On the street where we live in Victoria – Dans la rue où nous vivons à Victoria
When we left Saint Chinian dans le sud de la france après six mois, we had many wonderful friends. They were curious about our life “at home” in Victoria so this Blog is, in fact, a reverse Blog. I will tell nos amis français what our “real” life is like and will introduce them to some of our friends here. First, a bit of geography for reference.
Canada fills up the northern part of North America.
Vancouver Island is on the far west side of Canada. On the Pacific Ocean.
The island is 460 km long and 80 km wide at its widest.
Apparently, it is about 2/3 the size of England. With a population of only 800,000!
I (Deidre) was born in Victoria. My father was born in Victoria from parents who had emigrated a few years earlier from the south of England. My mother was born a few miles south in Tacoma, Washington, USA, a few years after her parents emigrated from Glasgow, Scotland. Murray was born in Brandon, Manitoba (see map of Canada). His father and mother were both also born in Canada from parents who had emigrated from central and southern England.
We have lived in Victoria since 1993 after many years away traveling with work.
Interesting to people from the UK or Europe is that Victoria was established only in 1843 as Fort Victoria, a fur trade post of the Hudson’s Bay Company. Not that long ago in European terms. Prior to that, the Victoria area was the home of the aboriginal/native/Indian original residents – the Coast Salish. The west coast of Canada was first visited by Europeans in the late 18th century. Spanish explorer, Juan Pérez traded with the native people at Nootka Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island in 1774 and in 1778 (in fact, in April, 237 years ago),
British explorer, James Cook spent a month (March to April 1778) in the same location while he repaired his ship before sailing north to look for the Northwest Passage. That failed and he headed to the Sandwich Islands to get warm. He was killed there on 14 February 1779. A statue of Cook, a smaller version of the one in Whitby, Yorkshire, stands overlooking the harbour in Victoria. Right across the street from the Empress Hotel but he did not have high tea. In fact, he did not even visit Victoria but since he laid claim to Nootka Sound for England, he firmly established an English presence on the west coast of Canada.
Captain Cook looking towards the famous Empress Hotel.
The Empress Hotel
Victoria is the capital of the Province of British Columbia. That is the Legislative Building looking very elegant across the Inner Habour.
Close-up with the statue of Queen Victoria in silhouette.
The Hudson’s Bay Company, based in London, opened fur trade posts on Hudson Bay from 1670. In the 1820s they moved into the west. In 1842, James Douglas established Fort Victoria for the Company on the southern tip of Vancouver Island and, of course, the rest is history.
Spring flowers everywhere!
This alley way, with restaurant terraces and craft market, looks towards the location of the original Hudson’s Bay Company’s Fort Victoria (no longer there).
Victoria is on the very bottom of Vancouver Island. We actually live in a suburb called Saanich (an Indian word meaning “land of plenty”), about 20 minutes north of what we call the “waterfront”. This is where we walk and look across about 40 km to the mountains of Washington in the United States.
Seaplane service to Vancouver and Seattle.
1 km long breakwater with daily ferry arriving from the United States (Port Angeles).
We live in a townhouse development called Falcon Ridge Estates. Trees and gardens are the theme and have a view of gardens from the kitchen window.
Our house has a living room, dining room, kitchen, office, bedroom and 2 bathrooms all on the entrance level. It also has accommodation for guests in the lower level – 2 bedrooms and bathroom.
Plus, a basement storage area and a space Murray uses for making wine. We have been known to have parties down there so our guests do not run our of wine to drink!
Our complex, as does most of Victoria, is surrounded by gardens. When we arrived back at the beginning of April, we were greeted by many spring flowers, including the Japanese flowering cherry trees outside our windows.We have friends who live in the east of Canada who have to shovel snow in the winter – in Victoria we shovel pink blossoms in the spring!!
Ornamental cherry trees like in Japan with blossom drifts after a wind.
Working day in spring, on our patio with grandson Pierson.
We have a clubhouse with a social room, swimming pool and hot tub all of which are well-used.Every second Friday, we have a drop in gathering (usually about 20 or 25 people turn up) to socialize with “bring your own” aperos for sharing plus personal drink preferences – a good place to catch up on the latest news/gossip and, of course, talk about our recent trips.
Every month, one evening is organized for a social event such as New Year’s Day levee, Valentines’ Day dessert party, summer BBQ, Hallowe’en, Christmas. Or, movie nights, pancake breakfast, etc. Stretch and tone sessions are held three mornings a week, and in the swimming pool, there is aquafit on the alternate mornings. Also, Sunday evening bridge and Thursday evening snooker.
Murray volunteers twice a week at Heritage Acres, where he helps in the collecting, restoring, and demonstrating of artifacts from the rural past. It is on the Western Canada’s largest collections of working steam engines, tractors, agricultural machinery, household and industrial artifacts.
Once a year, Deidre volunteers at the local newspaper for its annual book sale. They are not counted exactly but it is figured that over 400,000 used books are donated and must be sorted over a two week period in preparation for a 2-day sale. This year almost $160,000 was raised for the Raise-a-Reader Fund which provides assistance to literacy organizations, charities, and schools in the Victoria area.
We also provide day care for Pierson twice a week – a much appreciated break for Mum and Dad – and an even more appreciated time spent with Grammie and Gram.
This is Pierson in the outfit Grammie brought back from France.
So – that is us. Murray and Deidre at home in Victoria, Canada, and missing Saint Chinian, France, and all our friends there.
Jusqu’à la prochaine fois – until the next time. Avec amour.