Flashback Friday #27

Crossing the Straits of Georgia was written in July 2013 following on from my stay in the city of Vancouver. We then moved over to Vancouver Island. One of the best place in the world in my opinion. Though at the moment my heart goes out to all those suffering from the dreadful heatwave occurring in that region.


After some deliberation as to when to pick up the rental car (early start vs extortionate parking fees) I collected the car from Hornby Street on the Friday afternoon and parked it at the Devonian park (24hrs) which was at least $10 cheaper than the underground car-park closer to the hotel. Parking in Vancouver I must add, is not cheap which is why I chose to use public transport to get around during the week. (Another point for those interested is that car rentals in Canada are much higher than those in the USA.)

We left the hotel early in plenty of time to catch the 10:30 ferry at Horseshoe Bay over to Nanaimo (Departure Bay) as we had reservations (these cost around £15 and not strictly necessary except in peak times unless you have to be somewhere such as the airport!), but if you don’t make that first ferry then you have to wait in line for the next and this can eat up a good couple of hours). £15 didn’t seem to be too much of a hardship for us to be on our way.

I love BC Ferries – they arrive on time, they depart on time and they are easy to drive on and off (particularly important for me whilst struggling to come to terms with a new car and its associated gadgets) then on board you can wander around during the crossing, have a meal, look at the views and if you’re lucky (as we were) see a pod or two of Orcas en route. On our previous visit to the Island we bought a circle ticket for the ferries which allowed us to drive slowly up the Sunshine Coast crossing the fjords by ferry and then over to Comox on the central coast of the Island from Powell’s River. If you have the time I thoroughly recommend this route for its beauty and peacefulness, (but be careful of the “granny traps” at the side of the road in places – deep gullies or drains at the edge – we saw several cars stuck in these and dread to think of the damage to the underside of the vehicle).

On this occasion we chose to go directly to Nanaimo (home of the famous Nanaimo bar) as we were heading over to the Pacific Rim on the west coast for a few days staying in Tofino, surf capital of the Island. We didn’t bother with a GPS as there really isn’t much need for one on the Island – or so we thought… got a bit lost in Nanaimo as hubby got confused over route signs which meant we went around in a circle and tempers frayed somewhat! Eventually we found the correct route, confusingly there’s a 19 which is the Inland Island Hwy and a 19a the Island Hwy, but since they merge to the north we really had nothing to worry about and could relax and enjoy the scenery.

Continue reading Flashback Friday #27

Travel Your Way

Rhinocarhire have a photography travel competition running at the moment which closes on 31st October, so hurry if you want to join in! You don’t have to be nominated to join in, but you do need to nominate five other bloggers on your entry.

Our competition is based around modes of transport and how you travel, whether by road, air, rail or sea, we want you to put your creative thinking hats on and show us your best snaps of each (or as many as you wish) types of transport you’ve encountered. Whether it’s from a recent trip or one from the past, we just want to see how you travel.” Continue reading Travel Your Way

A leisurely drive up the Sunshine Coast

The last of my travels in British Columbia: this is the route up the Sunshine Coast on the west coast of the mainland, north of Vancouver, which we took to reach Vancouver Island in 2005. It is a truly lovely drive along with a couple of short ferry rides across the fjords along this spectacular coastline. We were fortunate to be able to buy a CirclePac ticket from BC Ferries which gave us discounted fares on the routes up the coast and to and from the island. I believe we also got discounted fares travelling to the smaller islands such as Hornby, Denman and Cormorant Island (Alert Bay). Sadly this ticket was discontinued in 2011. However, it is still a route I recommend for the scenery alone. Continue reading A leisurely drive up the Sunshine Coast

Alert Bay V: The World’s Tallest Totem Pole

world's largest totem poleThe World’s tallest totem pole is located at the northern end of Cormorant Island next to the Big House. This pole stands 173 feet tall and unlike most totem poles which are specific to one family the figures on this pole represent some of the tribes of the Kwakwaka’wakw. From the top down are the following figures:

  • Sun Man: crest of the Quatsino tribes
  • Kolus: crest of the Kwagu
  • Whale: crest of the Gwa’sala-‘Nak’waxda’xw
  • Old Man: crest of Turnour Island
  • Wolf: crest of the Dzawada’enux
  • Thunderbird: ‘Namgis tribe
  • Dzunukwa: crest of the Mamalilikala
  • Bear holding a salmon, a raven and a Dzunukwa holding a copper. Continue reading Alert Bay V: The World’s Tallest Totem Pole

Alert Bay IV: U’mista Cultural Centre

The Meaning of U’mista

In earlier days people were sometimes taken captive by raiding parties. When they returned home, either through payment of a ransom or by a retaliatory raid, they are said to have “u’mista”. The return of treasures from distant museums is a form of u’mista.

U’mista Cultural Centre is one of the longest-operating and most successful First Nations cultural facilities in BC, founded in 1980 as a ground breaking project and houses one of the finest collections of elaborately carved masks, depicting the Potlatch Ceremony of the Kwakwaka’wakw. It is now a modern museum and education centre in Alert Bay with an extensive art gallery.

The Potlatch Ceremony

Was a gathering which served to validate important events such as the naming of children, marriage, death and the exchanging of rights and privileges. (A Copper documented important events and transactions engaged in during the life of its owner and symbolised wealth. It increased in value every time it changed hands).

The ceremony was first outlawed in Canada between 1885 and 1951.  The masks and other regalia that you see in the cultural centre were all confiscated after an illegal potlatch in 1921.  After the ban was lifted, the Kwakwaka’wakw people fought for decades for the return of their sacred regalia that had ended up in museum and private collections around the world.

The design on the front of the centre is based on ‘Namgis Chief Tlakwudlas’ Big House c 1873 and depicts a Thunderbird and a Killer Whale.