Today, as had been the case previously , we got a bit of a slow start, though not as much as yesterday. At least a great part of the slow start, though, was due to the terribly slow traffic on highway one going into downtown Victoria as a result of road construction. Again, one of the consistent themes of the trip here is that Victoria has a rather large road construction season that restrict travel in key areas, as it happened on our way back from town as well when some blasting between 8 and 10PM brought traffic on that same highway to a standstill a few miles from Sooke. At any rate, though, while the traffic did delay our journeying and make it considerably longer, it did not disrupt our enjoyment in the day’s travels.
After finding parking in downtown for a not terribly unreasonable daily price, our group ambled off to the Parliament Building for the Province of British Columbia nearby. After waiting in line outside, we went in and got through security just in time to join the noon tour around the areas of the building that were accessible to the public. Although our guide had a bit of a stutter, he was knowledgeable about the history of the place and there was some fine discussion about the misguided heraldry of the building and even a couple of costumed living historians who both explored the heroism of the past and the uneasy but politically correct acknowledgement of past wrongs inflicted on minority populations by the machinery of populist democracy. The art and architecture of the Parliament building was indeed very lovely and when we finished looking at the inside of the building it was time for us to examine the exterior of the structure, which proved to be equally lovely. We walked through a fragrant rose garden that had attracted a large variety of local bees, I sat on the Speaker’s Chair, and we spent some time looking at various monuments to fallen first responders before we decided to eat lunch in the restaurant there. The prices were reasonable and the food very excellent–and our waitress was again a rather quick study, as we talked to her about the point-of-service machinery that all of the wait staff have used in our restaurants thus far in Canada, a habit that I will write about soon, I hope.
After eating our lunch, we walked across the street to the Royal BC Museum where we had about two hours before the museum closed to amble through the exhibits. I think we did a pretty fair job of it. First we looked at the Egypt exhibit to see some heathen religious goods, some discussion of matters of gender and class in Egyptian historiography, and some funereal matters and models of towns and temples and the like, and it was all done in fine contemporary style. After that we walked through a look at local natural history, which allowed the chance to read some mistaken pontificating on global warming and view some well-done mock-ups of the local temperate rainforest and estuaries with their animal life. Upstairs came a look at human life, where one could witness the difference between the joyful presentation of the settlement of European Americans in Victoria and the rather somber discussion of the effect of that exploration and settlement on the First Peoples, who first profited from their involvement in global trade networks and then faced demographic decline from acculturation, the loss of their lands, and death due to disease. Here too there appeared to be a tension between the desire to present things as they are but also a desire for political correctness in historical presentation, including that of endangered native languages whose survival seems to indicate a desire to preserve heathen ways of thinking.
After a look through the gift shop and dealing with more friendly people, it was time for us to enjoy the Robert Bateman Centre, which was a short walk along Victoria’s harbor and a climb up the stairs. There we (eventually) watched a five minute video about Bateman’s life and art before walking through a gallery that contained quite a few drawings and paintings about creation that showed an excellent blend between realism and impressionism as well as other local artists who deal with questions concerning memory and creation, although they insisted on talking about it in terms of nature rather than creation. Nature, of course, is merely unredeemed creation, and while it was possible to enjoy much of the art that was shown on the wall or in various books, and to note the development of the artist from his youth to the present day, there was a certain political and philosophical undertone in the works that I could not endorse. After that, though, we were off on another adventure to find dinner, finding ourselves nearly penned in a parking lot to a hipster motel after having found the chicken restaurant closed, before eventually reaching a roadhouse place where I enjoyed some tasty chicken tacos and watched sports before it was time for us to return to a relaxing evening.
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