The Sherwoods

of Vancouver



Descendants of William J. Sherwood, Barons, AB.

Descendants of William J. Sherwood, Barons, AB.

1-Will Tillie Sherwood

Pictured above are my paternal grandparents Sarah Kathleen Matilda Sherwood (nee) Hunter (sometimes called Tilly Will in Eastern Canada) and William John Sherwood of Barons, Alberta, Canada

Below are the descendants of these two as I have been able to put together.  If you see an error or omission I would appreciate hearing from you.

William J. Sherwood

Son of:
Thomas Sherwood
Mary Wright Sherwood

Brother to:
Bernice Sherwood (Fredric Acheson)
Lillie Maude Sherwood (Daniel McFarlane)
Elizabeth Ellen Sherwood (Joseph Prickett)
Thomas Edward Sherwood (Matilda King)
Mary Bell Sherwood (Robert Samuel Taylor)
James Arington Sherwood (Unmarried)
Margaret Pearl Sherwood (Burwell Charles)
Earl Cecil Sherwood (Unmarried)

Grandson of:
William Sherwood
Eleanor Smith Mustard Sherwood

Husband of:
Sarah Kathleen Matilda Hunter (Tillie)

Father of:
Farley Stanwell Sherwood (Norma Sturgeon)
Ralph Hunter Sherwood (Nora Downey)
Betty Kathleen Sherwood (Chester Allen)
Shirley Eileen Sherwood (James Aiken,Ted Evans)

Grandfather of:
Larry Garth Sherwood (Ninna Sejersen)
William James Sherwood (Daphne Blixt)

Donald James Sherwood (Phyllis Sharp, Joyce Brooks)
Thomas Ralph Sherwood (Ann Coffee)

Kathleen Patricia Allen ( Ian Rae)
Kenneth Chester Allen (Linda Curle)

Great Grandfather of:
Torben Lance Sherwood (Lea Miller)
Sean Carsten Sherwood (Sue Gaspar)

Mathew James Sherwood
Pamela Dawn Sherwood

Rhiannon Sherwood
Mariah Sherwood

Derek Allen Rae (
Kyla Elizabeth Rae

Lisa Kathleen Allen
Christine May Allen

Great, Great Grandfather of:
Samantha Jayne Sherwood
Claire Ryan Sherwood

Evangeline Victoria Gaspar Sherwood

Kylie Jessica Rae
Emily Patrysha Rae

Uncle to:
Edith Acheson

Arington Geo. MacFarlane (Ellen (Nellie) Murray)
Del MacFarlane (Ollie)

Velma Jane Sherwood (Charles Lloyd Campbell)
Alma Matilda Sherwood (Adam Breen Sargent)

Mamie Enid Taylor (Ernest Wesley Allen)
Gweneth Mary Louise Taylor (Eugene Hogan)
Cecil Samuel Taylor (Mary Ann Nancy McDermott)
Donald John Taylor (Kathy Hansen, Ruth ___)

Mary Louise Charles

Great Uncle to:
Lloyd Wayne Campbell (Margaret Elaine Pennock)
Delbert Eugene Campbell (Ina Groenewegen)
Gary Charles Campbell (Cheryl Elaine Leeman)
Rodney Dean Campbell (Vicky Lynne Compton)
Derrick Ian Campbell

Patricia Doreen Sargent (Arthur William Burgess)
Arthur Edward Eugene Sargent (Mary Louise Gesic)
Constance Arlene Sargent (Melvin Hughson)
Dale Sargent

Brian Lee Allen (Patricia Karren Lehto)
Barry Norman Allen (Judith Ann Gibb)

Isabelle Jean Hogan (James Howell)
Nancy Louise Hogan (John Roberts)

John Michael Taylor (Irene Isaac)
Mary Patricia Taylor (Jack Radulevic)
William Patrick Taylor (Lorraine Ledgerwood)

David Cecil Taylor (Jacqueline May)
Cameron Gilbert Taylor (
Christina Belle Taylor (

Great, Great Uncle to:
Barry Lloyd Wayne Campbell (Debra Gannon)
Cindy Lou Campbell (B. Cumpson, Gordon Johnson)

Darrell John Campbell (
Delina Mary Jane Campbell (Nelson Melo)

Great Great Uncle to: (continued)

Dayton Campbell
Curtis Darren Campbell (Amy Davis)
Kimberley Jane Campbell

Sheri Lynn Campbell (John Shetler)
Coralee Jane Campbell (Nathan….)

Brenda Jane Burgess (Darren Tibbutt)
Elizabeth Doreen Burgess
Allen William Burgess

Wade Eugene Sargent
Christopher Adam Sargent
Clayton Edward Sargent
Bradley Allen Sargent

Troy Melvin Hughson

Tracy Lee Allen
Trenton Jay Allen

Brett Norman Allen
Jody Nadine Allen

Michael James Howells

Heather Louise Roberts
Alan Edward Roberts

Meghan Taylor
Scott Taylor

At the very beginning

I was born in the spring of 1939 in Denmark when the world was still a pretty nice place. By the fall of that year, Hitler had marched into Poland and by the spring of 1940 his troops had also invaded and occupied Denmark. That April 9th the world changed for all Danes.

I Was born at Soeren Moellersgade 4 in Randers, Denmark

I was born on May 13th, 1939, at home, in a small apartment at Søren Møllersgade No. 4 and lived there the first two years of my life. My parents were both born and raised in the country in mid and northern Jutland. My Dad was working as warehouseman at a wood importing company, where he would stay for most of his working life eventually advancing to Sales Manager. My Mother left the work force before I was born. She had been working in a very fancy bakery/konditori. She would regale us with tales of being in the front of the store and everything was handled with tongs and tissue paper and out back in the bakery the bakers would dip their chewing tobacco in the butter vat . –

Ninna 2years
Ninna at 2 with Elly and Henry Sejersen

I grew up with a wealth of relations. In fact – almost too numerous to remember. – My father was one of 16 children and my mother was one of four, so whenever we had family gatherings it was with casts of thousands it seemed, especially on my Father’s side. – Most of our socializing was with the families. – My Mother’s parents lived on a small Farm of about 16 acres in a small village about 40 km away. They cultivated 21 acres of land and a part of the back garden was an old Viking grave that had been opened many years previously and there were no artifacts left. When we went there we spent a lot of time playing on the mound. It was probably 15 feet high and covered in grass and heather. We would run up and down the hill or roll down like a log and scream with laughter. The area around my home town of Randers were dotted with Viking graves. Most of them had been opened long ago. But a few are still left untouched. – The Viking would be placed on the ground and surrounded by huge boulders much like a mini Stonehenge and then the whole would be covered with dirt and eventually grass and heather. They are littering the landscape and there are hundreds of them.

Vammen Farm
My Grandparents’ Farm in Vammen, Denmark

This is a picture of my Grandparents’ farm in Vammen. It is typical of thousands of small farms all through Denmark at the time of my childhood. They had all at one point been tenants of the big farm or estate in the area. They were all built in much the same style with the main house, where the people lived and, in this case an L-shaped building which housed the animals in the bigger part of the L and the foot of the L was the hay barn as well as the place where the threshing machine was set up during harvest time. – The shed-type building had a wash house at one end and the wagons and other implements where stored in the rest of it. That was also where the outhouse was and the chicken house. Behind the stable is the open midden where the animal waste and dirty straw from the stable was stored before it was hauled out into the field as fertilizer. It was all very compact and efficient. The well was in the middle of the cobbled yard and when I first remember the farm, there was no electricity or water in the house. It came in the mid 50s just before my Grandfather retired and built a house in the village of Vammen.

My Grandparents, Bedstefar and Mormor, Kristian and Martine Flarup ran the farm by themselves – Mormor – my Mother’s Mother had come from a quite wealthy farm and, according to stories I was told, her family was not very happy to see her marry a poor carpenter. She was born Martine Mortensen. I only met my Great Grandfather once when I was about 5.

My Great Grandpa Mortensen and I when I was 5

My Grandparents had 6 cows, a couple of calves generally as a cash crop and a few pigs and two horses. The 6 cows were milked by hand twice a day by my Mormor. During the spring and summer they were led on ropes down to the grass field and tethered. They would eat the grass within the circle of their tether and it prevented the field from getting eaten all up at once and give it a chance to regrow, I guess. There was also a pig pen with a bunch of pigs depending on the size of the litter of piglets. There was always a big sow who would produce around a dozen piglets every spring and they again were being fattened up to go to market before Christmas. The two horses were strictly for pulling either the hay wagon or the plow. The hay wagon was also the only transportation my Grandparents had if they were going to town. If they were just going in for a few things, they would go on their bikes or walk.

On their 21 acres of land they always had a field of sugar beets that they sold to the sugar mill and they also grew turnips and some grain, usually oats and barley, to feed the animals. They also sold most of their milk to the dairy that came by in a horse drawn wagon every other day, as I recall. – Further afield they had an allotment of meadowland where they would dig their own peat for the house for heat and cooking. They were almost totally self- sustaining. They bought very little. What few items they needed such as flour and sugar and yeast they would trade for eggs at the co-op store.

Their lives were like their ancestors for many generations. Neither of them had ever been more than 50 km away from where they were born. It wasn’t until their children started driving cars after the war, and then they did get a little further afield. – Oh – if they could see me now!

Matilda (Tillie Will) Sherwood

Grandma Sherwood, the Blizzard and the Indians.
By Larry Sherwood

My paternal grandmother, Matilda Hunter Sherwood, “Tillie Will” to the eastern members of the Sherwood family, related the following story to me a number of times. You might be interested in it as it illustrates some of the hardships and fears of a young bride who was born and brought up in Ontario’s Manitoulin Island. Her parents, Thomas David and Phoebe Lane Hunter first came to Granum, Alberta and later farmed about a half mile south and a bit east of where Grandpa William, “Will” had taken up a homestead in 1904 along side of one granted to my maternal great uncle Archibald Campbell. That’s another story but it is important to this one because these two lads facing an early winter and no shelter had dug into a bit of a hill side and spent their first winter in this hole-in-the ground. In the following years both Grandpa and Uncle Archie built shacks on their adjoining properties.

Grandma and Grandpa were married in July, 1910 so it was sometime after that a bad blizzard struck the homestead. The shack was very drafty and the temperature inside was not much warmer than the freezing cold outside so they moved into the hole-in–the-ground. Sometime later they heard thumping above them and Grandpa decided to go outside to investigate. He apparently tied a rope to himself and Grandma paid out the line. Grandpa stumbled over something and found a human form in the snow and dragged it into the shelter. It turned out to be an Indian brave who spoke no English but somehow communicated that there were others outside so out Grandpa went to see if he could find them. Grandma said she was very scared but figured she could tug hard on the rope and Grandpa would come to her rescue

Grandma may have told me how many more he found and brought in but I don’t recall the exact number. Needless to say there were quite a few people in a small space. Grandma said she was scared stiff but set about to feed them and find places for all to sleep. Since Grandpa and Grandma had been using the hole-in-the-ground as a root cellar and cold room they had food. The blizzard raged for at least two or three days and nights before it broke and the “guests” could round up their horses and the others they had been droving and ride off into the prairie.

Including the last time I was told this story before her death at 90 Grandma complained that “those Indians never said ‘Thank-you’”. And no matter how many times I tried to explain that she had told me they spoke no English and very little else amongst themselves, it was understandable that they didn’t say ‘thank-you’ Grandma kept insisting that the least they could do was say ‘thank you’.

Grandpa and Grandma had a dog that would bark loud and long if anybody came to the homestead. He was famous for this trait amongst the old timers in the district. So what, you say. Keep reading dear friend.
Just before the frost went out of the ground after the incident above, Grandpa went out to the small barn he had built. Hanging from one of the rafters was a fully dressed freshly killed deer. The dog had not barked! None of the neighbours had seen or heard anything! So how did it get there. Grandma said that Grandpa figured it was the Indians who had been there in the blizzard. Needless to say they enjoyed the fresh venison and they shared with their neighbours and relatives. The following fall after the first hard frost Grandpa found another deer in the barn. Again the dog didn’t bark, and they and their neighbours had seen or heard nothing. Grandpa apparently told Grandma that this was the way the Indians were thanking them. For many years after, every fall after the first hard frost and every spring before the frost came out of the ground, Grandpa would find a dressed deer or elk hung in the barn. And the dog didn’t bark and the neighbours didn’t see or hear anything and Grandpa kept telling Grandma that this was the Indian’s way of saying thank-you.

And to her dying day when she told this story, she would always end it with “Yes but, they should have said, Thank-you”.

1-Will Tillie Sherwood

Larry Sherwood
March 28, 2013.

The Hottentot

The Hottentot.
Larry’s first trip to Denmark.

Apparently, when Ninna, my wife, announced to her family that she was going to Canada some said that she would go away and probably marry a Hottentot. Thus the reason for the title above. Hottentot is defined as a member of a nomadic pastoral people of SW Africa; the Khoisan language of this people.

Following our marriage we motored to Vancouver so I could resume my studies at U.B.C. I had decided to switch from Forestry to Commerce but I kept in touch with some of the Forestry students and faculty. After two years of study and near completion of the Commerce degree program and I decided to enroll in the final year of Forestry. That summer we headed off to Denmark on a charter flight in May or June of 1965 to visit Ninna’s family and friends and for my introduction to them and to the culture and country of her birth. I don’t think I was aware of the Hottentot designation – even if I were I doubt that I knew what they were talking about since my comprehension of the Danish language was limited to the few words Ninna had taught me.

Before we left, I had spoken to Dr. Philip Haddock, . a U.B.C. Forestry professor about our upcoming trip. When he heard we were going to Denmark he suggested that I try to contact a Danish forester by the name of Flemming Juncker.

Ninna’s mother Elly was bedridden with Multiple Sclerosis so for the most part we stayed close to the apartment in Randers where her folks lived along with her brother Per. Per was just graduating from High School but had managed to buy a 1949 Anglia “car”. He had it shined to a stunning state and he was very proud of his “Putta”. He spoke and understood English very well. Ninna had asked to borrow her father’s car but he was a salesman and he had a legitimate excuse for refusal. (I still think he thought that the ‘Hottentot’ wouldn’t be able to drive very well). So both of us asked Per if we could borrow “Putta”. I explained that I had driven cars, trucks, tractors and even taxis but in his mind there was no way I could drive his car.

A bit later during a casual conversation I asked Per if he knew a person by the name of Fleming Juncker. “Oh yes”, he replied excitedly leading me over to the east window of their top floor apartment and pointing at a building a block away he explained, “he has three Citroens and I see him regularly. Oh I know him well.” (Per had never met him but he knew him well because his cars were serviced in the neighbourhood.) Private telephones were not commonplace in Denmark at that time so I asked Per if Hr Juncker would have a telephone and if he did, would a call to him be long distance. I didn’t realize that all calls in Denmark were toll calls. However Per assured me that Hr Juncker had a telephone but when I picked up the receiver to call it was taken from me and replaced in the cradle because one shouldn’t “just call him”. You see at this point I had no idea of who Fleming Juncker really was nor did I really know that the family didn’t think I had the cultural upbringing to marry the Duchess – Ninna. Even had they told me I wouldn’t have known what a Hottentot was.

Anyway, Per went down stairs to work on his car, so I dialled the number for Juncker and he answered in person. I explained that I was a student of Dr. Haddock at UBC and was asked where I was located. As it turned out we were only about 20 miles away. He then asked whether we had transportation or did we want him to send in a car for us. Per happened into the room then, I covered the mouthpiece and asked again, if I could borrow his precious “Putta”. When he found out we were going to go to Junckers we were able to convince Per to lend us his car.

Puta the 1949 Anglia
Puta the 1949 Anglia(Per Sejersen, Ninna’s brother with head in the engine compartment of the 1949 Anglia. Larry Sherwood looking on. Don’t know who the guy on the sidewalk was. Taken in Randers, Denmark on our first visit 1965)

Neither Ninna nor I knew much about Fleming Juncker other than he was a Danish forester. So when we arrived at the address we had been given you can imagine our surprise to see a castle inside the gate

Juncker Castle
(This is what greeted us when we turned in the gate in 1965. Later pictures found on the internet are appended later in this article)
We were met by Hr Juncker and his chief forester Hr Peter Apollo. Mr. Juncker was very interested in both of us but Ninna, being a local girl caught his attention. We were unaware of how important a man we were conversing with. Hr Juncker is pictured below.

Image result for flemming juncker
The history of Overgaard Estate goes back to the time of the Reformation. The main building dates back to 1547. In this main building, you have access to the oldest library in Denmark, which was furnished in approx. 1730 by the royal master joiner Mathias Ortmann. In the library, you will find a number of invaluable artefacts, including a copy of the Code of Jutland from 1548. You will also have access to the gallery where the owners of the Estate through the centuries are portrayed. The most well-known of these paintings is that of Christence Lykke, considered a principal work of 17th Century Danish art. The Estate is surrounded by a large park where for instance Hans Christian Andersen and Gustav Wied wrote some of their works in the charming little teahouse.
The Estate played an important part in the resistance movement during the 2nd World War. The owner of the time, Flemming Juncher, organised the resistance in Jutland against the Germans and helped convince Marius Fiil from Hvidsten Kro to found a resistance group. (copied from:
In addition Fleming Juncker perfected the manufacture and commercialization of parquet flooring made from beech wood

Hr Juncker and Hr Apollo explained during the tours of the estate that Mr. Juncker had turned to the old law books housed in the library of the castle and had read in the Code of Jutland of 1548 an old law. It stated, and I paraphrase from the explanations told us, that ‘where a flat bottomed boat could not float at low tide the land belonged to the adjacent land owner’. The property is located on the Marianger Fjord northeast of Randers. Armed with this information Fleming Juncker got into a very small dinghy at the peak of a low tide and rowed around. Every time his dinghy grounded he pulled in a flagged stake and planted it in the mud thus marking out the new boundary for his property. I’m not sure whether he hired a dragline or bought one and dug out the drainage canal with the dredged material forming the dyke. Apparently the land was drained and he planted wheat the first year. The resulting drainage ditch and dyke are pictured below as they appeared to us in 1965. This activity resulted in a 50% increase in land area for the estate.



Hr Juncker apparently repeated this program some time later thereby increasing his land by another 50% thus effectively doubling the arable land available to the estate at a cost significantly less than purchasing adjoining properties.

Ninna and I were invited back for “tea” shortly after our first visit and were escorted through the historical library mentioned above to the family library where we were introduced to another couple from England. One of them was a cousin of Fleming Juncker and apparently a titled member of British society. All were most cordial and down to earth with both of us. They were most interested in Canada and Hr Juncker was most interested in both the agricultural and forestry aspects of my life. He owned forest land in Oregon and had planted Douglas Fir on parts of his forest lands at Overgaard. He had developed a different thinning technique whereby he thinned (harvested) the dominant trees in a stand first rather than the previously accepted method of thinning the least viable of the trees which were usually scrapped incurring cost but no revenue. Thus he was able to get some revenue regularly and at the same time encouraging the lesser trees by removing the competition for light and nutrients, At the same time, just before the Christmas season he was pruning the lower branches which he used in the manufacture of Advent Wreaths providing regular revenue and employment for local people.

Hr Juncker asked me about my Dad’s farm in Barons, Alberta. I told him it was a dry land farm and we grew mostly wheat and rye and that it wasn’t very big – only about 320 acres (nearly 130 hectares but Dad and his brother Ralph together farmed about 2.5 sections or approximately 1500 acres (just over 607 hectares. He and the British guest both exclaimed “that is small?” When I explained the meagre yields achieved on this non-irrigated land they both seemed to understand a bit better. Fleming Juncker, always looking for more information then asked what size of tractors were used because he had attempted to buy a big articulated tractor from North America but the Danish import taxes were so exorbitant that he had to find another way. He bought two large Volvo tractors then he and Hr Apollo joined the two together and synchronized the two for a third the price of importation. They then wanted to know about the corn we grew and since I had indicated that Dad fed some beef cattle, what kind of silage activity did we do. I indicated that yes we grew corn but that was for the table. This was unheard of at that time so there ensued a long discussion of the type of corn Dad raised for human consumption. Dad grew a hybrid of an early ripening variety and an Indian corn which was just excellent. This was fascinating to Mr Juncker and he wondered where he could get some seed. I said that Dad kept a few ears for seed every year and I would ask him to save some which he did. He shelled a couple of ears and packaged the resulting seed and sent to Hr Juncker. We found out later that this importation was quite illegal but the Junckers grew and relished the corn according to the letters both Dad and we received later.

Double tractor

We have not been back to the estate since 1965. The estate is now in another’s name but we will never forget the hospitality afforded us by this very important Danish man and the reception that made us feel somewhat important. And this served to end the Hottentot designation amongst the Danish relatives because on our last trip there a couple of years ago some of them had to fill me in on what had become of ‘my friend’ Fleming Juncker.

Eli Mar Creations

This is the story of Eli Mar Creations

Bill & Daphne Sherwood’s Farm – Gallery

Confessions of a Grinch

1999 was the year Christmas and I broke up.

I was 6 months into opening my first venture, a tiny, bootstrapped little winebar in the college area of Kitsilano, Vancouver.  It had been a hard start, fueled almost entirely by blind enthusiasm, long hours, and the relentless fear of failure that only crippling debt will instill.  I was Facing the coming January February shoulder season which had the potential to bankrupt us, and decided that was the year I just plain didn’t have time for Christmas.


I had been spoiled by Christmas growing up.  Fantastic family outings, a fully decorated house, mom’s celebrated feast (famously featured in Western Living ’74), and a month of seasonal baking that carried well past the holidays.  The Sears catalog was always handy in the months prior for us to circle and dog-ear our wish-list, and even when we were struggling to make ends meet, the tree always went up and would be bursting with perfectly wrapped gifts for me and my brother.


Christmas was a sure bet in our family, when 364 days of attempting good behavior had a guaranteed positive result.  When you’re of the age when you measure happiness in toys, candy, and cartoons, it’s become the benchmark by which all other holidays are measured, and found wanting.


All of this is why I could never understand why one year, everything changed.  I had long since transitioned from toys and candy to aged cheese and brandy, quite happily, and being on the first step of a journey I’d spent 10 years preparing for, I still had a dreamer’s optimism percolating through me.  Maybe it was that first year of being truly too broke to buy anyone a present, or the year i rolled my jeep in the mountains on Christmas eve and found myself with a sleeping bag full of presents trying to find a way home to be with the family.  Maybe it was just that time in my life when I thought I’d outgrown it. I never really could pinpoint it, and year after year I found myself drifting further from the yuletide spirit, until one year Sue came right out and said it to my face.


‘You’re a grinch’


Dealing with me and my Christmas hate had started to grow thin, to the point where i think i was wrecking it for her as well.  She grilled me, and I mumbled out the regular ramblings about commercialism, money, the religious hypocrisy of appropriating pagan holidays for their own, cabbage patch dolls, barbie, Walmart, Hallmark holidays, yada yada yada, and it started to turn into a rant.  Accumulated years of angst and watching what i had thought was this pure magical holiday turned to shit started a cathartic vomit from me in such a tirade that even I hated me when i was finally out of breath, out of words, but still not out of anger at my once favourite holiday.


I understand now, 15 years removed from the first time i quit Christmas, why it happened, but it wasn’t for any of the reasons I sputtered on about, even though they were straight legit reasons to quit.  I’m embarrassed to admit it, but for 15 years I’ve wanted only one thing, one thing i know I’ll never get, and i’ve been in a 15 year temper tantrum ever since.


I want more time.


In only 6 months of entrepreneurial life I had learned that time was more valuable than anything else, and it might be the one thing i could never afford. That first year I needed one more week of revenue out of a month that would see 6 days of holiday shutdown, and I didn’t know where to find it.  In following years we honed the science of maximizing holiday sales with party bookings, gift cards, New Years events, but we worked like dogs every December to make it happen.  The holidays became a crucial time for execution, and there was no time for shopping, friends, family, trees, baking, snowball fights, or holiday parties.  I vividly remember sitting alone at the bar after closing one Dec 23rd, pouring a baileys on ice and watching the Grinch.  Exhausted, stressed, and hoping we had done enough to carry us until Valentines day, Christmas had become one hell of a business disruption, despite being a great excuse to drink baileys at breakfast.


That year I decided it would be different, and as I scowled at the TV Grinch with Bailey’s breath, I turned my back on Christmas past, and decided to build a Christmas future.


The restaurant business is famous for Christmas orphans.  Staffed predominantly by travellers, students, artists, and dreamers, a restaurant becomes a family around holidays, and ours was no different.  That night, inspired to change, I called upon every cherished holiday memory, and decided to cook a feast for my new family.


I invited any who would come, staff, regulars, people off the street, friends, for a Christmas Eve dinner, just like my Mom used to make.  I painstakingly recreated her signature red cabbage, and Danish almond pudding (the single whole almond hidden inside nets a marzipan pig to whoever finds it!).  I had a commercial kitchen at my disposal, an empty restaurant, and loads of people around who might otherwise not get a feast of their own.  I cooked for a day and a night, straight through, and 40 friends, staff, and strangers had a family for Christmas that year.


Year after year I picked up the knives and the apron and would cook for my restaurant family after a grueling Christmas season, and spend Christmas day passed out, blissfully sleeping until noon and skipping the typical ceremony.  Year after year we skipped the tree, decorations, and even instituted a ‘no gifts’ rule with the family.  Socks, underwear, and booze, of course, were all gratefully accepted.  It seemed I might be able to vanquish the Grinch within me, albeit mostly with alcohol and work.


Selling the restaurants in 2007, however, introduced a significant stumble to the 12 step program, and soon I was back to my old Grinchy self.  Everywhere you go during the holidays, people are lining up to buy shit they don’t need with money they don’t have.  If you stand back and watch Christmas as a spectator, it’s genuinely horrifying.  Black Friday brawls, parking lot road rage, offshore factory worker suicides, Monsanto hormones in the eggnog, factory farms churning out Turkeys by the truckload…and the band plays on.  Jingle all the way you crazy bastards, thanks for shopping at Walmart!


That was it, I was finished with Christmas for good, and was glad to be done with it.  No presents, no tree, no lights, no goddamn way I’m getting caught up in that bullshit.  With no other Christmas orphans around to cook for, I was free to wallow in my own Grinchitude.  Bah Humbug, damn rights.


Now listen, anyone can quit Christmas, it’s easier than quitting any other vice.  You can cheat a little, with minimal consequences.  You might find yourself enjoying some gingerbread, absent mindedly humming a carol, or indulging in an eggnog latte, but come January you can go right back to ignoring Christmas for another 11 months.  Christmas is so forgiving, because you can sneak a little of it one day a year, and you know you won’t be shaving 10 years off your life for one bad decision.


My problem wasn’t quitting Christmas, that was easy.  Like any breakup, I’ve done my best to hold on to the great memories, remember what brought us together in the first place, and focus on all the things that mattered.  I still keep those tucked away in the part of my brain that refuses to believe I don’t have superpowers (I just haven’t figured out how to unlock them), the part where the excitement and curiosity I had when I was 6 has built a blanket fort to keep the cynicism and harsh reality at bay.  This is the safe deposit box that my entrepreneurial brain dips into when it needs a spark, and needs to believe that a great idea can succeed in the face of insurmountable odds.


Rifling through those memories as a new father, though, I started to see them through a new lens.  I imagined being in my parent’s shoes, struggling with the same entrepreneurial stresses, financial troubles, and problems of their own, and facing a couple of brats like me and my brother.  They rocked Christmas hard every year, and every year we lost our minds with excitement.  Lego, handmade clothes, hand baked cookies, and the best Christmas dinner you could imagine.  They never mailed it in, not even once, and they had every excuse to do so.


I realized a torch had been passed.  I had been on the receiving end of so much awesome Christmas, and I was in danger of breaking the chain.  My daughter deserved to love Christmas like I did, she deserved to believe in magic, and fairy tales, and make believe, and just because life got hard for me shouldn’t wreck the holidays for her.  If I had any respect for the sacrifices my parents had made, I had a duty to pay it forward.


So, last year I closed my eyes, gritted my teeth, and dove in, jingle bells deep, to Christmas.


It didn’t hurt, not even a little, despite being broke, bootstrapping 2 new companies, and completely stressed for time.  I dare say I even enjoyed it a little.  I still had issues with Christmas, but I kept them to myself.  I  stopped paying attention to how everyone else is doing it, stopped being a spectator, and started taking it shift by shift.  Every day was about giving my family the best Christmas they could have, and it was awesome.  I spent two months building my daughter a custom dollhouse that she never plays with, but her face on Christmas morning was the face that every parent plays the game for.  That was the day I started using Christmas again.


I didn’t discover that my mom’s Christmas dinner was actually famous until we were sifting through old pictures and Dad pulled out the 6 page magazine spread from 1974.  If you look closely, you’ll see the red cabbage and almond pudding, and I kid you not we still have those same serving dishes 40 years later.


This year, Christmas will be just the three of us, and for good reason.  Next year we’re opening up Christmas dinner to the public again, at the house, so if you find yourself without a date on the 24th of Dec. 2015, give us a ring.


15 years after I quit cold turkey, and I’m not ashamed to admit I’m off the wagon, and high on my own supply.


Happy Holidays Everyone!

don't follow the herd

Ninna Sherwood, Western Living Magazine, 1974 Ninna Sherwood, Western Living Magazine, 1974

1999 was the year Christmas and I broke up.

I was 6 months into opening my first venture, a tiny, bootstrapped little winebar in the college area of Kitsilano, Vancouver.  It had been a hard start, fueled almost entirely by blind enthusiasm, long hours, and the relentless fear of failure that only crippling debt will instill.  I was Facing the coming January February shoulder season which had the potential to bankrupt us, and decided that was the year I just plain didn’t have time for Christmas.
I had been spoiled by Christmas growing up.  Fantastic family outings, a fully decorated house, mom’s celebrated feast (famously featured in Western Living ’74), and a month of seasonal baking that carried well past the holidays.  The Sears catalog was always handy in the months prior for us to circle and dog-ear our wish-list, and even when we…

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Happiness is a Slippery Fish

Years ago I read a study that said one of the most stated regrets of people on their deathbeds was that they hadn’t built a better relationship with their parents.

The oft repeated quote ‘no one on their deathbed wishes they spent more days at work’ has also been slyly directed my way more than once, enough that I might even start to listen.  The other regret, however, weighs heavily on me.

I’ve watched with some concern as my parents get older.  As a kid, time passes so slowly that you take everything for granted.  Your parents have all the answers, I was sure my dad could beat up anyone else’s dad, and it just seemed like they’d both be around forever.  Watching them age, even as gracefully as they have, has been a stark reminder that those regrets are rooted in a harsh reality.

I’ve had a front row seat as they both crafted entrepreneurial ventures from the ground up.  They took big risks, worked hard, and eventually those ventures grew strong enough to pull us out of crippling debt.  Some years later, they co-signed a loan to help me start my first restaurant.

The circle of debt continues…

My folks are the people I aspired to be.  Self-made entrepreneurs who pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps, and still found a way to achieve their dreams, they were proof that you didn’t need charity, or luck, or a silver spoon.  Coming from an Alberta farm, my dad’s solution to every problem was hard work, and my mother, fresh off the boat from Denmark, was always crafting, innovating, and thinking of new ways to approach old problems.  Together they were a formidable pair, and watching them flip the bird to the corporate establishment and do it themselves felt like the greatest ‘fuck you’ to a world that I was just starting to realize wasn’t built to be fair.

A few years after they co-signed my first business loan, I had three busy restaurants, a social calendar filled with wine dinners, fashion galas, poker nights, wrap parties, and all the other bullshit I thought was cool at the time.  I barely saw my folks in those days, I couldn’t manage to find the time to cross town and have dinner once a week, and was losing touch despite living a 30 minute drive away.  It couldn’t have been any easier to stay in touch, and yet, I didn’t.  I started to realize why those regrets would be on the lips of every person as they took stock of their existence.  It was just so damn easy to take it for granted.

Forever isn’t forever, and time is a thief that distracts you, so that it can more easily steal your most precious moments.

I could see myself following in the footsteps of millions who came to regret their apathy, and I resolved to do something about it.  Something drastic.

I moved into my parent’s basement.

It started off as awkwardly as you can imagine.  The house was in a quiet suburb, populated by lousy chain restaurants, with nothing but raccoons and a long commute to keep you entertained.  Restaurant life was hectic, social, and wildly unpredictable.

It seemed like I was walking away on a life that had enough booze and badly behaving people to stay interesting for quite some time.

After working for years to build the lifestyle I wanted, I had traded it in for the hope that I could avoid that single regret, the lingering wistfulness of memories that were never created, the opportunities forever lost.  In retrospect, it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Today is my father’s birthday.  He is turning 74.

I’m broke, completely invested in a new business adventure, and I can’t afford to buy him a gift.  I find myself quite humbled, and I’ve justified to myself that perhaps the better gift has been this time together.

It’s a lie, of course.  That gift was a gift I gave myself, and keep re-gifting without guilt, year after year.

My father was my first mentor, my first business advisor, and the best sounding board I’ve ever had.  He built Canada’s first microbreweries (Granville Island Brewery, Upper Canada  Brewery) with a group of friends, starting one of the greatest movements the modern world has ever seen, craft beer.  It was an impossible dream, an unlikely success, and was beset by obstacles, challenges, and an unproven market (there was beer, and light beer, brewed to taste ‘cold’…seriously, wtf does ‘cold’ taste like).   That he did it at a time when our family was struggling with the fallout from the housing crash of ’82 is a constant reminder to me that our family is at its best when our backs are against the wall.  I can still remember at 9 years old stuffing beer bottles into six pack containers to help out opening week, and getting my first hangover off batch #1 of GI lager (parenting was a little different back then).

My father’s father, Farley Sherwood, was rather persuasive about him getting a college education, so he came out west to earn a degree in forestry from UBC.  He went back and landed a job on the radio, leveraged that fame to marry the local hotty, went on to sales (Imperial Oil), and eventually became the Marketing Manager for McDonald’s in Western Canada.

That was the job he quit when I was six, and to this day it remains a vivid memory.  He checked out, mid way through a great career, in his prime.  I remember him telling me and my brother that he was unhappy, his job wasn’t fulfilling, and he hated the politics.  Confused, I struggled with the notion that your job was something you could enjoy, not just a paycheck.  I was also more than a little concerned that we had just broken up with McDonalds.  Even in the pre-nugget era that place had a grip on my heart, and I was pretty stoked to have happy meal connections.  I was literally on a first name basis with the Hamburgler.

At six years old, I was served a reality check that indoctrinated me into the entrepreneurial ranks, and I had no idea.

We flirted with bankruptcy.

Actually, it was more of a long, drawn out affair.  My folks had bought their dream house, and, counselled by their realtor into keeping the old one as long as possible to ride the rising market, they got caught in the crash.   They owed twice as much as the houses were worth, and were getting crushed by 24% interest rates on two mortgages.

Just like that, happiness became a luxury we couldn’t afford.

We moved into the basement, and rented out the rest of the houses to help cover the mortgages, and Dad called a family meeting to craft a plan.

My brother and I got paper routes, lots of them.  We stuffed flyers, mowed lawns, and did other odd jobs.  My mother pulled a page out of the 3 Amigo’s script, and when asked what she could do to help, she said ‘I can sew’.  Her little craft business grew into a sportswear business that grew into a national fashion company with an impressively innovative distribution model.  It was the precursor to companies like Indochino, long before the digital age, and as my dad tells it, it was the rope that pulled us out of hell.

He was good at what he did, and he picked up gigs as a marketing consultant.  Then, maybe because crazy plans were something he’d grown far more comfortable with, he and his friends came up with the idea to build a brewery, using the fresh Vancouver water, with all the heart and soul of being for locals, by locals.  There were three large brewers at the time, and they paid the little upstart no mind.  Within a year, however, they saw market share escaping, and combined forces to crush the microbrewery movement hard.  It was too late, the market had gotten a taste, and soon small craft breweries were opening faster than Molson’s, Labbatt’s and O’Keefes could squash them.  Unionizing plants, controlling bottle regulations, even excise and production limitations were successfully lobbied for, but microbreweries found a way to make it work, something that’s easier when you have customers clamoring for your product.

Happiness was a fish he had once tossed back into the water for being too small, and now he had hooked the big one.

My dad’s tolerance for risk had put him in deeper waters, and we almost drowned, but I’m convinced it was going through the struggles which gave him the hunger to appreciate every opportunity he had, and land that big fish when it counted.  With my mom’s business thriving as well, they had pulled off the rare double, and there wasn’t a doubt left in my mind who my heroes were.  The seed had been planted, my mind had been made, I saw the difficult path as the most attractive, with the biggest payoffs, and I was determined to be an entrepreneur just like them.

After 50, he started to look tired, and sometimes I wondered if he had grown a little weary of the world.  He was supposed to be pushing retirement, and seemed to be genuinely considering it, even though there seemed to be lots more left in the tank.  His signature glint in his eye didn’t appear so much, and I was wondering if it would ever return when the colleges came calling. That started a change.

I’d like to believe that being around young, idealistic students who still hold the notion that the world is theirs to change, was the reason he sparked up, and maybe it was just that he could stand in front of a room full of cute college girls and they’d believe every word he said (…and, I just realized I want to be a teacher), but he had a renewed energy, and the glint that had lived in his eyes for so many years was back, and brighter than ever.

He taught marketing and sales all the way up to 65, when they forced him into retirement.  It was an outdated union rule that would end up being changed a couple of years too late, and I think he would have continued teaching to this day if they’d let him.  The amount of his former students who still come up to me to tell me how much they learned from him, how important he was for them, and how much they loved his stories, is staggering.

I had one of them doing his best to vigorously convince me of how cool my dad is, and all I could do was nod, smile, and think, you don’t even know the half of it.

My dad’s retirement party was bittersweet.  He didn’t want to celebrate it, as much as everyone wanted to celebrate him.  He was getting pushed out, just when he was having the most fun.  I remember thinking how odd it was, how broken the system, that its greatest contributors are removed when they’re at their most effective.

A man provides.  He contributes.

We measure our worth by our ability to be the mind or muscle that moves mountains, even if it’s only a single stone at a time.  We measure our lives by what we did, our contributions, and our impact. Take that away, and you take a fundamental part of our identity.  We need purpose, and when we have it, we will build, we will act, we will overcome.  When we don’t, we start losing our curiosity, our ambition, and our willingness to tackle anything but a ham sandwich and an afternoon nap.

When my dad retired, his signature spark, the glint in his eye, started to fade again.  Without the regular influx of young idealism, boundless energy, and world changing ambition into his daily routine, I think he struggled to find a reason to give a shit.  The chores around the house became the problems he needed to solve, and everyone knows that trimming the hedges doesn’t solve sweet fuck all.

I think often about carrying on the family name, of doing it justice.

My brother and I both have daughters, and that means the surname attached to our future generations won’t be his. I’m ok with it now.  His surname has power to me because of who he is, who his father was, and all the fathers before him who worked their asses off to move the sticks a few yards further.  They had different surnames, with different meanings to the sons and daughters who bore them on.  The name represents those men, their sacrifices, their risks, their failures, and their successes, and while the name will change, their legacy will not, because of what they invested in their children, who invested it into my father, who has since invested it in me.

I’ve realized now, that as I was building my companies, my family, and my career, I thought I was creating a legacy.  I wasn’t.  I’ve inherited his.   It has made me even more determined to measure up.  I inherited a legacy from a long line of people who struggled and sacrificed to move the sticks a little further, and I’ll be damned if I’m the generation that fucks it all up.

The birth of my daughter was unexpected, and life changing.  I’ve never been more scared of anything than when she first stopped breathing, seven weeks premature, and I was completely helpless to do anything about it.  My parents were there for every minute, and without them I’d have been a complete wreck.  (I was still a wreck, just with the support to ensure I could fake it appropriately)

From that moment on, my father’s choices in life made perfect sense.  It wasn’t ambition, or pride, or even greed, which fueled his decision to chase happiness.  He had learned the stakes of the game, that once you have seen how frail and impossible happiness is, how delicate and improbable its survival, you realize you need to fight for it.  You need to put the bullshit on the line, the houses, the cars, the jobs and the fancy titles, and you need to put all that shit on red and spin the fucking wheel because the cost of having it far outweighs the cost of reaching for it.

I know my parents would like me to learn from their mistakes, I just can’t.

I ignored their mistakes, I forgot the times they yelled at me for fucking up (there were more than a few of those).   I wrote over any memory of my father not being the man I wanted to grow up to be like.  I saw every challenge he endured only through the successful outcome he wrestled from it.

It sounds naïve, but it isn’t.  I studied everything he did that made him my hero, and tossed the rest.  What do I need to know about mistakes he made?  I know enough about pain and struggles, I’m a fucking connoisseur of the curveballs life can throw, and the only shot I’ve had of overcoming those is from studying someone with a demonstrated expertise in overcoming them.

I’m lucky, I know.  Perspective is everything for me now.

I’m lucky that my parents would put up with my shit, give me a shot at avoiding this one regret, and teach me how to bait the hook and reel happiness in.  Evangeline, our daughter, has inherited her Grandfather’s signature spark, and in turn, rekindled his, and they’ve formed a two person, cookie-snatching conspiracy.

I don’t know that this was the happiness that my father had in mind when he quit his job to start us on this adventure.  I do know that on my deathbed, I will have one fewer regrets to list off before I pass on the torch to Evangeline.

Today is my dad’s birthday, and when I grow up, I want to be just like him.

don't follow the herd

Pray for a difficult life

By Sean Sherwood

Years ago I read a study that said one of the most stated regrets of people on their deathbeds was that they hadn’t built a better relationship with their parents.

The oft repeated quote ‘no one on their deathbed wishes they spent more days at work’ has also been slyly directed my way more than once, enough that I might even start to listen.  The other regret, however, weighs heavily on me.

I’ve watched with some concern as my parents get older.  As a kid, time passes so slowly that you take everything for granted.  Your parents have all the answers, I was sure my dad could beat up anyone else’s dad, and it just seemed like they’d both be around forever.  Watching them age, even as gracefully as they have, has been a stark reminder that those regrets are rooted in a harsh reality.

I’ve had…

View original post 2,563 more words

Granville Island Brewery

This is the story of Granville Island Brewery, Canada’s first microbrewery.


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