Guest Post - Jean Wyenberg - Gabriola Inaugural Tour D’Coop

by: EJ on 06/20/2013
Posted in: Events

Jean Wyenberg, New Society Publishers' office manager, is a dedicated advocate for all animals.  She is a long-time member of Cats Alive, the Gabriola rescue group which rescues, arranges for spaying and neutering and finds homes for abandoned cats on the island.  She is also a volunteer animal rescuer for Gabriola Rescue of Wildlife Society (GROWLS).  She also loves her chickens, so when she saw the North Carolina "Tour D'Coop", her creative brain starting ticking.  Today's blog is her story of how the Tour D'Coop Gabriola came to be.


Inspired by the event of the same name held in Raleigh NC, I sent a brief message to fellow backyard chicken/duck aficionados on our Gabriola Island Community Bulletin board on Facebook. “Got chickens?  Interested in a fun event?  Contact me.”  People contacted me and the Gabriola version of  Tour D’Coop was born.  A meeting was called and was attended by Moira, Paula and me.  We decided on a date – June 15th, a cause – Free the Children, Adopt a Village, Sierra Leone and agreed that the tour would be a fun, casual and cheap affair (visits by donation to our cause).  We had no money so I asked New Society Publishers if they would sponsor us and of course they agreed without hesitation.

Eventually we had 12 coops signed up for our tour, Moira was busy designing the print brochure and posters, Paula and her son Conner were working on the fund raising aspect and I was working on a web version of the brochure which was hosted on New Society's website.  As well, I approached local artists and businesses for donations of prizes for the winning coops (that would be all 12 of them!).  The local hardware store, Arbutus Building Supplies, donated a sheet of plywood and a local wood worker, Ted Johnson, cut it up into 18 wooden chicken signs – each “coopster” had to decorate their own, put their tour number on it and hang it out to help people locate their property.  Each coopster also had to provide his or her own donation tin with information on the Free the Children project.

Posters went up, numerous bulletins went out, the local area cable TV folks at Shaw TV found out about it and sent a crew over to do an interview and we were as ready as we would ever be.  We had absolutely no idea how this event would go over on our island but we were committed!


Saturday came along and at 10am sharp (opening time), I had my first visitors.  Car after car pulled up outside, friends and strangers walked in.   I showed off my coop (not fancy but cute), the run which is adorned by a gorgeous climbing rose and a grape vine, my five hens and my garden (beautifully weeded by my helpful, energizer bunny landlady).  I pointed out the donation tin to everyone, handed out goodies to the donators (discount coupons for New Society Publishers' books, tickets for a draw, free memberships in the Gabriola Arts Council) and generally had a blast.  Gabriola Islanders are notoriously generous when it comes to helping out those less fortunate than themselves and this day was no exception.

We had expected to raise maybe up to $500 (which buys a lot of chicks in Sierra Leone) but in the end raised $1070.00!

Our first Tour D’Coop was a rousing success, enjoyed by all.  The coopsters, their families, the judges that visited all the coops all gathered for a potluck at the end of the day, tired but exhilarated by the success of the event.  Our intrepid coop judges awarded prizes for categories like “farthest free ranging chickens”, “cutest chicken names”, “best use of recycled material in a coop” and “best hairdo on a duck” (I may have made that up but check it out!).

Thanks to all the participants, to our sponsor New Society Publishers, our prize and gift donors and supporters, our well behaved chickens and ducks and especially thanks to our friends and neighbours and visitors who filled our donation tins – see you again next year!


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