Monday, March 23, 2009

Monday in Victoria

We spent most of the day at the amazing Royal British Columbia Museum in downtown Victoria. Four years ago Mike and I flew up to Victoria for a romantic 3-day weekend to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. We did all the major sightseeing (Butchart Gardens, afternoon tea, wandering around the Inner Harbour, cocktails at the Empress, etc.), but we saved the museum for our last day in town, and we felt that we didn't have nearly enough time there.

So we all tromped off to the museum today, and although Mike was a bit disappointed that he wasn't able to read every single label under every single exhibit (the way he and my mom both like to visit museums), I have to say that the kids did amazingly well. It's a wonderful museum for children, although our kids' ages of 2, nearly 6, and 12 and varying interests can present a challenge.

Most of the museum is housed on two floors. We began with the Natural History Gallery, where Nicholas fell in love with the life-size model of the wooly mastodon. He has a thing for elephants, begun at the Oregon Zoo when he first met Samudra, and he loved this big, hairy elephant! It was extremely difficult to get him to leave the exhibit, and Mike had to take him back later in the afternoon for another visit. The rest of the Natural History Gallery is full of wonderful dioramas and models--in addition to a great, hands-on oceans exhibit.

Our photos didn't come out that well, because they asked visitors to refrain from using flash photography.

Nicholas and his "hairy elephant"

Mom at one of the dioramas

Dad with a space age car in the main lobby

After touring the second floor, we ate our picnic lunch in an area near the lobby.

Next we visited the incredible First Peoples Gallery, with more dioramas, models, and exhibits, including beautiful First Peoples artwork.

A model of a pit house

Some totem poles

A few of the beautiful masks in the museum's collection

A ceremonial costume
Looking down into my favorite room of the museum--a somber, spiritual, and dark room filled with totem poles...I would have been happy to just sit in that room, surrounded by totem poles, for hours...
The boys in a model of a longhouse

Last came the Modern History Gallery, which was a hit with the older kids. It contained replica rooms and exhibits of pieces of more recent history...from Victoria's Chinatown and its gold mines and canneries to its Victorian-era shops. Also a movie theater showing silent movies with Charlie Chaplin!

A genuine water wheel working in the museum (in the gold mine exhibit)
Inside a replica of Captain Cook's ship


Victorian-era British Columbia

The history of the First Peoples in Canada is haunting and tragic, as it is elsewhere in the world. What's different about Canada, however, is the way the First Peoples' culture and traditions have been woven into and honored in Canadian life and art.
Outside of the museum were these photos of famous British Columbians. Recognize the famous Oregonians?
Walking through the Inner Harbour area--quite an overcast day today!
In front of the famous Empress Hotel
Mid-afternoon, we left Mom and Dad in the museum so they could take their time (like people without small children in tow!) and we went off to have an afternoon snack. Then we went to Munro's, a wonderful book shop downtown, and we bought some looseleaf tea at Murchie's. (I love the smell in that shop!)
Nicholas fell asleep on the 45-minute journey back to the house, which meant that he had a late night tonight. (He doesn't fall asleep well if he's had an afternoon nap.)
Chris has begun another blog (he tried this once before, about 2 years ago, before fizzling out) and has joined Facebook. What is the world coming to? ;)
Kieran and Nicholas entertained us this evening by singing songs from "Bye Bye Birdie" and "The Sound of Music."
Time for bed. Tomorrow will be spent exploring more of the area west of Sooke.

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