In any city anywhere, electrical cabinets on the street are fairly common. They house electrical transformers for the various low voltage loads, they contain the control equipment for traffic signals, and they are used for a wide variety of other needs.
They are so much a part of street scenery that most people don't notice them, and most of the time they really aren't that worthy of notice: they are simply street clutter, and that is it.
In Victoria, this is not necessarily the case. Here, the various electrical cabinets have been decorated as unique and one of a kind works of art. Some of them are somewhat humorous, some of them are clever, and others of them are fairly standard and expected art.
Any of these are better than the standard plain old metal enclosures seen in all the other cities in the world, and some of these are worth noticing and looking at a second time to see their detail or humor.
Living on the West Coast of Canada makes seafood a frequently available ingredient in many recipes and meals.
Our local chefs always find original and creative ways to make the most of our bounty.
The following is an original recipe by Chef Nathan of "Capers" food market that makes a great appetizer...especially for friends and family when they come to visit:
One-Pot Prawn Bisque
1 kg BC spot prawns, heads and shells on
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp brandy
1 cup white onion, finely sliced
1 cup carrot, finely sliced
1 white of leek, washed & finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
100g. unsalted butter
4 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup cream
500 ml fish or chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp white peppercorns
2 cups fennel, thinly sliced
3 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
Put a soup pot over high heat, add the olive oil and then the prawns. Sauté at high heat for 2 minutes, add the brandy and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove the prawns to cool and set aside the pot (don't wash it!).
When the prawns are cool enough to handle, remove the shells and heads and reserve.
Return the pot to low heat, add the butter and sweat the onion, carrot, leek and garlic. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, white wine, cream, stock, peppercorns and the prawn heads and shells. Bring to a boil and then simmer gently for 30 minutes.
Using a fine strainer, strain the broth into a bowl, and then return to the pot. Return again to the stove, add salt to taste, then the fennel and parsley. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer for 5 minutes.
Divide the cooked prawns in serving bowls then top with bisque. Serves 4 as an appetizer.
You may notice when you are here in Victoria, just how clean the streets appear. You might not really think about it, but once you start noticing the horses pulling buggies and wagons, it may strike you as interesting that there is no poop on the roads. Well, someone's come up with a very smart idea here, hang a bag beneath the butt and catch whatever may be produced. Easy clean-up, no mess. Now someone needs to come up with a similar thing for dogs.
Victoria is world renowned as the City of Gardens.
With the mildest climate in Canada, Victoria and its gardens are in bloom year-round.
From the perfectly-groomed grounds of The Butchart Gardens and the city's signature flower baskets that grace downtown lamp posts to nearly every city park and neighbourhood, it is evident that Victorians are passionate about gardening.
Every February, while most Canadians are still shovelling snow and relying on heaters to keep warm, Victorians are counting flowers!
The Annual Flower Count encourages residents and visitors to report the number of blossoms in their flowerbeds or on their neighbourhood trees. The grand total is celebrated as a farewell to winter and as a welcome to an early spring.
While every year is a little different, Victoria's gardens tend to follow the same annual pattern over the long growing season.
In early spring, millions of daffodils bloom through March and April, followed by tulips in May.
Rhododendrons also begin to bloom in April and May also sees lilacs and flowering cherry and dogwood trees burst into flower.
Roses of all types are at their peak in June. In midsummer, gardens are bright with perennials and annuals.
Late summer and early fall see colourful hydrangeas, begonias, gladiolas, dahlias and chrysanthemums paint the landscape.
It's never going to win any awards for culinary excellence but late at night and/or when you're (almost) broke it is cheap calories.
Victoria has several $1 a slice pizza places - there are two Second Slice places (one on Douglas between Yates and Johnson, one on Douglas between Pandora and Fisgard), there is Maleka's (I think that's what it's called) up near the Odeon theatre on Yates (in the shopping alley that goes between Yates and Johnson) but my favourite is Zano's which is on the other side of Douglas (opposite side from The Bay Centre) between Johnson and Pandora. Their pizza tastes better, is a cent cheaper and they have a pizza slice card so that once you've had 12 slices the next is free.
You'll see a real cross-section of people getting pizza from these places - from street kids to families to business people.
Dallas road is a favorite place for most people from Victoria. It's not far outside of downtown and if you arrived to VIctoria via Cruise then you arrived on Dallas road. It's so beautiful and you can walk along the path for hours. A few highlights are the breakwater, Odgen Pointe Cafe and Cattle point. Get ready for some people watching and enjoy! Don't miss this great part of VIctoria.
I didn't know where else to put this tip so I decided to put it here. The Lion's Society of British Columbia has come up with rather a neat fundraising campaign for the year.
They created several life-sized killer whale calves from fiberglass and then distributed them to local artists to decorate as they see fit. The orcas are placed throughout downtown Victoria (and are apparently in Vancouver too). At the end of the year they'll be auctioned with the proceeds going to charity.
I find the orcas quite a lovely example of public art and they are just so touchable. Everyone goes up and pats them or hugs them. I'm sure folks will love to have their pictures taken with them. Supposedly a map of their location is supposed to be coming and will be distributed to tourists.
Butchart Gardens in Victoria is a 'Must See' activity. There is an amazing abundance of flowers, trees and views to please one's senses! This photo only depicts a small part of this private exposition.
The Victoria area seemed to be very dog friendly. Wherever there's a water fountain, there's a shiny, clean metal bowl filled with fresh water. Thought it was a great! and I bet the pooches did too.
Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia, the only Canadian province on the Pacific coast. For this reason, the BC Parliament Building is located here. The Parliament Building is where the BC Premier and the legislative assembly come to meet throughout the year.
Photo: Tourists wandering around Victoria's Inner Harbour with the BC Parliament Building in the background. Photo taken in July 2002 by me!
Contrary to popular belief, Victoria is located on Vancouver Island, (not Victoria Island). Victoria Island is an island located in the Canadian arctic. Brrrrr!
Photo: The Empress Hotel on the Inner Harbour. Photo taken during a cloudy July afternoon in 2002, by me!
What is it was sea ports, that seagulls are waiting for me?
Greetings from Halifax.
How's this for a good idea - they've painted otherwise useless boxes with maps of the city. Maybe this is common, but I haven't seen it anywhere else and I think it's a great plan.
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