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Diving in Victoria March 22, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Dive Log.
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In November 2007  my mother moved to a nursing home in Victoria BC, and my wife and I had planned to go there in late March for her 90th birthday. She didn’t last that long, passing away in late February 2008. My sister had already booked her passage from Australia, so we decided to have a family get together. One of my brothers lives in Victoria while the other travelled down from the Yukon to be there.

I booked our passage on using the frequent flyer points I’d accumulated on my frequent business travel early in the decade to take us as far as Vancouver. We decided to spent some time touring around there, as it’s a very good place to visit, and splurged to stay at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver in the city’s west end (although we took advantage of the preferential rates they offered to my wife’s firm).

This was the same hotel I stayed with my parents and brothers a little over 41 years earlier when we were immigrating to Ottawa from Sydney Australia. I could recollect nothing familiar about the surroundings except the hilly terrain. My only recollections from 1967 were (1) that the bed in the hotel had a “massage” feature whereby for 25 cents it was supposed to vibrate, but it didn’t work (2) that there was a bowling alley down the hill where I was suprised to find that there were only 5 pins and the balls were half the diameter of the 10-pin bowling I was used to, and (3) that it was the first time I’d ever seen snow falling, although I seen it once on the ground on a visit to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney on a school trip to Jenolan Caves.

Jenolan Caves was the most memorable trip I took when I was in primary school in Australia. It is full of beautiful limestone formations and long tunnels that were very exciting to witness as a small boy. On the first day, we went to a very large naturally lit cave, which had all sorts of side tunnels and we were allowed to run around unsupervised. Today, this would have been considered to be outrageously irresponsible. Some of these tunnels had steep dropoffs that we would peer over with the only illumination provided my our small torches (what we used to call a flashlight). I bet it is all closed off today.

We visited the art gallery in Vancouver, and spent a  great deal of time with the Alfred Steiglitz photography exhibition, which focused on the Pictorialist movement as a member of the Brotherhood of the Linked Ring and his leadership of the Photo-Secession but also contrasted his work with Group f/64 which rebelled against the Pictorialists and included Ansel Adams in its ranks. There was also a great deal of attention paid to Emily Carr’s work, which I enjoyed but I wouldn’t call myself an avid fan of her work.

I had to visit the Vancouver Maritime Museum, whose Executive Director is James Delgado of Sea Hunters fame. To get there, we walked south on one of the main streets in the West End, and took the water taxi to the museum. I thought that was an auspicious way to get there. We spent several hours in the museum, although my favourite exhibit was a complete RCMP patrol boat right at the front. The cramped conditions of these vessels always amazes me, and makes me realise how easy most of us have it.

After our fill of Vancouver, we boarded a bus not far from the hotel which took us all the way to downtown Victoria, where we checked into another Fairmont hotel, the Empress, which is probably my favourite hotel in Canada.

—to be continued.

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