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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Kids on Parade

There's always lots of kids in the Victoria Day Parade here, most of them marching or riding on or in some kind of vehicle. Marching the length of the parade is an achievement, but I've got to salute these kids who do it with cartwheels and handsprings all the way. The boy in the center doesn't even have gloves on - I bet his hands were sore by the end of the parade.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Made ME laugh

The kid wearing this "costume" in the Victoria Day parade was really dancing along in such a carefree fashion I had to laugh. My hat's off to you, kid!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Trip to Vancouver

I am fasinated by architecture and so a walk through downtown Vancouver was almost more than I could take in. It's a much bigger city than Victoria and there are many examples of sleek new buildings but also older buildings mixed right in. It has a gritty big city feel that our little town doesn't.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Architecture in Black and White

Fern posted an interesting photo last week and since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, here is my take on another important downtown building. I will leave it to Fern or any other Victoriaphile to identify the building. (C'mon - you've all seen it!)

Friday, May 27, 2016

Victoria Day Parade 3 - Wheels

Lots of different kinds of wheeled vehicles in the parade. And though I neglected to get a photo, I was pleasantly surprised by the large number and variety of electric vehicles in this parade. People are becoming enthusiastic about these and manufacturers are finally waking up to this. Below, it was nice to see a little girl riding one of these muscular little dirt bikes.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Victoria Day Parade 2

Many civic organizations were in the parade as usual but one of the most impressive groups were the marchers representing the Falun Dafa organization. I understand this organization is a type of Buddhism. What captured my attention was how enthusiastic and energized these marchers looked.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Victoria Day Parade

Not surprisingly, Queen Victoria's birthday has a special significance here in her namesake city. Consequently I have been a bit disappointed in the last few years' parades. It seemed to me that participation was down and the enthusiasm was lacking. This year, however, I thought the parade was much improved, a little more of everything. Victoria Day is the kick-off day for the summer season and from now until October nearly every weekend will see some special event or festival taking place. Next weekend is the Swiftsure Yacht Race. Above is one of the many marching bands that participated in the parade, as they marched past Victoria's City Hall. This is the Klamath Union High School band from Klamath Falls, Oregon, USA.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

After & Before

I mentioned that the new owners have been refurbishing the Empress Hotel. Above is what it looked like this weekend. Below is what it looked like seven years ago.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Hot Off the Press!

I just got back from the Victoria Day Parade and above is a taste of the sights. This Falun Dafa Drummer was really enjoying himself. We'll have a look at the rest of the parade over the next few days.

Today is a kind of milestone - this is the three thousandth consecutive post on this blog.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

A Different Kind of Architecture - View Towers

Victoria does have lots of lovely, classic old buildings but it also has it's fair share of high rises and this one is particularly infamous in the downtown core for it's unimaginative and unattractive exterior. It's probably as close as we get to 'slums' here in the garden city where affordable housing is a major challenge for many. Of course that means it is even more of a challenge to photograph. - Fern

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Victoria International Kite Festival

Above is Clover Point, the always windy venue for the Victoria International Kite Festival. I took the photo last evening when they were just setting up for the festival which will be very active today. However, there were a few kites flying, the one below being the most interesting. I plan to check out the festival in more detail later today since I am always amazed at how the pros can make those flimsy things dance and swoop so gracefully..

Friday, May 20, 2016

Old and New

I never tire of looking at these two old sailing ships owned by the Sail and Life Training Society. There is always a hint of romance and a greater air of adventure in far-away places than the huge cruise ships suggest. Victoria is home port for the two pictured above, the Pacific Grace and the Pacific Swift. The society that owns them provides sailing and life experience for young people. Whenever I see these ships I envy the young people aboard.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Bard & Banker

The beautifully restored building pictured above is on Government Street near where I took yesterday's photo. It is now a restaurant/bar called The Bard & Banker, a name with a story attached. When it was built in the 1880s it was home to the Bank of British Columbia. The bank hired a young man called Robert Service who later transferred in the bank's service to a branch in the Yukon. There he became so famous for his poetry he was known as "the bard of the Yukon." His most famous poem is

The Cremation of Sam Mcgee

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows.
Why he left his home in the South to roam 'round the Pole, God only knows.
He was always cold, but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell;
Though he'd often say in his homely way that he'd "sooner live in hell".

On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail.
Talk of your cold! through the parka's fold it stabbed like a driven nail.
If our eyes we'd close, then the lashes froze till sometimes we couldn't see;
It wasn't much fun, but the only one to whimper was Sam McGee.

And that very night, as we lay packed tight in our robes beneath the snow,
And the dogs were fed, and the stars o'erhead were dancing heel and toe,
He turned to me, and "Cap," says he, "I'll cash in this trip, I guess;
And if I do, I'm asking that you won't refuse my last request."

Well, he seemed so low that I couldn't say no; then he says with a sort of moan:
"It's the cursed cold, and it's got right hold till I'm chilled clean through to the bone.
Yet 'tain't being dead -- it's my awful dread of the icy grave that pains;
So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, you'll cremate my last remains."

A pal's last need is a thing to heed, so I swore I would not fail;
And we started on at the streak of dawn; but God! he looked ghastly pale.
He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day of his home in Tennessee;
And before nightfall a corpse was all that was left of Sam McGee.

There wasn't a breath in that land of death, and I hurried, horror-driven,
With a corpse half hid that I couldn't get rid, because of a promise given;
It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say:
"You may tax your brawn and brains,
But you promised true, and it's up to you to cremate those last remains."

Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code.
In the days to come, though my lips were dumb, in my heart how I cursed that load.
In the long, long night, by the lone firelight, while the huskies, round in a ring,
Howled out their woes to the homeless snows -- O God! how I loathed the thing.

And every day that quiet clay seemed to heavy and heavier grow;
And on I went, though the dogs were spent and the grub was getting low;
The trail was bad, and I felt half mad, but I swore I would not give in;
And I'd often sing to the hateful thing, and it hearkened with a grin.

Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge, and a derelict there lay;
It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice it was called the "Alice May".
And I looked at it, and I thought a bit, and I looked at my frozen chum;
Then "Here," said I, with a sudden cry, "is my cre-ma-tor-eum."

Some planks I tore from the cabin floor, and I lit the boiler fire;
Some coal I found that was lying around, and I heaped the fuel higher;
The flames just soared, and the furnace roared -- such a blaze you seldom see;
And I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, and I stuffed in Sam McGee.

Then I made a hike, for I didn't like to hear him sizzle so;
And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled, and the wind began to blow.
It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled down my cheeks, and I don't know why;
And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak went streaking down the sky.

I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear;
But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near;
I was sick with dread, but I bravely said: "I'll just take a peep inside.
I guess he's cooked, and it's time I looked"; . . . then the door I opened wide.

And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: "Please close that door.
It's fine in here, but I greatly fear you'll let in the cold and storm --
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it's the first time I've been warm."

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Robert William Service

I've eaten in the Bard & Banker and I recommend it. Food, Service and ambience were all one could ask for.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Government Street

Despite its appropriate but rather unappealing name Government Street is one of Victoria's most enjoyable assets. It's a delight to look at and to stroll down with many restored heritage buildings and lots of places to shop, eat and drink. Cars are allowed but it is clearly primarily a pedestrian street. These lovely little rounded trees add a lot to the ambience, especially now when they are so spring green.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


I heard it before I saw it - a rich sweet bell-like sound murmuring over and through the normal street and market noises in Bastion Square. The instrument in this young man's lap is called a Hang and was developed in modern times in Switzerland. Wikipedia has a good article on this instrument and some samples of the kind of music it produces.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Coincidence or...?

(Cue creepy Twilight Zone theme here) Fern and I independently photographed Helmcken Alley (pictured above and in yesterday's post) and I didn't know about her photo until I was preparing today's photo. Given how seldom our photos are in sync this strikes me as an extraordinary coincidence or perhaps the ghost that is said to lurk in this covered walkway had something to do with it. (The covered part of the walkway pictured above was once attached to the city jail building and legend has it that a prisoner was beaten to death there in the city's early days.)

Sunday, May 15, 2016


Victoria has quite a few alleys and some are quite famous, like Fantan Alley but this one is definitely off the beaten track. It runs from Langley Street into Bastion Square. - Fern

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Puff Porn

Here's a relic of the 19th century on Government Street. I found it interesting that their website also contains some advertising copy that is as dated as their store.
Real men smoke pipes & cigars. And whatever walk of life you come from, smoking is more than just lighting up & toking. It’s an experience. A bold statement of character & style.
You can read more on the Old Morris website (if you can get past the required age verification - seriously, you have to be 19 years of age or older to read this stuff):

Friday, May 13, 2016

Welcome to Victoria

If this view could be worn out by being photographed then it would be ready for the garbage bin. I took it last week for two reasons: 1) I liked the dramatic clouds, and 2) the lack of sailboats meant that the "Welcome to Victoria" sign in flowers was visible across the harbour. Usually it is obscured by the forest of masts. I've been thinking about this welcome sign lately because it has been there for a long time. It used to be very visible in the days when the Vancouver-Victoria Ferry docked near where I stood to take this photo, and thus could be seen clearly by arriving passengers. Now that we will soon have a direct Vancouver-Victoria service once again perhaps this sign will be more than a quaint historical artifact.

Thursday, May 12, 2016


At this time of year our backyard has pretty much everything anyone ever needs.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Line-up Is For....

Red Fish Blue Fish, a very popular wharfside fish and chips place directly below the old customs house. Great food at reasonable prices and a view that can't be beat.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

James Bay Community Market

I had a pleasant time last Saturday checking out the James Bay Community Market. There's all kinds of interesting crafts and homegrown goodies to buy, food to eat and music. Last week the group playing was Knacker's Yard, a great local band. The market happens every Saturday throughout the summer.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Sunday, May 8, 2016

An Evening Walk

Dusk is my favorite time of day, when the light is golden like this. - Fern

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Knacker's Yard

Here's a group I enjoyed last weekend in Bastion Square. They are a local band called Knacker's Yard and play Celtic and English traditional music. If you get a chance to hear them don't miss it. They're great.

Friday, May 6, 2016


The cruise ships are back. From now until October there will be one or two of these behemoths at Ogden Point, sometimes even three. This is the Norwegian Pearl as seen through what I considered to be the appropriate lens, a 16mm fisheye.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Victoria Harbour Airport

As well as accommodating a large variety of boats, Victoria Harbour is a busy airport with a great deal of seaplane air traffic. Here is a photo of the Harbour Airport terminal that has just been erected. I quite like the design, especially the living mural on the roof.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Fish in a Birdcage

Here's a group I've not heard before that has a sound as interesting as their name. They are called Fish in a Birdcage and this is their second year on the Causeway. I hope to hear more of them soon since the little I heard was very good as well as quite different from the usual causeway musical fare.
Guitar and Vocals - Tristan Teal
Cello - Dusty Townsend
Clarinet - Richard Driedger

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


We've looked at many spring arrivals lately and here's one I overlook often, all the bugs that pop into our consciousness when the weather warms up. I don't notice Victoria's bugs much because I lived in Africa for many years and having had close personal association with the Tumba Fly (you DON'T want to know what it does), malarial mosquitoes and other serious life-threatening insects, I consider our local bugs to be pretty benign, aside from those considered by gardeners to be pests. I guess that would include the aphid pictured above, though I suspect, like the Boll Weevil, she's just "lookin' for a home." Aphids, according to Wikipedia, are "...a highly successful group of organisms." There are over 4,400 species and if you read the Wikipedia article you will agree that they really are remarkable in a surprising number of ways. For example, in the summer they reproduce by live birth and some of their offspring may even be producing their own tiny offspring before they are born. I actually set out this morning to photograph the Crane's Bill this aphid is sitting on. These little flowers are so small I got out the macro lens and when I focused down in macro mode I saw this little green bug, nearly invisible to the naked eye. Crane's Bills are members of another very successful zoological group, the genus Geranium.

Monday, May 2, 2016


Here's a new character on the Causeway, Dorian, a living statue and mime. If he looks a little familiar it's because he is being portrayed by the Causeway veteran performer who appeared for years as Plasterman, enchanting and amazing adults and children alike. Visible behind Dorian are some of the many luxurious boats displayed as part of last weekend's Victoria Inner Harbour Boat Show.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Christmas Hill Part 2

Yesterday's post showcases the view from Christmas Hill but this folks, is the real deal, the whole enchilada, this is what it's like IN Christmas Hill. The explosion of green is incredible and almost impossible to capture with a camera. - Fern