Parks and Campgrounds take centre stage this month as the weather warms and thoughts turn to nights snuggled in sleeping blankets under the stars or roasting marshmallows over a campfire. Now, don’t get me wrong, all you southerners who think of spring as balmy. Spring here means weather in the 60’sF (15C), but for us hardened northerners, that’s good camping time before things get crowded with too many tourists.
Even if you aren’t camping until summer, you may want to check out the sites and think about making reservations.
You’ll need a car to get to two great camping spots. One of these, French Beach Provincial Park is by the ocean and about an hour’s drive west of Victoria. Black-tailed deer roam in the surrounding trees. Reserve campsites by calling 1-800-689-9025.
Goldstream Park is a favourite with campers. It’s 11.8 miles (19km) northwest of Victoria and has extensive nature walks and a trail system. Located among Douglas fir, red cedar, yew and many other species of trees, its beauty is hard to beat. All amenities, including wood for your marshmallow roasting, are included.
For daytime only, two local favorites, Elk and Beaver Lake Parks are located off the Pat Bay Highway (#17). Elk Lake Regional Park has picnic grounds and 9 miles (15km) of walking and bridle trails, windsurfing, fishing and canoeing. Beaver Lake has a shallow, sandy beach, picnic spots and woodland trails.
Thetis Lake Park is only 15 minutes away by car on Highway 1 heading north. It’s a great fresh-water swimming hole with a picnic area.
For complete info on all the parks in the region go to the parks’ website.
Scuba Diving Magazine has just picked Vancouver Island as a top diving destination in three categories: first for best value, healthiest marine environment and best wall-diving; third overall for best destination and fourth for best fish life.
At Ogden Pointe Marine Park near downtown there’s full shore diving access where you can share the waters with giant Pacific octopus and wolf eels. The Ogden Pointe Dive Centre is fully equipped with all you need. If you’ve never dived before,
they’ll teach you how and provide all your equipment. Book a trip with them to the artificial reefs in nearby Sydney or to the Race Rocks marine area, a world famous diving spot noted for its diversity and amount of marine life.
April 1-May 6: Up-and-coming musicians, dancers and composers perform and compete in the Performing Arts Festival. For further information, phone 250-386-9223.
Jazz lovers should plan their Victoria trip for April 26-30th when the 18th annual TerrVic Jazz Party swings with bands from BC, Washington, California and even Scotland. For further information, call 250-953-2011.
For walkers, the Victoria International Blossom Walks take place from April 14 through 16th. There are seven different blossom walks ranging from 5, 10, 20 to 42 km. They go along the waterfront walkways, golf courses, parks and picturesque neighbourhoods. Contact 250-752-3922 or 250-656 0149.
If you’re a runner, or just like to watch races, there’s a Garden City 10K run through the streets around Beacon Hill Park on April 30th.
The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, located at 1040 Moss St., honours internationally acclaimed artist Richard Hunt with an exhibition inspired by his Kwa-Giulth family and kinship, from March 16th to August 27th, 2000. “Through My Father’s Eyes” is a thirty-five year survey of one hundred pieces, including masks, totem poles, jewellery, paintings, prints, drawings and clothing. The exhibition celebrates the most important aspect of Hunt’s work: tradition and ceremony within his cultural heritage. Hunt was born in Alert Bay off northern Vancouver Island in 1951 into a family of artists. Hunt has received both the Order of Canada and the Order of BC.
Another unusual Art Gallery exhibit this month is “The Whimsical World of Japanese Bank Ceramics“. These stoneware pieces are in the shapes of flowers, birds, monkeys, sea creatures and human figures. The 70 pieces on show are one of the largest collections in the world.
The Royal BC Museum’s “Out of the Mist” exhibit showcases native history and culture.
For poetry lovers or famous poet wannabe’s, there are two Victoria poetry hotspots where you can recite your own poetry or listen to others. On Friday night it happens at Mocambo Coffee, (1028 Blanshard St.) (Tues. nights is philosophy night and Saturdays is stand-up comic night). Sunday night’s venue is the James Bay Inn at 122 Government St. First time and established poets are welcomed. You’ll meet a real mix of types from the bricklayer to the student to the biz type. It’s a popular event so come early.
Warning: poetry is not censored for content or words.
For your trail needs I recommend Pacific Trekking at 1305 Government St. Phone them at 250- 388-7088 or 1-800-565-1399. Catch them on the web at http://www.pacifictrekking.com
Art Gallery of Greater Victoria: Tel. 250-384-4101. Hours: Mon. through Saturday from 10am-5pm, Thursdays from 10am-9pm, Sundays from 1-5pm. Their website is at http://aggv.bc.ca.
Ogden Pointe Dive Centre is located at the “Breakwater”, 199 Dallas Rd. Tel. 250-380-9119 or 1-888-701-1177. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Open 9am-6pm, dives at 10am.
Ã¯Â¿Â½2000 by Barbara Ballard. Reproduction of this work in whole or in part, including reproduction in electronic media, without documented permission from the author is prohibited.
Victoria, a world renowned tourist destination and capital city of British Columbia, is nestled on the southern tip of Vancouver Island.
It’s about as far west as you can get in Canada – just across the Strait of Georgia from the city of Vancouver on Canada’s mainland and 85 miles northwest across the Juan de Fuca Strait from Seattle.
The jagged coastline boasts stunning views, and the mild climate allows gardens to run rampant. It’s no wonder Travel and Leisure voted it one of the 10 best cities in the world to visit.
The downtown, embraced by the water and the bustling Inner Harbour (map), is busy and vibrant. Tourism is big business here, and it’s royally catered to.
Once a British colonial outpost, Greater Victoria (Victoria and its outlying areas) now sports a population of more than 300,000. Although it still retains remnants of its past in high teas, hanging baskets and shops filled with British goods, Victoria today is alive with sidewalk cafes, night life, cosmopolitan dining, superb shopping and cultural activities.
The Victoria Visitor’s Information Centre is located on the Inner Harbour. There are free maps and brochures on accommodations, attractions, restaurants, services, tours, cultural events, festivals and more. There is also a ticket outlet in the Centre.
Call them at 1-800-663-3883 or
Seeing the City
There are lots of ways to get around Greater Victoria. The least expensive are the public bus system (B.C. Transit, 250-385-2551, from $1.25) and bike and scooter rentals.
Being a tourist Mecca means several companies run scenic tours – there’s double-decker or horse-drawn carriages plying their wares, but they aren’t cheap. Tiny water tugs ply the Inner Harbour for great views of the shoreline.
There’s always car rentals (not really necessary here where everything is either accessible on foot or by bus). Taxis are available but costly. From the airport take the Airporter mini-bus, cheaper than a taxi, to downtown Victoria.
It should be noted that all prices in this guide are in Canadian dollars. For up to date currency rates, click here.
Best site for weather and local forecasts.
Victoria is totally nonsmoking indoors. Restaurants, pubs, nightclubs, hotels, public transportation, office buildings, etc. etc. No one is allowed to smoke anywhere inside any building. Outdoors is okay.
I grew up in Texas (friendly people), summered on the Gulf Coast and lived in several other states before moving to Canada. The Rockies and the Yukon were home for a while.
Victoria, BC on Vancouver Island is my permanent location, unless I win the lottery. Then I’ll be off to Britain, the land I love. My hobbies are history, historical architecture and reading.