The treasure that is TOSH


The Old School House

           One of the true treasures of the village of Qualicum Beach is The Old School House Arts Centre, more commonly known in the community simply as TOSH.

          Built 100 years ago, the appealing two-storey yellow building located in the heart of the village has attracted a vast array of artistic talent, supported by minimal paid staff and a devoted volunteer force of 75. TOSH was rehabilitated from its derelict state when a group of dedicated area residents rescued it from the wrecker’s ball (and the village’s intention to turn it into a parking lot) 25 years ago. Thousands of hours of volunteer labour have gone into the centre since, much to the benefit and delight of residents and visitors.

Resident artist Denise MacDonald at work in her studio at TOSH

             The intervening quarter century has seen a growing commitment to the arts in every form. The old classrooms now serve as artists’ studios, flooded with an abundance of natural light. The studios host work in a wide variety of mediums, and visitors to TOSH are welcome to spend time enjoying the art pieces and chatting with the artists as they work on their latest creations. Paintings, pottery, jewellery, art cards, fabric arts, photography, metal art  – pieces large and small, are available to admire or to purchase. All of the artists in residence at TOSH are members of the Federation of Canadian Artists, an organization that accepts those who produce only the highest caliber work.          

Hallways displaying captivating work lead to yet more delights in the artists’ studios

Over the years TOSH has also developed an enticing performing arts program.  Its Music on Sunday feature presents performers from every genre, and varied other musical attractions are featured as well.

   TOSH also organizes a variety of special events, including its annual July Grand Prix d’Art painting race, staged entirely outdoors and in various locations around town. At the end of the competition the paintings and judging results are displayed outdoors in front of TOSH. Many gallery exhibitions are hosted throughout the  year, so there is  always something new to see on the walls of this charming centenarian.

            The other great highlight at TOSH is the gift gallery located on the ground floor, organized and run entirely by TOSH volunteers and featuring a wide array of high-quality items created by local artisans. Beauty fills every square inch of the shop, which offers up truly unique objects that make wonderful souvenirs, gifts, or additions to your own life. Prices are extremely reasonable.

The Gift Gallery, where hundreds of unique items are managed and sold by TOSH's legion of volunteers

            If you plan to be in the Qualicum Beach area this summer be sure not to miss the celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of the building that now serves as home to TOSH.

            The Old School House Arts Centre is located at 112 Fern Road West, Qualicum Beach

            Phone 250-752-6133

            Further information on operating hours, exhibitions and special events may be obtained by going to:

           GPS co-ordinates are: Lat. 49.3460466637353  Long. -124.44297015666961

                                                    N 49 20.763  W 124 26.578




About Shirley

More years ago than I like to remember, I completed the Journalism program at Vancouver Community College and launched straight into a career as a newspaper reporter (thanks to my journalism professor Nick Russell and an opening at the venerable daily Alberni Valley Times.) My work as a news reporter/feature writer/columnist and ultimately, newspaper and magazine editor, took me to many interesting places and introduced me to hundreds of interesting characters over the years. I loved every minute of it, but burnout caught up with me while I was trying to juggle the simultaneous editing of five trade magazines, and for 27 years I abandoned my keyboard (on a professional basis, at least) and followed my heart in a variety of other careers. In 2010 I returned to the journalistic fold, thanks to the encouragement (nay – nagging!) of my husband. I feel no regret – only great joy to be back at the keyboard, and to be spending time interviewing interesting folks and discovering great places.
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