Monday, March 28, 2016

MCDS HMCS... not a vowel in sight

A coastal patrol boat on a mission...

The MCDS HMCS Brandon patrols the Gulf Islands off Vancouver Island's east coast.

These smaller vessels were commissioned in the late-1990s and are manned by a mix of Regular and Reserve Force personnel. Their main missions are counter narcotics, coastal surveillance, sovereignty patrol, route survey, and training although they can also be converted to a minesweeping role in a wartime situation.

Friday, March 25, 2016

High eye on the sky

The Centre of the Universe is... here!

The main observatory of the Centre of the Universe narrowly missed being the largest telescope in the world when it was built in 1918. Unfortunately, six months earlier it was beat by a telescope in the United States. However, it was the second largest telescope in the world for nearly twenty years.

From Wikipedia:
"The glass mirror, 73 inches in diameter and 12 inches (30 cm) thick, weighs approximately 4340 lb. (1970 kilograms)... The completed mirror was hauled up Little Saanich Mountain by horse and wagon."

Details of the observatory dome in Saanich...
The portal to the Centre of the Universe...

Monday, March 21, 2016

Journey to the Centre of the Universe

Saanich's observatory sits high above the city...

The title of this post sounds like a movie title from a 50s drive-in B-movie.

Well, it turns out the centre of the universe is right here in Saanich, BC. See that white dome in the photo above? That's it... the centre of the universe. I know! Who knew?

The Centre of the Universe a.ka. the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory sits high above the suburbs, lakes and parks of Saanich below it. All that is readily visible is the white dome of the observatory itself, but there is much more to the site than that.

Despite living in greater Victoria for 40 years, I had never ventured up to see it until recently. I'll talk about it more later this week.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Slow slide into spring

The Gorge waterway in Saanich, BC...
The Gorge waterway passes through Saanich, BC.
Spring seems to be S-L-O-W-L-Y creeping its way over Vancouver Island. Once spring segues into summer, the bucolic Gorge Waterway looks like this and is a popular destination for walkers, paddlers and those who enjoy a picnic in the park and gardens.

A walkway along the water has a number of benches for pedestrians to stop and admire the scenery.

Creative plaques mark the benches along the Gorge Waterway.
Several of these benches have dedication plaques with intriguing inscriptions.

Friday, March 11, 2016


Ship wrecked on the Victoria waterfront...
Shipwrecked on the Victoria waterfront...
Here's something you don't see everyday... an honest-to-goodness shipwreck.

This barge broke away while underway off Victoria's waterfront during a recent windstorm. It washed up on the waterfront at the base of Victoria's popular Dallas Road walkway, giving pedestrians and beachcombers something to talk about.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

No girls allowed...

Saanich treehouse...

Growing up in northern Ontario we never lived near any tall trees that would have allowed us to build a tree fort. On the west coast with tall trees everywhere I'm surprised that I don't come across them more often.

This cool clubhouse in the sky is located in rural Saanich about fifteen minutes north of where I live. Given the expensive price of real estate out here I estimate this penthouse accommodation is probably worth about $60,000.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Surf City Sheriffs

Danger! Earthquakes and hostile surfers!

Remember that cliché line from old Westerns: "Stranger eh? We don't take kindly to strangers around these parts."

This sign can be found adjacent to the beach at Jordan River. The original sign is a warning about the local earthquake danger. A BC Hydro dam upriver was identified as likely to fail when the expected major earthquake occurs here sometime in the next 50 to 100 years. The result will be a wall of water expected to wash away the campsite at the mouth of the river.

Consequently the provincial government closed the campsite as a safety precaution. However, saner heads prevailed when someone calculated the odds that campers would actually be at the campsite during the limited camping season as minuscule and so the province agreed to re-open the site.

The second sign is the smaller attached sticker seen below. Jordan River has a reputation for its local surfers not taking too kindly to visiting surfers encroaching on their turf. And they definitely don't like paddle surfers like me in their waters.

Personally, I haven't experienced any hostility, however, I've confined my water play to a different area of the beach so as not to provoke anyone.

Always read the small print...