Friday, December 2, 2016

Gentlemen's night at the Union Club

My Mah Jongg group is lucky enough to have one of us as a member of Victoria's ever-so-Victorian Union Club. Like many such stuffy institutions around the British Empire, this establishment was off-limits to women until about 20 years ago. Now women can be members too and Kerri is a member. Once a year instead of getting together to play Mah Jongg we get together for a buffet feast complete with bubbles and wine and desserts and gifts. It's really fun sitting in the mahogany panelled room with its portraits and Persian carpets.

It turns out that Wednesday night is Gentleman's Night but that doesn't stop us from taking over one of the salons for our evening. This year there were even some gentlemen hanging around who were willing to join us for the group photo. It doesn't really look that stuffy anymore does it?

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Protesting Kinder Morgan's pipleline plan

On Monday night several hundred people gathered in Centennial Square beside Victoria's city hall for a candlelight vigil to protest Kinder Morgan's plan to build another pipeline to the BC coast to carry bitumen from Alberta's tar sands for export to China.

It appears that Justin Trudeau is poised to announce approval of this pipeline even though he campaigned and was elected on a promise to listen to communities before approving these kinds of things.

He needs to listen to British Columbia, where more than 65 per cent of the population is against pipelines and oil tankers. Trudeau signed the Paris Accord and this pipeline will just increase our emissions from the expanding tar sands.

Sorry it's such a blurry photo but it gives an idea of the gathering. You can't read the signs but I'll repeat a few of them here:

No to Fossil Fuels

No tar sands, no pipelines, trains, tankers

Climate Leaders Don't Build Pipelines

Our coast, our call

There are No Jobs on a Dead Planet

Sorry Alberta, our world takes precedence

If you want to send a note to our prime minister to tell him your thoughts on the pipeline project you can do so by emailing him at

Or you can click here to sign a petition.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Fall in the Fernwood

Some cheery photos taken over the past couple of weeks as fall arrives in Fernwood.


It's a neighbourhood of old wooden and brick buildings, some but not all of them restored.

And as you can see from the crane above Wellburn's Market, there's some building going on too.
We're really close to Victoria's downtown and a building boom is happening there. I think it's a good thing to create more density downtown and rental accommodation is badly needed.

Our little neighbourhood on the edge of downtown will be affected but not changed too much, I hope.
Here's our little house, where we're snuggling down for late fall and winter.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Janion

Ever since I've lived in Victoria I've had my eye on a derelict building downtown on the waterfront. For years this brick beauty sat there decaying across from Chinatown. The Janion was built as a hotel in 1891 and had a checkered history.  It was built before Victoria was electrified but was on the cutting edge as it wired for electricity at such time as the service might be available.

It's been empty for decades and I was always thinking that it would be a beautiful building to restore. My fantasy was a bunch of artists studios with a central art gallery. Wishful thinking for sure. Especially as the building was apparently owned by a reclusive woman who refused to sell.

Then three years ago we saw a sign offering sales of "waterfront micro-lofts" at a reasonable price--for Victoria that is. It happened to be around the time we were thinking of selling our house on Haliburton Road so we decided to buy into this project. The developer was planning to restore the facade of the old building and build a large addition onto the back towards the water.

There was a lot of interest in these micro-lofts as they were affordable and we had to line up early in the morning to get in and make a purchase, more as an investment than anything else. We decided to get a unit in the newer section, which is a more modern design. Here's a model of it. Our unit is one of the small onesin the middle of the photo--three up and three across.

These units are really tiny. The one we purchased is only 320 square feet. What makes it liveable is that it has a queen sized bed that folds up to become a dining table.

The whole thing was really a leap of faith as we didn't really know what we would do with this little abode. Since then we've been thinking about what to do with the space. I considered using it as a painting studio and it would be nice but we can't afford that. At this point we're thinking we'll use it for short-term tourist rentals and see how that might work.

It's ideally located downtown within walking distance of a lot of things. And the area is really vibrant with lots of restaurants, bars, galleries etc. so it would work that way. Well since then we've been watching the renovations, which have proceeded quite slowly. This was what it looked like about a year and a half ago. But recently things are coming together and it looks like we'll take ownership within about a month.

Today we had the exciting opportunity to do a "pre-purchase walk-through" with one of their representatives. Our unit is finished and it was the first time we actually saw what we had purchased. 

Here's what it looked like.

This is the kitchen and dining area...

The same view with the bed pulled out...

This is the other end of the room with a space for a flat screen tv and a couch or chairs where the young man is standing. The photo on the right shows the view out the little standing balcony.

I have to say that "micro" is the operative word. It's small--but I think it can work for a holiday rental. Or for friends who visit from out of town. It has a nice bathroom with a roomy shower, plus a washer/dryer in a closet and even one of those darling dishwashers in a drawer. It's very modern and they've done a nice job with the flooring and the built-ins.

Just for contrast I'm posting some photos taken of the inside of the derelict building before the renovations began.


The heritage front looks a lot better now.  It's going to have a really nice entrance, plus some retail on the main floor.

Here's what the foyer floor will be like. I think it's really gorgeous. It's going to be fun furnishing and setting up the little studio.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Victoria's harbour

This week we're still exploring our own city as Harry gets ready to start a six-month course of chemotherapy. We were unable to go to Sicily so we're spending our days exploring Victoria.  The harbour is an important part of the city and can be accessed in a number of ways.

From across the blue bridge over in Esquimalt you can walk on the Songhees walkway past some very nice waterfront condominium real estate...

and see some lovely Arbutus trees like this one.
From here you can look across the harbour to the Victoria's downtown and the community of James Bay.

Here's another view showing the Coho ferry heading out of the harbour to Port Angeles in the USA.

 From the James Bay side you see more of the working harbour and the best way to see that is from the Ogden Point Breakwater. It's a long-time favourite walk for Victorians. As you can see, people go there to catch some fish as well.

Here's the light at the end of the breakwater. It marks the entrance to the harbour.

The views along the walkway are of all kinds of boats from tugs to Coast Guard boats to cruise ships.

The Holland America ship was in yesterday, and apparently it's the last cruise ship of the season.

For us the most fun at the breakwater was the wildlife viewing.  We first watched these two loons diving and catching little silver fish. Next thing we saw was a big long shape under the water. At first I thought it was a very large salmon but quickly we saw that it was a small harbour seal, also attracted by the little fish. It rolled and dove for a while and then headed out past the light.
The big surprise was when we saw it swimming back with four other seals, a couple of them quite large. They swam very close together heading back to where the lunch was waiting. Once they got there the five of them rolled and dove and jumped. 

We weren't close enough to see if they caught any fish but I think they did, because within about five minutes they turned around and swam in formation back into the harbour.  

It was really exciting to see this performance by seals in their own environment.  We're planning to head down there again to see if it's a regular thing, although I don't think it is. Maybe we were just lucky to be there at that time.

Here's a final image of what we saw walking back to our car. This is a view looking across the Straight of Juan de Fuca to the Olympic Mountains hidden in clouds.  The light there marks Brotchie Ledge and you can see a big freighter looming out of the mist. Those ones don't come into our harbour though; it's too small.

Hope you enjoyed the Victoria Harbour tour!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Tourists in our own town

We've been spending some time rediscovering our own city this month as Harry recuperates. It's odd how few times we choose to explore some of our own tourist spots. But since we're not exploring Sicily we've been exploring Victoria....

We walked along the Dallas Road waterfront in the evening and enjoyed the sights.

We wandered the docks at Fisherman's Wharf admiring the houseboats and the water taxis.

We attended the annual Chalk Festival at Ship's Point and then had lunch at a sidewalk cafe with our friends.


It's wonderful to realize how much fun we can have in our own town.