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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Bastion Square Weekend Market

One of our regular visitors here, JoJo, asked earlier in the week if the Bastion Square Arts Festival still takes place. I don't know about that particular event but every weekend there is a public market there that specializes in arts and crafts though there's usually an interesting assortment of other goods and services for sale as well. This early in the year it is still pretty quiet compared to the summer crowds.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Blues in Bastion Square

While I was photographing Chancery Lane (yesterday's post) I kept hearing music coming from further inside Bastion Square. When I finished with Chancery Lane I followed my ears until I found the source and settled down to listen to some well-played blues and folk music. The musician is John Carroll, only here for a few days though he at one time was numbered among our local buskers. Now he resides in Ottawa - their gain is our loss.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Chancery Lane

While passing through Bastion Square a few days ago I wandered into this small lane that leads out of the square. It looks like it dates from the last century and it does, being in the oldest part of Victoria. It runs along one side of the old Court House and has always been associated with affairs of the law. I suspect it would photograph well at night and plan to do that later in the year when the nights warm up.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Al Fresco

Both main entrances to Bastion Square are flanked by sidewalk cafe/bars and from now until October they'll be full of patrons enjoying eating and drinking outdoors.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

A Neighbourhood Favorite

I know Benjamin has posted a picture of this house before but I can't help posting another as it's so photogenic. - Fern

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Shooting Stars

I took a stroll through Highrock Park in Esquimalt yesterday and was rewarded by sighting a few of these tiny, early-blooming, spring wildflowers called Shooting Stars (Dodecatheon hendersonii).
I take this opportunity to wish all visitors here a happy Easter weekend.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Figures in a Landscape

When I lived in West Africa I was always interested in local people's reactions to my photos of Canada and my family and friends there. Striking photos of the Rocky Mountains, the wide prairies, and emerald green lakes would be thumbed through without a glance unless there were some people visible. Then I would be asked who those people were and what they were doing.They were not interested in scenery at all unless it had some people in it and then they were only interested in the people. For me that marked a very significant difference between West Africans and Canadians. West Africans were much more interested in people. Years later, I noticed in traditional Chinese landscapes, those ones of misty crags and winding trails, there are almost always a few small human figures visible somewhere. I know it's a subject that has been much discussed by graphic artists and I am not likely to add anything new or profound to the discussion. All I want to say is that I too like small figures somewhere in a landscape if possible. As well as adding scale, they add meaning to the picture just by their presence. This photo is also intended to give a glimpse into our weather lately. Though the sun often breaks through and lets me take a few bright pictures, we've mostly been getting windy, rainy days like this. Yes, it's definitely spring but as the saying is "March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb." We haven't got to the lamb part yet.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Emily Carr's Lilies

When one thinks of the paintings of Emily Carr it's usually our coastal forest on a grand scale that comes to mind, towering trees or totems spiraling into the sky. But Emily Carr loved the small things too and some of her favorites were these lovely spring flowers, the Giant White Fawn Lilies. She painted them too, and there's a story attached to the painting, one of her early works.
Emily Carr’s sisters had some issues with her art. Too modern. But there was one painting of hers that big sister Elizabeth Carr loved. Wild Lilies, likely painted in the early 1890s when Emily was at art school in San Francisco, was a great favourite of hers.

“Elizabeth absolutely loved this painting and Emily felt like it was the only time she ever got praise from one of her sisters over her paintings,” says Mary Jo Hughes, chief curator of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV).

Elizabeth – or Lizzie – became ill with breast cancer and in her dying days, was cared for by the Sisters of St. Ann at St. Joseph’s Hospital. After her death in 1936, Emily gave the sisters the painting in gratitude for the care her sister had received
From "The Globe and Mail" (Marsha Lederman)

The Sisters of St. Ann recently donated the painting to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Giant White Fawn Lily

Here's another native plant of the North Pacific Coast, the small (despite its name) Giant White Fawn Lily (Erythronium oregonum). These were photographed in the forest remanants of the Matson Lands above the West Bay Walkway. In my experience, this south-facing hillside over the water is one of the earliest spots around the city where these may be seen in the spring.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Wild Blossoms

One of my favorite blossoming trees is a species of our national tree, the Maple. According to Wikipedia there are 128 species of this tree but I am quite confident that the one pictured above is a native of this area. It's a Big Leaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum). Its fresh green leaves and rich hanging bunches of tiny flowers seem particularly characteristic of spring here.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Blossom Schedule

I am noticing this year that like wildflowers, our non-native flowering trees also have different blossom times. The flowering apple pictured above overlaps with the flowering cherries though they seem to start a bit later. In any case they are blooming now and would be welcome any time of year. Among wildflowers, we have Giant Fawn Lilies coming up next.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Mt. Doug Park

Yesterday morning we took a stroll along this stretch of beach and with the pale blush of new leaves among the trees leading to Cormorant Point, it was quite lovely. This beach is interesting too because the hillside is loaded with clay which is exposed to the air but doesn't ever appear to dry out. Maybe because of the moisture in the hillside itself? It is always fun to grab a handful and squish it around. - Fern

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Esquimalt Lagoon

Yesterday's photo of the lighthouse was taken from the eastern end of Esquimalt Lagoon looking eastward. From the same spot here is the view looking west down the length of the lagoon.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Fisgard Lighthouse

I went out to Esquimalt Lagoon on Wednesday to see if there were any interesting birds passing through on their way to their northern nesting grounds. There were lots of Northern Pintail Ducks and Mallards but nothing unusual so I contented myself with a few photos of my favorite model, the Fisgard Lighthouse, since it is visible from the lagoon. From this perspective it almost looks landlocked - that's because of the telephoto compression that makes the naval base on the other side of the harbor entrance seem so close.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


Here's another sign of spring - the re-appearance of buskers on the Inner Harbour. THUMPRBUNNY here was offering some high energy music to passersby on Tuesday. He sings as well as accompanying himself on a variety of percussion instruments, including a marimba. Sounded great to me and lots of other people stopped to listen and warm up to his rhythms.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Flowering Cherry

The flowering plums are pretty well finished now and the flowering cherries are taking their place. On my way out to Cadboro Bay to photograph the grounded sailboat I passed this glorious specimen and had to stop and take a photograph. That's Cadboro Bay visible on the right.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

On the Beach 2

Continuing the theme of floating things on the beach, here's another casualty of recent stormy weather, on the beach at Cadboro Bay. I'm guessing this one broke loose during a storm from its mooring at the yacht club (visible on the left in the photo below) and then was pushed up onto the beach by waves and wind.

Monday, March 14, 2016

On the Beach

I don't know whether it was the stormy weather we've had lately or just old age but this barge looks like it was lucky to make it to the beach between Clover Point and Finlayson Point. A work crew was busy this morning - looks like they were pumping it out so maybe it has sprung a leak.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Welcome Change

The thing that excites me about this photo is that I took it at just a little before 6 pm and you don't know how happy that makes me. Of course today we put the clocks ahead one hour so it's going to get even better. - Fern

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Big Bonsai

Though it is only a small beautifully unkempt neighborhood park, Highrock Park in Esquimalt has a wonderful collection of gnarled Garry Oak trees that, on a smaller scale, would make a bonsai artist's eyes water.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Grape Hyacinths

Grape Hyacinths are not native wildflowers but have become so widespread and have naturalized themselves so successfully they are a welcome sight in the early spring. Here they are usually even ahead of the Satin Flowers pictured yesterday and they have one advantage - on their sturdy stems they are much easier to photograph when it's windy. These were growing only a few feet away from the Satin Flowers pictures yesterday. What's up next? There's still no sign of the Giant Fawn Lilies or Shooting Stars but sometime soon they'll start appearing.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Satin Flower

Here is one of our very earliest spring wildflowers, the delicate little Satin Flower (Olsynium douglasii). While these are not really rare, I've only ever seen them in small isolated patches. These ones pop up in the same spots every year near the summit of Highrock Park in Vic West. The flowers seem almost too heavy for the slender stems and jostle around in the slightest breeze, making them very difficult to photograph.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Government House 2

Government House has a wonderful collection of art including some from First Nations artists. Above is a magnificent early Bill Reid work. We were informed that the unusual work below is NOT a totem pole but is a "House Pole" meant for interior decoration.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


Eight years ago I posted this photo of my shadow on a the trunk of a Garry Oak tree as the first photo of this blog. Lately I find myself thinking from time to time that I've photographed everything here once of not more than that but then something comes along like the recent tour of Government House that Fern and I took and I realize there is still lots to see and photograph in this city. I will take this opportunity to thank all the regular visitors for stopping by and especially those who leave comments - JoJo, William Kendall, Stephanie, Furry Gnome and others. I may not always answer your comments but I always read them and appreciate the time and effort you take to make them. I hope we'll all stick around for another year or two - there's always something new to discover in and around Victoria.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Government House

On Saturday Fern and I took advantage of one of the occasional tours offered at Government House. Government House is the residence of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, the Queen's representative in our province. It is also the official residence of the Queen when she and other members of the royal family visit here. Visiting dignitaries such as heads of state are also accommodated here from time to time and the Lieutenant Governor acts as host on behalf of the people of British Columbia. It was a fascinating tour and I recommend it highly to anyone who has the opportunity while visiting here. The building and its furnishings and artworks were rendered doubly interesting by the charm and enthusiasm of our knowledgeable tour guide. You can find out more about Government House and future tour dates on their website: and Wikipedia also has a comprehensive article. Below is the dining room where small (up to 40 guests) state dinners are held.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Hidden City

Funny story: yesterday was a glorious sunny day and Benjamin and I headed across town to tour Government House where BC's Lieutenant Governor lives in Fairfield. It's beautiful inside and it was fascinating to learn about all the things that happen there but did I take a single good picture? No. Not one! So instead the above photo is from one of Victoria's historical downtown office buildings, 612 View Street. This beautiful staircase descends from the sixth floor all in beautiful white marble. It's one of those hidden gems in an old city like Victoria. - Fern

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Totem Poles

There are two totem poles on Songhees point, one of which is pictured above. Oddly enough, whenever I see totem poles here lately I am reminded of South Korea, where I worked for a year some time ago. While moving around the country I several times saw collections of what at first glance appeared to be totem poles near the entrances to villages or small towns. The resemblance between these Korean poles and our local totem poles is striking though it is quite superficial. You can see many examples of the Korean poles HERE.

Friday, March 4, 2016


Songhees Point is not just a great place to get a view of the city. It's long been a place with special power. The spindle whorl marker on the right side of this photo explains the significance of this site:
PAH-lu-tsuss means "cradle-board." Traditionally, once infants had learned to walk, their cradles were placed at this sacred headland because of the spiritual power of the water here. More recently, there was a settlement here, and subsequently an Indian reserve, that traded with the fort on the opposite shore. This place is also known as Songhees Point.
Yesterday''s photo was taken looking east towards the city from Songhees Point or PAH-lut-suss. Today's photo is looking west towards West Bay Marina in Esquimalt.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Sign of Spring

March came in in wintry fashion with high winds and driving icy rain but some sunshine today took me down to Songhees Point where I saw some of these little Harbour Ferries chugging around - a sure sign of spring.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


Another of the facets of Chinatown that I experienced when Fern and I took the Chinatown Tour was Chinese traditional medicine - we went into a Chinese herbalist shop and looked around. Above are the bins of Ginseng - this stuff is expensive! Below is what I hope would be prescribed for me. I am fond of fungi though this one is not one I've seen before.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


Here's another interesting Chinatown fact I learned on the Chinatown walking tour I mentioned yesterday. This young man crossing the street in the middle of the block is NOT going to get busted for jaywalking. In Chinatown, by virtue of a special city bylaw, jaywalking is legal. It's a nice little recognition that our Chinatown is a special place with its own culture.