Vallican Whole Community Centre

frogpeakvallican whole

a unique experience in the heart
of British Columbia's Slocan Valley

About Us

venue-mezanine vallian whole wedding flowers

The Vallican Whole Community Centre is owned and operated by
The Rural Alternatives Research and Training Society
a registered Canadian charity and a great non-profit Society serving British Columbia's Slocan Valley since 1971.

  • Rural Alternatives Research
    & Training Society Intro
  • Board
    of Directors & staff
  • Our
  • Past
  • What We're
    Working on Now
  • How
    You Can Help
  • Archives &

The Vallican Whole Community Centre
and its mother society, The Rural Alternatives Research and Training Society
has had a rich and colourful history in the Slocan Valley.


In 1972, The Rural Alternatives Research and Training Society (a.k.a. RARTS) was incorporated in British Columbia as a non-profit society. RARTS is also a registered Canadian Charity.


RARTS main purpose was, and still is, to help people live rurally - through educational, cultural, and social endeavors. One of our main goals is to make our services and community centre inclusive and beneficial to the Whole community. Click here for the offical and full version of our purposes.


The first thing RARTS did was to create a centre for the enrichment of rural living - The VALLICAN WHOLE COMMUNITY CENTRE - (check out the HISTORY tab).


RARTS has been an integral part of our community and a successful and sustainable society. It has also incubated other important Slocan Valley institutions such as The Dumont Creek Burial Society, The Slocan Valley Seniors Housing Society, The Fed Up Food Coop, and Riverwatch.


In recent years, the RARTS Board of Directors developed board/member committees to work on the details of finance, membership, events, new business development, and building & gardens. This structure encourages more member participation and allows the Board to focus on the big picture.

If you would like to be on one of these committees please look at HOW YOU CAN HELP and MEMBERSHIP tabs and contact us.


If you would like to donate your time, skills, money or materials, or if you have a great idea that you think rural communities would benefit from, please contact us.



Since 1971, RARTS has been blessed to have wonderfully dedicated volunteers and directors.
Some are no longer with us, but their legacy lives on,
and in many cases their ancestors are keeping RARTS alive and well.

If you are interested in being on our board of directors,consider becoming a member and joining a committee
to get your feet wet - and then toss your hat in the ring at the next Annual General Meeting!

Our board meetings are held the first Monday of the month at 6:30 pm. - and our committee meetings are often the hour before that.  
If you are a member and would like to attend, drop us a line!



dale norman

Dale Norman - Chair

When not volunteering for other Slocan Valley organisations, or helping out on building issues at The Whole, or improving his home with partner and longtime RARTS supporter Marcia Braundy, Dale - an electrical engineer, can be found running slightly larger electrical projects than fixing light switches at the Whole.



Gary Yakimchuk - Treasurer




Sue Harder - Secretary

Sue very much enjoys being a part of the BOD of the Vallican Whole.  She had been a valley resident for 13 yrs. and enjoys painting & travelling.




Marcia Braundy - Vice Chair

Marcia has been around since the beginning (not of time, but of the building of The Whole). After a hiatus since the 90s, Marcia is back on the board helping out where she can.





Dan Armstrong - Director

Dan's roots run deep with the Whole. Dan has jumped in the deep end, and has volunteered to lead our Buildings and Grounds committee.


Board- Bob

Andria Green - Director

Andria is an engaged community member and runs her own business catering healthy and extremely yummy food. We are happy to have someone possessing such wonderful culinary and other skills on our board.



Gareth Thompson - Director

The newest member of the Board,Gareth is a bit slow on getting us his bio... but we know his energy and insight will add greatly to the board.



Chris Halarewich - past Chair


SADLY- Our former Chair, Chris Halarewich passed on November 4, 2016. We miss him every day - especially because he ran our meetings on time! His Leadership, humour, determination and compassion will be missed. We are a better group with having had Chris at the helm.
Chris, while you came for the 40th, you will never leave our hearts .



Our year round caretakers live next door with their family and keep the Whole and surrounding grounds looking great, all year long!



tamara smith

Tamara Smith - Administrator and 'go to' person

Tamara has been a valley resident since 1998 and feels settled here. Tamara enjoys her horse, birds and more birds, making things happen and running FLIKS, a traveling independent movie theatre that screens at The Whole and other rural communities.


If you want to get involved, and board meetings aren't your bag, consider joining one of our board/member committees.
Read all about our committees in the HOW CAN I HELP tab on this page.

THE WHOLE History ... a Centre built by and for THE WHOLE COMMUNITY


In the early 70s, British Columbia's Slocan Valley experienced an influx of urban youth who wanted to live closer to the land.

The gathering places of earlier settlers (local first nations, early pioneers and Doukhobors) weren't suitable to accommodate the influx... and nobody had a 1500 square foot unobstructed dance floor!

In 1971, eleven acres of forest and meadow adjacent to the Little Slocan River was purchased to be the future site of the Community Centre.

whole history

The early founders had drive and vision but they needed skills to live rurally, let alone to build a community centre. In 1971 RARTS received a Federal Opportunities for Youth grant - which provided modest wages to transfer rural skills to youth. With the ‘back to the land movement’ in full swing, this was something the Slocan Valley badly needed.

Because materials were not funded, it took a year to build the foundation, as cement had to be mixed and wheel barrowed by hand. At the end of a year, there was a bombproof hand hewn cement ‘hole’ or foundation in the ground… The new centre was firmly planted, and so was its nickname... 'the hole'.

Vallican Whole

For the next couple of years, volunteers focused on building their own homes with the skills they learned during the early construction of the centre. They continued fundraising for the building, and from time to time they would head on down to “the hole” to do a bit of work.

hisotry raising beams

Meanwhile, the Vallican Free School which had been operating out of people’s homes on a rotating basis saw a looming need for a permanent home.

The need to house the school renewed energy in the ‘the hole’, and drew in even more members of the community to work on the building - providing the impetus to complete the Centre. 

Al Luthmers redesigned Eric Clough's original plans to accommodate the new school tenant and while women and children had been regular workers on the building since 1972, more came on board to shell in the post and beam structure.


The community raised another $35,000 through various dances and fundraisers to complete the building and also received a small grant to finish the wiring.

The ' hole’ was beginning to connect the whole community sector by sector and its name morphed from 'the hole' to THE WHOLE or
The VALLICAN WHOLE COMMUNITY Centre... a name that reflects a vision of openness and service to the whole community.





In 1976, The Vallican Free School became known as The Whole School - or for more official purposes The West Kootenay Education Research Society (WKERS). The WHOLE SCHOOL is BC’s oldest independent alternative school. We thank them for their contribution & energy throughout their 30+ year tenancy at The Whole. They now operate the school in nearby Winlaw.

Vallican Whole Kitchen

kitchen windows

vallican whole

Over the years the community has worked hard to improve the building as more and more groups want to use it, and as improvements were required.

in 1975, RARTS decided the hall and grounds needed on site caretakers, and the log house next door was built for and served that purpose since then.

A major reno in 1996 of the dance floor, roof and windows and another in 2004 of the kitchen, mezzanines and installation of multi bathrooms has made this arguably the most beautiful community hall in the Kootenays.

Now the building sports maple hardwood floors, thermo pane windows, maple cupboards and a serving island, stainless steel appliances, track lighting, a commercial kitchen, stage sound and lighting systems, a wheelchair ramp and fresh coats of paint.

Another series of renos and major projects in 2014 - 2017 gave us a new accessability elevator & ramp; new energy retrofits like heating, insulation and roofing; a new UV water system; road signage; hardwood floro refinishing; lighting improvments; and a new rental space in a warm, dry basement. Our community, funders and volunteers have worked hard to keep this building so beautiful and functional for community use.

The building showcases the talents of many local artisans and craftspeople, from Philip Pedini's stained glass windows, to blacksmith Dan Armstrong's wrought iron railings, to Micha Forestell's beautiful front doors (Marty Hykin's front doors have now been retired & repurposed into lovely interior doors).

40th party
In 2011, THE WHOLE celebrated its 40th anniversary with a wonderful party on August 26-28. Enjoy the photos!


Much of RARTS efforts have gone into building and maintaining the Vallican Whole Community Centre
- but the building is only one part of our mandate. Over the years we have created programs, services and
several other organizations which greatly benefit our rural area.

Our purpose and goals have given us great latitude and mandate to respond to the needs of our rural community.
Rural areas lack many of the institutions taken for granted in the city - WE AIM TO CHANGE THAT!



Our society has a good solid record of initiating and following through with necessary projects As community needs surfaced, RARTS responded and built capacity within the community. Often this meant starting other organizations which have subsequently become their own separate entities.


In the late 1970s, our society recognized the need for a new community cemetery and burial society. A RARTS board member and Whole School teacher, Gretchen Pratt, served on that committee, looking for appropriate land. Each piece was either too rocky, too expensive, too close to water, etc.

In 1980, Gretchen drowned in Africa, and in her honor, our community society, with massive community support, went into high gear. Within 10 days, as her body made its way home from Africa, we found land in the ALR, a cabinet committee of government released it for cemetery use, we sought and received approval from all licensing agencies, logged, stumped and planted clover, and prepared a plot for her burial. We also learned the skills to prepare a body for burial.

The Dumont Creek Burial Society was created by RARTS, which served as its umbrella organization as the Society went on to gain independent society status. It is under contract with the Regional District of Central Kootenay to operate the cemetery. The cemetery and burial society is open to any and all people, and is a story of rural people learning all the skills necessary for a dignified community burial.

a 10 unit independent
seniors housing project.


passmore lodge

Perhaps our proudest accomplishment (outside of building and maintaining our hall and grounds) is the initiation and follow through for the very successful Slocan Valley Seniors Housing Project, which opened in 1999. This project took four years of our board’s time, with four of our board members and a number of our members devoting up to 20 hours a week in volunteer time to the project.

In 1995, RARTS took action on our valley’s need for seniors housing. The need was obvious to everyone, as our seniors, who had given their lives to this valley, had nowhere to live when they could no longer live in houses with wood heat, long driveways, and the attendant isolation of rural living.

Our board discussed the idea, met immediately with the local Passmore Seniors’ Association branch, worked with over 40 Seniors in the community, drew in skilled local housing experts, and under the auspices of RARTS, initiated a 10-unit housing project. Ann Harvey coordinated the project. A survey was conducted with more than a 30% response rate. Again, our society initiated, sponsored and acted as an umbrella organization as the Slocan Valley Seniors Housing Society applied for and gained its own society status.

During the four years until completion and opening of this $1.2 million project in 1999, our board put all our resources into this project, and drew upon the people who built and supported our own hall over the years. With the Passmore Seniors, we brought together this entire valley and all its resources. We organized large community planning and fundraising meetings. The local mills (Slocan Forest Products, Kalesnikoff and Goose Creek Lumber) donated all $100,000 worth of lumber, a local group of developers donated the 2.5 acres of land valued at $40,000, and community groups held endless fundraising dances, raffles, bake sales, and a 233-km hike for housing which raised $30,000. We received support and funding from BC Housing, the Vancouver Foundation, CP Rail, Columbia Basin Trust, Human Resources Development, and many other individuals, groups and individuals.

We made this project a showcase for wood, and the Seniors Housing Project, now called Passmore Lodge, is a successful and beautiful rural seniors housing facility. And today our elderly residents no longer have to leave our community for housing and support. They are still an integral part of our community fabric, and a number of them lend a helping hand at RARTS community benefit events.






In the new millennium we've been busying ourselves with improving the building and running our own programming and helping others run their programs and events out of our building.

Check out the details in the WHAT WE'RE WORKING ON NOW tab on this page.




The new Vallican Whole Eco-Sculpture Park was opened in the summer of 2010. It is an evolving work of art winding through the paths in forest on our 11 acre property. Check it out in our RENTALS page.


We've done a lot in the past, and we're not planning on slowing down any time soon !





Our bi-annual 100 mile events have become a valley tradition in January and August, supporting the growing local agriculture and sustainability movements.

The Fall event is now on the Thanksgiving weekend. A WHOLE family trasition we hope, featuring a Locavore’s feast resplendent with fruits of our gardens.

The Winter event is usually held the 2nd last Saturday in January: and features the Locavore’s feast, six Slocan valley minutes, silent auctions, music and dancing.

Culture Series


Our Up-Close and Intimate Culture Series is just that - up close and intimate. Performers and audience alike love the intimacy and warmth of the building. Here's a sampling of past acts we have brought in:

The Kootenay Divas
Scott Thompson (from Kids in the Hall)
Bob Wiseman
The Pied Pumkins
Rick Scott
Country Joe (of Country Joe and the Fish fame)





Lucas Myers

We have enjoyed working with local event promoters and performers to co-present cultural talent we think our community would like. Some of the past relationships we have developed are:


WHOLE PERSPECTIVESwhole perspectives


An ongoing series on Topics of our Times.
Often controversial, these are issues that matter to our community and we try our darndest to have representation from all perspectives, in a civil discussion format.



The Vallican Whole Eco-Sculpture Park which was opened in the summer of 2010.

It is an evolving work of art winding through the forested paths on our 11 acre property.

We plan to have 2-3 major events each year centered around the sculpture park and the Whole grounds. Check out the park in our RENTALS and EVENTS pages.



skills pruning cu

We are very proud of our Rural Skills programs and the local specialists who donate their time and materials to teach fellow community members valuable rural skills. We thank them heartily for their donations.

Some of our past workshops have included:

Raising and slaughtering your own chickens
Canning your harvest
Rural water and Septic systems
Fruit tree pruning
Tuning up your vehicle
Chainsaw maintenance
Small engine maintenance,

.Some new workshops we are visioning:

Green Building Techniques
Organic gardening and certification
Building your own cold storage



There are many ways you can help us help your community... here are some suggestions!


We need your ideas in order to remain responsive to community needs. We’re willing to work with anyone who has the energy and vision to make things happen.
If you have an idea that would benefit the community and you’d like some help bringing it to fruition, contact us.


Our community has always supported us. It takes a lot of work to put on events and usually the event promoter is a struggling community member. If we don’t support one another’s initiatives, we don’t have much of a community. Successful events (whether they are run by RARTS or not) help make your community centre sustainable.


If you are considering running an event, or having a special celebration or retreat – contact us! We will work with you and be more than fair.

If you know someone who may be running an event or is in the business of event planning, please forward them our url and contact information.

Our members are the backbone of our organization. Consider becoming a lifetime member of RARTS by volunteering 100 hours of service to your community centre, or an annual member by voluneering 10 hours.


Our board meetings are fun and collaborative. We communicate openly, and encourage one another. We have a nice mix of older and younger community members and long timers and newcomers to the valley. Our meetings are fairly efficient, well facilitated, yet not stuffy. Directors are elected for two year terms at our annual general meeting which is usually held in the summer.


If you don’t have the energy and time to become a board member and you prefer a discreet task that you can do without attending a ton of meetings, consider joining one of our Committees. 
You have a choice of:
skills pruning cu

Building and Gardens Committee-why join us?
* Time-limited effort and flexible commitment
* A great way to learn new trade skills
* Everyone will see the fruits of your labour
* Less talk, more do.



Finance Committee-Why join us?
* We are a small group with infrequent meetings and a very specific task
* This is a great way to learn about business planning and budgeting
* Our Administrator prepares clear financial reports



Events Committee- Why join us?

* You can take on a very specific job, as big or small as you wish.
* This is a great way to meet energetic positive community members.
* The work is creative and much appreciated.



Vallican Whole Eco-Sculpture Park Committee - Why join us?

This is the chance to be part of something exciting and to leave a legacy to your community

This year the sculpture park committee is working towards:
* Installing more sculptures
* Involving more local sculptors in the project
* Hosting sculpture and community art making events
* Coordinating with other arts societies in putting on a sculpture symposiums
* Establishing wheel chair accessible paths


Many people ask us "Do you need anything?". Ok then,
Here's a list of what we need at this time. If you have some to spare, we'd greatly appreciate it:
* Snow plow services
* help building an outdoor performance stage
* Outdoor lighting
* help during events: this ranges from serving food, parking cars, setting up, cleanup, sound services and general gophering.

We are a registered Canadian charity and can provide an official tax receipt for physical goods or money donated.



RARTS Archives and Documents - we are updating this section ...

Click here for a pdf copy of our rental agreement

Click here for a pdf copy of our rental manual


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