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A Vancouver Island Check-in ~ 1 Year Later

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Vancouver Island boasts a unique signature.  It’s one of the few places I’ve been where the  majority of  people I meet are not from here originally.

Born and bred islanders are a rare sighting and when I am introduced to one, I let them know what a treat it is to meet ‘one of them’.

Until a year ago, Vancouver Island seemed a confusing entity.  There was Vancouver the mainland and the island of Vancouver, both of which I could never quite keep straight in my mind as I viewed it from across the country.

Mythic tales about island life and its residents flourished in the imaginations of Easterners.  Westerners were considered laid back and only the old, very old and young newly marrieds were found here.  Apparently, everyone else left at the first opportunity for the sights and sounds of bigger city centres.

I’ve since come to learn that’s not true or if it was, things have definitely changed.  The landscape is ripe with professionals of all ages, entrepreneurs and tech start-ups.

So here I am, practically fresh off the ferry and filled with insights from someone who is not only an Easterner but a woman in discovery mode.

My most memorable conversation to date was held during a misty/rainy morning as I walked along Dallas Rd. in the James Bay area of town.  A woman and her dog braved the morning chill and dampness.  As I approached, she politely started chatting and wondered when the ‘winter rain’ would stop.

I thought her comment interesting as it only rained about 2 days up until that moment and the temperature could only have been +1.  I turned to her, smiled and said I didn’t notice the rain.  In fact, I felt I was transported to Hawaii compared to what I left behind.  It was December and I knew conditions back East could not compete with what was going on in the moment of mist, rain and +1.

She agreed.  She came out over 25 years prior for a visit.  After a week, called back East to her children and told them to pack and ship her things here.  She never went back.

I hear that story time and time again. They come, take in the sights and weather then life altering decisions are made.

At times, I hear strange comments.  The prolific number of homeless was an inconvenience to a visiting couple.  Apparently, seeing these disenfranchised folks had spoiled their holiday.

The price of food was a huge source of amusement when I first arrived.  What do you mean cheese is $13 a brick?  Don’t get me started on cantaloupes.  I’ve since resigned myself to island prices, I now consider it the price one pays for paradise living or ‘Island Tax’.

Island attitude was something to get use to.  As someone that hustled around most of the day, I had to learn to slow down.  I was an obvious outsider as seen by the speed of my gait.  I was either looking for ways to pass the agonizingly slow ahead or attempting not to fall over as I patiently trailed behind.

Neighborhood wildlife was something new to me.  Early morning raccoon visits, coupled with nesting crows forever chattering in trees or atop fences, deer hanging out and sunning themselves in the backyard, peacocks strutting down the street and the occasional cougar is now part of my life here.

Peacock strolling in James Bay, Victoria

Peacock strolling in James Bay, Victoria

As someone that likes to know where she is at all times, I still have no idea which direction is North, so forget East, West or South, I couldn’t tell you.  And where the heck is up island and the peninsula?  I seem to move through multiple zones every 2 blocks.  I’ve given up trying to figure it all out and simply enjoy the beauty of the place as I travel from area to area.

Food.  If you’re looking for an orgasmic culinary experience, the island is the place to be, boasting more restaurants, bistros and coffee shops per capita than most places in North America.

Entertainment and events are never in short demand.  Because the magazine hosts a community calendar, I see the plethora of to-do’s happening in and around the city of Victoria.  It would be criminal for me or anyone to say they’re bored.

After a year, Victoria is beginning to feel like home.  I catch myself referring to Ontario as home less and less.  I can truly see why this has long been hailed as Canada’s ‘best kept secret’.   With me here, it won’t be under wraps for long.

So how do I feel after a year?

I’m still in love with Vancouver Island.

Calling all

 

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