Friday, August 13, 2010

To Vancouver Island

It was a short 95-minute ferry ride.

We left Tsaw-wassen, in the south-western corner of British Columbia, for the trip across the Strait of Georgia to Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island.

It was a beautiful summer day, so we took advantage of the opportunity to be on deck, enjoying the views and the breeze. Due to the warming currents of the Pacific Ocean and the protection of the Coast Mountains, the Island region has the mildest climate in Canada.

Between the mainland and Vancouver Island are numerous islands and islets, among which are the Gulf Islands and Discovery Islands. An elaborate ferry system connects the larger islands, Vancouver Island, the BC mainland, and US cities of Port Angeles, Bellingham, and Seattle.

A 30-minute bus ride brought us to Victoria, the provincial capital of British Columbia. Our stop at the harbor was near the flower garden which had the greeting “Welcome to Victoria” spelled out in flower beds.

The City of Victoria was founded by the Hudson's Bay Com-pany on March 14, 1843, as a trading post and fort at the location the native Indians called "Camosack," meaning "Rush of Water."

The Parliament buildings (left in the photo above) are located on a hill above the harbor.

In 1853, the population of Victoria numbered 450 men, women and children, and their lives centered around the business of the Hudson's Bay Company--until 1858, when gold was discovered on the mainland.

It is estimated that within a few weeks of the news of the discovery, over 20,000 miners had landed in Victoria. While the great majority of these people were only transients, Victoria’s population, never-theless, increased tenfold in one year as thousands of miners of European and Asian descent arrived in the city. Within a few years, half the population of Victoria was Chinese. Today, the city’s Chinatown is the second oldest in North America next to San Francisco’s.

The Port of Victoria, although a major tourist attraction, remains a working harbor, supporting the cruise ship industry, whale watching and ecotourism, ship repairing facilities, a float plane aerodrome, marine industrial services, an International Ferry terminal, and a water taxi service.

In addition, over 3,500 recreational vessels use the habor's moorage and marina services between June 1st and August 31st of each year.

The downtown streets of Victoria BC are decorated with English-style lamp posts and hanging flower baskets.

The Empress Hotel provides its guests with a magnificent view of the harbor and, in turn, provides those arriving by sea with a magnificent welcome to the city.

The Empress has been recognized among the best in the world by Condé Nast's Reader Choice Awards. This fountain and its surrounding benches provide a relaxing setting around the Hotel.

Near the Visitors' Center was Mr. Plasterman. This gentleman was able to hold a pose for a very long time without the slightest movement. It was only one specific type of movement from among the observers that would result in Mr. Plasterman moving.

Any audience member's movement that resulted in coins or bills being dropped into a nearby container brought an immediate response. One such movement by an observer brought this response from Mr. P.

We came across 2 of the 27 Orcas that were auctioned off to raise money for the Easter Seals campaign in 2004.

On the right is "Maximilian" completed by artists Jane Van Sickle, Michael Hofmann, and Sara Gifford.

The second work was completed by artists Peter Karas and Corinne Garlick. It is titled "VictoriOrca."

After lunch, we took a brief walk around the streets by the harbor.

We noticed that often sidewalk tables, instead of being placed near the entrance to the cafe or coffee house, are placed near the curb.

The beautiful city of about 78,000 population had the feel and comfort of a much smaller town.

We hardly had a glimpse of the city, but the time required for the roundtrip ferry ride and the necessity of pro-viding meals for the furry people back at the RV limited our time in Victoria.

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