Canada, here I come! Again.

This Sunday (Nov 13) I’ll be giving my talk about my trip to the Creation Museum to the Victoria Secular Humanist Association. It starts at 10:30am at the Cedar Hill Recreation Centre (3220 Cedar Hill Rd, Saanich, BC). Do I have any blog readers in Victoria? Who knows. If I do, I hope I’ll see you there!

And if any of you have suggestions of things to do or places to eat in Victoria, let me know. It’s a three-day weekend for me, so I’m turning the talk into an excuse for a mini vacation with the boyfriend, who’s excited to be a blogger’s groupie. All he insists we do is visit the Bug Zoo. As long as it’s taxonomically correct and doesn’t feature any spiders…


  1. says

    I have been to many museums throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. Victoria has a museum of miniatures which houses an exhibit that absolutely blew my mind. The exhibit is prosaic for the most part, with large dioramas of railroads, battles, and so forth.

    The display at the back of the museum absolutely knocked my socks off. It was a scale model of a lumber mill. Sadly there was a sign that read something like “due to fire regulations, we cannot run this exhibit. Instead please watch this video of the model in action.”

    The video was of the machine cutting little tree limb logs with a tiny band saw, then automatically trimming the sides. From there the planks were conveyed to a planer and surface planed. Everything was built by one dedicated model builder.

    Highly recommended.

  2. nominatissima says

    I’m in Victoria! I’ll see you there with my significant other, we’re both big fans!

  3. says

    And regarding places to go/restaurants to eat at: If you have a car, take a trip to the Butterfly Gardens and the Butchart Gardens. The Butchart Gardens are expensive, but they’re quite gorgeous, and right now, in autumn, the Japanese garden will be at its finest. I also recommend the Maritimes Museum, and Matt Crowley mentioned Miniature World already. There’s also the Royal BC Museum, which is quite impressive.
    And if you are staying the weekend, my significant other and I would be glad to treat you and your boyfriend at a restaurant of your choice: Just tell us whether you like Thai, Indian, Irish, or something else, and we’ll think of something.

  4. Jared G. says

    Alas, I won’t be able to make it. Phooey.

    You really should go visit the Victoria Bug Zoo, it’s quite nice. There was only one spider there the last time I visited, but you don’t need to go anywhere near it if you don’t want to.

  5. SaraDee says

    I’m a blog reader in Victoria!

    I’m ashamed to say that I’ve actually never checked out our Secular Humanist chapter though, because I assumed that like most places I go in Victoria, it would be filled with retirees. I’m pretty sure this is partly Victoria’s demographic, and partly the fact that I am 29 turning 87, and apparently share the interests of retirees (cross-stitch is awesome). I will definitely be showing up for this event though – if we turn out to be the only people there under 60, don’t say I didn’t warn you… Wait, has anyone put the word out at UVic that you’re coming?

    The Bug Zoo is the best! My husband and I went there when we first moved here, and have been trying to get visitors to go there with us again for years, but no takers. The Royal BC Museum is also a good touristy spot, of course… I don’t think they have any good special exhibits on right now, but there is always a mammoth. Ooh, we also have The Centre of the Universe – our astronomy centre – but I just googled and it’s closed to drop-ins until spring. Dang.

    There are also a lot of historical houses (Craigdarroch Castle being the most famous, and Emily Carr’s house) which is the typical touristy trap stuff for Victoria. Also Butchart Gardens; I don’t recommend it (it’s lovely, but it was $36 each last time I went there, so… yeah, not that lovely).

    We do good brewpubs though, I am not going to lie – one of my former classmates from Seattle still claims it’s a toss, so I encourage you to weigh in on the matter. I highly recommend you tour the Vancouver Island Brewery on Government St. For food and beers: Spinnakers Brewpub, Swans, Bard and Banker (food is hit and miss), Canoe Brewpub. Somewhat fancy Italian: Il Terrazo. Somewhat fancy tapas: The Tapa Bar. Yummy lunch Mexican: Cafe Mexico. Hippy trendy brunch/lunch: Rebar.

  6. Philip Langmuir says

    What? You mean that we could have held our skeptic-in-the-pub meetup next week and gotten a real life blogger as an exhibit? I’m almost disappointed I settled for bringing literature about chemtrails.

  7. says

    I have no idea if anyone outside of Victoria Humanists knows about my visit, so please spread the word!

    And thanks for all the suggestions :)

  8. says

    I totally cannot recommend this enough. My grandparents live in Victoria and every time I visit I make it a point to visit the Miniature Museum. The level of detail and sheer awesomeness of the place, there is a sign that says the dollhouses have working toilets!, just can’t be beat. Also for a nerdy person the “space” exhibit alone is worth the price of admission.

    I’d also recommend you walk downtown for a while, there’s lots of little streets and shops, with some interesting little cafes and restaurants along the way; I don’t really do do the pub thing so you’re on your own.

    If you have time also check out the Fisherman’s Wharf,, there is an eclectic collection of boathouses that’s worth seeing in addition to the *really* yummy places to eat (the fish and chip place is totally awesome). There’s a trail along the waterfront that leads right to it so if you like seafood, or just nice waterfront scenery, you should totally check it out.

  9. Margarete says

    Dang, I was just in Victoria this weekend, oh well.
    The Royal BC museum is (as everyone has said) awesome, as is the Bug Zoo, there is a tarantula that they offer to let you hold, but they won’t force it on you. Walking along Government street is also fun, a little touristy, but there are interesting shops, and sometimes Darth Vader busking with his Violin.

  10. Stormageddon says

    Royal BC Museum for certain, and a big plate of poutine at the Garrick’s Head pub. I would also add a recommendation for the maritime museum as well. It’s a bit off the usual touristy side, but quite interesting.

  11. eNeMeE says

    Might be worth checking out Beacon Hill Park if it’s a clear day – nice view of the Olympic mountains across the water (though somewhat unlikely), or head to the top of Mt. Douglas or, if you’re into salmon spawning (and the smell of rotting fish) or large trees, you could go to Goldstream Provincial Park though that’s a list of places ever further from downtown Victoria…

    I recommend avoiding Butchart’s at this time of year – not worth the price of admission since the lights aren’t up yet, most of the flowers are in sad shape at best and it’s takes a large chunk of time to do. So does Goldstream, so might want to avoid that if you have a limited amount of time – may also be full of school kids. Though it also has access to the hike up Mt Finlayson, so might be an option if you’re interested in going up a large hill (definitely not a mountain).

  12. jamesemery says

    Hi, Jen!

    I don’t know whether this will interest you or not, and even if it does, it would probably be a long road to get there. I used to have a pretty hefty fear of spiders myself (I don’t know whether it would count as arachnophobia, or whether that’s just really widespread to start with anyway!). Being that I lived in my father’s basement as a teenager, in the middle of the woods in Virginia, spiders were an extremely common fact of life for me. “What to do?”, I thought. After building up my courage for a couple weeks, I resolved myself to purchase a tarantula for a pet. I picked her out myself; she was a small Rose-haired. I named her Katie, after a girl I liked at the time (this wasn’t meant as an insult, but merely as a way to feel a bit closer to the spider). I quickly found that a tarantula is, in behavior, very close to that of a house-cat. After a couple weeks of feeding Katie crickets and carrying her cage with me to introduce her to people, we found ourselves nearly inseparable. Now that I’m 31, I still feel a twinge of that irrational fear around spiders, and I probably always will, but it passes quickly, and I’ve found that I’m not even really afraid to touch them, so long as I’m sure they’re not notably dangerous ones (the Black Widow spider is our only really hazardous spider in my area, and those are extremely obvious).

    My apologies if this tale was bothersome, but spiders are wonderful creatures that I’ve taken it upon myself to advocate for. I truly hope that, one day, they’ll be looked upon more fairly, as they seem to get a bum rap nowadays.

    Good luck, and have fun on your trip! :)

  13. says

    Hopefully you are taking the Tsawwassen Ferry (just outside of Vancouver) rather than the San Juan Ferry (The Tsawwassen Ferry has many more runs daily than the single San Juan Ferry and you get to drive through the Skagit Valley and through Bellingham on the way). Taking Tsawwassen, it’s usually about 5 hours from our house (the Eastside) to Victoria, with at least 2 of that on the ferry.

    My favorite places to eat in Victoria include:

    The White Heather Tea Room in Oak Bay (it’s got a better English Tea than the Empress, in my humble opinion AND you can get the tea to go and eat it on the ferry home).

    Beacon Drive-In, near Beacon Hill Park, has a delicious menu, which includes a fried prawn sandwich.

    Unfortunately, Red Fish Blue Fish on Wharf Street is closed for the season (they open again in Feb).

    Be sure to check out the used bookstores, too. Lots to see in Victoria. Like Hatley Castle at Royal Roads University

  14. Reverse Polarity says

    Best breakfast in Victoria:
    Blue Fox Cafe

    Best breakfast I’ve ever had in my life, anywhere. Only open for breakfast and lunch. Small, very popular, and they don’t take reservations, so there can sometimes be a long line half way down the block! Go early.

  15. dave cortesi says

    OK you already have too much to see, do, and eat in Victoria, but if either of you likes to browse hardware, tools, camping gear or outdoor clothes (best pair of rubber boots I ever bought!), the biggest & possibly quirkiest hardware emporium in the world is Capitol Iron.

  16. Sarah Bailey says

    Welcome to Victoria! If you’re interested in going to Butchart Gardens I can hook you up with free tickets (it’s beautiful but not worth the admission price) – just let me know.

  17. Indigo says

    Victoria’s my hometown, so I know whereof I speak.
    Noodle Box – tasty food fast. Various locations.
    The Parsonage coffee shop in Fernwood – they roast the best coffee I have ever tasted right on the premises.
    Local beers to try – Phillips Brewery and Driftwood Brewery both make some pretty good stuff. I recommend the Driftwood Ale and Phillips Hop Circle IPA. Good places to drink it include Smuggler’s Cove and Maude Hunter’s.

  18. J.M. Pierce says

    We loved Butchart Gardens when we were there…..and, you might enjoy “high tea” at the Empress Hotel….If you ferry over, it is a beautiful trip (at least from Vancouver)……so many tiny islands along the way…..

  19. SaraDee says

    Apparently he calls himself Space Raven – he gave my friend a button with his face on it one time…

  20. Quatguy says

    Your talk will be 2 blocks from my house! I will be there for sure. The Royal BC Museum is a must. Walking around the inner harbour is great and I would definately go for a walk on the breakwater, it is a 15 minute walk south of downtown or a 5 minute taxi ride. Lots of great pubs in town, Canoe Club, Irish Times and Spinnakers are all great. Bring lots of money though.

  21. MattE says

    Welcome to Victoria!
    These comments have me amazed at how many fellow Victorians also follow this blog. Very cool.

  22. Jonathan Thornburg says

    Things to see when you’re in Victoria:
    * For a short workout, try bicycling the Galloping Goose trail.
    It’s built around a former railroad, so it’s nice & level…
    * For a day outing, take the ferry to one of the Gulf Islands
    and explore — they’re ++beautiful.
    * And for a truly spectacular experience, take 2 days to go out
    to Pacific Rim National Park on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

  23. Dhorvath, OM says

    I live in Victoria, but I won’t be able to make your talk. So sad to hear about it now when I can’t schedule it in. Enjoy your visit, I am more for the outside stuff myself, so I would recommend you hike Finlayson, or stroll the Gorge water way, especially stop under the bridge at the narrows under Tillicum for an archeological site and very frequent tidal flow of water. As for downtown, I love The Mint at Douglas and Pandora (well near enough) it’s a cool restaurant and has some tasty fare. Stop by Munroe’s bookstore it’s pretty nice too.

  24. Ted Powell says

    November 8, 2011 at 7:50 PM I posted a comment with two recommended places to visit. I included a link for each. This may or may not be why the comment is still awaiting moderation, so to test that hypothesis here it is again without the links. BTW, at the old blog site I was able to post with my TypePad ID.

    Penny Farthing Pub, behind the Tweed Curtain in the suburb of Oak Bay. Good food!
    2228 Oak Bay Avenue.

    Bolen Books. Large. Not a chain. In the Hillside shopping centre, 1644 Hillside Avenue.
    Less than a mile from where you’ll be speaking.

  25. Tex says

    So all these posts are making me really want to take the motorcycle on a cross country trip north and visit our neighbor to the North. So actually around here if you say that people think your talking about yankees lol)

    Also theres nothing wrong with spiders, google image search P. metallica, A. versicolor, H. lividum, or even B smithi and tell me theyer not awesome :-D

  26. Ash says

    I was at your talk today, and really enjoyed it! It was my first time seeing you talk, and the Creation Museum is a fascinating topic from an non-theistic viewpoint.

    I also wanted to recommend rebar for a place to eat, but the comments section was being weird at the time.

  27. Quatguy says

    Thanks for the great talk today Jen, I really enjoyed it and was very glad to meet you. I hope you had a good trip back and the ferry was not too rough for you. You are taller in real life than you are on the internet. I hope you enjoyed your stay in our fair city. Too bad about the weather. You will have to come back again when the weather is nicer.

  28. Sarah Bailey says

    Thanks Jen, it was good to meet you and your talk was awesome! I hope you and your s/o enjoyed the rest of your visit :)

  29. says

    Spot on info with this kind of write-up, I truly think this website needs much more thought. I’ll probably be again to read much more, thanks for that information.

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