Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Vancouver Island ~ B.C. ~ Canada

Our travels to Vancouver Island which included the BC Summer Games was a time of beautiful weather.  The west coast is often thought of as getting lots of rain but many would disagree and there were many weeks with no rain this summer.  We definitely had great weather for our stay and I wish to share some of the beautiful sights that Vancouver Island offers.

Ferry Crossing
Our ride on the BC Ferries ‘Coastal Inspiration’ left from Tsawwassen terminal and took us through the Georgia Strait while we enjoyed some beautiful scenery of the Coast Mountains far in the distance.

 “Georgia Strait is among the most biologically productive marine ecosystems in the world, providing critical habitat for a huge diversity of fish, marine mammals, invertebrates, shorebirds and marine plants – and it needs our protection.”

Sadly we did not see any sights of marine mammals but we know they are there.

Duncan, BC
Duncan is situated half way between Victoria and Nanaimo on Highway 1.  This city of a population just under 5,000 serves 80,000 people within the Cowichan Valley.  Also called the City of Totems, it has 80 totems around the city, as well as information on the carvers of these impressive totem poles.  A walk around the city will give you plenty of photo opportunities.  Duncan is also the smallest city in the nation, just under one square mile in size.

Admiral of the Fleet
This statue located on the waterfront of Nanaimo is called “Admiral of the Fleet”.  ‘Black Frank’ helped launch the now famous Bath Tub races in 1967.  The pirate costume was worn to promote Nanaimo for many festivities.  Nanaimo was referred to as The Sun Porch of Canada, Jewel of the West and Bathtub Capital of the World.

Nanaimo Waterfront
Nanaino, like many other cities and towns in Canada, was originally established as a Hudson Bay Trading post.  Cannons were used as a defence in those 19th century days, but the original cannons are still being used at a daily cannon firing ceremony at noon.  This ceremony, which includes bagpipes, happens every day from May until September.  We missed this on our visit, so no photo to share.  The waterfront now has several shops and restaurants and interesting to wander along enjoying the sights. Farther along is the park which features entertainment as well as many sculptures by local artists.

Ferry crossing to Denman Island
Following north up Highway 1, also known as the Island Highway, is the original highway on the Island. It weaves along the coastline with several views of the ocean.   There is access to nearby islands via ferry, such as Hornby and Denman Island.  There is also a freeway inland from Hwy 1, which is a quicker drive between Nanaimo and Campbell River, should one not want to enjoy the waterfront views.

Union Bay
Many small communities and towns are along this Island Highway route, including Union Bay, where Keith grew up.  These fairly new sights that can be seen are used for cultivating oysters.  Nearby Fanny Bay is a major source of incredible oysters, known far and wide.  We once saw a sign for Fanny Bay Oysters at Union Station in New York City!  Their oysters are tray cultured, which means they do not touch the ground.  Mmmm Mmmmmm

Ripple Rock
The Seymour Narrows once included underwater twin peaks, called Ripple Rock that created many treacherous situations as ships passed through.  Many ships and lives were lost in this area.  Captain George Vancouver charted these waters in 1792 and said they were the worst waters in the world.  In 1958, the twin peaks were blasted, which helped eliminate some of the turbulence.  Ripple Rock blast was telecast live on CBC, one of the first live telecasts of a Canadian event.

Beachside Oyster Bay
Oyster Bay was where we lived when I started Grade 1.  I caught the bus into Campbell River, where Mrs. Baldry taught me.  Weekends I remember going down to the beach and playing in the driftwood with friends and fishing out there in a boat with my Dad and brother.  I was 5 years old and caught a 5 pound fish, have never forgotten that.

Oyster Bay Shoreline Park View
Once established as a relief camp for the unemployed during the Depression, Oyster Bay was later purchased by a logging company and became a logging community.  Logging was a very dominant business on Vancouver Island and much to my surprise, it is still busy with logging trucks. Logging was what my Dad did for a living so we’d moved around the Island a lot by the time I began school, but this was a long stay for us. I remember it quite well.

Logging dock remnants at Oyster Bay
I remember the old ships out in the water that had been dismantled and used to be a breakwater, although that apparently didn’t work well.  These posts in the photo are what is left of the dock where the logging trucks would back onto then drop their load into the water, logs would then be boomed out into the Bay.  The homes which once lined the highway at Oyster Bay are no longer there, either.

A vocal bald headed eagle
Bald headed eagles are commonly seen on the Island but never do I tire of watching them.  This fellow was busy calling someone who didn’t seem to respond.  He was across the road from the water and had a good view but he was getting, what seemed to be, quite perturbed at having to keep calling.  I enjoyed his performance but wasn’t there to see anyone join him.

Elk Falls Suspension Bridge
Elk Falls is just outside of Campbell River and is a nice visit to make if you are in this area.  The Elk River Suspension Bridge was officially opened in 2015, a vision of the Rotary Club of Campbell River from 2009.  It has successfully become an attraction to draw people to the natural wonder of Elk Falls.  A nice easy walk through the tall trees will take you down most of the way with steps to take you to the viewpoint and suspension bridge.  Not being one to enjoy those suspension bridges, I barely set my foot on it in order to take some photos, and pretended to enjoy that experience! Lol

Sunset in Campbell River, BC
We were parked in the Thunderbird RV Park on what is called the Tyee Spit and joined friends who graciously toured us around Campbell River to see the sights and enjoy our visit.  We saw small float planes coming and going from a nearby base and enjoyed evening walks around the Spit which included seeing this evening sunset.

I've barely covered the beautiful Vancouver Island that we love to visit in this rather long page.  I have touched several stops that we made on our most recent visit but hope to do more in the future.

To see more of Vancouver Island, click here.  More here. 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Crofton ~ Cowichan Valley ~ BC


Crofton, BC is a small seaside town hidden from the busy highway traffic on Vancouver Island.  This allows for a quiet picturesque place that we’ve enjoyed in the past as well as again this summer.  Work brought us here in 1999 and we parked our RV at Osborne Bay RV Park then and here we are again to see our grandson play lacrosse in the BC Summer Games being held in the Cowichan Valley!  The park hasn’t changed but the most amazing thing was that we were still in their computer system!

Ferry at Osborne Bay, BC
We had a great view of the BC ferry docks from our RV spot, and were able to watch it come and go to Salt Spring Island.  Previous to 1955, this ferry dock was a smelter wharf and also used for shipping logs out of the area before becoming the dock for BC Ferries.

Shoreline on Osborne Bay
The RV Park sits right on the water of Osborne Bay, which can be seen to have black sand.  This was said to be due to the residue left over from the smelter which was founded in 1902.  This smelter closed in 1908 and Crofton became a dying town until the railway was brought in by the early 1930’s and that was when the Osborne Bay Wharf was originally built.  The town of Crofton is now the site of a pulp and paper mill which opened in 1957 and continues today.

Crofton Community Seawalk
Crofton celebrated their 100th anniversary in 2002 with the completion of phase one of the seawalk.  The Crofton Community Centre Society had planned this project for quite some time and by 2014, all three phases, a distance of over one kilometre, had been completed.  It makes for a great walk and is used by many.

Museum at Crofton, BC
The museum borders the little park that sits overlooking the water.  It was the original school that was built in 1905 and used until a new one was built in 1950 and it became an annex to that school.  In 1985 it was moved down the hill to this location where it was restored and became the museum.  I spent some time in there talking with a very interesting volunteer.  He was not a local pioneer but had been here a long while and knew his history.

Saltspring Island
The ferry terminal being in Crofton, continues to attract a lot of tourists on their way to Saltspring Island with some staying to enjoy time in Crofton, also.  This ferry will cross over to the village of Vesuvius, a twenty minute ride.  We went for a great fish and chip dinner at the busy restaurant over there.  On these beautiful days, we are able to see this location from our RV Park.

Osborne Bay RV Park
We are crossing the Southern Stuart Channel heading back over to Crofton on the ferry.  This channel was named after Captain Charles Stuart who was in charge of the Hudson’s Bay Co. post in Nanaimo in the mid 1800’s.  We can see the Osborne Bay RV Park, our home for the week and the spit which offers moorage for boats of the guests.

Maple Bay
We sure did time our visit nicely for weather, summers are beautiful on Vancouver Island, .  We took several drives on the country roads leading us down to the water and so many marinas.  This is Maple Bay, just south of Osborne Bay on the Stuart Channel, too.  We ran out of time for seeing them all but there could be another visit in the future.

Genoa Bay
Genoa Bay was at the end of this road and the home of so many large boats, boat garages, and several floating homes.  The marina includes a cafĂ© with a very great sounding menu with local seafood that make ones mouth water just thinking about it.  Genoa Bay feels like the kind of place one would want to spend time in if you were a boater or sailor.

Cowichan River

We drove out to Cowichan Bay and Youbou to see their sights.  There weren’t too many opportunities to see the water, with homes and trees along most of the water.  On our way we saw a sign showing there was the Skutz Falls on the Cowichan River so we decided to include that on our tour.  We did take the long way around, signage not the best but finally found the parking lot and walked across the bridge and saw some sunbathers floating down the slight slope of ‘falls’. Research after our visit says there is a fish ladder beside Skutz Falls so it turns out that we weren’t looking at the Falls at all, and in my disappointment I thought it was just low water issues! 

To see more of our travels on Vancouver Island, click here.  And more here.




Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Fort Langley to Webster's Corners, BC

A visit to the picturesque town of Fort Langley is like a flashback in time.  It is the home of the Fort Langley National Historical Site and the buildings are of historic heritage.  New ones must also build to those qualifications.  

Fort Langley storefronts
The Hudson Bay Company established a fur trading post near this location and was the first to bring business here.  By 1830, it had become a major export port.  The destination for the salted salmon in barrels made from Douglas Fir, plus cedar lumber and shingles was the Hawaiian Islands.

Fort Langley Historic Site of Railroad Station
The Fort Langley Railroad station is at the heart of the town and is the home of the museum and a gift store.  It also has a rail car and caboose that can be visited.  The volunteers of the Langley Heritage Society put a lot of time restoring and managing this historic site and that shows with the lovely grounds and displays that are seen.

Gasoline Alley
There is no lack of independent businesses with eighty of them lining the tree lined streets.  There is such a variety to choose from, unique stores as well as services and restaurants.  No chain stores are to be found in Fort Langley.

Tree lined Glover Road
A major sawmill opened in 1921 and it pulled the area out of a very long struggle with years of the threat of invasions, Gold Rush days and the arrival of the railway early twentieth century that removed the jobs of the port.   These Horse Chestnut trees were planted along Glover Rd., the main entrance to Fort Langley in 1921 and still stand strong and welcoming after nearly 100 years.

Community Hall and Library
The Fort Langley Women’s Institute founded the Fort Langley Community Improvement Society in 1924 in order to build their Community Center.  This grand building was completed in 1932 as the Community Hall and is well used to this day.  It has been featured in several film and television series.

Stately home of history
I wasn’t able to learn any history about this building which is home to a business now, but it is very stately looking and I could not resist showing this beauty.  It would likely have been the home of one of the wealthier families in the town!

Bedford Channel at Fort Langley
The Bedford Channel separates the mainland from McMillan Island, which is accessible by the Jacob Haldi Bridge from Fort Langley.  We started over hoping to see the old ferry terminal that would take passengers to Albion on the other side of the Fraser River, but hadn’t realized that it was no longer accessible since the opening of the Golden Ears Bridge in 2009.

Albion Ferry Landing
We then crossed over the Golden Ears Bridge to find the museum of Maple Ridge.  A lot of the Webster family history is recorded here but not accessible to us without an appointment so after a short tour of the museum, we went onto find Albion, another family connection.  It is now a very industrial area as well as a Fisheries and Oceans branch. 

Webster's Corners School
Webster’s Corners was named after the pioneer James Webster who is Keith’s great grandfather.  There is very little to mark the corner on Dewdney Trunk or the history that would come with it other than the school built on the corner that carries that name.

Mt. Baker
I have a hard time bypassing snow covered mountains without taking several photos.  This is Mt. Baker, which sits just across the border into Washington State and can be seen in the distance in the photo taken at the old Albion Ferry landing.


Monday, August 27, 2018

BC Highways ~ Merritt ~ Hope Princeton

We are on the road again.  We have several plans ahead of us, the first one beginning with a trip on roads not travelled for years and we’re looking forward to seeing unfamiliar beautiful BC scenery.

Merritt Highway
We begin on a more familiar road between Kamloops and Merritt, less hills to climb than the Coquihalla and great scenery to view.  This takes place the beginning of July, before we were having to deal with any forest fires bringing smoke to the area.

Flooding of Stump Lake
Between the spring runoff of winter snow and the rainy times we’ve had so far, the lake is still very high and actually seeps across the highway nearby, I missed that shot.  Picnic tables at lakeside ahead are well under water but it won’t be long and all will be different.  The water level will recede and it will be as good as ever.

History in a barn
Once we reach Merritt we follow the Coquihalla Connector to 5A South and now we are on those very unfamiliar roads.  If memory can be trusted, we believe it was 1966 we last used this road.  This barn may not even have been built at that time, it was so long ago!! We were driving a truck and not a covered wagon, though.  LOL  I cannot resist taking photos of old barns, buildings and fences.  The scenery is lovely and green at Aspen Grove.

Allison Lake
We pass Allison Lake which sits roadside in the narrow valley.  We are enjoying these sights before we arrive at the remains of a big forest fire here which prevented us from the visit we’d planned for Tulameen last year.  Such a shame to see those sights and all losses and tragedies due to them.

Similiameen River
We’ve spent a few days at Tulameen and are now once again on the road for the next leg of our summer adventure.  We have now passed Princeton, which is a very nice little town, after a brief stop for fuel.  As is typical for summer trips, road construction briefly holds us up but we soon carry on alongside the Simlkameen River.

Similkameen Valley
The valley opens up and we see green hills and blue skies ahead.  The traffic appears fairly light until we meet up with more construction traffic but it’s a nice day for the drive.  This was part of the gold rush era and village of Blackfoot was established nearby for those coming to make lots of money.  It didn’t last long as it was a fairly minor gold rush in 1860.

Manning Provincial Park
The Hope Princeton Highway passes through Manning Park, one of many provincial parks in BC.  It was named in the memory of Ernest Manning, the Chief Forester of BC 1936-1941 when he died in a plane accident.  He was part of the teamwork responsible for establishing several provincial parks in BC.

Rugged mountains
 I found this story too interesting to ignore.  Persistence pays.  Quoted from Wikipedia.

“Six years after being one of the original participants on the Similkameen Rush, "Jackass John" returned from prospecting in Montana and the Kootenays. He mined on the same spot where he had made $40 in two days during the original rush and in fourteen days had taken $900. He enlisted three friends and worked the mine; historian H.H. Bancroft notes that the four partners sluiced $240 in three days.”

The Hope Slide

The Hope Slide on Johnson Ridge of the Cascade Mountains occurred in January 1965 and was the second largest landslide ever recorded in Canada.  Two slight earthquakes registered hours previous to the slide discovery but are not given total credit for the slide.  The slide did push mud and water from Outram Lake, just below it, with such force against the other side of the valley that it registered “seismic signatures interpreted as earthquakes”.  Sadly four lives were lost and only two of those were recovered.

Aside from the history of the Hope Slide that took lives and left a very ugly scar on the mountainside, the Hope Princeton drive is very pretty and the roads were good, too. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Tulameen~Coalmont, BC

We had planned on spending a few days in Tulameen last summer but the forest fires were close so we decided we would wait for another year.  This year the plan was made and anyone we spoke to about going had only good words to say about Tulameen.  We were excited to meet up with our friends there and enjoy our stay.

Tulameen River
We passed through some very pretty scenery, still lots of green in the surrounding hills and no fires in the area.  It had been many years since we had travelled on this stretch of highway so all sights were new.  We leave the main road at Princeton and head up to Tulameen.

Tulameen Valley
The drive to Tulameen was pretty, at least from a passengers viewpoint.  We were making our way on some narrow roads high above the Tulameen River but with not a lot of traffic and paved all the way, an easy drive, as long as the driver keeps his eyes on the road! lol 

Coalmont Welcome Signs
Coalmont was the first sign of a settlement and whoever paints their signs has a good sense of humor.  There were a few of them that caught my eye. 

Downtown Coalmont
 I am not sure what this small group is about but the Post Office, moved here from another sight, no longer has the ‘Post’ but is an office.

Historic Coalmont Hotel
The old Coalmont Hotel would have some very interesting stories to tell if she could talk.  Coalmont was established in 1911 at the end of the Granite Creek gold rush and with the mountain of coal bringing many.  The population in Canada at that time was 7 million and 103 of them lived here.  There were still 100 residents in 2011 for their Centennial year when there were now 34 million in Canada.  The little town of Coalmont just wouldn’t die.

The Last Resort
There is a provincial park at Tulameen, very well used but we chose the Last Resort RV Park.  It is small but a nice spot not far from the Otter Lake, basically in the town area and with very hospitable hosts.  We had some chilly windy hours but most of our stay was warm and we had a great time.

Otter Lake
Otter Lake is quite a good size about 6 km long and is lined with many holiday cabins as well as permanent large homes.  The weekend was very busy with power boats and seadoos but for our walk along the shores, it was a calm quiet lake.  The fishing is also good but one must bring their own boats, we found no rentals there.

The Great Trail on the KVR passes by Otter Lake
The old railway bridge at the end of the lake is part of the old Kettle Valley Railway and the Trans Canada Trail used as a bike trail for the adventurous.  The 18 km of the Trans Canada Trail from Princeton to Coalmont is considered by some to be the most spectacular portion of the whole KVR bed, running through the Tulameen River Valley and open year round.

Tulameen Museum
The little school, built about 1920 was moved to this location and restored in 2000.  It is the museum and full of antiques, which we viewed through the dusty windows.  The museum was not open and showed no signs it would be.

Downtown Tulameen

Tulameen, known as Otter Flats during the early days has an interesting history.  The first European to cross the Cascade Mountains was a Hudson’s Bay employee looking for a route to take the horses over so furs could be moved from Fort Kamloops to the coast.  Thanks to the native guides who showed the way, he was able to do that.  Once he got to Otter Lake from Fort Hope, Similkimeen Chief Blackeye told him the easiest way over the mountains and the ‘Blackeye Trail’ became known as the ‘Brigade Trail’ from 1849-1860.  This allowed the fur trading to survive in BC.

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