Dad's Travels | Vancouver

Downtown Delight: 8 Must-See in Downtown Vancouver

By on January 3, 2018


One of the places we visited in Canada that became an instant favourite was the Butchart Gardens, it is located near Victoria on Vancouver Island. It is so picturesque that you can not get enough of taking photos of each floral display and each landscaped area (see above photo). Being a large island and always listed as one of the cities with the best quality of life in the world, Vancouver has a lot to offer for locals and tourists alike. If you find yourself in downtown Vancouver for a few days you will quickly discover that there is no shortage of things to see and do in the area.

Here are some of the top attractions and places that you should consider visiting in downtown Vancouver.

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Canada | Dad's Travels | Vancouver

The Butchart Gardens, Vancouver

By on August 20, 2012

One of the most popular tourist destination in spring (and whatever season) in Vancouver is the Butchart Gardens, a vast area of floral displays that will surely captivate every nature lover. It is also one of Canada’s National Historic site. Walk here and there, look that way and this was and you’ll be sure to see nothing but beauty!

The Gardens started out as a quarry…Husband and wife Robert and Jennie Butchart were cement manufacturers and because of rich limestones in a certain area in western Canada, they settled there and had their home built near Tod Inlet at the base of the Saanich Peninsula on Vancouver Island. When the quarry was exhausted, Jennie have it built into a garden which took more years to finish. It was named the Sunken Garden for the area’s caved in appearance as a result of quarrying activities.

torii  butchart gardens

Through the years, a lot more installations and garden sets, displays were added. A number of garden designers and landscapers lent a hand to what is now the Butchart gardens. Above photo shows stairs leading down to the Sunken Garden and a Torii or Japanese gate. There are many works of Japanese designers; there’s a donkey and foal  near the Butchart’s residence and a fountain statue of three sturgeon near the Japanese garden both by Sirio Tofanari.

Isaburo Kishida, considered as British Columbia’s pioneer Japanese landscape designer, was commissioned by Jennie for a Japanese garden in their estate back in the 1900’s.

  pathway bushes, butchart

Robert was also known for collecting birds. The Star Pond has to this day ducks in them, there are peacocks in the lawn and it was said that Robert had trained pigeons abound in the area too. For which flying animal and insect wouldn’t be happy in such a garden laden with beautiful flowers, luscious greenery and  abundant water?

There are probably a thousand type of flowers in the garden and for landscape photographers and macrophotography enthusiasts, the place is surely: heaven!

Star pond
Star pond

stairs ross fountain

Above photo: stairs going down to the Sunken garden and the Ross fountain which was installed in 1964 to commemorate the Garden’s 60th year, which when calculated brings us to 1904 as its founding year. To this day, the Butchart Gardens is 108-years-old, is owned by Robin Clarke, great grand daughter of Jennie Butchart and receives a million visitors a year.

water reflection

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Canada | Victoria

Visiting Craigdarroch Castle

By on August 16, 2012
craigdarroch castle image
Front View

Craigdarroch Castle — people fascinated with castles and those who have interest in interiors would find this castle a treasure trove of many wonderful displays. The Scottish Baronial design of the castle combines various elements from architectural styles. The historic Victorian-era mansion has 39 rooms and over 20,000 square feet (1,900 m2). It will take about an hour to explore the castle, all four floors while stopping and viewing the rooms on display. The rooms vary and one can easily notice that the Victorian inspired display also resemble French furniture featured at the website. Going up the famous 87 stairs of the castle could be exhausting but the panoramic view from the tower of Victoria and snow-capped mountains is so worth it, it would make one want to stay. The castle has been since designated as a National Historic Site of Canada and over the years attracts thousands of tourists.

Looking back, the castle has a rather curious history and has been a venue for many purposes. From the 1890s, the castle served as a family residence for the wealthy coal baron Robert Dunsmuir and his wife Joan. When Robert Dunsmuir died it was made use of as a Military Hospital, starting in 1919 until 1921. The following years, it became home to the Victoria College (1921-1946), the Victoria School Board Office (1946-1968) and the Victoria Conservatory of Music (1969-1979). Today it is a museum and a major attraction in Victoria.

fireplace inside Craigdarroch Castle
Tea table by the fireplace.

The detailed work of art on doorways, window panes show how extensively artisans spent their time beautifying the place. Another feature of the castle worth noting are the stained glass windows. They are so notable that the Institute for stained glass in Canada has documented them.

Step back in time as you view how the rich and famous lived back in the days.  A visit to Craigdarroch reminded me of Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace albeit more detailed, I’d say they’re comparable enough even though the castles were built thousand of years apart.

craigdarroch stained glass
Stained glass windows
tea table at craigdarroch castle
Another table for afternoon coffee

 photo credits and thanks to  my husband

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