Vancouver Ventures Part 2 – Weekend in Victoria

Welcome to Vancouver post 2, covering our weekend in Victoria, Vancouver Island. Highlights include cruising through the beautiful South Gulf Islands, downtown Vancouver, a tour of Parliament, Royal BC Museum, seals, Victoria Day band practice, and more.

Fri, 5/20 –  Despite Victoria’s close proximity to Vancouver and the name Vancouver Island (which would logically lead you to believe that this island is super close to Vancouver), it’s quite a production to get there.  We opted for the BC Ferries Connector bus service which was fabulous in getting from the Vancouver Island ferry terminal to downtown (the bus came on the ferry with you.)  However getting from downtown to the ferry terminal on the Vancouver side was a production involving a small bus, waiting at the Greyhound terminal to board a larger bus, traffic, etc.  Highly recommend meeting the bus along Cambie street and getting rid of the unnecessary transfer.

Anyhoo, the ferry was impressive – huge with tons of amenities – arcade, quick service restaurants, plenty of seating, etc.  The views were the most impressive and we enjoyed the ride!

Departing from Tsawwassen (Vancouver ferry terminal)….

En route – Galiano Island

Prevost and Pender Island

Salt Spring Island and approach into Vancouver Island

Victoria – around the Inner Harbor

Around our hotel, Inn at Laurel Point:

A seal greeted us upon arrival at the hotel!

Empress Hotel bar and tea room – no tea for us, but enjoyed the beauty and old timey glamour of the hotel!

We toured the BC Parliament building, had a very lively and informative tour guide.  We were also briefed by an entertaining woman representing the first female Speaker of the House talking about ‘her’ political career journey.

We learned the following:

  • Canada is a federal state, a parliamentary democracy, and a constitutional monarchy
    • Federal state:  federal government takes responsibility for matters of national and international concern while the provinces are responsible for municipal government –  similar to their friends to the south!  US.  In addition,  very.
    • Parliamentary democracy: Parliament consists of:  House of Commons (elected by the people), Senate (elected by a governor general), and a Sovereign/Head of State (ceremonial only, King or Queen – did you know that?  I didn’t!)  Of course, the Prime Minister is the Head of Government and leads Parliament – the current PM is Justin Trudeau, an ex boxer I believe, and quite the looker.  However let’s not go down the Road of Politics now when we’re having fun!!…..Dave!
    • Constitutional monarchy (I know what you’re all interested in ;): As a constitutional monarchy, Canada’s Head of State is a hereditary Sovereign (Queen or King), who reigns in accordance with the Constitution: the rule of law. The Sovereign is a part of Parliament, playing an important, non-partisan role as the focus of citizenship and allegiance, most visibly during royal visits to Canada.  The Queen has no governing authority – her role, and that of the royals, is more ceremonial and symbolic.  Cool!
    • As an FYI, other constitutional monarchies include Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, The Netherlands, Spain, Thailand, Japan, Jordan and Morocco.  Scandinavia I knew about (after dating a few…he he), but the others came as a surprise!
    • Throughout my travels I’ve always noted how easily Canadians, Brits, and Aussies live in each other’s countries for long periods of time – mainly my old dear Andersen Consulting friends from my younger days when I had to wear suits (mind you, many were inspired by Melrose Place and were quite hip) and pantyhose – perish the thought!  I knew there was some Commonwealth connection – now I know more!
  • The architect, Rattenbury, was only 25 at the time he was selected to design Parliament after winning a design competition in 1893
  • Believe it or not, Canada achieved full independence from the British Crown in 1986 – yes!  Had no idea.  This happens to be the he same year that Vancouver hosted the World Expo/World’s Fair.  Guess they had a lot to celebrate!
  • OK enough chit chat about the Canadian government – we have enough governmental problems to worry about in the US – enjoy the pics!  Sorry there aren’t any of Justin Trudeau!

Coat of Arms:

  • Incorporates a modified Queen’s royal crest
  • Union Jack represents Canada’s colonial roots
  • Setting sun symbolizes how BC is the western most province and blue stripes signify the Pacific Ocean
  • The elk on the left represents Vancouver Island while the big-horned sheep represents British Columbia
  • Latin motto at the bottom literally translated means ‘Splendor without Dimishment’ or ‘Beautiful British Columbia’ (which is on every license plate here)


The Chambers
The entrance to the legislative chambers include a padlock and a bar – this is because an unhappy King stormed into Parliament demanding to know who disparaged him.  Of course no one fessed up or pointed fingers.  Upon his departure, the members erected a bar and padlock to prevent unwelcome future visitors!

I heard drums and Dave heard bagpipes and around the corner we got to see a little practice session next to Parliament!  This group was practicing for the Victoria Day parade, celebrating the Queen’s birthday.  Unfortunately we missed the festivities as the holiday was on Monday – I was working and Dave was heading back to Phoenix for work.

Dave was very happy to be taking the water taxi to downtown for dinner.  It is kind of cool….

We checked out Government Street along the way, very well-manicured area!

Dinner at Il Terrazzo was yummy and loved the pretty décor – more traditional and old school.

Sat, 5/21:  Craigdarroch Castle.  When in Victoria this is something that should be on your ‘to-be-missed’ list.  Not worth the time and effort to get there.  So you’re probably wondering why we have pictures.  Well we took them, so look if you’re interested – if not move along….

For those interested, the home was built for Robert Dunsmuir, a coal magnate and completed in 1890.  The Deloitte office is on Dunsmuir St in Vancouver by the way – yes I did visit and the views were spectacular.  In addition we thought it was interesting to note that most of the materials used to build the castle/mansion were procured in the US.  We’re just sayin’…..  🙂  The pics below are in slide show mode – it will play automatically or you can click through.

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Thunderbird Park

Royal British Columbia Museum

Well done but can’t hold a candle to the incredible Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver, and it was overrun with misbehaving kids (climbing on the totem poles!) and unfazed parents!  We needed a drink after this visit!  The pics below are a slide show, you can let it play or click through.

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The seagulls in BC are huge.  This guy liked hanging out on our balcony – Dave named him Gully vonGullstein!  I wonder what o

Sun, 5/22:  Fisherman’s Wharf
A microcosm of San Francisco’s infamous Fisherman’s Wharf – worth a stroll to check out the colorful house boats and grab a quick bite.  However, if you miss it so be it, in Victoria.

This seal’s name is Splash and he’s regularly fed when he swims below the seafood shack!

Beacon Hill Park

After super strong coffee and a yummy scone (complete with traditional clotted cream and strawberry jam), we made our way to Beacon Hill Park.

We were greeted by the chirps of heron chicks – everywhere!  A cacophony of sound and stinky bird poop!  If you look just for a minute you can see many nests in one shot, and you can glimpse a few herons in white!

We stopped to check out a cricket match:


A Plethora of Peacocks!

Tent City – presented without commentary, located directly across the street from Christ Church Cathedral.

Downtown & Inner Harbor

Bon Jovi fans – listen up 🙂

Bands dress rehearsal in front of Parliament – Munsters and Notre Dame fans – listen up!

Farewell Victoria!  These pics are the cream of the crop from our return trip on Sun evening!

My next post will include Memorial Day weekend, my friend Lisa’s visit, and more Vancouver musings!  More to come!


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