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Sunday, August 31, 2008


There are many cliché (or classic, depending on your attitude) photo subjects. For instance, I doubt if any photographer can resist a lighthouse. I couldn't and I'm willing to bet that if you are a photographer and there is a lighthouse anywhere nearby, you have photographed it a dozen times. Well, here's another - watery reflections. I've got dozens of these and I love them, but normally I treat them as private pleasures. I'm sharing this one, however, because it's like a rippled Mondrian, and leads nicely into tomorrow's post on Fisherman's Wharf, where this reflection was captured.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Kids and Kids - Beacon Hill Park Children's Zoo 2

Most of the animals in the Children's Zoo are in the "look but don't touch" category, but children can have some first hand experience with the goats, who are endlessly patient and patronizing and allow themselves to be petted, stroked and combed with delightful placidity. No slavish fawning here, they simply tolerate little humans good naturedly. There are lots of brushes around for children who want to do a little goat grooming.And, when you get a little older, if you're really lucky and volunteer at the zoo, the goats will even climb on you. These young girls were so cool and blasé while the kids perched on their backs....If you're in Victoria, don't miss "The Running of the Goats" when the goats are released from the barn every morning (10 am) and stampede through the pathways at the children's zoo to reach their daytime paddock. Look out Pamplona!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Beacon Hill Park Children's Zoo

The Muscovy DuckAnother visit to the Beacon Hill Park Children's Zoo, which I visited previously to photograph the alpaca. We went to see the new litter of Vietnamese Potbellied Pigs, just about the cutest little critters ever. However I failed to get a good picture of them so you'll have to be satisfied with this Muscovy Duck which, despite its name, has nothing to do with Moscow. It was domesticated by Native Americans before Columbus arrived on these shores and, while it swims and feeds like other ducks, it also often chooses to roost in trees like a chicken. Stay tuned, I want to introduce you to the goats tomorrow.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Dark Side

Well, I've been trying to present only the positive side of the Inner Harbor Causeway but truth must out and here is the "dark side."Darth may not be the best violinist in town but he's funny and it's always interesting to see the double-takes he often gets from passersby.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

For the birds

Raspberries are great and everybody loves strawberries. Blueberries are a bit bland but delicious too. Huckleberries and salmonberries are also local favorites. BUT, for that real ecstatic black purple juice jolt that hits those atavistic hunter-gatherer genes where they live, nothing beats wild blackberries. So sweet, so tart, and so difficult to pick. As well as a bag of berries, an afternoon's picking is likely to leave you with numerous small punctures and scratches. In fact, the biggest, most luscious berries, like the one above, always grow in the middle of the patch. You can see them but the tangle of thorny brambles makes it impossible to reach them without serious blood loss. It's OK - they're for the birds.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Cruise Ships

What have these lovely ladies got to do with cruise ships? They are members of the City of Victoria Chorus who came out to celebrate the arrival of the 150th cruise ship in Victoria this year.Their splendid performance was only a part of the festivities organized by a group called Victoria AM that ensures that cruise ship visitors are warmly welcomed. Victoria AM is "a non profit society dedicated to enhancing and supporting Tourism in Greater Victoria." In addition to the chorus, there were other performances and a night market, pictured below. The entertainment was generally good but I cannot help but wonder why some of the talented performing artists from the Causeway Artists Society were not invited to participate. Their performances on the causeway are, after all, an important part of what makes Victoria an interesting and memorable stopover for cruise ship passengers.The cruise ship in the background above, the Star Princess, was only the 149th to arrive. The 150th, the MS Westerdam, is shown below shortly after docking, towering over an African drum and dance ensemble that performed as part of the welcoming ceremonies. I assume that the 150th ship was selected for this honor to mark also the 150th aniversary of British Columbia. However, there does not need to be any special reason to welcome these huge floating hotels. They are a major source of income for the city and the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority. They bring over 300,000 visitors to Victoria annually and every cruise ship that stops here leaves tens of thousands of dollars behind.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Why I Love Ogden Point Breakwater

All the world's a stage,And all the men and women merely players:They have their exits and their entrances;And one man in his time plays many parts....

Sunday, August 24, 2008

My Electric Bike

Every day when I move around the city, wherever I stop someone usually asks me about my electric bike. Given the rise in gasoline prices and the ongoing deterioration of the environment, many people are interested in other means of transportation and the electric bicycle or e-bike is becoming less of a curiosity and more of a realistic alternative. I've been riding mine now for about three months and I grow more enthusiastic about it every day.

Mine is not the latest or most powerful model. It is powered by a 350 watt motor. The motor is that fat hub on the rear tire. The motor is completely sealed and needs no servicing. It runs from power supplied by a 36 volt battery - that fat looking mid-section of the frame of the bike. I charge the battery by plugging it into a charger every night. It takes about 4 hours to fully charge and uses about 25 cents worth of electricity. On a full charge it will travel from 30 to 50 kilometers (20 to 30 miles). Top speed on the flat is about 25 km or 15 miles per hour. It can also be pedaled. It has a 5 speed gear change like a normal bike. When one pedals, the motor uses less battery power, thereby increasing the range.

In addition to the savings on fuel, it is also less expensive to operate because it is classed as a bicycle, hence does not require a license or insurance. My bike is one of the least expensive, costing about $700 in Canadian dollars (C$ are currently worth slightly more than American $). It was made in China. I bought it here in Victoria from Green World Electric Vehicles, which carries a number of different models with prices up to about $1,500. Questions?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Causeway Artist #10 - Country Dave Ryerson

It may seem that there are a lot of musicians playing on the Inner Harbor Causeway because so many are appearing on this blog. However, there are usually not more than three or four at any time and they are generally widely spaced enough so that they don't interfere with each other. This doesn't happen by chance. Entertainment on the causeway is controlled by the Harbours Board and the space is divided up into locations that artists can "book" for certain times of the day. This ensures that it is not necessary for artists to defend their "spot" and also that there is a reasonable distribution of artists in the space that is available. A musician can play in a certain spot for about two or three hours then must give up the space to another performer. This arrangement also means there is a good variety of music at any given time, including everything from a dulcimer to a didgiridoo.

It's all good and I like the variety but I must confess to a special fondness for country and western music. On the Inner Harbor Causeway that means Country Dave Ryerson. From Hank Williams to Kris Kristofferson, Country Dave can play it so just sit yourself down and enjoy those sweet melodies and down home strumming. If you've got a favorite, feel free to make a request. If it's country, Dave probably knows it.

Country Dave's music is available on a CD entitled "Country Dave Ryerson: The Millgrove Sessions" produced by another causeway artist, Dave Harris, who also performs on the CD.

You can find out more about the CD and Country Dave Ryerson by clicking HERE.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Fernwood Square

The Belfry Theatre, subject of yesterday's post, occupies one side of Fernwood Square. On the other side is a variety of shops, restaurants and galleries, the sign for one of which, "The Green Goddess Cafe" is pictured above. It specializes in "Giant Belgian Waffles" and "edible flower organic salads" and serves all sorts of other goodies as well. Click HERE to visit their website and look at their menu. I include a photo of this side of the square to show the shops....I always like to look at Bulletin Boards when I see them - you can tell a lot about a community from what is posted there. Here are two sides of the Community Bulletin Board in Fernwood Square. Click them to read the notices.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Belfry Theatre

In an earlier post I mentioned the Belfry Theatre and here it is. What is now a theatre was formerly a church, dedicated in 1887 as the Spring Ridge Chapel and Schoolhouse (Baptist). As you can see it has been beautifully restored and is a part of the Fernwood community in a way that few theatres are. In the 1970's it was the home of Cool-Aid, a drop-in center providing services to dropped out or strung out adolescents. As the Fernwood community developed and Cool-Aid's services expanded the building became more of a cultural center and Cool-Aid moved downtown.You can find out more about the Belfry by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


The Inner Harbor causeway is lined with these interesting mushroom-shaped lamps. There is something about them that just invites kids to leapfrog over them. If you look closely at this photo it really doesn't look like this particular leap is going to end happily, but it did. I think you have to be 10 to do this without ending up on the pavement.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Causeway Artist #9 - Sarah Tradewell

A remarkable aspect of musicians on the causeway is the way that many of them can create a space around themselves where their music triumphs over all the many distractions, busyness and street noises (see photo below). Sarah Tradewell, pictured here, is a an excellent example of this and all the moreso because at sixteen she performs with skill and maturity that belies her years. She is a wonderful musician with a wide repertoire, though she specializes in "fiddle music." Her Celtic and Irish melodies are as delightful to the ear as she is to the eye.To hear and see her play, click HERE. You can also visit her YouTube Channel (many videos of Sarah performing) by clicking HERE. Sarah also has a MySpace page where there are some good recordings of her fiddle playing that you can download. Well worth a visit. Click here.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Victoria Dragon Boat Festival

The Victoria Dragon Boat Festival raises funds for cancer research and care for victims. The lanterns above, only a few of hundreds that were hung on the Ship Point wharf during the festival, were each purchased in memory of a cancer victim. This was called the "Lights of Courage Campaign."And, while it is not obligatory, many crew members of the dragon boat teams are survivors of cancer. A few of the many paddlers to participate are pictured above.Above we see one dragon boat charging across the finish line while spectators watch from the Inner Harbor causeway.My hat's off to all the people who contributed to this festival, the Inner Harbor's best event this year. Corporate sponsors Telus and Fairway Market should also receive credit for their support.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Chinese Opera

Today I had the good luck to stumble upon a wonderful presentation that introduced me to Chinese Opera. One of the founders of the Vancouver Cantonese Opera, Rosa Cheng, brought a few members of her troupe to Victoria to participate in the Dragonboat Festival currently taking place in the Inner Harbor. Ms. Cheng gave a fascinating introduction to the art of Chinese Opera and then there was a brief performance, pictured above. In it a father and daughter are having a dispute. Afterwards the principals kindly consented to be photographed, below. From the left the performers are Vivian Ng, Rosa Ho and Lady Yang. To find out more about the Vancouver Cantonese Opera visit their website by clicking HERE.This was just one of many interesting sights today at the Dragonboat Festival. I took so many photos that I had to lie down when I got home. Even my camera had to lie down. I'll be posting more about this festival in the next few days. At this point I will say that if you are ever planning a trip to Victoria, try to time your visit for this festival. It gets my vote for the best event this year. Click HERE to find out more about it.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Causeway Artists #8 - Squeezebox Serenade

Squeezebox Serenade is trio that produces a unique and evocative sound. The first time I heard the silvery trumpet dueting with the accordian it reminded me of the Dalmation coast and long evenings in vine-trellised trattorias.

But then they segued into a very jazzy version of Route 66 with all three singing and I realized their versatility. This is a charming musical group that is a great counterpoint to the otherwise rather guitar oriented music prevalent on the causeway.Trio members are (from the left): Adam Weinmann, Tara Kannangara, and Georgia Johnson.


(Here follows an aside to my fellow City Daily Photo Bloggers: The strange assortment of photos above illustrates a photographic difficulty. Most of the causeway is north/south oriented and musicians generally face east when performing, with the sun at their backs (see first photo above). Unfortunately, the best photos are also usually with the sun at the photographer's back and the best angle to shoot from produces a photo like the top one above. Sometimes one can get away with shooting directly into the sun as in the photo on the left above but one ends up with a bleached sky and too much contrast and other problems. Fill flash doesn't generally do it for me and I try to avoid flash generally since I like to remain inconspicuous. Shooting from the side can be good as in the photo on the right above but shooting a group of people from one side or the other often means some of them are obscured by others. In desperation I asked the group to turn towards me, which they very kindly did, and allowed me to take the photo directly above. Nice people and good musicians: Squeezebox Serenade)

Friday, August 15, 2008


Victoria's Inner Harbor is a great place to stroll and take in the sights but it has its more serious side as well. Across the street from the causeway the Legislative Assembly Buildings lawn is often the scene of political demonstrations and protests. Most often these are meant to draw the public's and legislators' attention to problems or injustices within our own system. However, sometimes the protests are meant to draw attention to injustice in other countries.These demonstrators make the point that by allowing the Olympics to be held in Beijing, the IOC implicitly legitimizes China's oppression of Tibet.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fernwood Evening Market

If you're a vegetarian you will know the "poor child standing with nose pressed against glass of expensive toy store" longing that typically rises when a vision such as these cupcakes appears, since they are usually made with eggs.

"These wouldn't be vegan, would they?" I asked.

"Oh yes," was the reply and the last chocolate peanut butter dream was on its way to my mouth before she was finished speaking.These magnificent cupcakes were encountered at the Fernwood Evening Market, held every Tuesday in the Fernwood community square. I haven't written much about Fernwood although it is one of my favorite parts of Victoria and I lived there for some years while I was going to university. In the 1970s it was probably the neighborhood of choice for hippies and it still has a lot of the same flavor. The evening market was delightfully relaxed and pleasant, with crafts and fresh veggies for sale as well as cupcakes, mellow music provided by a very capable trio, kids and dogs running around and people sitting around eating and chatting. The square is also home to the Belfry Theater that we will be seeing a little more of in days to come.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


There are thistles at the bottom......but it's all blue sky above.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


One of many rewarding aspects of City Daily Photoblogging is the effect it has on one's perceptions. Every time I go out I see something "new." However, I suspect that many times it is not really "new" but it is only that I have just noticed it. Thus I am not really sure whether this dragon has been gracing this wall in Chinatown for a long time or has been mounted only recently, perhaps as part of the "150 Years on Golden Mountain" event celebrating the history of Chinese-Canadians in Victoria. In any case, I like it.****(added later) That little red plaque you can see near the bottom of the building reads, "Dragon Dance Mural by Robert Amos assisted by the Principal, teachers and children from the Chinese Public School to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Canada's oldest Chinatown."****

Monday, August 11, 2008

Causeway Artist #7 - Ian Cooper

Artist Ian Cooper works intently on his latest creation. But what looks like a peaceful studio is actually......the Inner Harbor Causeway after dark. Below, some strollers pause to view prints of Ian's work, incredibly detailed pen and ink drawings of fantastic multi-leveled landscapes.To see some of his unique and fascinating artwork, visit his website, If you visit Victoria, don't think all the Causeway artists go home when the sun sets. There's lots to see on the causeway after dark, too. Below, you can see Ian's "studio" as the brightly lighted area in the lower left hand corner of the photo.