If you travel to the Victoria waterfront you will get to Dallas Road. This is the main road along the waterfront and it is indeed a place to see the sights. You are looking out over Juan de Fuca Strait and towards the majestic Olympic Mountains in Washington State, USA. The waterfront has much to offer from incredible sunsets, winter storms, beach walks and lots of activity, as shown in the photo above.

If you want to spend some time on Dallas Road, there is no better place to stay then at Dashwood Manor, located on the corner of Cook Street and Dallas Road. You are right across the street from Beacon Hill Park and feet from the cliffs over Juan de Fuca Strait. The action is at your doorstep. Check it out.

Food For Feather Friends

What a difference a couple of days make! Don't get me wrong. There still is snow around but it is disappearing quickly, just like it is supposed to. That is green grass you see. There is still a lot of white stuff around but it wont be long before we will be back to normal. Green, green and more green. The birds in the winter all get a tad hungry. So we took some leftovers to Esquimalt Lagoon to share with the hungry gulls. They were delighted to see us. I tried to spread it around but as always, the aggressive ones win.

Tough on our Feathered Friends

Our super dump of snow has been really tough on our feathered friends. Everything is covered in so much snow that food is very hard to find. I took chicken scratch to the beach at Esquimalt Lagoon and was feeding it to the ducks. The gulls hardly ever eat the seeds but that day they were right in there with the ducks. The humming birds are also having trouble. One sat on my neighbours feeder all night and was found on the ground in the morning. We have been putting out fresh food daily to try and help. Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be heading to 10C and today the melt has started. Soon the birds can help themselves. Until then.


Well, it is official. As of today, Victoria has more snow than any city in Canada. It even has more snow than the north pole. My goodness. Early this afternoon it was raining. Now it is snowing heavily again. The good news is that our reservoir should fill up again when it melts. The good news is that it is a winter wonderland around Victoria which does not happen very often. The good news is you can still get around on the roads. The good news is that it is Christmas and being home indoors is an option for many people, so there is much less traffic on the roads. The good news is that Victorians seem to be learning how to live and drive in snow. Problems and accidents are down when they usually would be up. The really big blizzard we had in 1996 shut down the City for 3 days. There was no traffic at all for a few days. Amazing that both snow piles have been around Christmas holidays. The good news is that the Saturday forecasts are for 8-10 C. Merry Christmas all. The photo is at the Colwood Golf Course.

Winter Wonderland Maybe!

Well, when you look at this picture, you might think it is from a winter wonderland. Well, it is not. These pictures were taken outside my home on the West Shore of Victoria, in Langford. The snow at our elevation has been a bit more than in downtown Victoria, but quite frankly, we have all had enough. There have been at least three four-wheel drive vehicles stuck in front of my house. My Christmas decorations are buried under several feet of snow. Only part of the head of my reindeer is showing and the trunk of my tree is buried. I cannot drive out of my cul-de-sac and walking is treacherous. I saw a large transport truck stuck this morning on the road behind the grocery store. The driver was digging out. Boy what a job for him. The main roads are OK and the scenery is beautiful. But, it is a pain in the neck. In 1996, we had about twice this much snow and for a few days the entire city did not move. Well, this time, the entire city has slowed somewhat. The bottom line is that the city is not used to this and the snow soon gets wet and heavy and creates even more problems. I grew up on the prairie and experienced weeks of 40 below and really bad driving conditions, but most often we could drive. Not so in my neighbourhood. I am lucky, I live close enough to stores to walk, so I do. If this sounds like a complaint, it is. Otherwise, life is good and the scenery beautiful. I see another weather front moving down Juan de Fuca strait as I write this. Looks like more snow tonight. Soon I will need a step ladder to get the snow to the top of the pile. Merry Christmas. I know ours is going to be white.


Well, it certainly is unseasonably cold. Temperatures in Victoria are about 12C below normal. That means we are freezing. The good news is that it is about 20C warmer here than in most of Canada, including central and northern BC. Some consolation. So here is my suggestion for what to do when it is cold. The Royal BC Museum has enough to see to keep you busy for a good day if you really look at what is there. While there you can take in the IMAX Theatre and get both tickets for a special discounted rate. The IMAX films are always good and the photography is exceptional. So, to avoid the cold take in this superb, world-class attraction. I hear that the Woolly Mammoth now talks to you when you go by. All you have to do is be able to understand "Mammoth". There is also a great gift shop and a good cafe there. Get out of the cold!


Unfortunately it is! Winter has arrive all across Canada. Usually, it might rain here and snow usually only lasts a couple of days. For the first time in many years, we are likely going to have a white Christmas. I was sort of getting really used to the green ones. It was just a couple of weeks ago that I cut my lawn.

Oh well, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. It appears that I will be up early tomorrow doing some more shovelling. We are so used to leaving it and letting the rain wash it away. Earlier today, I walked over to an open house and on the way the sun came out and it was gently raining on me as I walked. By the time I got there, snow was melting and the sun was shinning and the sky was clear blue.

Later on the clouds came back and with it, snow. Yes, that is me in the picture. Merry Christmas

Winter is here

Well, darn if winter didn't arrive two nights ago. My wife and I were at a Sarah Brightman concert and she had a winter scene on stage. Then all of a sudden the power failed and boom, the windows above us blew open. Then it started to snow in the building. When we left the theatre, we had to plow through the snow to our car and take a rather treacherous ride home. Such is life in paradise. It seems as if we are getting one good dump of snow almost every year now and boy did a cold spell come with it. Our family and friends on the prairies in Alberta would call us sissies. For Victoria -3C is cold and it may get even a few degrees colder. Yikes. The nice part is that the sky is clear and the sun is shining. The forecast is for cool temperatures all this week. Poor us. The photo is of the top of Mount Finlayson in Goldstream Provincial Park as seen from the Bear Mountain Resort.

Butchart Gardens at Christmas

When you go out to Butchart Gardens in December, you are entering a winter wonderland. The flower beds are lit with thousands of lights but everything is decorated as well. One of the coolest things they do is have an outdoor skating rink in the square next to the gift shop. It was raining when I went there but that did not deter West Coast kids. If you get a chance take in Butchart at Christmas.

Winter is on its way

Living in Victoria and watching the national news, it is hard to believe we are in winter. From the interior of BC to Newfoundland, we see reports of snow, bad road conditions for driving and other problems. As it is very green in the winter, it is hard to relate to the winter that the rest of Canada gets. When we look at the Olympic Mountains just across the Strait of Juan de Fuca and watch the snow caps build, it is our reminder. Word has it that it might snow this weekend. Good thing is, if it last more than two days, we are really in winter. Come for a visit and see why we live here. Winter in Victoria is much easier to take.

Natures Wonder

Sometimes when you look out your window the wonders of nature unfold. A couple of days ago was no exception. My office window looks toward the ocean and the sunset was so spectacular, scenes like this were happening every couple of minutes. This one was particularly awe-inspiring. A picture cannot quite capture the magnificence of the moment, but it can give you an idea of what I was seeing. Enjoy another part of Vancouver Island.

Olympic Mountains Juan de Fuca Strait

One of the joys of living in Victoria is that we get to look at the Olympic Mountains and enjoy their beauty as they back drop the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Each day is a new picture and today was no exception. Enjoy

Endangered Species?

Recent studies are indicating that the food supply for the Southern Vancouver Island Resident Orca (Killer Whale) population is shrinking, threatening the existence of these beautiful, peaceful animals. There are just too many people on the planet and the drain on our resources is affecting everything. The signs are there but the changes seem to be too slow. Many fisheries have been closed due to shortages, so it is no wonder the whales are running low on food. They move great distances each day in search of food. I am not sure of the answers but we need some. From May to September these whales spend there time around Victoria, the San Juan Islands and the Gulf Islands and Georgia and Juan de Fuca Straits. Photo courtesy of Orca Girl, Chantelle Tucker.

Olympic Mountains

The end of November is often frequented by high winds and seasonal downpours, however this year has been exceptionally mild. A couple of days ago I was near the water in Esquimalt and took this picture which shows the majestic Olympic Mountains which are now snow-capped. They are giants and rise right out of the sea (Juan de Fuca Strait). The water was calm and made for great picture taking.

The Stinking Fish Studio Tour & Sale

Each year in the western part of Victoria (Metchosin & East Sooke) there is a grand studio tour called the Stinking Fish Studio Tour. There is art, crafts, woodworking, metal working, pottery, floral arts, mosaics, and much, much more. This is a great tour. All you need is a map and you are off and running. Some of the venues are also very special homes. You can find a copy of the map on their web site.

Metchosin and East Sooke are located in a beautiful coastal area of Vancouver Island near Victoria, BC. The artists and artisans involved in the tour and sale have chosen to live and work here because they finding inspiration in this special part of Vancouver Island. the tour features the best of fine art and fine craft on the southern island and the setting is incredible. Come out and enjoy it and meet the artists, view what they do and perhaps take something special home with you.

Craigdarroch Castle

In the heart of Victoria iies a magnificent castle. Craigdarroch Castle was built by a wealthy coal baron named Robert Dunsmuir. Located off Fort Street at 1050 Joan Crescent, Victoria, BC, Canada, Craigdarroch Castle is a Victorian-era mansion, built in the late 1800s. It is a short drive from Victoria's inner harbour or a walk of about 20 minutes from downtown Victoria. It is owned and operated by the Craigdarroch Castle Historical Museum Society. It iis 4.5 stories tall and has 87 stairs to get to the top. The house, furnishings and gardens are being restored to the way they were when originally buit. Take one giant step back in time to see just how well the rich and famous lived in Victoria before the 19th century. We should all be so fortunate.

Chinatown School

When you visit Victoria take in our Chinatown. It is the oldest one on the West Coast of North America and has a great history. If you travel East on on Fisgard towards Douglas Street you will pass by the Chinese School. It is a photo opportunity for sure. There is much more to see in Chinatown as well. There are shops, hidden alleys, and much more. Be sure to check out the Gates of Harmonius Interest.

French Beach in November

Just about 40 minutes from Victoria is French Beach Provincial Park. On Nov. 19th I went there to do some video. When I arrived, there were two young children playing near the water in their T-shirts. It was so warm and sunny for this time of the year. There were only two groups of people there other than me, so it was very peaceful. The water was gently washing against the shoreline and the sky was blue and clear. The water was sparkling blue and I don't think you could find a better day at French Beach. The tide was in and while I was there it started to recede uncovering the sandy beach. At high water only the rocky beach is exposed. There was a stream coming out of the gravel on the beach, which is common on these types of beaches. This is a favourite spot for locals. Check it out next time you are in Victoria.

Winter Has Its Drawbacks

When winter comes to Vancouver Island, one of the drawbacks is that we get some rain and every once in a while, we get some strong winds. Every year thousands of trees blow down and often the take out power lines leaving many people without power. I guess if this is the worst we have to deal with we are no so bad off. Here is one of those incidents that just didn't quite make the grade. Who knows, the weight of this tree might snap the line tomorrow.

`150 Yearts Old

This year the province of British Columbia is 150 years old. There have been celebrations all over the province. Just outside the BC Provincial Museum and across the street from the Legislative Buildings is a unique photo opportunity. You can take your picture with some of BC greatest personalities and celebrities. Many of them are there. That's me next to Bruno Gerusi (from the Beachcombers) and with my friends Cougar Annie (left), Rick Handsen (front row), Nancy Green-Raine, (front row), Chief Dan George (top row), Relic (from the Beachcombers). and more. Truth is, I grew up with Jackson Davies from the Beachcombers, but the rest of them, I never really met. Get you picture taken and you can make up your own story.

Fun in the Sun

On a glorious sunny November day I went down to Dallas Road which is the ocean front street along Juan de Fuca Strait. A young man was launching his parasail and his buddy was launching his sailboard. The parasail shot out into the Strait almost out of site, then back and forth to shore and out again into the strait. As his buddy moved out into the strait, I managed to catch the two of them passing each other. It looked like a lot of fun and the water was sparkling blue in the full sun. My sister lives on a prairie lake and it has frozen up. Not so in sunny Victoria.

Lest We Forget

I have been able to live the current portion of my existence on the planet in a free country with a democratically elected government and I have not had to go to war to protect that freedom. I owe that to those who have gone before me and fought to protect the "free" world and give us our freedom. When I decided to move to Victoria from Alberta, I just did it. I didn't have to ask, to go through government red tape, nothing! I feel so lucky to have a life without war. It bothers me that there is still so much conflict in the world and that the young men and women of our country have to be in places like Afganistan to try and protect the freedoms of others. Just today, someone threw acid on some young girls who were going to school in Afganistan. We are so lucky and we owe such a gratitude of debt to those who have lost their lives and given them so freely for our country. Lest we forget! It was great to see so many people at our Nov. 11th ceremony where I live. The vets in the parade are at the top left.

Butterfly Gardens Victoria BC

Well, winter has descended upon us. Rain is around although we have had an exceptional fall. Today the sun is shinning and it has been unseasonably warm. However, outdoor activities are slowing down a bit. I am a fair weather golfer, so I have pretty much stopped golfing. So, if you are looking for something neat to do that is indoors, try Butterfly Gardens. This attraction is only about 20 minutes from downtown Victoria and there is ample free parking. It is only a short distance from the world famous Butchart Gardens, so you might want to visit both the same day. Butterfly Gardens is a tropical jungle paradise tucked inside a building. In addition to the butterflies there are brightly coloured fish - tropical birds - hundreds of ornate plants, including an exquisite orchid display. This is quite an attraction and worth a visit. It is located at 1461 Benvenuto Road in Brentwood Bay.

Malahat Mountain Inn

As you drive up the Malahat Drive, you will continue to marvel at the awesome views. If you get hungry, stop by the Malahat Mountain Inn Restaurant. There is an outside balcony where you can dine in better weather. The views from the balcony are inspiring. The food is quite delicious and the prices are a bit over the norm but not out of site. This is a great place to dine if you are spending a day exploring the Malahat Drive.

Little Mountain

Next time you are in Parksville be sure and check out "Little Mountain". To get there take Highway 4A from Parksville toward Coombs. Just a little way from Parksville, take a left at Bellevue Road and then left again at Little Mountain Road. Follow the Road to the top and park in the lot near the communication tower. Just over the concrete barrier you can take a short walk to the edge. Don't get too close, the next step is a really long drop. The views from here toward Mount Arrowsmith are spectacular. This is a little secret only know to locals. Check it out. It does not take long to get there.

Sea Lion Caves

If you travel west from Victoria, just past lost creek is a trail that leads down to the water where some sea lions have taken up residence. This is unusual because they don't often set up home on shore as opposed to an off shore island. In the winter, hundreds of sea lions take up residence in Juan de Fuca strait. If you go to Race Rocks Light Station, you will see hundreds of them. They are fascinating, especially when you see them underwater. The trail to the caves is somewhat of a secret. The "Secrets of Victoria" has a detailed map to the cave. It is a flat trail until you cross the Juan de Fuca trail, then it drops rapidly towards the water. It is not an easy trail as can be seen by the picture shown here. It gives you breath taking views of the strait and you can get pretty close to the sea lions. People are encouraged not to get too close as it bothers the sea lions. That is why it is not advertised as a stop along the Juan de Fuca trail.

What is a Steam Donkey?

The steam monster shown here is actually calle a "Steam Donkey" because it used steam power to replace the donkey use to drag logs out of the woods. A "line horse" would carry the cable out to a log in the woods. The cable would be attached, and, on signal, the steam donkey's operator (engineer) would open the regulator, allowing the steam powered machine (donkey) to drag the log towards it. The log was taken to a mill or for shipment by rail, road or river. In some cases logs were loaded onto boats or floated directly in the water. Donkeys were moved by attaching a cable to a tree, a stump or something very secure and then the donkey would drag itself to a new location. Logging was a big part of the history of Ladysmith. To read more about ladysmwith, click here.

Fall Farm Forum and Community Festival

On a warm Fall day in October, what are you supposed to do? Well, why not go to Sooke and take in their Fall Farm Forum and Community Festival. We did and it was pretty darn amazing. There was enough information to sink a city slicker. There were tons of displays and some pretty neat things for kids to do. Our granddaughter was busy making apple juice (right) and she had a marvelous time putting together her own scarecrow, which she was very proud of. It now sits out front of her home in Fairfield where it is ready to greet fall visitors and halloweeners.
The display of mushrooms (left) was incredible. I had no idea that there were so many different mushrooms growing in our forests. I am not sure what is going on in Victoria right now, but the late fall weather has been exceptional for October. Yahoo!

Viewpoint Extraordinaire

If you want to see on of the best view points on Vancouver Island you will need to drive north of Victoria towards Duncan. As you leave Langford in the West of Victoria you will come across the Malahat Drive which begins near Goldstream Park. You will steadily climb up the Malahat. There are two view points on your right as you reach the summit. Stop at both. The first one has spectacular views back towards Victoria along Saanich Inlet. On a clear day you can see the Olympic Mountains in Washington State. There is always something spectacular to see at this view point. Then when you reach the summit, you will find another viewpoint hidden behind a split rock. The views from here are unbelievable. You can see out into the Gulf Islands. You can see all of Saanich Peninsula. You look down into Saanich Inlet and Brentwood Bay across the Inlet. You can watch the Brentwood-Mill Bay Ferry crossing below. Just across the way is Senanus Island. Below the surface of this island starting at about 80 feet are massive cloud sponges covering the wall as it descends to some 700 feet deep. Looking across Saanich Peninsula you will see the airport and Sidney by the Sea. Past that are the American San Juan Islands. The views go on for ever. If the weather is clear on the mainland you will also see beautiful Mount Baker in Washington State. Enjoy.

Goldstream Salmon Spawn

At this time of the year, the trees are just starting to turn. The Malahat Drive through Goldstream park is paved with Gold. The trees are so golden right now, in full sun it is magical. The Salmon are starting to spawn and so locals and tourists are start to visit the park to watch this phenomenal spectacle. It is so beautiful in the park at this time of the year. In the morning sun, when there is mist on the river, the park is magical for sure. It is well worth the visit. While there be sure to visit the nature centre for detailed information on the spawn and to see the Eagle Cam that you can operate with a remote control. Put Goldstream Park on your list of fall "to-dos". The picture at the left shows visitors watching the salmon and viewing the salmon that have already spawned and died. Then the eagles come to feast on the dead carcases".

Tea Time in Qualicum Beach

On the Thanksgiving weekend we had the fortune to stay at the Tea Cozy Bed and Breakfast in Qualicum Beach. This gem of a B&B is just minutes from the Qualicum Beach town centre, Parksville, and the beautiful beaches in the area. The hosts Hans and Tannis did a great job. It is such a cozy place, so warm and comfortable and Hans' breakfast is second to none. We really enjoyed our stay. For pictures and the complete story Click Here. If you want to view the Tea Cozy the go to their web site.

Explore Vancouver Island

If you get off the main road and search the secondary roads of Vancouver Island you will find many gems. This weekend we did just that. From Ladysmith we went with our friends Darryl and Edith to a small pub just a short drive north of Chemainus. There is a small community along the road there called Saltaire and it has a pub, the Saltaire Pub! Amazing name eh! It was the middle of the afternoon and the pub was surprizingly busy. They were getting the pub ready for a Thanksgiving Buffet in a few hours.

I had an order to crab cakes. I got four crab cakes that were huge and they were very tasty. I ordered some fries to go with them, but really didn't need them. My wife had a crab and artichoke dip on pita bread and she thought it was pretty good also. Darryl had chicken wings and Edith had chicken strips. There was a large variety of good beer available also. We all thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon snack.

Pubs like this are not all that easy to find, but they are worth exploring for.

Spook Season Hits Victoria

Victoria has a long history of mystery, intreague and hauntings. Bastion Square's Maritime Museum used to be the court house and Judge Begbie, the hanging judge as he was called, worked here. Bastion Square is supposed to be haunted. Camille's restaurant in Bastion Square has a special table set for haunted residents. On Belleville Street, the Judge's House which is now part of Gatsby Mansion was called the "Haunted House" and was a tourist attraction. The attraction is now closed, but the house is really haunted. Other attractions in Victoria are also haunted. Those include Point Ellice House and Craigdarroch Castle. St. Ann's Academy is also haunted and on Halloween they often put on a program about paranormal activities. The Empress Hotel has great ghost history and you can take tours of the Empress. There are also stories about a ghostly lady who appears on one of the holes at the Victoria Golf Course and there is much more. A local historian, John Adams conducts Ghostly Walks every night at 7:30 p.m.from now until Oct. 23. Johns Ghostly Walks take place every night at 7:30, plus Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 and 9:30 pm. These start at the Tourism Victoria Visitor Info Centre at the north-east corner of the Inner Harbour. The schedule increases from Oct. 24-Nov. 1 when John offer tours everynight at 6:30, 7:30, 8:30 and 9:30 pm, starting from the lobby of the Bedford Regency Hotel. From Nov. 8 through the end of Feb. the tours continue on Saturday nights at 7:30 pm from the Visitor Info Centre. Check out John's Web Site

The Final Approach

When you travel around Vancouver Island you will likely want to know where you can get a good meal. Generally, I just ask the locals. Most often they will lead you to the best places. It sure has worked for me. Now I have a sweet tooth so it has been my mission to find the best places for ice cream cones, my major weekness. I also like great pie. Lemon Merange, Banana Cream, and Pumpkin Pie are among my favourites. I really like Pecan pie, Strawberry Rubarb, Apple, and a host of others.For years, a lady in Sooke made pies for Mom’s cafe. The pie there was fantastic. I have not been there for a while so I hope that is still the case. Just recently I found a restaurant at the airport in Qualicum Beach. I had heard the food was pretty good there and it surely is. After a couple of visits, one person right behind me asked what was for desert. The waiter rattled off a list of pie that would knock your socks off. When he brought it out, he did a masterful job of marketing. He walked around the restaurant making sure everyone had a good look at the pie. That was good enough for me. I tried my favourite, banana cream. The crust is unbelieveable and very flakey. Not sure how many times I have been back there. Just recently I had a buffalo burger there and it was outstanding.I have introduced this place to many of my friends and aquaintences. Now I am introducing it to the world. The Final Approach is a great spot to eat. Everytime I am in there it is full of locals. Often times you will need a reservation. It is located at 3-1000 Ravensbourne Lane in Qualicum Beach, BC. Phone (250) 752-8966.You can sit inside our out on their patio. The planes come and go on the tarmac right outside the restaurant. You can get much closer without sitting in the plane. When in Qualicum, I recommend you give this place a try. For more photos click here

Tauca Lea Resort Ucluelet

If you are looking for adventure you should check out Ucluelet BC. While there, I recommend you try the Tauca Lea Resort. You can read the details of this resort and of Ucluelet on our Travel Magazine. The Wild Pacific Trail is a must see and the new golf course at the WyndanSea Golf Resort was designed by Jack Nicklaus and it is a sight to behold. If you get a chance take a boat ride into the Broken Group Islands there are spectacular. If you can kayak there, even better. This is probably the best area on Vancouver Island for outdoor excitement. It is well worth a visit and there is lots to see and do on the way there as well. The Resort is magnificent and the food exceptional. Even if you do not stay there, go there for dinner. I hope you take my advice and visit Ucluelet and the WyndanSea Resort Golf Course.

Darth Fiddler - Victoria's Busking Original

Busking, or street performing, has been around for a long, long time. In the Medieval Ages, merchants would often invite entertainers to perform in front of their stores to attract passers-by. It was a symbiotic relationship that bore excellent results for all involved: pedestrians were entertained and spent more money; merchants and performers brought in extra cash.

Throughout recent years, countless North American buskers have become famous after starting their careers on city streets. For example: Pierce Brosnan (fire-eating), Cirque du Soleil (acrobatics), George Burns, Steve Martin, and Robin Williams (comedians), Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton, and Loreena McKennitt (musicians) - to name a few!

Downtown Victoria is full of such performers all year round. Musicians, mimes, and magicians add fun and colour to a leisurely afternoon walk. One of these characters is putting Victoria on the map by becoming famous (or infamous), on the Internet: a violinist who dresses up as Darth Vader, dubbed "Darth Fiddler" by his fans.

He can often be found near Victoria's Inner Harbour or on Government Street, or just Google "Darth Fiddler" to find pictures, blog entries, and videos about him. He has recently been featured on CBC Radio, in Victoria's Entertainment and Tourist Magazines, and PEI's Entertainment Magazine, "The Buzz." His image has even shown up on a door at the hip Hotel Max in Seattle, Washington . Guides announce him on tours around Victoria, and he is a common topic of cruise ship visitors when they arrive in town.

If you do happen to find him, be sure to get your photo taken with him and drop him a bill or two. Beneath the dark mask and perpetual histrionics, he's actually a real nice guy.

A Tale of Two Castles by Lisa Cole

Photo Courtesy of Craigdarroch Castle

Victoria is a city teeming with art, culture, and beautiful architecture. There aren’t too many places in Canada where you can walk down a particular street and feel like you’ve suddenly arrived in the Great Britain, Ireland, or Scotland of old. Contributing to Victoria’s rich history are two Victorian Era mansions that are so majestic and immense that they are now referred to as castles: Craigdarroch and Hatley Gardens. Each belonged to members of the Dunsmuir family – one to a father, and one to a son. The story of these two castles and their relationship to one another reads like a fairy tale . . . Read the rest of the story at our Vancouver Island Travel Magazine

The Sidney Waterfront Experience by Lisa Cole

Unlike some people who seem to breeze through the process of getting their wisdom teeth out, I had a difficult time of it. My face swelled to twice its normal size and the pain was unbearable. And, as soon as I started feeling better, I had to catch up with several project deadlines. Needless to say, when the work was done, I was feeling frazzled. I needed to get away for a day, to unwind and let my face heal. Luckily, I live in Victoria, BC, where one doesn’t have to go far to escape the busyness of city life. When Sidney’s Waterfront Inn, Ocean Palm Spa, and Beacon Landing Pub teamed up to offer me a twenty-four hour getaway, I took them up on it . . . Read the rest of the story at our Vancouver Island Travel Magazine

Beatuiful Cowichan Bay

The plan was to do some kayaking on Cowichan Bay, however it was thwarted by an injury. Too bad it was a gorgeous day. The water was like glass and the sun was shinning. There was lots of explore in Cowichan Bay. We opted out for a dinner and the Rock Cod Cafe. If you are looking for a good menu of seafood and a nice place to spend the day, you should give Cowichan Bay a try. If you like fish and chips, then try the Rock Cod Cafe. The pieces of halibut are enormous. Check out Cowichan Bay.

A Serene Fall Day

Here it is mid-September in Victoria. This is our fall. Well, not quite! It is a warm sunny day and we are on beautiful and serene Langford Lake, a little secret that many people who live in Victoria don't even know or experience. The entry was easy off a level boat ramp off Leigh in Langford. The water was calm and the sun shining. People were fishing all over the lake. No powerboats are allowed on this lake, so it was a very peaceful paddle in bright sunlight. It doesn't get much better than this. There are a number of fishing docks and piers around the lake that the municipality built and as we passed one, some young anglers pulled in a small trout. Nice day. Check out the West Shore of Victoria next time you are around. You just might be surprised.

Broom or Bust - Capt. Walter Grant

Vancouver Island is covered with golden hillsides resulting from Scotch broom and many people think it’s a pretty wildflower that belongs here. It spreads aggressively and rapidly growing so dense that it is often impenetrable. It prevents reforestation, creates a high fire hazard, renders rangeland worthless and greatly increases the cost of maintenance of roads, ditches, power and telephone lines.

In 1850 Captain Walter Grant planted some broom from some seeds he had picked up in the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) from the British consul and his original three plants germinated at Sooke and have since colonized Vancouver Island, Washington and Oregon States. Scotch broom grows so well in this area that it's driven out many native plants.

The picture at the right is a commemorative cairn in Sooke that was in honor of Captain Walter Grant. Looks like it is falling apart. Too bad!

Unique View of Inner Harbour

If you are looking for a unique view into the Inner Harbour I suggest you travel down Esquimalt Road and turn at the first left on to Songhees Road at the new Bayview tower and follow the road along the water until you get to a point where the entrance to the Harbour narrows considerably. You will know you are there when you see two totem poles marking the spot. There are great views of the Harbour, the blue bridge and all the traffic coming to Victoria via water and float plane. This spot is action central and you get great photos of the Empress, the yachts visiting, etc. Check it out.

Classic Boat Festival

The Classic Boat Festival is a great way for summer to end. The Inner Harbour is alive with activity. There are lots of old boats to view and explore. There is a blues bash going on at Ship's Point and the causeway is very busy. This is as festive as Victoria gets. Next year plan to attend.

Secret Playground

Looking for a place where you can crawl, slide, swing, bump, jump, shoot or kick balls, and a whole lot more, check out the Family Fun Park at Eagle Ridge Community Centre in Langford. The Park has an great indoor play apparatus shown to the right, as well as a brand new mini golf and a ballarama, which is a place with 4 cannons that shoot very soft balls at targets. It is pretty cool and there will soon be a water park there as well. If you are in Greater Victoria and have children, this is one place you will want to visit.

Sooke - A place to eat.

Sooke is a small community about 45 minutes west of downtown Victoria. It is a wilderness area that has much to offer. There are not a lot of places to eat in Sooke but there are some good ones. The Sooke Harbour House is world famous and serves up incredible food. Markus' Wharfside is a great place for dinner. For down home cooking try Mom's Cafe (shown to the right). It is legendary. Enjoy yourself in Sooke.

Symphony Splash

This weekend British Columbia is celebrating its 150th birthday. There is three days of celebration and entertainment in the Inner Harbour. Today, Symphony Splash is happening and it is one great concert. The Victoria Symphony play musich to thousands of people who line the Inner Harbour and the lawn of the Provincial Legislature. The harbour is also full of every kind of boat, kayak and canoe you can imagine. Everyone wants a good seat. If you are in Victoria on the long weekend in August be sure to take in this fantastic event. The event finishes with fireworks. Wow what a performance!

North American Indigenous Games

The North American Indigenous Games are about to begin in Duncan. The event was kicked off by a massive voyage of canoes from First Nations from Alaska to Oregon. The Paddlers landed in Cowichan Bay for a massive feast sponsored by the Provincial Government. Thousands attended to watch this historic event. You can check out what the people of the Cowichan are doing to host these games (Click Here)

China Town

Victoria has one of the oldest China Towns in North America. It is a facinating place and is full of mystery. It has a network of narrow alleyways and a good number of restaurants and shops. The photo to the right shows a unique statue on the corner of Pandora and Government Streets. Check it out. It is not big but very intersting.

Marshmallow Farm

In the Cowichan Valley (the warm land) you can find fertile marshes that produce some of the finest marshmallows know to mankind. It seems when the marsh is in prime condition in the spring, and the mallow is tilled during this peak time, production is very high. This combined with the warm summer breezes in the Cowichan Valley produce the very fine and extra-large varieties of Marsh Mallows. Somewhere in the hills of the Cowichan Valley there is a secret factory that transforms these delicious marshmallows in to regular sized marshmallows and also the mini varieties. Look for "Cowichan Valley Mallows" in a store near you.
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