Daymaker - a person who performs acts of kindness with the intention of making the world a better place.
~ David Wagner
, author of Life as a Daymaker; how to change the world by making someone's day ~

DayMaker - any thought, word, or deed that spreads happiness, compassion, or fruitful ideas.
~ Annis Cassells ~

Monday, December 2, 2013

V is for Vancouver Island

As the ferry came into the harbor at Victoria, BC, Canada, the ornate government buildings stood tall on the shore. Sylvia, Trudy, Judy, and I were about to land on the soil of Vancouver Island, our next big motorcycle adventure.

Parliament Building

 From Port Angeles, Washington, we boarded the ferry that would take us 90 minutes across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to our destination. Our motorcycles tucked in and safely tied down below, we sat out on the upper deck this September 2000 day and visited with other ferry riders.

We checked in at Hannah’s House, a cozy and homey private hostel in a residential neighborhood. Hannah’s was a better choice for us than the huge hostel in downtown Victoria.  It seemed that we and our bikes would be safe.

Google Image
First up on our sight-seeing agenda was the legendary Butchart Gardens. None of the brochures we’d seen did justice to this gorgeous, world-renowned floral garden. Originally, the family-owned operation had been a limestone quarry. But, when the limestone gave out, Mrs. Butchart decided to transform the grounds into something beautiful. She sure did! 

Leaving Buchart Gardens and on our way to other sites, we met with stretches of gravel roads. Judy navigated us through using a “map” drawn in a tourism brochure. Not the most accurate or drawn to scale, it did give us a rough idea and eventually got us to Mile 0, Victoria BC.

We covered the entire island, from Mile 0 to the northern tip at Port Hardy and back. Along the way, we stayed in a tree house at the hostel on Salt Spring Island. 
It was a one-room affair, that accommodated all four of us, and had a tree growing right through the center. At this hostel, we were introduced to the "environmental toilet."  The hostel directors informed us that minimal toilet paper and a scoop of peat moss needed to  go in before closing the lid.
After a night in the treehouse, where the house boards creaked and moaned in the wind, we spent the day in the village of Ganges at the Saturday Market. Lots of arts and crafts and the best doggone ginger cookies you'll ever taste. They were the size of salad plates; a big slab of crystallized ginger adorned the tops.

Several other highlights enriched the Salt Spring Island Saturday Market experience. A group in full Scottish regalia played the bagpipes. And, a flashy vocal group called the “Raging Grannies” roused and informed us with their songs protesting clear-cutting and genetically engineered foods.

At Port McNeil we caught the ferry to Alert Bay and our oceanview hostel. Originally, it had been the Alert Bay United Church but was converted into a hostel in 1991.

Alert Bay is the home of the 'Ngamis - First Nation. We started our full day there with a visit to U'mista Cultural Center, where we saw a video on the history of the village and the persecution of the Native People by the Provincial Government. 
U'mista Cultural Center at Alert Bay
 Potlaches, which included dancing, feasts, and gift-bestowing, were outlawed by the Indian Act of 1884. When the people refused to stop these events, the government arrested them and confiscated their most precious artifacts, masks, ceremonial dress, carvings, and coppers. Deemed these "potlach paraphernalia," the items were sent to various museums. They were finally returned to the people in the early 1980's on the condition that a museum would be built to house them. The community got together and built U'mista, which means "coming home.”

Not allowed to enter the century-old ‘Ngamis burial grounds, we viewed it from a main street in the village. Memorial totem poles depicted family crests and commemorated deceased members of the Kwakwaka’waka.

Big Halibut Man
 Along our route back to Victoria, we stopped in Nanaimo. The second largest city on the east coast of the island, one of its claims to fame is the Nanaimo Bar, a delicious “fridge cake” that comes in many varieties, several of which we had to sample.

Exploring beautiful Vancouver Island made my affinity for Native People even stronger. It was encouraging to see their traditional ways being preserved and passed along to their youth. Vancouver Island is a place that still lingers in my heart.

~ xoA ~


  1. So many wonderful memories in this post. I love the idea of sleeping in a tree house and the giant ginger cookies sound wonderful.
    I'm glad you had a chance to learn about the 'Ngamis and visited the U'mista Cultural Center.
    Victoria Island is one place I'd really like to visit in the future and your post made it more of a priority.

    1. The whole trip stretched me -- new experiences like the treehouse, crazy weather conditions and bad roads while riding, learning about the Native People and the Canadian government. It was wonderful. I highly recommend a trip there, Joan. Thanks for commenting. xoA

  2. I remember reading a little bit about the native people of Vancouver Island awhile ago. I didn't know until now how their cultural artifacts came to be preserved, but I would love to travel there to see everything.

    Great post.

    1. Thanks, Jasmine. It's a wonderful place to experience. xoA

  3. Another place I've heard so much about. My son and a girlfriend created their own "Twilight" tour that hit many of these locales. BTW--how many miles do you have on that bike?