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August 2016

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Even as my brother and his SO wound their weary way back across a continent and an ocean to the United Kingdom (currently enjoying – by all accounts – much the same sweltering incalescence as are we here in Victoria) I thought I might have one last rummage through the picture box to see what further delights I might be able to muster, with a view to weaving a final gentle evocation of these few weeks past.

In other words – here are some more photos!

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid20160813_172344_002Photo by Andy Dawson Reid


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Photo by Andy Dawson ReidFor three hours on Saturday night last Canada was ‘closed’. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s (CBC) wall to wall coverage of the Rio Olympics was put on hold and there would even have been (had the hockey season yet commenced) a brief hiatus from the nation’s abiding passion.

Much of the country instead settled in (or partied out) to watch the live streaming from Kingston, Ontario of the final ever concert by ‘The Tragically Hip‘.

Canadian readers will require no further explanation and can skip blithely ahead. For many of them ‘The Hip’ have provided an iconic soundtrack to Canadian life for the last three decades and more, capturing the essence of Canadiana to a degree matched by no other. The band is – however – largely unrecognised without these shores and, though they have achieved some recognition in the UK and elsewhere, the Americans don’t seem to get them at all. This naturally endears them all the more to the inhabitants of these fair lands.

Non-Canadians might yet wonder why – in the age of the endless resurrection of their careers by those old enough to know better – quite so much fuss has been made of ‘The Hip’s’ farewell. The answer is tragically simple. Lead singer, lyricist and poet, Gord Downie, has an incurable brain tumour. To suggest that the occasion of the final concert was emotionally charged would be an understatement.

Prime Minister Trudeau (apparently a huge fan) was in the audience and Downie took the opportunity to publicly hold his feet to the fire concerning election promises, particularly with regard to the matter of the treatment of the First Nations. It is most likely that the many fans of the band will use this exhortation to endeavour to ensure that there is no backsliding on the part of the Liberal government.

We attended a splendid ‘Hip Party’ hosted by our dearest friends in Saanichton, complete with big screen and sound system in the garden so that no-one would miss the show. We cheered – we sang – we danced – we shed many a tear… The moment – and the occasion – was duly celebrated.

I am, of course, a newcomer – both to this fair land and to ‘The Hip’. The making of a myth – however – is easily recognised by those for whom such rites are an essential part of our existence in this realm.

I am one such.

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“…because no great story ever started with someone eating a salad!”


There are those – and I very much count myself amongst their number – who hold that chief amongst the many attractions of the Okanagan valley is its burgeoning viticultural industry. Certainly – to my mind at least – no sojourn there is complete without taking the time to visit a winery or two (or more!) for a tasting.

Though wines have been made in the region since the 1850s the current boom dates back only to the 1980s when the provincial government – in the face of competition from the Californian wine trade triggered by the North American Free Trade Agreement – started to offer grants to landowners to plant vitus vinifera. There are now more than two hundred wineries along the Okanagan valley and the industry is booming.

Though the wineries are small and their produce often not available outside the province – let alone outside Canada – the quality of the wines is astonishing and they have garnered an ever growing number of awards both in the Americas and internationally. Some of my favourite wines come from the aptly named ‘Golden Mile’ between Oliver and Osoyoos.

Here be some pictures from our recent visit:

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

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I know not whether it was because neither of my parents could drive a car – with the result that the very great majority of our travel during my childhood and adolescent years took place upon the railways – or because my brother and I experienced during our first decade the last gasp of steam traction on what was at that time British Rail… but both he and I have a considerable fondness for the beauty and power of the steam locomotive.

In a way my first introduction to Canada came through the railway magazines that my father collected from his early life right up until he passed away. I gazed in awe at the black and white photographs of enormous North American steam engines hauling trains of apparently endless length through the staggering Rocky Mountains. I recall also being astonished that there could be a place on this earth called ‘Hope’ – and when it came to spiral tunnels and avalanche sheds… my eyes bulged and my jaw dropped in disbelief! Could I ever hope(!) to see such wonders?

Well here I am – of course – and the opportunity during our trip to the interior to visit the Kettle Valley Steam Railway – all that remains of the Kettle Valley Railway – was too good to pass up. Images by means of the usual agency…

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

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A day with my brother in Wells Gray Provincial Park.

The park was created in 1939 by – and subsequently named for – Arthur Wellesley Gray, the then BC Minister of Lands. Gray’s nickname – ‘Wells’ – was adopted as part of the name.

The park contains many impressive waterfalls, including the Helmcken Falls, Dawson Falls and Spahats Falls.

Herewith some snaps. My apologies should you encounter any problems accessing them. I did not really bring with me all of the equipment required to guarantee the successful uploading of everything that I captured.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

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DSCF6875Up at crack of dawn (well – almost) to catch the 8:00am ferry to Tsawassen. We are off once again on our travels.

There is this time – however – a difference in that we have with us a visitor – a relative stranger to these shores. My brother has come from the UK to stay with us.

This is not his first visit to Vancouver Island – he was here in 2010 for our wedding – but this is his first trip since we moved here last year and he is indeed the first guest from the UK to stay in our new home. The first of many we hope.

I have not to this point mentioned his visit through the agency of these jottings for good reason… I was sworn to secrecy! My brother has just turned sixty and his two really rather splendid sons (and his eldest’s excellent wife) arranged this trip for him as a birthday surprise. Kudos, chaps!

Anyway – we are off to the interior for a short break. No details as yet as some of that, too, is intended as a surprise.

What fun!

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183311Well – the good ship Dignity finally hit the waters again the other evening as our dear friend from Saanichton helped me to take her for a brief early evening sea trial to ensure that all of the bits and pieces were in full working order.

She had been sitting on her trailer for a good long time and was somewhat reluctant to part company with it. Those who know about such things will attest that the procedure for putting a boat into the water at the boat launch (once in position and having carried out all the ‘pre-flight’ checks, including freeing the vessel from its carrier) is to back the trailer sharply into the water and then to brake hard. At that point the momentum of the boat is meant to carry it gracefully off the trailer rollers and into the water.

In this instance Dignity – not having dismounted for a considerable period – took three attempts. I have no doubt that as she and I become more accustomed to the procedure the operation will prove easier to effect.

She was also a little rusty from not having been run properly for quite a while, and needed to be thoroughly warmed up before going into drive without futtering out (technical term!). Once fully awake – however – she demonstrated that the Penta V8 has more than enough power to get her moving in a serious fashion. She goes onto the plane easily and handles the water well. I am not yet sure what this will do for fuel economy, but I feel inclined in any case to handle her cautiously (as one should a lady!) – at least until I have had a chance to log some statistics.

As a next step I am contemplating finding her a berth in a marina for a month, so that I may spend some serious time gaining as much practical on-board experience as possible.

So much to learn…


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Photo by Andy Dawson ReidI have endeavoured within these jottings over the past four and more years to record at least some information that might be of use to others contemplating relocating from their various loci on the planet – to Canada… and in particular to the Pacific northwest. I have not been alone in doing this, of course, there being plentiful sources of such information on the InterWebNet.

It strikes me that this combined pool of knowledge might find itself increasingly in demand as the uncertain political situation in the UK and in Europe continues to evolve. Should this November’s election south of the border here produce the outcome that all sane men and women must surely be praying could never happen, interest in this idyllic corner of the globe might sky-rocket.

Of course – this ‘public service’ is only a part of the brief that I set myself when inaugurating my own humble ramblings. One of the main reasons for continuing to record our progress, as we departed the English home-counties and commenced the long process of settling in on the coast of British Columbia, is to better inform our loved-ones, our friends and those with whom we have become acquainted over the years on either side of the pond, about the places in which we have been fortunate enough to reside and of the peoples who live there.

Whilst yet in England I tried to give a flavour of life there for those who live in Canada and elsewhere. Now that we are in B.C. I do my best to provide a balanced and compelling – if inevitably partial – descriptive and visual depiction of this beautiful part of the world for all those who have an interest therein.

With this mission in mind I was delighted to find the other day – on the BBC’s fourth TV channel, BBC4 – the first of a two-part documentary by British Museum archaeologist Dr. Jago Cooper, entitled ‘Masters of the Pacific Coast: The Tribes of the American Northwest‘. This exquisitely filmed programme muses upon the extraordinary resilience of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific northwest who have evolved an intricate and sophisticated culture over a 10,000 year period – without ever ‘resorting’ to agriculture!

The programme is fascinating and delightful and offers a good picture of the history of this rugged coast. More information may be gleaned from this review by Marina Vaizey on theartsdesk.com, and the first part of the documentary can be found on the BBC iPlayer – for those who have access to such. The final part will be shown on BBC4 this Thursday – 4th August.

Were the film to do no more than to offer images of the ravishing beauty of this land I would find myself quite choked up thereby. It is, of course, much more that just that as The Arts Desk review attests:

“The programme did with an ease of manner what television in Reithian mode can do so well: deliver a plethora of unfamiliar facts anchored by the amiable charm of a scholarly presenter, made memorable by endless scenes of beautiful wilderness and occasional surprises.”

I firmly recommend catching this documentary before it disappears from the iPlayer.

Erratum – I see that the second part was on today, Wednesday 3rd. Sorry about that. Thank goodness for the iPlayer!

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