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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Shoe Tree

Yes, it's that tree again. On principle, though I do it from time to time, I have a little resistance to posting photos of the art works of other people because it seems a little derivative. But the Superior Cafe's installations are so unusual and entertaining it would be a shame not to share them. This one, as you can see by the explanatory sign at the left, is to raise funds in support of W.I.N. (Women In Need, a Victoria non-profit). If you're in the neighbourhood (James Bay) drop in to the Superior for lunch in the garden, throw your shoes up into the tree and make a donation to W.I.N.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saxe Point Revisited

Before I leave Saxe Point Park here's another shot from nearly the same place that I photographed in January. One big advantage of photographing your own environment instead of travel shots is that you can revisit the same places at different times of day and in different seasons. Though it is much different, this little cove is just as beautiful now as it was in winter.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Saxe Point Park

This photo is not actually Saxe Point Park; it's taken from Saxe Point Park looking east towards Fleming Beach. We've been having beautiful sunny days lately and I just love the colors and shapes of these houses and their location on the rocks overlooking the ocean. The tide was very low when I was there so you can see the kelp beds in the bottom right hand corner of the photo.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Johnson Street Bridge Sunset

It seems appropriate to post a photo of this bridge at sunset because its life is probably nearing an end. It's 85 years old and it seems that upkeep and maintenance costs may soon exceed replacement costs. Plans are afoot to replace the bridge with another during the next couple of years. While I am in favor of preserving heritage construction, I don't find this bridge particularly appealing. To me its design appears purely functional with no attempt to make it attractive. Since I've been doing this daily city photoblog and looking at others from around the world I've seen many really remarkably beautiful bridges. Bridge design has come a long way in the last 85 years and I hope Victoria decides to erect a bridge that will add to this city's beauty.
Update August 4, 2009.
Since I wrote the above I've found that there is a lot of discussion around this issue, and much better informed discussion than you will find here. For a start, check out the article, "Blue Bridge Blues," by Yule Heibel in Focus Magazine. Secondly, take a look at the "Johnson Street Bridge Victoria" website that explores the issues and controversies and has many links you can follow to other sources of information.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dave Harris

Dave Harris, one man band, Victoria, BC, CanadaLegendary one man band bluesman Dave Harris, here is seen bringing his special brand of music to the Inner Harbour Causeway. Below is a video sample of his artistry and you can see many more on his YouTube channel and hear some more of his music on his MySpace page. If you're lucky, you can catch him live on the Inner Harbour causeway most evenings. If you want to be sure of seeing him, check the Causeway Artists weekly schedule by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

New Street Parking System

Victoria is now implementing a new parking system on downtown streets. The blue post above indicates a parking space with a specific number. A little further up the street you can see the device on the left, which is where you pay for your parking space. It takes coins or credit cards or a parking card you can buy from the city. That little panel on the top provides solar power. On the right is a close-up of the payment panel. You can find out more about this new system by visiting the City of Victoria website.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Last year I missed the Swiftsure Sailing Races so this year I thought I'd get a real head start by being up at dawn and photographing the hundreds of sailboats from atop Gonzales Hill. I should have checked the time better because at that hour (around 6:30 am) there were no sailboats visible off Clover Point - the starting point of the races. It seems they don't gather until several hours later. Nevertheless, it was a beautiful morning and seeing the first rays of sun light up Foul Bay and the more distant Clover Point made it all worthwhile.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Diva Duet

The variety of entertainment available on the Inner Harbour Causeway constantly amazes me. Amidst all the clamor and party noise of Swiftsure weekend I suddenly tuned into to some lovely classical music rendered by two rich and well-trained voices. The source of this music was these two young women, the Diva Duet, performing a wide range of music without accompaniment. They are seen here performing in front of the forest of masts that currently fill the Inner Harbour. The Causeway Artists website now publishes a weekly schedule of performing artists. If you want to see these young women perform, look for the name K. Humphries in the schedule. (They're on today from 5 to 7 pm at the center of the causeway.)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Swiftsure 2009

This was the scene this morning off Clover Point when entrants for the Swiftsure races were awaiting the starting gun. There are four races altogether, of varying lengths, that out to the Swiftsure Bank the longest and namesake race. That's an overnight race and those yachts will not return until tomorrow. The other three races are for lesser distances.

I neglected to identify the yacht featured in yesterday's photo and it was a better segue than I thought when I posted it. It is the HMCS Oriole, the Canadian Navy's sail training yacht and a participant in today's races. It can be seen again on the far right of the photo below, with the glorious peaks of the Olympic Peninsula in the background. It was splendid warm morning for spectators but the sailors would have preferred more wind.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fisgard Lighthouse 3

Here's a couple more images I shot while out at the Fisgard Lighthouse. This Canada Goose and another were zealously guarding this rock near the shore below the lighthouse. It wasn't until the goose stood up that I realized why they were being so protective. Below is the goose when I first saw her, while a sailboat glides past on her way into Esquimalt Harbour and provides a nice segue into this weekend's big event, the Swiftsure Sailing Races. The races kick off on Saturday morning so let's all keep our fingers crossed for a nice sunny day with generous winds for the sailors.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fisgard Lighthouse 2

Here's a shot from the other side of the lighthouse pictured yesterday, looking towards the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This coastline is so lovely it is sometimes difficult to remember that it is a dangerous coastline for sailors. Picturesque installations like the Fisgard Lighthouse were erected in response to the many wrecks and disasters that befell ships in this area. While the Fisgard Lighthouse has not had a resident keeper since 1929, the automated light still guides sailors safely into Esquimalt Harbour.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fisgard Lighthouse

Almost exactly a year ago I posted a photo of this lighthouse but one taken on a bleak, gray day. As you can see, today's weather was much pleasanter and I enjoyed visiting this lighthouse once again. It's the oldest on Canada's Pacific Coast, built in 1860, and is a Canadian National Historic Site. I intend to post at least one more photo of it tomorrow and I'll tell you a little more about it then.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Victoria Day Parade

(Text is from "Tao Te Ching" by Lao Tzu, in a new translation by Sam Hamill, Shambhala 2007. The boy in the photo was on a float representing the Chinese community in the Victoria Day Parade, the main event of this long weekend.)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Thetis Lake

This is the Victoria Day Weekend here, the first long weekend of the summer season. Originally the holiday was tied to Queen Victoria's birthday on May 24th but now it seems to float around the middle of May. I took advantage of the gloriously hot, summery day to go out to another of the local lakes, Thetis Lake, only about fifteen minutes drive from downtown Victoria. It's a beautiful little lake set amongst rocky forested hills. There's a small sandy beach at one end (pictured to the right) but lots of space to spread out under the trees all around the lake.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Holland Point 2009

I can't let this season pass without a shot of my favorite bit of coastline, Holland Point. I like the sense of space in this shot, compared with the one below, taken from where that man in black is standing in the lower right corner.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Swan Lake

Because the ocean is such a presence in Victoria - one is scarcely ever out of sight of some part of the shoreline - I have a tendency to ignore the less dramatic aspects of our local landscape. There are many lakes near Victoria and this one, Swan Lake, is very near the downtown core. It's a small lake surrounded by bullrush marshes and is entirely enclosed in the Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary. It's a haven of peace in the city. There were few sounds when I was there but the buzzing of insects and the calls of the numerous red-winged blackbirds. It's easy to see why it was the first feng shui site in Canada. Chinese astrologers selected nearby Christmas Hill for the Chinese graveyard in Victoria's early days. The cemetery was eventually sited elsewhere, but Swan Lake retains that aura of tranquility.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Since you've all been so nice lately...

...I thought I'd just invite you over for supper. Of course, it's nothing special, just the family, so you'll have to take pot luck......and after supper we'll adjourn to the smoking room, at least those of you who are smokers. The gentleman over the window is the patron saint of smoking, Sir Walter Raleigh. He's said to have thrown his cloak down for a queen to walk on - she'd have done the world a great favor if she'd stomped on his pipe instead....And if you'd like to stay the night you're welcome, there's always lots of room....

If wishes were horses, we'd all be riding. So I have to confess, these comfortable looking rooms are not my place. Emboldened by how well the interior shots of the Legislature turned out a few days ago, I thought I'd try some more interiors et voila! These are some of the rooms at Craigdarroch Castle here in Victoria. I posted a photo of the exterior of this castle almost a year ago and since the grounds are currently undergoing extensive excavations and landscaping, I won't post another. Click here to see last year's photo.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Kaishan 500W Sport Electric Scooter

The weather has been distinctly unpleasant lately so here's a photo of something I'm enjoying whenever it stops raining, my new e-bike. It looks like a scooter but it's actually classed as a bicycle since it is limited to 32 km per hour top speed. It has pedals that can be attached but are not necessary. Those of you who visit here regularly may remember that I have been riding an e-bike for about a year now. The original e-bike served me well but its range of 30 to 40 km on a single charge was too small. The range of the above bike is 80 to 100 km which will carry me to most of the places I want to go these days. It's very comfortable to ride and the 500 watt motor carries me up hills very easily. Because it's classed as a bicycle it does not require licensing or insurance. And, because it is battery operated, it does not require any fuel nor does it produce any emissions or noise. I charge it up at night and ride it around all day.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


After voting in yesterday's election I went downtown to Market Square for lunch at my favorite vegan restaurant, Green Cuisine. And, as so often happens, Market Square provided an excellent photo op as a troupe of ballerinas pirouetted across the stage at the bidding of a videographer. I liked the way the grace and poise of this dancer were spotlighted by an errant sunbeam.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Election Day

Today (Tuesday) is election day in British Columbia so it seems appropriate to post a photo I took on Monday that probably figured in every BC politician's dreams last night. The photo above is the ceiling of the chamber where members of the Legislative Assembly who are elected today will sit to debate and vote on the programs and laws of our province. I've posted many photos of the exterior of the Legislative Assembly Building but today's photos are the first I've taken of the interior of the building.

The photo below is the the rotunda, looking upwards towards the dome. "Splendor sine occasu" is the provincial motto and can be roughly translated as, "Splendor without end." I hope our newly elected representatives will live up to this motto and to the splendid building that shelters their labours.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Vic West Fest - May, 2009

A visitor commented yesterday that all that was missing from Saturday's photo was some of Victoria's friendly people so here's a sample from our amiable Victoria West community enjoying a musical performance at the Vic West Fest at Banfield Park on Saturday. The enthusiastic youngster above is applauding the performance of the Balkan Babes. We are fortunate to hear their award-winning a cappella renditions of Balkan folk songs at many Vic West events. They were featured in an earlier post on this blog and you can hear some of their powerful and affecting music on their MySpace page, In the photo below they are performing just in front of the slides and swings of the Banfield Park playground. That's the Gorge just visible through the trees in the background.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

New Faces

Every year new performers wishing to obtain permits to perform on the Inner Harbour must audition. In part this accounts for the high quality of the arts, crafts and entertainment that are on display. Above is the automated accordionist, Pierre St. Pierre, a delightful addition to the roster of artists you may meet when you visit Victoria. His mime is formidable and his nostalgic accordion melodies add a bittersweet note to the Causeway. Below are The Cooper Sisters, new faces providing truly sweet harmonies. I enjoyed the performances of these entertainers today and I wish them the best of luck and success this season.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


This view of Victoria from the top of Cairn Park is our most city-like skyline. From here, Victoria almost looks like a real city, though its skyline is still quite modest. I think there's actually a city bylaw that is supposed to prevent buildings taller than about 20 stories...perhaps one of my more knowledgeable visitors will correct me....

Friday, May 8, 2009

Impossibly Beautiful

After several days of featureless gray skies the clouds finally parted last evening and a river of sunlight poured through the rain-washed air. I went up to nearby Cairn Park and was stunned by the brilliant blue carpets of Camas Lilies spread luxuriantly in hollows between the mossy rock outcrops.There are times when this landscape is more beautiful than seems possible and photos such as these are but poor approximations of reality.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep

No, this is NOT Victoria. It's another image from my recent vacation. These Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis canadensis) were part of a group of about a dozen that I saw on a back road leading up into the Ashnola River Valley. I've seen these wild sheep in this area before but never at such a low altitude. Nor were they disturbed by my presence, seeming to be very hungrily cropping the first green sprouts on this hillside.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Even when the weather is as gray and damp as it has been for the last few days, the inner harbor still offers some splendid sights. One or the other of these two tall ships is often moored here but they are not so often seen side by side. I'm sure modern sailboats are more comfortable and faster but there is something about these old style sailing ships that is wonderfully evocative of the sea and our close relation to it.

These ships, the Pacific Grace on the left and the Pacific Swift on the right, are used by the "Sail And Life Training Society" (SALTS) to provide sail training to young people aged 13 - 27, particularly but not exclusively those deemed "at risk." SALTS is a registered charity based here in Victoria. They have an excellent website where you can find out more about their programs: and it is possible also to take virtual tours of both of these splendid ships: click here for the Pacific Grace and here for the Pacific Swift.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Clover Point

Clover Point got its name when Hudson Bay Factor James Douglas landed there in 1842 and found himself knee-deep in red clover. This point is popular with kite fliers because there is almost always a strong wind. That was certainly the case when I took this photo. But, despite the warm days we've been having, Monday's wind was biting cold as well as strong and the only fliers were the gulls.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Cordova Bay

This is Cordova Bay Beach, a splendid curve of sand and pebbles to the east of Victoria on what is called the Saanich Peninsula. While this is a little further afield than I usually travel, it is only about 20 minutes drive from downtown Victoria. Both of these photos were taken with a 16 mm "fish-eye" lens that I have obtained for the weekend.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Vic West Art Quest

Vic West is the Victoria neighborhood on the western side of the Gorge. It's an eclectic mix of upmarket condos, heritage homes and older working class single family houses. It's a vibrant community with lots of artists and musicians, roughly centered around the "Y" community center in Banfield Park and the Spiral Cafe across the street.

Last night the Spiral Cafe and the neighboring Hemp & Co. hosted the opening reception of the Vic West Art Quest, showing a selection of art work from 19 local artists, one of whom, I'm proud to say, is my daughter. The art will be on display in both these locations until next weekend (May 9 and 10) when the artists will open their homes and studios to anyone interested in looking at their work. A map of locations and other information is available at the Vic West Art Quest web site:

If you're in the neighborhood, stop in at the Spiral and sample some of their tasty food, drink some of their excellent coffee or a "Molly" (named after one of my granddaughters), and look at some of the art on the walls.

Friday, May 1, 2009

...and the livin' is easy....

Well, it may not be summertime yet but it was that kind of day today so I took a long ride out to Esquimalt Lagoon. Beaches seem to have a magical effect on kids.