Community Spotlight Series: The Old School House Arts Centre

Our Community Spotlight Series lets you learn more about our locals and what they love about living and doing business in Parksville Qualicum Beach. This month, we’re putting the spotlight on The Old School House Arts Centre (TOSH) in Qualicum Beach.

Illana Hester standing in front of The Old School House Arts Centre in Qualicum Beach.

With constantly changing exhibitions, classes, and community events, TOSH serves and champions emerging and established creatives alike. Take a tour of this much-loved creative hub and get to know one of the faces behind it.

We chatted with the Centre's Executive Director, Illana Hester, about life in Parksville Qualicum Beach and some of her favourite local spots.

How would you describe the place you live to someone who is yet to visit?

"I live on the unceded territories of the Qualicum First Nations in a sleepy town with one stoplight. It's a sweet gingerbread village where it's impossible to go to the mailbox without seeing people you know. The arts centre is the heartbeat of town and on busy summer days the town bustles with visitors. The off-season is quieter with misty, cool rains, and you can wander the beach without seeing another person."

What do you love about where you live?

"Home is where the heart is; my family and my love live here, making it the most beautiful place on earth. We also have an incredible landscape to explore. Vancouver Island is also home to over 35,000 artists; it's a place ripe with creativity and possibilities. For as many artists as there exist on these islands, however, there needs to be more marketplace, and discovering how to better serve the creative community makes living here fascinating. After over a decade in NYC, living here feels like a healing balm to my nervous system!"

What other businesses should people see during their visit?

"Grab a coffee at Courtyard Coffee, a hand pie at lunch from L'ilette, and go back for dinner to De L'île. Shop for an outfit at the incredible Greenbrook, and pick up beautiful homegoods at Faire Living, and if you can get an appointment, the folks at the Pink Salon cut an amazing style."

You have a free day in PQB. What do you do?

"If I wasn't there almost daily, I would pop in and see what art show is up at The Old School House. I like to head out to Deep Bay and walk the trails, and grab a taco out at the Tidal Taco Shack on my way back (go early; there's always a wait!)"

What combo of experiences makes up your perfect day in PQB?

  1. Wandering the farmers market with my girlfriend.
  2. Sitting at the beach with coffee.
  3. Taking photographs at Cameron Lake.
  4. Visiting artists' studios.
  5. Exploring the tide pools in Nanoose Bay.
  6. Lunch at Rusted Rake Brewing.

The Old School House Arts Centre

The Old School House Arts Centre is the bright yellow community arts centre with a big history nestled in the heart of the...