Social Encore: British Columbia in a day
When you think of Canada, you probably think of big cities like Vancouver or Toronto. However, if you gave me one day to explore, I’d pick British Columbia and make an adventure out of it.
British Columbia is located around the southern tip of Vancouver Island. Victoria is the capital city, and many of the locals there are more than willing to share some interesting facts about their city. Lots of residents commute by mass transit or bicycle, and there is no highway — only an interstate.
The local government also gives residents incentives when it comes to transportation. If they trade in their old cars, residents receive $600 towards a pedal bike.
One of the more interesting facts I learned is that many people who live in Victoria are retired. If you saw this place, you would want to retire here, too!
Victoria is known for its ocean views and gardens. There are several parks and gardens that you could explore. One of the parks right in the city that is family friendly is Beacon Hill Park. They have a childrens farm that allows people to pet animals such as goats, pigs and donkeys. Admission is affordable; $3.50 for adults and $2.50 for kids. You could picnic on the grounds and let your kids run freely.
One of the best gardens in Victoria are the Butchart Gardens. These gardens are breathtaking and have been there for more than 100 years; this place is both a show garden as well as a historic site. The gardens were started in 1904 by Jennie Butchart, wife of pioneer cement industry mogul Robert Pim Butchart. The couple bought a quarry and used all of the limestone deposits they found.
Mrs. Butchart wanted to create something beautiful, so she started gardens all over the property. Mr. Butchart joined in on the fun and started bringing ornamental birds from around the world. The garden was eventually passed down to their grandson, Ian Ross, who transformed it into a gathering place and helped make it famous.
As you walk through the gardens, you are in awe at how beautiful the grounds have been kept. Hearing the history of how each family owner has put in effort to preserve and keep the gardens within the family reaffirms traditions still exist.
As you walk towards Victoria’s government buildings, you’ll be able to glimpse and see Victoria Pier. During the summer, there is a daily night market that features local business owners. I was able to meet Paul and Kelly DeRocco, owners of Fudge In A Round. They create specialty fudges conveniently stored in containers, allowing you to slowly eat the fudge whenever you want — or all at once.
I was able to taste the blueberry cheesecake (where proceeds went to help fight cancer) and salted chocolate. The owners said even though they aren’t the healthiest, they are the happiest dessert around Canada. They were right; the fudge sure made my tummy happy!
Just like any great downtown area, there are street artists in Victoria. One who caught my eye was a musician by the name of Derek Book. A social worker by day, he performs at night for fun. The interesting part of his performance is his choice of instruments; he created a wooden xylophone from what used to be a table. His voice accompanying the tunes makes his performances worth watching.
Victoria also has the oldest Chinatown in North America, and the best noodles in town have to be those served up at the Fan Tan Café Noodle Bar. Located on Fisgard St., they really do live up to the hype. I ordered one of their specials, chow mein with sweet-sour pork. Their noodles weren’t oily like typical Chinese food, yet they were packed with flavor and meat.
“Carpe Diem” means seize the day, and I definitely did that while I was in Victoria. Even though I only spent a short amount of time there, I made sure to make the best of the time I had by talking to the locals and discovering what makes that place so special.