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August 23, 2005

Vancouver Island - Part I

In our travels, one of the best parts of it has been the people we have met.  We told you about Tim and Jan in Jerome, Idaho but there was also Royce & Sue in Reno, Dick & Brenda in Chico, Sheila & Ray and Jay & Marcia in Rogue River, John & Betty in Collier State Park, Vic & Zenda & George & Arlene at the rally in Redmond.  We have received information on things to do and see, suggestions on roads to take, advice on where to shop and always friendship, laughs and great conversation.   Thanks everyone.


We caught the ferry from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island late Sunday morning.  George and Arlene (see above)  had suggested that as they live quite close to the ferry docks, when we got to the island we could park the 5th wheel at their place as we explored the Saanich Peninsula and Victoria.  We did – it was great – thanks guys.  However, as we followed the directions to get there, we headed down a “dead end” road.  Let me tell you,  when you are pulling a 32’ trailer, the words “dead end” strike terror in your heart because you have no idea if you will find a place to turn around.  Their farm was at the end of the road so of course we were fine. That first evening the four of us strolled Sidney harbour and then went for dinner to Dunsmuir Lodge overlooking the valley.  George & Arlene’s farm is the open area at the back right of the picture.


The whole southern part of Vancouver Island seems to be flowers.  They are wonderful, with hanging baskets, parks full of flower beds and every house has a profusion of flowers.  Victoria in no exception – a beautiful city.  We took a city tour and also took a tour of the Esquimalt Naval Base.  This was very interesting as our nephew Steven had been stationed there for a time. 

DSC_0063_editedWe have heard about Salt Spring Island all our life, and how beautiful it is, so on Tuesday we took the ferry there and spent the day.  There was a sign on one of the roads about a cheese factory so we headed down a dirt road to find it.  It was goat and sheep cheese made from the milk from their own animals and was fabulous – expensive, but fabulous.  They also sold crackers or maybe you would call it a type of melba toast that was also made locally and went perfectly with the cheese.  On the way back to the ferry, we drove up to the Mt. Maxwell lookout,  11 km on another narrow, rough, dirt road with a great view at the top.  We saw farming in the valley that we didn’t realize was there as you could not see it just driving past on the roads.  It is a very pretty island, but we were disappointed that we couldn’t see more of the coast line.


The following day we headed north up the Malahat highway to Chemainus.  This little town, in a bid to survive after the lumber mill closed, started with murals by local artists and now has attracted artists from around the world.  There are more than 30 on walls of buildings though out the town.   Just south of Chemainus is Duncan where there are more than 80 totem poles dotting the town.  Travelling between the two towns along the east coast of the island there are great vistas looking toward the Gulf Islands.

IMG_3039_editedWe continued up the island to spend a couple of days in the north, with an overnight stop in Campbell River on the way.  It was Friday night and about 11:30 we went for a walk along the shore looking out to the Inside Passage.  Sailing south was the Zaandam – one week after we had been on her, on the same schedule.  She looked beautiful with all the lights.  Just north of Campbell River is Seymour Narrows, where the cruise ships cautiously sail as the passage is so narrow.  


Our base to explored the northern part of the island was a campground just north of Port McNeill .  It was right on the water and you can see how huge the original trees were as Ross is dwarfed by the stump of one.  We also were fortunate to be able to watch two bald eagles one evening while we were out walking on the beach.

DSC_0010One day we took the ferry across to Alert Bay, the traditional home of the ‘Namgis First Nation and the center of Kwakwaka’wakw culture.  We visited the U’mista Cultural Centre which houses the repatriated elaborately carved masked used in the Potlatch ceremony.  They had been confiscated when missionaries and the government attempted to “civilize” the native people.   We also saw a totem pole, scheduled for export to Europe, in the process of being carved.   We hiked up the hill to see the world’s tallest totem pole – I think they said it was about 200’ high – and sitting on the very top of it was a bald eagle. Very impressive.  We visited Telegraph Cove on our return to the big island and the following day headed south.

We’re going to send a separate journal on our visit out to the Pacific Rim as it was quite spectacular.

Bernie & Ross

Posted by Ross at August 23, 2005 01:42 PM


hello there, just a quick note. Vancouver Island is the one place that i would go back to if i ever went out west again since i never had the chance to make it their when i lived there.

James G.

Posted by: James Graham at September 25, 2005 11:34 AM