.....It was a cool, overcast and dark trip up the mountain by an intrepid group of our club. 'Outside the box' for sure. We were rewarded when being enveloped by the world of astrophysics, those who work in the field, volunteers who are keen on the science, and young children who enthusiastically asked great questions of the experts.
The Astrophysical Observatory or as those involved like to call it 'The Centre of the Universe' In 1910, Canadian astronomer John Stanley Plaskett embarked with a bold vision to modernize the national astronomy program with a 'great' reflecting telescope, culminating in the construction of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO) in Victoria, BC. In 1914, the Canadian federal government formally approved Victoria as the location for the proposed 72" reflector, intended to be the largest in the world, due to the city's stable size and moderate climate.
The Plaskett Telescope was used in the 1920's to establish the rate at which our solar system orbits the centre of the Milky Way, telling us the mass of our galaxy. Then crucial data about the basic parameters of stars, like mass and temperature, was acquired. Work in this area continues to the present day, including information on the magnetic fields and chemical composition of stars.
In the 1970's Canada became a world leader in astronomy collaborating with Hawaii, Chile, South Africa and Australia.
FFVVI PICKLE BOAT PUB CRAWL - Thursday, August 17, 2023
We let a ferry captain be our designated driver as we experienced four of Victoria’s best pubs! We booked our pub crawl start time, 3:30PM, and then caught a ferry from one stop to the next ending our day at nine. The weather was warm and sunny. The convivial group of twelve members and three guests had a fun day on the water of Victoria's inner harbour. A definite repeat next year!
Get to Know Your H2O Tour - Source to Tap - June 10, 2023
A CRD tour of the greater Victoria watershed area by an intrepid group from the club on a very rainy Saturday in June.
We joined a large busload of fellow travelers and the first stop was the Sooke Gate entrance at the north basin view point at the end of the lake (image 1). Then on to Rithet Creek, which is a primary tributary for the Sooke Reservoir. It supplies about 25% of the water entering the reservoir (image 2). On to a forty-five minute walk in the forest through a new forest, on into a fifty year old forest, ending in an area of trees 250 years old (images 3,4,5). Our guide Kathy, CRD Information Technician and UVIC science graduate, provided a detailed explanation of forest growth from planted seedlings through the decades.
Given the issues of wildfires in BC, details of the CRD area forest fire protection management was timely, interesting and reassuring.
Our group with tour guide Kathy Haesevoets at the Sooke Reservoir Dam (image 7). View from this spot looking south to the end of the reservoir (image 6).
Then a final stop was a tour of the Goldstream Disinfection Facility. A three step process, beginning with UV light which kills bacteria and parasites, followed by the addition of low dose Chlorine (1.6-1.9 mg) which kills viruses and adds further protection against bacteria, and ending with the addition of a tiny quantity of Ammonia which added to the chlorine provides longer lasting protection as the water travels the long distribution system pipelines to Greater Victoria.
We arrived back at the beginning, wiser, healthier from our walk in the forest and appreciative of the quality of our drinking water.
Exploring Victoria's Chinese Heritage - April 20, 2023
Victoria's Chinatown is the oldest in Canada. At its peak, Victoria's Chinatown was home to over 3,000 people. According to the 2021 Canadian census BC is home to 550,590 Chinese Canadians.
Chinese history was one of cheap labour as they were brought into Canada to work on BC and Canadian infrastructure projects. In 1788 they were part of Captain John Meares' expedition to build the first year-round non-indigenous settlement, a fur-trading fort. Thereafter Chinese workers were common in the fur-trade settlements across Canada. Victoria's Chinatown became the starting point for many more Chinese immigrants involved in the gold rush and the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
Our day began at the Chinese cemetery which lies beside the rocky shore of Harling Point, looking out towards the US Olympic Mountains. Simple markers and a ceremonial altar are found among the wildflowers in a setting selected according to the ancient concept of feng shui. Charlayne Thorton-Joe, Visitor Experience & Facilities Co-Ordinator of the Chinese Museum met us there and gave us an extensive tour and talk about the culture of Chinese burial rites, the history of the efforts to return the dead to their homes in China, the establishment of the cemetery and the current annual ceremonies. The neighbours who live nearby worked diligently to save the site from development by getting it designated a National Historic Site by the the Government of Canada.
Then off to the renowned Don Mee's Seafood Seafood restaurant for Dim Sum. The restaurant has been the heartbeat of Chinatown for over 80 years as it was passed down through the generations of one family.
Following lunch we took a self-guided tour of the Chinese Museum in Fan Tan Alley. The museum was established in 2020 to honour the history, culture and contribution of Chinese Canadians.
Our final stop was a visit to the Tam Kung Temple, the oldest Chinese Temple in Canada, located on the fourth floor of a narrow four-story building.
Three guests from Montreal and Alberta joined the club and were very appreciative to have been included in our day.
BC Museum - Feb, 2023
To start the club new year, Lynda Wilson, Membership Chair, organized an outing to the BC Museum. Club members were free to tour the Museum prior to the Live at Lunch lecture: Travelling through Deep Time presented by three natural history curators, Dr Victoria Arbour, Dr Gavin Hanke and Dr Henry Choong, using the collections of the Royal BC Museum to illustrate the vastness of the history of earth and what deep time tells us about our changing climate.
Following the lecture we attended an IMAX movie, Wings Over Water, The story of the epic journeys of three amazing bird families – the Sandhill Crane, the Yellow Warbler and the Mallard Duck – with extraordinary footage of their fascinating behaviors. As the glaciers retreated at the end of the last ice age, they left an astounding gift of connected rivers, lakes and wetlands across the heartland of North America. Today, these largely unknown water highways remain an oasis for sustaining wildlife. From the herds of bison that still roam the Great Plains to the vital honey bees that pollinate our crops and especially for the millions of magnificent birds that migrate along these “flyways.”
Both the lecture and movie left us with much to discuss and a smaller group did so at Happy Hour at a local pub.
FFVVI Dim Sum Social Event - July 28, 2022
A dozen club members met at Victoria’s iconic Don Mee Seafood Restaurant for a dim sum adventure. Taking over their largest round table, a steady stream of dishes were picked from the circulating carts, as they were described and vetted by our more dim sum savvy members. Lots of merriment ensued as people spun our turntable to reach their next chosen morsel! It was a pleasure to get acquainted with our newest member, and, of course, to catch up on everybody’s news since last we met. Thanks, Maggie, for coordinating this fun and delicious outing.
FFVVI to The Raptors - July 6th 2022
A group of FFVVI members came away from Duncan's Raptor Sanctuary with new insights into the avian world. The visit began with a well-narrated overview of the characteristics of Raptors and other species housed at (though not confined to) the sanctuary. To add sparkle, there were encounters with various low-flying inhabitants-- a bumptious bald eagle, a torrid turkey vulture, a hedge-hopping hawk, to name but a few. We learned of the ocular oddities of the owl as one swooped back and forth over our heads. The impressive bulk of some raptors, we learned, is attributable mainly to feathers; body weight remains low. Other aspects of their lives came to light then and in subsequent visits to their abodes throughout the spacious property. Significantly more raptor wise, we repaired to central Duncan. There, various touristic species were in evidence, drawn by the resplendent totems so much a part of the town's hospitable personality. After a lengthy and agreeable lunch, participants dispersed--looking forward to another visit, featuring other Duncan attractions. Where better than this for an educational outing with friends on a fine summer's day!?
Villa Eyrie Breakfast - June 10 2022
It was a beautiful clear day when FFVVI members gathered for brunch at Villa Eyrie, an Italian-inspired resort on the Malahat. The views were spectacular and the lively conversation was enjoyed by all. Another fun FFVVI social outing!
Birds, Blooms and Beverages - March 30th 2022
The Social Committee started up again on March 30th with a cool but sunny meander around Beacon Hill Park. Led by Birder Extraordinaire Michael Klazek, some interesting birds were spotted and information shared. But the main activity of the day was the visiting! After such a long time apart, our members were happy just to stand among the flowers to chat and catch up on each other’s news. The Breakwater Bistro was the perfect place to warm up and keep visiting over Happy Hour nachos and Beverages!