This is a collection of photos taken around BC and a few in Alberta, Canada between the 17th of April, 2016 and the 2nd of April, 2017. During that time I made a total of four visits, coincidentally one for each season of the year, and stayed for six months all told.
For the first time in my life, I was able to witness both the subtle and grand transformations of a landscape as the year progressed. I saw the Rockies towering, unobstructed, towards the big blue. And I saw them shrouded in mist then snow, looking languid and asleep.
My visit in October was also the first time I experienced the West Coast most people were familiar with: gray and rainy. Up until then I could have believed that was just a myth.
And of course, there was winter. Real, prolonged, irrevocable. I felt like a child walking through the snow-covered pavement of North Vancouver or the white-capped boulders along Lillooet River, ogling and giddy; I was literally in Winter Wonderland.
Suffice it to say, BC and what little I’v seen of Alberta are gorgeous whatever face they take on. The best part is I’ve barely seen a fraction, so there’s even more to discover.
Scenes from Salt Spring Island
At the Chatham Point Lighthouse
Sandy grew up at Chatham Point Lighthouse, where his parents were lighthouse keepers for many years. Seeing a piece of his childhood (and what a breathtaking piece it was!) was like getting a glimpse into a time-machine. Suddenly I could place all those snippets I saw in his childhood home movies; I understood his abhorrence for crowds and cramped buildings; I understood his love for the mountains and the sea. I finally saw the very first things he ever comprehended in his life, and so I understood many of his intricacies (and quirks ;P).
The keepers at that time, the Toners, were kind enough to let us roam around the property on our own so we were able to explore to our hearts’ content.
From the Harbour Air seaplane
Cates Island Weekend
Sandy’s former employer owns this private island near Sechelt, and was kind enough to let us enjoy it for the weekend. We felt like lords of our domain, having a gorgeous chunk of land all to ourselves.
The Okanagan Farmer’s Market
Along the road
I only visited for a little over two weeks in October, mainly for Sandy’s sister’s wedding. Short though it was, it was action-packed and certainly very memorable. It was definitely interesting seeing the snow line along the mountains, watching them get lower and lower as winter approached. It was also such a contrast to my October visit the previous year, where our road trip from Vancouver to Calgary was all sunshine and clear, blue skies.
January to April saw my longest visit to BC so far . I just missed the worst of the winter then, but still got a good taste of what it was like. At that point I think I was the last person in the city who still got excited by snow, who still loved the cold, and wished for the sun to go away.
What I got though was a perfect balance. Nothing beat the cool days blanketed by bright sunlight and clear skies. But seeing everything in white held its own magic for me too.
Around the city
We love going camping. We’ve gone camping in each of my visits, and I figured that winter was no excuse to stay indoors this time around. Truth be told, I was yearning again for that feeling: the nerves, the uncertainty, the physical toll on your body, and the ensuing rush of blood to the head at the realization that all that was what fueled the thrill, the sense of accomplishment, and the sense of wonder. It was the spirit of adventure in every sense.
So off to Pemberton we went, to the Keyhole Hot Springs along the Lillooet River Trail. Only one other couple camped for the night, leaving the entire grand landscape to four people. Just the way it should be.
Thanks to Sandy’s friends who are now masters on the Maple Leaf Swell, we got to go on a ride-along as they took her to the shipyard for refit. Sandy was a former master on the Swell himself and had many stories about his adventures with her, so seeing her firsthand was pretty cool.
The Swell is a gorgeous boat, full of character and charm. Sailboats may be sleek and sexy, but personally, I think tugs are just so cute (of course, “cute” doesn’t do justice to a vessel with the power to tow 100,000 tonnes in one go).
We cruised along the Fraser River on a glorious day. It was still officially winter at the time, but spring was definitely in the air.