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British Columbia

Victoria in the Golden Light

Victoria harbour in the golden light
Victoria’s upper harbour in the golden light of afternoon.

Time for another blast from the past! This is a lightly retouched version of a photograph I captured of the upper harbour in Victoria, British Columbia, way back in 2008. Even then I was fascinated by the specific quality of light seen in the golden hour of afternoon.

Lizard on a Stick

Lizard on a stick
Dried lizards for sale in Vancouver’s Chinatown in 2007.

I saw these reptilian delicacies for sale in Vancouver’s Chinatown while visiting way back in 2007. Nobody believes me anytime I mention flayed lizard for sale so here it is—photographic proof! These are likely to be tokay geckos, a species used in traditional Chinese medicine for various indications, “male endurance” among them. They aren’t eaten whole—they are boiled along with various other ingredients to make a soup.

Earth Stone Factory

Venables back alley scene
A back alley scene just off Venables near Commercial Drive.

I encountered this scene while exploring the alleyways just off of Venables at the top of Commercial Drive in Vancouver back in the summer of 2010. At the time I had no idea what the signs said—but having learned a little Chinese in the intervening years I went and transcribed the characters. Turns out the sign reads dàdìshíchǎng 大地石廠, roughly “earth stone factory” if Google is to be trusted in these matters. I don’t recall seeing any stones around—just piles of metal shavings in the bins nearby. Well, whatever it may be, it was an interesting find in amidst a mostly residential stretch of the city.

Clear Water

Water rushing down Cleveland Dam
Water rushing down the Cleveland Dam in North Vancouver.

I captured this photograph from the top of the spillway at Cleveland Dam in Capilano Canyon, Vancouver. Unlike many dams, this one does not generate electricity—it exists only to store drinking water for the city. What you see here is pure, clean water that has come down from the unpopulated mountains north of the city.

Finn Slough

The edge of Finn Slough
The eastern edge of Finn Slough.

Founded by Finnish settlers in the late 19th century, Finn Slough is a tiny fishing community located along the marshy banks of the mighty Fraser River in southern Richmond, British Columbia. In the early 20th century the settlers moved the village to its current location, a slough (swamp, pronounced “slew”) at the base of the No. 4 Road on Lulu Island east of Steveston. Most—if not all—of the buildings in Finn Slough were constructed prior to 1950, lack modern plumbing, and rely on wood-burning stoves for heating.

Fan Tan Alley 23½

23 and a half, Fan Tan Alley
A striking red doorway along Fan Tan Alley, Victoria.

Nestled deep within Victoria’s Chinatown, Fan Tan Alley 番攤里 is the narrowest street in Canada. In its early history it was the site of gambling dens and opium houses. Nowadays it is a rather hip place with small art galleries and cafes. Even so, there’s something quite charming about its doorways, among them number 23½.

Moving On From Vancouver

Spanish Banks at dusk
Dusk settles over the Spanish Banks in Vancouver.

It is my last day in Vancouver. I leave in time to see the mood of the city flip from gloomy and isolating to vibrant and alive. If it were like this all the time I might not be moving on. Fittingly, I am enjoying brunch by myself on Commercial Drive. Later I will drop in on my favourite cafe and get some work done before heading to pho for dinner. After night falls it will be time to take my few bags to the airport and try my luck somewhere else. It is too bad I did not connect with this place as much as I had hoped… but I am happy to be taking action instead of remaining stuck here, even if I will be missing out on summertime in beautiful Vancouver. So long, B.C.!

Outward Bound Again

Ships in the stream
Ships in the stream.

What a whirlwind today has been! I just ended my tenancy here in Vancouver. I have a couple of days to drift then I’m outward bound again. I am looking forward to a productive summer in a place with a significantly lower cost of living…

Vancouver in the Winter Fog

False Creek Seawall

Vancouver recently lay under cover of fog for days. This prompted me to grab my camera to find out what could be captured of such mysterious atmospheric conditions. I ventured out into Stanley Park with a tripod one night only to discover that there really isn’t any light to work with. I couldn’t discern the skyline through the thick mire. In fact, I could hardly even see a few meters in front of me. I called that mission off and headed out the next day over Burrard Bridge, around False Creek, and back to the West End by way of Gastown. This time I did not bring a tripod—hence the grainy quality of some of these later photos, all of which were shot by hand with a fixed 35mm lens.