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Monday, March 31, 2014

Rooftops at Dusk

The thing about this picture is that it is so typical of Victoria in that when we left the house it was POURING rain, the kind that drenches you in minutes but then within an hour, gone. The sky, washed clean was the most intense blue. -Fern

Sunday, March 30, 2014

On My Daily Walkabout

Normally you associate these mailboxes with country roads but here and there people have put them up in the city. These are on the side of a big old house that's been turned into apartments, like many of the character houses in Victoria. The thing that always strikes me about them is the numbering and I can't help but think to myself, "4,3,2,1 BLAST OFF!"

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Red-winged Blackbird

Here's another old friend whose rich warbling fills the spring air - especially at Rithet's Bog, where I photographed this one on Thursday. This is a male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus). I saw about a dozen of these staking out territories amongst the bullrushes that line the bog. Their song at this time of year is one of my favorite bird songs - it always sounds to me like someone just bursting with happiness.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Pacific Undersea Gardens

Above is what's missing from yesterday's photo - the Pacific Undersea Gardens (as it was a few years ago). It used to occupy a prominent place in the Inner Harbour just offshore from what is now the Robert Bateman Gallery (housed in what was originally the CP Steamship Terminal). The Undersea Gardens was closed recently and towed into the Upper Harbour at the Point Hope shipyard (left and right). It was a picturesque building and it will be interesting to see how its absence affects other activities on the causeway.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

What's Missing?

Above is a photo of Victoria's Inner Harbour taken yesterday, looking a bit gloomy under heavy gray clouds. It's clear there's no sun and very few sauntering tourists, but they'll be back in a while. There's something else missing, something that won't be back. Take a guess before you scroll down to see what this scene looked like in years gone by.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sue War Laundry

Here's some more ghost signs from Chinatown. The one above is on Herald Street and the clearest words I can make out are the "Sue War Laundry" which appears twice. Chinese laundries were so common in the old west that they have become a cliche. But though many Chinese may have come here as lowly laborers, they quickly moved into unoccupied niches in the business world (such as laundries) and within a few generations they had migrated into the professions as was the case in other parts of the world. While I was in Maui a few weeks ago I was interested to discover some parallels between Chinese who went there to work on the sugar plantations and Chinese who came here to work on the railroad or in the gold fields. BC was known to China as "The Golden Mountain" while Hawaii was called, "The Sandalwood Mountain."
Fellow victoria blogger Mike Laplante has also collected some interesting local ghost signs you can see on his blog by clicking HERE.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Everybody Smokes Old Chum

It's always interesting to see these old ghost signs and there are quite a few on the sides of buildings in the oldest parts of Victoria. The one above is on Fisgard and has obviously been painted over a few times. I can also make out the phrase "navy cut" which referred to tobacco cut a little coarser than normal for cigarettes. But the phrase appears to be painted under the words Old Chum. Above it I think I can see a faint "Players", the name of a brand of cigarettes that utilized navy cut tobacco. People still smoke but their numbers are decreasing every day. Today there are half as many smokers as there were 50 years ago, and soon, like this sign, smoking will just be a historical curiosity.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

This might sound a touch strange but at this time of year when the flowers are beginning to bloom and the days are getting longer I always have a touch of sadness for the winter's passing. Why? Because while I am looking forward to so many things in spring I will miss the oft overlooked beauty of the tree's shadow, like this one. Like a snowflake no two are alike. - Fern

Sunday, March 23, 2014

New Food Truck Hits Victoria with Cinnamon Goodness!

So a few days ago Benjamin posted a photo of the Mr. Tube Steak and talked a little bit about street food in Victoria and around the world. When I was in the same area yesterday I noticed behind the above mentioned a new and interesting looking vehicle parked in the lot of Capital Iron, Ada's Heavenly Cinnamon Buns. Of course, only for the sake of this blog I had to try one out and yes folks, we have a winner! This is Ada herself and she hasn't even been in business for 2 weeks but she sure makes a mean cinnamon bun, fresh, warm, and the perfect balance of doughy goodness and sweet topping. Needless to say, I'll be back. - Fern

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Grape Hyacinth

Here's another addition to the spring roll-call of flowers, some Grape Hyacinths. Like Daffodils, these are not native to North America but they have naturalized themselves to the extent that one is likely to encounter them anywhere there is a little room to grow. Those pictured above were photographed on the West Bay Walkway a few days ago, on the same hillside where the Giant White Fawn Lilies are blooming now.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Mr. Tube Steak

Beneath a riot of plum blossoms is a stand familiar to most Victorians. Mr. Tube Steak is on his corner of Store Street with his selection of hot dogs. One of the joys of traveling in exotic lands is the wide variety of delicious street food. My mouth still waters when I recall Acara, the deep fried beancakes of West Africa, the wonderful tortillas of the streets of Mexico City and Indian Chai stalls in Madhya Pradesh. Of course, much of the year our weather is not suitable for eating outside but I am always happy to see street food vendors.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Giant White Fawn Lily

Here is another of our native wildflowers, the Giant White Fawn Lily (Erythronium oregonum). Before I see them anywhere else they usually bloom in the woods on a south-facing hillside above Sailor's Cove. But soon they will be dotting the forest floor all over this area with their delightful down-turned blossoms, another sign that spring is here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Here's another spring flower that is always a joy to see, Daffodils. While they are not native to this continent, they have naturalized themselves in Victoria and clumps and patches of them brighten bits of vacant lots and open land. Those pictured here are blooming on the Matson Lands just above the West Bay Walkway, below Swallow's Landing.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Value Village

Fern posted a photo of a favorite bakery of hers yesterday. Here's a favorite stop of mine whenever I go downtown, the store called Value Village. There's a lot to like about this store, not the least of which is that a portion of what one spends there is donated to charity. But it also has the virtue of being relatively cheap - if you don't mind second-hand, you can buy almost anything you need in the way of dry goods, housewares or clothing for a fraction of the price you would pay in the mall for the same items. However, you must be a little bit patient. Sometimes you have to visit the store repeatedly until you find a specific item. You can never tell for sure what you will find when you visit the store since the stock changes daily, and what other store can make that claim? It makes for interesting shopping. Another bonus to shopping there is occasionally finding treasures - items that are really beautiful and valuable that have been priced by someone unaware of their true worth. Pretty well every major city in Canada has one or more of these stores and they are also widespread in the USA under the name of Savers.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Victoria Tradtion

One of the city's landmarks, the Dutch Bakery has been open since 1956 offering all kinds of delicious baked treats and chocolates as well as lunch and breakfast in the back. It's one of those places that rarely exists any longer, the diner where you went with your Grandma and is still exactly the same today. They have some great old pictures on their website here. - Fern

Sunday, March 16, 2014

More of Maui

So as mentioned yesterday we have just returned from a trip to Maui and while Benjamin was looking for birds I was attempting to retake every cheesy vacation photo possible full of palm trees and sunsets etc. I'll not bore you with them but I did like this photo from a day we took a hike through a bit of jungle terrain we found and just literally in the middle of this dense undergrowth someone had posted this sign. It was so moist and thick in there I was almost sure there might be fish swimming through the vines and thick foliage. However we did eventually end up at a bit of a cove and there along the shore another strange sight; chickens! Feral but very docile chickens that were quite at home along the shore. They were quite happy to share our snacks as well. - Fern

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Northern Cardinal in Maui

Regular visitors to this blog will know that we recently returned from two weeks in Maui, one of the Hawaiian Islands. While there I indulged in my favorite pastime, photographing birds. I had hoped to capture some rare tropical native birds of the islands. However, I discovered that many of the indigenous species are now extinct due to predation and competition from introduced species - mammmals such as cats, rats, mongooses, cattle, sheep, goats and humans especially, as well as introduced species of birds. When I photographed this glorious Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis). I was thinking I had captured one of Maui's colorful tropical forest denizens, though I couldn't help but think, "this sure looks like a Red Cardinal...." Of course it is a Red or Northern Cardinal, one of many introduced species of birds that are thriving all over the islands. I was happy to see him since I've not seen one before. In North America they're only found east of the Rockies.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Lucile's Glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa luciliae)

Here's another of Highrock Park's early bloomers, Lucile's Glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa luciliae). It's not a native plant but has established its own little patch in the park where it is thriving. Who was Lucile? The plant was named in honour of Lucile, the wife of the Swiss botanist Pierre Edmond Boissier, a 19th century naturalist who cataloged many species of plants.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Satin-flower (Olsynium douglasii)

As soon as the weather begins to feel like spring I head for one of my favorite local parks, Highrock Park in Esquimalt. On its southern slopes I can almost always find the first spring flowers. When I went there yesterday afternoon I was pleased to see these lovely magenta Satin-flowers (Olsynium douglasii) blooming. They are generally among the earliest of spring wildflowers here. Lewis Clark (Wild Flowers of British Columbia) says they are, "...sensitive to every whisper of wind..." and I am reminded of that every year when I set out to take photos of these lovely little plants. Capturing an unblurry photo is a real challenge when the slightest breeze will set those little blooms swaying.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


When I finally turned away from taking yesterday's photos of the plum blossoms I was struck by this splendid Camellia tree and its stunning display of scarlet blooms.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Well, I know it won't be spring officially for another week or so but here in Victoria it has definitely arrived. I took today's photos yesterday on Langford Street in Vic West. The blossoms are lovely but they are only half the experience. The wonderful incense-like scent of these trees is intoxicating.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Year 7 Begins

As we start a new year on Victoria Daily Photo I thought I would post a photo that reminisces the first photo I published on this blog back in 2008 - a photo of my shadow on the trunk of one of the Gary Oak trees that are so characterstic of this city. Above is a photo of myself taken just prior to my recent departure for Maui. I am reflected in the eye of one of the figures that make up Bill Reid's incredible sculpture, The Spirit of Haida Gwaii, The Jade Canoe. It's an extraordinary work, magnificent and unique, and if you're ever in Vancouver International Airport, don't miss the chance to see it. That would be like passing through Rome and not bothering to look at the Sistine Chapel. Below is a photo of the whole sculpture. I chose a photo that happens to have a child in it to indicate the monumental scale of this work.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Best of March - The Gulf Islands (March 2013)

Victoria is located on an island, the largest in an archipelago called the Gulf Islands. Last March we took a trip through the Gulf Islands stopping briefly at Pender Island, where I took this photo. I include this because we came through the Gulf Islands yesterday on the final leg of our return journey from two weeks in Maui. I hope you have enjoyed the retrospective of the last few weeks and will continue to visit Victoria Daily Photo as we begin our seventh year of daily photos from one of the world's most beautiful cities.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Best of March - Plum Blossoms (2013)

Victoria is a very green city - there's lots of trees everywhere. But in spring it is especially wonderful how many plain and rather dull suburban streets burst into a positive orgy of blossom. Mostly these are flowering plum but there's lots of cherry trees as well. There are so many blossoms that drifts of pink petals pile up by the curbs. And the scent....

Friday, March 7, 2014

Best of March - Crocuses in Beacon Hill Park (March 2011)

In March every year I post photos of crocuses and this one, taken in March 2011, is a favorite. I love the contrast between the gnarly oaks, still black-branched against the sky, and the colorful fleshy crocus flowers.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Best of March - Songhees Point (March 2010)

This is the driveway leading to the Delta Ocean Pointe Resort on Songhees Point in Vic West. This photo has some technical problems but still manages to communicate that warm spring evening atmosphere.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Best of March - Panorama from Laurel Point (March 2010)

Here's a panorama of the Inner Harbour taken from Laurel Point in March 2010. It was made from 16 separate photos stitched together. Click on it to see it larger (you may have to click again to see it full size since it is VERY large).

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Best of March - Highrock Park (March 2010)

One of my favorite spots in the city is Highrock Park in Vic West. It's close enough to where I live so that I can visit it easily and it's always a joy to do so, but especially in the spring. The southwest facing hillside in the park is every year covered with this splendid carpet of Sea Blush for a few weeks.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Best of March - Wharf Street (March 2009)

Here's view I've enjoyed and photographed many times - Victoria's old town skyline as seen from Songhees Point.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Best of March - Old Growth Forest (March 2009)

March often offers days warm enough to stroll through the forest comfortably. Above is my granddaughter and a friend in the forest near Royal Roads University.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Best of March - Horse Carriage Tours (March 2008)

In March 2008 I had just begun this blog and was still very much immersed in discovering Victoria - like a tourist. Hence I tended to photograph the sorts of things that most visitors to the city record. Here's one of the Horse and Carriages that carry so many tourists around the city. The photo was taken on Belleville Street near the Royal BC Museum.