Monday, July 25, 2016

In this issue I am posting some photographs of buildings in downtown Duncan, the City of Duncan. As a city Duncan is, area wise, the smallest Canadian city. With 5,000 inhabitants and mostly two storey buildings There isn't anything big about this city no matter how one looks at it. However new buildings in the downtown core tend to be higher and so the city grows taller building by building. The older buildings, that make up the approximately six blocks of the downtown area, were built during the first half of the twentieth century into the 1950s and I have selected a few of those for this entry.

For starters there are buildings on the other side of the tracks; the Garage and its neighbor. It is not difficult to realize  these buildings past use but now the Garage is somewhat like a mini mall with a nice coffee shop (coffee beans roasted locally and good food as well), food store, bookstore and on the second floor room for events and entertainment. The building next to it speaks for itself.

Crossing the railroad tracks we run into the station. For now I like to show just the waiting room part, since the 1912 building itself may become the subject of another blog entry.

VIA Rail stopped running its dayliner earlier this century and since then the tracks have not been maintained and are now in total disrepair Hence freight trains stopped using the line as well except for one. I watched this one train last year. It goes as far south as the animal feed mill just outside Duncan at a speed of 10 or 15 clicks per hour. When in Duncan sometimes I can still hear that train whistle blow.

Across the street from the station (Canada Ave) is the bank of Montreal with its main entrance on the suitably named Station Street.

Let us look at a few more Station Street buildings. This one is a few numbers up from the bank. It was a cafe restaurant until turning into a thrift store not all that many years ago. Below it, through the door on the left, was the pool hall, great place, before that basement became Duncan's best second hand bookstore. The bookstore is long gone as well and I have no idea what's happening in that basement nowadays.

Across the road we see this:

The next two images give an idea what most of the downtown stores still look like.

One of the older buildings in town, across from the old Chinatown now government and court buildings, had the Chow brothers convenience store in it for most of the twentieth century. We could buy single cigarettes in there and it was a great place to shop for Marvel comics and the likes as well. For most of that century the parking lot was swept by a small Chinese man named "Happy".

Duncan is called the city of totems. There is a tradition here of brilliant native carving. There is also room in our city for guest carvers. The next image shows one of them. Consider this an intro to a future blog post about Duncan's totems.

This blog post could go on forever. Beside the Station or the totem poles there are churches and their unique styles, new buildings, and more topics for future episodes. Thank you for being here with me and take care until we meet again.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Cowichan Bay the sea

At the bottom of the bay are commercial docks accommodating deep sea ships (see the photo below), at the one side is the village Cowichan Bay (photo), and at the other side Mount Tzouhalem. This photo was taken from Mount Tzouhalem.

 The Bay has a large amount of privately owned buoys anchored where the owners moor their boats for free. Some of these boats are occupied by year around live aboards who by necessity live off the grid.

The Bay has a varied wildlife population. The more visible species among them are herons and sea lions. The herons may be seen a stone throw away from their heronry fishing at the low water edge from spring into summer, while the sealions wait for autumn and spawning fish that congregate here  till they can make it up the rivers.

Cowichan Bay, even though a tourist spot nowadays, has very much maintained its historic working place action. The fishing fleet no longer comes in late at night to offload its catch, but the working boats are still here and going out at the proper times or openings for a variety of catches.

The Government Wharf has most of the working boats, but the other eight marinas in the short stretch up from the Government Wharf have a large variety of boats ranging from fancy yachts to small sailing boats and of course more working boats in all sizes.

From Government Wharf  across the breakwater stretches Cowichan Bay.

Here are the connections between land and marinas The hoisting equipment was last used in the mid nineties for unloading trawlers and other fishing vessels.

Nothing much changes in the Bay ever except by utter necessity.

Cowichan Bay is a bay of pilings and even the water's edge structures are built on pilings.
The far end of this line of houses runs into the marinas that show six photos back.
In this short photo essay I have tried to portray some of the watery side of town. A future installment will deal more with the land based part of town.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Re development in Victoria's Blue Bridge area

The other day I visited Victoria BC for an hour and spend 10 minutes around one of my favorite disappearing landmarks. Since I'm no longer defending the importance of history of the city and the way it is preserved (the younger generation does not appear to have much worry about that sort of thing, or at least it's their job), I can show photographs of history's disappearance without comments. I'm looking at the Pandora Street bridge. It is half gone, but it's still part of the main arteries connecting Victoria across the inner harbor, ready to be replaced by today's style, which probably is not what the future requires, but that is development, lol.
The bridge and its surroundings make for an interesting area from the early Victoria days that now, for many years already, has old buildings no longer used waiting for upgrading or renewal. The replacement of the area mixes old and new in the facade and that is positive enough. Personally, and aesthetically speaking, I would have liked to see the bridge incorporated in this overhaul. At any rate here is another project that I try to follow and photograph as it develops.
Sometimes I have a camera hanging around my neck, but more often there is just the phone, which I have supported since the first Motorola flip phone with the first camera (I love camera phones and they get closer to some kind of perfection by the day), and even though no longer Motorola, these images are here thanks to the camera phone.

Across the Gorge development is recent and I haven't thought, so far, about photographing that side. On the downtown side, however, there are more photos here and here.
And the spring geese often with friends are here year after year as well.

Anyway walking through Victoria it is nearly impossible to miss this area,  so updates showing major developments are definitely among future entries in this blog.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Most of Duncan's downtown core was built in the mid to earlier nineteen hundreds and shows history of this town. The old buildings are mostly two stories and lend a very spacious small town feel to Duncan. In 2014 I did a camera walk around the half dozen blocks with stores. The results of this walk can be seen here on Flickr. The old buildings are slowly disappearing. The buildings that bite the dust do so for a variety of reasons. They get replaced by taller buildings but so far I have not seen any that actually beautify the City of Duncan.
In the center of Duncan's downtown area on the corner of Craig Street and Station Street stood an old store building. Some years ago a snowplow drove into the building after which the building was condemned.

The building was eventually removed and replaced with a lawn. Now of course we wonder what will be built here. Replacing buildings one at the time on small building lots must make any overall planning very difficult.

At any rate later this year I like to photograph some of the newer buildings that adorn downtown Duncan's skyline. Of course any development on this here lot will not go unnoticed either and these developments will be part of future blog entries.

Friday, January 15, 2016


The other day I spent some time on Sombrio Beach about 10 minutes driving south of Port Renfrew on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The state of Washington shows itself from across the sea. Initially it was rather chilly but a bit of sunshine warmed the place dramatically. Throughout the day there are at least a few surfers out there on the water. The roar, the crashing, the ebbing and the coming in again of waves, a constant and deafening and beautiful noise, is what I had come to listen to. Whether the scene is tranquil or super wild, wild enough to break sides of mountains, there is always that awesome noise.
And, of course, a classy self respecting beach has a waterfall. Neither ear nor eye ever gets tired here from listening or seeing.
I took a few photographs with both phone and camera.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Duncan Elementary

One of Duncan's beautiful heritage buildings is its Elementary school building built in 1913/1914. The building was designed by architect William Tuff Whiteway who built, beside many of British Columbia's schools, a variety of well known buildings at the beginning of the twentieth century. The land for the school was donated by Rev. Holmes (he built St Peters Anglican Church and several more in the area).
I took these photographs around the time the school celebrated its 100 year anniversary. A walk around.

Duncan: The Cliffs on Mount Tzouhalem

There is a brand new neighborhood on Mount Tzouhalem and this is what the Cliff dwellers look at certain times of the year.