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Thursday, April 30, 2015

HMCS Winnipeg

On any excursion out to Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse I am always reminded of Victoria's strong and lengthy association with the navy. During the city's earliest years it was of course only accessible by ship and many of the early ships visiting here were Royal Navy vessels. Canada's main Pacific Naval Base is located in Esquimalt Harbour, directly across from the Fisgard Lighthouse. On my last visit out there I was lucky to see the frigate, HMCS Winnipeg, leaving the harbour. This vessel has been active in anti-terrorist operations in the Persian Gulf and against piracy off the coast of East Africa. It is also used for policing the waters off our Pacific Coast.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Fisgard Lighthouse

Regular visitors here will know that I never miss a chance to photograph our famous local lighthouse and last week was no exception. Usually I try to see it f rom a new angle or in dramatic weather but for this shot I opted for the classic postcard view. Fisgard Lighthouse shares its grounds with another National Historic Site, Fort Rodd Hill. This photo was taken from the top of the cliffs where the Fort Rodd Hill gun emplacements are. There's lots to see out there and we'll have a look at some new developments later this week.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


As the weather gets warmer with each passing day the number and variety of buskers increases and practically every time I take a walk around the Inner Harbour Causeway I see a new entertainer. Pictured here is Pancho, a juggler from Uruguay. He spends our winters there and comes up here for our summer. Pancho is a very talented juggler with an appealing act. It's positively mesmerizing to watch him make that crystal ball dance.

Monday, April 27, 2015


Fern wasn't the only person watching Saturday afternoon's dramatic cloud show after the rainy morning. Comfortably seated on the convenient mushroom lamps, this pair also enjoyed the show on the Inner Harbour Causeway.

Sunday, April 26, 2015


Saturday was one of those days that whenever you looked up the sky was doing something amazing. - Fern

Saturday, April 25, 2015

John Gao

Not all of the city's Chinese heritage is in Chinatown. Today's photo is of busker John Gao who plays traditional Chinese instruments, dizi and erhu (flute and violin), and provides contemporary western as well as Chinese music on the Inner Harbour Causeway.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Chinese Public School

Here's another favorite heritage building, this one in Chinatown. It's the Chinese Public School on Fisgard Street that opened in 1909. This building always looks good but especially so at this time of year when nearby trees are in bloom. There's an interesting article
on this school here.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Craigdarroch Castle

From a distance Craigdarroch Castle looks like a magical place (scroll down to see yesterday's photo). Up close it doesn't disappoint. It was built by pioneer coal baron, Robert Dunsmuir, to fulfill a promise made to his young bride long before he became wealthy. Though Dunsmuir died before its completion, his widow raised their children there and for many years it was a social centre of the young city of Victoria. The interior of the castle has been beautifully preserved and and is still furnished in the style of the period. Sometime later this summer we'll take a closer look at the treasures inside. Craigdarroch Castle is a National Historic Site of Canada.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Castle in the Air

On Gonzales Hill if you go around behind the Observatory (yesterday's photo) and look over the city towards the northwest this is the view you will see. In the upper left of this photo you can see what looks like a castle with red towers and turrets. It is a castle, Craigdarroch Castle, and we'll have a closer look at it tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Gonzales Observatory

Take a few steps back from yesterday's photo and you will see Gonzales Observatory. It's no longer a functioning observatory but it's such a beautiful building that I don't care. It always reminds me of those photos of white Greek villages perched on rocky hilltops overlooking the Mediterranean.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Gonzales Bay, Ross Bay and Clover Point

This is the view from Gonzales Hill looking the same direction as Saturday's photo. In the foreground is Gonzales Bay and beyond that is Ross Bay, bounded by Clover Point. There were patches of the luscious purple Camas Lilies blooming in all the rock crevices atop the hill.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Old School

This is a little laundromat located on Quadra Street, and I have always loved this sign. It doesn't quite have the class of neon but the little girl in her yellow dress is endearing. It's one of the few remaining old ones around town. - Fern

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Above Gonzales Beach

Today was what I consider to be the "default" weather for Victoria in spring and summer - a nice sunny, blue-sky day - so I decided to try to get up above the city and have a look around. In this photo we are looking down on Gonzales Beach from Gonzales Hill. Gonzales Hill has interesting views in several directions and we'll spend a little more time up there next week.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Savannah Sparrow

Like many other birds at this time of year this little Savannah Sparrow was busily gathering nest materials when I took this photo out at Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary on Wednesday.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Old Custom House

On Wharf Street just past Bastion Square is another of my favorite heritage buildings, the Old Custom House, erected by the Federal Government after confederation.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Maritime Museum

Bastion Square is a treasure trove of heritage buildings but surely my favorite is the Maritime Museum. It's a great little museum that was formerly the Supreme Court (erected 1889) and when you've had a good taste of the maritime treasures of the museum, the well-preserved court room on the upper floor is well worth a visit.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Bearded Banjo-Man

I tend to focus on musicians who perform on the Inner Harbour Causeway, probably mostly because they are dependably seasoned local artists while musicians who play in other public areas of downtown are often transitory. Also, musicians who wish to perform on the Causeway must audition in the spring and there are a limited number of spots available so those who make the cut are very competent. Those who play on the streets, however, though they are often very talented, are not so rigorously selected. Above is a talented musician I encountered at the Government Street entrance to Bastion Square recently. His name is Riley, the Bearded Banjo-man, and I spent an enjoyable quarter of an hour listening to his music. If you see him, stop and have a listen. He's good!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Government Street

Victoria has two "main" streets. Douglas Street is for traffic and business and a couple of blocks west is Government Street which is more pedestrian and tourist oriented. I took a walk up Government Street on Sunday and though it is still a bit chilly, tourist season is definitely underway.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Metchosin in Spring

Yesterday I went for a walk on the section of the Galloping Goose Trail that runs through Metchosin, close to Matheson Lake. It was one of those spring days where it rained a little and then the sun came out and within an hour did it all again. I love when the new growth is so very green and sparkles in the clean air of April. Good time to be alive. - Fern

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Looking West

Directly below Beacon Hill is Finlayson Point and here's what the view westward along the coast looks like from there. The brilliant splashes of yellow are the blooms of Scotch Broom, introduced here by a Scottish settler homesick for his native hills.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Dave Harris - One Man Band

Down on the Inner Harbour Causeway on Easter Sunday I was happy to see A favorite causeway busker, one man band extraordinaire, Dave Harris. I am pleased to be able to share with you a few songs I was able to record from that day's performance. Dave is a remarkable talent and this city is fortunate to be his home.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Beacon HIll

I often post photos of Beacon Hill Park and photos taken from Beacon Hill but I don't think I have ever taken a photo of Beacon Hill itself, so here's one. It overlooks the strait and in days gone by it used to have a beacon on top to guide mariners. The purple flowers are Camas Lilies and these camas meadows on the slopes of Beacon Hill were harvested by native peoples long before Europeans ever came to these shores.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Fisherman's Wharf

Though I feature photos of Victoria's Fisherman's Wharf fairly often I usually focus on the colorful houseboats. Fisherman's Wharf is also home to many working fishing boats and fresh seafood of all kinds is readily available at the fish market on the wharf or sometimes directly from fishermen themselves. In this photo you can see the colorful houseboats in the background on the right and some of the fishing boats in the foreground.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Here's two more ships that always stir up the wanderlust in me like a whiff of a warm, spice-laden breeze. On the right is the Pacific Grace and further away just left of center is the Pacific Swift, two sailing ships owned by S.A.L.T.S., the Sail and Life Training Society. Lucky youths can learn to sail on these ships and may voyage in local waters or to some of "those far away places". The Pacific Grace was loading up for a voyage just as the Pacific Swift appeared to be arriving from one.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Country Dave Ryerson

On Saturday I went down to the Inner Harbour Causeway and was happy to encounter veteran busker Country Dave Ryerson. As his nickname implies Dave plays mostly country music but lots of folk and some pop classics as well. His rich voice and ready smile make him a causeway favorite and it's always a pleasure to hear him perform. It was a bit windy on Saturday so the recordings I made are too distorted with wind noise to share. However, next time I post a photo of Dave I'll be sure to include a video of one of his songs.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Hot Springs Cove

Last Sunday's post I described a boat trip up the coast north from Tofino heading to Maquinna Provincial Marine Park. When we got off the little boat and recovered somewhat (!) we enjoyed a magnificent walk through the dense rainforest. At the end of the trail was this little river running down through the rocks forming the hot springs. It was incredibly hot and the smell was like boiled eggs; very sulfery. However, once you were in them, all warm and relaxed, with the waves crashing in the distance, it was truly worth it. - Fern

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Causeway Panorama

Here's a Causeway panorama all the way from the Bateman Centre (white building on the far left) to the Empress Hotel (on the right). This was taken on Thursday, April 2, 2015. I didn't shrink it for the web as much as usual - click it once or twice to see in larger sizes.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Those Faraway Places....

I was infected by wanderlust when I was very young and though it has been somewhat cured by a life spent in out-of-the-way places in Africa and Asia it still kindles anew when I see a boat as lovely as the one pictured above.

Thursday, April 2, 2015


A bright windy day brought kite-surfers out to the bay between Clover Point and Finlayson Point (just visible on the right). I took the photo from the walkway along Dallas Road above the beach.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Lilies of the Field....

Beacon Hill Park, March 31, 2015.