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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Good Morning!

I've mentioned before how I like to photograph ducks because they always seem to have a pleasant, friendly expression. Alpacas are another animal that looks happy and friendly most of the time. No matter how often I visit the Beacon Hill Children's Farm I always come away with lots of photos of the alpacas.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Summer Sunset

Here we are already in the last week before school starts - for me the signal that summer is nearly over. And it seems like it's only just begun. It came and went much too quickly this year. I took the above photo last evening when I noticed on my way home that the sunset colors were particularly vivid. It was taken from the Westsong Walkway at the bottom of Mary Street in Vic West.

Monday, August 29, 2011

In The Woods

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.
Robert Frost

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Summer in Saanich

This mother and babe were having a lovely afternoon, munching in the shade as we wondered by on our way to pick strawberries. -Fern

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Somewhere Saturday - Animal Overpass

While driving through the Rocky Mountains earlier this summer I was a little mystified when we began to encounter these hobbit-style overpasses. All I could think of was that they were left over from a defunct theme park or an abandoned super-highway project. Then we saw some that were obviously still under construction, not even overgrown with vegetation yet and I realized this was something new. Then I put this together with the fact that both sides of the highway are lined with fencing about 3 or 4 meters (10-12 feet) high and saw that the fencing also crossed the overpasses and the penny dropped. These overpasses are not for cars, they're so that the wildlife can safely cross the highway. What a nice idea.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Closer Look 9 - John Foster McCreight

This photo was originally identified as Matthew Baillie Begbie in error. Visitor Stephen Aberle pointed out that it didn't look like Begbie so I checked around and discovered that it appears to be a photo of John Foster McCreight, the first Premier of British Columbia. Sorry for the misleading information.

This text is the original post: Matthew Baillie Begbie (later Sir Matthew) was sworn in as Chief Justice at the same time (1858) as James Douglas was sworn in as governor of the Colony of British Columbia for the same reason - to establish British sovereignty and rule of law in the colony, especially in the previously lawless area of the Cariboo Gold Rush. Baillie was very much a renaissance man. In addition to his work as a judge, he drafted laws and had numerous other activities. He was an avid naturalist and opera singer and spoke several of the languages of the Native Peoples well enough to conduct trials in them without the use of an interpreter. He was popular and respected and must have been a very interesting man. You can find out more about him by clicking HERE and HERE.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Closer Look 8 - Sir James Douglas, KCB

Canada's main transcontinental highway is Highway Number 1 and Mile Zero on that highway is here in Victoria. Those of us who live here, however, don't think of it as Highway Number 1 but as Douglas Street, Victoria's main thoroughfare. It's named after Sir James Douglas, KCB, whose photo is above. The original hangs in a hall in the BC Legislative Assembly Buildings along with photos of other important political figures. Sir James, often referred to as the "Father of British Columbia" because of his decisive actions during the 1857 gold rush, was also the founder of Fort Victoria (1843), which has grown into the modern city. A summary of Sir James' actions during the Cariboo Gold Rush can be read by clicking HERE. Sir James' background provides a lot of food for thought. While we often think of the colonial administration here as John Bull British, it is good to remember that Douglas was born in Guyana, of a Scottish father and a creole mother, a person of mixed European and African ancestry. Sir James' wife was part Cree so there were many cultural factors both in his early and later life. Earlier in this series I posted a photo of Sir James' statue in its niche on the exterior of the BC Legislative Assembly Buildings, along with a photo of Judge Begbie's statue. I suspect both statues were made in the likeness of photos that are hanging in the halls of the legislature. Tomorrow we'll have a closer look at Judge Begbie.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Oak Bay Village

I've mentioned before that greater Victoria is made up of several smaller entities, one of which is the City of Oak Bay, on Victoria's eastern shores. And while I've often featured photos of Willows Beach and other parts of Oak Bay, I've not before posted a photo of Oak Bay Village. It's a very comfortable shopping area with lots of small book stores, art galleries and specialty shops, very pleasant and relaxed.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Closer Look 7 - Murals in the Rotunda

The ceiling of the rotunda of the BC Legislative Assembly Building is decorated with four murals depicting the natural resources of the province. Top row L-R: Agriculture and Forestry. Bottom Row L-R: Mining and Fishing. These murals are of relatively recent date and replaced murals that had become controversial due to their depiction of Native Peoples. The original murals and an interesting discussion of them can be found by clicking HERE.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Craigdarroch Details

Like the Legislative Assembly Buildings, Craigdarroch Castle is an imposing pile of stonework from the outside. But what makes repeated visits a delight are the details, the many lovely objects scattered throughout the interior of the castle. Here's a little sample. Above is a silver tea service. To the left is a portrait of Queen Victoria looking less dour than in many. And to the right is a detail of a silver table centerpiece from the dining room.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Closer Look 6 - Chamber and Coat of Arms

Continuing with our closer look at the British Columbia Legislative Assembly Buildings, above is a photo of the chamber where the provincial legislators meet to govern the province. At the far end is the Speaker's chair. The photo on the left is the official British Columbia Coat of Arms on one wall of the ground floor of the rotunda. This coat of arms has had a long and somewhat controversial history which you can read about by clicking HERE.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Daisies - Somewhere Saturday

Little more than a month ago I snapped these daisies growing in a friend's garden in the Similkameen Valley but except for the sagebrush mountains in the background they might equally well be growing around here . They seem to thrive as well on the roadsides as in carefully tended gardens. I've not attempted to identify these more specifically since there are several similar genera and many species. Whatever their name they are one of summer's pleasures.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Saanich Summer

The Saanich Peninsula is lined with many small beaches like this one that even in mid-summer are not crowded.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Closer Look 5 - Inside the Legislative Assembly Building

Striking as it is from the outside, the interior of the Legislative Assembly Building is equally interesting. Here we are looking upward inside the rotunda at the entrance the the building.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sugar and Spice

What are little girls made of?
What are little girls made of?

Sugar and spice
And everything nice,

That's what little girls are made of.

This is my granddaughter Rosie, who also appears in Monday's photo and other photos in this blog. The occasion was a celebration of the new garden at Craigdarroch Castle when guests were invited to don period costumes.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Brie Mango Avocado Quesadilla

As well as being home to obligatory half dozen Chinese restaurants Victoria's Chinatown is also where our newest vegetarian eatery is located. It's the Venus Sophia Tearoom & Vegetarian Eatery. And yes, I ate the extraordinary Brie Mango Avocado Quesadilla pictured above down to the last crumb. I've lunched here several times now and have always been pleased with the food and the ambience. It's classy and comfortable without being expensive. The soups are superb and everything else I've eaten there has been very good. I recommend it highly. Have a look at the menu on their website by clicking HERE.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Summer Reverie

Oh to be young and have nothing but time. - Fern Long

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dashed Hopes

Over the last while, the weather has been so lovely that I've been spending every moment that I can out of doors and of course, that means LOTS of picture taking. And, with a digital camera, the images on that small screen all look amazing don't they?! But, if you're like me, when you download them on onto your computer you are invariably disappointed. Most are out of focus or these long summer evenings mean the sky is blown out. I know I should be traveling with a tripod like Benjamin Madison, but dammit I'm not that organized. Yet. Someday. So, here is my best "shot from the hip, at a run" photo of the almost full moon Thursday night. -Fern

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Somewhere Saturday - Mountain Blues

In July I had a brief visit the the southern Okanagan Valley and spent one delightful afternoon in the mountains above Osoyoos. The lovely blue butterfly above is the first butterfly I have identified using my field guide. It is a Western Tailed-Blue (Cupido amyntula). And occupying the same little mountain dell was a flock of very shy Mountain Bluebirds (Sialia currucoides). I suspect this is a female of the species since the male is more brightly colored.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Closer Look 4

Earlier this week I posted photos of Sir James Douglas and Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie, whose niches flank the main entrance to the Legislative Assembly Buildings. However, the highest place of honour, the topmost peak of the central dome is occupied by a gold covered statue of Captain George Vancouver. As well as being an early explorer and surveyor of this coast he settled the Nootka Sound crisis which established British control over this area. These photos were taken with a 500mm super-telephoto lens. I prefer the profile photo to the right except that it seems to draw attention to the Captain's rather

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Chinatown Afternoon

In addition to the fractional addresses (scroll down to yesterday's post) another aspect of Chinatown I like is how much more laid back it is than the rest of the city. It's a little frowsy and sleazy, over-neoned and overparked and there always seems to be someone shouting in Chinese, groups of tourists wandering around, people jay-walking, clothes and vegetables for sale on the sidewalks. But if I spend a half hour in Chinatown I always feel more human.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


There's a lot to like about Victoria's Chinatown but one of the things that I always enjoy is the penchant for fractional addresses. This one is found in Fan Tan Alley. So far as I know, in our city these are only found in Chinatown.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Closer Look 3

After watching me lying on the stairs and leaning up against the corners of the building for a while one of the security guards laughed when I said I was trying to get a new angle on Victoria's Legislative Assembly Building. We agreed that if the building had lost one atom for each photograph taken, it would have disappeared long ago. I can't say I feel I succeeded with this shot of the main entrance but you can see two more of British Columbia's historically important figures in their niches and below.

On the right is Sir James Douglas, often called "The Father of British Columbia," since he was the founder of Victoria and the first Governor of the colony of British Columbia. You can read all about him in Wikipedia. Douglas founded Fort Victoria in his capacity as Factor of the Hudson Bay Company. He became Governor of the expanded colony of British Columbia when it was in danger of becoming part of the USA due to its popularity arising from the discovery of gold.
To the left is Sir Matthew Baillie Begbie, The first Judge of the Supreme Court of the Colony of British Columbia. Begbie traveled throughout the colony on horseback, dispensing justice where it was needed and upholding the laws during the tumultuous gold rush days.

Monday, August 8, 2011


After an stroll through town, doing a little bit of shopping, we stopped at Discovery Coffee on Discovery Street for a coffee. The late afternoon sunshine was just perfect, making everything glow. - Fern

Sunday, August 7, 2011

In Living Color

Many cities have a system of alleyways running between the main streets which I always find intriguing. Victoria has two. This one running between Yates and Centennial Square, has been decorated by the Youth Empowerment Society. - Fern

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Milk River Tubers - "Somewhere Saturday"

One of the places we visited on a recent trip to the neighboring province of Alberta is located in the southernmost area of the province, just north of the border with the USA. It is called Writing on Stone Provincial Park. The Milk River flows through it and on the afternoon pictured above and below, the river provided a cool way for some kids to tube through the park.

Friday, August 5, 2011

King of the Castle

To round out a beachy week here's another shot from a recent afternoon at Gonzales Beach. Like goats, kids always like to climb to the top to see what there is to be seen.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Grass 2

In June I posted a photo of some grass with a memo to myself to pay more attention to these plants. Since then I've collected a few more photos of grasses during my morning walks and thought them a good subject to experiment with this collage method of presentation.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sand Castles 2

As well as concentration (scroll down to yesterday's post) building castles in the sand may involve cooperation. Most of the constructive social skills we value were on display while these kids were building their castle.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sand Castles 1

As adults we often forget that "play" can be deeply serious and satisfying. It's not only running and jumping and giggling, important though those are. Play may involve deep concentration that is a kind of practice for the most important work we will do later in our lives. One of the most fascinating aspects of beach-watching is to see how often this environment induces this profound level of contemplation and purposeful activity in children.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Country Roads

On the way home I spotted these lovely daisies growing wild on the side of Willis Pt. Road. - Fern