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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Open for School Groups...heh, heh, heh....

Though nobody lives in Craigdarroch Castle any more, piano music has been heard in the ballroom and the scent of candles lingers in the night air. On winter evenings, a woman in white is sometimes seen in an upper window.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Chinese Public School

I photograph this building often but who can resist? Here we are looking at it from one of the entrances to Centennial Square.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bright Pearl

In the top right of the above photo you can see a large silver globe with a map of the continents etched on it. It floats on some rollers and water and can be rotated in any direction, a favorite activity of passing school children. This is located at one entrance to Centennial Square, where it touches on Chinatown at the corner of Fisgard and Government Streets. The plaque at its base notes that, "the Bright Pearl honours the many people who immigrated here from the Pearl River Valley in China."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Urban Landscape

On Fisgard Street.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Lots of blustery windy weather lately which, while it makes for clear air, also yields photographs that often turn out a bit fuzzy because everything is moving around. Here's a photo taken on the Westsong Walkway of a pleasant place to stop if you're walking from downtown towards the Westbay Marina in Esquimalt and want to stop for something to eat and to warm up on these autumn days. The large building slightly left of centre in this photo is Spinnakers Brewpub. It describes itself as "Canada's oldest brewpub" but if you want to find out more I refer you to their website.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Dusk is one of my favourite times of day. After a day's activities everyone is heading home in the fading light. Above is a photo of Chinatown's Fisgard street at dusk. Below is another example of my fondness for things Chinese, the window through which I greet the day each morning.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Exotic Vegetables

Another aspect of Chinatown that I like is the way that stores spread their wares out into the street, especially produce as pictured above. And in Chinatown there are always those mystery vegetables whose use and flavors are known only to Chinese cooks. There are a couple of other reasons why I often photograph Chinatown, besides its appealing colors and sights. First, I pass through it almost every day on my way through downtown. More importantly, I mentioned before that I have a special fondness for things Chinese so as an example, today I will post a photo of the top of my fridge where I have been putting the overflow of the kind of stuff I collect. See below. (OK, I know the sharp-eyed amongst you will have noticed a couple of pieces of Satsuma there but it's nice and the one on the left is fake Satsuma, made in China. [The one on the right is probably a mass-produced fake too but it's a better fake.])

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Save On Foods Arena

On the opposite side of Blanshard Street from the Jack Davis Building is the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, the arena where large sporting and entertainment events take place here. It seats about 7,000 people and was named after a local supermarket because they contributed a lot to its construction.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Jack Davis Building - Blanshard Street

This is another downtown office building that I like. I realize when I look at the buildings I like I tend to prefer those that have some decorations or round corners or at least something a little more interesting than the all too common box shape. Anyway, this is the Jack Davis Building on Blanshard Street in downtown Victoria. Though it was built in 1992, as recently as 2005 it was still considered outstanding in energy-efficient design. This is a fitting legacy for the Canadian politician who was, "...the first Minister of the Environment in the English-speaking world..." in the government of Pierre Trudeau during the early 1970s. Click here to read the Wikipedia article about Jack Davis.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Jewels... Spider and Fog.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Morning Mist

On the Westsong Walkway.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fan Tan Alley

Victoria's Chinatown has many echoes of the past. It contains within its small boundaries hidden inner areas behind the store fronts that face the streets. When this part of Victoria was being built in the nineteenth century the Chinese minority were still discriminated against. Like such minorities in other parts of the world, when they were mixing with the majority they had to behave in certain ways to avoid trouble. In the inner parts of Chinatown, however, they could, "...follow their customs, speak their dialects, and find pleasure, comfort, and companionship." These hidden inner areas, sometimes called Victoria's "Forbidden City," can now be freely accessed by anyone willing to venture down the two narrow alleys that lead within. The photo above is one of these alleys, called Fan Tan Alley. Fan Tan was a gambling game popular amongst Chinese immigrants and there were places where it could be played along this alley.

The quote above comes from "The Forbidden City within Victoria," by David Chuenyan Lai. There is an interesting brief history of Victoria's Chinatown on the BC Archives website.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Chinatown Window

Although Victoria's Chinatown is the oldest in Canada it is very small. However, for me it is a favorite place to window-shop since there are always interesting things to look at and those hints of strange cultures and far-away places and times. I also confess to an ongoing interest in Chinese porcelain of all kinds. I like this picture because I am fond of Buddhas who look as happy as this one does and I also like the way that busy, neon-lit Fisgard Street is reflected around him.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


As often happens when doing this blog I realize how much of our daily lives we don't really bother to notice. Here's an aspect of life in North America and Europe that we seldom think about, the supermarket. As a single retired person I don't need to shop much but even then I probably spend five or six hours every week in this supermarket. It's called "Save-On-Foods" and it carries nearly everything I ever want to buy in the way of food items. It's always clean and the staff are friendly and helpful.

When I wrote the above I didn't mean to imply that only Europe and North America have supermarkets. I know they exist in Africa, Asia and South and Central America, not to speak of Australia and New Zealand. But what makes them a little different perhaps in North America is their ubiquity. I'd venture to guess that 90% of the people do 90% of their shopping in places like the supermarket pictured above. These vast stores are everywhere and even a small city like Victoria has many. During the summer months there are occasional small outdoor markets with many individual vendors such as are found in other parts of the world but these pretty much cease when winter comes and even in summer such markets do not come close to competing with the supermarket as the shopping venue of choice for most people.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ross Bay Panorama 2

Here's another panorama of Ross Bay that is more inclusive although it is smaller and less detailed. The previous Ross Bay Panorama was shot with a 90mm lens and is composed of about 8 or 10 separate photos. This panorama was shot with a wide angle lens at 10mm and is composed of 3 separate photos. I think I like it better since it encompasses all of Ross Bay with the tip of Clover point just visible to the far right.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Macaulay Point Autumn

Sorry gang - I'm having a busy day again so here's a photo from a few weeks ago when I went out to Macaulay Point. I like the colors in this, the leaves, the grass and the bright red old military building, one of several on this old point of coastal defense.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Autumn Sunset

Though it has yet to freeze here the nights are cold enough to turn the leaves on these trees on the banks of the Gorge. Here we are looking towards downtown from the vicinity of the Railyards in Vic West. The nearest bridge is the Bay Street (or Point Ellice) Bridge and just visible beneath it in the distance is the bright blue Johnson Street Bridge.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bayview Residences

Here's another photo of Bayview Residences (tall building on the left) under the kind of skies we've been having lately. It's been cold and rainy too. Oh well, it's October, after all. On the far right in the background you can see some of Dockside Green. The Johnson Street Bridge was behind me when I took this photo.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ross Bay Panorama

The shoreline that defines most of Victoria is a scalloped in a series of "bays" with "points" separating them. Here I am standing on Clover Point and looking towards Ross Bay. The large green area on the left is the Ross Bay Cemetery. The Island on the far right is Trial Island. Click the above photo to see the large version where you can scroll from side to side. You may have to click the large version also in order to see it full size.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway Station

This the the final stop on the Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railroad, the station in Victoria at one end of the Johnson Street Bridge. Built by coal baron, Sir Robert Dunsmuir, the railway has been in operation since 1886 though it has changed hands a number of times. Initially it did not run all the way to Victoria and the small station above is relatively modern. There is a good short history of the E & N that you can read by clicking HERE. A lot of Victoria's early history is tied up with the Dunsmuir family. Robert Dunsmuir also built Craigdarroch Castle, one of Victoria's most outstanding heritage buildings. His son, James Dunsmuir, became premier of the province of British Columbia and built Hatley Castle, another remarkable heritage building, as his personal residence. I earlier posted a picture of this station with the Dayliner train.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Falls

To continue with our look at some of the new condominiums that are being erected in Victoria I today post a photo of The Falls. It's quite a striking building right downtown on Victoria's main thoroughfare, Douglas Street, and within spitting distance of the Fairmont Empress Hotel and the Inner Harbour. It's called The Falls of course because of the 100 foot waterfall cascading down the sides of the building. I confess I missed it too the first time I photographed this building. In fact, when I got home and read the blurb on this building on their website, and looked at the artist's conception of the finished building, I decided that I had mistakenly photographed the wrong building. The next day I went back to find "The Falls" and took the above photograph. You actually can see the waterfall from this angle if you look closely. However, it is much more impressive in the artist's concept drawing and I suggest you go to their website and enjoy it there.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


I am currently a little bit busy with a non-photographic project so I hope you will forgive me if I use an archival photo here today, one taken in the early spring of this year. It is another of the seven "Signs of Lekwungen" monuments recently installed around the city to mark sites of importance to the local native people.

The hill here is called MEE-qan which means "warmed by the sun." This seaward slope was a popular place for rest and play - a game similar to field hockey, called Coquiallis, was played here. At the bottom of the hill was a small palisaded village that was occupied intermittently from 1,000 to approximately 300 years ago. The settlement was here for defence during times of war and it was also important for reef net fishing. The starchy bulbs of the wildflower, Camas, were an important food source gathered in this area. The hill here is also known as Beacon Hill.

(From the City of Victoria website.(Internal links added)
I posted photos of another of these monuments in January and you can see it by clicking HERE.

Friday, October 9, 2009


lookout on Macaulay Point, Esquimalt, Victoria, BC, CanadaHere's another image from a recent visit to Macaulay Point. There's lots of old military structures there (as earlier posted) and here's another, the lookout on top of the hill. I have posted photos in the past that I took from up there.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Inner Harbour Evening

Inner Harbor, Parliament Buildings, Legislative Assembly, Victoria, BC, CanadaOne of the things I miss in our cold season is being able to enjoy being outside in the evenings so, before bidding adieu to summer, here are two last shots of the Inner Harbour after sunset. I make no apology for posting a lot of photos of Victoria's Inner Harbour. It's remarkable to have something this beautiful in the centre of a city.Inner Harbor, Victoria, BC, Canada

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

That Time of Year

It's starting to get a little crisp in the evenings and the atmosphere seems thinner, so even when the sun shines it's like the air can't hold as much warmth as in summer. It's a relief for those who suffer from the heat but for people like myself that first warm spring day seems a long way off.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Upper Harbour

The Johnson Street Bridge divides the scenic and tourist oriented lower Inner Harbour pictured so often here from the "working" harbour further up the Gorge, a little of which is pictured here. I may have overdone the HDR processing on this one but I like the way the gritty grungey-ness of the effect adds to the industrial feel. The red brick building across the water is Mermaid Wharf apartments.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Bayview Residences

I realized recently that although I posted several photos taken from the 9th floor of the new condo development, Bayview Residences, I had neglected to post a photo of the building itself. This building is just above the condominiums whose photos I posted yesterday. It is only the first building of an ambitious plan that will include revitalization and restoration of the historic roundhouse area that is just behind and below the building pictured above. This restoration should include some shops and cafes and may ameliorate the current social sterility of this area. Another promising new development, Dockside Green, is only a stone's throw distant, and also promises to have areas of social contact when it is fully developed. Movement in this direction seems stalled for both of these developments due to the current economic climate.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Westsong Condominiums

Although I ride past these condominiums almost every day I tend to ignore them when it comes to taking pictures. For me there is something wrong with this area. The location is sublime, the buildings are beautifully finished and maintained but the neighbourhood is dead. It's a little like walking around in a graveyard. Perhaps this is because there are a lot of absentee owners and that there are no children. There are also no stores, post offices, shopping centers, playgrounds and most of the time, not very many people.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Johnson Street Bridge Celebration - Part 2

Johnson Street Bridge Celebration, art event, Deryk Houston, Victoria, BC, CanadaA couple of weeks ago there was an art event on the Johnson Street Bridge designed to draw attention to the Johnson Street Bridge in light of the city council's plan to replace it. The event was organized by some concerned citizens working together under the direction and inspiration of artist Deryk Houston. I posted a few photos of the event and because it was so colorful and so much fun, today I am posting a few more photos. The photo above is to illustrate how participants of both genders were encouraged to lavishly apply bright red lipstick, in order to leave visible kiss marks on the bridge. And what father-in-law can resist posting a photo of his son-in-law wearing lipstick? That's my granddaughter enjoying her dad's new look.

Johnson Street Bridge Celebration, art event, Deryk Houston, Victoria, BC, CanadaOnce the participants were on the bridge, they were programmed to raise or lower their balloons in order to have all the balloons of one colour up or down as can be seen to the right and left. This may have been to symbolize the way the bridge can be raised when required to allow tall ships to enter or depart from the Upper Harbour. (Artist Deryk Houston can be seen on the far left of the photo to the left.)Johnson Street Bridge Celebration, art event, Deryk Houston, Victoria, BC, Canada
When the event was over, all those balloons were brought back to the staging area at Reeson Park and popped so that they would not become an environmental problem. Below my granddaughter Rosie participates in the popping.Johnson Street Bridge Celebration, art event, Deryk Houston, Victoria, BC, CanadaSince this event took place the city has been notified that it will not be receiving any stimulus funding for the bridge replacement. As a result, there is now increased reason for re-examination of the issues regarding this bridge. A good way to keep informed of the latest developments is to check the website.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Another Panorama

panorama, Songhees Point, Victoria, BC, CanadaI am still enjoying these big panorama shots. Here's one that is just about 360 degrees, taken from Songhees Point. These big panoramas are not difficult to make with the great software that is now available. I use a free open-source software called Hugin which you can read about and download from HERE. As with the other BIG panorama I posted earlier, you need to click this one to see it big and you may have to click the big version again to blow it up as well.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Carpenter Gothic

This splendid old house was built in 1893 for Victor Jacobson, a successful local sailor who made many voyages to the Bering Sea in search of seal pelts. While he didn't build the house himself he carved all the ornate decorations that adorn it. The house is located in Esquimalt near Westbay Marina. A plaque in the adjacent Jacobson Park identifies the architectural style as "Steamboat Gothic" or "Barbary Coast." Wikipedia suggests that this style is more properly termed "Carpenter Gothic." "Steamboat Gothic" is generally reserved for houses built near the Ohio or Mississippi Rivers and styled to look like the ornately decorated steamboats that used to ply those rivers.