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June 07, 2008

Trip Report: Victoria

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Bloggers in our readership will probably confirm it when I assert that it can be hard to predict if a given posting will generate a lot of comments. So when I posted this innocent little article before sneaking out of town I had no idea that it would generate more than 80 comments, which is pretty close to being a 2Blowhards record. I appreciate the interest in the topic. And thank you for keeping remarks mostly civil for a topic that was potentially hackle-raising.

As for me, I spent a couple of days in Victoria, British Columbia. Spring in these parts has barely sprung even though we're less than three weeks from the start of calendar summer. It was stormy enough on the trip up that the Victoria Clipper catamaran detoured to the lee side of Whidbey Island to avoid swells and rough water on northern Puget Sound. And we had no choice but to cross some rough stuff on the westerly shot from Deception Pass to Victoria. The weather improved little while we were in Victoria, though the return trip was smoother because of diminished winds.

I'm giving you this long explanation to set the scene for the less-than-picture-postcard quality of the photo report below. Silk purses, sow's ears and all that.


The Empress Hotel is the sight the greets most visitors to Victoria. It is the westernmost of the grand hotels built by the Canadian Pacific Railway, having opened 100 year ago. It's currently part of the Fairmont group. Its architect was Francis Rattenbury who was responsible for a number of Victoria's landmarks and came to a sad end, being murdured by his second wife's young lover.

Here are harbor taxis that are based near the Empress.

This is the view of the harbor channel from where we were staying. Note the float-plane taxiing in.

This is a closer look at a float-plane. It's part of the Kenmore Air fleet that flies passengers up and back from Seattle. Two Canadian airlines fly float-planes between Victoria and other Canadian destinations, Vancouver in particular. The aircraft shown has a radial engine, but most of the planes operating in the harbor are powered by turboprop motors. These small transports -- most of them built by de Havilland Canada -- have been out of production for many years; a Victoria company supplies parts and can do rebuilding tasks.

This photo was taken the day we left, its location farther out the harbor channel. Those are houseboats in the middle-ground. They interest me because they are two-story structures; the modest houseboats in Seattle when I was young had only one story.

The touristy stretch of Government Street is mostly comprised of old buildings. This chateau-style structure is fancier than most of the others.

Spreading all the way from Government Street to Douglas Street is this atrium mall-cum-Bay store. Eaton's was the original anchor store, but that chain folded and the Hudson's Bay Company moved in.

Back to Government Street. Near the Inner Harbor is this Art Deco style tower atop a building that now houses a restaurant and the information center.

Finally, if you ever wondered what became of Darth Vader ... well, he's fiddling along Government Street in Victoria, B.C.



posted by Donald at June 7, 2008


I lived in Victoria for 12 years and it is really a great place. But your photos capture a truth all right! It is often cloudy and rainy--but still much sunnier than Vancouver. Driving is a treat in Victoria with all the windey roads and drives by the ocean. This time of year in the parks there are new wild flowers coming into bloom every week. The hiking is terrific. A great place to live and a great place to visit. Along with Montreal (for totally different reasons) one of my two favourite places in Canada. Be sure to check out the University of Victoria--beautiful campus (the buildings are ordinary, but the gardens are spectacular). While you are in the area, the Gulf Islands are well worth a visit and so is a drive up-Island. The further north you go, the more beautiful the landscapes.

Posted by: Bryan on June 8, 2008 1:37 PM

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