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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year!

Here's what Victoria looked like on the last day of 2016. This is the view overlooking the Matson Lands across the Inner Harbour towards the city. We extend our greetings to everyone who visits this page and wish you a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2016


Well, these are always the earliest of spring flowers, but I was surprised to see these when I went for a walk today - a beautiful sunshiny day. I've just checked previous years' photos and I don't generally see these lovely little blooms until mid-January or later.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Jeff Maltby - Public Works Mural

Here is the final Maltby mural in the little retrospective we've been having. This one is on the side of a building in the City of Victoria's Public Works yard, only a stone's throw from the recycling mural viewed yesterday. It's another of Maltby's time travel murals with the older scene on our right and the modern view on the left. The title is "Public Works Through the Years". When I look at these paintings as a body of work, what comes to mind is Diego Rivera's many murals in Mexico City. Although Maltby's murals lack that revolutionary fervor, in their own quiet way they too tell some of the story of this place. Would that there were more of them.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Jeff Maltby - The Ellice Recycle Mural

This Maltby mural dwarfs the ones seen so far - it's 152 Feet wide (46 meters). Though we tend to think of recycling as a modern practice, in this mural we are reminded that people have been recycling for a long time. Perhaps we just do it a little more conscientiously now. As usual there's lots to see in a Maltby mural.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Jeff Maltby - Chinatown Murals 3

Above is a detail from Jeff Maltby's third Chinatown mural just a few steps away from the two previously posted. I like this detail because these kids just look so nice, especially the one on the right looking right out of the picture at us. Below we can see the whole mural - a tour de force trompe l'oeil.
Take few steps back to see this amazing mural in context. Some parts of it, like the sign for the restaurant on the upper right are actually real.
I think it's a tribute to this artist that although these paintings are right at street level and you can walk right up to them and touch them they (and the other Maltby murals) remain free of graffiti or other gratuitous damage and these are nine years old.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Day Walk

After all the holiday rush and excitement it was nice to take a walk and enjoy the crisp and quiet day. As we were heading home we came across an empty lot where there were frozen puddles and there is nothing more satisfying than the crunch and crack of ice underfoot. This photo was taken by another photographer in the family, Molly as I was apparently having too much fun stomping around. - Fern

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Here's our tree, moments before we fell on all those gorgeously wrapped packages. I hope your Christmas was as merry as ours and that you have a Happy and Healthy New Year.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Jeff Maltby - Chinatown Murals 2

Just around the corner from the painting I posted yesterday, in the passageway leading from Pioneer Square to Fisgard Street is this interesting mural. It takes us on a little voyage through time with the three children running towards the Chinese Public School, the distinctive steps of which can be seen in the background. The picture fades from black and white to color from left to right as history progesses with the first little boy wearing what may have been a school uniform of 1909, the year the Chinese Public School was opened. The little girl is dressed in '50s style - look at those saddle shoes. And the little boy on the right with his skateboard and crash helmet is definitely from the modern era. The way the painting is hung, the children are running towards the Chinese Public School on the opposite side of Fisgard Street as they may well have done through this passageway years ago.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Jeff Maltby - Chinatown Murals 1

On Fisgard Street, Victoria's Chinatown's main street, there are three Maltby murals. The one pictured above may be found opposite the Chinese Public School. It is a group portrait of the Lee Mong Kow family of Chinese immigrants in 1905. Maltby always manages to bring his characters to life with thoughtful, friendly expressions.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Jeff Maltby 4

Here is the triptych featured in the last three days' posts in its entirety. On the left is a photo of the artist, Jeff Maltby, taken in 2012 by Globe and Mail photographer, Chad Hipolito. We'll have a look at Mr. Maltby's other murals over the next week or so.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Jeff Maltby 3

Here is the third panel of the mural triptych on the corner of Fort and Langley Streets downtown. I would have found this less accessible than the other two panels were it not for an article in the Globe & Mail that describes it as, "...three people shouting from a window, an homage to a scene from the movie It’s a Wonderful Life." Click the link to read the article - it has some good background information on Mr. Maltby and his murals.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Jeff Maltby 2

Here is the center panel/window in the Jeff Maltby triptych on the corner of Fort and Langley Streets downtown. Among the many features I love about these Maltby murals are the details. For instance, you have already glanced at this photo but did you notice the hummingbird feeder? And the hummingbirds? Click the photo to make it larger to pick up on the details. There are also some bubbles in the air - look at the mural photo I posted yesterday and you will see the kids are blowing bubbles.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Jeff Maltby - Victoria's Muralist

When I was downtown on the weekend I chanced to park near this Jeff Maltby mural, one of three on the side of a nearby building. I was struck again by the remarkable skill of this artist and our great good fortune to have such talent displayed freely on our downtown streets. Mr. Maltby has been commissioned several times to create murals in different parts of the city. Most of them have been featured in this blog over the years and I plan to do a little retrospective over the next week.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Homeward Bound

It was an act of real discipline to go out on the deck yesterday to snap a few hurried pictures before my hands froze. It is always beautiful sailing through the gulf islands, no matter what the weather. - Fern

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Bard & Banker in Christmas Ribbons

While downtown yesterday visiting the mall I couldn't resist taking a photo of one of my favorite heritage buildings on Government Street, the Bard & Banker, looking Christmassy in red ribbons.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Mall Time

I spent the morning in a kind of place found in pretty well every city and town on this planet - the mall. Victoria has a half dozen of these and this one, the Bay Mall downtown, is my favorite Christmas shopping venue. It wasn't too crowded this morning but on the weekend it will be packed.I hope you have all your Christmas shopping done!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

One Flock of Flickers....

...and a partridge in a pear tree. A Flock of Flickers is not in the old Christmas carol but it sounds like it could be. It seems that Northern Flickers (Colaptes auratus), though I've only seen single birds or couples in the spring and summer, like to flock in larger numbers in the winter. There's only one visible in this photo (upper right) but there were four of them altogether foraging for insects in the Matson Lands above the West Bay Walkway. Like other members of the woodpecker family Flickers seek out insects in tree bark but they also forage for bugs on the ground. Perhaps that's the reason we see more of them in the city than other members of the family. (NOT the greatest bird photo but I didn't have a telephoto lens with me that day.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Powder-puff Clouds

Yesterday just as I was leaving the West Bay Walkway I turned back and saw this view towards the West Bay Marina. Actually it was the clouds that caught my attention. Those soft, fluffy, cotton-batting clouds always make me think of warm winds and summer days even though the temperature was hovering around freezing.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The View from Swallows Landing

It was a brisk and sunny day today so I took the opportunity to take in one of my favorite views of the city, from the terrace at Swallows Landing, just above the Matson Lands in Esquimalt. As you can see, our snow has gone just as quick as it came.

Monday, December 12, 2016


Well, that snow is gone now, though we may get some more before winter's over. Victoria doesn't get much snow - I don't think we had any last winter. But when we do get some, Victorians like to get out and enjoy it as much as possible. This was the scene last week in Banfield Park in Vic West.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

After the Melt

Victoria had an exciting week of snowy weather but it wasn't until today that I had time to go for a walk and sadly the beautiful blanket of white is all gone. Most of the year this house with it's steepled roof is almost completely invisible behind a screen of trees but with the leaves all gone, it reappears looking a little spooky. - Fern

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Snowman's Best Friend... a Snowdog!

Friday, December 9, 2016

More Snow

We had about 3 inches more snow last night but it's melting pretty fast.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Pioneer Square Christmas Tree

This giant Sequoia grows in Pioneer Square right next to Victoria City Hall. You can't see it in the daylight but it is festooned with Christmas Lights at this time of year and the square is the scene of other seasonal activities. There is even a Ferris Wheel. That white stuff on the ground is snow, real snow.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

White Stuff

Well. I walked outside the other morning and this is what I saw. Where is global warming when you need it?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

2017 Bluesville

The above trio are a Victoria-based blues band called "Slim & The Deuces". They contacted me last week and asked if I would like to take some photos to use on their latest CD. On Friday I spent about an hour with them down on Store Street in old town Victoria. One of the cuts on their CD is entitled "Store Street Shuffle" and they wanted some photographs to include the street sign if possible. Above is one of the many photos I took that day. From the left, band members are John Hunter, Dave "Slim" Harris, and George Fenn. For me it was a great opportunity to try some new techniques and work with interesting, congenial people. Below is a little taste of their music from a live recording made on Canada Day 2016 by Dave Harris.The song is the "Store Street Shuffle" by John Hunter. For the CD, the band is still in the studio and the CD will be released in early 2017, entitled "2017 Bluesville".

Monday, December 5, 2016

Esquimalt Celebration of Lights Parade

I always think of parades as events that happen in the spring or summer but I've just become aware that Victoria has as many parades in winter as at other times of the year. There's the Santa Claus parade just a few days ago, the Lighted Trucks parade on Saturday and pictured above and below are some of the sights from the Esquimalt Celebration of Lights parade. It also had lots of lighted trucks and young spectators were treated to lots of free candy and even free pizza. Though it was dark and cold I think it is safe to say that a great time was had by all.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Fan Tan Alley

One of Victoria's landmarks, this narrow alley runs between Fisgard Street (Chinatown) and Pandora Street and is full of interesting shops. It got it's name from a popular chinese gambling game called Fan Tan Guan when gambling and opium dens where around in the 1940's. It's always been one of my favorite spots in the city. - Fern

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Rock Bay Mural Project

Over the last year or so a small bay off the Gorge called Rock Bay and the nearby shoreline area has been cleaned up. The area is now fenced and the fence diplays a large number of mural paintings from local First Nations artists and their youthful assistants. Above and below are a couple of samples from this attractive project. The project is called the Rock Bay Mural Project and you can find out more about it by clicking HERE. The work above, entitled "Horsetail Herb" is by Darlene Galt. Below is a design by Butch Dick called "Grandfather Sun".

Friday, December 2, 2016

Ho Ho Ho

Goodness! It's here again already! Here's how old I am: I remember going out to the bush with my father to cut down our Christmas tree. I was wearing felt boots, breeches and a parka and the bush, somewhere outside Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, had about two feet of snow on the ground. Nowadays all Christmas trees are designer trees from farms. Trees like those pictured above are a little too perfect. I kind of miss the skinny, stunted Christmas trees of yore that always had lots of space between the branches. (Or maybe it's the felt boots, breeches and my own little hatchet that I miss....)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Daniel Kingsbury

Here is a new mural I only noticed recently. It is a memorial for a young musician and environmental activist named Daniel Kingsbury, who died last year, aged 28. He founded and was the director of The Jellyfish Project, an organization that uses music to help educate schoolchildren about the environment. The mural is located on the wall of the Ageless Living store on Johnson Street downtown. You can find out more about Daniel Kingsbury HERE and HERE. The mural was painted by artist Ian George.