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The Qu'wutsun Cultural Center is located in Duncan B.C., just off Highway 1. It presents the story of the First Nations peoples of the Cowichan Valley, both prior to and after their encounter with white-skinned Europeans. The center features a number of beautifully crafted wood "totem poles," as well as First Nations interpreters who tell stories of their fascinating culture. There is a well-stocked gift shop, a cafe, and conference facilities as well.
Written Oct 2, 2012
Address: 200 Cowichan Way, Duncan B.C.
Vancouver Island is emerging as a highly respected "terroir" in the florishing world of Canadian wines. (A positive effect of global warming, perhaps?) While not as famous as the Okanagan Valley on the other side of British Columbia, the central Cowichan Valley produces some spritely Rieslings and subtle Pinot Noirs.
We stopped at the coastal Cherry Point Winery, which takes advantage of the significantly milder climate of the inner Sound region. We were happy to see many acres planted with healthy grapes, and the tasting room facilities are very tasty and expeditious. Lunch on the patio was a lovely highlight of our oenological adventures.
Written Oct 1, 2012
Address: 840 Cherry Point Rd., Cobble Hill BC
The Cowichan Valley is a special agricultural zone which enjoys fertile soil, ample rains - and a good dose of sunshine. It's become an important center for wineries, as well as the expansive Merridale Cidery and Apple Orchards. Merridale is a pleasant place to spend an hour or two learning about the cultivation of apples on Vancouver Island - and they also have a very pleasant restaurant that features fruit from their own vines, wines from nearby vines, and also tasty local specialities.
Written Oct 1, 2012
Address: 1230 Merridale Rd., Cobble Hill B.C.
Cathedral Grove is the name given to a beautifully preserved stand of centuries-old Douglas Fir - a remarkable survival on an island which was nearly clear-cut following the first waves of Europeans to spread over Vancouver Island in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The Grove is located in MacMillan Provincial Park, on Provincial Route 4, one of the very few cross-island routes. The road, known as the Alberni Highway, links Tofino and Nanaimo.
Written Sep 30, 2012
Naturally I think coming to Vancouver Island is a good idea Cathy. Like anywhere else, good weather is never a guarantee but October is usually good. Particularly if we have what is called an "Indian Summer" and there is lots of sunshine. The leaves are a magnificent color.
Not sure what comes first Vancouver or VI but if Vancouver is first, I would take the ferry from Tsasswassen to Victoria and spend a day and night there. The inner harbor is a fun place to visit and Victoria is a pretty city and not too big. Then, if you are driving, you can make your way up the Island with stops in Chemainus (a quaint little town). Nanaimo, Qualicum Beach, coming west past Cameron Lake to the west coast. I am sure you would like Tofino and the wild west coast. All of that should be a gorgeous drive in October. Sorry we can't offer any wildlife. There is more but this is a brief outline.
Claus is right that Salt Spring Island is a nice place to visit but that would take one day away from the two days or so you allocate. On Salt Spring there are many potters, painters and other crafts people if that is your area of interest.
Updated Aug 8, 2012
Address: Vancouver Island Tourism.
This national park lies along part of the west coast of Vancouver Island. It consists of three distinct parts. The Long Beach Unit is easily the most accessible and the only one we visited. It lies between the villages of Ucluelet and Tofino, and is named after the 16 km sandy beach of Wickaninnish Bay. The other units are the Broken Group Islands Unit (an archipelago of more than one hundred islands and rocks scattered throughout Barkley Sound and accessible only by boat) and the West Coast Trail Unit (a 75 km backpacking route).
Within the Long Beach Unit are a number of trails of different lengths. We did one of the shorter ones, the Spruce Fringe Trail. This led us through the Sitka spruce forest to Wickaninnish Bay, where we enjoyed the many great photo opportunities and peering into the tidepools. I've included more info aboutt he various walking trails on my Tofino page.
Daily entry to the park was $6.90 (Canadian) for adults, $3.95 for children. The ticket we purchased allowed us 24 hours in the park so after visiting one afternoon we returned the next morning to get our money’s worth!
Updated Aug 1, 2011
This was an experience to rival the whale watching trip in Tofino as “best bit of the holiday” – in fact on reflection this one maybe just takes the prize! We both love flying but had never had the chance to go up in a float plane before, so when we saw this tour on offer we couldn’t resist. We were lucky enough to be the only passengers, and the whole flight was amazing! Firstly, taking off from water rather than a runway was of course new for us. Then, the views as we flew out over Clayoquot Sound were fantastic – deserted coves, unspoiled wooded hills and here and there a picturesque home tucked away on a private bay. Further out we came to the real highlight, viewing some of the grey whales from above, including this mother and calf. Far too soon the 20 minute flight was over and we headed back to Tofino for the final treat, the touch-down on the sea. A truly memorable experience!
Our tour cost $65 (Canadian) per person back in 2002, but I haven’t been able to find out what they charge now. Whatever it is, if you can afford it it’s worth it!
There are more photos in my Tofino travelogue if you’re interested.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Phone: 250 725 4454
Few places compare to the rugged beauty of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Its spiritual setting truly must be experienced to be understood. Pacific Rim Park encompasses both the Pacific coast’s marine and forest environments. Stretching over 130 kilometres, this park consists of three areas: Long Beach, the Broken Group Islands and the West Coast Trail.
The beaches stretch 7 miles (11 km), between the villages of Ucluelet and Tofino. There is no entrance gate to the Long Beach unit. Parking charges are levied when using the park. The best tactic is to purchase a day ticket from the machines to avoid being caught on a overtime hiking excursion. The day ticket may be used throughout the unit.
is the most accessible and developed of the three areas and is open year round. This wide, sandy beach stretches for miles and lures beachcombers to its misty end. Waves challenge surfers and kayakers and, in March, more than 20,000 gray whales migrate north to summer feeding grounds. Nine short hiking trails offer variety to hikers and the Green Point campground provides drive-in, walk-in, forest and beach campsites.
Broken Group Islands
are a 100-island archipelago nestled in Barkley Sound. Accessible only by boat, the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations people have lived among these islands for centuries. Boaters and kayakers encounter eagles, sea lions and other marine life and campers can pitch their tents in eight designated locations.
West Coast Trail
stretches for 75 kilometres, between Port Renfrew and Bamfield, along southern Vancouver Island’s dramatic west coast. Due to the number of shipwrecks that once occurred along the rocky shoreline, this area was known as the Graveyard of the Pacific. In the early 1900’s, a lifesaving trail for shipwrecked mariners was created. By the 1960’s, adventurous hikers began using the deserted trail. Today, the trail is only for the prepared backpacker. Only 52 hikers are allowed per day and all users must obtain a Park Use Permit.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Extending some 55 km (33 miles) from the west side of downtown Victoria into the forested hillsides, and passing a number of regional parks and attractions, the Galloping Goose trail is far better to explore by bicycle than on foot. Otherwise, it would be very difficult to travel the fairly extensive distance from one end of the trail to the other.
The Victoria section of the trail has some sections of it that are nice, but other sections that are quite mundane, and even unattractive. See my Galloping Goose Trail Tip in my Victoria Tips.
From the northern edge of downtown Victoria until the trail leaves the urban area, it parallels busy and noisy Canada Highway 1.
Other than this, I have not explored the trail, and will best leave a more detailed exploration to a later date.
The trail was constructed on the old Canadian National right of way, which was made available for trail use when the CN decided to exit the railway business on Vancouver Island. The name of the trail is based on a nickname frequently applied to an early form of railway motor coach that was used to transport people and light baggage without the expensive of a locomotive hauled train.
Updated Feb 17, 2011
55 Acres of Garden, I was in my element!
A gardeners delight and lot of pleasure even if you aren't a gardener.
It was June when I was here, and there were quite a lot of flowers in bloom. Of course, as Summer progressed, then the gardens would be at there best.
I have seen photo's of them in all season's, and believe they are worth visiting at any time. If you are keen to see certain plants in bloom, then check out the website.
I loved these gardens, they were so pretty, and so cleverly landscaped, very pleasant on the eyes! It really is a very pleasant spot to have a meal or perhaps that morning or afternoon tea at one of the Cafe's.
Leave plenty of time to wander around, and plenty of memory card for all of those photo's, how I wish I had a digital camera at the time.
The gardens are open every day of the year at 9 a.m. except for Christmas day when we open at 1 p.m.
It would be best to check the website for times, they open at 9am, all year round, but close at different times throughout the year.
The same goes for admission prices, these vary too, so check the website.
June 2010/2011 is $27 Adults.
PEAK SEASON IS .....July and August, When it is very busy prior to 3:00 pm.
Updated Aug 23, 2010
Address: 800 Benvenuto Ave. Brentwood Bay