Tag Archive: Vancouver Island

Beacon Hill Park Victoria BC

has one of the most beautiful Parks – Beacon Hill Park – just across from the Ocean – Juan de Fuca Strait, the southern end of Vancouver Island, looking across to Washington State, USA. We have many special birds and foul in the park – particularly colorful peacocks. Today was another sunny day, I walked through the Park taking some video’s of our birds and the Ocean.


BC Ferries & Vancouver Island

Living on Vancouver Island [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vancouver_Island] , there is no other way to get off the island other than by ferry. BC Ferries [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BC_Ferries ] is one of the largest of such ferry operation in the world. The vessels are massive by any standard (I have seen other ferry operations in Europe, to compare). BC Ferries has a large fleet of different sizes vessels [ http://www.bcferries.com/onboard-experiences/fleet/ ].
Because Vancouver Island is mainly formed from rocks, above and under the water, negotiating large vessels requires good technology and expert handling. In addition, the presence of under water gas lines (see also Vancouver Island Pipeline marine rights of way, http://www.fortisbc.com.
Interesting points: It has happened in the past that a crossing has had its problems, either the vessel not being able to stop in time and hit the dock at the arrival area (example: [ http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/b-c-ferry-crash-shuts-down-terminal-for-months-1.1001810 ]. Or more serious, when in 2006 the Queen of the North (fifth largest in the fleet) collided with under water rocks and sank, with 101 people on board, mostly saved, two lost – never found. [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MV_Queen_of_the_North ].

I always enjoy taking a ferry trip to one of the Gulf Islands, Strait of Georgia, between mainland BC and Vancouver Island. Last weekend my trip to Salt Spring Island. (see also: next post on Salt Spring Island). Left my car at Ferry Terminal parking (cost of car on Ferry is C$35 + C$12 for passenger/driver, quite expensive for 35 minutes crossing). Disadvantage to not crossing with car is to have to rely on public transport at each end. That weekend the ferry was 30 minutes late both ways. Buses must run on schedule, meaning no ready transport from terminal harbour to town sites. Yet, the major ferries between Vancouver Island and the mainland (Vancouver) are usually on schedule.


[ http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Cougar+killed+after+chasing+woman+popular+Vancouver+Island+trail/9900263/story.html ]

Couple of days ago (June 2014), near a popular walk/bike trail west of Victoria, BC. Knowing cougars, quite obviously when the big cat went towards the woman (who reported she was chased) the woman started running, triggering the natural instinct of a big cat and run after her. Was that really necessary to shoot the animal ?
According to today’s interview with Wildlife authorities, to tranquilize a wild animal and ship it back into wild and less populated areas is too stressful.
I know this area very well and I cycle a lot on that trail alone, and I always watch up and above along the rocks lining this section of trail – cats like to hang out high on rocks. Never had the opportunity to spot a cougar. On Vancouver Island encounters are although rare but happen time and again.
I am against the practice of killing a wild animal like the cougar, especially in our areas where there are cougars all around us and try to survive in the close vicinity of too highly populated areas like Langford, Western Communities.
(See also my post on cougars Vancouver Island: [ https://renataveritashistory.com/2013/09/10/cougars-on-vancouver-island/ ])

Bicycling – little tips

BYCICLING or Cycling – one of the most rewarding activities and exercises. Once the bitter cold slowly gives way to (rather late spring), we see more bicycles on the road. Not like in some European countries, though, which have more bicycles on the road than automobiles. Here, just a few. But we are blessed with a rather long out-of-city (Victoria, Vancouver Island) trail system, shared by bicycles and walkers. Because there are not so many bicycles sharing the rather busy vehicles road system, nor are there sufficient inner-city dedicated bicycle lanes, cycling becomes more dangerous. Road safety tips:
Always wear brightly coloured clothing – preferably bright red or yellow. Bicycle helmets are mandatory (unlike in Europe). Regularly look over your shoulder, even if you have a little rear-view mirror somewhere. Know your right ‘to share the road’ – meaning if you are on a bicycle on a major city road with three vehicle lanes, stay in the outer right lane, but not too far over; a car will always take your rightful space and push you even more over to the right. When turning right or left, use the proper hand signals.
One trick I learned that can save a life. When coming up to an intersection with traffic lights: If the light ahead is still green and, while you approach, the pedestrian light is already flashing red, I slow down already for the yellow. Meaning, never cross that intersection on yellow. In other words, not only do I look at the large overhead light, but also at the pedestrian light.
As far as theft goes; the rule is: whatever is easiest to steal, will be stolen first. Easy items are = the bicycle seat, the front wheel, anything detachable. I invented the use of two bike locks, one to lock the seat together with the rear wheel (more difficult to take in any case) and hang up my helmet with that lock. The second lock chain goes thru the front wheel, the frame and one stable object concreted in (or whatever is there to park you bike).
I also always take with me: a small bike pump and a set of Allan keys (for repairs), or even better, yet, a spare tire tube, and small change for the bus (in case my bicycle becomes incapacitated). Our regular buses all have a front rack system to mount two bikes. Which is wonderful, with those distances here. I put my bike up on the bus rack, take the bus, go somewhere, and cycle back. Going out of town into the more secluded areas (where we do have the occasional cougar), it is also wise – while cycling on the trail system – to look up once a while, not only ahead (in case a big cat looks down on you from the rocks). Not kidding, really !
In May we have the “Bike to Work Week”. I’ll be sitting that out, of course. Might be too dangerous. I cycle alone, it’s safer.  HAPPY CYCLING !



Greek Fest 2013 Vancouver Island

My recent visit to the Greek Fest 2013 Victoria BC, Vancouver Island. This year is the 12th annual Greek Fest in Victoria! There is an estimated 100 Greek families in Greater Victoria who keep the Greek culture and traditions alive. Of which, best of course, are their traditional dances and the wonderful food – authentic succulent roasted lamb (with rice and salad), souvlakis and the great many delicious Greek pastries like Baklava, Koulouria and more. Not to forget the original Greek Coffee brewed to old tradition like Turkish Coffee, using the brass briki (the pot) Greek coffee is a strong brew, served with foam on top and the grounds in the bottom of the cup. Although it can be made in a different pot, the traditional small pot is best because it allows the proper amount of foam , very tasty. The day was hot and special attractions included the many Greek dance groups from near and far (Vancouver), and Athens, Greece. I love the Greek music. Also the same day the Portuguese Community had their procession across the street by the Greek Orthodox Church and Community Centre. Of interest were also all the old and original artifacts still in the possession of the Greek families, exhibited in the adjacent Heritage Centre.

Very enjoyable weekend and lots of sunshine. [I didn’t stay to the end because I was there by bicycle, around 12km ride one way and then back again to Victoria City.] My little video shows dance groups, the Portuguese procession and Juan de Fuca – a Greek, an early explorer of the straits surrounding Vancouver Island [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_de_Fuca ]

[Any commercial ads/video’s following this post originate solely from the Word Press organization. I distance myself from any such advertised products. The Editor.”] 

Cougars on Vancouver Island

The American cougar (or mountain lion, puma, or mountain cat) is a fairly large cat, weight of a male up to 100kg, a female up to 60kg. This animal’s range is rather large, from North America, Canada West down to Mexico and the most southern ranges of South America. Making it one of the smartest predatory big cats, who are not on the brink of extinction. They can live in cold, snow, and in hot climates. Mostly prefer rocky areas, where they can hide and stalk while the prey is roaming on a lower plain.

Attacks encountered and witnessed when in Alberta, Kananaskis Country West of Calgary. We went riding in the Foothills. And a cougar does what it does best, ambush and jump from the top of a rock or cliff. Jumped on the horse, that of course bolted away in terror, threw the lady rider (lucky she was) and seriously injured that horse. I saw it, its skin was shredded. I did a lot of solo riding (twenty seven years) in the Foothills of Alberta. Always look up in addition to look ahead and down for signs of cougar or grizzly bear. On my 80-acre ranch in the Alberta Rockies I had cougars on my land. Maybe I had been lucky. Went around them, when finding a deer kill site. Retreat and get out of there.

Why many cougars on Vancouver Island ? Because it is an island, because it is rocky (volcanic rock), high rocks. I love these cats. But also realize they can be close anywhere where I cycle on the trails outside the city. Usually the cougar does not attack a person, but can and may when opportunity knocks or because of inexperience (especially young cougars), or when confronted. Vancouver Island cougars are a bit different. Less area, more conflict with people, and they cannot leave this island ? Not quite true – a cougar can swim [ http://o.canada.com/2013/07/24/swimming-cougar-vancouver-island/ ].

More than two thirds of North American fatalities occurred on Vancouver Island. Incidences here include: young cougars wandering into the Victoria Empress Hotel (tourists terrified – animals terrified). One lady told me she went swimming in the surrounding ocean, on her return to the beach, that big yellow cat was there looking at her. There is lots of deer (the cougars’ staple prey), but sometimes they take pets, and they can be dangerous to children.

When walking alone in the wilderness, chances of running into a cougar are real, pointless to run. This will trigger their stalk-and-hunt instinct. Somebody told me, take a long stick with you, makes you look taller. Doubtless I could stand up to an attack. Usually, cougars are shy and keep away from humans, but also are not easily scared away by humans. The latest most recent attack off Northern Vancouver Island, bizarre and unique, because the animal got killed. [ http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/woman-critically-injured-after-cougar-attack-in-clayoquot-sound/article14188088/ ]

Yet, statistically speaking cougar attacks are rare compared with human against human attacks. Those lovely big tawny cats are just fighting back for lost territory and loss of prey species.cougars[Any commercial ads/video’s following this post originate solely from the Word Press organization. I distance myself from any such advertised products. The Editor.”] 


Both right here on and off Vancouver Island. For my birthday in August I wanted to go whale watching. Whales around here are mostly Orca, otherwise also known as Killer Whales. They are highly intelligent, accomplished hunters and friendly to people. For their protection around the islands and surrounding Vancouver Island, whale watching boats may only approach up to 100 yards in Canadian waters, and 200 yards in US waters. The latter being patrolled by US armed wildlife officers. Borders run crisscross throughout the waters. So, the pilots of the small whale watch boats are very careful, not to get fined or have their licenses pulled for infractions to this rule. Plus, the whales need protection from human interference.

The two family of whales we have are the Transients and the Southern Residents. Transients mostly hunt seals and sea lions, they are mostly lonely big time hunters [ http://www.orcanetwork.org/nathist/transients.html ]. The Southern Residents travel in pods, lead by a matriarch [http://bcwhalewatchingtours.com/southern_residents.html] and are hunting salmon. We were lucky to have glimpses of some of the Transients, they can go down into the water for up to 20 minutes, then come up for breathing. Different for the Resident whales. Next time I will attempt near Victoria to go out. We took off from Sidney Harbour [http://www.vancouverisland.com/regions/towns/?townID=43 ] , northern part of Saanich Peninsula, Vancouver Island, and traversed towards the American San Juan islands. It was my lucky day. I met a family of tourists from incidentally the city in Europe where my grandmother and mother are from. In fact they live around the corner from that same street. Myself not been there for 48 years. We shared the whale watch boat. 

After that I visited the Victoria Butterfly Gardens. What a treat ! A jungle paradise has been created inside the Gardens, where large numbers of butterflies and moths from all over the world are flying freely. There are also special bird species, and Koi fish and flamingos in the little streams, as well as giant turtles. Arriving at the Gardens I ran into my good friend who was there with her friends, so we could share this incredible uplifting experience.

[© R.Schamle, created with Firefox 19] Images of Vancouver Island and Victoria, the Capital of British Columbia, where I moved to in Fall of 2002. And never went back to Alberta, where I had lived and worked for 27 years. As the capital of British Columbia, it is also home to the Mansion and attached Gardens of the Lieutenant Governor of BC. Victoria is Named after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and, at the time, British North America, Victoria is one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest, with British settlement beginning in 1843. The city has retained a large number of its historic buildings, in particular its two most famous landmarks, the British Columbia Parliament Buildings (finished in 1897 and home of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia) and the Empress hotel (opened in 1908). The city’s Chinatown is the second oldest in North America after San Francisco’s. The region’s Coast Salish First Nations peoples established communities in the area long before non-native settlement, possibly several thousand years earlier, which had large populations at the time of European exploration. Victoria, like many Vancouver Island communities, continues to have a sizable First Nations presence, composed of peoples from all over Vancouver Island and beyond. [Wikipedia].

Victoria is also known as the ‘city of gardens’. In fact when I arrived in 2002, roses were still blooming in December. There are a number of spectacular gardens and parks. I put together a series of video slide shows of the Island, Victoria, Vancouver, and the town of Sidney at the northern tip of the Saanich peninsula where ferries take off for the mainland (about 5km north of Sidney). Lots of wildlife, best known for the resident pod of killer whales (orcas), large number of bald eagles & many more species. Vancouver Island is the largest Pacific Island east of New Zealand, near to 500km long at its longest point and 80km wide. Surrounded by over hundred islands and islets – the Gulf Islands. Across from Vancouver Island (by ferry) is Vancouver, Canada’s third largest city. Vancouver Island is basically a volcanic rock island. It is also situated along the Cascadia subduction zone, an earth quake zone from north of Vancouver Island to southern California. Canada’s most volatile fault line lies here deep under the ocean. More than 1000 seizeable earth quakes are recorded per year, due to active faults or breaks in the earth crust. The west coast of Canada is one of the few areas in the world where all three of of the most common plate movements take place, resulting in significant earthquake activity. My images embedded into my post also show some of the large ferries. I would say BC Ferries is the largest ferry operation on this planet with a fleet of around over 40 vessels. And these monsters operate exclusively between Vancouver Island and the West Coast main land [http://www.bcferries.com/onboard-experiences/fleet/]. Video’s :– (1) Victoria with Inner Harbour, Governor’s Mansion & Gardens. (2) Beacon Hill Park. (3) Sidney & Salt Spring Island. http://www.beautifulbc.net/index.asp?id=8