Archive for the ‘Olympics’ Category

The Olympic Rings in Whistler Village.

The Olympic Rings in Whistler Village.

“If you’ve ever dreamed about blasting off to Whistler, B.C., for a three-day blow-out winter visit complete with hard skiing, sumptuous lodging, arts, culture, tasty food and a spa experience that will soothe your screaming muscles, here’s how to do it…”

And so began my 2012 Toronto Sun travel story on Whistler–the one that gives you the goods on skiing hard and playing softly in the soothing arms of the Four Seasons Whistler.

With Whistler’s recent bountiful snowfall and my pending “big family trip” to BC’s most gigantico ski resort commencing in just one week, I thought it might be fun to replay this Sun article. Consider it an enticement to join us in Whistler this season…

LINK: Toronto Sun: High On Luxury in Whistler


Lori Knowles is editor of SNOW Magazine and a ski travel columnist for the Toronto Sun. You can read more of her work at www.loriknowles.com

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I am no ski racing junkie. Despite my recent, lucky and enligtening visits to World Cup and Olympic ski races, truthfully I find the actual racing…um, boring.

But the people… Now the people are another story. The people of ski racing are never boring.

Today I arrived at the stadium to witness the Women’s GS at the Garmisch stadium- a race held on the infamous Kandahar that’s been used since as far back as the Olympic Games in 1936. A river of ski racing fans flowed across farmers’ fields toward the stands. Strange feathered mascots on stilts mixed with kids carrying cowbells and men in Bavarian leather leiderhosen.

The sight was odd. These crowds were so unlike the hockey sweatered, waffle-throwing, puck crazy, oft-toothless fans I see in Toronto. Yes odd… yet no less enthusiastic.

The energy of these ski racing rabblers was catching. Despite the long fog delays and the 20-min bathroom queues and the total absence of food, I found myself jumping ’80s-punk style to German rap and The Village People.

Talk about odd.

As for the race… It was exciting, I guess. Not entirely sure. I was too busy watching the people.

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The morning fog is persistent. It hangs over the trees like smoke from a winter bush fire, refusing to lift so that I might catch even a glimpse of the Bavarian alps.

I am making my way south from Munich into the foothills that eventually give way to the mountains of Germany’s most treasured ski destination: Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

It is early here (7 am), even earlier in Toronto, on whose time I seem to be clinging resolutely. But the early morning travel is necessary so I can make today’s main event: the World Championship Women’s GS. Germany’s revered Maria Riesch–a bullet on snow–is the favourite and I anticipate the crowds to be noisy and proud. Brit Janyk is the only Canadian I know to be racing today. I have brought my Canada mittens.

This region of Germany, Bavaria, is one of three in the bidding for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, and the IOC is watching these World Championships closely. More from the front lines soon.


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Good morning from Munich, where the sun is refusing to warm us. Thick cloud has hung over this Bavarian capital since our arrival yesterday, indicating winter still has a strangle hold on central Europe.

I am here to experience the World Championships on now in Bavaria, where our own (Canadian) Erik Guay has just won a major race. We will wind our way up to Garmisch tomorrow to take in the women’s GS, but first, a tour of Munich, including a special BMW exposition.

Why BMW? Bavarian Motor Works.
More on this later.

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Bode Miller’s not a happy guy.

He winces—seriously winces—onstage at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise’s World Cup fete as he pulls No.13 for his start number in Sunday’s Super G.

“I hate No.13,” he tells ex-racer Thomas Grandi (CDN), who, as the evening’s MC, is downright exuberant onstage by contrast. Grandi gives a big laugh while Bode looks at him oddly and grumps some more. Grandi then attempts to extract from Miller what’s bugging the US ski racing rebel.

Turns out he’s just not happy with his performance (8th) in Saturday’s downhill—the World Cup speed skiing speed’s circuit’s season opener. Bode wants to do better… always. Which is why the evening’s crowd—about 300 ski racing fans, techs, ACA alumni and reporters—whoop and holler for him loudly despite his grump. An Austrian colleague who’s covered Bode since he was a mere babe on the circuit, puts Miller’s attitude into perspective: “It’s not that Bode wants to win, or that he’s mad about not winning. He doesn’t even care about winning. He just wants to be happy with his run. It’s all about how he skis the course.”

You gotta love an athlete who wants to ski well so bad he just doesn’t care if he’s not smiling for the crowds and cameras. He doesn’t even care if there are crowds and cameras.

Despite Bode’s sour face, there’s no shortage of good times inside the Chateau’s enormous ballroom. This party’s a tradition, an event the World Cup Winterstart folks host every season. Athletes like Miller, Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR), Michael Walchhofer (AUT) and Didier Cuche (SUI)—superstars of the circuit—shuffle in, take their seats at the head of the room, and start signing hundreds of autographs. Everyone wants one… even me, who bashfully lumbers up to a mustache-sporting, skater-shoe-wearing, 20-something Svindal and asks for a signature. “Thanks SO much Aksel,” I say (a little too enthusiastically). He looks at me weirdly.

The Canadian speed racers present are getting a lot of attention. Canadian favourite Erik Guay is working the room with an I’m-just-glad-to-be-here smile and happy congrats for his teammate Jan Hudec, who skied to Canada’s top finish in the day’s Lake Louise downhill (11th). Everyone seems impressed by this finish; Hudec himself looks elated. “Words can’t describe it,” says the promising racer who’s been held back by persistent injuries. “It was an inspired run. It was just short of a miracle, I didn’t even know if I could ski this morning. My body has been that sore.”

As for Guay, he finished a disappointing 24th, but there’s no sour face. Other Canadian hopefuls pressing palms? Manny Osborne-Paradis (13th), Robbie Dixon (31st). According to Guay, the team’s vet, they get along great. Great.

It’s my first time experiencing a Lake Louise World Cup. As far as I can tell, Winterstart is the one chance Canada’s ski racing crowd has to get together and reminisce. It’s not a big sport in Canada when you compare it to hockey, so the group, in contrast, ain’t that big. But most of it is here, including Crazy Canucks Ken Read, Dave Irwin and Steve Podborski, plus Emily Brydon and Karen Lee-Gartner. They’re all smiling big and pounding each other on the back. The room is full of ski team sponsors, too… you can tell who they are. They’re dressed more formally than the skiers (who are mostly in jeans). And they’re swilling cocktails instead of beer. Still, amongst all this skier star power, they look happy.

The World Cup fans and sponsors and hangers-on finish the night inside the Chateau’s bar with Bon Jovi blasting. The athletes aren’t there—they’re ushered out of the ballroom pretty quickly after the bib draw in prep of the Super G the following day. But the rest of the ski racing crowd has a pretty good time mostly telling Bode stories.

As for Miller? He vanishes after the bib draw. But one of my colleagues catches him riding the Chateau elevator early the next (Super G) morning… a grim look still on his scruffed-up face. Seems No.13 really gets to him.

Why do I—or even we—care? Don’t get me wrong: the Canadian racers are nice and all. And I wish them light and luck this season. But every sport needs a character to spice it up. And while he’s reluctant to be it, Miller is that character.

Fellow ski scribe and Miller fan Lisa Richardson (@PembyGrl) pretty much sums it up: “I love Bode. I don’t care if he’s grumpy.”

Grump on, Bode Miller.

Lori Knowles is a Canadian ski and travel writer. Her articles appear regularly in the Toronto Sun. Follow Lori on Twitter: @LoriExploring

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Families heading to Vancouver Island for a summer tour can follow this itinerary… I’ve tried it, and it works! There something fun to do every single day, and the restaurants and hotels are absolutely fantastic, and of course, family friendly! (For my recount of our trip, scroll down to my next blog: Road-tripping Across Vancouver Island):


Depart Horseshoe Bay on BC Ferries to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island (1 hour, 35 min. crossing) www.bcferries.com

BC Ferries

British Columbia Ferry Services Inc. or BC Ferries, is known for showcasing BC’s spectacular scenery and proud maritime history.  Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2010, BC Ferries began in 1960 with two vessels and two terminals, and the operation has grown into one of the largest, most sophisticated ferry transportation systems in the world.  With a fleet of 36 vessels that make up to 47 ports of call along the diverse communities on the BC coast, BC Ferries is the primary provider of ferry service in the province and plays a vital role in the region’s economy.  From maintaining a constant flow of goods and services, to linking families and friends, to attracting tourists to many unique and beautiful destinations, BC Ferries is a key player in the development of life on BC’s coast.

Welcome to Vancouver Island!

The Vancouver Island region is a large, sparsely populated area, encompassing Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, as well as a portion of the mainland. Condé Nast Traveler magazine’s 2009 Readers’ Choice Awards ranked Vancouver Island second in the “Top Islands of North America” category.  It has one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems: Rainforests, marshes, meadows, beaches, mountains, oceans, rivers and lakes create habitats for multitudes of wildlife species. In fact, the region is one of the world’s premier locations for whale watching, birding, as well as salmon and trout fishing.

Directions to Parksville (approximately 30 minute drive)

  • Follow the signs off the Ferry directing you to Parksville.
  • Continue onto Island Hwy North for about 24 km
  • Take exit 46 toward Parksville
  • Merge onto E Island Hwy N
  • Turn right at Resort Way – destination will be on the left
  • 1080 Resort Drive, Parksville

Welcome to Parksville and Qualicum Beach!


The central Vancouver Island tourism region of Qualicum Beach & Parksville BC is Canada’s best family friendly beach destination according to Better Homes and Gardens. The Globe & Mail called these Vancouver Island tourism towns “Canada’s Riviera”. Local islanders often call this charming collection of communities “Oceanside”.

In addition to the Parksville and Qualicum Beach region’s wealth of ocean beaches, sunseekers and swimmers have a number of rivers and lakes to check out and enjoy. These spots will often have a few more shade options and cooler water for those really hot days.  Not surprisingly, given their central role in life here, Oceanside’s beaches host dozens of events and festivals annually. Combined with beachside restaurants, ice-cream stands, waterfront promenades and bookable rooms with a view, they’re a good reason to lay out a blanket, slather on the sun block and settle in for the duration.

Oceanside Village Resort


Oceanside Village Resort

Nestled among the trees, these newly constructed fully equipped and beautifully appointed cottages offer a warm and inviting home away from home.   The resort includes one, +loft, 2 bdrm and +loft units as well as an onsite Boutique, Sushi Café, Day Spa Salon, pool, hot tub and fitness room.

Next door get ready to challenge your opponent to a Mini Golf match at Riptide LagoonComplimentary Mini Golf passes will be supplied upon check-in.

Family Restaurant suggestions:

Lefty’s Fresh Food

Huge selection, always fresh and good value, open for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

101 -280 Island Hwy, Parksville, 250-954-3886


8:00 am A day to explore Parksville and Qualicum Beach

Suggested sites:

Parksville Community Lions Club Venture Land


Kids absolutely love this!  Parksville Community Venture & Waterpark guarantee to entertain children for hours.  The kids will enjoy the swings, zip line, tire swings, obstacle course, slides and awesome waterpark. Bring a picnic lunch or eat at the on site concession.

The Parksville Community Park is located on Corfield Road in scenic Parksville Bay.

Little Qualicum Cheeseworks & Morningstar Farm

Producing award winning artisan cheeses the old fashioned way.

Free tours – open to the public.  Great samples in the farm gate store.

403 Lowry’s Rd Parksville.  Off Hwy 19A turn up Lee Rd, toward Morningstar Golf Course.  Follow the signs to the Golf Course then straight over the railway tracks and you can see their sign ahead.  www.cheeseworks.ca

North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre

A number of great activities and educational programs for the whole family to enjoy.  View: eagles, bears, owls, turkey vultures, falcons, hawks and much more.  This is a temporary recovery facility to assist and aid animals so they can once again be a part of their natural environment.

1240 Leffler Rd, Errington .  From the Island Hwy 19A N, turn left at Alberni Hwy 4A West, Turn left at Bellevue Rd, turn right at Reffels Rd http://www.northislandwildliferecoverycenter.org

Coombs Country also called Arrowsmith Coombs Country

Many attractions, activities, galleries, and spectacular Provincial Parks to discover.  In particular, Englishman River Provincial Park and Little Qualicum River Provincial Park.  Both are located off Hwy 19 and offer pristine hikes, swimming, site seeing, and photographic opportunities.

Tiger Lily Farm

A great place to experience farm living.  They cater to all ages of animal lovers.  Learn to milk a goat, feed the sheep, pet the burrow, hold the chickens, or go out on a trail ride on horseback.

Located off Hwy 19, turn onto Errington Road and follow it to 1692 Errington Rd approx. 5 minutes after the turn off.  http://www.tigerlilyfarm.ca

Paradise Adventure Mini-Golf

Two mini-golf courses, video arcade, redemption games room, and ice cream parlour. Paradise has something for everyone – including an oceanfront RV Park, gift shop and is wheelchair accessible.

375 West Island Highway, Parksville   www.paradisefunpark.net

Riptide Adventure Mini-Golf

An easy walk from Rathtrevor Beach and nearby resorts. Young and old alike can enjoy themselves for a fun and challenging game on this18 hole course.

Open 10 am 7 during summer months

1000 Resort Drive, Parksville  http://www.riptidelagoon.com


11:00 am Travel from Parksville to the Comox Valley area (approx. 1 hour drive)

Directions to Courtenay

  • Turn left at Island Hwy
  • Merge onto Hwy 19 N (Inland Island Hwy) via the ramp to Port Alberni/Campbell River (about 24 km)
  • Take exit #117 (CUMBERLAND/COURTENAY/COMOX) and right again toward COURTENAY
  • Continue on COMOX VALLEY PKY (until the road ends and you have to make a left or right)
  • Turn Left on CLIFFE AVE
  • Turn Left on 4th Street
  • Courtenay Museum will be on your right

Comox Valley

Home of Mount Washington Alpine Resort, a world class training facility for 2010 Olympic winter competitors, from more than 10 countries.  Nestled between the Beaufort Mountains and the Strait of Georgia on the eastern coast of Vancouver Island, the Comox Valley is a collection of rolling mountains, delicate alpine meadows, rushing rivers, pristine lakes, lush forests, fertile farms, incredible beaches and more than 40 green parks. Four major museums, live theatre, a dynamic music scene, an active artist community and year round cultural festivals and events are just a few of the many attractions the Comox Valley has to offer. Gourmet cuisine, unique shopping experiences, galleries and eclectic coffee and tea shops line the streets of the Comox Valley’s urban centers. Or head into the quiet farmland, hills and coastlines of the Comox Valley and experience the relaxed atmosphere of rural life. Courtenay is the urban centre and cultural hub of the Comox Valley and is a great base for a holiday. Fifth Street is the heart of downtown, and tempts shoppers with a delightful array of shops and galleries.


Courtenay and District Museum and Palaeontology Centre

The Fossil Tour

Your adventure begins in the Courtenay and District Museum and Palaeontology Center. Here, a friendly and informative guide will give a brief lecture and show a short video about the famous discoveries made in the local area. Then, it’s off into the exhibit galleries to see the actual specimen and reconstructed cast of an Elasmosaur found in the Puntledge river. You’ll also see other vertebrate fossils, such as mosasaurs, turtles, and fish -along with the invertebrate fossils of shelled creatures that lived in the warm, shallow ocean surrounding Vancouver Island 80 million years ago.

A short 10 minute drive and an easy 5 minute forested walk brings you to one of the many beautiful fossil sites along the Puntledge river. Here, you’ll experience the thrill of hands-on discovery. After a brief discussion about the history of the site and proper collection techniques, participants will have a chance to find a fossil of their very own. A limited number of hammers, chisels and goggles will be supplied. You can keep any fossils that you find on the tour. If the species is of scientific value, you may be asked to donate the fossil to the museum collection, with the finder’s name attached.

You will require your own transportation to the fossil site.

Courtenay Museum
207 Fourth Street,
Courtenay B.C., V9N 1G7


Old House Village Hotel & Spa

Directions to Old House Village Hotel from Courtenay Museum (approx. 5 min. drive)

  • Turn right onto Cliffe Ave.
  • Turn left at the 17th Street Bridge (19A N/Island Hwy  – signs for Comox/Campbell River)
  • Turn right onto Riverside Lane
  • Destination will be on your left – Old House Village Hotel and Spa

Old House Village Hotel & Spa

The Old House Village Hotel & Spa is a Luxury Boutique Hotel property in the heart of the Comox Valley. We offer 79 rooms ranging from deluxe studios, One & Two Bedroom Suites and One Penthouse Suite. We are located on the Courtenay River centrally located to all amenities like downtown shopping, Dining, championship golf courses, Mount Washington Ski resort and the Comox International Airport. www.oldhousevillage.com or www.ohspa.ca


11:00 am Scenic Chairlift Rides at Mount Washington Alpine Resort

Directions to Mount Washington from Old House Village Hotel (approx. 30 min. drive)

  • Exit onto Cliffe Ave and turn Right (back towards the Museum)
  • Turn Right at 1st Street
  • Turn Left at Anderton Ave.
  • Continue over the Condensory Bridge, (road becomes Condensory)
  • At the 4 way stop, Turn Left onto Piercy Rd.
  • Turn right at BC-19 N/Inland Island Hwy
  • Turn left at the lights – Exit # 130
  • Proceed onto Strathcona Parkway for 18 km
  • Mount Washington Alpine Lodge is at the top of this road

Mount Washington Alpine Resort


Enjoy the scenic ride on the Eagle chairlift to the summit of Mount Washington (1588 m elevation) and take in the spectacular surroundings.  The panoramic view from the top includes Strathcona Provincial Park, the Comox Glacier, Mt. Arrowsmith, the Strait of Georgia and even Mt. Baker on a clear day. Once at the summit, interpretive signs identify the unique flora and fauna found in our mile high alpine as well as the more distinct landmarks you are able to view along the self guided tour on the easy bark mulch trails. You then have the opportunity to take the breathtaking chairlift ride back down or choose to hike a more rugged downhill trail to the base.

Afternoon            Explore Saratoga Beach

Directions from Mount Washington to Saratoga Beach (approx. 20 min. drive)

  • Take the Strathcona Parkway back down the Mountain to the Inland Island Hwy # 19
  • Turn Left at the Lights heading North on Hwy # 19
  • Take the Exit right toward Hamm Rd (signs for Hamm Rd/Black Creek)
  • Continue straight onto Hamm Rd
  • Turn left at BC-19A N/Island Hwy (signs for Black Creek/Saratoga Beach/Oyster Bay)
  • Follow the signs to Saratoga Beach (there are numerous Resorts along the waterfront and parking will be indicated along the road) Miracle Beach is the large BC Provincial Campground.

At the north end of the Comox Valley, at the mouth of the Oyster River, Saratoga Beach may be the ultimate stretch of shimmering sand on the sheltered east coast of Vancouver Island.  The tide along this stretch of the shoreline goes out for over a quarter of a mile, creating a hard-packed oceanfront playground perfect for children. The gently sloping beach continues for well over a mile into the calm waters of the Strait of Georgia, creating warm, shallow and safe swimming conditions, free from powerboat traffic, deep water or strong currents.  Saratoga Beach is flanked by popular camping and recreational sites at Miracle Beach Provincial Park and Oyster River Regional Park.

Family Restaurant suggestions in the Comox Valley

Atlas Café

Location: 250 6th Street, Downtown Courtenay

Phone: 250-338-9838

Hours: Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner

For 14 years, Atlas Café has been the home of long lunches, lingering dinners and perfectly overstuffed breakfasts in the Comox Valley.  It’s where friends share laughs and colleagues share ideas, and the entire community gathers to share our passion for great food.

Kinaree Thai Restaurant

526A Cumberland Road

Courtenay BC (Corner of 8th St and Fitzgerald Ave)


Hours:  Lunch (Mon. – Fri.) 11:30am – 2:00pm, Dinner (Mon. – Sat.) 5:00pm – 9:00pm

Features traditional Thai cuisine at an affordable price. It is conveniently located at the corner of 8th St and Fitzgerald Ave in Courtenay (526A Cumberland Road).  It is a comfortable place for you and your family to dine in or to take out.

Day 5

Another Beach area you may want to explore before you leave the area is in Comox.

Goose Spit Beach

At low tide the sandy beach is incredible and expansive. This beach is a very popular spot for locals especially due to its close proximity to downtown Comox. Fire pits are provided for those wanting to cook of just hang out by the fire.  There is ample parking but it does fill up fast, so be sure to come early.

To find the park, head south of Comox on Comox Road, then turn left on Pritchard Road and right on Balmoral to Lazo Road, beyond which Balmoral becomes Hawkins Road and leads out to the spit.

Afternoon Travel from the Comox Valley to Tofino

Note:  the drive from Port Alberni to Tofino is very scenic but the road twists and turns and goes up and down around the mountains.  If anyone is prone to motion sickness, they may want to sit up front and look at the road.

Driving directions from Courtenay to Tofino (approx. 4 hour drive)

  • Take the Island Hwy # 19 South – back towards Parksville
  • Take exit 60 to merge onto Hwy # 4 – Pacific Rim Hwy toward Coombs and Port Alberni

Kid Break – turn left towards Coombs before proceeding to Port Alberni:

The Coombs Country Market offers a huge selection of home cooked items to meet any craving.  Wander the area as it covers a large territory with unique shops, galleries, studios and tourist trinkets.  In the summer months the rides are open for service.  Be sure to check the goats on the roof of the market, they live there throughout the summer.  You may wish to grab some fresh produce and healthy snacks.  Butterfly World is also close by on Hwy4A and is open from 10 am to 4 pm. In addition to butterflies, you will see Turtles, Reptiles and a new Orchid garden.  www.butterflygardens.com

  • Back out to Hwy # 4 West (left at lights from Hwy 4A from Coombs)
  • Hwy  # 4 takes you to the west coast of Vancouver Island – Tofino and Ucluelet
  • Travel past Cathedral Grove (stop here on your return journey as the parking is easier on that side of the road – it’s a busy spot!)
  • Travel through Port Alberni (also a spot to refuel the car and bodies if needed but be careful, the driving gets more twisty from here)
  • Continue on Hwy 4 – the scenery is beautiful
  • Turn right towards Tofino when you get to the T intersection (left for Ucluelet)

Welcome to Tofino!

Tofino (population about 2,000), reigns as jewel of Canada’s west coast. The stunning beauty and ecological diversity of Tofino’s location in the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is the source of all activities. Imagine, all in one place, fishing, kayaking, whale-watching, bear-watching, bird-watching, camping, hiking, storm-watching and First Nations cultural touring. Surfing is big here, and Tofino was named the best surf town in North America in Outside Magazine’s 2010 Editors’ Choice awards.

Tourism Tofino


Long Beach Lodge Resort


Dining suggestions include:

Long Beach Lodge Great Room

Embracing the rich west coast surroundings is our award winning cuisine that tastefully brings together farm fresh ingredients and seafood bought daily direct from the fisherman. With emphasis placed on the local and sustainable products, chef will forage the forest for mushrooms or visit the area farms, taking great care in selecting his produce, to bring a truly distinctive west coast experience to the dinner plate

Blue Heron Waterfront Restaurant at Weigh West Marine Resort, 634 Campbell Street, ph: 250-725-3277 www.weighwest.com/dining.html

An outstanding view of Browning Passage and Meares Island greet the diner – a setting framed by wall to wall windows. Sunsets are a romantic’s delight and the ever changing waterscape will make it difficult to concentrate on choosing your menu selections. The Blue Heron’s menu features fresh Dungeness crab to salmon to tender Grade A steaks.

Shelter Restaurant, 601 Campbell Street, ph: 250-725-3353 www.shelterrestaurant.com

Welcome to Shelter Restaurant. Our unique restaurant in Tofino offers the basics – food, wine, shelter – at their best. Shelter combines a sophisticated seasonal menu with a relaxed attitude and panoramic view. At Shelter restaurant we try to use local and organic ingredients whenever possible. Everything is fresh!  The salmon, halibut, and the prawns are caught locally and the shellfish is from Outlandish Seafood suppliers in the Gulf Islands. The chicken is from Lyle Young in the Cowichan Valley. Our greens are grown a few kilometres from the restaurant at Douglas Brooker’s farm in Barkley Sound. Enjoy your experience.

Big Daddy’s Fish Fry, 411 Campbell Street, ph: 250-725-4415 http://www.tofinolighthouseinn.com/14901.html

If you like fish and burgers, this is the place to go. Fresh cut fries, tempura batter and tartar sauce, halibut, cod, salmon, prawns, oysters, crab cakes, popcorn shrimp, grilled salmon and halibut, coconut prawns, homemade beef burgers, chicken, fish stew, clam chowder, appys, wraps, caesar salad, $9.00 & $10.00 specials (Monday to Thursday).

Overnight – Long Beach Lodge, Tofino


Bear and Wildlife Watching Boat Cruise, Browning Pass Charters


After you reach the village of Tofino, turn right at the 4-way stop on 4th
Street. Turn left on Main Street and turn right at the driveway just past
Stormlight Outfitters. Drive down the hill and park in one of the reserved
Browning Pass spaces.


Browning Pass Charter cruises are designed for comfort and leisure with an emphasis on wildlife viewing. On the Bear tour it’s not unusual to see bears feeding on the shoreline, eagles on their nests, seals, harbour porpoises, blue herons, and much more.

This vessel has a heated cabin, washroom facilities, galley, and large upper viewing deck.  Historical interpretation of the area is given by the skipper, Michael White, lifetime resident of Tofino.

Afternoon Beach Combing

Long Beach, Tofino

SoBo Restaurant, SoBo means Sophisticated Bohemain. A combination of boldly imaginative, world wise dishes expertly prepared with simple, fresh, locally produced- often wild- ingredients and served in an environment that is somehow both elegant and rustic.  Sophisticated Bohemian not only represents the style of culinary integrity and relaxed ambiance that Artie and Lisa Ahier have cultivated- it also reflects the personality of Tofino itself.

Overnight – Long Beach Lodge, Tofino

Day 7

Depart for Victoria (approx. 4 hour drive)

Driving directions from Tofino to Victoria

  • Head east on Hwy # 4
  • Continue to follow Hwy 4 E through Port Alberni

(Port Alberni is a good place to stop for Lunch – for really good donuts: The Donut Shop, 5440 Argyle Street, Port Alberni

Located at Harbour Quay, The Donut Shop not only serves donuts, but also has a variety of soups, snacks, beverages, light lunches and ice cream treats.)

After Port Alberni along Hwy 4, Remember to stop at Cathedral Grove.

Cathedral Grove, located in MacMillan Provincial Park, is one of the most accessible stands of giant Douglas fir trees on Vancouver Island. Here visitors can stroll through a network of trails under the shadow of towering ancient Douglas-fir trees, majestic pillars untouched by the modern world – some more than 800 years old.

  • Merge onto Hwy # 19 South /Inland Island Hwy via the ramp to Nanaimo
  • Take the Trans Canda Highway # 1 N ramp and continue to follow Hwy # 1 to Victoria

Optional stops of interest between Nanaimo and Victoria:

Wildplay Element Park – Monkido Aerial Adventure Course

Our Monkido tree courses are elevated obstacle courses set in a beautiful forest and securely suspended in the trees at 10 to 50 feet off the ground! Elements include zip lines, bridges, scramble nets and swinging logs. Our Monkido Courses’ self-managed system allow our guests to move independently through a series of surprising and progressively challenging tree to tree elements. With multiple activities in a course, children, youth and adults get to decide how far and how fast to exercise agility, endurance and confidence. In the highest courses, you ascend up to 50 feet up in the trees, discovering new levels of focus and physical skill. www.wildplay.com

Ladysmith – Nestled on the eastern shores of spectacular Vancouver Island, the Town of Ladysmith features all of the warmth and charm of small town living with a full range of services and amenities. Ladysmith is a growing community (population 7,538 in 2006) located just 88 km north of Victoria and 23 km south of Nanaimo. A 2003 National Communities In Bloom award winner, Ladysmith offers world-class outdoor recreational opportunities; a renowned trail system through picturesque forests; first-class shopping and dining in the historic downtown area; and fun-filled waterfront activities at pristine Transfer Beach. www.ladysmith.ca

Chemainus – This charming seaside village is a rare jewel on the Island. Entertaining, relaxing and tranquil, Chemainus is a favourite destination for family fun and romantic getaways alike. Chemainus brims with artistic spirit. It started in 1982, when the people of Chemainus invited internationally known artists to use the town as a canvas. Today, more than 35 murals and 13 sculptures depict the town’s history, people and future. It’s the world’s largest outdoor gallery, and each year new artworks are added. Follow the footprints for a self-guided tour of Chemainus’ colourful past, or take a tour via horse-drawn carriage or simulated steam train. www.chemainus.bc.ca

Duncanguided (or self- guided) totem walking tour

Discover the magic of Duncan’s marvellous collection of totem poles, newly refurbished and relocated in Downtown Duncan.  This collection continues to preserve the history of our local First Nations heritage. You can learn all about this ancient art through A FREE guided walking tour, available in the summer season.  Meet our Guide by the Train Station on Canada Avenue, he will be waiting to take you for a very educational journey. Schedule: Full tours are offered every hour on the hour and takes about 45 minutes. Monday – Saturday from May 3rd to September 25th. May, June and September 10 am – Last full tour starting at 1 pm.  http://www.downtownduncan.ca/duncan_totem_tourNEW.html

Goldstream Provincial Park

Massive trees, majestic waterfalls, a meandering river that meets the sea, flowers, birds and fascinating fish are but a few of the attractions that draw people to Goldstream Provincial Park, a mere 16 km from downtown Victoria on southern Vancouver Island. It’s a world that seems far removed from the urban adventures of British Columbia’s capital city whether the visitor is a hiker seeking inspiration from this magnificent example of the great outdoors or a naturalist looking to add to their notebook. There’s something new, different and exciting every month of the year at Goldstream Park. Goldstream’s numerous trails criss-cross through the dramatically different terrain of two distinct vegetation zones. The park is home to 600-year-old Douglas fir trees and western red cedar, mixed with western yew and hemlock, red alder, big leaf maple and black cottonwood. On the drier ridges visitors can find flowering dogwood, lodgepole pine and arbutus. The arbutus, with its thick leathery evergreen leaves, red-dish trunk and peeling bark, is Canada’s only broad-leafed evergreen and is found exclusively on Vancouver Island and on the southwest coast of British Columbia. In the spring and early summer, Goldstream overflows with colourful wildflowers, including the shade-loving western trillium and the calypso, a delicate orchid of the mossy forest glades. http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/goldstream/

Welcome to Victoria!

Victoria is a unique blend of old world charm and new world experiences. Heritage architecture, colourful gardens and traditions such as afternoon tea mix with soft adventure such as kayaking, fishing, hiking, cycling and golf; culinary experiences such as gourmet farm and wine tours, microbreweries and world class dining; and arts and culture. As an island destination, Victoria offers visitors an escape from the hurried world and beams with ambience. Victoria also boasts the mildest climate in Canada and is green year-round. This combined with the wild beauty of the Pacific Ocean and old-growth rainforests set against a backdrop of the Olympic Mountains makes for a favourable lifestyle and a desirable destination to both live and visit.

The Fairmont Empress Hotel


Rising regally on Victoria’s spectacular Inner Harbour, The Fairmont Empress showcases the spirit and energy of Vancouver Island in grand style. With her turn-of-the-century beauty, The Fairmont Empress captures the grandeur and elegance of a bygone era, while her facilities and services meet the needs of today’s traveller.

Victoria Family Adventure Package

Bring the entire family to Victoria to experience a variety of attractions.  Your package includes: two nights accommodation in a Fairmont room, full breakfast for the entire family, children’s activity book, including local kid-friendly attractions and choice of milk and cookies or pop and popcorn upon arrival.

Spend the remainder of the day at your leisure.  May we suggest:

Fashionable North Fort

Upper Fort Street between Douglas and Cook Streets

Fort Street has long been know as Antique Row for its many auction houses and antique shops, but the arrival of several new fashion boutiques gives North Fort a fresh feel. Studio Ryu specializes in East meets West clothing lines – such as Vivienne Tam, TSE and Thakoon – Asian origin with a relaxed West Coast feel. Next door is Not Just Pretty whose keen eye for modern yet sustainable clothing lines embodies Vancouver Island’s green lifestyle. The most difficult part of guilt free shopping here is choosing just one dress to bring home. To complete any new outfit, head over to Heart & Sole, for both funky and functional footwear options or peruse the antique shops for that perfect piece of vintage jewellery.


Lower Johnson Street between Wharf and Government Street

The area is situated in the heart of Old Town and is characterized by colourful heritage buildings, but the shopping experiences are fresh and hip. The neighbourhood defines the new buzz word “HeritEdge.” Storefronts primarily feature locally designed fashions, but naturally-made products, cosmetics, hair salons, coffee houses and restaurants complete the mix. Shoppers will not want to miss Smoking Lily, Graciela’s, Gloss Beauty Bar and North of Wednesday to name just a few. Nearly all 37 businesses are locally owned and many by first time proprietors.


Fisgard Street between Government and Store Street

Victoria’s Chinatown is small, but the oldest in Canada. Once home to opium dens and gambling halls, Chinatown now mixes contemporary stores and live-work condos with traditional Asian markets and diners. Many of Victoria’s contemporary home decor and furnishings stores are found in this neighbourhood. Visitors can stroll historical Fan Tan Alley – the narrowest street in Canada – or the newly developed Dragon Alley.

Beacon Hill Park

Beacon Hill Park is Victoria’s beloved park in the heart of the city and is celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2007. Victoria is well known as the City of Gardens due to its mild climate and Beacon Hill Park is a great example. The interior of the park has a Victorian landscape of manicured flowerbeds, graceful trees and lakes and bridged streams. Located in Beacon Hill Park is the world’s tallest, free-standing totem pole carved from a single log, a cricket pitch and a children’s petting zoo.

*Note: Below Beacon Hill Park lies Dallas Road and Clover Point. This is a favourite area for locals. Kids can scramble along the rock beach and drift wood while the locals walk, run, kitesurf, windsurf, hang glide and fly kites above.

Thunderbird Park
This tiny park, located behind the Royal British Columbia Museum, is home to several totem poles and a First Nations carving shed. In the summer, Native carvers showcase their traditional skills to create new totems.

Dinner May we suggest:

Noodle Box (kid portions)

818 Douglas Street, Phone: (250) 384-1314

The Noodle Box made its debut as a street food vendor in 2001, serving South-East Asian noodles in the classic, white Chinese-style boxes, enticing locals with fresh ingredients and delicious smells. A local favourite and an easy place to eat when you are on your own.

Red Fish Blue Fish

1006 Wharf Street on the Broughton Street Pier, Phone: (250) 298-6877

Red Fish Blue Fish is a canteen-style, take-out fish restaurant operated out of a steel shipping container on Victoria’s Inner Harbour. The shipping container’s reuse is part of a trend called “upcycling” which aims to reuse material without using energy to break down its components in the recycling process. This seafood taqueria serves 100% Ocean Wise sanctioned local fish including Pacific halibut, wild salmon, albacore tuna, Qualicum scallops and Fanny Bay oysters. Open for lunch and dinner.

The Pink Bicycle

1008 Blanshard Street, Phone: 250-384-1008,

A really cool place to eat really cool burgers, The Pink Bicycle serves homemade original recipe burgers using quality meats, cheeses, and produce that are sourced as close to home as possible.  Quite possibly the best burger in town!

Overnight Victoria


Willie’s Bakery

537 Johnson Street, Victoria, Tel: (250) 381-8414 www.williesbakery.com

Fresh baked goods and fresh coffee served in a casual environment in one of Victoria’s heritage buildings. Also features a full breakfast menu. Willie’s opens at 7:30 am.


554 Pandora Ave., Victoria, Tel: (250) 385-6653 www.molerestaurant.ca

Born of a longtime friendship, and a desire to serve excellent food to friends, foodies, hipsters, families, retirees and everyone in between, Mo:Le restaurant has grown from a simple eatery into an institution in just a few years.   Sourced from local and organic farms, Mo:Le serves creative and lovingly prepared food, made for all tastes and eating philosophies (vegans and raw foodies included).

Lady Marmalade

608 Johnson Street, Victoria, Tel: (250) 381-2872 www.ladymarmalade.ca

Funky offering of delicious healthy food to eat in or take out.  All day breakfast and lunch.

Spend the day at your leisure.

Family Friendly Victoria

For the visitor who is young, or young at heart, Victoria and Vancouver Island have plenty of fun things to see and do. From attractions and museums to zoos and recreation, there is something for kids of all ages.  By nature, Victoria and Vancouver Island have miles and miles of things for families to do. Ocean waters, long sandy beaches, rainforests and wide open spaces wait to be explored. Children are encouraged to get up close and personal with local marine life, bugs, butterflies and farm animals at Victoria’s unique gardens and zoos. Museums abound on the Island and have hands-on displays and activities for their favourite little customers.  Recreation centres, swimming pools, waterslides and mini-golf are always popular with the whole family and many of Victoria and Vancouver Islands festivals cater to children.

Fisherman’s Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf is home to several houseboats, the fresh catch of the day sold daily and some of the best fish and chips in Victoria at Barb’s Place. Ice cream too! A scenic walkway starting at the end of Belleville Street near the Laurel Point Inn follows the Inner Harbour to Fisherman’s Wharf. If you are lucky, resident wild seals may make an appearance. Feeding fish (bought from the local vendors) to the seals is a favourite with kids!

Victoria Harbour Ferry Company Ltd.


Victoria Harbour is world renowned for its bustling traffic and unique waterways. Victoria Harbour Ferry tours are equally renowned for their friendly skippers and fun, informative tours. Hop aboard one of our little ferries and see Victoria from the water. Look for our “FERRY STOP” signs at major waterfront locations around the harbour.

Visit the Victoria Bug Zoo to have a hands-on experience with some crawly creatures

Victoria Bug Zoo


Welcome to the amazing world of insects and spiders. A visit to this attraction offers visitors an excellent opportunity to view and experience multi-legged creatures from around the world in a safe, fun and friendly atmosphere. Get up close and personal with LIVE giant walkingsticks, alien-eyed praying mantids, hairy tarantulas and glow-in-the-dark scorpions, to name a few. Discover over 40 fascinating species including Canada’s largest ant farm. The knowledgeable “bug guides” will reveal the exotic secrets of this hidden kingdom and provide a safe animal handling experience for the more adventurous. Imagine holding a tickling 400 leg millipede that stretches the length of your forearm! Bring your camera. It’s an unforgettable, hands-on adventure.

Afternoon Tea at The Fairmont Empress

Prince and Princess Tea

When the British immigrated to Victoria, they brought the practice of afternoon tea with them and it has been an honoured tradition in Victoria ever since. The Fairmont Empress Hotel is the iconic destination to experience afternoon tea. The Fairmont Empress welcomes its young guests with a special “Prince and Princess” Tea for children. Children receive beverage of their choice, fresh fruit and whip cream, jello and their own tiered plate of sandwiches and sweets. The experience is completed with the presentation of a Prince or Princess certificate in the child’s name.

Mom & Dad will have the adult version of Afternoon Tea

Spend the rest of the day at your leisure:

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If you’ve ever experienced a family trip so fun you weren’t sure you wanted it to end… you’ll know exactly what we were feeling at the finish of our family’s summer exploration of Vancouver Island, BC. The tour was so enlightening and the island so well suited to family travel, we wanted the experience to last… almost forever. Here are the highlights (a reprint from the Toronto Sun, Wednesday, August 4)

Family Friendly BC Ferries

BC Ferries

Our journey began with a striking BC Ferries ride aboard the Queen of Oak Bay, from Vancouver’s Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo, BC. Equipped with an indoor playground, television and onboard WiFi, there was plenty to keep the kids occupied for the two-hour journey. But it was the sight of the sun sparkles dancing on the ocean that stopped them in their lively tracks—Mt Baker and the gulf islands looming silently in the background.

Tip: In summer, secure a ferry reservation.


Parksville—Canada’s Riviera

A 36-kilometre drive from Nanaimo delivered us to our first two-day rest stop at Parksville, BC—popularly dubbed Canada’s Riviera. I can see why. A string of Parksville resorts play host to all kinds of tourists, from luxe travellers to kayaking, whale-watching eco adventurers. But it’s the travelling family that wins the daily double here. This Oceanside region—akin to Ontario’s Muskoka—is home to four massive, warm-water beaches:

Rathtrevor Beach

Rathtrevor, Qualicum Beach, Qualicum Bay and Parksville, all of them framed by snow-capped mountains. Parksville Beach wins the prize for owning the best playground my well-travelled family has ever encountered. Parksville’s beachside Ventureland (waterpark included) has every fun slide, swing and monkey bar imaginable. Plus, when the tide is out, the Parksville Beach next door extends outward at least a kilometre, leaving tide pools full of mini crabs and sand dollars. Kid heaven.

Tip: Rent a family-perfect cabin at Oceanside Village Resort, a brief and well-cedared walk to the mountain-ringed Rathtrevor Beach.


The Dinosaurs of Comox Valley

Fossil Hunting

Another short shot north led us into Vancouver Island’s gentle Comox Valley, which lies peacefully between the Beaufort Mountains and the Strait of Georgia. But it’s the region’s dinosaurs that caught our imaginations. Yes, dinosaurs. Don’t let the following title bore you: the Courtenay and District Museum and Palaeontology Centre is home to a captivating collection of prehistoric predators—including an 80-million-year-old Elasmosaur discovered nearby. The Centre’s ace-in-the-hole, though, is Pat Trask, a local palaeontologist who leads fossil tours to nearby rivers. Our tour fascinated the children, who slogged Indiana-Jones-like…

For the remainder of the article, please visit the Toronto Sun Travel

Lori Knowles is the Family Fare travel columnist for the Toronto Sun. You can follow her travels on Twitter @LoriExploring

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Summer just wouldn’t be summer without a visit to a proper General Store. This one, located in Coombs, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, could possibly be Canada’s best. Full of delectable food (think: fresh salmon, chutneys and strawberry-rhubarb bread), old-fashioned toys… and yes, many Chinese lanterns, this store is a destination in itself. Its name? Goats on the Roof… because there really are goats hanging out on top of Goats on the Roof! LK

Coombs, BC's Goats on the Roof is possibly Canada's best General Store.

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Our Parksville Sand Castle

When your soul object for the day is to build a sandcastle, you’re bound to have a pretty good day.

On our first full day on British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, the only job we gave ourselves was to build a sandcastle on Parksville Beach.

What a lovely occupation, sandcastle building. Material costs are minimal (buckets and shovels pretty much do it). Everyone can help. Architectural design can be accomplished easily by a seven year old. Interior design can unapologetically take on an island motif: seashells, sticks, rocks… even crab legs contribute to the decor. And best of all, your new place gets to have a mote. Said mote can be as deep as you want, can be filled (endlessly) with water, and can include as many bridges as you like.

The only drawback? Tide. The ocean tends to swell at certain times of the day and flatten your sandcastle, rendering your artwork useless. Oh well. The beauty of a vacation is, you can build another sandcastle tomorrow. No insurance required.

For more info: www.VisitParksvilleQualicumBeach.com

Lori Knowles is the family travel writer for the Toronto Sun. You can read more of her work in this blog (www.LoriExploring.Wordpress.com), on her website (www.loriknowles.com) and on Twitter @LoriExploring.

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Kids are odd, don’t you think? Especially when they travel.

The giant Japanese bath with a view at the Fairmont Pacific Rim

Here we are, kids and all, wrapped in the very cloak of travel luxury at Vancouver’s brand new, highly polished Fairmont Pacific Rim. We’re on the Gold floor… the definition of swank. Our room on the 20th storey has a $10-million view (truth. it’s been evaluated.) Our unobstructed panorama is of the sunny, mountain-ringed Vancouver harbour. Float planes and cargo ships are whizzing about below us. Stanley Park and the 2010 Olympic cauldron are just below us. Our drapes and lighting are highly automated. We have the largest flatscreen TV ever. Our bathtub is deep, square-shaped and straight out of Japan. We have concierges taking care of us 24/7–including people to fill said Japanese bathtub on our behalf (it takes 45 min to fill and fits all four of us!). And still, my kids’ most favourite thing at the Fairmont Pan Pacific is… the automatic bath bubble maker.

Like I said, kids are odd when they travel.

Or are they? The fact they’re most fascinated by a plastic bubble machine in the midst of all this opulence is fairly predictable, really. And honestly, it makes no difference to myself and my husband, as long as they’re enjoying it. Frankly, whatever works is fine with us, because we never want to check out of this wonderful room. The beds are so comfy I feel as if I could sleep forever. The tub really is an event. The pool on the sixth floor has an awesome view of the Pacific Rim’s ‘Rock Star Suite.’ And the entire pan-asian atmosphere is all very Zen… a.k.a. relaxing.

This Fairmont at Vancouver’s waterfront is the luxury chain’s newest hotel. It gives off a quintessential ‘Vancouver’ vibe. Items in its eclectic stores are local. The hotel’s decor is a mix of American Walnut wood and  Ledge stone. The luxe carpets make me think of drawings of the Queen Charlotte Islands. And the service is excellent, yet understated and casual… all very westcoast.

The Gold service on the 20th and 21st floors is indeed more expensive than a regular Fairmont room by about $100 per night. But as a treat, it’s worth it. There’s always someone around to help us with something. And the food in our private lounge is yummy: breakfast, snacks at 4 pm, then a chocolate fountain at 7pm… I never want to go home to cook for myself or my family ever again.

Sugar Buns at the Pacific Rim's Giovane cafe

But the very best part of Vancouver’s new Pacific Rim hotel has to be the Sugar Buns in the Giovane cafe — giant balls of sugar-coated light donut pastry filled to the brim with cream. The very definition of devine. Forgetting the bubble machine entirely, by seven-year-old son says: “Mom, I love these Sugar Buns. I love them more than the whole universe.”


Lori Knowles is the family travel writer for the Toronto Sun. You can read more of her work in this blog (www.LoriExploring.Wordpress.com) as well as on her website: www.loriknowles.com Or follow her on Twitter @LoriExploring

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