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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Watercolor Weekend

I am still enjoying the app on my camera that transforms a photo into a watercolor painting (see last Saturday's post). Here is another example - everybody's favorite houseboat moored at Sailor's Cove off the West Bay Walkway.

Friday, February 27, 2015

And the Winner Is...

My visit to Highrock Park on the weekend did yield a winner, pictured above, in the First Local Wildflower to Bloom Sweepstakes. All of the flowers I've photographed so far this year have been on plants that were introduced by European settlers during the last 150 years or so. The diminutive little flowers in this post are, however, on a common wild bush native to this area called Indian Plum. The fruit look like plums but are very small, about the size of a pea, and are very popular with birds. To the right is a photo of the fruit I took a few years ago in May.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Highrock Park

I like to go up to Highrock Park at this time of year because it gives me a good idea of where we are in the progression of spring flowers. I went up there on Sunday to see if there were any Satin Flowers - usually the first of the small wildflowers. No sign of the Satin Flowers yet but the little patch of Lucille's Glory of the Snow was blooming (pictured above). It's another very early bloomer though it is not indigenous and must have escaped from someone's garden long ago.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Old Victoria Custom House

Everything looks fresh and new these days and that includes the old Victoria Custom House, built in 1875. At this time of year even its unusual color seems to be complementary to the exploding plum tree overlooking the Inner Harbour.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Christ Church Cathedral

Victoria's Quadra Street might more aptly be named Church Street since so many of the city's churches (and a mosque) are located there. Here's probably the largest and most impressive, the Gothic style Christ Church Cathedral. Unlike the church in yesterday's post, the cathedral is still in use as a house of worship. It has a splendid interior and beautiful stained glass windows. I posted a photo of the interior about five years ago - it's obviously time to re-visit.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Victoria Conservatory of Music

Here's a building I've not featured before on this blog although it is one of the more interesting heritage buildings in downtown Victoria. It's on the corner of Pandora and Quadra Streets. When it was built in 1890 it was consecrated as the Metropolitan Methodist Church. Now it houses the Victoria Conservatory of Music. Because the original church members had a strong music program the building was designed by Thomas Hooper with particular attention to acoustics. The Alix Goolden Performance Hall is used by the conservatory but also hosts many community events. The Victoria Heritage Foundation website has a good description of this building you can read by clicking HERE.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Hidden Surprise

I recently took a short cut down an alley and discovered this amazing piece of artwork on the back of a row of businesses and restaurants. I know graffiti is controversial but when you come around a corner and are presented with a work of this size and incredible skill, I for one can't help but feel appreciation for the skill that went into it. I think there is a youth center of some kind close by and hope that this a collaborative project and not vandalism. - Fern

Saturday, February 21, 2015

And Now...

...for something completely different.

Lately I've been exploring some of the picture modes that are built in to the software in my camera. I'm enough of a traditionalist so that most of them seem a bit gimmicky to me but the photo above (rendered in the camera's "watercolor" mode) fascinates me. It's just another blossoming plum tree on Government Street but....

Friday, February 20, 2015


Well, plum and cherry blossoms are fine but nothing says spring to me quite like the glorious purple of crocuses.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Langford Street

So sweet the plum trees smell!
Would that the brush that paints the flower
Could paint the scent as well.
(Old Japanese haiku)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Blossom Time

Spring has definitely arrived. Here's the West Bay Walkway. This photo is the result of exploring one of the characteristics of my camera called "Digital Manual Focus". With this feature activated the camera auto-focuses as normal but as soon as you touch the manual focus ring it zooms the live view and lets you manually fine-tune the focus. This is very handy when you want to focus on something small. For instance, in this photo the auto-focus mechanism put all those background blossoms in perfect focus but left that single sprig in the foreground rather blurry. Since the foreground sprig was what I wanted I let the camera auto-focus and then adjusted the focus manually so what I wanted was in focus. After you have pressed the shutter the camera reverts to auto-focus. Very useful feature!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Victoria After Dark - City Hall

When I posted a series of night photos a few weeks ago I had intended to include a photo of Victoria's City Hall. Rainy nights however prevented me from taking the photo until a few nights ago. City Hall was built in 1890 and as well as being a locally designated heritage building, it is also a National Historic Site of Canada.

Monday, February 16, 2015


Canoeists paddle past a dredge deepening the Inner Harbour off the Songhees Walkway. This is the first stage in the building of a new marina that in addition to berths for 29 super-yachts (65 to 100 feet), will also house a restaurant and a coffee house. Songhees Walkway strollers will not be blocked but future canoeists will need to paddle beneath the buildings to avoid other Inner Harbour water traffic. More details on the project can be found HERE.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Top of the World

At dusk Mount Finlayson is a favorite spot for Victorians to come and gaze out over our little city. There isn't a dramatic skyline like some big cities but I think the natural beauty of the ocean and mountains make up for it many times over. - Fern

Saturday, February 14, 2015

View Royal - Esquimalt Harbour

At another shoreline access in View Royal last week I was able to capture this photo of the Fisgard Lighthouse from a new angle. Here we are looking south, out through the entrance to Esquimalt Harbour. On the right is the Fisgard Lighthouse and on the left are some of the buildings of the Naval Base. The mountains in the background are on the Olympic Peninsula.

Friday, February 13, 2015

China Beach

These West Coast beaches are different from our mild urban beaches. Everything seems bigger and wilder, untamed. It's an environment that is both exhilarating and calming.

Thursday, February 12, 2015


Much of the West Coast of the Island is steep and heavily forested cliffs and hillsides that tumble down to the shore. The trees are huge and and a dense ground cover of salal makes trekking off the trails very difficult. It's a lush wet environment.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


The West Coast of Vancouver Island is famous for its surfing beaches. China Beach doesn't have much surf since it faces the relatively sheltered waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. When we were there on Saturday it was a calm and windless day and there were no waves to speak of though a few wet-suited surfers were practicing their moves.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Vancouver Island's West Coast

Victoria is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, and is sheltered from the open Pacific by the Olympic Peninsula. However, traveling westward along the island's coast one moves within 40 or 50 kilometers into a much wilder and more robust environment, the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Much of it is not accessible by road. Where the road ends, the West Coast Trail begins, a 75 kilometer hike famous as one of the finest wilderness trails in the world. Fern mentioned on Sunday that we drove west on Saturday and stopped at one of the many beaches along the way, China Beach. The photo above is of one end of China Beach and shows the landscape typical of much of the rugged coastline.

Monday, February 9, 2015


My apologies to the rest of the country for these photos taken on Sunday here in Victoria. Yes, the city is bursting into bloom. It seems like it must be several weeks if not a month in advance of normal blossom time but the weather has been very warm and wet. Most of my plum blossom photos in years gone by have been posted in March.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

China Beach 2

In January we made a trip up to China Beach and I was so besmirched by it's wild beauty I had to go again and take Benjamin this time. We left Victoria in the pouring rain and had accepted that it was going to be wet up there. So we were very delighted when it cleared up for the afternoon! We had a lovely time exploring the beach and soaking up the grandeur of our rugged coast. - Fern

Saturday, February 7, 2015

View Royal

Greater Victoria is a collection of independent cities and municipalities, one of which is View Royal, west of Esquimalt. I've not posted much about View Royal before because when I leave the city I am usually heading further away and drive right through View Royal without stopping. Last week I decided to remedy this and explore a bit. Much of View Royal lies just above the shoreline of Esquimalt Harbour. The harbour is heavily indented with many headlands and small bays such as pictured here. Just above this viewpoint is an information plaque that says this little bay was used by early mariners as a place to collect fresh water for use on their ships. The view is lovely but in reality it is enhanced by the sounds of the little creek nearby that still empties into the bay.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Ross Bay Cemetery - Long-lived Victorians

It's easy to get a little melancholy when wandering around a graveyard, especially when one sees the grave markers of young children. In an old cemetery like Ross Bay there are many such graves, testament to how fragile life was for the young a century ago. Diseases we no longer worry about such as diptheria and scarlet fever routinely killed children before vaccination became widespread. But some balance is provided by the large number of graves belonging to people who lived long full lives. Ross Bay Cemetery currently holds about 28,000 graves so it is not surprising that there are a few centenarians. Above are two I noticed, Natalia Buchan who died at 100 years of age, and Elizabeth Whitby, who lived to be 105 years old.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Ross Bay Cemetery - Statuary

Most of the graves are marked with simple stone memorial markers with the name, dates of birth and death and perhaps a phrase or quotation or a bit of biographical information. Some grave markers are quite ornate with symbols of employment such as anchors for seamen or organizational symbols such as Masonic symbols. Other graves are marked by statuary such as above or other stone carvings in relief such as below. While I suspect much of the sculpture is generic it ages well and makes me wish we had more sculpture scattered around other parts of the city.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Ross Bay Cemetery - Religions

Originally the inhabitants of the graveyard were buried in different sections according to their religious affiliations - Anglican, Presbyterian, or Methodist, etc. There was also a section for non-Christian burials where "heathens" were interred. Above and below are two of the memorials in the Catholic section. The statue above overlooks a number of graves of the Sisters of St. Clare, an order of nuns.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Ross Bay Cemetery - Flowers in January

Our weather seems to have been unseasonably warm for the last few weeks but I was still surprised at how many flowering plants were already beginning to grow and even to bloom. Cut flowers on a grave are nice when they are fresh but I think I'd rather be remembered by the daffodils sprouting over the grave above. On a nearby grave there were even some crocuses blooming. I suspect the flowers in Ross Bay are a bit precocious because of being close to the seafront and its moderating influence. There were also lots of snowdrops which seem somehow particularly appropriate for a cemetery.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Ross Bay Cemetery - Sir James Douglas

I mentioned on Saturday that the Ross Bay Cemetery holds many Victoria citizens who were prominent in the early days of the city. Probably none is more significant than Sir James Douglas, who founded the city and governed the colony during its early days. He was a Hudson's Bay Company factor as was Alexander Ross, who gave his name to the bay and the cemetery that faces it. A number of the older graves such as Sir James' are surrounded by wrought iron fences. This ironwork is often quite ornate.

Sunday, February 1, 2015


I know pictures of quiet country back roads are so cliche. I like a good cliche, it's like hot chocolate on a drizzly day, completely unsurprising but delicious all the same.- Fern