Elizabeth Trenholm, owner of Shawnigan Lake’s Epona’s Whisper Therapeutic Donkeys Ltd., poses with her donkeys Coco and Winnie. (Submitted photo)

Business notes: New therapeutic business featuring donkeys opens in Shawnigan Lake

A taste of what’s happening in the Cowichan Valley business community

A new business offering people therapy using miniature Mediterranean donkeys has opened in Shawnigan Lake.

Epona’s Whisper Therapeutic Donkeys Ltd., owned and operated by Elizabeth Trenholm, offers animal-assisted therapy through the donkeys, a female pair called Coco and Winnie that Trenholm rescued in 2018.

Trenholm, who has an extensive background in working with and caring for both people and animals, said she has always been interested in the relationships between people and animals and the health benefits of those relationships.

She said donkeys are exceptional at providing therapeutic benefits to those in need.

“The girls are very social creatures and have a knack for being sensitive to visitors and their emotional states, so therapy seemed like the perfect fit,” Trenholm said.

“This innate ability in the donkeys combined with my personal history as a caregiver seemed like the perfect match, and our therapeutic donkey service was born. In early 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic, I established Epona’s Whisper Therapeutic Donkeys to provide care and calming walks for those that would benefit from them.”

Under a separate business also run by Trenholm, called Cheers Big Ears, Coco and Winnie are also available for fun appearances at weddings, parties and corporate functions.

For more information, check out the website at www.eponawhisper.com, or call Trenholm directly at 250-615-9942.


With the province now firmly in Phase 3 of B.C.’s Restart Plan, the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce has resurrected the Chamber on Tour program for July and August.

In past years, Chamber on Tour has been an opportunity for chamber members to get a behind-the-scenes look at other member businesses.

This year’s Chamber on Tour #Staycation Edition is focused on supporting Cowichan’s tourism and hospitality members in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The chamber is programming a series of weekly, half-day excursions, during July and August, that will each include a local attraction and a local café, restaurant or eatery.

Each outing will accommodate six to 12 people, depending on the safety parameters of the venues and activities, and both chamber members and the general public are welcome to book a spot on the tour.

“The tourism sector has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sonja Nagel, the chamber’s executive director.

“With international travel restrictions still in place, and cross-country travel not recommended, Chamber on Tour #Staycation Edition is encouraging residents to rediscover all the fantastic offerings here in the Cowichan region and keep our vacation dollars right here in our own communities.”

Chamber on Tour excursions will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the summer.

For a full program of events, visit www.duncancc.bc.ca or phone 250-748-1111.


The Cowichan Valley Wine Festival is set to run from Aug. 1 to Aug. 31.

Participants are invited to spend the month self-touring 12 of Cowichan’s fabulous wineries.

They will receive a map and a festival passport for the wineries and collect stamps to fill the passport.

Collect all of the stamps and you can enter the draw for the grand prize this year; a case of premium Cowichan wines.

The wine festival is being held at all the wineries at the same time and, throughout August, participants can pick up their festival glass and passport for $20 at any participating winery and their wine glass will get them a complimentary flight of three tastings at all participating wineries.

They can also purchase a ticket online and redeem it at the first winery they visit to receive their glass, which becomes the ticket.

For more information, go to www.tourismcowichan.com.


A new cannabis retail store is being proposed for the Beverly Corners Regional Shopping Centre, located at 2763 Beverly St.

North Cowichan council is scheduled to consider giving the first two readings to the bylaw to allow the store to open at its meeting on July 15.

A staff report said the proposal is consistent with the municipality’s official community plan, but noted that the Cowichan Valley school district is raising concerns about its proximity to the new Cowichan Secondary School.

A letter to North Cowichan from Leigh Large, a director of Cowichan Town Centre Market Inc., one of the principles of Beverly Corners Marketplace which intends to operate the retail cannabis store, said the location is an ideal spot for the retail sale of cannabis.

Large said the principles of the marketplace also own and operate the Beverly Corners Liquor Store, which will be located just a few doors down from the proposed cannabis shop, and are well experienced in managing a regulated business, including the related social responsibility aspects.

“The interior of the store will be a new build of very modern design,” Large said.

“In short, it will be a very lovely shopping environment.”


The Cowichan Valley Arts Council will be offering a new online course, An Introduction to Botanical Drawing with Coloured Pencils, starting next week.

The course will be facilitated by Salt Spring Island professional artist Jeannette Sirois, and she will be available for feedback, discussion and questions from registered students.

Botanical illustration has been around for hundreds of years and students will get to explore the art form in the weekly online sessions.

“We’ll be working with traditional botanical guidelines, and we’ll explore through the use of colour pencils in illustrating plants, fruits and vegetables,” Sirois said.

“We’ll work on layout/composition, rendering form, how to choose colours and layering with colour pencils and we’ll talk about the process of colour pencil work from types of papers to types of pencils and all the in-betweens.

The sessions will run on Saturdays, on July 25, Aug. 1, Aug. 8 and Aug. 22, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The total price of the sessions is $210.

To register, go to the Cowichan Valley Arts Council’s website.

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