Victoria and South Vancouver Island

Victoria and Sidney

Victoria, reputed to be “more British than the British” didn’t disappoint. We used public transport to visit the city centre, we found a Highland Piper at the Harbor (see movie below), sailboat racing at the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, drank a real pint (imperial size) at a city centre pub, and to crown it all, we watched a cricket match between the University of Victoria and a team looking like a part of the British Empire at Beacon Hill Park. Our first impression, however, was made by the abundant floral decorations all over the city. We visited the Maritime Museum, learned more about Captain Cook and Captain Vancouver’s exploration of the Island and saw some original art by Jim Horton depicting some of the events of their voyage.

Cricket match at Beacon Park

Cricket match at Beacon Park

Colin noticed (when looking at the many scale models) that many of the ships put into service in the Pacific North-West  were built by Swan Hunter from Newcastle, where he was born and which had a thriving shipbuilding industry until the 80’s. We visited the Royal British Columbia Museum which was having a ‘Wooly Mammoth’ exhibition and particularly enjoyed the Native American artwork there (see below).

View from Sidney Harbour

We drove up the Saanich Peninsula, north of Victoria, to Sidney, where we looked around the town and harbour and stayed for a (very rainy) street market, purchasing some local smoked cheese and fig tart. We drove the South Island Pacific Loop to Port Renfrew on the Coast and back over the mountains via Duncan (see below). Last but not least, we visited Butchart Gardens (this will be its own future post).

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Royal BC Museum

Totem Gallery

Situated in the downtown Victoria Harbour area, this is a world class museum covering many different topics. We combined visiting the special ‘Wooly Mammoth’ exhibit with an IMAX movie on the same subject. Our greatest pleasure, however, was in the First Peoples Galleries where we particularly enjoyed the face masks, totem poles and the amazing Haida Argillite Carving (argillite is black slate) showing  some beautifully ornate carved pipes (both smoking and music kinds).

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South Island Pacific Loop

We spent another day away from Victoria to drive the ‘South Island Pacific Loop’ which took us first to Port Renfrew to visit the Botanical Beach Tidal Pools. Colin took a wrong turn and ended up in a Pub parking lot (no surprise there) surrounded by British Columbia Hells Angels. It was one of those easy-to-get-in hard-to-get-out spots. With a bit of audience participation, we squeezed into a spot between two cars and were treated to applause from the ‘Angels’ who were very interested in our ‘rig’. We stayed a while, enjoyed the view over the estuary and eventually found ‘Botanical Beach’ a steep hike down from a crowded parking lot. The Tidal Pools were a disappointment, not much marine life compared with the childhood trips to the lighthouse Colin used to take with his Dad. However the views of the coast and over the Juan de Fuca Strait back to Washington were magnificent. We carried on along the shore, and took the loop trail through the coastal forest, climbing back to our van, ready for a rest. South Island MountainsWe continued the drive around the loop, which took us inland through the mountain pass, through a torrential rainstorm, over countless narrow one-way bridges, over the top and onto the East side where the rain stopped, and back to Victoria via Duncan. The views gave us a good feeling for the dramatic Mountain, Forest, and Lake scenery typical of Vancouver Island.

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This clip should show how much more of an exciting fast-paced game cricket is then baseball. So what if some of the games take up to five days.

Colin had a long chat with this Highland Piper (not the kind that Colin plays) ranging from how hard his reed was today, his demonic Pipe Major from Lewis (Outer Hebrides Island off the NW Coast of Scotland) and American Politics. He played this tune for Colin that started out as a Liverpool ditty and ended up morphing into ‘Scotland the Brave’.

  • Victoria

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    Victoria, Sidney, and Port Renfrew, Vancouver Island

  • 7 Comments on “Victoria and South Vancouver Island

    1. Funny – the comment about Victoria being more British than…. Can’t wait to read about your experience at Butchart!!!
      From Cheryl: The next blog will be about Butchart. We did think seeing a cricket match was pretty British.

    2. Hi C&C! Glad you managed to get your “British” hit in Victoria! Loved images of the Haida Indian treasures and story about the BC Hell’s Angels liking your rig. Speaking of Haida treasures, when I was up there kayaking the islands of the Johnson Strait, we found a Haida totem pole, covered in moss, fallen over in the woods on one of the islands. I love their creation mythology, although I can’t remember it now! I hope you can refresh me at some point. And I can guess who took those sculptural images of trees! And Colin, given that I have become a baseball fan late in my life, it’s not inconceivable for me to learn to appreciate cricket….(maybe!)
      From Cheryl: So glad you liked the story about Hells Angels. We think it’s amazing that you uncovered an old totem pole, covered with moss and leaves. What an exciting moment that must’ve been. But I’m sure if you tried to take it back on your kayak, it would’ve sunk you. Those things are very heavy, aren’t they? It seems to me there creation mythology is not too dissimilar two hours. Just different players, and a lot more gods, having to do with natural phenomena. Even the flood is covered in their oral stories. We are a real team, my imagination, but his technical ability. It’s probably inconceivable that anybody would want to understand cricket. But, Colin has explained it to me in a straightforward manner, and I’m sure the same explanation would work for you. Of course you have to set aside approximately six hours for the tutorial, over many glasses of wine.

    3. Stop it! Just adding more to our bucket list.
      From Cheryl: We love that you will add this to your bucket list, and that it might include the North American continent where we will have a chance at seeing you and the family for a longer vacation! We’re forever hopeful.

    4. J adore l’artwork. The dog is gorgeous!
      From Cheryl: We love that you love the doggie artwork and all the Indian artwork as well. It was so much fun. I was losing my mind over how beautiful those pieces were as we were going through the museum.

    5. I’m jealous. Nobody’s ever asked me how hard my reed was. The woodies (boats) are gorgeous. I’d have one in a minute, but they’d last about six months in our climate. As for the cricket clip, it ranks right up there with sailboat racing and watching the grass grow on my entertainment meter….
      From Cheryl: How wonderful your comment made us feel. So how hard is your reed today? We didn’t know you liked to play with your pipe. The woodies were for you, when we took it, your name was more than mentioned. I agree with you about watching grass grow and cricket, but it seems not everyone else has that perspective. Colin explained the game to me over a dinner, and I’ll be darned – I understood it, but watch it? Nah. Not for me. But then he IS English. That says it all, doesn’t it?

    6. Look forward to Colin explaining cricket to me over a series of dinners at India’s some day!
      From Cheryl: A pleasure, when we return. One dinner, but several beers. You are a quick study!

    7. I love traveling with you!!
      From Cheryl: I love having you with me to travel! So happy to have you in my life again.

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