A Travellerspoint blog



Capital of British Columbia.



Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia. It is an absolutely beautiful city. It is sometimes known as the garden city. A very apt name, because everywhere we went we were surrounded by greenery, trees and flowers. Victoria is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. This area was originally home to several groups of Coast Salish First Nations people. Victoria is named after Queen Victoria and was founded by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1843 as a trading post and fort. In 1858 when gold was discovered in the Frazer River Valley, the population of Victoria rose greatly. Victoria decreased in importance when the Canada Pacific Railway chose Vancouver rather than Victoria to be its terminus city.

On the day we arrived in Victoria we looked at the provincial legislature building, Thunderbird Park, the Empress Hotel, Bastion Square, Market Square, Chinatown and City Hall.

On our full day we went to Craigdarroch Castle, the Governor's house and gardens, Ross Bay Cemetery, the absolutely stunning Abkhazi Gardens and Beacon Hill Park. On our last day we visited Fisherman's Wharf and fell in love with the wonderful wild seals there.

Many people get from Vancouver to Victoria using Pacific Coaches but it was much cheaper and really easy just to use public transport. We travelled on the Canada Line to Bridgeport Station then boarded bus 620 to Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal. This bus was pretty crowded but then it was a public holiday. When we arrived at Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal, we bought our ticket and boarded a BC Ferry bound for Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal. The ferry was very comfortable and the Gulf Island scenery was lovely so the one and a half hour ferry ride passed very quickly. At Swartz Bay you can take bus 70, 71 or 72 to Downtown Victoria. We had a female driver and she could not have been more helpful. She provided information for everyone about how to reach their hotel, calling out their stops or telling them where and when to transit. The last stop of this bus was very close to the Provincial Legislature Building. Buses in Victoria cost $2.50 and its $5 for a day ticket

We travelled to Victoria on Good Friday and stayed there till Easter Sunday. To get there we took a bus, then a ferry through the Gulf Islands, then another bus.

Ferry to Victoria.

One of the first sights we visited in Victoria was the Provincial Legislature Buildings. These ornate, green domed buildings are located next to Victoria's Inner Harbour. They are spectacular both by day and at night when they are lit up. The Provincial Legislature Buildings were designed by Francis Rattenbury and were completed in 1897, ­Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee year. They were officially opened in February 1898. Tours of the inside of the buildings are apparently available, but we only viewed them from the outside. On the grounds there is a huge totem pole, a statue of Queen Victoria, other statues and fountains. Francis Rattenbury designed several buildings in Victoria and Vancouver. He was later tragically murdered by his second wife and her young lover.

If you visit the Provincial legislature Building in Victoria, make sure you walk all the way around it. I liked the fountain on its right hand side. This fountain had statues of several local animals and information about local history.

The Provincial Legislature

The Provincial Legislature

The Provincial Legislature

The Provincial Legislature fountain.

The Inner Harbour of Victoria is quite pretty and is filled with a variety of different boats. If we had had more time, we would have taken a water taxi trip across it. As we walked along the waterfront, we encountered several naval monuments.

The Inner Harbour.

The Inner Harbour.

The Inner Harbour.

Towering over one end of the Inner Harbour stands the impressive Fairmont Empress Hotel. This hotel was also designed by Francis Rattenbury as a Canadian Pacific Railway hotel. It was opened on 25th January 1908.

The Fairmont Empress Hotel.

The Fairmont Empress Hotel.

Near the Fairmont Empress Hotel stands Thunderbird Park. Its name comes from the mythological Thunderbird of many First Nations' legends. The thunderbird is a legendary creature that causes thunder when it beats its enormous wings. Lightning is the light flashing from its eyes. This park has a large number of totem poles. Totem poles were first erected on this site in 1940 and the site was opened as Thunderbird Park in 1941.

Thunderbird Park.

Very close to Thunderbird Park stands Helmcken House. It is also near the Royal BC Museum. Helmcken House is an old wooden house that was the home of Dr John Sebastian Helmcken. He was the first doctor to work for the Hudson Bay Company in Victoria. Helmcken lived in this house from 1853 to 1920. There is a statue of him outside the house. When we visited, the house was closed, so we just viewed it from the outside.

Helmcken House.

A bit further along the front is Bastion Square. This is located in an area that was originally established by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1843 as Fort Victoria. From this Fort the Hudson Bay Company traded with First Nations people to acquire such things as furs, coal, salmon, gold and whale oil. Bastion Square was home to Burnes House which dates from 1886 and was one of Victoria's earliest hotels. It was also home to the first Supreme Court building dating from 1889. This building is now the Maritime Museum. The Board of Trade Building dating from 1892 and the Chancery Chambers dating from 1905 were also located here. At one time there was a jailhouse in Helmcken Alley. This area is believed to be haunted by the tormented souls of the poor people who were executed here. Nowadays as well as admiring the historic buildings you can find places to eat and drink here. In summer this square hosts a market, too.

Bastion Square.

Victoria's Chinatown has the distinction of being the oldest Chinatown in Canada. It is the second oldest in North America after San Francisco. Victoria's Chinatown grew up to house the many Chinese miners who flocked there when gold was found in the Frazer River Valley. It increased in size again when Chinese workers arrived to build the Canadian Pacific Railway. Victoria's Chinatown has a lovely traditional gate called the Gate of Harmonious Interest. Chinatown is also home to Victoria's narrowest street Fan Tan Alley. This alley was once home to many opium dens then when opium became illegal it became home to gambling dens. The alley is in fact called after a gambling game fan tan ­ that used to take place here. As gambling dens were illegal the alley had watchmen at both ends and the gambling dens had secret escape routes in case of raids. Sun Yat Sen the father of Modern China came to Victoria to build up support from the Chinese community here for the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty.



Market Square dates from the late 1800s. This was a time when Victoria was enjoying rapid growth and prosperity due to all the gold prospectors passing through on their way to seek their fortunes in the Frazer River Valley. This Square was once home to busy hotels, saloons, and shops. Nowadays it is home to shops and restaurants. There is a pretty fountain here, too.

Market Square.

Victoria City Hall is located on Douglas Street and Pandora Avenue. It was completed in 1890 and was designed by architect John Teague. Outside there was a statue and a memorial to Victoria's firefighters who lost their lives saving others.

After visiting City Hall, we had a very pleasant dinner then went home for a much needed sleep.

City Hall.

We were eager to see lots more next day. As soon as we said we were going to Victoria, everyone who had ever been there told we had to go to Butchart Gardens, but we did not. The reason for this was that I found so many things I wanted to do in Victoria itself that I did not want to devote a day to the Butchart Gardens. Maybe on a future visit.

The first stop on my full day itinerary was Craigdarroch Castle. We could have walked here, but as we had several sights to see that day we bought a day pass and took the bus. You can get there on bus 11, 14, 22 or 28 from Douglas Street. Each bus journey in Victoria costs $2.50 and a day pass costs $5, so you only need to do two journeys to break even. We asked the driver to tell us when to get off which he did and a passenger getting off at the same stop pointed us in the right direction.

When we reached the castle, the first thing I noticed was it was surrounded by trucks and looked a right mess. This turned out to be because there was a film crew in the castle to make a psychological thriller called "The Boy". Of course, that meant we could not go into the castle or even into the grounds, so we just had to make do with taking a photo from the street. Guess we'll have to watch the movie to see inside the castle.

Craigdarroch Castle was built by wealthy Scottish coal barron Robert Dunsmuir in the late 1800s. It was intended as a family home for him, his wife Joan, their two sons and eight daughters. Unfortunately, Robert Dunsmuir died in April 1889, 17 months before the castle was completed. After Robert Dunsmuir's death, a feud broke out between his widow Joan and her two sons over his will. He had verbally promised his businesses to his sons but actually left them to his wife. James Dunsmuir was on bad terms with his mother right up to her death. When she died, he unexpectedly turned up at her funeral and broke down with grief. James Dunsmuir later built Victoria's second and even bigger castle ­ Hatley Castle which we did not have time to visit. Craigdarroch Castle has thirty­-nine rooms. It is famous for its intricate woodwork and beautiful stained glass. Of course, it is haunted!!!! Admission costs $13.95. It is open from 10AM to 4.30PM daily.

Craigdarroch Castle.

Craigdarroch Castle.

A short walk from Craigdarroch Castle took us to Government House and Gardens. We could not go inside the house, so we explored the beautiful gardens instead. The gardens cover 36 acres. Some of them are formal gardens such as rose gardens, others are more natural. I especially loved the bluebell woods, the blossoming trees and the pond. There are beautiful views over Victoria from behind the governor's house. These gardens are amazingly beautiful and well worth seeing.

There is also a coach house and The Cary Castle Mews. As it was April when we visited nothing was open at the mews. The gardens are open every day of the year from dawn to dusk, free of charge. The Cary Castle Mews Interpretive Centre and Tea Room is open from May until September, Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 3pm.

Government House and Gardens are located in the Rocklands area of Victoria. This area has many stunning houses and beautiful gardens. Government House is the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. You can only enter the house on a tour and that tour is only available one Saturday each month at 10am and 11am.

The present Government House is the third to be built at this location. The first was Cary Castle which was built in 1860. Unfortunately, this mansion was destroyed by fire in May 1899. The second house was designed by Francis Rattenbury and Samuel Maclure. This was completed in 1903, but also caught fire and was destroyed on 15th April 1957. The current Government House was begun soon after the fire and was completed on 19th May 1959. Outside Government House there is a statue of James Douglas the first governor of British Columbia. We saw him again later in Fort Langley.

Government House.

Government House.

Sir James Douglas, Government House.

After visiting Government House and gardens we walked to Ross Bay Cemetery. (That bus pass was really coming in handy at this stage, though we did use it later.) Ross Bay Cemetery is a historic cemetery next to the sea. We had a look at the war graves and war memorial. We found the grave of Robert Dunsmuir ­ owner of Craigdarroch Castle. Other famous people buried there include Sir James Douglas ­ BC’s first governor, Emily Carr ­ world ­famous artist, Billy Barker ­ discoverer of gold at Barkerville and Nellie Chapman ­ the "Miners’ Angel" who was featured on a US postage stamp. It is possible to print off a map of the cemetery on­line which we should have done as it is too difficult to find famous graves without one. You can reach Ross Bay Cemetery on the number 7 bus.

Ross Bay Cemetery.

Ross Bay Cemetery.

We walked from the Ross Bay Cemetery to the Abkhazi Gardens. These are also on the number 7 bus route. The sign outside the Abkhazi Gardens describes them as the gardens that love built because of the story behind them.

Marjorie Peggy Pemberton­ Carter, usually referred to as Peggy, had a very sad childhood. She was orphaned when she was just three years old. At first she was sent to live with relatives, but they did not really want her and put her up for adoption. After some time a rich, childless couple adopted her. She grew up in a cold, loveless environment. Eventually her adoptive father died and Peggy became the constant travelling companion of her domineering adoptive mother. She was in Paris with her adoptive mother in the 1920s when she met Nicholas Abkhazi.

Nicholas had also had a tragic life. Together with his mother he had fled the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1919. His father was the hereditary ruling Prince of Abkhazia, in Georgia. Nicholas and his mother settled in Paris and waited for his father to join them. This never happened as Nicholas’ father was executed in 1923. With the death of Nicholas's father, the family lost everything.

Peggy and Nicholas became firm friends in Paris and when she left Paris, they continued to write to each other. Peggy's adoptive mother died in 1938 and Peggy returned to Shanghai­ the city of her birth. When the Second World War broke out, both Nicholas and Peggy were interned in prisoner of war camps: Nicholas in Germany and Peggy in a camp near Shanghai.

While she was interned in the Japanese prisoner of war camp, Peggy kept a secret diary of her war experiences. This was later published as 'A Curious Cage' in 1981. Peggy also hid travellers’ cheques in a tin of talcum powder. When she was freed at the end of the war, Peggy used these cheques to purchase a passage to San Francisco. From there in 1945 she made her way to Victoria where her closest friends, the Mackenzies, lived. Peggy used her money to buy the large rocky plot of land that would become Abkhazi Garden. The first building to be placed on her land was the little summerhouse.

Then in January 1946, Peggy received a letter from Nicholas. They had lost each other for the duration of the war and did not know that the other had even survived. They agreed to meet in New York. Their reunion, their first in 13 years, turned into an engagement. They returned to Victoria and were married in November 1946.

The Abkhazis devoted their married life to cultivating their beautiful garden. Nicholas died in 1987. Peggy died in 1994, at the age of 92.The garden still stands as a wonderful tribute to their lives and work.

I loved the Abkhazi Gardens because they were so beautiful, but I also loved the story. When you stand here, you know you are standing in the happiest part of two people's lives.

The Abkhazi Gardens is open daily from 11am to 5pm. Last entrance is at 4pm. The Abkhazis house is now a tearoom and a gift shop. There is also a washroom available there. Entry to the gardens was by voluntary donation.

Abkhazi Gardens.

Abkhazi Gardens.

Abkhazi Gardens.

Summer House, Abkhazi Gardens.

The Pathway, Abkhazi Gardens.

The House, Abkhazi Gardens.

After visiting the Abkhazi Gardens we took a bus back to the centre of Victoria; then later visited Beacon Hill Park. This park takes its name from the fact there were two beacons located on Beacon Hill overlooking the sea here. The park has many ponds, a children's play area, a petting zoo which had closed before we got there, a cricket field, lots of ducks, squirrels and peacocks. There was also a statue of Queen Elizabeth II and of Robert Burns.

Beacon Hill Park.

Peacocks, Beacon Hill Park.

Rush Hour Beacon Hill Park.

Peahens, Beacon Hill Park.

Rabbie Burns Statue, Beacon Hill Park.

On our last day we spent the morning strolling along the waterfront to Fisherman's Wharf. Fisherman's Wharf is a great place to visit. It has restaurants, colourful houses on the water, boats and best of all wild seals which will come to the shore to be fed fish. I could have watched these adorable creatures for hours. We also watched seagulls fighting over a crab. You can go on whale watching trips from here or hire a kayak. It is well worth visiting.

Fisherman's Wharf.

Fisherman's Wharf.

Fisherman's Wharf.

Fisherman's Wharf.

I liked the look of The Church of Our Lord, I first passed this beautiful church on the bus then went back to see it, because it looked so lovely. The Church of Our Lord dates from 1876 making it the oldest church in Victoria. It is located on the corner of Humbolt and Blanshard Streets. It is a carpenter gothic church, meaning it has features of traditional gothic churches, but is made of wood. This church was founded by Reverend Edward Cridge, the first Bishop of the Reformed Episcopal Church in Canada. Next to the church stands the Edward Cridge Memorial Hall. At the side of the church there was historical information about this building. We had a quick look inside but there was a very well attended Easter Sunday service going on, so I could not take any photos.

The Church of Our Lord.

We were sad to leave Victoria. We really loved visiting here.

Posted by irenevt 03:59 Archived in Canada Tagged victoria. Comments (2)

Return to Vancouver

When we returned to Vancouver after visiting Victoria we stayed in the Days Inn Hotel again. This time we got a much better room, much quieter.

On our first full day back we went to Lighthouse Park. We got to Lighthouse Park by taking bus 250 from Burrard Street. We asked the driver to let us know when to get off, which he did, but he also told us that we should get off at the stop when the bus electronic information system said Beacon Road. From the bus stop cross the road and keep going straight. It is only a couple of minutes walk to the park entrance. If you come by car there is a large carpark at the entrance. An information board at the park displayed a map showing walking routes in the park. There were also leaflets with maps to pick up. In Vancouver's early history a lot of its original forest was logged, but the Lighthouse Park area was not, so it is home to some of Vancouver's oldest trees. The walk to the lighthouse itself was easy and only took about ten minutes. We also explored a few short paths just off this route. Two went to viewpoints; one went to a beach which was also a viewpoint. If we had had longer I would have liked to do the walk of the giants which has the oldest and biggest trees in the park. Near the lighthouse there was a campsite with toilets and picnic tables. This is a pleasant place to spend a couple of hours. Some paths are harder than others and involve clambering over tree roots and rocks. The main path to the lighthouse itself was very easy.

Lighthouse Park.

Lighthouse Park.

After Lighthouse Park we went to Lynn Canyon Park. Normally to get to Lynn Canyon Park you would take the sea bus from Waterfront Station to Lonsdale Quay then take bus 228 or 229. We did it differently because we combined it with Lighthouse Park so from Lighthouse Park we took bus 250 to Park Royal and changed to bus 255. We got off at Lynn Valley Shopping Centre and caught a 228 from there. Lynn Canyon Park has an ecology centre which we did not visit. It has a suspension bridge which is quite good fun to cross and has lovely views over pools and waterfalls.

We took a walk in both directions from the suspension bridge. In one direction the path leads to a big pool where you can swim in summer. I loved this walk because all the trees surrounding it were absolutely shrouded in moss making it quite spooky and atmospheric. Walking the other way you come to a bridge with twin waterfalls. This was also worth doing. One thing we did notice was there were an awful lot of stairs to go up and down on our walks here, not easy on the knees. Near the suspension bridge there are toilets and picnic tables.

Walk to the pool.

Walk to the pool.

View from bridge.

Peter on the suspension bridge.

Moss covered trees.

Lynn Canyon Park is free entry so if you don't want to pay out to go to Capilano suspension bridge this is a much cheaper. I liked the park especially the moss covered trees which I thought were quite amazing.

After we had visited Lynn Canyon Park we arrived in Lonsdale Quay. I thought there would only be a shopping centre, bus station and ferry terminal in that area, but we also took a walk to Lonsdale Park and Mosquito Creek and found this area to be very scenic and pleasant.

North Vancouver.

Lonsdale Quay has a shopping centre with its own brewery, shops, a food court, restaurants. I actually really liked it. In fact I preferred it to Granville Market truth be told. We took a walk away from the shopping centre. If we were at Lonsdale Quay facing the sea, we went right. There was a very pleasant park, followed by a very pleasant marina. There were also great views towards the mountains.

Around this area there was a marina, a naval monument, lots of First Nations monuments, houses built right on the waterfront and lovely views. While we were in the area the longest train I have ever seen passed by. It was a goods train and passed by for around 20 minutes before it was finally gone.

Around Lonsdale Quay.

Around Lonsdale Quay.

Around Lonsdale Quay.

Around Lonsdale Quay.

Around Lonsdale Quay.

After our first visit to Lonsdale Quay we returned to do the ferry ride again because my husband's camera had stopped working on the first trip. We enjoyed a stunningly beautiful sunset on the return trip.

Back in Vancouver we had a quick look at Roedde House, an old Victorian house located on Barclay Square in Vancouver's Westend. Barclay Square has lots of lovely old heritage buildings. This square has been beautifully restored. I originally had a visit to this museum down on our first full day itinerary, but we did not make it. It is only open from 1pm to 4pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. I moved it on to the next days itinerary, but we also did not make it. We eventually got there on our last full day, but way after it had closed so we only viewed it from the outside. Roedde House was built in 1893 for Gustav and Matilda Roedde. Gustav was Vancouver's first bookbinder. The house was designed by Francis Rattenbury. Gustav Roedde was born in 1860 in Thuringen, Germany. He trained as a bookbinder in Leipzig, but immigrated to the United States in 1881. In the States he met his wife to be Matilda Marie Cassebohm. She was originally from the island of Heligoland, Germany. The Roeddes moved several times before they settled in Vancouver. They had six children. On Sundays you can tour Roedde House and have afternoon tea there. Entrance on Sunday is $8 including afternoon tea. On other days it is $5. Roedde House is located at 1415 Barclay Street. We got there by taking a number 5 bus along Robson Rd. We got off at Broughton Road, crossed the road, walked straight, then turned left, then left again.

Roedde House.

Next day we visited False Creek, a sea inlet that separates Downtown Vancouver from the rest of Vancouver. There are walkways around it, but we decided to explore it by ferry rather than walk. There are two companies that ply little ferries up and down the Creek. One is aquabus, the other is Granville Island ferries. Their fares are the same but Granville Island ferries go further. They go all the way to the Maritime Museum. Aquabus stops at Hornby Street. We boarded a Granville Island ferry at the Village/Science Museum and took it to Granville Island. It was quite a pleasant journey. Sights on False Creek include the science museum, the stadium, Yaletown, Granville Island, the aquatic centre, the maritime museum.

We got off the ferry at Granville Island Public Market. It is also possible to get here by bus. The first thing I liked was the view of the beautiful Burrard Bridge from Granville Island. The first place we visited on Granville Island was the public market. The market is an indoor market selling an assortment of things such as fruit, vegetables, flowers, a wonderful assortment of breads, cheeses, cold meats, honey, ice-­cream cakes. It also sold non­-edible things. We tried some of the breads. We ate them outside overlooking False Creek and were soon joined by some very eager seagulls.

Approaching Granville Island.

Our unwanted dining companion.

Granville Island Brewery.

Granville Island Brewery.

Burrard Bridge.

Burrard Bridge.

Peter in front of the Burrard Bridge - Vancouver

Peter in front of the Burrard Bridge - Vancouver

A little aquabus ferry - Vancouver

A little aquabus ferry - Vancouver

I quite liked the public market though it was not the best market I have ever been to. At the seating area outside the public market there was a young girl singing. She sang really quite old ­fashioned style songs, the sort of thing someone like Jim Reeves would have sung, but she had a really nice voice.

Our entertainer.

Granville Island used to be an industrial area. Apparently there is still a cement works here, though I did not see it. There are several sights other than the public market. There is Railspur Alley with its craft shops, a distillery, a brewery and a children's market. There is also a hotel. One negative thing I do have to say about the area was there were too many cars. An almost continual line of them getting in the way and spoiling my photos!

There were two things I liked about Granville Island. One, as I said earlier , was the views of Burrard Bridge from it. The other was the marine market. The reason I liked the marine market was that it was on a lovely picturesque marina. Also there was a working boat repair place in this area. I found this interesting to have a look at. It is busy so be careful not to get in the way or knocked down, but it was fascinating to watch people working on repairing or cleaning the boats.

Marine Market.

Boat Repair Works.

Railspur Alley.

We could have gone to Kitsilano from Granville Island by taking a ferry to the Maritime Museum but we decided we would like to walk. It was a pleasant walk around the marina and the first sight on route was Fisherman's Wharf. This is an area where you can apparently buy fish straight from the fishing boats.

If you keep walking along the front at Fisherman's Wharf, you will reach a fence that you cannot pass. To get to Kitsilano you have to follow a path leaving Fisherman's Wharf, then turn right and walk along a path directly in front of several residential buildings. At the end of this path you will enter Vanier Park. Near the place you enter the park you will see a totem pole. Vanier Park is home to the Maritime Museum, Space Museum and Vancouver Museum. We did not visit the museums. We walked along the front looking at views.


Heritage Harbour.

Beach and View.

Romantic Spot.

The Maritime Museum is near a small harbour with lots of heritage boats. Apparently the boats moored here change. When we visited one of the boats was an Arctic explorer. One of the boats belonged to the Roedde family whose heritage house is now a museum and one of them was one of the first boats to travel round the globe. Near Heritage Harbour there is a small beach. On the other side of the Maritime Museum there is a very tall totem pole. A short walk past the Maritime Museum will bring you to Kitsilano Beach. When we visited it was filled with people playing beach volley­-ball.


Kitsilano used to be the hippie area of Vancouver. It is where Greenpeace was formed. A big plus point of Kitsilano is it has a huge heated swimming pool. This was not open when we visited, but it looked great. If I was in Vancouver in the summer I would love to swim here.

Gastown grew up around a lumber mill known as Hastings Mill. The store building from this mill was one of the few buildings to survive the great fire that swept Vancouver in 1886 and thus it is the oldest building in Vancouver. In the past, as Gastown went into decline, effort was made to rescue this historic building. The old mill building was floated on a barge to a site now known as Hastings Mill Park. It is quite close to Jericho Beach. We walked here from Kitsilano in around twenty minutes. The mill is now a museum. It was not open when we visited. It only opens twice a week on Saturdays and Sundays from 1pm to 4pm. Even though it was closed, it was still interesting to see and there were good views back towards the Vancouver skyline on route.

Hastings Mill.

That evening we ate in a pub called Cedar Cottage. We lived in a hotel in Kingsway on our visit to Vancouver so this pub was around 15 minutes walking distance away. We only went once, but should really have used it more. This pub had a good selection of draft beers. It was here we tried Gypsy Tears another favourite for the first time. To eat we both had fish and chips. This cost $11 and was enormous ­ two huge pieces of fish on each plate, coleslaw, lots of chips. It was so big I had to ask for a doggy back and it became dinner the next day, too. The fish was good quality and very tasty. Service here was good. Upstairs there is a related liquor store. By eating in the restaurant we got a bit of a discount there, so we stocked up on a few Granville Island lagers. Address: 3728 Clarke Drive Vancouver, BC.

Cedar Cottage.

On our last full day we went on a fairly epic journey to Langley to see the historic Fort Langley, because it is a place that played an important role in Canadian history. We got there by public transport and to be honest it was a bit of a trek. I liked Fort Langley itself, but did feel the journey, especially on the way there, was too long.

Outside the fort, Fort Langley.

Fort Langley.

Fort Langley is a village and has a population of around three and a half thousand. It is located on the Fraser River. Fort Langley takes its name from its old fort. This fort was once a fur trading post belonging to the Hudson's Bay Company. In 1827 George Simpson, Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, ordered his Company to construct the original Fort Langley. It was located 4 km downstream from the present fort's site. He did this because he was afraid the Americans would lay claim to the area, as the border between American and British territory had not been fully decided. By 1830, Fort Langley had become a major export port. It specialized in salted salmon, cedar lumber and shingles. Most of which it exported to the Hawaiian Islands. Later Governor Sir James Douglas chose Fort Langley to be the colonial capital, but Colonel Richard Moody, commanding officer of the Royal Engineers, disapproved of Douglas' choice in location saying that Fort Langley was too easy to attack. Moody selected a new site for the capital New Westminster. Fort Langley was moved from its original location to its present one because more trading ships could access it safely in this new, more sheltered position and because there was more farm land available at the new site. In 1857 when gold was discovered in the Fraser River Valley, Governor Sir James Douglas declared British Columbia part of the Canadian Federation for fear the U.S. would lay claim to this area. This declaration was made at Fort Langley. During our visit we went to the historic fort. We were able to get in for half price as we were given a 50% discount for Fort Langley when we visited the Gulf of Georgia Cannery in Steveston. As well as the fort we had a quick look at the Fraser River from Marina Park, the old houses in town, the town's lovely old churches, the town's historic graveyard and the community hall.

Fort Langley.

As you enter the old fort building, to your right you will see the trading hatch through which members of the Hudson Bay Trading Company traded with the First Nations people. Most of the time relations between the First Nations People and the Hudson Bay Company were friendly. The Hudson Bay Company encouraged their members to befriend the First Nations people and many ended up with First Nations wives.

Store Room.

Trading hatch.

The cooper's workshop at Fort Langley was where the cedar wood barrels that would hold the salted salmon were produced. This workshop is near the main entrance to the fort. Fort Langley gets a lot of school trips. When we visited, school kids were having a barrel rolling race.

The cooper's workshop

The cooper's workshop.

As well as using boats to travel, people would have travelled by horse so they needed a blacksmith to re-­shoe their animals. The museum employee at the blacksmith's will demonstrate some of the traditional techniques used there.

The Blacksmith's.

The fort has a large store room. Fort Langley traded lots of goods. Salmon would be placed in cedar barrels. Animal pelts were packed into bales using a special wooden device. Blankets were traded. All these items had to be stored somewhere while they were waiting to be shipped out.

The store room.

The big house at Fort Langley was where the important members of the Hudson Bay Company lived. The current big house was reconstructed for the 1958 Centennial of the founding of the province of British Columbia. It houses the living quarters of James Murray Yale and his wife; and William Henry Newton and his wife.

The Big House.

When gold was found in the Fraser River, hundreds of people suddenly rushed to this area to seek their fortunes. This huge influx worried the British causing them to form the province of British Columbia. At Fort Langley they have set up a fun panning for gold activity. If I had found any, I would still be there.

Panning for gold.

Near the big house is the servants' quarters. The servants lived in a house that was much less grand than the big house. Like the Big House the servants' quarters were reconstructed in 1958 for the Centennial of the Colony of British Columbia. They show the living conditions of three different Hudson Bay Company employees.

As you wander around, you will see a few interesting objects such as the boats used by the trappers and traders, cannons and cannon balls. There are also lovely views across the Fraser River from the fort.

The Fraser River

There is a statue of Sir James Douglas who declared the formation of British Columbia and acted as its first governor outside the fort. It is worth making a slight detour to have a look at this statue when you visit the fort.

Statue of Sir James Douglas.

Fort Langley has quite a colourful and pretty main street. There are shops and cafes here. It was quite difficult to take a good picture here as the street was busy with a lot of traffic. It was a pleasant place for a stroll though despite the traffic.

Fort Langley Main Street.

We followed signs for Marina Park which had seats and lovely views over the Fraser River. The river would have been vital to the traders for transporting their goods and so played a big part in the fort's location and history.

The Parish Church Of Saint George is a very pretty little church on Church Street. Its grounds holds a memorial to the pioneers - ­the first Europeans to settle there. It had a lovely stain glass window visible from the outside we could not go inside as it was locked.

Flowers in the grounds of the Church Of Saint George,

Church Of Saint George.

Next we saw the Community Hall, an attractive old wooden building. Again we could not actually go inside.

The Communiy Hall.

Saint Andrews United Church is another attractive church which we passed on the way in. It is next to the historic cemetery. It was also, unfortunately, closed. This is not so easy to photograph due to the road and very prominent overhead wires.

On our last night, after a long journey back from Langley, we ate in Romer's Burger Bar. This restaurant is on Mainland Street in Yaletown. It is not far from Yaletown Roundhouse Station. Exit the station go right then right again. We chose this restaurant because they offered a beer sampler of three beers for $6. We loved Canadian beers and as there are so many we wanted to try a variety. Service here was very pleasant and very efficient. My husband had fish and chips and I had a chicken burger. The food was very good and the beer was great. The restaurant is quiet and comfortable inside. There is also an outside seating area.

Sadly next day we left Canada. It had been a wonderful visit. We noticed both on the way in and out of the country that Vancouver has a wonderful airport filled with First Nations artwork.

Vancouver Airport.

Vancouver Airport.

Posted by irenevt 04:29 Archived in Canada Tagged vancouver Comments (0)

Our First Visit to North America.

Vancouver, Canada.

Daffodils near English Bay.

We were both really excited about going to Vancouver. Not only is Canada a new country for us, but North America is a new continent, too. Vancouver more than lived up to our expectations. It is a stunning city, located in an area of great natural beauty with its towering mountains and rugged coastline. Our visit was in March and April when Vancouver was covered in beautiful spring flowers: plum blossom, daffodils, bluebells, rhododendrons, tulips to name but a few. Also all the people we encountered were amazingly helpful and friendly. We could scarcely take out a map without someone coming up to help us find our way. The general atmosphere for our whole stay was amazingly relaxed. I loved Vancouver and really did not want to leave.

Vancouver was originally populated by first nations people from three main tribes: the Squamish, the Tsliel­waututh and the Musqueam. It is filled with first nations art work such as magnificent totem poles. The first European to explore the area that is now Vancouver was Spanish Captain José María Narváez in 1791. Later in 1792 British naval Captain George Vancouver came to the area. Obviously the city is named after him.

Europeans began to settle in the area about a hundred years later. The first ones worked as trappers and furriers for the Hudson Bay Company. In 1858 there was a huge influx of people because gold was discovered in the Frazer River. This prompted the governor of Vancouver Island, James Douglas, to claim the mainland for Britain thus creating British Columbia. Later some European settlers worked in lumber mills. A former river captain called John Deighton started a bar for the mill workers. He was a great talker so he was nicknamed Gassy Jack. After that Vancouver was chosen to be the site of the terminus of the Canadian Pacific Railway. This caused the city to develop rapidly. Many Chinese workers were brought in to build the railway. Nowadays Vancouver is home to six million people from a wealth of different ethnic backgrounds.

Our holiday plans went like this. We arrived in the late afternoon and checked into our hotel in the Metrovan area. That evening we had a look at Canada Place and the areas nearby before having a very good meal washed down with lots of Canadian beer.

Canada Place by night. - Vancouver

Canada Place by night. - Vancouver

Canada place by night.

On our first full day we explored Chinatown, Gastown, Downtown and Yaletown where we had another great meal. On our second full day we explored Coal Harbour, Stanley Park, English Bay and Robson Road. On our third full day we visited the wonderful Queen Elizabeth Park and Steveson on the Frazer River. The day after that we travelled to Victoria on Vancouver Island and stayed there for two nights. We then returned to Vancouver and spent a day exploring Granville Island, Kitsilano and Hastings Mill Park. The day after that we went walking in Lighthouse Park in West Van, then walking in Lynn Canyon Park in North Van, then to Lonsdale Quay. On our final full day we visited Fort Langley. Then very reluctantly we flew back to Hong Kong having had a fantastic and very enjoyable holiday.

On our arrival day we checked in to our hotel the Days' Inn and then went out exploring. We looked at Canada Place which is close to Waterfront Station. It is an exhibition centre that looks like Vancouver's answer to the Sydney Opera House. Nothing too interesting was going on inside it as far as we could see when we visited, but the building itself is beautiful especially when lit up at night and its walkway has great views of the mountains, Stanley Park and the Vancouver skyline. I enjoyed watching the float planes take off and land from near Canada Place, too.

View from Canada Place.

Near Canada Place there is an open square called Jack Poole Plaza. This square is home to the Olympic cauldron sculpture which is beautifully illuminated at night. It is also home to a large orca statue that looked to me like it was made of lego. I later read it is a 3­d digital image of an orca created by sculptor Douglas Coupland. There are good harbour views from here and good views over the float plane parking area. This square is named after Jack Poole who was a Canadian businessman. He was responsible for bringing the 2010 Winter Olympics to Canada, but unfortunately he died of pancreatic cancer just hours after the Olympic Flame was lit to mark the beginning of the 2010 Winter Olympics torch relay, in Olympia, Greece.

Orca Statue.

Olympic Cauldron by night.

On our first night we ate in Mahony and sons. This is a pub/restaurant situated on the waterfront not far from Canada Place. We were tired, jet­lagged, confused, not even sure whether we were hungry or not. We had a meat lover's pizza to share. We tried lots of the local beer. Each time we ordered we tried a new one. They were all good. Service was efficient and friendly. My husband got the waitress to explain all the ins and outs and social niceties of tipping in Canada. Our food was good: tasty and filling. This restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating and looks out over the sea. Its location is convenient for transport and very pretty.

On our first full day we began by exploring Chinatown. Despite, or maybe even because of, the fact I live in Hong Kong I really like to visit Chinatowns in cities that have them. Vancouver's Chinatown was one of the best I have seen. It is the third biggest Chinatown in North America after San Francisco and New York. It is the biggest Chinatown in Canada. Chinatown grew up in the late 1800s to house the Chinese who came to Canada for work. Most of them were involved in building the Canada Pacific Railway, but some worked as miners. Nowadays many Chinese have left this area. Many now live in Richmond or other areas of the city. Historically Chinatown was sometimes the scene of violent prejudice. On 7th September 1907, members of the Asiatic Exclusion League marched into Chinatown and attacked many Chinese people. They also wrecked stores and smashed windows. It took several days to restore order. We got to Chinatown by taking the Expo Line to Stadium/Chinatown Station. We entered into Chinatown through its lovely Millenium Gate protected by its two stone lions. We had a look at the world's narrowest building - ­the Sam Kee Building near the gate. This building is just six feet wide. It was not at its best as the lower floor was being renovated. Shanghai Street next to this building leads to the West Han Dynasty Bell. This bell was a gift from the people of Guangzhou to Vancouver's Chinatown. All around the bell were old photos.

The Millenium Gate.

Stone Lion.


Next we walked to the Sun Yat Sen Gardens. Sun Yat Sen is the founding father of modern China. He helped overthrow the Qing Dynasty. He visited Vancouver to raise funds for revolution among the population of Vancouver's Chinatown. On Carrall Street there is a statue of Dr Sun Yat Sen in front of the park and gardens named after him. The gardens have an admission fee; the park is free entry. We only visited the park. It was beautiful with its pagodas, bridges, ponds and flowers. I liked the turtles and huge fish that frequented the pond, too.

Sun Yat Sen Park.

Sun Yat Sen Park.

Sun Yat Sen Park.

Just outside the side entrance of Sun Yat Sen Park on Keefer and Columbia Streets is the monument to Canadian Chinese. This monument is dedicated to the achievements of the Canadian Chinese. There are two figures on the monument. One is a Chinese railway builder. Hundreds of Chinese died building the Canadian Pacific Railway. The other is a soldier. This celebrates the bravery of the Chinese who fought in the Second World War. Chinatown has the usual traditional Chinese stores selling herbs, medicines, dried fish, fruit, vegetables etc. There were also cheap souvenir shops here.








After visiting Chinatown we then walked to Gastown. Gastown is a historic area around which Vancouver started. At this location there was once a logging mill. It was owned by a number of different companies, but the only one that has been preserved is Hastings Logging Mill. Near the mill were the houses belonging to the mill workers. One day a former river boat captain from Hull, England named John Deighton turned up at this settlement with his first nations wife and a barrel of whisky. He told the mill workers they could have the barrel of whisky if they helped him build a bar. His bar was completed within 24 hours. John Deighton liked to talk and to predict that a great city would develop in this area, so he was given the nickname Gassy Jack and later Gastown was called after him. Nowadays in Gastown you can see Gassy Jack's statue. He is standing on his whisky barrel. You can also see a steam powered clock, an old fish themed fountain and some old buildings. The steam clock is on the corner of Cambie and Water streets. It was built in 1977 to cover a steam grate, part of Vancouver's distributed steam­ heating system. The clock was recently taken away for repairs, but is now back and in working order again.

Gassy Jack.

Steam clock.

Gassy Jack.

Old Building.

Hudson House.

The actual mill building is the oldest building in Vancouver, but years ago when Gastown was quite rundown it was floated out to a site past Kitsilano where it still stands today. We did go and see it later. One old building near the Gassy Jack statue used to be the Hotel Europe. It is a six story heritage building. It was commissioned by hotelier Angelo Calori and was built between 1908 and 1909 by Parr and Fee Architects. It is now used as affordable housing. It has quite a distinctive shape. Gastown has lots of souvenir shops though the shops in Chinatown were cheaper. We did not buy any souvenirs but did have a look around Hudson House a large souvenir shop with interesting window displays.

Next we explored Downtown Vancouver. I noticed the Canadian Pacific Railway War Memorial, a beautiful war memorial on Waterfront Station as we were leaving Gastown. It is called the Angel of Victory and it was created by Montreal sculptor, Coeur de Lion MacCarthy. The sculpture shows a winged angel lifting a young soldier to Heaven at the moment of his death. Sculptures just like this were put up in 1922 in Vancouver, Montreal and Winnipeg at Canadian Pacific Railway Stations. These statues pay tribute to the 1,115 Canadian Pacific Railway employees killed during the First World War.

War Memorial.

Another interesting building is the Marine Building located at 355 Burrard Street in Downtown Vancouver. This building was designed by McCarter, Nairne and Partners. It is famous for its Art Deco details. At 22 stories high, at one time it was the tallest building in the British Empire. This building was completed in 1930. It cost a staggering $2.3 million to build. This was $1.1 million over its intended budget. When it was complete, the Great Depression had begun and no-­one could buy it. Eventually it was sold to the Guinness family of Ireland for only $900,000. Nowadays it would be worth around $22 million. You can look at the front of the building which has many transport related carvings and marine life related carvings and enter its lobby which has a fancy marine life clock, stained glass windows, a zodiac floor and lifts inlaid with many different kinds of wood. It is quite interesting to visit.

Marine Building.

There is a small Inukshuk sculpture close to Burrard Skytrain Station. Inukshuk are sculptures traditionally created by the Inuit people. They are made by placing uncarved stones on top of each other. Some are shaped like humans. The Inuit placed these in the Arctic wilderness to show others you are going the right way or there is something important here. The Inukshuk was used by Vancouver as its logo for the 2010 Winter Olympics. There is a large Inukshuk at English Bay which we saw later.
Small Inukshuk.

Then we visited Christ Church Cathedral which is located at 690 Burrard Street. It is opposite The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. This church belongs to the Anglican Church of Canada. The site of the church has been used as a place of worship since 1888. During our visit the exterior of the church was covered in scaffolding and was a bit of a mess. However the interior with its wooden beams and floors and stain glass windows was very attractive.

Christ Church Cathedral.

Christ Church Cathedral.

Vancouver Art Gallery is in Downtown Vancouver near the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. The building that houses the gallery was not always an art gallery, it was originally built by Francis Rattenbury as Vancouver's Court House. Francis Rattenbury is an architect responsible for many buildings in British Columbia. He led an interesting but tragic life. He was born in Leeds, England in 1867. In British Columbia he designed several buildings for the Canadian Pacific Railway. His first wife was called Florence Nunn and together they had two children, but then in 1923 Rattenbury left her for 27 year old Alma Pakenham. They left British Columbia and settled in Bournemouth, England. After a while Alma began having an affair with George Percy Stoner, their 18 year old chauffeur. On the 23rd of March 1935 Rattenbury was found on the floor of his sitting-­room with severe head injuries. He died four days later. Alma and George were accused of his murder. Alma was later acquitted, but committed suicide.

The Vancouver Art Gallery contains several permanent exhibitions and some temporary ones. One of its permanent exhibitions displays the work of Victoria's famous artist, Emily Carr. We did not go in the gallery. We just looked at the building it is housed in. The building has stairs on Robson Street and West Georgia Street where many protests are often staged. There are sculptures around the building.

The Vancouver Art Gallery.

The Vancouver Art Gallery.

The Vancouver Art Gallery.

Near the Vancouver Art Gallery stands the Fairmont Vancouver Hotel. This is one of many hotels that were built by the Canadian Pacific Railway. The hotel took eleven years to build and cost $12 million. It opened in 1939, on the eve of the Royal visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. We had a look inside but there did not seem to be many places we could go unless of course we just missed them.

Fairmont Vancouver Hotel.

Vancouver Public Library is a beautiful building which looks like the Colosseum . There are several cafes inside before you enter the library itself. The building was designed by Moshe Safdie. Construction of the library was completed in 1995. Vancouver Public Library is located at 350 West Georgia Street. We sat inside this building for a bit of a rest after a long day of sightseeing. It is well worth a visit.

Vancouver Public Library.

Vancouver Public Library.

Yaletown is a great place to find good restaurants and bars. We ate there twice. Yaletown is on False Creek and you can catch ferries there. It is also home to Yaletown Roundhouse. This originally belonged to the Canadian Pacific Railway and was where they turned round trains. The round house is now a community centre but it houses one of CPR's old engines beautifully preserved. This engine known as engine 374 pulled the first trans continental train carrying 150 passengers into Vancouver on May 23rd 1887. The railway now linked Canada from coast to coast. When we visited the community centre had already closed but we could still view the locomotive through the glass.



We ate in Phat Sports bar and restaurant on our second night. We arrived in Yaletown with our usual rubbish timing, just in time for happy hour to be over everywhere ­ except here. This had all day happy hour, and thus they reeled us in. Service here was efficient and friendly. We shared a club sandwich and a chicken schnitzel sandwich. Both were good and large and filling. The beer here was good and the overall price very reasonable. My only moan about this place is that with lots of TVs covering sporting events, it could be rather noisy.

On our second full day we decided to explore Stanley Park. We could have gone there by bus but instead walked from Burrard Station because we wanted to see Coal Harbour on the way. Coal Harbour takes its name from the fact coal was discovered here in 1862. It is now an upmarket residential area with a beautiful marina and well worth a visit. On the way there we spent some time watching the float planes taking off and landing.

Coal Harbour.

We then walked to Stanley Park. Stanley Park is a huge park, around 1000 acres. It was originally home to the Squamish First Nations people, but they were forcibly removed and resettled in 1888. The park is called after Lord Stanley who had just been appointed governor general of British Columbia when the park opened in 1886. The interior of the park is covered with rain forest. The coastal part of the park is surrounded by seawall. We walked all the way round this as well as visiting some of the sights the park has to offer. Even though we spent the whole day here, we could not see everything. It is just too big. The park is home to Vancouver Aquarium which we did not visit.

Harry Jerome statue.

Towards Downtown Vancouver.

Stanley Park is home to some wonderful First Nations totem poles. One of the highlights of the park for me. The totem poles are located at Brockton Point. Three gateways created by Coast Salish artist Susan Point lead to the totem poles. These beautiful gateways took three years to make and were installed in 2008. There are nine totem poles at Brockton Point. The first of these was purchased in 1920. Four of the totem poles are from Alert Bay on Vancouver Island; others are from the Queen Charlotte Islands and Rivers Inlet.

Brockton Point.

Totem Poles.

Totem Pole.

Totem Pole.

Another thing well worth seeing in­ Stanley Park is the girl in a wetsuit statue. This lovely sculpture sits on its rock gazing out to sea. It was designed by Elek Imredy. It is very like the little mermaid, Copenhagen. I thought it was truly beautiful. The statue dates from 1972. Walking around the seawall of Stanley Park there are some wonderful views back towards downtown, towards North Vancouver and towards English Bay.

Girl in a wetsuit statue

Girl in a wetsuit statue

We came off the sea wall for a while to walk to Beaver Lake via a forest trail. The lake is small enough to walk around easily. I hoped we might see beavers but we did not. Instead as I walked around I was passing a little bridge when a little squirrel leapt out at me. As I tried to take its photo another squirrel leapt out. As I tried to photo it, a small bird tried to land on my hand. The squirrels were so tame they came right up to me. All around the lake there were lovely yellow water flowers. The lake was home to many species of ducks including some I had never seen before. All the animals I seemed to meet came right up to me. Some of my photos are blurry because they were too close.

Beaver Lake.

Beaver Lake.

Flowers, Beaver Lake.

Friendly Squirrel, Beaver Lake.

Stanley park is all about the trees. It is 1000 acres of natural rain forest. The park has many walking trails. We spent more time walking round the edges than in the centre. To see it all you need more than one day.

At the north end of the park there is a good view of the Lions Gate Bridge. It crosses over the narrows of Burrard Inlet. We passed under it on the sea wall. This bridge connects Vancouver to North and West Vancouver. The Lions Gate Bridge first opened in 1938. Lions actually refers to two mountains in North Vancouver, but a pair of concrete lions, designed by sculptor Charles Marega, also guard the entrance to the bridge.

Lions Gate Bridge.

We then walked to Siwash Rock A first nations legend tells the story of a young chief who was brave, strong and upright in his traditions. He married a young girl from the north and they longed for a child. At last the girl got pregnant. When the child was due, they went swimming in order to purify their bodies in preparation for parenthood. The young girl returned to the shore to give birth, but the chief kept swimming. Four giants in a canoes approached him and demanded that he left the water and got out of their way, because they had magical powers and they would lose them if they came into too close contact with a human. The chief refused explaining that he was swimming for the purity of his coming child, so the giants turned him into a stone. The stone stands in the water at the top of Stanley park and represents clean fatherhood.

Siwash Rock.

Not far past Siwash Rock there is a pretty sandy beach called Third Beach. There are toilets available here. This is where I annoyed my husband because I insisted we doubled back into the park's interior to find the hollow tree after we left Third Beach. Yet more walking. I must admit our feet were getting a little sore by this point. Hollow tree is around 700 to 800 year old. It is a Western Red Cedar tree stump. Around the bottom of it there are old photos showing people posing inside it, a car inside it and even an elephant inside it. Hollow tree was badly damaged by the severe windstorm in December 2006 and was to be removed but a campaign to preserve it prevented it being destroyed.

Third Beach.

Hollow Tree.

Second Beach was a welcome sight because it meant we had almost finished walking right round the park. Like Third Beach, Second Beach is sandy. It is easier to get to than Third Beach so no doubt gets more crowded in summer. There is a large outdoor heated pool here, but it was not in operation when we visited. It was too cold. There are also toilets.

Second Beach.

We could not leave Stanley Park without visiting The Ted and Mary Greig Rhododendron Garden as it was April and the rhododendrons were in full bloom. This Garden was named after two of British Columbia's most renowned rhododendron hybridizers ­ Ted and Mary Greig. When they retired in the 1960s, they donated thousands of plants to Stanley Park from their nursery on Vancouver Island. These gardens were absolutely stunning. A blaze of colour.

The Ted and Mary Greig Rhododendron Garden.

We also visited the Lost Lagoon which was originally part of Coal Harbour. At low tide it would turn into mud flats. The first nations people gathered seafood here. With the construction of the Stanley Park causeway in 1916 Lost Lagoon became permanently detached from the sea. The name Lost Lagoon comes from a poem written by Canadian writer Pauline Johnson. She had a Mohawk father and an English mother. She liked to sit lost in contemplation by this lagoon hence its name. The lagoon has a fountain in the middle. It is home to many species of birds. As we sat next to it we suddenly heard a soft but clear farting sound. I looked at my husband. He looked at me. The sound came again. To our surprise we realised it was the call of a strange little duck. We had to move away as there were people approaching and we did not want them to think the embarrassing sounds were us.

Lost Lagoon.

We then went to English Bay is also known as First Beach. It has a lovely sandy beach. The Vancouver sea wall continues past here. English Bay had some great sculptures. One of these is called A­maz­ing Laughter. This was designed by Chinese sculptor Yue Minjun. It was placed at English Bay in 2009. The sculpture consists of 14 statues each about three metres high showing the artist in a state of hysterical laughter. You can have good fun trying to copy the poses. The other sculpture is a huge Inukshuk. This is an Inuit statue made from placing rocks on top of each other to depict a person. Inuit's used them to mark boundaries, important places or show people they were on the correct trail. The Inukshuk was Vancouver's logo for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Sadly right at the end of our holiday there was an oil spill just off English Bay. English Bay has many pubs and restaurants. We ate here twice. You can get here by bus 5 from downtown Robson Street. English Bay is a good place to watch the sun set. I abandoned my dinner temporarily to come out and get some photos of it.

Amazing Laughter.

Inukshuk, English Bay.



We went to Shamrock Alley right round Stanley Park. Our feet were sore by the time we got there, so it was a welcome sight. This pub is in English Bay on Denman Street. During our visit all food items on the menu were $6 with no added tax. This makes it pretty cheap. Portions were as you would expect for that price not huge and side dishes were extra. I had chicken and leek pie. My husband had pork schnitzel and we shared a bowl of chips. The food was good and tasty. We tried the house Shamrock lager which was good and good value. It was here we first tried Kokanee lager which became one of our firm favourites. Service was friendly here.

On our third full day we went to Queen Elizabeth Park then Steveston. Queen Elizabeth Park was one of the highlights of my entire trip. It was stunning. It is easy to get here by public transport. Take the Canada line to King Edward Station, exit the station and turn right. Walk straight for about ten minutes, the park will be on your left. Queen Elizabeth Park covers 52 ­hectares. It is home to the Bloedel Conservatory, but we did not visit this. Queen Elizabeth Park is the highest point in downtown Vancouver and has great views. Its summit is 152m above sea level and this area used to be called Little Mountain. During our visit it was very cloudy and rained briefly, so we did not see the views at their best. Part of the gardens in Queen Elizabeth Park occupy two abandoned quarries. These were quarried for rock to build Vancouver's first roadways. In 1930 the BC Tulip Association suggested transforming the quarries into sunken gardens. Thankfully this idea was accepted and now the park is a floral masterpiece. As well as all the colourful flowers Queen Elizabeth Park has a waterfall, duck pond, fountains, interesting sculptures and a restaurant.

Queen Elizabeth park has an interesting restaurant called Seasons in the Park. We did not eat here. As well as having spectacular views this restaurant has other claims to fame. It once hosted a dinner for Presidents Boris Yeltsin and Bill Clinton during the 1993 Vancouver Summit meetings. It was also the venue for the wedding reception of Vancouver singer Sarah McLachlan. Additionally it hosted a surprise dinner for the International Olympic Committee as part of the 2010 Olympic bid, won by Vancouver.

Queen Elizabeth Park has some lovely sculptures. One called knife edge ­ two piece is by Henry Moore. It is located next to the park's fountain. The other is called Photo Session and it's a lot more fun. It is by J. Seward Johnson Junior. It shows a photographer taking a picture of three friends and the sculptures are wonderfully detailed.

Queen Elizabeth Park .

Photo Session.

Photo Session.

Queen Elizabeth Park.

Queen Elizabeth Park.

We then left the park and went to Steveston. Steveston is very easy to get to by public transport. First take the Canada Line train to Richmond Brighouse. Then get on the 401, 402, 407 or 410 bus. The bus journey will take around 20 minutes. We took the 407 and the last stop was very close to the Georgia Cannery Museum. We got the same number of bus back. If you check the excellent Translink site, it will tell you the exact departing bay of the next bus. The bus bays were right next to Richmond Brighouse Station.


Steveston was a lovely, peaceful place with an interesting industrial past. Steveston was called after Manoah Steves, who arrived here with his family around 1877 or 1878. His second cousin William Henry Steeves settled here and founded the town in 1880. Steveston is located on the Frazer River. It became the location of several salmon fish canneries. The canneries attracted large numbers of First Nations, Japanese, Chinese and European workers who helped the town to grow in size.

Steveston was also once home to a thriving boat building industry. There is still an old boat building yard here which is interesting to visit. A large number of Steveston's workers were Japanese. Most of these workers were interned during the Second World War causing huge damage to Steveston's industry.

After the war some but not all returned to Steveston. Nowadays Steveston is a fishing village, historical site and tourist attraction. It is also home to several restaurants which apparently do excellent fish and chips. On Canada Day, Steveston hosts the Steveston Salmon Festival. This festival includes a parade and a barbecued salmon sale.

We started our exploration of Steveston at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery as it was near where our bus dropped us. The cannery is now a museum. Outside the cannery there was a sculpture showing some of the former cannery workers. The cannery was built in 1894. Inside nowadays you will find a gift shop, toilets and the museum itself. I paid $7.80 to go in and my husband, who is over 65, got in for $6.55. The person who sold us the ticket asked if we would later visit the museum at Fort Langley. We told him we would and he stamped the back of our ticket so we could get in there for half price. The cannery museum is open daily from 10AM to 5PM. To get into the museum you are given a clock in card so you can pretend you are a cannery worker going to work.

Gulf of Georgia Cannery.

Gulf of Georgia Cannery.

The exhibits in the museum began with a display showing a fishing boat and several different types of fish. It continued by showing the process of preparing the salmon, getting it in the cans, sealing the cans etc. There were some fun exhibits like a scales you could sit on which would tell you your weight in fish, a model of the inside of a fishing boat, complete with fisherman sitting on the toilet reading the newspaper. The Gulf of Georgia Cannery was the largest cannery in BC until 1902. In 1897 more than two and a half million tins of salmon were packed here. Workers at the cannery were a mixture of First Nations people, Japanese, Chinese and European people.

Over time as machines began to replace manual packing, the cannery went into decline. With the outbreak of the Second World War the industry picked up again. This time it was packing herring in tomato sauce for the soldiers at the front. The cannery closed in 1979 and was later turned into a museum.

Garry Point Park is a waterfront park on the Frazer River which covers around 75 acres. There are some lovely river views here and lots of wide open space as well as little beaches covered in drift wood. When we visited, the park had many beautiful flowering cherry trees ­ a gift from the people of Wakayama, Japan in memory of all the Japanese workers who came here. The park also has a Japanese style memorial garden ­ Kuno Garden and a memorial to fishermen.

Garry Point Park.

Garry Point Park.

Garry Point Park.

As we walked from the Georgia Cannery Museum towards the centre of the town we passed a mother and baby orca statue entitled First Breath. It is quite an imaginative sculpture and certainly worth a look.

Orca and baby.

Fisherman's Wharf which is in the centre of Steveston town is home to a number of restaurants and bars and a company that run whale watching tours. This is not a bad place to grab a drink or a bite to eat.

Fisherman's Wharf.

After Fisherman's Wharf as we continued towards the shipyards we passed a small memorial to Steveston's Japanese fishermen. There were a huge number of Japanese in Steveston's fishing industry. During World War II they were placed in internment camps. Most never returned to Steveston.

Past the Japanese Fisherman's Memorial there were several historical buildings related to boatyards and canneries. When we got there everything was closed but it was still interesting to walk around and there was plenty to see. Some of the buildings stand in the water on stilts. One of the boatyards was the Britannia Boatyards, another was owned by the Murakami Family. The Britannia Shipyards building was built in 1889 and was originally used as a cannery. Around 1917 the Britannia Cannery was converted into a shipyard and maritime repair shop for fishing boats. This was in operation until 1969. It is now a museum.

Fisherman's Memorial.

Murakami house was once the home of a Japanese family who owned a boat building yard here. The house was built in 1885. The Murakami family lived there from early 1929 to 1942. The family consisted of mum, dad and ten children. The family's boat yard was next to the house. The Murakamis fished in the summer and built boats in the winter. Mrs Murakami kept a beautiful garden which was her pride and joy. During World War 11 the Murakamis were placed in an internment camp. After the war they left Steveston. Murakami House is now a museum. Descendants of the Murakamis donated many artefacts to it. Beyond the shipyards there are four colourful wooden houses on stilts. These were built in the 1800s as fisherman's dwellings. Past that there are workers' bunkhouses such as the large white Chinese workers bunkhouse and the First Nations bunkhouse.

Murakami House and Boatyard.

Boatyards and canneries.

Workers' Bunkhouses.

Workers' Bunkhouses.

Boatyards and canneries.

Just as we were leaving Steveston we came across quite an attractive old wooden building which used to be the Steveston Courthouse. I don't know anything about it. I just liked the look of it, so took a photo.

Steveston Courthouse.

Fishing is still really important here and there are still many sights related to the fishing industry be it fishing boats, fish and chip shops or nets. I rather like the atmosphere of little fishing towns.


Posted by irenevt 01:40 Archived in Canada Tagged vancouver Comments (4)

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