The Dragonfly Festival




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There is a certain charm about small towns and small town festivals. If they are an agricultural community, the celebration will often center on the predominant crop. Pitt Meadows, British Columbia, where I used to live, has its annual Blueberry Festival. Others may celebrate their heritage with Pioneer Days. Many tie their festivities in with the national holiday – Canada Day or the Fourth of July in the United States. A parade is almost always part of these events.

My son meets Dilly the Clown at the annual Pitt Meadows Day Parade in 1990.

As you drive in to the small village of Wabamun, Alberta (population 682) you encounter a giant dragonfly – a ten metre long sculpture atop a six metre pole. Made of scraps, including parts of an old airplane, it is the largest dragonfly in Canada.

Old airplane wings now serve as dragonfly wings.

The town sits on the edge of Wabamun Lake, a popular destination for Edmontonians and others  in the summer. Every year towards the end of June the town celebrates the Dragonfly Festival. This three day event brings in as many as 10,000 visitors. This year it ran from June 23-25.

Janis and I were visiting her brother and family in Drayton Valley for a couple of days and we drove out to take in the second day’s events.

We arrived about forty-five minutes before the start of the parade and so we took in a bit of the Art Walk before and after.  Like many small-town parades, this one started off with a marching band, a group of Air Cadets.

Cadets lead off Wabamun’s Dragonfly Festival Parade.

This was followed by politicians in cars waving at the crowd and tossing candy to the children. Getting the kiddies ready for when they’re grown up and start clamoring in earnest for free goodies.  There weren’t just politicians. One was a wannabe – a candidate for the nomination to represent the Conservative Party in the next election.

This was followed by another staple of parades everywhere – vintage cars! There were quite a few of them and there were even more on display after the parade. There were some modern cars as well – souped up truck and some expensive roadsters, including a green Lamborghini.

The vintage car parade.

Local businesses were there, some with simple makeshift floats. I rather liked Home Hardware’s giant hammer.

Home Hardware had a giant hammer on the back of a pick-up.

But floats were few and far between. The best effort was Al’s Affordabago – a converted 1934 Chevy Truck. Your rustic camper on wheels. It was also towing a small trailer.

Al’s Affordabago – a converted 1934 Chevy truck.

One got the impression Al was a no-nonsense sort of guy. The front of the truck had a massive chainsaw blade overhanging the engine. There was also a noose hanging from a wash line pole with a sign that read “Some people just need a hug… around the neck… with a rope!”

The truck was festooned with bric-a-brac including a number of antlers, the skull of a steer, a beer keg, an old water pump and a slew of old license plates. I wonder if Al actually goes camping in that contraption!

As parades go, it wasn’t the greatest, but everyone loved it. And almost everyone was tossing out treats for the kids.

The Art Walk featured various Albertan artists, each with their own little tent.

The Art Walk and Vendor’s Market were quite well done. Many Albertan artists had booths displaying their art – mostly paintings but also sculpture. There were 38 artists on display this year, the fourth Dragonfly Festival to feature the walk.  I was quite enchanted by the work of Josh Harnack who painted people with animal heads. Mounties were a favorite subject.

Josh Harnack and his art.
Wolf Mountie

Another artist, Kevin Wilson,  does air-brushed art over metal and featured a Canadian flag with late Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie in place of the maple leaf.

Gord Downie – a true symbol of Canada. The art is by Kevin Wilson.

Not surprisingly, since this is Alberta, Wilson also had colorful ammunition boxes on display.

Kevin Wilson’s ammunition boxes feature scenes from classic movies like Deadpool and Guardians of the Galaxy as well as scenes from games like Fallout.

The local interest in art stems from the sponsorship of a local art gallery, the Gossamer Treasures Gallery. We went in and it featured a couple of Alberta artists  work for the festival. The theme was indigenous people and artists Reg Faulkner and Henri de Groot both capture native culture well.

The Gossamer Treasures Gallery just before the parade started.

But I was particularly taken by a book and art work on the lives of emergency first responders by artist Daniel Sundahl who signs his work as DanSun. The artist is himself a paramedic and firefighter in the City of Leduc, Alberta. These were very evocative and emotional works capturing both the dedication and the agony of doing such work.

Portraits of an Emergency by DanSun.

Wandering around the Vendors Market, we came across Signature Silk  where you could silk-screen your own silk scarf. My wife decided to have a go and her sister-in-law sponsored her granddaughter’s effort.

My wife and my grand niece try their hand at silk-screening a scarf.

Colours are added to a bath of special solution. The colours can then be swirled with a rod to create patterns. More drops of colour can be added. When the artiste is satisfied, the silk is dropped over the solution where the colours then adhere. It is removed and voila – a silkscreened scarf.

After that we went to check out the vintage car display when it started to rain. We escaped under the tent of The  Green Lambo Guy who is actually a professional motivator and personal life coach. His Lambo is a symbol of what a determined person can achieve.

The green Lamborghini

After the rain let up we called it a day. My wife and I were on the road again the next day, but the closing day of the festival featured an all day (3:00 PM to 9:00 PM) event called Up!Fest at the waterfront park. This was largely a music festival featuring local artists and culminating with a show by iconic Canadian rock band Loverboy (The Kid is Hot Tonite, Working for the Weekend).

Not bad for a small town of 682!

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Airshow at Night




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This year marked the 55th annual Abbotsford International Airshow. I first attended one shortly after I moved to B.C. in 1974 and have attended several times since then. When I was single we’d cram a bunch of us into a car and go together for a day. Later my wife and I took the kids to see the show every few years. But it had been over a decade since we last attended.

Now living in Abbotsford, we were sometimes entertained by mini-airshows as the jets, including the fabulous Snowbirds, sometimes roared right over our townhouse complex. But this year I really wanted to see the show right at the runway again.

The annual event runs for three days – always a Friday, Saturday and Sunday in mid-August. This year the Friday show was an evening affair, with gates opening at 3:30 PM and the show ending around 10:30 PM. We had never been to an evening airshow before, which promised some pyrotechnics as well a aerobatics, so we packed a bag with a couple of sweaters and headed out.

We bought our tickets at Save-on-Foods to save the hassle at the entrance and it’s a good idea to save money as well. Gate price per ticket was $30. At Save-on-Foods, only $25. We avoided the major crunch point by taking Townline Road to a back entrance. We were through the gates in minutes. Lots of volunteers directed traffic to the parking area.

Once inside we looked around and found one of the two runway seating areas. For an extra $10 each you could get close to front row seats. We opted to pay the extra since we hadn’t brought folding chairs or a blanket. Since it was numbered seating, we found our places, and then headed out to see the static displays.

The Abbotsford International Airshow was designated as Canada’s National Airshow by the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. It always features both civilian and military aerobatics as well as static displays. Whether you like barnstormers in their biplanes, hang gliders, sailplanes, powerful air force jets or aerobatic teams, the Abby Airshow has it all.

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are always a major attraction and visiting aerobatic teams are often featured as well.

On the ground we got a good look at some of the active and historical planes on display. The Americans had a couple of F-15s on display and you could go up a ramp to check out the cockpit on one of them.

Eager spectators had a chance to check out the cockpit of an F-15 Eagle at this year's airshow.
Eager spectators had a chance to check out the cockpit of an F-15 Eagle at this year’s airshow.

Also on display – a CF-18 Hornet. One decked out in special Canada 150 celebration colours would fly later in the show, but here you could sit in a simulated cockpit if you wanted. There was also a giant troop carrier, a mid-air refueling plane from the American 912th Refueling Squadron, a number of private planes – trainers and stunt planes, and a row of historic planes that included the fearsome looking Douglas A-1 Skyraider aka The Proud American.

The A-1 Douglas Skyraider
The A-1 Douglas Skyraider

The wings were folded up on the display which gave you a good look at the gatling guns and missile launchers. The plane was used by the US Marines, Navy and Air Force as well as the French Air Force and the South Vietnam Air Force from the late 1940s through the 1980s. As a prop plane it was a bit of an anachronism in the age of jets.

The only exhibit we actually entered was the Canadian Forces Sea King helicopter. This aging helicopter has been a political football for years with efforts to replace it with newer equipment being stymied again and again.

The Sea King helicopter
The Sea King helicopter

This particular Sea King first saw service in 1968 – that’s an old chopper! The crew members told us it is primarily used as a submarine spotter and also does a lot of search and rescue work. As an anti-sub craft, it is equipped with torpedoes.  And we were surprised to learn that the Sea King is capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

Janis in the jump seat beside
Janis in the jump seat beside crewman Travis Chapman.

A separate photo gallery will have more pics from the static displays.

After seeing the ground exhibits we went back to our seats for the start of the show. The Skyhawks, the Canadian Armed Forces Parachute Team, led off the show with displays of the Canadian and American flags while the anthems were sung. They followed that up with some entertaining stunt parachuting.

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Then the headline performers – the Snowbirds. These nine planes are the show closer during the daytime shows. For the evening show they were first up after the Skyhawks. I took a lot of photos and will feature a number of them in a separate photo gallery.

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds - precision flying at its best
The Canadian Forces Snowbirds – precision flying at its best

I tried filming the Snowbirds but in movie mode, my camera uses the view screen instead of the viewfinder and it was impossible to get the planes properly centered with the glare reflecting off the screen. But I did film them in 2004 which I’ve linked below.

After the Snowbirds, we were entertained by the Heritage Flight, four fighter planes from four eras strutting their stuff, individually and together. They included the P-51 Mustang which saw duty in WWII and Korea. The F-86 Sabre was the first swept-wing jet fighter and was used in high-speed dogfights in the Korean War. It was use by the Bolivian Air Force until 1994. The F-16 Viper, also known as the Fighting Falcon, has been in production since 1976 and was used in Desert Storm. 25 different countries use the F-16. The F-35A Lightning II is the newest fighter jet, seeing service with the U.S. Marines since July 2015 and combat-ready with the U.S. Air Force since August 2016. It was the fastest jet on display and the roar of its engines as it hits the after-burners is awesome.

Heritage Flight - top to bottom - P-51 Mustang, F-86 Sabre, F-16 Viper, and F-35A Lightning II.
Heritage Flight – top to bottom – P-51 Mustang, F-86 Sabre, F-16 Viper, and F-35A Lightning II.

The Abbotsford International Airport is a working airport and business must go on, so there were a half dozen or so take-offs and landings during the show by commercial flights.

After a stunt flight by a plane called the Jelly Belly, the U.S. Air Force demonstrated the FA-18 Super Hornet, the newest model of the premier fighter in Canada’s fleet. This was followed by a flight of the CF-18 decked out in a special Canada 150 paint job. It was starting to get dark by then so you couldn’t really see the colours, but I did get the bird on video.

Because it was a night time show, the CF-18 dropped its tailhook on landing. Usually used to snag a catch cable on an aircraft carrier, the hook threw up a stream of sparks as it dragged behind on the pavement behind the plane. Quite a sight.

CF-18 decked out in Canada 150 colours drags its tailhook behind on landing creating a colourful spray of sparks.
CF-18 decked out in Canada 150 colours drags its tailhook behind on landing creating a colourful spray of sparks.

A couple of more stunt planes entertained before it got completely dark, one of them the renowned Red Bull Air Racer. I managed to get a nice video of this very maneuverable plane.

Now it was starting to get quite dark and the AeroShell Aerobatic Team took to the sky lit up by lights all around each lane. This was the debut performance of the team at the Abbotsford Airshow and they were terrific. Flying in formation has to be tough in full daylight so seeing them perform in the night sky was amazing.

AeroShell Aerobatic Team
AeroShell Aerobatic Team

Finally complete darkness gave way to Bob Carlton and his Super Salto Jet Sailplane. A sailplane powered by a jet engine – what a concept. Bob trailed fireworks behind him as well as launching more from the tips of his wings. My camera battery was almost dead but my wife got a video with her iPhone.

This was followed by Dan Buchanan with his hang glider, also streaming fireworks. Quite a sight.

Dan Buchanon's night time hang glider flight was a fireworks extravaganza.
Dan Buchanan’s night time hang glider flight was a fireworks extravaganza.

The evening was capped with a full fireworks show. All in all, a rather different take on the airshow than the daytime event. We enjoyed it a lot.

A couple of tips – it cools down considerably in the evening so bring a sweater. We were thankful we did and it was still a bit chilly. And exit where you came in. There was some disorganization when we left as there were no volunteers guiding vehicles and it was a bit of a free-for-all. Quite a traffic jam. We thought the way we came was crawling at a snail’s pace so we followed a bunch of cars going in a different direction – a bottleneck ending in a barrier. Volunteers there finally let us through, but we ended up on some back road. As Abbotsford residents, we figured out where we were, but non-residents could have become hopelessly lost. Leaving the airport was poorly organized. It’s something the airshow should fix for next year.

Speaking of next year, the airshow returns on August 10-12 in 2018. And the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels will be back for the show next year. Definitely worth seeing.

Here are some additional photo galleries and other links. if you’re on the front page of the blog you can just scroll down, otherwise click on the links.

 




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Static Display Photo Gallery




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Here are some additional photos from the static displays ate the Abbotsford International Airshow.

CF-18 Hornet
CF-18 Hornet. To the left of it is a mock-up cockpit you could try out.
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C-130 Hercules Canadian Forces Military Transport Plane
Those are very large propellers!
Those are very large propellers!
We were surprised to learn that Abbotsford's University of the Fraser valley has a
We were surprised to learn that Abbotsford’s University of the Fraser valley has an Aircraft Structures Technician program. This is their training plane.
One of the jets open for viewing on the UFV plane
One of the jets open for viewing on the UFV plane
A rather nifty looking pilot training plane.
A rather nifty looking pilot training plane – the Diamond DA42 Twin Star.
A Pitt Special stunt plane used by the Rayban
A Pitt Special stunt plane used by the Ray-Ban Gold Aerobatic Team. They were an airshow staple from 1973 to 1990. This is the team’s last remaining airworthy Pitts Special S-2B.
Refueling plane
An aerial refueling plane from the US Air Force 912th Air Refueling Squadron
The Sea King helicopter
The Sea King anti-submarine helicopter
You got to love their slogan!
You got to love their slogan!
Janis and xxx
Janis and one of the crew of the Sea King.
That's a lot of knobs!
That’s a lot of knobs and gauges!

 




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Snowbirds Photo Gallery




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Here are additional photos of the Snowbird in action.

The Snowbirds make their entrance.
The Snowbirds make their entrance.
Up up and away
Up up and away
Inverted flyover
Inverted flyover
Heading right towards us
Heading right towards us

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Start of the starburst
Start of the starburst
Triple crossover
Triple crossover

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Up for the rollover
Up for the rollover

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The Snowbirds were undoubtedly the highlight of the Abbotsford Airshow. Simply amazing.




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A Warning for British Columbia Tourists




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This post is being simultaneously published on my political blog, The Jolly Libertarian, as Highway Robbery.

Here is a cautionary tale for residents and tourists to British Columbia.

Recently our daughter got married. The wedding was held in Maple Ridge and we had guests from as far away as Australia, Britain and California. My sister-in-law drove out for the wedding from Alberta. The wedding was a great success. Unfortunately, the return home for my sister-in-law was not. She was accosted and robbed by armed thugs on the Coquihalla Highway between Hope and the Great Bear Snowshed.

These were not your ordinary everyday robbers. They hid behind a badge and pretended their actions were moral and just. They most certainly were not.

My sister-in-law fell victim to two laws that jointly were used to extort money from her and provide revenue for a couple of businesses in Hope. Both laws on the surface seem reasonable. But the way they were applied is nothing short of criminal.

One is the law on construction speed zones. If signs are posted noting construction ahead with recommended speeds, you are supposed to slow down for the safety of the workers doing roadwork. Can’t fault the logic on that. Worker safety is an important issue.

The second law is that if you drive 41 kilometres an hour above the speed limit, your car is automatically impounded for a week. Most policemen tolerate excessive speed to some extent. You can usually drive 120 km/hr in a 100 km/hr zone on the highway without being stopped. You are more likely to be stopped for going too slowly on the highway. There’s a law against impeding traffic flow.

In any event, after the wedding, my sister-in-law headed home to Alberta. She reached a construction zone on the Coquihalla and slowed down. The zone was a very. long one going on for many kilometres. The speed signs got progressively slower – ending with a limit of 50 kilometres an hour.

Here’s the rub. There was no construction going on. Not a single worker anywhere along this lengthy stretch of construction zone. While she initially slowed down, after a few kilometres with no workers in sight, she sped up again to normal highway speed. She told me that, among other things, she was concerned that she might be rear-ended by going too slow as others, including big semis, were not slowing down.

And then, like spiders eying their web, the RCMP swooped in and pulled her over. Not only was she speeding in a construction zone, she was going over 41 km/hr over the posted speed limit and they were impounding her car.

Now my sister-in-law is very aware of road safety and is sympathetic to the police in general. I had a disagreement just a few days before when we were driving somewhere together about abuse of police power.

I told her how my daughter had been coming home to Abbotsford from downtown Vancouver and had used the exit bypass at 264th Street to circumvent a traffic snarl on the highway. The road exits to 264th Street, but the road also continues and reconnects with the highway in case you made a mistake and got off at the wrong exit. She naturally took the less congested route, which, incidentally is a recommended practice.

An over-zealous motorcycle cop decided this was, somehow, “not fair” to the other drivers and pulled her over. He told her that what she did was strictly speaking not illegal. But he thought it was “cheating” and he held her by the side of the road for a while before letting her continue on her way. No ticket. No violation of the law. Just an uppity prick with an agenda.

I told my sister-in-law about this and blasted the cop. She sort of shrugged it off. She does not like criticizing the police, though she acknowledged that some (usually the younger inexperienced ones she suggested) are often driven by power-lust and want to flex their legal muscle.

Now she found herself at the other end of police overkill.

The cop called a tow truck and she rode along in the cab with the truck operator as he towed her car to an impound lot in Hope. She was advised where she could rent a car nearby. She went there, a local car dealership, and got the last rental car available.

Following on her tail were a couple of Chinese tourists. They had had their rental car impounded and could not continue on their way to Banff. My sister-in-law offered to drive them as far as Jasper where they could find a car rental and continue on their way.

This Chinese couple were most grateful and paid for the gas fill-ups along the way. They complained bitterly about their shabby treatment in Canada and said my sister-in-law was the first person to have treated them kindly.

China is a burgeoning economy with a growing middle class. While still nominally a communist country, it is no longer the insular country it once was. Not only has China opened up to tourism, its citizens can now travel freely around the world. When my wife and I took a Southeast Asia cruise last year, 500 of the 3000 passengers were Chinese. Chinese tourists are an increasing source of revenue for Canada’s tourism business.

Now my sister-in-law ended up with a couple of thousand dollars of expense. The fine was over $350. She had to pay the towing charge, the impound fee, the week car rental, and the return trip costs. This Chinese couple probably had even more expenses not to mention a bitter experience they would undoubtedly tell their friends and relatives about when they returned home.

When cops sit in wait at a construction zone with very slow speed limits while no construction is going on, they are nothing short of legalized thugs, highway robbers by a different name.

Whether they got kick-backs from the businesses who benefited from their actions is another question. Whether their actions were ordered and sanctioned by the town of Hope is another question. Both questions deserve further investigation.

All parties to this criminal enterprise ought to be ashamed of themselves. These zealous cops have probably cost British Columbia thousands of dollars in lost future tourist revenue and given the province a black eye in the world.

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Historic Powell River




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A couple of weeks ago Janis and I visited our friends Paul and Cheryl for the weekend. They recently retired to Powell River, though Cheryl still telecommutes. A lot of people think the Sunshine Coast is just the Sechelt Peninsula, but that’s only about half of it. It actually extends all the way to Lund, about a half hour north of Powell River. When you take the ferry from Earl’s Cove, there’s a big sign greeting you at Saltery Bay that says, “Welcome dude, you’ve like totally made it up to the Top of the Sunshine Coast!” Yeah, the Sunshine Coast is pretty laid back, dude!

Hey dude!
Hey dude!

To get there from Vancouver, you need to take the Langdale Ferry from Horseshoe Bay. The Sechelt is isolated and you can only get there and back by ferry, so when you go, you’re buying a return ticket. You don’t have to buy a ticket to go back to the mainland. At Langdale, you drive up the peninsula to Earl’s Cove and then the ferry hop to Saltery Bay.  Here’s a money-saving tip. Buy an Experience Card online from B.C. Ferries. It gets you discounted rates on many of the ferries plying the coast, including the ones to and from the Sechelt.

Powell River is about 28 kilometres from Saltery Bay, a half hour drive. It’s an old mill town which has done much to preserve some of its history. The mill was built in 1908 and the company town in 1910. The mill was, at one time, the largest pulp and paper mill in the world. But the mill has seen better days and is a shadow of its former self, though still operating.  Our hosts told us that the average age in Powell River is eight years higher than the provincial average as so many people have moved away to find work. And many seniors are finding it an attractive place to retire.

The Powell River Mill and the Hulks
The Powell River Mill and the Hulks

There is a lookout along the highway that offers a panoramic view of the mill and the Incredible Hulks. The hulks are a collection of old concrete ships that have been chained together to form a breakwater. An information board tells us that the hulks have been a feature of the waterfront since 1930. “Over the years, 19 ships built of wood, steel and reinforced concrete have been brought to Powell River for use in the breakwater. (They) were built for use in the 1st and 2nd World Wars when there was a shortage of plate steel for ships construction.” They were unable to compete with steel ships when peace arrived.

One of the hulks. Picture courtesy Paul Miniato
One of the hulks. Picture courtesy Paul Miniato

The old historic townsite has been designated a National Historic District “with over 400 original buildings contained within the original borders of the 1910 town plan.” Our hosts took us for a casual drive through the old town and pointed out many of its historic buildings. I’ll include most of them in a separate photo gallery and there is a link at the end of the article to the townsite’s website. Here I’ll focus on one particular building, the Patricia Theatre.

The historic Patricia Theatre
The historic Patricia Theatre

The Patricia was originally at the location where the Cenotaph is today. Built in 1913, it featured silent films with live piano accompaniment. The actors John Barrymore and Delores Costello visited the theatre in person in the 1920s.  In 1928, it was relocated to a new building, the current one shown in the picture above. Still operating today, it is the oldest continuously operating movie theatre in Canada.

Paul, Cheryl, Janis and I attended a movie showing (Florence Foster Jenkins starring Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant) and I wish I had brought my camera. The interior is amazing with large mural panels and an old style feel to the place. The projection equipment was modernized to run digital movies at a cost of $90,000 in 2012, funds raised by volunteers of the historical society.  You can see more pictures at the theatre’s official website, linked at the end of this article.

Some of the carefully maintained residences of the historic townsite.
Some of the carefully maintained homes of the historic townsite. These larger ones on the main drag belonged to mill executives and management originally.

Powell River abounds in hiking and nature trails as well. One easily accessible trail is the Willingdon Beach Trail just off Marine Avenue. The trail used to be a logging road and it is now a walking trail and an outdoor museum. All along the trail are logging artifacts of a bygone era, each with signs explaining what we see.

Steam donkey
Steam donkey dating from the 1920s.

The pièce de résistance is a steam donkey that the Powell River Forestry Museum Society managed to retrieve from a ridge north of Haywire Bay on Powell Lake. The society preserved it and moved it by helicopter to the Willingdon Beach Trail in 2001-2002. The steam donkey is a steam-powered winch or logging engine. This particular one is #357 built by the Empire Manufacturing Company in 1920 and used into the 1960s.

Tree growing out of an old stump.
Tree growing out of an old stump.

Not only are there a lot of logging artifacts, the flora along the trail are a great example of how the forest renews itself. Heavily logged at one time, you’ll find many trees growing out of the stumps of long gone  brethren.

At the head of the trail is a sign telling you that you can get an audio guide on your cellphone by visiting Project Art Zoundzones. Just click on the link for the Willingdon Beach Trail.

This is just one of four city trails, each two kilometres or less. The others are the Willingdon Creek Trail, the Sea Walk Trail and the Valentine Mountain Trail. But for the serious hiker, there are many more.

Inland Lake Trail is a beautiful 13 kilometre walking path around the lake. The trail is well groomed and maintained and hugs the shoreline. At some points it goes out over the water along boardwalks.  And it is remote enough to be away from the noise and traffic of the city.

Janis and Cheryl walking along the Inland Lake Trail.
Janis and Cheryl walking along the Inland Lake Trail. This is one of several boardwalks along the trail which circumnavigates the lake.

There are always a number of activities going on in Powell River, especially on the weekends, including a regular farmers market. The city itself is much larger than in the company town days as a number of towns and villages were incorporated into the city. One has the colorful name of Cranberry.

One day our hosts took us to Lund 24 kilometres up the road. Along the way we visited the Okeover Inlet Marina, a very picturesque spot. On a ridge above the marina is the Laughing Oyster Restaurant, a fine dining experience with a magnificent view. Alongside the dock you’ll find many of the tiny jellyfish common in coastal B.C. waters.

Cheryl, Janis and Paul at the Okeover Inlet Marina
Cheryl, Janis and Paul at the Okeover Inlet Marina

Lund is a small coastal village with a fair size marina, several restaurants, a hotel and several shops including an art gallery gift shop. It is also the beginning of Highway 101, also known as the Pacific Coastal Route. This highway network runs 15,202 kilometres to Quellon, Poro Monte, Chile, one of the longest roadways in the world.

Mile 0 Marker of the Pacific Coastal Highway.
Mile 0 Marker of the Pacific Coastal Highway.

Lund was founded by a Swede named Charlie Thulin in 1889. He called it Lund after a place in Sweden. Today the town also serves as the home of the Savary Island Water Taxi. It is a passenger only ferry. All cars on Savary were barged in. Savary Island is itself worth a visit. We were there back in the 1990s. But that is a topic for another post.

Panoramic shot of Lund harbour.
Panoramic shot of Lund harbour.

On Sunday evening, our last night before heading back Monday morning, we went for dinner to a nice little place on the south end of town called the Savoury Bight Seaside Restaurant. In front of the restaurant is a magnificent wooden sculpture of a giant lobster eating the tentacle of an octopus. It was carved by chainsaw at a logging show a while back.

The Savoury Bight lobster.
The Savoury Bight lobster.

Dinner was served on an outdoor patio which proffered a view of a magnificent sunset while we ate. The food was pretty good too.

Sunset from the patio of the Savoury Bight Restaurant.
Sunset from the patio of the Savoury Bight Restaurant.

The Sunshine Coast from Saltery Bay to Lund offers plenty for the visitor, whether it is the historic aspects of the area or the many natural wonders to take in. It is a hiker’s and camper’s dream with facilities along Powell and other lakes and along the coast. There is a lot to do there.

Be sure to check out the additional photo galleries linked below as well as some significant websites you’ll find useful. Click on the links for the photo galleries or scroll on down if you are on the main page.


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Photo Gallery: Additional Photos of Powell River and the Northern Sunshine Coast




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Here are some additional pictures in and around Powell River and the northern Sunshine Coast.

This sign shows the hulks currently forming the breakwater.
This sign shows the hulks currently forming the breakwater.
Nice closeup of one of the hulks. Photo courtesy Kathy Lowther.
Nice closeup of one of the hulks. Photo courtesy Kathy Lowther.
Inland Lake
Inland Lake
Boardwalk along Inland Lake
Boardwalk along Inland Lake
Inland Lake is a western toad habitat.
Inland Lake is a western toad habitat.
Some of the frogs in the area are not native here and prey on the young toadlets.
Some of the frogs in the area are not native here and prey on the young toadlets.
Another scenic shot of Inland Lake.
Another scenic shot of Inland Lake.
Across from Willingdon Beach is Putters Mini-Golf and Ice Cream Stand. I rather liked the Edvard Munchian blackboard. I ordered a double scooper. I'd like to see one of those Honkers though! Four scoops! Yikes!
Across from Willingdon Beach is Putters Mini-Golf and Ice Cream Stand. I rather liked the Edvard Munchian blackboard. I ordered a double scooper. I’d like to see one of those Honkers though! Four scoops! Yikes!
Okeover Inlet Marina
Okeover Inlet Marina
Looking up at the Laughing Oyster Restaurant on the ridge above.
Looking up at the Laughing Oyster Restaurant on the ridge above.
Okeover Inlet Marina
Okeover Inlet Marina
The hotel at Lund
The hotel at Lund
Nancy's Bakery in Lund. We had a light lunch here.
Nancy’s Bakery in Lund. We had a light lunch here.
Lund Marina
Lund Marina


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Mmmm! An Alluring Bouquet!




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Wine talk is lost on most people. Mention of nose and palate can be Greek to the average wine drinker. Knowledge of wines takes some time and study. I confess to knowing very little about wines except a very subjective, “Mmmm that tastes good,” or “Nah!  Don’t care for that one.”

But after a visit to the Averill Creek Vineyard on Vancouver Island in June, I know a little more than I did before.

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Sitting along the side of Mt. Prevost, the winery commands an excellent view of the Cowichan Valley.

The winery is located just north of Duncan. Take Highway 1 to Cowichan Valley Highway which is also Highway 18, and head north. Turn right at N Road followed by a left at North Road which is a gravel road. There is a large sign so you should find it easily enough. It’s a windy gravel road which takes you up the mountainside to the winery. There is a gate at the entrance which is opened by entering a code on a keypad. The code is shown on a sign so it is meant to keep deer out, not people.

Averill Creek encompasses 32 acres of vines as well as three buildings adjacent to each other and staggered up the hillside. This allows the wines to flow from one stage to the next entirely by gravity without pumps.

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The Barrel Room – the wine arrives here by gravity – no pumping.

When we arrived, our charming hostess Stephanie laid out four glasses for us and we sampled our first, a nice blend of Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir called Charme de L’ile. As she poured samples, Stephanie talked about the winery and the wines.

Averill Creek, she told us, was a true estate winery. All grapes used are grown on the property. None are imported. They are hand-picked and they often employ local aboriginals as pickers.

As we sampled some more wines, she interrupted her talk when she noticed a hummingbird had flown in through the doorway. It was disoriented and sitting behind a wine barrel by the window. If I had known what she was going to do, I would have had my camera ready. She approached the fallen bird and rather than just shooing it out the door, she knelt down and gently picked it up in her hands, walked outside and let it go. Bird whisperer!

Now Stephanie brought out four more glasses, larger, wider glasses. Snifters specially designed to drink Pinot Noir.

Stephanie pours some wine for us to savour.
Stephanie pours some pinot noir into the special pinot noir glasses.

She first had us sniff the wine in the large glass. On the website, the aroma is describe thus: “Our Pinot Noir opens with an alluring bouquet of dark berries & violets, leather & butterscotch.” It smelled good. Good nose, as they say.

Next she poured some into the regular wine glass and had us take a whiff. Nothing. The scent was barely perceptible.

Now she had us taste the pinot in the pinot glass. It had a pleasant flavour, rich and fruity. Then she had us taste it in the regular glass. It tasted bitter. Not pleasant. And so we were schooled in the art of drinking pinot noir. It needs to be served in a snifter so the aroma can reach the nose. And it needs to be drunk from this glass.

She explained that the nature of the glass was such that the wine flowed to the back and center of the tongue, enhancing the flavour. If you drink it from a regular glass, the wine flow to the sides of the tongue, a different taste center. And the bouquet is not allowed to enhance the flavour. Both a nose and palate are needed to appreciate the full flavour. I have never been a fan of red wine. Maybe I should drink it in a different glass!

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We were so impressed by Stephanie’s knowledge of wines and the wines we sampled that we bought some to take home.

We bought some wine, including some to drink right away on their beautiful patio garden. A nice cheese platter added to the experience.

The patio garden
The patio garden

Our table offered an excellent view of the valley below.

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Looking out on the Cowichan Valley from the winery’s patio garden.

The patio had many planters in full bloom a well as bowers of flowers. They attracted a good number of butterflies, adding to the charm of the place.

A beautiful rose in the patio garden.
A beautiful rose in the patio garden.
And a colorful butterfly.
And a colourful butterfly.

We enjoyed our little repast in the sunshine and then the friends we were visiting took us to the ferry for our trip home, glad we had made the stop at Averill Creek. I’ll end this post with some additional photographs of our visit.

Janis and Sheila share a toast.
Janis and Sheila share a toast.
The winery from the parking lot.
The winery from the parking lot.
Racks of wine ready for sale.
Racks of wine ready for sale.
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This kit includes the wines needed and a recipe for sangria.
We saunter up to the bar for some serious wine tasting.
We saunter up to the bar for some serious wine tasting.
The three buildings of the winery seen from the patio.
The three buildings of the winery seen from the patio.
We thought this arch led to some more vineyards. Actually it's a path to some washrooms.
We thought this arch led to some more vineyards. Actually it’s a path to some washrooms.
Another view of the patio
Another view of the patio
Looking out over the parking lot and the valley from the patio garden
Looking out over the parking lot and the valley from the patio garden

 




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The Historic Kinsol Trestle




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If you’re a railroad buff and visiting Vancouver Island, you might want to check out the historic Kinsol Trestle. It is a restored railroad trestle on the old abandoned CN Rail line and now part of the Trans Canada Trail.

The trestle is truly a marvel to see. The largest railroad trestle in the British Commonwealth and one of the largest in the world, it stands 145 feet above the Koksilah River with a span of 614 feet (0.187 km). It is also notable for its seven degree curve.

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The Kinsol Trestle is the largest railroad trestle in the British Empire and one of the largest in the world.

It is fairly easy to get to – just 48 kilometres from Victoria, British Columbia, about an hour drive. Head north up the Malahat Highway and turn off onto Shawnigan Lake Road. We were staying with friends in Cobble Hill when we went and it’s a short thirteeen kilometres from there, also along Shawnigan Lake Road which forms a big arc beginning and ending on the Malahat. That route will take you right past Shawnigan Lake School, the world renowned private school. The trestle is just seven kilometres from the school.

Work on the original Kinsol Trestle began in 1914 but was halted due to World War I. Work resumed late in 1919 and the twelve story structure was completed in 1920. It served mainly as an industrial road carrying timber and other materials. Although it crosses the Koksilah River, its name is actually a portmanteau of the King Solomon copper mine which operated near by. It is also called Koksilah River Bridge.

Modern timber train crossing the trestle. The last crossing was in June 1979.
Modern timber train crossing the trestle. The last crossing was in June 1979.

The rare passenger train crossing the trestle included 1954 excursion from Victoria to the Cowichan Valley carrying a load of railroad enthusiasts attending the national Model Railway Convention. The train stopped there on that occasion so the rail buffs could get out and take pictures.

A rare crossing of the trestle by a passenger train. This one was filled with model railroad enthusiasts.
A rare crossing of the trestle by a passenger train. This one was filled with model railroad enthusiasts.

The last train crossed in the summer of 1979 and the bridge then fell into disrepair. In 2008, after lobbying from various historical societies, three levels of government and a private trust combined resources to rehabilitate the landmark bridge. It reopened in 2011 as part of the Trans-Canada Trail.

Now the trestle is part of the Trans canada Trail. Tracks have been replaced by a boardwalk.
Now the trestle is part of the Trans Canada Trail. Tracks have been replaced by a boardwalk.

From the parking lot, the trestle is a short hike along the abandoned rail line, now part of the trail. The walk is fairly flat.

At the trestle, you can go down to a lookout on the south side, or hike right down to the bottom on the far side. As high as a twelve story building, it is most impressive.

Looking up at the trestle from below
Looking up at the trestle from below

We spent a good hour at the trestle and then continued with a visit to Cowichan Bay, a quaint little seaside town of houseboats, fishboats and artisan shops. I’ll write about that in a future post!

Click on the link below for additional photos, or if you are on the home page, just scroll down.

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Photo Gallery: The Kinsol Trestle




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Here are some additional photos of the Kinsol Trestle.

The Kinsol Trestle spans a salmon spawning river in rural Vancouver Island.
The Kinsol Trestle spans a salmon spawning river in rural Vancouver Island.
Looking down at the river below from the top of the bridge
Looking down at the river below from the top of the bridge
The Koksilah River
The Koksilah River
The Kinsol Trestle
The Kinsol Trestle
The trestle is a truly massive structure, one of the largest trestles in the world.
The trestle is a truly massive structure, one of the largest trestles in the world.
Janis and Sheila under the trestle.
Janis and Sheila under the trestle.
The bottom of the trestle
The bottom of the trestle
Looking straight up from below.
Looking straight up from below.
The lower part of the span that crosses the river.
The lower part of the span that crosses the river.
The Kinsol Trestle
The Kinsol Trestle
Photo of old train crossing the trestle.
Photo of old train crossing the trestle.
One last look at the Kinsol Trestle
One last look at the Kinsol Trestle




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