Monday 19 May 2014

Canada Part 7

We have just returned from a week in Italy but before I tell you about that I really must finish telling you about our Canada trip from last September!

Day 8 found us driving to Tsawwassen to take the ferry, through the glorious gulf islands region with towering Douglas fir trees climbing the hills on all sides to Swartz Bay, to Vancouver Island and the last stop on our adventure, the capital of British Columbia, Victoria. Named after Queen Victoria of the UK and, at the time,British North America, Victoria is one of the oldest cities in the Pacific Northwest, with British settlement beginning in 1843.

Our first stop was The Butchart Gardens where we spent a couple of hours, while our courier and driver took our luggage to the hotel and booked is in.
The Butchart Gardens covers more than 55 acres of a 130 acre estate.  It began from an idea Jennie Butchart had to beautify the worked-out limestone quarry which had supplied her husband Robert Pim Butchart's nearby Portland cement plant.

The gardens, through the skillful mixture of rare and exotic shrubs, treas and flowers, often collected by the Butcharts during their extensive world travels, continually expanded over the years to become the world famous Sunken, Japanese, Rose, Italian and Medtierranean gardens you can see today.

The hospitable Butcharts christened their estate "Benvenuto" - Italian for "Welcome".  By the 1920s more than fifty thousand people visited each year.

Today the gardens, still owned and operated by the family, continues the horticulural excellence and welcoming traditions of Jennie Butchart.  In 2004 the gardens, in bloom for 100 years, was designated a National Historic Site of Canada.

The gardens are truly breathtaking and I would urge you, if you ever get the opportunity, to visit them yourself to take in the beauty.

Our driver took a detour on the way to our hotel to show us Mile 0, where a remarkable young man, Terry Fox, began his 'Marathon of Hope' running across Canada raising money for Cancer Research.  If you don't know the story of Terry Fox please click on the picture of the memorial plaque and read about this amazing young man.

 We eventually reached our hotel right in the centre of Victoria, here's a photograph taken from our bedroom window.
 After unpacking we had a rest before getting freshened up and changed to go out for something eat,
but before eating we walked around a little to get our bearings and take some picture of the famous
Empress Hotel, one of the oldest and most famous hotels in Victoria. Located on Government Street facing the inner harbour, the Empress has become an iconic symbol for the city itself. It has been designated a National Historic Site of Canada due to its national significance.

The Parliament Buildings looked magnificent too, all lit up. The Neo-baroque buildings face north on Belleville street facing the Inner Harbour and diagonally across from the Empress Hotel. A statue of Queen Victoria stands on the front lawn as well a statue of a soldier to commemorate the province's World War I, World War II and Korean War dead. Atop the central dome is a gold-covered statue of Captain George Vancouver.
Join me next time for our float plane ride video and pictures, and to see a photograph of our Canadian Ancestors!