Custom Search

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Shoal Point

After looking at some recent photos here a commenter asked if the sun ever shines in Victoria. January has been a very gray and cloudy month but the sun has come out a few times and given us some glorious sunsets.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Macaulay Point III

Yesterday's photo was taken from the top of Macaulay Point looking towards the northwest. Today's photo was taken from the tip of Macaulay Point looking towards the southeast and the city of Victoria. On the far right you can see the little red and white tower that is the light at the seaward end of the Ogden Point Breakwater. Just to the right of that, projecting out into the strait is another of my favorite photo locations, Holland Point.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Fleming Beach

Turning further to the right from yesterday's photo and facing west now, we are looking further up the west coast of the Vancouver Island. The cove immediately in front of us is Fleming Beach. It has a boat ramp and a large rock face much favored by local rock climbers for practice. The entrance to Fleming Beach is protected by a breakwater. There is also a quiet picnic area here called Buxton Green. Macaulay Point, though a park, belongs to the Department of National Defense. Fleming Beach and Buxton Green are contiguous parks. All are managed by the Township of Esquimalt. Saxe Point Park is visible a little further west and that small white tower you can see in the far distance is the Fisgard Lighthouse. Most of these features have been marked on the photo below.(You can't see Buxton Green because it is hidden beneath the brambles in the foreground.) There is also a nice satellite photo of this areaHERE.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Macaulay Point II

Yesterday's photo was looking south towards the Olympic Peninsula. Today's photo is looking westward, a little more up the west coast of Vancouver Island and shows more detail of the gun emplacement off camera to the right I mentioned in yesterday's post and photo.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Macaulay Point

If you enter yesterday's portal and climb up and around a corner you come out to see this view spread out before you. There are gun emplacements to the left and, just out of sight, to the right. That's a bunker in the center foreground. These guns would have protected Victoria and Esquimalt from any seaborne attack. Macaulay Point is now a park where attempts are being made to protect and regenerate some of the endangered local Garry Oak ecosystem. That body of water is the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which is also the border between Canada and the USA here. The mountains are on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, USA.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Anyone for 1895?

Well, it looks like a time portal. Macaulay Point Park was formerly a part of the coastal defences, along with Fort Rodd Hill. This spooky looking tunnel is the entrance leading up the the highest gun emplacement. These defences were originally built to defend Victoria and Esquimalt, " 1878, when a crisis in the Balkans made war appear imminent." You can read more about these defenses on the Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt Naval & Military Museum website and there's lots of other interesting information there as well. For example, British Columbia had its own two submarine fleet in 1914, purchased secretly from their maker in Seattle. Tomorrow we'll take a look at the view from the other end of the tunnel.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Saxe Point Park

Just a little westward along the coast from Westbay Marina are Macaulay Point and Saxe Point. There are small parks on both these points and they are lovely places to visit. They look so rocky and wild it is difficult to believe that they are only about a ten minute drive from downtown Victoria. I spent some time today at both parks and will be posting photos of them over the next few days.


I've been too busy lately to respond properly to all the kind comments left by visitors. I hope to remedy this over the next few days and hope everyone will bear with me and forgive my lack of response. Your visits and comments are very much valued.

My special thanks to Murcia Daily Photo for giving me an award. It's a very interesting City Daily Photo Blog from Spain, well worth putting on your list of sites to visit regularly.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Westbay Marina Houseboats II

I love the whimsical designs of some of these houseboats, curved roofs and round windows, interesting colors, and odd little decks and turrets. They make ordinary houses on land look, well, ordinary.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Westsong Walkway to Westbay Marina

Westsong Walkway follows the shoreline of the Inner Harbor from the Johnson Street Bridge (downtown) through Victoria West and Esquimalt, ending about 2.5 miles (4 km.) later at Westbay Marina. In the photo above, you can see the walkway as a boardwalk in the left center. I am becoming more enchanted with houseboats as I become more familiar with them. Westbay Marina has a terrific collection that I will be sharing with you over the next few days. Most of the houseboats are moored off-camera to the right.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Craigflower Manor

Photos: Above, Craigflower Manor. Below, Craigflower Manor on the left, Craigflower Bridge in the centre, Craigflower School on the right. Bottom photo: Manor house rear porch window.

Craigflower Farm was established on land purchased in 1850 from the chiefs of the Kosapsom people, who had lived in the area for millennia. Throughout the farm’s existence, the Kosapsom continued to live on adjacent land, and many became involved in the farm operations, being employed in land clearing, construction, housekeeping and other duties.

The farm was one of four original farms set up by the Hudson’s Bay Company as part of their obligations in settling Vancouver Island. The farms were managed by a subsidiary company, the Puget Sound Agricultural Company, with the expectation that they would not only meet their colonizing objectives, but would also reap a profit from the sale of livestock and produce.

In 1853, Kenneth McKenzie and his family along with 18 farm hands and their families arrived in Victoria aboard the "Norman Morison", following a strenuous six month journey around Cape Horn. They soon took up residence on the farm site, and began clearing land and building accommodations. McKenzie oversaw the construction of the farmhouse, which was modeled after his ancestral home in Scotland. On May 1st, 1856, the McKenzie family moved in.

During the 1850s and 1860s the farm site continued to grow and develop. The school was opened in 1855 with 26 students. The first teacher, Charles Clark lived upstairs in the schoolhouse with his family and a number of children from outlying areas who boarded with them.

At that time, there were 20 other dwellings on site, as well as a saw mill, a flour mill, a blacksmith’s shop, a brick kiln, slaughterhouse and a general store. Seventy-six people lived at the farm during this period, but many of the original farmhands chose not to renew their contracts after 1857. The McKenzie family stayed on at Craigflower until 1866, at which time they moved on to their own sheep farm.

The farmhouse was subsequently rented to a series of tenants, but the farm itself did not succeed. The school was closed in 1911, and was subsequently re-opened as a museum in 1931. Eventually acquired by the Province of BC for protection as historic sites, the farmhouse and schoolhouse were declared National Historic Sites in 1967.
(From The Land Conservancy Website.)

There is also an excellent description and backgrounder by Maureen Duffus HERE and anaother great source of information from BC Heritage HERE.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Craigflower School II

Above is the Craigflower schoolhouse. When it opened in 1855 it had 26 students, many from Craigflower Manor on the other side of the Gorge. Other students were boarded in the upper portion of the building. To the side is an old pump, probably formerly the source of water for the school and its residents. I have a sentimental fondness for pumps. When I was very young I used to spend summers on my grandparents' farm and I well remember their pump and the wonderful coolness of its water on hot and dusty summer days. I'm sure the kids who went to this school also loved this pump and they must have enjoyed the view of the Gorge from their playground (below). Tomorrow we'll have a look at nearby Craigflower Manor.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Craigflower School

The Craigflower Schoolhouse (originally called Maple Point School), the oldest surviving school building in Western Canada, was built on orders from Kenneth MacKenzie. He came from Scotland with his family in 1852 to establish a farm for the Puget Sound Agricultural Company, a subsidiary of the Hudson's Bay Company.

A school was needed for the children of farm employees, as well as those of arriving settlers. The school was started to be built on August 21, 1854 and was completed February 23, 1855. Lumber and foundation bricks were produced at Craigflower Farm across the Gorge. Glass, hardware, and large bricks were imported from England. Total cost was about $4300.

The two-storey building had one schoolroom, and six rooms for the teacher, his family and student boarders from the western communities. The school opened in March, 1855. That same week a ship's bell from the steamer Major Tompkins, that wrecked off Macaulay Point, was hung in the yard. The first Craigflower bridge was built the next winter linking the school to the Craigflower settlement. The building became a focal point for social and religious events. It was used as a school until 1911, when the new Craigflower School was built across the road (superceded by a third building in 1964).

The old school was vacant until it was converted to a museum which the Native Sons and Daughters of British Columbia ran from 1931 until 1975. The provincial Historic Parks and Sites Branch then acquired the property, restored it and reopened it as a museum too.

This simple structure is side-gabled and has brick chimneys both ends. There is a large fireplace in the schoolroom and another in the teacher's quarters. The fourteen-inch-thick walls are composed of sawn clapboard siding applied to diagonal sheathing over standard Hudson's Bay Company log construction. Hewn horizontal logs were slid down from the top between vertical uprights, the joists hewn and sawn, and the roof timbers sawn. The building was set on a concrete foundation in 1929.
Tomorrow we'll have a closer look at the schoolhouse and at nearby Craigflower Manor, home to many of the children who attended this school.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Gorge Park III

Excuse me while I indulge my enthusiasm for Gorge Park. For me it's a new discovery - one of those places you drive past a hundred times a year without seeing. And then one day you slow down and stop and look around. We are having some bright sunny days now and I'm going to go out shortly and explore a little more of the Upper Gorge and Portage Inlet. I'm also going to take a look at Craigflower School, the oldest schoolhouse in Western Canada (1855).

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Songhees Condominiums

On the other side of the sidewalk from the mailbox I posted a few days ago rises this new condominium, completed about three or four months ago. Most of the condos that line the Inner Harbour along the Westsong Walkway are not unattractive though they are rather conservative in their design. I like this one.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

From Beacon Hill

It was a bright, sunny day today and I took a few more photos of the Gorge before heading downtown. Then, on my way home the clouds were moving in over the strait and I caught this shot of winter's long shadows on Beacon Hill.

Friday, January 16, 2009


I realize that much of the time I roam about looking for the spectacular and often ignore all those little things that are familiar to me but may not be so to others. So, partially to remedy this failing (and also because I have nothing spectacular today), here is a photo of a typical Canadian mailbox. These are placed here and there all over the city so that it is easy to post letters. This rather angular style is relatively new. When I was growing up they had rounded tops but the bright red color was the same.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Gorge Park II

A fellow Victoria blogger, "Postie," just posted a photo of the first Gorge Bridge, consisting of a few logs spanning the gap between the rocks that I showed in yesterday's photo. The photo above is taken from beneath the modern bridge. Just to my left (off camera) is a rather uninteresting looking mound of gravel. It is a shell midden over 4,000 years old, the oldest archaeological site on Southern Vancouver Island. This area was important to the Native Peoples both spiritually and materially.

This locality, here at the narrows of the Gorge waterway is a sacred place in the traditions of the Lekwammen (Songhees) Native People. It was here, at the reversible tidal falls that the spirit being Hayls transformed to stone a little girl named Camosun and her grandfather Snukaymelt ("Diving"). This act ensured the protection of the rich food resources of the Gorge - herring, Coho Salmon, oysters and ducks.

On a spirit quest individuals went for long dives into the Gorge until Camosun granted them the powers they were seeking. It was believed that only a person who practised regular spiritual cleansing rituals would gain the powers necessary to acquire success in life.

It was the spirit Hayls who created the Gorge and turned some of Camosun's people into the Garry Oaks, Blue Camas and Easter Lilies that grow along its banks. The natural foam created by the reversing tidal falls was used to wash garments to protect their wearers from drowning.

(The above quote is posted behind a fence erected to protect the midden.)
Below is a photo of the modern Gorge Bridge. The shell midden referred to above is located in a sort of cage beneath the bridge on the right side in this photo.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Gorge Park

Much of Victoria lies along the banks of an arm of the ocean called the Gorge. On its way inland the Gorge is crossed first by the Johnson Street Bridge, then the Bay Street Bridge and the Selkirk Trestle. Beyond the Selkirk Waters the Gorge passes through a very narrow rocky gap that is spanned by the Gorge Bridge. The photo above was taken from that bridge looking further up the Gorge. The Gorge Park walkway is visible on the left hand side of the photo above and over the next few days I will be pleased to show you a little more of this area.

Below is a photo taken beneath the bridge showing how narrow the Gorge is at this point. This photo was taken just as the tide was changing. When it begins to run fully there is a rapid and powerful current here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lichens, Mosses and Succulents

While most of our plants go into dormancy during this cold season, there are a few kinds that flourish, those modest little rock-dwellers, lichens and mosses. Around here they are often joined by little succulents, such as those below. I photographed these within the last couple of days and their rich colors and healthy appearance remind me that winter has its benefits and beauties as well as its inconveniences.(This post was jogged into place by a recent comment from fellow CDP Blogger, USElaine down south in Willits, California.)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Beacon Hill Mist

It was mild and foggy today but the fog was light, more of a mist than a fog. This photo is the lower slope of Beacon Hill.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

PAH-lu-tsuss (Songhees Point)

This unusual object is one of seven placed around Victoria's Inner Harbour marking places of cultural significance to the Lekwungen (Songhees Nation). The carvings by Songhees artist, Butch Dick, are enlargements of a spindle whorl, a small disk traditionally used for spinning wool. The marker above is located at Songhees Point near the beginning of the Westsong Walkway, on a small headland called PAH-lu-tsuss, which means "cradle-board."

Traditionally, once infants had learned to walk, their cradles were placed at this sacred headland because of the spiritual power of the water here. More recently, there was a settlement here, and subsequently an Indian reserve, that traded with the fort on the opposite shore. This place is also known as Songhees Point.
Below left is a close-up of the marker. In the photo below right we can see another spindle whorl on the opposite shore of the Inner Harbour at Laurel Point. It marks a First Nations burial ground in use until 1850.
The quote above and additional information about these markers can be found by clicking "Signs of Lekwungen." More information about Victoria's early days and relations between the Native Peoples and the European settlers may be found by clicking HERE.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Cairn Park II

Yesterday's photo was taken looking towards the summit of the small hill that is Cairn Park. After taking that photo I turned around and took this one of the view looking north, towards Saanich. The lovely green area on the left is a golf course.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Cairn Park

I complain a lot about the weather here but it's not causing any problems lately that can't be mitigated by an umbrella, and for that I am thankful. It actually cleared up here yesterday and the sun shone, though somewhat fitfully. So I took myself up to the summit of nearby Cairn Park. On top it was so windy I nearly was blown over the edge. The wind was so strong you could lay back in it and it would support you. It was much too windy to take any photos - the tripod kept blowing over too - so I crept down into a more sheltered location and snapped the above photo.

My best wishes go out to all those that the weather is treating badly right now. I hope you all stay safe and are not inconvenienced too much.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Railyards

I've written about the Dockside Green development several times. It occupies the western shoreline of the Gorge between the Johnson Street Bridge and the Bay Street Bridge. The shoreline between the Bay Street Bridge and the Selkirk Trestle is occupied by the development pictured above, The Railyards. It makes no pretensions to being green, and for a long time I didn't like its style much - corrugated metal siding just looks cheap to me. However, over time I've grown to like it a bit more. For those interested in prices, a two bedroom condo here will cost about $450,000. They also have one bedroom apartments and bachelor suites down to about $300,000 though I think the latter are all sold. The Galloping Goose Regional Trail passes in front of both Dockside Green and The Railyards as it follows the Gorge out of downtown.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Westbay Marina Houseboats

I love the colors and shapes of these houseboats moored at the Westbay Marina in Esquimalt. Many of these houseboats are manufactured locally, on land. Someday I will post some photos of them under construction because I keep visiting the place where they are made in the hope of seeing one being transported into the water (since I cannot imagine how they manage to get them there.)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


I've posted a lot of pictures of boats and ships in the Inner Harbour but I've neglected the busy air traffic. There are several seaplane landing lanes and there is almost always one or more seaplanes taking off or landing. There is also a regular helicopter service between Victoria and Vancouver. This is NOT that service but is (I think) a Coast Guard Helicopter landing on the point the Coast Guard occupies at the mouth of the harbour, spotlighted in the photo below. The passenger helicopter landing pad is out of sight just beyond this point.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Photographer's Brain

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Snowdrops - Rebirth

I took this photo the day before yesterday and was originally going to post it as a companion to yesterday's "Into the Mist...." photo. However, my daughter's photo is so good I decided not to post anything with it. However, for me, this is logical next photo in the sequence. These sprouts will develop into the flowers called Snowdrops.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Into the mist....

This photo makes me think of death - it's like a visual metaphor of the unknown we all must face sooner or later. The photo was taken by my daughter, Fern Long, on the Ogden Point Breakwater earlier this year. I think it's a good one to end the old year on and to usher in the New Year.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Christmas Lights

Before I say goodbye to 2008 I wanted to doff my hat to the season, so here's a shot of the Inner Harbour with the Legislative Assembly Buildings in their Christmas colors. Please excuse the fuzziness - this is a hand-held time exposure. My fingers just get too numb if I try to mess with a tripod in this cold weather. As for the strange red lights in the sky, I think they must be reflections of tail-lights of cars passing (off camera below on the roadway).

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

Our snow is pretty much gone now but we are still having gray days and lots of rain and sleet. I like this photo because of the way the snow defines the mountains on the Olympic Peninsula (across the Strait of Juan de Fuca).