We thought we couldn't really go to BC without visiting the capital, Victoria, which turned out to be a great city.
Vancouver Island is larger than you might expect. I thought it was a small island just off of the city of Vancouver. It turns out that the island is the size of a small country (e.g. England) and probably has about the same population as Reading.
We arrived in Victoria early evening, just in time to go for a lovely walk along the pebble beach and catch the last film in their Free-B film festival. Every Saturday during August they show a free 'B' movie in an open air arena. We saw Little Shop of Horrors – apparently filmed in one weekend on a bet – it was quite funny and good to see since I've worked the stage version.
The next morning we headed back in to town found a great free parking space for Macy overlooking the Harbor and watched the ferries dancing. The ferries were probably large enough for about 6 people, there were 5 of them and a PA system was playing the Blue Danube and they were dancing in circles. It was quite impressive, but a little overshadowed by the harbor seal that was swimming lengths along the shore.
After the ferries had settled down, we took a guided tour around the Parliament buildings and were surprised by how strong they consider their ties to the English monarchy – I knew they used the Queen's head on their currency, but I didn't know they also refer to public lands as being owned by the Crown. Perhaps British Columbia feels stronger ties than the rest of Canada – apparently their provincial coat of arms was initially rejected by the queen for being too British; they had a lion and a crown and roses, thistles, leaks and shamrocks, but no native Canadian imagery.
After seeing this, we wandered around the shops in town, seeing the old (by North American standards) houses and squares and the market. The British theme continued with one of their newish shopping centre having a clock with many faces, each face showing the time in an ex-colony around the globe.
(In other news, I just found out that Fiji used to be a British colony, meaning that every country we're visiting on our round the world trip was at some point ruled by the English crown, with the exception of Nepal…)
Returning early the next day we visited the Royal BC Museum and spent ages queueing for admission. They had a large, very well done, Titanic exhibit and several not quite as well done other exhibits. The 'Last Century' exhibit made me feel quite old though when I saw toys I was playing with as a kid in one of the display cases. Our entrance included a trip to the National Geographic IMAX movie theatre with it's huge screen showing a film about diving on Titanic.
We were hoping to find rivers to paddle on the rest of the island, but the info we'd got from the locals said that only two rivers were likely to still be running – they weren't, so we went and saw the floating village at Telegraph cove, had a nice meal to celebrate our 52 month anniversary but didn't see much in the way of wild life. Luckily the next few days were to change that…