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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Military Mystery

I've posted photos of Macaulay Point Park before, highlighting the old gun emplacements of this coastal defense. It's a beautiful spot with many of the old 19th century military structures still intact, including the one above and several others, the uses of which are beyond my understanding. Perhaps there is some military historian out there who can tell me what the above structure is? The structure to the right however is clearly a sacrificial altar. After the captive virgins were annointed with sweet-smelling oils in the underground chambers they were dragged up the stairs to the sun god's altar where the priests waited with their obsidian knives poised....

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


fuschia, Finnerty Gardens, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada

Finnerty Gardens, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, CanadaThe fuschia above was photographed in Finnerty Gardens on the University of Victoria Campus. Victoria prides itself on its many beautiful gardens and Finnerty, while not so famous as Butchart Gardens or the Abkhazi Garden is nevertheless well worth a visit. Unlike the two aforementioned gardens, Finnerty Gardens is free. While the pleasant walks are thickly planted with spring-blooming rhododendrons, it has some other nice blooms even at this time of year.
Well, even though most of us spell the name of this flower fuschia, Wikipedia informs us that it is properly spelled fuchsia. OK?
Finnerty Gardens, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada

Monday, September 28, 2009

École Victor-Brodeur

École Victor-Brodeur, Victoria, BC, Canada

Yesterday's post showed our oldest secondary school, Vic High. Today's photo is of one of our newest schools, École Victor-Brodeur. The name of the school is in French because the school is for students who wish to be educated in French. Canada has two official languages, French and English, and education and other government services must always be available in both languages. I posted this photo to illustrate how school architecture has changed but it's not just the look that has changed. École Victor-Brodeur is a much greener school than Vic High. Many aspects of the building have been designed to lessen the environmental impact of the school. You can read more about École Victor-Brodeur by clicking HERE.École Victor-Brodeur, Victoria, BC, Canada

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Vic High

Victoria High School, Victoria, BC, Canada

Victoria High School, Victoria, BC, Canada
The massive pile of granite and brick above is Victoria High School, the oldest secondary school in Western Canada. It started out as a two room log cabin in 1876. Wikipedia has a good short history of the school you can read by clicking here.I didn't go to Vic High but I graduated from a similarly massive neo-classical style of secondary school in our neighbouring city of Vancouver. This seems to have been the favoured style for secondary schools during the first half of the last century. It's a very solid style of archictecture that places education squarely in the classical tradition. Education has changed a lot in the last 50 years and, as can be seen from the separate entrances to the left and right, so has society. With the information revolution and the internet, I would be surprised if there are any recognizable schools a hundred years hence. Buildings like the above will be little more than museums for an age that's rapidly passing.Victoria High School, Victoria, BC, Canada

Saturday, September 26, 2009

King of the Castle

Yes, that's my shadow. I'm standing on top of the "cairn" that gave this park its original name. It's now called "Highrock Park." Photographers are a bit like goats in liking to get up on top of whatever will provide a view overlooking everything else. As for "King of the Castle," who else remembers the rhyme, "I'm the king of the castle and you're the dirty rascal"? It sounds like one of those folk rhymes that linger in our childhoods from medieval roots. There are some autumn tints in this photo. Fall is here. That's the city of Victoria in the distance.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Spirit Square

Spirit Poles, Spirit Square, Centennial Square, Lekwammen, Totem Poles, Victoria, BC, CanadaIn July the city designated part of Centennial Square (adjacent to the City Hall) as "Spirit Square." It consists of a small outdoor stage and seating area and this native plant garden graced with two small totem poles. A nice feature of this area is the sign below, which provides some insight into the carvings on the poles.Story of the Spirit Poles, Spirit Square, Centennial Square, Lekwammen, Totem Pole, Victoria, BC, Canada

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sussex Place

Sussex Place, Victoria, BC, Canada

The tallest building in the above photo is Sussex Place, one of my favorite downtown Victoria buildings. One reason I like it is that I have a fondness for art deco buildings. But I also like to see new buildings that echo or incorporate pre-existing heritage features. Sussex Place (the tower) was built in 1995 as part of a reworking of the old Sussex Hotel, originally erected in 1938. I also like Sussex Place because every time I've been there there were always people hanging out, drinking coffee, waiting for friends or shopping in the courtyard. You can read a little more about Sussex Place HERE. And, for those interested in architectural history of Victoria, there is an interesting short essay HERE. Sussex Place, Victoria, BC, Canada
Sussex Place, Victoria, BC, Canada

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Aria, Victoria, BC, CanadaAs I ride around this city I see a lot of beauty but I also see a lot of desolation: clean shiny buildings and empty streets and sidewalks, few signs of human interaction or places where it might happen. While we seem to be increasing the amount of residential space in our downtown, it doesn't feel like a growing or vibrant community. It doesn't feel like a community. I don't know why this is but I hope to explore it over the next little while. Today's photo is one of the new downtown condos, called Aria. As you can see it's right in the downtown core across the street from the Marriott Hotel. In the photo below you can see the Fairmont Empress hotel and the back of the Crystal Gardens to the left of the photo. At half-past five on a weekday afternoon, is this a vibrant downtown scene? Is it significant that an aria is a song that is sung by only one person?Aria, Victoria, BC, Canada

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Autumn Equinox

sunset, arbutus, Westsong Walkway, Victoria, BC, CanadaI once lived for several years in an African village close to the equator. I always think of that time when we pass the equinoxes here since they mark the times of the year when the days and nights are nearly the same length. On the equator this is the case all the time with 12 hours of daylight every day. The daylight hours were very important in that village because there was no electricity and very little light after the sun went down. Our relationship to the sun in our urban environments is not so intimate but even here we are affected by the shortening of the days as we move into winter's darkness. Time to get out the Vitamin D!

The above photo was taken on the Westsong Walkway looking towards Westbay Marina in Esquimalt. It is nearly the same shot as THIS.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Party on the Bridge

Johnson Street Bridge, Victoria, BC, Canada, Deryk HoustonOn Sunday afternoon, artist Deryk Houston choreographed a celebration of the Johnson Street Bridge. There were songs and speeches and about 500 red and yellow balloons. The old blue bridge never looked so bright and happy.Johnson Street Bridge, Victoria, BC, Canada, Deryk Houston, balloons(Thanks to who worked with Deryk to stage this event. Thanks also to my daughter Fern Long who provided the top photo.)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mushroom Season

mushrooms, Delta Ocean Pointe Resort, Victoria, BC, CanadaThis is one of those photos that I post just because I like it, without any good reason. I think with this one it's maybe because of the juxtaposition of the palm trees and the mushrooms, which seems a little unusual. Whatever the reason, I like this photo taken from the lawn of the Delta Ocean Pointe Resort near Songhees Point and I hope you do too.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Inside Christ Church Cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral, Victoria, BC, CanadaA couple of weeks ago I posted a photo of the exterior of Christ Church Cathedral. Here's what it looks like on the inside, though no photo can convey the sense of peace that fills this church.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Johnson Street Bridge - Celebration

Johnson Street Bridge, Victoria, BC, CanadaHere's a new way to look at the Johnson Street Bridge. This Sunday (20th September) come down to Reeson Park, right at the bottom of Johnson Street and join the directors of johnsontreetbridge.ORG, artist Deryk Houston of the Collective Works Gallery, and affiliated organizations to Celebrate Victoria’s Blue Bridge. Get together in the park starting from 11 am and at noon there will be a march to the bridge and an art 'event.' Sounds like an interesting Sunday afternoon. I plan to be there. Find out more on the website by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Spiral Cafe

Spiral Cafe, Victoria, BC, CanadaA primary supporter of the Vic West Community is the Spiral Cafe. Here is a coffee shop slash restaurant that actually is everything that Starbucks and Tim Horton would like you to believe they are. The Spiral Cafe is a real community resource that showcases and highlights local artists and musicians, supports Victoria West community events like the annual corn roast, and in general serves as an unofficial community centre. It's all home-grown and my hat's off to the owners and staff. Hey, the coffee is great too!

Spiral Cafe, in Vic West at 418 Craigflower Road.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Zucchini Nascar

Anyone who has a vegetable garden here or who has friends with a garden knows the problems with zucchini. As the end of summer approaches, the zucchini get larger and more numerous. Everybody has zucchini and delivers all their excess to their friends, who are unloading their extra tons of zucchini on other people and so on.... A few lucky zucchini, however, end up transformed into race cars for the Vic West Zucchini Nascar event. One fine vehicle is pictured above having a pit stop. And racers at the starting line can be seen on the right. Unlike the morbidly competitive parent Nascar event, in these races everyone wins. The final event of the annual Vic West Corn Roast is the raffle draw and below is a photo of the event's Master of Ceremonies, Mike Raymer, attempting (unsuccessfully) to cajole local children to draw HIS ticket stub.

Monday, September 14, 2009

C'mon Dad!

The Annual Vic West Corn Roast once again succeeded in being a relaxed, laid-back, and completely pleasant event. I'll post some pics of the fabulous and exciting Zucchini Nascar races tomorrow.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Maritime Museum

Maritime Museum of BC, Bastion Square, Victoria, BC, CanadaBastion Square has numerous heritage buildings but the grandest is the old court house, pictured above. It served as court house from 1889 to 1962 and is now home to the Maritime Museum of British Columbia. It was designed by Hermann Otto Tiedemann and incorporates "...several styles ranging from renaissance revival to neo-baroque." The quote is from Danda Humphreys' fascinating book, "Building Victoria: Men, Myths, and Mortar."Tiedemann also designed the Fisgard Lighthouse. The old courthouse is an evocative piece of local history in itself but the exhibits inside relating to coastal maritime history are equally interesting. When the weather stops being so nice we will take a look inside. If you enjoyed yesterday's panoramic view of Victoria, take a look at what the Maritime Museum offers by clicking HERE. For now, I'm off to the Vic West Corn Roast, today from 12 til 4.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Panoramic View - Johnson Street Bridge to Laurel Point

Take a stroll around Victoria's Inner Harbour by clicking on the tiny pic above. You will then see a panorama 16 megapixels wide. You may have to click it again to see it full size. Then you can scroll from one side to the other. This panorama is 18 separate photos stitched together. My apologies to viewers with a slow internet connection - this photo may take a while to download - it's HUGE. But if you wait for it I think you will enjoy.

Friday, September 11, 2009


Regular visitors will be pleased to find their taste in photos recently vindicated by the local publication, "Monday Magazine" in their annual photo contest. The above photo, which originally appeared here last September, took second place in the Black and White category. This photo was taken on Ogden Point Breakwater, a favorite spot for local photographers. I decided to try do something a little different and set up my tripod on the steps leading to the breakwater so that the camera was just about eye level with the surface of the breakwater. While I was setting up, this kid came along with his family and just stood in front of me. Though I wasn't ready to shoot, sometimes you just take what's offered so I snapped a quick shot. Later at home, when sorting through the day's efforts, I deleted this photo. It was way overexposed and the colors were washed out. I was shooting almost directly into the sun and there was lens flare and though it was a nice try, it was clearly a failure. The image, however, stayed with me and an hour or so later I dug it out of the trash and started to play with it. It finally became such a favorite with me that I have been using it on my business cards since then.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Here's another panorama stitched from two photos taken from Bayview Residences. Yesterday's pano was the view facing eastwards across the downtown and tourist section of the city. Now we are facing northeast. The blue bridge on the right of this photo, the Johnson Street Bridge, marks the division between the lower/inner harbour and the upper harbour, pictured above. This view of Victoria encompasses most of the industrial area of the city. The Gorge waterway stretches away to the left into residential neighbourhoods.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Big Picture

Bayview Residences, view, panorama, downtown VictoriaHere's another photo from my visit to the 9th floor of the Bayview Residences in Vic West. This one is two shots stitched together for a little more panoramic view of downtown Victoria. Click the photo to see a larger version.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

MV Coho - 50 years

MV Coho, Victoria-Port Angeles FerryThe Classic Boat Festival this year paid tribute to a classic ship that has been a feature of our harbour and our long relationship with Port Angeles in the USA since 1959, the MV Coho. The ship operates as a car and passenger ferry between Victoria and Port Angeles in Washington State. Above is a photo of her taken as I often see her when leaving Victoria Harbour on her final voyage of the day. Click here to read an article about the MV Coho in Wikipedia.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Classic Boat Festival

Classic Wooden Boat Festival, Inner Harbour, Fairmont Empress, Victoria, BC, Canada

Every Labour Day Weekend for the last 32 years the Inner Harbour has hosted the Classic Boat Festival. The above photo was taken on the eve of this year's festival and looks very peaceful. Once the festival gets underway the crowds come out to see these wonderful boats. There is so much to delight the eye because, as with classic cars, the owners of these craft pay great attention to detail. Every rope is coiled just so, every bit of brass or chrome gleams with high polish and all that golden teak and rich dark mahogany glows. Many of the boats will allow you to come on board and have a vicarious taste of what it's like to be really rich.Classic Wooden Boat Festival, Inner Harbour, Victoria, BC, Canada
Classic Wooden Boat Festival, Inner Harbour, Victoria, BC, Canada

Sunday, September 6, 2009

City Hall

Victoria City Hall, Victoria, BC, Canada

I've posted a photo of Victoria's City Hall before almost exactly a year ago. But it's an interesting heritage building worth a second look. There's a good short history of it you can read by clicking HERE. The main reason for this post however, is to encourage residents of Victoria to sign a petition requesting the city council to hold a referendum on the Johnson Street Bridge replacement. Please click here to visit the petition site. It will only take a few minutes of your time to make your voice heard on this issue.

Secondly, at City Hall on Tuesday morning at 9:00 am, City Council will unveil three proposed designs for the new $63 million bridge they want to build. This is part of the "public engagement" plan so why not show up and get engaged?

Visit the site to find out more about the issues involved. The city's website on this issue is at
Victoria City Hall, Victoria, BC, Canada
UPDATE: Oops! Looks like we're not invited. The above "presentation" is only for the media.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Best View Part 2

Bayview Residences, Victoria, BC, CanadaYesterday's view from a Bayview Residences 9th floor penthouse was taken facing more or less eastwards. A turn to the right and here's what it looks like towards the south.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Best View in the City?

Bayview Residences, Victoria, BC, CanadaI am happy today to share with you a view of Victoria probably many Victorians have not seen because the first building of the Bayview Residences has only been completed recently. Friendly Bayview representative Kathy Hogan kindly took me up to the 9th floor of this new condo development in Vic West to see the view. I should say views since there are beautiful vistas in every direction. I expect to share a couple more over the next few days but this one of downtown Victoria is a favorite. Thanks Kathy!

There are still a few condos unsold in this building - click here to find out more from their website.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Christ Church Cathedral, Quadra Street

Christ Church Cathedral, Victoria, BC, CanadaI've posted photos of this church before but it's such a splendid building I can't resist continuing to photograph it. If you visit Victoria (or live here) stop in to see Christ Church Cathedral on Quadra Street to get a sense of spirituality expressed in stone.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

K Mountain

K Mountain, Keremeos, Similkameen Valley, BC, CanadaK Mountain dominates the Similkameen Valley above the small settlements of Keremeos and Cawston, where I spent most of my recent holiday. It is not called "K" due to the same naming convention that gave the more famous K2 its name, but because of the way the rock formations appear to form the letter "K" on its slopes. This valley is very fertile wherever it is irrigated. It was originally well-known for its tree fruits but more recently has become home to many small vineyards and wineries.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cowboy Country

White Lake, Okanagan Valley, BC, CanadaOn my recent holiday trip I visited the Okanagan Valley in the southern interior of British Columbia. The area is classed as a semi-arid desert and I love these sagebrush covered landscapes. This photo was taken on the road leading to the Dominion Astrophysical Radio Observatory at White Lake. While the observatory looks like something out of a science fiction movie, the surrounding countryside pictured above is classic boots and saddle scenery.

There is a City Daily Photo Blog in this area, Kelowna, BC, with lots of good photos. Well worth a visit.