Gaelan de Wolf and Marjorie Clark only had a nodding relationship but then over a breakfast table it dawned on them that they have much in common in addition to being a little past middle years.
Both live within a few blocks of Willows Park, although in different directions. Both take regular advantage of the long Willows Beach walkway. And both love breakfasting together each winter Sunday morning at the Kiwanis Willows Beach Tea Room in Oak Bay.
Striking up a friendship wasn’t Kismet, exactly, or some enchanted evening. It was recognizing each other as fellow walkers while breakfasting one Sunday morning at the Tea Room. Both women have been regulars since the beginning of these inexpensive winter breakfasts-for-charity, now in their third year.
What do these new pals talk about? It was sunny between storms last Sunday as four rowers in three ocean-going shells pushed off from Willows Beach, passed a lone fishing boat and headed toward Oak Bay Marina. People and dogs moved past outside the windows as Gaelan and Marjorie were enjoying tea after leisurely breakfasts and discussing, what? Drainage, as it happens.
No way does each want to leave her family home after a lifetime there, but Oak Bay’s housing and infrastructure are aging and old, clay-tile perimeter drains are clogging up. Estimates for replacement are thousands of dollars higher than pensioners can easily afford.
But a sip of tea, ah! Weekly, $10 breakfast -- with the Willows walkers and Oak Bay waters spread before them outside the Tea Room’s wall of windows -- now that’s an affordable treat. Something to cherish with a friend, whether old or new.
Kiwanis members and volunteers began the winter Sunday breakfasts two years ago to raise funds for the Oak Bay Kiwanis Pavilion Foundation. They are served up 9 a.m. to 12 noon for three months, beginning early January. In each of the first two years, approximately $10,000 has been raised for amenities to improve the lives of patients at the 122-bed Kiwanis Pavilion at 3034 Cedar Hill Road, which specializes in dementia care and is owned and operated by the Oak Bay Kiwanis Health Care Society.
For $10, a choice of two menus is offered. Breakfast One consists of orange or apple juice; eggs, scrambled poached or fried; ham or bacon; hash browns; toast; and coffee, tea or hot chocolate. Breakfast Two consists of orange or apple juice; pancakes or French toast; maple syrup; fruit/yoghurt cup; and, yes, coffee, tea or hot chocolate.
An upgraded electrical system to better heat what was originally a summer-only facility, plus thermal windows across three sides of the entire front of the café/tea room offer a comfortable and scenic breakfast experience during winter months when even stormy weather can be interesting to view at Willows Beach.
It’s early days this year, but previously an average of over 100 folks have breakfasted of a Sunday morning at Willows. Say hello to walking pals Gaelan and Marjorie when you come.
Story & Photo by John Ewing