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Hairy Woodpecker

I was on Salt Spring Island again this past weekend, and I met a new friend.

This is a Hairy Woodpecker. He’s not that big, but he sure makes a lot of noise for his size. He was busy making himself heard on the wildlife tree in my friend’s front yard, so I walked over to introduce myself.

And to take this photo.

Through My Lens: Pender Island Sailboat

Sailboat

Yeah, I know. Summer’s over. I can no longer deny it.

But here’s a summer photo anyways. Just to say “until next year.” I took this from Pender Island a few years ago.

Through My Lens: Trincomali Channel

Trincomali Channel

Another mini-break on Salt Spring Island means another photo of a spectacular view. I took this from Channel Ridge where my friend and I went to walk her dog. We’re looking east over Trincomali Channel towards Galiano Island.

And here’s a cool bit of trivia: Trincomali Channel is named after HMS Trincomali, a British warship built in 1816 that is now docked in Hartlepool, England. What’s the connection between HMS Trincomali and BC? The ship was stationed at the Esquimalt Royal Naval Dockyard near Victoria in the 1850s. The dockyard was an important station of the British Royal Navy from 1842 to 1905 and is now home to the Royal Canadian Navy’s Pacific Fleet.

Through My Lens: Herbs, Herbs, and More Herbs

Herbs

And … it’s that time of year again. Tomorrow I head off to Salt Spring Island for my “island fix” ― and it just so happens that it’s also the weekend of the Salt Spring Island Fall Fair. It was during my visit to the fair two years ago that I snapped this photo.

I don’t know if my friend and I will make it to the fair this year, but I do know I am looking forward to some island time.

Through My Lens: Sansum Narrows

Sansum Narrows

Naturally, a mini-break on Salt Spring Island means photos were taken.

This view from Salt Spring’s Channel Ridge is of Sansum Narrows. The land mass to the far left is still part of Salt Spring Island, but straight ahead and to the right are Vancouver Island.

Salt Spring Island Fall Fair

SSI Cow

Yup. It’s another cow.

And no, this hasn’t turned into a Bovine Blog.

SSI Pig and Piglets

I took these photos a couple of weeks ago at the Salt Spring Island Fall Fair. My friend had been urging me to come over for the island’s annual fair, which, she claims, is the social event of the year for Salt Spring Island.

 SSI Rooster

“Will there be cows?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said.

“I’m there,” I said.

SSI Quail

Salt Spring Island has a long history of farming ― the island was first known for its fruit harvests, then the dairy and poultry farmers arrived. These days, Salt Spring is famous for its lamb …

SSI Sheep

… and for its cheese made from goats’ milk.

SSI Goats

In keeping with that history, the Salt Spring Island Fall Fair has been an island institution since 1896. This year’s theme was Celebrating Family Farming to coincide with the United Nations declaring 2014 the International Year of Family Farming. (I so wish I had made it to last year’s fair: its theme was Pirates of the Carrots and Beans.)

It seems like everyone on the island has something to exhibit at the Fall Fair ― from livestock to produce to baked goods to flowers to handcrafts.

SSI Produce

Although the sheepdog demonstration was fascinating and the zucchini races were, um, unlike any race involving green vegetables I’ve ever seen, my favourite event was the sheep shearing.

Sheep Shearing 1

The shearer showed us how shearing used to be done ― with a big, shiny pair of blade shears …

Sheep Shearing 2

… and then he showed us how it’s done today ― with powered machine shears.

Sheep Shearing 3

Sheep Shearing 4

The Salt Spring Island Fall Fair takes place every September. If I’m feeling in a year that my blog needs more cow photos, I now know where to go.

Tractor

Through My Lens: Mayne Island Lighthouse

Although this is technically not a long weekend, many Canadians are taking Monday off work to bridge the gap between the weekend and Canada Day to make it a four-day weekend.

Like me.

I’m off to do some island hopping. And so, here is a photo I took a while back of the lighthouse on Mayne Island from the deck of a BC ferry. That’s Mount Baker in the hazy distance.

Mayne Island Lighthouse

Salt Spring Island Cheese

Last month, I told you all about the beginnings of my life-long love affair with cheese.

This month, I’m going to tell you about a stop I make whenever I visit Salt Spring Island — a place that’s perfect for cheese addicts (like me) looking for their next fix.

Salt Spring Island Cheese 1

It’s the Salt Spring Island Cheese Company.

Salt Spring Island Cheese Sign

I’ve long been a fan of this cheesemaker’s dairy products ― they specialize in handmade goat and sheep cheeses that are available in grocery stores and at cheesemongers all across Greater Vancouver. What I did not know is how incredibly fresh the chèvres taste if you buy them straight from the source instead of waiting for them to be shipped to Vancouver. Who knew the difference a few days could make in the flavour and texture of fresh goat cheese?

Salt Spring Island Cheese 2

Salt Spring Island Cheese Company offers a self-guided tour of the cheese-making process from start to finish ― beginning with a walk through the barn where the goats are kept all the way to the final wrapping and display of the many varieties of cheese for sale in the shop.

Cheesemaking

If you’re as addicted to cheese as I am (is that even possible?), be sure to check out the Salt Spring Island Cheese Company the next time you’re on Salt Spring Island.

Cheeses and More Cheeses

Queen of Nanaimo

Queen of Nanaimo

I can’t leave off my tour of the Gulf Islands without posting a photo taken on a BC ferry. That’s because, for me, half the fun of a Gulf Island getaway is getting there.

The Queen of Nanaimo is the workhorse of the Gulf Islands. The ship is almost 50 years old, but it’s the one that does the daily milk run from Tsawwassen to Galiano to Mayne to Pender to Salt Spring and back again.

Almost a month ago, during this season’s first wind storm, the Queen of Nanaimo was blown off course and ran aground near Mayne Island. It sustained enough damage to be put in dry dock for two weeks, which meant that Gulf Island residents wanting to travel to Vancouver had a six-hour detour over Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island.

BC Ferries are the Gulf Islands’ highway and it’s easy to take them for granted ― until sailings are cancelled and you want to get from here to there.

Hornby Island

Hornby Sunset

The last island on my tour of BC’s Gulf Islands ― until I have a chance to explore some more, that is ― is Hornby Island.

Hornby is part of a group of islands known as the Northern Gulf Islands (as opposed to the Southern Gulf Islands that Pender, Salt Spring, and Galiano are grouped with). It’s a bit of a hike to get to Hornby from Vancouver: you first take a ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, then drive up island for about an hour, hop on another ferry at Bulkley Bay that takes you to Denman Island, drive across Denman, and then, finally, take yet another ferry to get to Hornby. (Denmanites refer to their island as the “bridge” to Hornby because most tourists and campers whiz across it without stopping.)

All told, it’s a good half-day trek. My friends and I went to Hornby on a long weekend, but, even with three days, the trip still felt rushed. If you are coming from Vancouver, I highly recommend going to Hornby only if you have at least four or five days, ideally a week, to make the travel time and ferry expense worth your while.

Hornby Island has a year-round population of 1000 and its size of 30 square kilometres makes it one of the smallest of the Gulf Islands. It’s named after Rear Admiral Phipps Hornby, a Brit, who was the Commander of the Pacific Station in the 1850s. The island’s Mount Geoffrey is named after his son.

Like the rest of the Gulf Islands, Hornby offers hiking, wine-tasting, and studio tours. It is also popular with cyclists and mountain bikers. The beach at Tribune Bay is beautiful and I added it to my list of favourite beaches as soon as I set eyes on it. I’m looking forward to spending a lot of time on that beach when I return to Hornby Island.

Tribune Bay