Day Four: You, Me, and B.C.

comments: 84


On our last morning in Victoria, I convinced Andy to have breakfast in the restaurant of the Empress. I wanted to have either afternoon tea or breakfast, just as a special treat, and he (gently) made it pretty clear that he was not that interested in having cucumber sandwiches and dainty cups of Earl Grey. So it was $24 buttermilk pancakes after all! But they were absolutely delicious, and came with coffee, juice, and a link of locally made sausage that was amazing. Plus, how incredible is this dining room?


The two very sophisticated older couples seated near us played their characters perfectly. Silk-scarved and Chanel-suited, they leisured and lingered. Relaxing into our wing-backed chairs, we, too, stayed for cup after cup of coffee. The maple syrup and the cream came in identical silver creamers, and I almost poured cream on my pancakes.


Instead I poured syrup into my coffee. It wasn't bad, actually.


Andy wrote a few postcards so we could drop them down the six-floor-long mail chute near the elevators on our floor.


This is the tea room just beyond the restaurant room. It overlooks the harbor.


They are having a big New Year's Eve party here to celebrate the hotel's 100th birthday. Wouldn't it be fantastic to be here for that?


After breakfast, we headed across the street to the Royal BC Museum. Our city tour guide had mentioned that it was considered the second-best museum in North America, only after the Smithsonian.


It was absolutely incredible. We stayed all day and could've stayed longer. In the last half-hour that we had, we realized there was a whole wing that we hadn't even seen — we had lingered for hours and hours, especially in the special exhibit called Free Sprit: Stories of You, Me, and B.C. This incredible exhibit tells the story of British Columbia through stories, photographs, and artifacts from the individuals and communities that have called B.C. home for the past 150 years.

It's sort of a blogger's dream exhibit.


These two photos above show the same Chinese family; the second was taken several years after they'd settled in British Columbia. The whole exhibit is filled with these gigantic, really high quality (I'm so curious to know how they got the resolution so high on these things) photos, some bigger than lifesize, on circular walls that spiral chronologically through time, telling snippets of stories.

I took photos of several of the panels. I wish I could've taken photos of all of them, but I'll just share some of my favorites.







I was so intrigued by this image of Phyllis and Don Munday and their daughter Edith, who, in 1921, reached her first mountain peak at the tender age of twelve weeks. Carried by her moutaineering parents (who themselves would scale 125 mountains in B.C. between 1910 and into the 1940s) on that first trip, Edith was raised in a small cabin built by her father on Grouse Mountain and would later climb many more mountains on her own.


Beyond the special exhibit are the permanent exhibits. The Natural History Gallery takes you through time to explore dramatically changing environments and their inhabitants. There's the woolly mammoth . . .

Museum24 creatures of the shore . . .

Museum25 and the forest. . . .


The First Peoples' Gallery is moving and heartbreaking, telling the story of First Nations cultures before and after the arrival of European settlers. We spent hours here. This is a miniature of a native settlement based on photographic evidence.


One of the earlier Christian churches First Peoples were forced to attend.


There is a dramatic and utterly poignant installation documenting the smallpox epidemic of 1862 and its effect on the First Peoples' population.


The Modern History Gallery, tracing the past two hundred years of European settlement, got short shrift by us. So very unfortunately. By the time we made it there (we had stopped off to see The Alps, an IMAX movie, in the museum's theater so I could sit down for a while) we were running late to catch our boat back to Seattle, so I didn't get good photos of these exhibits as we raced through them. But honestly, they were quite amazing. Entire city streets, built in miniature scale, to walk down. An entire hotel floor from the 1800s, also in smaller scale, but with no detail left undone. A replica of the front half of Captain Vancouver's ship. A waterwheel. A canning facility (where this photo was taken). A mine. A logging operation. All built to walk through. It is truly awesome.


Naturally, by the time we finished our six hours in the museum (and seriously, those hours went by in a flash, there was so much to do there), the museum cafe was closed. This seemed to happen to us everywhere we went. Luckily, Rogers' delighted us again, this time with a vanilla milkshake at their new soda shoppe (across the street from the Empress). We got it to go, and headed off to the stand in line at customs before boarding the 6 p.m. ferry. But this turned out to be my very favorite picture of the day.

Thank you so much, Miss Victoria. You are a wonderful old girl, I must say. 


hi there,
I love your blog. Your posts of Victoria made me miss B.C. so much. We moved back to the Canadian prairies (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan) in May after living in Greater Vancouver for 7 years. I went to high tea at the Empress with my daughter when she was only 4 months old. Thanks for some all the great pics. I'm just glad you posted when we're having beautiful weather instead of when it's minus 20 here :)

your photos are fabulous. Looks like you had such a beautiful time.

Wow!! Thank you so much for sharing all your pictures. I'm just now seeing them. How sweet of you so let me see such a beautiful place from your eyes. Doubt I'll ever get there but just in case I do I'll know where to start.


So glad you liked our little city. It is pretty special!!

Amaaazing!! Amazing!! Amaaaaazing!!! I am just blown away by these photos!! You truly picked me up...and took me along!! I hope you didn't mind that the whole time I was in men's plaid pj pants covered in paint. ; )

What an amaaazing get away!! You guys RULE!!!!!!

Love from the Jersey Shore,
xoxo Jenny

What a wonderful post about my current home town. I have lots of childhood memories of the museum. Did you see the little chihuahua at Button & Needleworks?

Oh darling Miss A.

Thank you for posting about your lovely trip. I used to live a couple blocks from the Empress. My husband used to work in the Government buildings next to the RBCM. I would walk to work with him and spent my days at the RCBM. It's such a magical place and it was a wonderful time.

The Empress was always a treat to be around, not to mention Lush (which was not available in the US at the time).

We visit my mother in law in Victoria as often as we can and I can't wait till our next visit. Mind you, I don't get to see Buchart very often (hubby used to sing there [he's on their commemorative video] and I think he tires of it, but I never will *smile* Thank you for sharing their lovely landscapes.

What a nostalgic group of posts! You make me glad I voted for Prop 1 to retrofit Pike's Market (which is just a few blocks from my current home and our favorite place to grocery shop). Thanks for opening my eyes again to these wonderful Northwest Spots. Sometimes I gloss over how amazing this place is!!

All best, C.

p.s. Oy! This comment is like one bad run-on sentence. Sorry!

I've been revisiting your postings before our trip up to Victoria next weekend. I made a lot of trips up when I was younger, but haven't been in 20+ years and am axious to take my kids. Thanks for sharing all your favorite places.

The dinning room sure is amazing! It is so stylish and pleasant, and the way you describe those pancakes sure sounds delicious! This is the essence of traveling - walk a lot eat well and in nice places :)

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at