Current News – We have completed our tour of Alaska and when we come to blog it you see why our blogs ground to a halt, its breath-taking scenery was just part of its attraction. We are now back in the Yukon Canada and will slowly wind our way back to British Columbia via Banff NP and Jasper. In the mean time please enjoy our offerings of Vancouver Island way back in May.
Blog 260 Victoria (not Australia) May 2013
Upon landing on Vancouver Island we pointed the bike south toward its biggest town, Victoria the Capital of British Colombia not Vancouver as you might expect.
Not having any fixed plans our only reason for starting here was that there was a chance of meeting up with Bruce another Moto Guzzi powered traveler who had recently got back from South America.
The reason I say a chance was because Bruce didn’t do cell phones and we both had limited email access so he suggested that we could meet outside the Empress Hotel on the waterfront at noon. It all sounded a bit James Bond secret agent stuff and we wondered if we should wear a red carnation in our buttonhole but we figured turning up on the road warrior should make us easily identifiable provided we could park somewhere nearby.
Sadly it didn’t work out mainly because we were late, we rescheduled that night with the same instructions. This time we were there on time but Bruce didn’t show so we surmised it wasn’t to be and gave up. In the meantime though we had the chance to have a good look around the harbour and waterfront of Victoria, here are some pictures. The last two are the Empress Hotel which was built in the Chateau style of the Canadian Pacific Railway buildings. We stayed one night with Richard and Ingrid in town, they were friends of a friend of ours from Australia (Craig, whom we last saw in Brisbane). Craig had just left heading north to Alaska we hoped our paths would cross again later.
Vancouver Island was claimed for the British by our old buddy James Cook who we seem to have been following around the world. It was leased in its entirety to the Hudson Bay Fur Company by England in 1849 and the colony of British Colombia was created in 1858. Cooks third and final voyage was to try to discover the Northwest passage and protect Britain’s interests in the Pacific. In the museum later we saw the dagger that was used to stab him after an argument in Hawaii. Here are some pictures of Victoria’s buildings old and new. The decorative marker shows the position of the first Hudson Bay Company stockade named Fort Victoria. The other pictures show later architecture, the parliament buildings and Victoria’s Chinatown including Fan Tan Alley.
There were some other unusual buildings in Victoria. The first picture is the Carillon or singing tower which was a gift from the Dutch community in 1967. The tower is 27m or 89 feet tall and to play the instrument the Carillioneer had to climb 85 steps up to the pedals and keys which when depressed struck clappers on the bells. The instrument has 62 bronze bells inside it.
The blue bridge is a Bascule type counterweight bridge which was designed by Joseph Strauss of the Strauss Bascule Company. He later went on to design the golden gate bridge in San Francisco. The counterweights weigh 780 tonnes and balances the 350 ton opening span. The bridge is due to be removed and replaced next year to upgrade Victoria’s earthquake protection. Canada sits on the pacific rim of fire. The last picture is a houseboat bobbing about in the harbour.
Here’s a few other pictures to make you smile. Karen with her new Mountie buddy, Darth Vader busking (I wondered what he was up to these days) and a chance symmetry shot we couldn’t resist.
Some other ways of getting around town and the guys who police it looking pretty cool on their Victory motorcycles.
Our next stop was the Victoria museum which was excellent. It gave us some good insights into the history of the region particularly the first nations people.
Here are a few pictures of some of the exhibits. The first is a Kekuli underground pit shelter and some of the intricate reed basket work. Snow shoes are a must for any Canadian.
Most times we have visited museums the native areas have been off limits to photos so it was great for us to be able to photograph some of the history of these people. Totems and ceremonial masks are an important part of their culture. The wolf, raven and orca are all highly respected.
The museum also houses this whale skeleton and a mock-up of the discovery and dock yards, I put Karen to work moving the kegs of beer towards our bike.
We left town that day and hugged the coastline towards Sidney (no not that one) passing this wharf and lookout point across the bay. It was to be our first night of camping in bear country……
We knew we were not at the top of the food chain here in Canada. What we didn’t know was that it was not just bears that we had to watch out for. A few people had said watch out for the Cougars when we mentioned we were going to camp and at first I thought it was a tourist wind up.
But no, when I quizzed a few people it turns out that Vancouver Island has the biggest population of Cougars per land area of anywhere in North America mainly due to fact that the island has a huge deer population which has encouraged them to breed up. We were also told that Cougars are sneaky and you would have no idea if one was stalking you as they are quiet skilful hunters. Just what we wanted to hear when we would be camping most of the time !
Next Up – Butchart gardens