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Friday, August 31, 2012

Brentwood Bay

Here's a pleasant day trip we took yesterday. We traveled from Victoria to Brentwood Bay in Saanich and took a small car ferry across Saanich Inlet to Mill Bay. Then we drove to Chemainus to see the "world famous" murals and have lunch. After that we headed back to Victoria on the Malahat Highway stopping briefly to have a look at the amazing Kinsol Trestle.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Port Angeles Underground

Here's a last glimpse of Port Angeles, a large mural that depicts an extraordinary engineering feat a hundred years ago. Early Port Angeles was built on tidal flats and this led to sanitary problems and flooding as the town grew. It began to look like the only solution was to tear down all the buildings in the downtown core and rebuild them on higher ground. The city government, however, came up with an ambitious plan to simply raise the level of the city as much as 15 feet in some areas. They did this by spraying high pressure jets of water onto hillsides above the town and channeling the river of mud that resulted down the streets of the town where it settled. There it was contained between concrete walls. Roadways and sidewalks were built on top of the mud when it had settled and dried and most of the ground floors of downtown buildings became basements. Our Heritage Tour took us underground into some of the eerie, echoing spaces that still exist beneath the buildings and sidewalks. These spaces are now empty but initially they had some strange tenants, including a miniature underground golf course.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Red Goose Shoe Store - Port Angeles, USA

On Our recent trip to Port Angeles we joined a Heritage Tour of the town led by Don Perry. Don has an extensive knowledge of the history of Port Angeles and his tour of the city both above ground and below is a fascinating way to spend a few hours and see bits of the living history of the city impossible to discover on one's own. Above is a heritage building for many years occupied by the Red Goose Shoe Store. Formerly it was a saw store catering to the important lumbering industry. That's the main floor of the building. A separate entrance led to the upstairs part of the building. The upper floor was divided up into about 18 tiny rooms where young women would provide brief, private entertainments for men visiting the city, primarily loggers and sailors since, in addition to the extensive forest industry in the hinterland, the city's deep water port was home to the Pacific Fleet. To the left is one of the larger rooms available, partially restored. Most of the rooms were barely large enough to hold a double bed.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fog Bow

On our way back from our recent trip across the water to Port Angeles we passed through some fog and witnessed the phenomenon pictured above. It was a colorless bright arc that seemed to follow the ship as we moved through the water. I Googled "white rainbow" since I had never seen one before and had no idea what its proper name might be. Quite logically it is called a fog bow and Wikipedia has a brief article explaining how it arises. It is also known as a seadog.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Paddle Boarding


Here is another exciting new summer activity that we see lots of around here these days. People seem to really enjoy it both on the lakes and in the Gorge. In Mexico we even saw people surfing on them. Fantastic way to enjoy the great outdoors. - Fern

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Swan Dive

It may be the end of August and the days are getting both cooler and shorter but that didn't stop a group of young men at Thetis Lake from spending the afternoon perfecting their diving techniques. - Fern

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Positive Signs

My hat's off to the Harbour Authority for the new signs they have posted on the Causeway. The city has a traditionally negative approach to the public's behavior (No Skateboarding, No Rollerblading, No Bicycle Riding, No Hacky Sacking, and my favorite community spirit killer in public squares - NO Loitering). Conversely, the new Harbour Authority signs encourage positive behavior rather than forbidding negative activities. And instead of that daunting red circle with a bar across it we have green and white images that suggest users of the causeway should carry their skateboards or rollerblades, walk their bicycles and keep their dogs on a leash. Much better!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Plasterman Revisited

A couple of weeks ago I posted a photo of Plasterman, a mime artist who performs as a living statue on the Inner Harbour Causeway. In addition to video recording some of the musical artists on the causeway I've lately been shooting video of Plasterman. He's an interesting performer and you can expect to see more of him here soon.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Little Later

Yesterday's Inner Harbour photo was taken just after sunset. Here's the Causeway a little later when night has fallen.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


As the sun sets on another summer day the lights begin to glow in the twilight on Victoria's Inner Harbour Causeway. I've published photos of the Causeway after dark often but I never get tired of it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

One Man Band - Dave Harris

I've been spending a lot of time down on the Inner Harbour Causeway lately for several reasons. It's one of my favourite places in this city, especially when the weather is warm enough to be out in the evenings. I've also been spending more time recently shooting video of some of the entertainers who busk on the Causeway. A special project has been to record some of the performances of our famous One Man Band, Dave Harris. Below is a video of Dave's extraordinary version of the classic Orange Blossom Special. Take a close listen to the Harmonica/fiddle/drum break near the middle of the recording - it's an amazing performance. You can see more of Dave Harris on his YouTube Channel HERE.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Canadian Beaver (Castor canadensis)

On a recent trip to Lake Cowichan, 111 km NW from Victoria, we spotted this beaver swimming quite close to shore. It's the first time I'd ever seen one and it was a very canadian moment. For more info on our national animal, here is a link to Wikipedia. - Fern

Sunday, August 19, 2012


This is such a classic photographic mishap...since I missed the shot I thought I might as well share the moment anyway, at least to amuse others who have shared this experience. - Fern

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Port Angeles Kalakala Mural

Port Angeles has several fine murals of the history of the city but the most extraordinary is the one pictured above. It was painted by Cory Ench in 1995 and depicts the Kalakala, a ferry that served many routes in the Puget Sound Area including the Port Angeles - Victoria route for some years. The Kalakala was launched in 1935 and its futuristic design made it world famous shortly thereafter. The Kalakala (a Chinook Jargon word meaning "Flying Bird") still exists and is being restored though I gather that the work is somewhat mired in controversy. You can read about the fascinating history of this extraordinary Art Deco ship and see some photographs and video on its website by clicking HERE.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Ogden Point Breakwater

Continuing with our departure from Victoria, this is the Ogden Point Breakwater that marks the entrance (or exit in this case) to the Inner Harbour. It provides a sheltered anchorage for the Ogden Point Cruise Ship Terminal. It's a favourite spot for Victorians to stroll on and a favourite picture-taking location for me.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Inner Harbour Departure

When planning our recent trip to Port Angeles I must confess that one of my ulterior motives was to take some photos of the Inner Harbour of Victoria from a reasonably stable platform in the harbour itself. So, before we start to look at the revealed beauties of Port Angeles we will take a leisurely departure from Victoria as experienced on the deck of the MV Coho, the ship that has been carrying cars and passengers between Victoria and Port Angeles in the USA for over 50 years.

The green roofed buildings in the background center are the BC Legislative Assembly Buildings. The Grecian styled building in the right foreground was built as the Canadian Pacific Steamship Terminal. More recently it was occupied by the Royal London Wax Museum. Currently it is empty though rumour has it that a new tenant will soon occupy this building. The relatively tall building on the far left is the Royal BC Museum and Imax Theatre, currently featuring dinosaurs.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Day Trip - Port Angeles, Washington, USA

Though I've traveled around the world a couple of times there are still places within a day's journey from Victoria that I've never visited. One of these places is the lovely little city of Port Angeles, Washington. My brother and I boarded the MV Coho yesterday morning for the 90 minute crossing to Port Angeles. We arrived at noon and walked from the terminal up into the town for lunch. In the afternoon we experienced some of the unusual history of Port Angeles under the guidance of Mr. Don Perry, a local historian who has done much to collect and preserve the city's history. He led us on a tour that took us beneath the city and then above its shops and storefronts and exposed some of the fascinating history that is embodied in the heritage buildings of Port Angeles. I'll share a little more about this city over the next few days.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Butterfly Days

After a notably wet and chilly June, Victoria's been having a wonderful summer full of sunny days when it seems like you spend a few minutes pottering about in the garden amongst the buzzing bees and fluttering butterflies and suddenly it's sunset. I hope your summer's as full of these lazy days as ours is.

Monday, August 13, 2012


We stopped to get fresh veggies at this local farm stand, Silver Rill Farms, a local favorite for corn, among many other things. They also had this beautiful field of sunflowers and I am quite smitten with the deep red ones. - Fern

Sunday, August 12, 2012


On our way back from Dean Park we stopped at several local fruit stands which, at this time of year are overflowing with beautiful and delicious local produce. - Fern

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The View from Pickles' Bluff

I mentioned in yesterday's post that Fern and I visited John Dean Provincial Park in Saanich. The park consists of the summit of Mount Newton and is about a half hour's drive from Victoria. The parking lot is fairly close to the summit and we chose a trail that led to Pickles' Bluff. It overlooks the eastern side of the Saanich Peninsula. The two nearest islands are James Island and Sidney Island, both in the Canadian Gulf Islands. Further out we are looking across the Canada-USA International Border. The sandy looking island is in the USA. It is Spieden Island, one of the San Juan Islands. It is currently home to a number of exotic species of sheep and deer whose ancestors were imported during the 1970s as prey when the island was a private game preserve. Hunting is no longer allowed on the island. That is Mount Baker that can be seen in the distance. I have not been able to discover how our viewpoint, Pickles' Bluff, got its name but the apostrophe leads me to think that "Pickles" was the name of an early settler who homesteaded nearby. There are several other homestead sites on the mountain, one of which was owned by John Dean, after whom the park is named.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora)

A few years ago I triumphantly posted a photo of my first sighting of the ghostly white saprophyte known as Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora). I've seen them a half dozen times since when walking in the forest but until sharp-eyed Fern spotted these yesterday I had not seen them at this stage of their development. Now the flowers no longer face downwards but have gone to seed and turned upwards. These were sighted near the summit of Mount Newton in East Saanich.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Welcome To Victoria!

Though he's generally dressed in white he's one of the more colorful characters performing on the Inner Harbour Causeway in the summer season. This is Plasterman, a living statue whose mime artistry causes more jaw-dropping amazement than any other Causeway act. I always enjoy watching people - especially kids - walk past him then do a double take. Passersby often gather in little knots discussing whether he's a person or a statue. Kids edge up for a closer look and, just at the crucial moment, Plasterman jerks into motion, inevitably causing squeals and giggles. With Plasterman, however, it always ends with hugs all round and visitors with happy memories of Victoria. Plasterman has a website you can visit by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Kitesurfing at Clover Point Park

Last week I mentioned that because Clover Point Park gets a lot of wind, it is popular with wind-driven sports. Today's photo and video is of an extreme sport with growing popularity called Kitesurfing.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Country Dave Ryerson

Country Dave Ryerson and I were sitting chatting one afternoon and the subject of yodeling came up - don't ask me how - anyway, the upshot of that was that I met him a few days later down on the Inner Harbour Causeway to record him doing a little of what he calls "basic" yodeling. It's a fascinating vocal skill that is seldom heard any more. The video below is a song made famous by Jimmy Rogers, "When It's Peach Pickin' Time in Georgia", sung by Country Dave Ryerson. Country Dave is another veteran on the causeway artists' roster, having entertained Victorians as well as visitors to our city for over twenty years. As his nickname implies, he specializes in country and western music and it's always a pleasure to hear him.

Monday, August 6, 2012


She may not actually have a tail but she swims like she does. This was taken at Sooke Potholes, a great little spot about 45 minutes outside of Victoria. Benjamin took some great photos there last time we were out there. See here. - Fern

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Continued Reflections on Water

With summer so short here, it's important to pack as much in as possible. Around my house that means lots of trips to the nearby lakes and beaches. Spending so much time in, on, or near the water I've been inspired to try to capture the elusive nature of our most important resource. -Fern

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Beaches 7 - Clover Point Park

This photograph is of the beach at Clover Point Park. As with Ross Bay, strong winds and a pebbly beach keep the numbers of sunbathers low on this beach but it still sees a lot of traffic from walkers along Dallas Road and from people who enjoy using wind-powered devices. We'll have a look at some of these next week. In the meantime, have a good long weekend. In this province we are celebrating BC Day and there are lots of special events planned.

Friday, August 3, 2012

New Faces 3 - Alec Young

While it took a long time to come this year, Victoria has been having a nice hot summer and even the normally chilly evenings have been warm enough for a thin-blooded person like myself to enjoy being out-of-doors. Thus I was lucky to catch this young performer on the Inner Harbour Causeway earlier in the week, just as the sun was setting. His name is Alec Young and if you are fortunate enough to hear him playing and singing his own songs I am sure you will be as impressed as I was. Probably the majority of buskers are guys with guitars but this young man is really outstanding, wonderfully controlled vocals accompanied with precise and dynamic work on the guitar.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Beaches 6 - Ross Bay

Victoria is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island so it has two coastlines, one facing roughly north and east and the other facing south and west. This may account for the different characters of the city's beaches since those facing east (Cordova Bay, Cadboro Bay, Willows and Gonzales) seem generally more sheltered from the prevailing winds and are sandy beaches whereas those facing west are windy shingle beaches covered with pebbles. The photo above is of Ross Bay, a beach that is both windy and pebble covered. Click HERE to see this bay in a high wind. A much larger and more detailed panorama of this bay can be found HERE. The dense green area in the center of the photo is the Ross Bay Cemetery.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

New Faces 2 - Lonesome Pine Special

This duo is the Lonesome Pine Special and consists of Miki (on guitar) and Larry (on banjo). They play Bluegrass Music, one of my favourite genres. I always enjoy the contrast between the laconic vocal delivery and the pyrotechnical banjo instrumentals that are like a music box on speed. If you like the Carter Family or Flatt and Scruggs you will definitely enjoy this pair. This is music worth listening to. Play the video below for a sample of their music on the Inner Harbour Causeway.