardener challenging. My mother quickly learned that rhododendrons were not only amazingly beautiful in foliage and flower, but flourished.

I spent thirteen years learning to play the piano in the great front room, and many evenings playing Scrabble with my parents. At some point my father had dragged a cedar bench down to Planta Point to watch the tides. At the time the fish were so plentiful that I refined my math skills by helping my father take stock of little fishing boats – it was not unusual to see more than one hundred off the Point even in the 1960s. Twenty five years later I wooed Dave with the view; fifty years later Dave and I had refinished and restored and protected that old bench until our millennium gift to ourselves was the current swinging bench made from Island cedar on the west-coast of the Island.

The Planta Point bench is a fine spot for lime and sodas, or gin and tonics, on a late summer’s afternoon. The view to the north along the water is The Spit, a regional park within an easy walk, row or even swim to its narrow neck of land to sculptured rocks and Gary oaks. Its rocky beach is where I learned to love to swim; now other generations favour it in the summer to launch sailboards and kayaks. To the south is a working channel, with BC Ferries and log booms, fishing boats and sail boats. Our fauna includes a pair of eagles who visit often; otter and seals are seasonal guests; small island deer often stroll past our windows at dawn or dusk; owl and woodpeckers appreciate the standing timber. At the foot of Planta Point is a rocky beach we call our own, complete with a tidal basin just right for getting in and out of the clear north-west Pacific waters.

It was all of this, but perhaps most persuasively it was the air on the Point which led to building the beach house. There is a remarkable difference even in the few hundred meters between the Brown House and the Point in the quality of the air. You can hear and feel and see the difference: the Point is of the sea, fresh and clean under grey skies and grey seas or blue skies and glassy water, layered with the sounds of gulls and eagles and seals and people on the water below.

Planta Point – A New Home and Studios – The Beach House

In the early 1990s we were looking out the picture window of The Brown House we noticed that the orientation and topography of the site allowed a summer home and studios to be tucked into the landscape. We spent the next two years thinking and planning and walking the site, and improving the path to the beach, before breaking ground. With the good graces and humour of my mother, as an eighty-year old site superintendent, Planta Point evolved as a beach house for us.

The design was an eclectic process of values and ideas we developed with input from my colleagues in the School of Architecture at UBC. The siting was born of our respect for the land. Many of our architectural ideas needed Richard Nash, our builder from Lantzville up the coast a bit, to work his magic. The concept of beach house as a collection of modules, and the central courtyard, were inspired by a small town in the foothills of Greece. The raised breakfast terrace was a gift of a record snow fall in 1996; we carved the snow into the raised terrace (the angle of which points due north). The stone access bridge with its Roman arches was completed by Dave in time for Christmas, 1997.

We wanted a place of beauty and comfort with pragmatic solutions for heating, power-failures and abundant rain. Its still a work in progress, but our approach is in the details such as:

• Siting the home to face the forest on one side and the sea on the other;

  • Sourcing the rock (conglomerate) for siteworks adjacent to the house, and for the bridge and fireplace (and prospective lower-level and facing) to match that of the Nanaimo formation beach rock – finding it in a quarry at Spider Lake in the interior of the island.
  • Sourcing the stone for the courtyard and patio paving of Nanaimo-formation sandstone, but the predominant local colour is blue-grey, so after some work to get the warm tan colour we found a private quarry on Maine Island in the Southern Gulf Islands;
  • Sourcing the clear fir for the cabinetry from the island, which in the mid-90s meant that it was repatriated from Japanese wholesalers out of a lumber yard in Washington state,
  • A commitment to local woods and work — the balcony is capped with a yellow cedar rail, now weathered, and windows are local fir and custom made.
  • Designing the watercourse on Japanese gardening principles of balance; all of the rock forming the watercourse was brought in, carefully placed and adjusted for sight and sound, and environmental protection;
  • Rebuilding the temporary boat shed of the same dimensions, look and feel as the original from the late 1940s, and;
  • Creating a small vegetable and flower garden with custom-designed fencing to minimize visual impact while respecting our visiting deer, otter and rabbits.
  • We intended to be here a long time. The house has deep foundations, and double walls for ten inches of protection from the elements, and secondary circuits for generator power (although power loss is not as much of an issue now). Our home includes provision for a dumb-waiter to ease the use of stairs, and a steam room, to ease the use of our bodies. Our studios interlink.

Cosy fires in the winter and breakfasts on the terrace in the spring, barbques on the patio in the summer, and many gatherings of friends and family in the courtyard; we love the sound of the sea and watercourse in winter storms, and the soft colours of our bulbs and trees in the spring and fall. Warm radiant heat on bare feet in the winter, and baths on a plinth of island marble, looking out across the water. We smile at the fresh air and sounds from the water, and increasingly present bambis and eaglets. I even enjoy doing the dishes with a million dollar view which changes with the light and weather. And we will miss sitting on the rocking bench at Planta Point.

Sometimes we are asked for a favourite view, or room. Planta Point was designed as a sequence of experiences, with attention to detail. Look closely. These trees and ferns and rocks and walls have seen us grow in fields of business and law, government and academia. I love my studio and the master balcony. That cedar protecting us from eastern storm winds was barely the height of the balcony when we moved in in 1997. I love sitting in the living area and looking through the arbutus to the water, or into the woods on the other side of the room. We planted the birch and the pear trees. A few quirks are the front door and kitchen wall, but these were of the moment and can be changed; a more lasting quirk is the need to leave a car and walk down a forest path and across a footbridge, or through a small garden, to get home.

Moura and Dave

Quayle/Fushtey Notes 01Aug12


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The joy of habit

Trying to get back into the City Reflections blog.  Had lunch today with our wonderful young friends Ayesha and Rumee at Finch Tea House — Pender@Homer.  I had a great brie, pear, walnut plate (complete with baguette).  All of the rest of the orders looked good.


I am in wonder at how Ayesha and Rumee find new places in the downtown to explore.

Dave and I seem “stuck” in our routines.  For example, Saturday lunch is at Scuie — at Pender & Howe.  Or is it the joy of habit.  The routine.  Knowing what is going to happen.  I think partly it is the people at Scuie.  Well — it might be the great pizza.  But when you go every Saturday for lunch, you get to know the people who help you.  First of all Emiliano — who has now abandoned us in favour of working Monday-Friday at the Scuie in the HSBC building at Georgia & Hornby.  Now we know Rodrigo and arghh — have forgotten his wonderful Italian name.

That is it.  We feel like we are in Italy – just for an hour or so.  How great is that in a city on the west coast of North America.


We usually have the pizza.  Sometimes I have a glass of their red wine.  The space is right too.  Outside and inside.  The right size.  Generally the right volume.

It just feels like the weekend.  How great is that!

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MQ … reflections on city life

Am shifting my personal blog to (thanks to Kirk LaPointe giving me the gift of the domain name last Christmas!).

I want to blog more about reflections on city life — on Vancouver and other cities.  By city life, I mean observations and insights about how we go about living in a city — our joys and our frustrations.

Now that we live “right downtown Vancouver” there are new experiences to behold — and to write about on occasion.

Design/business integration and thinking strategy blogs are still to be found on the sauder studio site linked up in the header.

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St. Petersburg: a surprising Port experience

Russia.  Hard not to think about the cold war, the vastness of the country and vodka — not in that order.  We were in St. Petersberg for 3 days.  Probably I’m the only person that found the arrival and departure the most beautiful and exciting.  St. Peterburg is truly a beautiful city — who knew that it has more bridges than Venice.  And, that the bridges along the Neva River “open” from something like 1:30am-5:30am for ship traffic.  So if you get stuck on one side and your abode is on the other — tough luck.

We were having our first cruise experience on the Seabourn Sojourn — a 1-year old ship that has its own desalination plant, 4 engines (usually uses 2) and so on (I went on a tour of the bridge).  350 passengers or so and almost as many crew.

On the morning of our arrival in St Petersburg (after a day of cycling in Helsinki), I woke up early and noticed that land was almost so close you could touch it.  And the port activities amazing.


St. Petersburg cranes -- major port and ship-building

purple crane2

A wonderful purple crane...the port aesthetic

I loved the colourful purple crane — and the positioning of the St. Isaac’s golden dome in the distance.

Departure from St. Petersburg required 2 tugs — both bow and stern.  Although we learned during the tour of the bridge that this was really just an abundance of caution and the ship could really turn on a dime with the thrusters.  But I am a tug fan so it was okay with me.

croped stern

The tug on the stern with some of the Neva bridges in background

Next blog about the Erarta Contemporary Museum & Gallery.

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Copenhagen vignettes

We’ve been home from Copenhagen a couple of week now. I started this blog when we’d been in Copenhagen just over a month.

Anyway — starting to feel like we own the place — at least we have a pretty good sense of what is where.  Have been blogging on the site because of the richness of interesting and new findings in that area at the Copenhagen Business School.

Here are just a few vignettes from our experiences over the last month…

Osterport train station


Bicycle City.  We are staying close to the water/port in a redeveloped area of Copenhagen called Amerika Plads (that is like “place” not plaid pants — Danish is a difficult language!).  We walk for 10-12 minutes to the Osterport Train Station (conveniently it has an IRMA grocery store right there) and then we take the train (which comes every 1-2 “minutters” one stop to Nørreport Station where we change for the relatively new metro and travel 3 stops to Faranvej -one of the 3 metro stations that services the Copenhagen Business School.


After we did your train-metro adventure each morning, we’d visit Tor for morning kaffe.  His kaffe and juice bar and his conversation helped us have a good start to the day in Copenhagen.  We were also pleased to leave our English magazines (Monocle) and newspapers for his other customers.  We miss him!

torIf you are in Copenhagen you can find Tor at the exit of the Fasanvej metro stop.

Our CBS offices were is in the renovated porcelain factory of Royal Copenhagen/Georg Jenson.  So that was fun too.

the CarportTHE CARPORT has quite a significant collection of scotches and whiskies.  We came upon it on one of our bicycle trips.  Dave sampled.

Bella Sky Hotel

BELLA SKY HOTEL — we visited thanks to a couple we met at CBS who wanted to explore this newly opened hotel on the outskirts of Copenhagen.  It is adjacent to the conference centre where COP15 was held.

We had a drink in the top floor bar.  And wondered what it would be like to walk from the metro station in the dead of winter — the connection isn’t close.

From Bridgette Meinhold’s blog:

The Bella Sky Hotel and Conference Center, designed by 3XN Architects, opens next Monday in Copenhagen, becoming one of the largest hotels in Scandinavia. The dramatic twin towers twist and lean as they reach for the sky allowing all of the guests optimal views over the nature park ‘Amager Common’ located nearby. The triangular patterned facade, which may be a little on the wild side, was designed expressly to minimize solar heat gain and maximize energy efficiency.

postcard streetTHE POSTCARD STREET

Finally, the iconic view of Copenhagen.  We cycled and walked through many times but never stopped.  Too many tourists!  Doesn’t take long to think you are more than a visitor in a wonderful place like Copenhagen.

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Atelier — food design at its best

Ottawa trips don’t usually signal culinary extravaganzas.  On the referral of one of my Sauder colleagues, Tony Boardman, I signed up for a reservation at Atelier.  Made the reservation on-line (what a great invention) and then received a phone confirmation giving me instructions about how to find the restaurant due to the fact that there is no sign — just the address — 540 Rochester Street.

Tony had prepared me for the tasting menu which has a wine pairing that goes with it —  it sounds like it changes almost every night.  It was a Tuesday evening and the restaurant was quiet — but I got the sense that one always gets superb service at Atelier.

Of course they endeared themselves to me when the warm bread was presented with a tooth-paste-type-tube of butter.  Like this. Fun.

atelier butter

The first course was called Bubbles — it was a bit challenging for me because it had duck tongue (2 of them) but I really liked the balls of kohlrabi, little tapiocas, coconut bubbles and foam.  It was matched with a 2009 Hidden Bench Bistro Rose from Niagara.

The second course was Prosciutto and Melon.  Wonderful.  It was watermelon instead of the usual cantaloupe which I don’t really like.

melonThere was prosciutto, raw swordfish, seared watermelon (chunk in lower picture) and little cubes of watermelon as well.  There were daubs of red wine to balance the plate.

The third course was called Fennel Vision — it was caramelized fennel, wilted spinach, edamane, powdered olives — and things that I can’t remember.  The chef does a lot of freeze drying and powdering of food — the tastes are really amazing.  This was matched with a Sauvignon Blanc (2010 Astrolabe) from Marlborough, New Zealand.

The fifth course was 46 degrees Salmon with salmon, cucumber, dill, chervil (photo below).

46 degree salmon2 Then came Nachos & Beer — a wonton in beer batters with powdered cheese, sour cream, bacon and jalapenos — and of course accompanied by Birra Bruton Stoner from Lucca, Italy.

By this time, I was wondering if I could stay the course.  But each individual offering was light and so tasty.  So I persevered.

Liver Damage was probably my least favourite — fois gras deep fried with parsnip pieces, brioche and pistashio nuts matched with a NV Cossart Gordon Medium Rich 5-year Bual Madeira from Portugal.  Busy Beets followed with frozen extruded beets, beets and a little slide of brie accompanied by a 2006 Dr. Hermann Urziger Wurzgarten Riesling Spatlese from Mosel Germany.  And then there was a delicious Duck Tortelloni with smoked mushrooms, what I wrote down as “amazing sauce”, hazelnuts and I think a quince paste.  This was accompanied by a 2007 Beresford Shiraz from McLaren Vale, Australia.  And the final savoury was Elk (a first time for me) — a steak which was delicately broiled and very tasty — especially with the 2006 A to Z Winewords Chemin de Terre from Oregon.

While I had requested a half-portion of each of the accompanying pairings, I was reaching my limit.  And now dessert of which there were three!  Pomme de Mars was apple rings with Ice Cream cake and a walnut crumble paired with a 2008nDomaine Pinnacle Ice Cider from the Eastern Townships.  iCup was a frozen passionfruit pure inside of which was a chocolate cake on a cookie.  Hmmm.  The match here was a 2007 De Bortoli Noble One Botrytis Semillon from New South Wales.  Just when I really thought I was done, The Troll Truffle arrived.  I’ll let you imagine what that was.

The design of everything was exquisite — the plating, the incredible tastes — it really awakens your taste buds and reminds you what food can taste like at the hands of a great chef.  I didn’t meet the chef — but I did see the kitchen where all this happens.  It is compact and, of course, well designed.

You can find Atelier at 540 Rochester Street Ottawa Ontario — 613-321-3537,  And apologies to Atelier if I made any mistakes in listing the ingredients — they were too many and too wonderful to remember/list.

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Dash +D'Bree…Melbourne Comedy Festival

Melbourne is abuzz with activity — lots of people on the street and tons of events t choose from.  There seem to be even more coffee places than in Vancouver.  And the quality is good (according to Dave).

On Saturday, we headed out to sample some of the comedy festival fare.  We chose DASH+D’BREE — or perhaps it is more accurate to say they chose us.  We happened to be zipping down one of Melbourne’s many urban lanes and we came upon a photo-shoot with Dash and D’Bree — they handed out a little flyer advertising their gig.

Billed as a “laugh out loud commentary on fashion, shopping and fame by two outrageous characters tipped to be the next Kath and Kim” they played to a small crowd in an upstairs room at the Portland Hotel in Melbourne.

And here they are — I think the fellow in the middle is their manager but not sure.  Anyway — it was fun to be entertained (mostly) for an hour by this energetic twosome — complete with pearls.

bree dash

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