Feature Story                                                                                           Monday, September 9, 2013


Baby, I'm Amazed

RCMP, Raise-a-Reader Foundation and the Chilliwack Corn Maze help people get lost in reading

Staff/Voice photos



The Chilliwack Corn Maze opened for a sneak preview last Wednesday giving people a chance to see it from above in a helicopter. Below, ERT members demonstrate tracking a quarry in the maze.


nternational Literacy Day was Sunday. Last Wednesday, Chilliwack Corn Maze owners, John and Diane Bruinsma, got the jump on it when they threw open the farm gate to dignitaries, media and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for a sneak preview of their amazing maze.


The Bruinsma’s, who are celebrating 15 years in the business of getting people lost, formed a partnership with the Vancouver Sun Raise-A-Reader Program and the RCMP who are celebrating their 140th Anniversary and their 50th Anniversary of the Auxiliary Constable Program.


The RCMP brought in police dog “Ace” along with armed members of the Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team for a tracking demonstration.


Also on hand were two members of the RCMP Musical Ride atop a beautiful pair of Hanoverians named “Hector” and “Lenny”.


During the maze season, schools bring in busloads of kids who are kept busy doing things in the barn where there’s an assortment of farm animals, a giant hay bale maze and a reading corner.


Outside the barn are a huge bounce area and a pedal kart track.


Another innovative thing the Bruinsma’s do is take the kids on two walk-thru stories called; The Legend of Spooky the Square Pumpkin and Jack and the Corn Stalk engage the kids


Even though the farm has pumpkins, Diane Bruinsma told the Voice that their focus isn’t on Halloween.


“It's more just a chance for families to come together, pick a pumpkin and enjoy the activity,” she said pointing to the pumpkin patch. “We have some learning time, they just talk about pumpkin facts, and we do little experiments with them like open up a pumpkin and look inside and talk about the seeds.”


The Bruinsma's hired Chinook Helicopters who brought in a four-seater Robinson 44 piloted by Cathy Press, so people could get a bird’s eye view of the maze, which features a Mountie on horseback on one end, and the Raise-a-Reader logo on the other.  


The farm itself has 12 acres of cow corn which will be harvested in early November.


“We make corn silage out of this,” she explained. “This is cattle corn for dairy cows because it grows stronger and stuff.”


Cpl. Len vanNieuwenhuizen presided over the ceremonies and introduced his boss, Insp. Deanne Burleigh, who spoke about bringing her own kids to the maze when they were growing up.


“I have four daughters and the corn maze is something we grew up with, it's absolutely an honour to celebrate 140 years with the RCMP, 50 years with the auxiliary program, 15 years with the corn maze, the Raise-a-Reader Program,” said Burleigh. “I can't think of a better community event. I'm very proud to be here, I'm thrilled to be here, and I'm hoping they're not going to try to get me lost in the maze because I really do have to get back to work sometime this afternoon."


On Wednesday, September 25th, Raise-a-Reader will be holding a literacy fundraiser at the maze and the RCMP will be in attendance.


John Bruinsma talks with Star FM's Grant Sigaty Allison Colthorp from Tourism Chilliwack about the QR code that people can scan with a smartphone for details about the maze. Below, members of the Musical Ride came by for photos.


Rose Isla, Coordinator of Fundraising for Raise-a-Reader said she was pleased to be involved with the Corn Maze this year.


“This is the 17th year for Raise-a-Reader,” said Isla. “We're excited to be here and hopefully, its the start of something really big.”


Councillor Stewart McLean brought greetings from the mayor and City Hall and thanked the Mounties for their work keeping the community safe.


“I think that's great to see how much has happened as a result of our forces being involved in our community, the good its brought to our community and the stability, and very much appreciated by all of us,” he said.


McLean said that literacy is still an issue when two out of every five adults still have problems with some literacy levels and noted that crime and illiteracy go hand in hand.


“When people are able to be literate, able to read and write properly, it’s much easier for them to advance in our society, to get stable employment and be much happier in their lives,” said McLean. “I especially want to thank the corn maze and the people who run it and for helping children understand about agriculture and where their food comes from, that is a really important part of the learning process and something we want them to value because we are an agricultural community.


Afterward, McLean was asked what he thought of the helicopter ride.


“Driving by, you don't see it the same way,” he said. “It was really a great opportunity to have a different view of the community I represent. To see all those farms and how they actually lay out in this part of the community.”


Locally, Raise-a-Reader works with groups such as Chilliwack Community Learning Society to increase literacy and raise money for books and programs.


If you plan on taking an amazing journey, the Chilliwack Corn Maze is located at 41905 Yale Rd. in Greendale and is open until October 31st.


For more information or to book the maze for your event, visit www.chilliwackcornmaze.com  or call (604) 819-6203


© Copyright (c) 2013 The Valley Voice



Thanks to the Chilliwack Corn Maze.