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By Kathy Code

The Ecoforestry Institute Society celebrated another Wildwood milestone with the launch of the Wilkinson Heritage Homestead

Awestruck is a good way to describe visitors’ reactions as they toured the newly-restored Homestead during the recent public launch. Visitors eagerly pointed out the many unique design features, snapped photos and cheerfully stole (much to the delight of EIS) design ideas for their own homes. Some toured through two or three times, just to make sure they captured all the innovations and ambience. Wildwood friends who had known the beloved building through the decades were just as impressed as those visiting for the first time.

EIS was pleased to welcome Mayor Bill McKay of Nanaimo and six directors from the Regional District of Nanaimo. The RDN contributed a Community Works grant that greatly assisted with the cost of the restoration.

After a year of hard work and more than a few dollars, the Homestead emerges as a first-rate education and accommodation facility. The Yellow Point area is well known as a favourite place for vacationing, hiking, artists, and going to the farmers’ market and pub. Now, the Wildwood Homestead adds to this, with opportunities to rent the Homestead for workshops, retreats, life events (weddings, birthdays) and overnight stays for conservation tourists from near and far.

The Homestead Committee adopted the “do it once; do it right” approach and took care to combine the required electrical, plumbing, water and heating updates with a décor that respects Merv’s legacy. Installation of solar panels, heat pumps, double-paned low-e windows, insulation, and a cistern and rain water collection ensure optimum energy-efficiency.

The Homestead showcases the use of wood in its many forms, from hand-built wood bed frames and coffee tables and solid wood doors and window frames, to recycled-telephone pole kitchen floors and repurposed vintage wood furniture. The dining room light fixture consists of an arbutus branch intertwined with lights, and the kitchen’s island countertop was made with arbutus branch legs. The live edge headboards have a big “wow!” factor, and Anne Wilkinson’s Singer sewing machine now has a place of pride restored as a bathroom vanity complete with elegant vessel sink and oil bronzed faucet.

The success of the Homestead is two-fold. First, it marks completion of the restoration, and second, the economic impact rippling throughout the community. The project added hundreds of thousands of dollars to the mid-island economy, as EIS hired local trades people and bought materials and goods from local suppliers and businesses. Every dollar was stretched by seeking discounts, enlisting skilled volunteers and accepting donations to refurnish the Homestead. In this way, the Homestead stands as a community project, and there will be many locals who will proudly recount their contribution to this chapter in Wildwood’s story for years to come.

Interested in renting the Homestead? Please email EIS Directors Cheryl Bancroft (cheryl [dot] futureworks [at] icloud [dot] com) and Kathy Code (codekat999 [at] gmail [dot] com) for more information.

Wildwood Heritage Homestead was a hit with visitors at Open House on June 16. Photos submitted.

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