Victoria, Canada
48° 26' N 123° 20' W
Jun 30, 2004 21:30
Distance 120km

Choose another map, showing:


Text written in: English

Day out in Victoria, British Columbia

Today we had a very early start.  Too early even for our complementary continental breakfast and the public buses to Lonsdale Quay.  Still we grabbed a couple of pieces of fruit, a couple of blueberry muffins and a cup of coffee (Thank You, Management) and took a taxi across the Lions Gate Bridge to central Vancouver and the Pacific Central Railway Station.  The Railway Station was deserted at this time of morning.  We were waiting for a Pacific Coach Lines service from Vancouver to Victoria, via the BC Ferries service from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay, a total journey of three and a half hours.  We left on time at 0645hrs.

The children quite enjoyed the journey, especially the playroom on the ship.  We passed the time talking to other parents, whilst the children played.  The weather was excellent, sunny, not a cloud in the sky and the scenary was most impressive as we crossed the Strait of Georgia and passed Galiano Island.  We got back on the coach for the 45 minute journey to Victoria Bus Station, arriving at 1025hrs.  To make the most of limited time we took a taxi to Fort Rodd Hill, home of the Victoria & Esquimalt Coastal Artillery Battery and historic Fisgard Lighthouse.  The Battery was built in 1878, modified to replace the old muzzle loading guns with state of the art disappearing guns between 1895 and 1897,  modified again during WW2, and finally stood down in 1956 when coastal artillery was recognised as obsolete.  The fort was originally constructed as part of a chain of establishments across the globe to defend the interests of the British Empire.  The Victoria Esquimalt Battery defended the Royal Navy Pacific Squadron, which was based here until 1905.  The Fisgard Lighthouse, now linked to the Fort by a causeway, was established in 1860 as the first lighthouse on the west coast of Canada.  Built when Canada was still a British Crown Colony, it still works to this day, although has been automatic since 1929.  The Fort and Lighthouse are located in a quiet and secluded part of Victoria overlooking the Juan de Fuca Strait and Esquimalt Harbour.  It was well worth the taxi ride out of town.  From a techincal perspective, although most of the guns have been removed and scrapped, there are still some in position, albeit with working mechanisms removed (the hydraulic gears for the disappearing gun, Upper Battery, was melted down to assist the war effort during WW2). 

Our taxi returned and we went back to central Victoria to the James Bay Tearoom, 332 Menzies Street, Victoria, which is famous for home made steak and kidney pie and traditional afternoon tea.  We had to wait until a bus party came and went but it was worth waiting to experience this time warp.  The walls are lined with photos of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (Queen Mother) on a royal visit, probably just before WWII.  Photos of the current Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Princess Diana etc etc.  This tearoom could have come straight from the south of England.  From here on it was time to do something for the children.  We stopped at a playground up the street from the tea room and Erin & Ailsa made a new friend.  Then we went to Beacon Hill Park and Children's Farm for a couple of hours.  They enjoyed the open spaces, play areas, getting soaked in a sort of play fountain.  They soon dried out in the heat.  The south west corner of the park marks the pacific terminus of the 4500 mile trans Canada highway.  The kids loved the petting zoo (children's farm).  Back into the centre, past totem poles, past the Parliament Building then the Fairmont Empress Hotel.  We eventually stopped for ice-cream from a parlour in Government Street.  I was most impressed with Peanut Butter flavour ice-cream.  There was a carnival type atmosphere in central Victoria, lots of street performers and outdoor entertainment.  This is very much a tourist location and tomorrow being Canada Day, may account for the holiday feel. 

Time was marching on, nearly 1800hrs.  It had taken us four and a half hours just to get to central Victoria from our hotel in North Vancouver.  We walked along Wharf Street on the edge of Esquimalt Harbour and Erin spotted a number of seaplanes tied up outside of the Harbour Air Terminal.  Several months back she had expressed an interest in a seaplane flight and this was duly noted at the time.  She did not know that we had booked passage on a flight to Vancouver, departing at 1850hrs.  She was over the moon.  From an adult perspective, better a 35 minute flight than another three and a half hours by bus and boat, back to Vancouver.  The service to Vancouver on a DeHavilland DHC-3 Otter was quite empty, one or two regular business travellers only.  There was only one crew member, the pilot, and a vacant co-pilot's seat.  I was offered the chance to occupy the seat and instead gave Erin the chance to fly next to the pilot.  Although she was too short to get a good view out of the cockpit, she was strapped in, given headphones to link her with the pilot.  She was beaming from ear to ear.  Although a short flight, she will remember it for the rest of her days.  The take off and landing were very smooth.  It was certainly different landing in the harbour next to Canada Place in central Vancouver.  Thank you Harbour Air for an unforgetable flight.

We walked round to the SeaBus Terminal and went back to North Vancouver by public transport.  This day will be hard to beat.

Photos / videos of "Day out in Victoria, British Columbia":

Ruth Burnett at the First Class Silver & Blue counter, VIA Rail, Pacific Central Station, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Pacific Central Station, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Erin & Ailsa Burnett in the main foyer of the Pacific Central Station , Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.(VIA Rail) Ailsa Burnett outside of the Pacific Central Station, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  Bus depot attached to the Rail Station. Erin Burnett on the Pacific Coach Lines Service from Vancouver to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Ruth Burnett onboard ship, BC Ferries, Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay, British Columbia. Ruth, Erin & Ailsa Burnett onboard ship, BC Ferries, Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay, British Columbia. In the playroom on BC Ferries, Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay, British Columbia. Ruth, Erin & Ailsa Burnett at the Upper Battery, Fort Rodd Hill & Fisgard Lighthouse, Victoria, British Columbia.  6" Disappearing Gun dating from 1897. Duncan Burnett in front of the Upper Battery, rearward facing defensive wall, Fort Rodd Hill & Fisgard Lighthouse, Victoria, British Columbia. Duncan Burnett at the Lower Battery overlooking the lighthouse, Fort Rodd Hill & Fisgard Lighthouse, Victoria, British Columbia. Ruth, Erin & Ailsa Burnett at the Upper Battery defensive wall, Fort Rodd Hill & Fisgard Lighthouse, Victoria, British Columbia. Erin Burnett sitting on a gun barrel at Fort Rodd Hill & Fisgard Lighthouse, Victoria, British Columbia. The field in the middle of Fort Rodd Hill & Fisgard Lighthouse, Victoria, British Columbia. Duncan, Erin & Ailsa Burnett at the Upper Battery, Fort Rodd Hill & Fisgard Lighthouse, Victoria, British Columbia. Duncan & Erin Burnett at the Guardhouse, Upper Battery, Fort Rodd Hill & Fisgard Lighthouse, Victoria, British Columbia. Erin Burnett, in the co-pilot's seat, Harbour Air, Seaplane service from Victoria to Vancouver. Ruth Burnett on the Harbour Air, Seaplane service from Victoria to Vancouver. Ailsa Burnett after take off on the Harbour Air, Seaplane service from Victoria to Vancouver. New friends made in the Playground, Menzies Street, Victoria, British Columbia. View of the city of Victoria, British Columbia, taken from the Harbour Air Seaplane service, from Victoria to Vancouver. View of the Tsawwassen BC Ferries Terminal, taken from the air, on the Harbour Air Seaplane service from Victoria to Vancouver, British Columbia. Erin Burnett, co-pilot on the Harbour Air seaplane flight from Victoria to Vancouver, British Columbia. Take off on the Harbour Air, Seaplane service from Victoria to Vancouver. Arrival back in Vancouver, British Columbia, on the Harbour Air Seaplane service from Victoria. Ruth & Erin Burnett on the SeaBus Service, Waterfront Station to Lonsdale Quay, Vancouver. View towards Canada Place, Vancouver, British Columbia, taken from the SeaBus service as it crosses the Burrard Inlet to Lonsdale Quay, North Vancouver. Arrival in Vancouver, British Columbia, on the Harbour Air Seaplane service from Victoria.  Burnett family with the pilot.  Canada Place in the background. DeHavilland DHC-3 Turbine Single Otter Seaplane, at its moorings, Harbour Air, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.