Author Shares Stories of Working for US Navy in Canada

Author Shares Stories of Working for US Navy in Canada
September 11th 2014
By Nicholas M. Pescod 
File From: Nanaimo News Bulletin/Black Press

When Jack Nellist was hired by Boeing Aircraft Canada in 1943, he instantly became a part of the American war effort despite living in British Columbia.

“It was kind of strange of to me,” Nellist, now 87, told the News Bulletin. “But at 16 I didn’t really have much of a feel. I was interested in airplanes. That was my main interest because I was designing and building them since I was 10.”

For the next two years, Nellist essential worked for the U.S. Navy as an aeronautical draftsman for Boeing at its factory in Richmond, B.C., where the Catalina PBY-5A was built as well as the bomb bay sections for the B-29 Superfortress, which were shipped to Renton, Wash. for assembly.

“I wandered in there and filled out an application and they looked at my drawings and told me to report to work the following day,” Nellist recalled. “I was lucky to be hired by Boeing at age 16.”

Tonight (Sept. 11) at the Bowen Park Activity Centre, Nellist, a resident of Nanaimo, will be sharing his stories and his book Aircraft Production During World War II: Boeing Aircraft of Canada, which was published in 2010.

Ever since Nellist was a young boy he had displayed a keen interest in airplanes. At the age of 15, Nellist took a home-study course in aeronautical drafting from Curtis-Wright Technical Institute, which he assumed would help him when he ended up working for Boeing. However, that wasn’t the case.

“They weren’t doing aeronautical drafting,” he said. “In other words there were no T-squares or set-squares or compasses in sight. All I could see were these large drawing tables with steel edges on them.”

At the time, Boeing employed a large majority of workers at their Seattle and Renton plants who were unable to read engineering blueprints. In order to solve the problem, the company came up with a solution to illustrate the blueprints in large diagrams.

“What Boeing Canada was doing was taking the engineering blueprints and redrawing them in perspective with cutaway views and exploded views,” he said. “That meant that someone with no experience could look at the drawing and assemble a component.”

Unfortunately for Nellist, he had never had experience drawing illustrations the way Boeing wanted them done.

“I was standing there with my mouth open because I hadn’t been trained to do that,” he said. “But it didn’t take long … within a month I was fine.”

According to Nellist, one of the reasons why Boeing Canada received the contract to build the Catalina PBY-5 was because of the Japanese presence along the coast of Vancouver Island and Washington state.

“Right after Pearl Harbor there were a total of nine Japanese submarines that were looking for the five U.S. aircraft carriers that they had missed during the raid. The Japanese came out to the West Coast, particularly the west coast of Vancouver Island,” Nellist said. “For a period of several months they would roam up and down the coast, as far down as California, but their favourite spot was to sit out by the entrance of the Juan De Fuca Strait. They actually targeted about 17 freighters.”

Between 1943 and 1945, the Richmond factory produced 362 Catalina PBY-5As and 676 bomb bay sections for the B-29, with many of the sections assembled on planes used in a number of raids against the Japanese. The Richmond factory shut down almost immediately following Japan’s surrender.

After his stint at Boeing Canada, Nellist would go on to have a successful career with B.C. Tel as a draftsman.

Despite the fact that Canadians played a role in the U.S. war effort, the majority of Americans are unaware. Nellist recalled a time in Palm Springs, Calif., where he explained to a young pilot flying the only flyable B-29 that it had Canadian made parts.

“He just shook his head and couldn’t believe it,” Nellist said.

When Nellist looks back at his work history, he’s proud to see Boeing Canada on his resumé.

“I found the job to be the best job I ever had in my lifetime,” he said.

Jack Nellist speaks at Bowen Park Activity Centre tonight at 7:30 p.m. The event is free of charge. For more information, please visit To purchase Aircraft Production During World War II” Boeing Aircraft of Canada visit
Twitter: @npescod


Nighclub Dances with New Concepts

Nighclub Dances with New Concepts
September 10th 2014
By Nicholas M. Pescod 
File From: Nanaimo News Bulletin/Black Press

Residents of the Harbour City will have a new venue to show off their dance moves as a new nightclub is set to open this weekend.

Manager Sydney Braid stands out front of Koncept Nightclub on 240 Skinner St. The club replaces the Spice Lounge, which closed last month. — Image Credit: Nicholas Pescod

Manager Sydney Braid stands out front of Koncept Nightclub on 240 Skinner St. The club replaces the Spice Lounge, which closed last month. — Image Credit: Nicholas M. Pescod

Koncept Nightclub, located at 240 Skinner St., will hold a grand opening party Saturday (Sept. 13), which will feature DJ Jesse James, DJ Goofio (Hesh) and David Mumford.

“We’re basically trying to have all different types of music in this one night so that we can get all kinds of different people to come in and check it out,” said manager Sydney Braid.

Koncept Nightclub, which fills the vacancy left by the Spice Lounge after it closed its doors last month, will be giving the first 50 people who enter the club on Saturday free VIP passes for the remainder of the year.

“I want to provide a fresh, elegant venue that attracts all different partiers,” Braid said. “Whether they are looking to relax and socialize or go out and get lost on the dance floor, I want this club to be the perfect option for everyone.”

As with most nightclubs, Koncept will have a cover charge, but it has a twist.

“A third will go to our local entertainer, a third will go to the child development centre and another third is going to be put into a pot for a chance to win at the end of the night for our customers,” Braid explained.

The concept behind having a pot of money that people can win each night is simple.

“We want to give them a reason to stay,” Braid said. “We wanted to give everyone the chance of winning the pot and feeling special.”

For more information, visit or follow them on Twitter at @KonceptNClub.
Twitter: @npescod

Book Touches on Harsh Realities

Book Touches on Harsh Realities
September 10th 2014
By Nicholas M. Pescod 
File From: Nanaimo News Bulletin/Black Press

When a young woman discovers she’s pregnant with her second child, she suddenly finds herself faced with a gut-wrenching decision of having a forced abortion or risk an illegal pregnancy.

That’s the premise behind Nanaimo-based author Diane Bestwick’s book, And a Bird Sang, which was published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform in late June.

“It’s her struggle,” Bestwick said about the book. “The story is not only for a Chinese woman, there is a man’s story through it as well.”

Bestwick, whose cousin is city councillor Bill Bestwick, spent nearly a decade living in China and began writing the book in 2006.

On Friday (Sept. 12), Diane Bestwick will be speaking about her book and sharing her experiences in China at the Nanaimo Harbourfront Library.

And a Bird Sang focuses on the story of a Chinese woman named Lei, who happens to have a four-year-old child when she learns she’s pregnant, which is illegal under China’s family planning policy.

“The story goes on about her struggles with her own parents, her in-laws and with society and what to do,” Bestwick said.

Bestwick’s adventure to People’s Republic of China, began when she decided to head over and teach for a few months, which turned into an eight-year stay.

“They treated me so well,” Bestwick said about the people in China. “Eventually my colleagues that I worked with and people that I met in the countryside shared their stories with me.”

Bestwick got the idea to create the book while in China and taking online writing classes at Vancouver Island University.

“It could have been about anything,” Bestwick said about her initial idea to create a novel. “But I sensed my colleagues were going through an abortion and there was some sadness around certain things.”

The biggest challenge for Bestwick was ensuring that her storyline would be authentic and at one point questioned writing the book.

“I was so afraid,” Bestwick said. “I am a western woman looking on the outside. Do I even have a right to do this? … If you’re a writer you should be able to get inside people’s minds.”

Bestwick added that she spent countless hours researching and had locals check her work for accuracy and authenticity.

“I had so many people, male and female, in China and here [in Canada] make sure that it wasn’t my imagination,”she said. “I am calling it an authentic novel … and I have yet to hear someone say ‘this is not a true story Diane.’”

She speaks at the Harbourfront library on Friday (Sept. 13) at 6:30 p.m. For more information visit and for info on And a Bird Sang, please visit For additional information on Bestwick please visit
Twitter: @npescod

Musical Motivator

Musical Motivator
September 9th 2014
By Nicholas M. Pescod 
File From: Nanaimo News Bulletin/Black Press

After being frequently harassed by a group of girls, singer-songwriter Keisja Cox decided she’d had enough.

“I was in Grade 7 when I had an experience with bullying,” Cox told the News Bulletin.

The constant harassment eventually drove the Comox Valley teen to take matters into her own hands.

“I went to the principal about the situation about a couple of girls that weren’t treating me very nicely,” Cox recalled. “He told me to write a song about my experience with bullying.”

At the same time, Cox, who was student at Valley View Elementary in Courtenay, enrolled in WITS (Walk Away, Ignore, Talk it Out and Seek Help), a program that teaches conflict resolution to students.

“I knew a lot about [WITS]. I knew it was there for when you got into situations with bullying,” Cox said.

It wasn’t long after she enrolled in the program that she wrote, You Can’t Change Me, which details her experience as a victim of bullying.

“I thought I would take the situation I had with bullying and the experience I had with WITS and put it into a song,” Cox said.

Cox then performed the song in front of her school and the girls who had been bullying her.

“Yeah they were there,” Cox said about the bullies.

From that moment forward, Cox was no longer being harassed by the girls and found herself spreading words of positivity to students across the province.

“It ended really well,” Cox said. “I resolved it by just talking to them.”

On Saturday (Sept. 13) the now 16-year-old singer/songwriter will be performing and judging at TeenFest, which takes place at Maffeo Sutton Park. The event also features live music from Sirreal and Trace the Sky and a presentation from author S.S. Segran.

“I am really excited about it,” Cox said about the upcoming performance in the Harbour City. “I think I did it about two years ago when it was in Victoria. I just performed and gave a speech and everything and I had a lot of fun with it. It was a cool environment and I thought it was a great idea.”

Cox’s journey into music began in 2009 when she decided to enter a contest and try her hand at singing, something she hadn’t tried before.

“I entered a contest in my hometown called Valley Idol and I thought why not go out on a limb,” she said. “I had no singing lessons before so it was really just going out on a limb.”

Despite having no prior experience, Cox won and decided she’d found her calling card.

I just found that I really liked it,” Cox said.

In 2012, Cox released her album, Take Me Away, to Highland Music Multimedia Productions, a Comox-based company that provides industry-related services for artists.

“It’s songs of mine from a 13-year-old girl’s perspective,” Cox said about Take Me Away. “Of course my sound has changed a lot over three years.”

The Mark Isfeld Secondary School student is still in the process of finding her musical identity.

“I am always writing consistently in alternative singer-songwriter vibes, but then there are times when I want to be pop or rock,” Cox explained. “But I am consistently writing in an alternative singer-songwriter style and I think that is what I am.”

Despite her age, she is no stranger to performing to large audiences. Cox has previously played at the Comox Valley Exhibition, the Sunfest Country Music Festival and the Vancouver Island Music Festival.

“That was amazing,” Cox said about performing at the Vancouver Island Music Festival earlier this year. “I’ve been going there since I was about 10 years old. I remember seeing Karly Summers and I was completely blown away and I wanted to be doing what she was doing.”

Her message of positivity has provided a result that not even Cox herself could have imagined. One of the girls who bullied the songstress is now one of her best friends.

“It’s really funny. People do change and things work out for the better,” Cox said. “It’s funny because we look back at the song and laugh about it because it was so long ago.”

Keisja Cox performs at TeenFest on Saturday (Sept. 13). The event takes place at Maffeo Sutton Park from 11:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. For information, please visit or For more information about the WITS program please visit
Twitter: @npescod

Stuntman finds Success in Stand-up

Stuntman finds Success in Stand-up
September 2nd 2014
By Nicholas M. Pescod 
File From: Nanaimo News Bulletin/Black Press

In 1987, Steve-O was a teenager on a mission in Toronto.

Mötley Crüe was playing at Maple Leaf Gardens and he was determined to find out at what hotel the American superstars were staying.

After endless phone calls to various hotels in the city, Steve-O successfully reached the band’s management, who were so impressed that they invited him to meet the band.Steve_O_WEB

“In my life that was a really big landmark,” Steve-O told the News Bulletin. “I had an attitude that I could accomplish a lot of things, but when I pulled that off I just developed an attitude that I can accomplish anything I damn well want to in my life.”

It was that attitude combined with an insatiable appetite for attention that would help launch Steve-O to fame as a stuntman, prankster and comedian with the hit television and movie franchise, Jackass, which included Johnny Knoxville and Bam Margera.

“Everything I have done has been driven by an unreasonable need for attention,” Steve-O said.

On Sunday (Sept. 7) the Jackass star turned standup comedian will be the centre of attention as he performs his routine at the Port Theatre as part of his Entirely Too Much Information tour.

“I would describe it as first and foremost as vigorously honest,” Steve-O said. “I don’t bullshit anybody. My life has been outrageous enough where I don’t have to bend the truth.”

Long before Steve-O was stapling his manhood to his leg and snorting wasabi as a member of Jackass, he was a 15-year-old kid who filmed himself skateboarding and doing various stunts with his father’s video camera. His need for attention and desire to become a serious stuntman led him to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Clown College.

“I figured if I could graduate from there [Clown College] that I would be a trained circus professional and people would be inclined to take me more seriously,” he said. “Really that was why I went to Clown College, was to further my goal of becoming a crazy stunt guy.”

After college, he spent time as a clown in Florida before being noticed by Jeff Tremaine, who would eventually create Jackass.

“It was all really cool,” Steve-O said about his time on Jackass.

Following the conclusion of the Jackass, television series and subsequent movies, Steve-O became involved in a number of projects including the release of an autobiography, Professional Idiot: A Memoir.

He also dealt with a serious substance abuse problem and received treatment after his friend and Jackass co-star Johnny Knoxville encouraged him to get help.

“You know you’ve got a problem when Johnny Knoxville is your interventionist,” Steve-O said about the day he realized he needed to get help.

Four years ago, Steve-O was invited to do a stunt at comedy club.

“When I showed up I couldn’t think of anything crazier for me to do than try standup comedy,” he said. “It was really genuinely terrifying and I just went for it.”

Shortly afterwards, Steve-O decided to take a serious run at standup comedy. He credits Dane Cook for helping him hone his craft as a standup comedian.

“Dane Cook really took me under his wing and served as a mentor to me in a really meaningful way … we would sit down and he would give me notes,” Steve-O explained. “The first note he gave me was I am not sending you back to the drawing board, which was his way of saying my material was funny and that really put the wind in my sails.”

Just recently, Steve-O made headlines after he released a YouTube video, which showed him defacing a freeway sign in southern California in a protest about SeaWorld. The prankster also criticized celebrities who participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on Instagram, stating that they weren’t sharing

information about the disease to their fans.

“They weren’t really doing anything. They were just dumping water over their head and that was it,” Steve-O explained. “I never would have imagined that bitching about something like that could be so wellreceived.”

To his credit, Steve-O participated in the challenge and donated $1,000 to the cause.

“I think I am one of the few people who looked it up and got educated about it,” he said.

After being clean and sober for eight years now, Steve-O said he is still the same person that he has always been.

“I didn’t loose anything in the way of my sense of humour and my sensibility,” he said. “I am still a maniac.”

For more information, please visit or visit

Dancing in Deutschland

Dancing in Deutschland 
August 28th 2014
By Nicholas M. Pescod
File From: Nanaimo News Bulletin/Black Press

One Harbour City teenager will have the opportunity to show off his dance moves next month in Europe.

Luke McNicoll, 14 will be heading to Bochum, Germany to participate in the International Dance Organization’s World Hip Hop Championships Sept. 24-28 as a member Canadian National Dance Team’s junior hip hop squad.

“It is pretty exciting to go Germany. I am pretty excited because it is a really big opportunity for me as a dancer,” McNicoll, who practises anywhere from 15 to 20 hours during an average week. “I also get to meet all these people that are also really good. It’s a pretty big opportunity.”

The junior team, which consists of both males and females, will be choreographed Paul Otterbein, who is highly regarded in the Canadian hip hop scene.

Because the Government of Canada recognizes dance as an art form, not a sport, the national team has been unable to secure a sponsorship deal or any financial aid, leaving each team member to cover the cost of the trip. As a result, the Nanaimo District Secondary School student is expected to raise $3,500 to cover the expenses for the upcoming trip. In an effort to raise money, he will be hosting a beer and burger and silent auction next month.

In addition to making the junior team, McNicoll was selected to do a solo and a duet for freestyle, which happens to be his strength.

Regardless of what happens during the competition, McNicoll is excited to see how he stacks up to other dancers from around the world and is proud to be a member of Team Canada.

“I am pretty proud,” McNicoll said. “There are some pretty amazing dancers in this group and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.”

For more information about the beer and burger night Sept. 13 at the Wheatsheaf Pub in Cedar, please contact

To donate to Luke McNicoll’s online fundraising campaign, please visit www. and for more information on the World Hip Hop Championships, visit
Twitter: @npescod

Coastal Expressions Showcases Local Art

Coastal Expressions Showcases Local Art
August 27th 2014
By Nicholas M. Pescod
File From: Nanaimo News Bulletin/Black Press

When Lisa Danesin was a young girl she would sometimes find herself in trouble for doing what she loved.

“I was that kid in school who was always getting in trouble for drawing on her desk,” Danesin recalled. “I was the one who had to stay after school and scrub her desk off.”

Although the days of drawing on desks are long gone, Danesin’s love for drawing and creating has followed her throughout her life as an award-winning professional artist.

“My life has always revolved around art, which is pretty cool because not everybody gets to follow exactly what they want to do,” she said.

Two of her abstract pieces, Before and Nocturne, are currently on display at the downtown Nanaimo Art Gallery as part of the Nanaimo chapter of the Federation of Canadian Artists’ Coastal Expressions exhibition and sale, which runs until Sept. 6.

“I am sort of like a jack-of-all-trades,” Danesin said. “I work in very representational art. That’s my background, but I also go over to the abstract side.”

Coastal Expressions also features a number of artists from the Nanaimo chapter and all of the artwork in the show was selected by a jury of three signature members of the FCA.

Danesin was born in Sidney, B.C., but was raised in the Harbour City and knew early on that she would become an artist.

“I was handing assignments with little doodles down the margins,” the former John Barsby Secondary School student said. “I was always going to be an artist.There wasn’t even any question about it.”

As an artist, Danesin, who graduated from the University of Victoria with a degree in fine arts, enjoys working with a variety of mediums including watercolours and large format abstracts in acrylic.

“For me they are very organic,” Danesin explained about her abstract work. “Some abstracts are geometric and I am not a very geometric person.”

For a full display of Danesin’s artwork, please visit and for more information on Coastal Expressions, visit
Twitter: @npescod