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New Year’s Eve in the Nanaimo Area: What to Do?

Thu, 12/26/2013 - 23:54





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New Year’s Eve is a day that is celebrated around the world, whether this means watching the ball drop in Times Square or escaping to a Vancouver Island resort. It is the day where people everywhere celebrate the year that is coming to an end and the one that is about to begin, all at once. New Year’s Eve is also a holiday that does not discriminate, as anyone from pint-sized kiddos to baby boomers join together in this joyous holiday. If you are opting to leave the comfort of your couch this New Year’s Eve, there are many different destination spots around the world that offer various celebration experiences.

The city of Nanaimo, located on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, is also referred to as “Harbour City” and is one of those spots offering something for everyone. From family-friendly events to fancy cocktail parties for those who are looking to spend a classy evening ringing in 2014, Nanaimo has it all. In addition to the New Year’s Eve offerings in Nanaimo, nearby Victoria is also a hotspot for end of the year celebration. Located roughly one hour from Nanaimo on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, Victoria is the place to be if you are looking for a night full of dancing, fancy cocktails, and themed parties.

We have narrowed down some of the best options for celebrating the end of 2013 and the start of 2014 on Vancouver Island, and you will find more specific information on our top choices below.

Nanaimo NYE Options

Nanaimo has many different offerings as for as New Year’s Eve celebrations goes, but it is perhaps the best option if you are looking for something the whole family can partake in.

Family New Year’s Eve Party

This is the largest (and best!) family New Year’s Eve event in the Nanaimo area. From crafts and face painting to live music, there will be no shortage of activities and entertainment to keep you and the family busy! Other features of the party include swimming, skating, games, an appearance by Auntie Bobbi the Clown, and two countdowns beginning at 8 pm.

  • Location – Beban Park, Nanaimo
  • Time – 5 pm to 10 pm
  • Cost – $10 for adults, free for children 2 yrs and younger, and $24 for a family of four

New Year’s Night Out

One of the fanciest parties of the night is being hosted by the Tigh Na Mara Resort in Parksville, about 30 minutes north of Nanaimo. With a black and white masquerade theme and endless dancing, this is a must for any adults looking for a fun, classy evening.

The event also includes an extravagant buffet, midnight toast, and each guest will be handed a complimentary Venetian mask. The resort is offering packages starting at $332 for one night. For this package, guests will be able to choose which style of room they prefer and will also gain access to the exclusive party.

For more information, check out the resort website here: http://tigh-na-mara.com/specials-promotions/promo-code/new-years-night-out/

 Victoria NYE Options

There are a wide variety of New Year’s Eve celebration offerings in Victoria, most of which are being hosted by various clubs or venues throughout the city. If you are looking for a night away from the kiddos or a memorable evening celebrating with friends and loved ones, this is the place. Take a look at some of our top choices if you are spending New Year’s Eve in Victoria.

Crystal Ballroom New Year’s Eve Dinner and Gala

Located at the Fairmont Empress, this event boasts an impressive buffet dinner, live entertainment, dancing, and a champagne toast for $160. Doors open at 7:30 pm.

The Gatsby New Year’s Eve

Inspired by the parties of the fictional character Jay Gatsby, this extravagant party is being hosted by the Upstairs Cabaret. From over-the-top visuals, costumes, and decorations to a champagne bar, balloon drop, and one-of-a-kind countdown, the $30 early-bird ticket price is a steal.

Enchanted Forest New Year’s Eve

Another stylish option is the mystical-themed enchanted forest party that will be held at Publik. Boasting aerial performers, body painting, live music by Deriek Simon, and a champagne toast, the $15 ticket price seems well worth it.

Whether you are looking for a low key, family-friendly option in the heart of Nanaimo, or a fancier, “adult only” evening spent with beautiful strangers wearing masks, Vancouver Island can meet all your New Year’s Eve needs.

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Amazing Vancouver Island and a clickable link back to this page.

Christmas in Victoria is a Charming Experience for Everyone

Fri, 12/20/2013 - 20:28

If you are deciding to spend Christmas in Victoria this year, you won’t be disappointed. Many of Victoria’s historical buildings are festively decorated during this time of year, and there are also numerous events that are perfect for families, couples, and friends. Victoria has a rich history that offers an old-world charm mixed with traditions that have a more present-day vibe.

There are numerous Victoria events revolving around Christmas, from restaurants offering holiday-themed menus to performances by the Victoria Symphony, a holiday light tour, a carol sing-along, and a jungle experience perfect for families. There are also a handful of restaurants and inns that offer a brunch or dinner on Christmas Day, enabling you to spend the holiday relaxing and enjoying loved ones instead of slaving away in the kitchen!

Victoria’s 125-year-old history makes it one of the most magical places to visit during the holidays, as the city transforms into a cheerily decorated city that welcomes visitors of all ages with open arms. There are many different activities in Victoria that will appeal to families and those just looking to revel in the holiday spirit.

What to Expect when You Get to Victoria 

Tree-lined Government Street in downtown Victoria comes alive with Christmas lights and festive decorations in a way that is sure to bring some holiday cheer to locals and visitors alike. The many historic buildings are lit with different coloured lights, and the famous giant sequoia tree in Centennial Square is definitely a must-see.

Boasting mild winters that may seems some rainfall at the worst, Victoria is a great setting to enjoy Christmas, without the ice and snow. Downtown hosts many different events, including an annual Christmas Tree Light-Up and a Santa Light Parade. 

Festive Events Taking Place throughout the Holiday Season 

There are many different Victoria events during the Christmas season that will keep the holiday spirit alive and inspire vacationers to come back again next year. Take a look at just a few of the most festive and popular events, all of which are appropriate for families as well.

  • Lighted Ship Parade – December 1st at the Inner Harbour

◦     Watch the lighted ships sail by with a cup of complimentary hot cocoa

  • Victoria Carriage Tours - From December 20-23rd

◦     Ogle over the lights and holiday decorations in the comfort of a heated carriage

  • Butchart Gardens Holiday Lights Tour - From December 1st – January 4th

◦     Enjoy one of Victoria’s most famous attractions by motor coach

◦     The gardens used to be a quarry and boasts tens of thousands of coloured lights, wreaths, and more

  • Christmas in the Jungle - From December 7-31st

◦     Enjoy Christmas in the Jungle with the likes of flamingos, tortoises, turtles, ducks, fish, tropical birds, and butterflies

  • Hardtack Holiday Ornaments and Christmas Scavenger Hunt – December 3-24th

◦     Perfect for all ages, this Christmas Craft show is set up in the gallery and is ideal for perusing at your leisure

  • Live Outdoor Nativity Pageant – From December 21-23rd on Topaz Avenue

◦     Enjoy a presentation of the story of Jesus Christ with live animals and a cast of 100+

As you can see, there are many different activities in Victoria over Christmas that can make your holiday vacation even more enjoyable. From the numerous lighted tours to simply taking in all the history Victoria has to offer, there is something for everyone.

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The Culinary Delights of Nature’s Way Farm and Blue Moon Winery

Tue, 12/10/2013 - 08:58

Agricultural tourism is still very popular, and this Vancouver Island attraction doesn’t hold back from offering its farm fresh, organic delights right to your mouth.

This great little spot is only a 5-minute drive from downtown Courtenay, and is very rural, or better put, rustic. That word was earned from years of hard work, keeping locals involved, avoiding GMO’s, and staying in touch with what is real. Owners Marla Limousin and George Ehrler and their staff are contributing a valueable product and lifestyle right in the Comox Valley.

Nature’s Way Farm and Blue Moon Winery offers sensational delights right from the ground. Enjoy organic fruit and vegetables, sample award winning wines, plan a quiet little function, come for a special event, or take a cooking class in the culinary kitchen.

The Natural Way to Become a Farm and a Winery

Comox Valley has all the right conditions for this hands-on, organic place, and the owners of Nature’s Way Farm had the foresight 22 years ago to put down some roots and start a blueberry farm. As it grew, so did the berry patch…and the garden, and the orchard as well. So it was a natural evolution to produce wine from the fruit grown on their farm, and the farms in the surrounding area. It seems that was a fine choice to make, considering the wines have now won many awards. Everything from table wines to dessert wines can be found here.


The orchard and garden are constantly growing and evolving, perhaps to keep up with the discerning taste buds of the locals who are now well aware of all the complex ingredients found in today’s international recipes. On that note, Nature’s Way Farm and Blue Moon Winery can host a small gathering or celebrations for about 20 in the dining area, or for 30 guests out on the patio in nice weather. Corporate meetings won’t be a bore here, as your hosts can accomodate up to 16 people and provide audio/visual equipment. The kitchen allows local caterers in on the action too, if you want that to be part of your special plan.

Get Involved with One or More of Natural Way’s Cooking Classes

Cooking classes are a lovely way to learn and connect with other foodies, and the kitchen at Natural Way’s Farm is primed and ready for anyone who wants to it rent out for groups of 12 maximum. If you are lucky enough to grab a course with chef Gaetane Palardy, then go for it!

Gaetane’s style is mostly reflected from the region of Normandy, but there are other fusions on the menu as well. She is passionate about local food and operates her own culinary tour of Comox Valley, called Island Gourmet Trails. Positions in her classes sell out very quickly, so don’t feel bad if you’re put on the waiting list.

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Take a Walk on the Wild Side in Port Hardy

Tue, 12/03/2013 - 08:37

Welcome to Port Hardy, the very end of Highway 19 and a community exceeding 5,000 on the tip of Vancouver Island. Edging along the Queen Charlotte Strait, the land was first settled by the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation over 8,000 years ago. Today it is a busy tourist spot for its many outdoor adventures, as well as the departure point for the cruise up to Prince Rupert through the Inside Passage.

This part of the Island is grand, breathtaking, and rugged in some parts. If you are feeling brave enough to come, then you are probably pulled towards the idea of fishing and hiking in the deep wilderness. Some make the journey to enjoy the cruise through the fjords of the Inside Passage with BC Ferries. They offer a summer route of the 15 hour cruise during the day, or you can wait until fall through spring for the night crossing.

How to Get the Most out of Your Port Hardy Trek

If you take the voyage, you can see many sea creatures frolic around the little archipelagos that make up the Inside Passage and the scenery constantly changes as you head to Prince Rupert. A good way to save money is by not bringing your car; try using the shuttle service to take you around town for shopping and sightseeing instead. One thing to remember is to make sure you reserve your seat on the ferry, and you have two options of a route to take. The Fall-Winter route is different from the summer one, so you can choose whichever suits your needs.

If you prefer to stay on dry land to hike around, there is a new trail system at Cape Scott Provincial Park called The North Coast Trail. It’s located about an hour and a half west of Port Hardy and well worth the trip to see the landscape. Most who come here take advantage of the incredible camping, and if you do, remember that you are in the wilderness and take the necessary precautions regarding safety. The new trail opened in 2008 and is 46km long, maintained by bridges, boardwalks, and stream crossings. The beaches are a beautiful option to rest and relax before your next leg.

Why Not Reel in some Fish While You’re Here?

Like Campbell River, fishing is hot up here. There are many tours to choose from so if you are new to it, finding a coach and guide should be no problem. Of course, there is the popular fishing trip to Queen Charlotte Strait, but you really have endless opportunities for what you want out of a fishing trip.

Salmon fishing is best April-Sept. around spots like Blackfish Sound. Halibut goes from June-Oct. in favorites such as Richards Channel or Ripple Passage. If you are more interested in fresh water then you can always try for trout fly fishing or steelhead in the several streams and lakes around, but note that you’ll have to access them in fairly remote areas via logging roads.

Other Port Hardy Sightseeing Options

If this is all sounding too wild for you and you just want to chill, there are plenty of cabins or B&B’s to stay at where you can experience nature on your own terms. I am not too chicken to go on a Grizzly bear watch with Tide Rip Grizzly Adventures, just over an hour South of Port Hardy in Telegraph Cove. There you can travel by boat to Knight Inlet, where the owners have staked out the places to see the bears and learn all about their lives; I believe some of them even have names.

The Northern tip of the Island has some amazing terrain, people, wildlife, and camping. This is the best place for nature enthusiasts whether you want to explore on your own or use the ferry to discover the Inside Passage.

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Mount Washington: Vancouver Island’s Top Destination Spot

Fri, 11/29/2013 - 22:16

Mount Washington Alpine Resort is one of the most impressive Vancouver Island attractions, located on the eastern edge of the Island. It is a beautiful destination spot year-round with the closest communities more roughly 3 hours away in the Comox Valley. With magnificent peaks and the Pacific Ocean as backdrops, this resort area should move up on your bucket list, stat.

A coveted place to visit for skiers and snowboarders, Mount Washington receives a staggering 11 metres of annual snow. Known as the home of “Canada’s deepest pile”, the mountain and resort area is privately owned and has seen an impressive growth since its start in 1979. Considered one of the top coastal mountain destination spots, Mount Washington is a must when it comes to Vancouver Island attractions.

Below you will find information on when the ski season begins, the best ways to get there, and a list of accommodations both in the village and in Comox Valley.

Mount Washington Overview

Mount Washington Alpine Resort will open on December 6th this year. The day lifts run from 9 am to 3:30 pm daily, and there are night ski hours on Sundays and Thursday through Friday from 3:30 pm to 9 pm. The mountain offers a dynamic ski and snowboard school for beginners or those looking for a refresher, as well as 2 terrain parks, cross country and Nordic skiing, snow tubing, and snowshoeing, in addition to the trails designed for alpine skiing and riding.

Getting There

There are numerous ways to get to Mount Washington, depending on where you are coming from and what your preferred mode of transportation is.

  • By Land

◦     Mount Washington is located 25 km west of Comox Valley, 50 km south of Campbell River, and 100 km north of Nanaimo

◦     If driving, be sure you have a car well-suited for winter driving conditions, and that you have snow tires or chains

◦     The resort is located on Strathcona Parkway and it is a good idea to check road conditions before beginning your trip (1-800-550-4997)

◦     There are bus transportation services that leave from Victoria, Nanaimo, and Campbell River

  • By Ferry 

◦     There are several Nanaimo ferry terminals that will bring you to Mount Washington from Horseshoe Bay or Tsawwassen, located on the mainland

  • By Air

◦     The Comox Airport (YQQ) and Campbell River Airport (YBL) are the closest airports to the resort and will take roughly 45 minutes to get there once you land


There are numerous accommodation options when visiting Mount Washington. The resort itself can house up to 4,000 guests, and there are many different options right in the village. Additionally, there are many hotels and hostels located approximately 45 minutes from the resort in Comox Valley and Courtenay. From slopeside hotels to A-frame chalets, log homes, townhouses, hotel-style condominiums, and hotels outside of the village, your options for places to stay are endless! Check out the Mount Washington website for deals and more information on accommodations when planning your trip.

Mount Washington is an epic destination spot located on Vancouver Island and is perfect for a family getaway, girl’s weekend, romantic weekend, or any special occasion. From well-maintained downhill trails to options for snowshoers and those looking for a little fun in the snow in the form of tubing, there really is something for everyone!

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Witty’s Lagoon Has Plenty of Natural Splendour

Tue, 11/26/2013 - 08:24

Witty’s Lagoon is a treasured little spot that has been enjoyed by many people over the years. Only about 30 minutes from downtown Victoria, it is certainly worth the drive.

Once you are here at this Vancouver Island attraction, it’s fairly accessable for most ages and fitness levels as it is a 1.1 km hike through a rainforest, a marsh, and the sweeping sandy beach at the end.

How Witty’s Lagoon Got Its Name

The Ka-Kyaakan First Nation tribe was in the area in and around the lagoon fishing, gathering roots, making canoes, and weaving baskets when James Douglas showed up and bought the land in 1850. He divided the land to some of the European settlers and Mr. John Witty was the lucky one to get the land lot that included the lagoon.

The natives continued to live on the land and provided a canoe shuttle service to locals wanting to go across the water to Fort Victoria. Their descendants eventually ended up on the Songhees Reservation in Esquimalt, although remnants of their history there have been since found and have gained the attention of the Royal BC Museum and a couple of BC’s universities. So far there has been 5 sites, 3 shell middens, and 2 fortified sites found, all of them now protected under the Heritage Conservation Act.


The rest of the park is protected as well, having been bought in 1966 by the CRD Parks with the idea to protect the delicate ecosystem that is still flourishing in the park today.

What to Expect from Witty’s Lagoon When You Arrive

Upon entering, you will be greeted by immense Douglas fir trees and Broad Leaf Maples. Depending on when you visit, there may be some wildflowers and other unusual fauna at your feet. Running through the woods is Bilston Creek, which runs itself into a waterfall over some volcanic rocks. it is named Sitting Lady Falls and is especially lively in the Fall-Winter months.

Next you’ll see where fresh water and salt water collide and blend, giving new breeding ground to the tiny creatures that incubate here. The salt marsh is the next layer of the lagoon, and is home to many local and migratory birds like herons, swans, geese, and ducks. But there’s more—there has been about 160 different species of birds spotted here! That’s great news for bird watchers and casual bird observers. One of the more interesting looking birds often seen here is the Belted Kingfisher.

Witty’s Lagoon is Truly Connected to Nature

The tidal zone of the marsh brings shellfish and small fish out, but you can see more when you head to the beach. When the tide is out, there is plenty of room to play and poke around at the oceanic discoveries on the beach, or just gaze at the view of the mountains and breath in the deeply cleansing air.

You can explore the area further along the beach or meander through the meadows looking at Camas Lilies, Buttercups, Wild Roses, and Nodding Onions. Some of the early orchard trees are still lingering around, but by now they would need a giant pruning to bear fruit successfully. There will be no short of special picnic spots to lay down your blanket either.

Witty’s Lagoon started out as a settlement for the North Salish Nation, and since then it is now a cherished tourist spot. Since it is protected, we can enjoy it for many years to come.

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Why You Should Visit Merridale Ciderworks

Tue, 11/19/2013 - 08:13

Located in Cobble Hill just south of Duncan, Merridale Ciderworks is a beautiful establishment in Cowichan Valley’s wine territory. This is an ideal stop if you want to make your wine tour more balanced with the addition of cider and spirits.

I have been to the Ciderworks a few times now, and have always been impressed by their efficiency. I usually grab a couple bottles of the Merri Berri or Scrumpy Cider, and check out their shop; there seems to be something tempting there for me each time, and I can’t help but buy something for myself or pick up a classy gift for someone else.

Merridale Ciderworks’ owners Rick Pipes and Janet Docherty have expanded the orchard since they bought it in 2000. Now it is an artisan cidery, orchard, shop, bistro, bakery, distillery, art gallery, and popular wedding venue all rolled into one.  Rick and Janet are passionate about their products and are greatly involved with a number of local organizations to promote a strong and healthy environment for the community.

There is a high standard found here of growing, producing, feeding, educating, and entertaining the locals and tourists. If you just come to grab a cider, leave some time for a tour, a tasting, some shopping, and dining.

Top-notch Ciders and Apples to Sample

Merridale’s cider has won the title of Best English Style in Canada and you can sample all seven of the wonderful cider types at a tasting and tour. It’s best to phone ahead for one as everyone enjoys it. No chemicals, preservatives, or concentrates are present: just bare, natural fruit. The flavours of all the ciders taste pure, intense, and deep; I can say the same for the three different dessert wines and non-pasteurized spirits and brandies crafted here on the premises.

One of the cider’s key successes is the types of apples grown in the orchard. The varieties chosen are the same as the popular ones grown in Europe’s best ciders. With the soil and climate conditions being similar, it all adds up to a deliciously intoxicating brew.

The practices here on the farm are dedicated to sustainability and are carefully thought out to have a very small impact on the environment. I was very happy to see some attention given to attract as many bees to the farm as possible; these days one cannot have too many bees. There is more info on the inner workings of the farm when you take a tour and you can see how it runs like a well-oiled machine (that is, a low carbon emission machine).

Merridale is a Hotspot for Festivals and Weddings

All summer long, there are a couple of nice additions to Merridale, like Dinners on the Deck by Chef Ian Blom and Sunday Night Pizza with a live local band to liven things up. The Sunday Brunch has also made a comeback, and will be hosted from Oct. 19 to Dec. 22. Merridale is also a part of the Cowichan Valley Wine Festival, and you can save your tasting and tour for this if you want to experience it in a fun and festive setting.

There is also an opportunity to have a ‘worry free wedding’ here if you are planning to get hitched and would like to have it in a bucolic, rustic setting. Amenities like tents, cakes, a gazebo, and access to the Cider House can be great for your special day.

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The Natural Wonders of Strathcona Park Lodge & Training

Tue, 11/12/2013 - 07:22

Strathcona Park Lodge & Training Centre is a natural wonderland for climbers, hikers, campers, kayakers, and students. The Lodge is a self-sufficient haven for those seeking adventure and a beautiful place to unwind and have someone else do all the healthy cooking.

The park itself is the oldest Provincial Park in BC, all 250,000 hectares of it. It was founded in 1911 and most of the area is undeveloped although that doesn’t stop deep wilderness hikers from delving in to camp or take a hike. The main areas popular for camping in the summer is Buttle Lake and Forbidden Plateau.

Strathcona’s Canadian Outdoor Leadership Program

Started in 1959 by schoolteachers Jim and Myrna Boulding, the Lodge was then only operating a summer program. But as it grew in popularity and people like writer and naturalist Roderick Haig-Brown got involved, it wasn’t long before the couple left teaching for good and focused on the developement of the programs for outdoor leadership.

Other influential enviromentalists helped Jim and Myrna with their vision, and it wasn’t long before the Canadian Outdoor Leadership Program (COLT) was born. Now people come from all over to take the course or attend one of the summer programs offered at the Centre. This was such an accomplishment for the founders; they were awarded the Heaslip Award for Environmental Stewardship in 1986.

Strathcona Lodge’s Luxuries

If you’re not interested in attending the educational part of Strathcona and your awareness is already raised, there is the option of just hanging out at the self-sufficient Lodge and going for the all-inclusive package. That way, you don’t have to cook or even plan activities for yourself or anyone else.

There are two restaurants on site and both are health-consious and freshly delicious. Myrna’s is open in the summer and is a menu service to guests and locals. The Whaleroom is a family buffet-style restaurant with set times and is open April to November. The chefs are committed to buying local ingredients and creating nutricious meals.

The activities available for your stay are on a schedule, but you can sign up for all or none, depending on your energy level. There are rope courses, tree climbing, rock wall or climbing, soccer, kayaking, zip lines, and more. The Lodge makes its own power and cleans its own water to make it an eco-friendly place to visit. With a small store, liquor store, boat rental marina, and a barn for seminars and dances, there’s no reason to not visit this place.

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Chemainus Offers Quaint and Theatrical Sights

Thu, 11/07/2013 - 20:07

Like most typical towns on the Island, Chemainus got its start by being home to the Nation of the Coast Salish people. Later, the Europeans showed up and got the industrial side of things going— Chemainus’s sawmill, in the mid-1800s. An iron mine was installed soon after in the early 1900s and by then it seemed like a natural progression to put up a hospital and library.

The town carried on from there and expanded quite happily until the 1980s. The major local lumber mill packed it in and the town was facing a very uncertain future. But, a plan to save the town was put into place: the great idea of creating full-scale art murals featuring the local history that built the foundation of the area. The Coast Salish people’s images were captured in paint, and now broad railway scenes, visual interpretations of the fur trade, and other industries all make up over 40 murals.

There’s Lots to See and Do in Chemainus

You can take a self-guided tour by following the yellow footprints on the sidewalk, or catch one of the tours down at the Waterwheel Park. There, you have some options. One is to go on a trolley car or take a horsedrawn buggy, or do a walkabout with a guide. All three start at the Visitor’s Center near the entrance to the Park.

There is another interesting way to see this quaint little town; if you happen to have a boat, then you can moor at the newly refurbished marina for a short two hour stay or overnight. Once you are there, it’s a very short and pretty walk to the centre of town where you can find an abundance of nice shops and services, done up with attention to character style. I have been here several times and keep discovering new and unique things to admire or buy.

Perched on the edge of the Salish Sea, Chemainus beckons boaters and marine lovers of all kinds. Kin Park is the place you want to be for scuba diving, see Giant Octopus and Wolf Eels slide and shimmy around, and have the opportunity to explore a sunken Boeing 737, which is now serving as an artificial reef.

Visiting Chemainus Theatre is a Must

There are many highlights to the town, but one of the most popular is the Chemainus Theatre. The producers launch live theatre shows regularly, appealing to a wide varity of audiences. There is a consistant balance of comedy, drama, musicals, and now a season called Kidzplay for younger audiences aged 4 to 18.

Dracula will be playing from Oct. 11 to Nov. 9 and it is a great way to get in the mood for the eerie and wonderful season of Halloween, even after the official date is gone. For getting into the festive season, the classic story Its A Wonderful Life will be showing from Nov. 22 to Dec. 23. The next Kidzplay exhibition is The 13 Clocks from the story by James Thurber, on Dec. 27.

Kick-starting the 2014 season for the Theatre will be the feel-good jukebox musical Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story, which is being shown Feb. 11 to March 8. The powerful and critically-acclaimed musical Les Misérables will be the grand opening of the theatre’s summer season; its show times will be from June 20 to Sept. 7. For Kidzplay, Robert Munsch’s stories will be making a comeback in Munsch-ercise, running from July 19 to Aug. 16. These are just a few of the performances next year’s season has to offer.

If you are coming from out of town, the Theatre has combined a Dinner and Hotel package for a buffet-style meal, including salad and dessert. The theatre often pairs a themed play and food idea for the ultimate creativity, like Chekov and Chocolate earlier in March. There is a Brunch buffet for the matinee performances, too.

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The Royal BC Museum is a True Journey through Time

Wed, 11/06/2013 - 20:45

Visiting the Royal BC Museum is a great plan for when the weather is not enjoyable, or for entertaining kids in an educational way for a few hours.

Conveniently located alongside the Inner Harbour in Downtown Victoria, the Royal BC Museum has a few historical features on its property before you even get in the door. One of them is a First Nature Garden, a collection of indigenous plants arranged by their particular zones. There is the Coast Forest, the Dry Interior, and the Alpine. Two other rare beds are zoned to a sand dune and a wetlands with species of creatures you may not see anywhere else. Many of the plants featured were used by First Nations people for healing, eating, and rituals.

Up and Coming Exhibits You Don’t Want to Miss

One of the big draws to the museum is the ever changing exhibits. Until Nov. 11, you can see Tradition in Felicities which is a display of one of the oldest known Chinese Freemason Lanterns. The information that comes along with it is a look at Chinatown’s history in Victoria.

Next year there will be the “We Call Them Vikings” exhibition, a rare and closer look at a culture and civilization not many are familiar with. Rare artifacts representing the Vikings’ domestic life, death rituals, and the significance of their craft, mythology, and symbolism of their ships will be present; some items have never been shown before outside of Scandinavia. The exhibit will be available to the public from May 16 to Nov. 11, 2014.

Treat and Educate Your Mind with these Museum Activities

In addition to the starring exhibits, there are the regular galleries which are always a big hit with visitors. To name a few, there are the Natural History, First Nations, and Modern History galleries which display past fashions, toys, vintage items, media, and other flashbacks to the past. You can tour a replica of the HMS Discovery and walk through the past in the Gold Rush era as well.

The BC Archives is also available for viewing, with a few displays offering viewers a look at the original diaries and documents from VIPs of BC’s early days, along with some photos.

The Imax Theater is a great way to finish up your tour. There is a wide variety of shows going on right now. Until Nov. 11 you can see and experience Antarctic Adventures, or if you are more into warmer places, try Kenya: Animal Kingdom. There is also Flight of the Butterflies with a late 60s, Disney film feel. Also playing is Hidden Universe, set up as a space-based double feature with the film Space Junk; both open on the same day. Most showings run from one to four times a day, so check for your choice’s times.

The Royal BC Museum is a fascinating way to go on a journey through time that has been carefully recreated by the curators with fun and diversity in mind.

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Vancouver Island’s Haunted City

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 23:34

Everyone has heard a ghost story, and many have first hand experiences with the spirit world ranging from brief glimpses to full-on encounters. I find it fascinating and am always up for a good story; the freakier the better.

Next time I’m in Victoria overnight, I plan on going to the Visitor’s Centre on the corner of Wharf and Government Street around 7:15pm; I’ll be looking for a tall, bearded fellow dressed all in black. John Adams is very much alive and has been doing the city’s Ghostly Walks for several years now. He is a local historian, storyteller, and writer and has been seen on OLN’s Creepy Canada and Ghosts and Ghoulies. He is a fountain of paranormal info, so this is a great chance to meet him in his element.

How to Take the Haunted City’s Ghostly Walk

The Ghostly Walks run from October 18th to November 2nd and there has been an addition to the itinerary called Ghostly Walks Extreme, which is appropriately scary and not recommended for children under 16. Reservations are needed for the Extreme tour and you can call to book at 250-384-6698.

Rates for the Ghostly Walks are $14 for adults, $12 for students and seniors, $10 for kids 6-11. The Extreme Tour runs for $22 per person. Group rates are also available; call for the rate on your party size.

The Ghostly Walks will take you to places with a ton of eye-opening history behind them, and once you know a little bit more about Victoria’s shady past, you’ll wonder why the whole place isn’t haunted. There are areas that hold a lot of human trauma, like Bastion Square. The Maritime Museum is the former jail and gallows site, a prime target for paranormal activity. A lot of stuck souls permeate the whole area and one of the reasons why it could be is that there apparently is quite a few bodies of the prisoners still left under the square. Other places to learn about in that immediate surrounding is Trounce Alley and Garrick’s Head Pub.

The Haunted City’s Downtown Hotspots

For those who do not have an evening free for the tour but still want to feel some otherworldly vibes, you can easily find most of the reported hotspots on your own right in the downtown area. I find it extremely difficult to walk past Roger’s Chocolates on Government Street without walking in for one of those huge and delectable pink and white gingham-wrapped handmade chocolates. I’ve never had a bad one yet and I’ve tried flavours that normally I’d never be interested in. Once you are in this Art Nouveau historic building, keep on eye or ear out for the former founders, Leah and Charles Rogers. They still like to run the shop their own way.

The nearby Old Morris Tobacconist Shop is in a beautiful period building as well. There have been reports of footsteps from the second floor when the room was empty and the sound of cupboards opening and closing. A former employee did pass away quite suddenly upstairs in the workshop, so it could be his spirit being heard.

Murchie’s Tea and Coffee is another architectural beauty and has had some poltergeist action, like the elevator running on its own and other disturbing movements. Also on Government Street, your visit here will give you the opportunity to try some of the best tea and coffee in the city.

If you continue your walk south a few blocks, you’ll be at the world famous Empress Hotel. I love it here, and have stayed overnight and enjoyed breakfast in bed. But back then I was not aware of the hotel’s creator Francis Rattenbury strutting around the halls, swinging his cane and surveying his domain, or I would have made a point of getting up in the middle of the night to check him out. Sadly, his wife’s young lover murdered the architect in England by clubbing him on the head. So I hope Mr. Rattenbury is remembering happier times when he is at his hotel.

Of course there are a ton more haunted places in Victoria, and I haven’t even taken you to Ross Bay Cemetary yet. But this would be a great and exciting tour to explore with John Adams, or just explore the darker side by walking around the old downtown part of the city on your own, if you are feeling brave.

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