First PagePrevious PageBack to overview

Day 17 & 18 Vancouver Island

I must say I was get home mode by now, we had a week of getting up early, being rained on and seeing lots of fir trees (my quote of the holiday “hundreds of photos were spoilt by a fir tree being in the way”), Terri was a little more enthusiastic.

Saturday morning 8:30 pickup for Vancouver Island and it was raining. The coach took us a short tour of Vancouver, before catching the ferry to Vancouver Island, a trip of 1.5 hours. The ferry journey is typical fast food and finding a seat. There is no bar on board.

Butchart Gardens

Our arrival at the island was greeted by sun, well it was a bright thing in the sky. The first (well in our case the only stop) of the journey was to the Butchart gardens.

Butchart Gardens


Robert Pim Butchart (1856–1943) began manufacturing Portland cement in 1888 near his birthplace of Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada. He and his wife Jennie Butchart (1866–1950) came to the west coast of Canada because of rich limestone deposits necessary for cement production.

In 1904, they established their home near his quarry on Tod Inlet at the base of the Saanich Peninsula on Vancouver Island. [1]

In 1907, 65 year old garden designer Isaburo Kishida of Yokohama came to Victoria, at the request of his son, to build a tea garden for Esquimalt Gorge Park. This garden was wildly popular and a place to be seen. Several prominent citizens, Jennie Butchart among them, commissioned Japanese gardens from Kishida for their estates. He returned to Japan in 1912.

In 1909, when the limestone quarry was exhausted, Jennie set about turning it into the Sunken Garden, which was completed in 1921. They named their home “Benvenuto” (“welcome” in Italian), and began to receive visitors to their gardens. In 1926, they replaced their tennis courts with an Italian garden and in 1929 they replaced their kitchen vegetable garden with a large rose garden to the design of Butler Sturtevant of Seattle. Samuel Maclure, who was consultant to the Butchart gardens, reflected the aesthetic of the English Arts and Crafts Movement.

In 1939, the Butcharts gave the Gardens to their grandson Ian Ross (1918–1997) on his 21st birthday. Ross was involved in the operation and promotion of the gardens until his death 58 years later.

In 1953, miles of underground wiring was laid to provide night illumination, to mark the 50th anniversary of The Gardens. In 1964, the ever-changing Ross Fountain was installed in the lower reservoir to celebrate the 60th anniversary. In 1994, the Canadian Heraldic Authority granted a coat of arms to the Butchart Gardens. In 2004, two 30-foot (9.1 m) totem poles were installed to mark the 100th anniversary, and The Gardens was designated as a national historic site.

Ownership of The Gardens remains within the Butchart family; the owner and managing director since 2001 is the Butchart's great-granddaughter Robin-Lee Clarke.

We were a little over enthusiastic about these gardens, certainly they were beautiful and well worth a longer trip round (we had two hours), but for us after two weeks in the Rockies, it was the first colour we had seen. We have had two weeks of greys, browns, white, a little blue and fir trees!


The coach drop us off at the Empress Hotel, not bad really. Terri had emailed ahead asking for the price of an upgrade to a harbour view. We plodded into reception and was told we were to book in on the second floor in “Gold” class, shall I repeat that? We were allocated a suite, not a room, but a suite, with of cause a harbour view. The floor was separated from the plebs and we even had our own lounge with free drinks etc. and a continental breakfast in the morning. This was all included in our basic fare, we had totalled enough Fairmont stays to get the upgrade.

Fairmont empress Hotel
Britsih Columbia Parliament Building, Victoria


Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia, Canada and is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island off Canada's Pacific coast. The city has a population of about 78,000 within the metropolitan area of Greater Victoria, which has a population of about 330,000.

Victoria is about 100 kilometres (62 miles) from BC's largest city of Vancouver on the mainland. The city is about 100 kilometres (62 miles) from Seattle by airplane or ferry, and 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Port Angeles, Washington by ferry across the Juan de Fuca Strait.

Named after Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and the Dominion of Canada, Victoria is one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest, with British settlement beginning in 1841. The city has retained a large number of its historic buildings, in particular its two most famous landmarks, the British Columbia Parliament Buildings (finished in 1897 and home of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia) and the Empress hotel (opened in 1908). The city's Chinatown is the second oldest in North America after San Francisco's. The region's Coast Salish First Nations peoples established communities in the area long before non-native settlement, possibly several thousand years earlier, which had large populations at the time of European exploration. Victoria, like many Vancouver Island communities, continues to have a sizable First Nations presence, composed of peoples from all over Vancouver Island and beyond.

Nicknamed the “City of Gardens,” Victoria is an attractive city and a popular tourism destination. The city is popular with students, who come to attend the University of Victoria, Camosun College, Royal Roads University, and other institutes; Victoria is also popular with retirees, who come to enjoy the temperate and usually snow-free climate of the area as well as the relaxed pace of the city.

If you are thinking of moving to Vancouver, and it is a place to live have a look at Canada house prices

Day 18 Home

Water taxis coming into harbour for their water dance

It was a real pity we had only one night of luxury, but it was Sunday and time to go home. After a lay in and breakfast we spent a couple of hours walking round Victoria in the sunshine, there was a series of bycycle races around the town centre and the water taxis doing a water dance to the Blue Danube waltz.

We returned to the hotel for our cases, back to reality, after checking out we lugged our cases past the front of the hotel, then past the side entrance to the bus station. The bus trip including the ferry is the only practical means of getting from Vancouver island to the airport, there are float planes with very limited luggage allowance that will take you into Vancouver, but then you still need to get to the airport.

We arrived at the airport in plenty of time, very easy check-in, 3 hours wait and then a 13.5 hours flight home, arriving at 5:30 a.m. in Auckland. That's it home.

I get to choose the next holiday, Canada was Terri's idea, it will be somewhere warm for diving and a shortish flight, Samoa sounds good.

Vancouver Island was the highlight of the holiday

Whilst in Canada, two news items dominated the headlines, the wildfires in Slave Lake Slave Lake Fires and the flooding in Manitoba Manitoba Floods

First PagePrevious PageBack to overview

terris_travelogue/canada/q_vancouver_island.txt · Last modified: 2011/06/03 14:55 by art
CC Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International Valid CSS Driven by DokuWiki do yourself a favour and use a real browser - get firefox!! Recent changes RSS feed Valid XHTML 1.0