We did not spend long on Vancouver Island the first time, and Elaine lamented that she missed the museum and art gallery. So … we did it again. Magnificent weather and boat trip, and this time Elaine drove back from the ferry terminal while I navigated. We did NOT turn early this time, but rather missed the turning altogether. This took us along the River Road, following the south bank of the Fraser through some serious industrial areas. But if we had a GPS we would miss all these fascinating byways, including numerous train tracks, and a place with hundreds of rental RVs … all waiting for unsuspecting Germans NEXT summer.
The museum and art gallery are best described by Elaine:
My time was limited, so I focused on the First Nations Exhibit at the Royal BC Museum, brilliantly executed with an abundance of artifacts and detailed interpretation. There was a most informative comparison between the coastal peoples and those that lived inland. The reliable supply of food on the coast allowed these people to form larger and more permanent villages. Inland, the food supply was more precarious, and they relied mainly on hunting, and so formed smaller and more mobile groups.
The terrible impact of the Europeans on the aboriginal people was well documented, with horrific descriptions of the effects of smallpox, coupled with the harsh, uncomprehending treatment by government.
There were other fascinating displays in the museum, including a natural history exhibit, but I focused mainly on the First Nations.
Then it was a taxi to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, which is some distance away. The highlight there was a special retrospective of the work of Emily Carr. There were paintings showing the development of her art, starting with her exquisite but quite conventional early works. After visiting England and France she was influenced by the Impressionists, and her paintings became freer and more colourful. Later, after meeting the Group of Seven, her work developed further, and her passion for the BC Forest and First Nation villages and totem poles was a constant theme.
I loved the photograph of Emily Carr in her rather crazy caravan, with several small dogs and her pet monkey, Woo. It was nice to think that she was an RVer too!
The return ferry journey was magnificently memorable. To my delight I saw five sea otters (or rather just their brown heads), and a bald eagle flew close by the ferry, with the setting sun lighting its feathers. To the south, the sun shone on the distance snows of Mount Baker, which is a rare sight, since it is a long way away, and usually obscured by cloud. But at around 11,000 feet it towers over Washington State.
John usually organizes these trips through the maze of bus and ferry maps and timetables, and most of the time “wins”. This time, though, we caught the bus from the Art Gallery to “downtown”, where we needed to connect to the Swartz Bay bus and the ferry. After numerous twists and turns I noticed we were back at the Art Gallery. The driver thought we were crazy, but was probably used to tourists. He patiently directed us back to town, and we just caught the bus for the ferry. John was humble, which is an unusual state for him!
All in all, a fantastic day!