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Monday, September 26, 2011


Central Park is a 90 hectare (222 acre) urban park in Burnaby, B.C.  The park was founded in 1891 and named to honour Mrs. David Oppenheimer, the wife of Vancouver's second mayor, who was born in New York City.

There's no nicer place close at hand to go for an afternoon stroll, and as I hadn't visited the park for some time, I decided to make that my Saturday afternoon destination this week.  The park is located on the border of Vancouver/Burnaby and it's easy to get to from where I live by bus and skytrain.
One of the exercise stations (this one is for sit-ups)

The park as many amenities besides the well-kept trails.  There is a running route (the Terry Fox route in honour of our beloved young cross-Canada runner who has inspired so many and in his name so much money has been raised for cancer research.  There are also fitness aids along the trails to help you stay fit.  And if all  you want to do is walk, there are many trails to explore.
Don't be alarmed if as y ou walk along you are greeted by the friendly black or grey squirrels or chipmunks.  They are so tame they'll come right up to you,  hoping you might have a little hand-out like some seeds or nuts.

The children's playground is full of exciting opportunities for adventure. 

And the day I was there, one of our last warm days of early Autumn, there were a lot of picnics.  The park is well equipped for group or individual picnics. There is also a pitch-and-putt, swimming pool, and lawn bowling facility in the park.


There's a small gazebo in the park. When I passed by later in the afternoon there was a wedding party there having their photos takens.

The first tinges of Autumn were being to show in the coloured leaves. Soon the park will be blazing with colour.  I meandered along the tree-lined pathways, not quite sure where I'd end up.  It's a bit of a maze in the woods but there were lots of people on the trails that day.

 The park's main attraction is the large proportion of  well-preserved temperate rainforest.  One of my favorite places in the park is the large duck pond.  Children enjoy feeding the ducks, but the signs around the park remind you not to feed the wildlife. So if you are inclined to do so make sure it's the appropriate kind of food for them.

Feeding the ducks.
I sat for awhile on a bench by the little 'lake' and meditated, wrote in my journal, and had a small picnic lunch.  Such a serene way to spend a Saturday afternoon!

If you go:
The main park entrance is off Kingsway near Patterson.  If you go by skytrain, get off at the Patterson station and walk into the park from there. You can also enter the park from Imperial Road to the south.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Second Beach Pool

I love going to the beach, especially to swim, and in Vancouver you have a good choice of where to spend those hot summer days.  My favorite place to swim is the Second Beach pool.  To get there I enjoy a cool, scenic stroll along Lost Lagoon.  The pool, which is right on the beach, is heated, and I usually go there because the sea water is often too cold. 

Whenever I go, which is usually mid afternoon on, I take along a picnic lunch for myself and once I've finished swimming, I head over to the picnic tables overlooking the beach and the entrance to English Bay.

 Then I often take the long walk on the sea wall to the English Bay beach to get my bus home.  One day I decided to stay at English Bay to watch the sunset.  That turned into an excellent outing as there were hundreds of people on the beach waiting for the moment when the sun dips below the horizon.  Then they all cheer and clap. It was like watching a show!
New Brighton Pool
There's a pool nearer to where I live too, and I often ride my bike over there.  New Brighton park and pool is right behind Hastings Park racetrack, and is situated on Burrard Inlet.  The pool isn't as nice as Second Beach and it's usually full of kids leaping in and out of the water, whereas at Second Beach pool there are a lot of family groups in the water with their kids, plus the slides that the children enjoy so much.  But the walk (or cycle) around the park way afterwards is pleasant and you always see the big freighters nearby at the docks.

This summer I didn't go into the ocean to swim as often as I sometimes do.  But one day last week, when it was very hot, I decided to make a day of it at Jericho Beach, one of the nicest sandy beaches in Vancouver.  As usual I took along a picnic lunch although there's a concession there.  Surprisingly the water was pleasantly refreshing and I had two good swims.  I noticed a great many other 'seniors' in swimming too and that day the beach was crowded with people having fun in the sun.
Jericho Beach
So now the summer seems to have ended and my swimming days are over until the indoor pool opens again where I go for waterfit.  But it was an excellent summer and I took advantage of every hot, sunny day to enjoy the outdoors.

Enjoying the Last of Summer

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I LOVE TRAINS! An Afternoon of Fun Riding the Burnaby Central Railway

I've always loved trains.  When I was little living on the prairies the train ran through our town, Lloyminster Sask., and I loved watching it pass by from the field where we children played.  We were always warned to run home though when the jigger cars came by as they were usually itinerant workers scouting jobs on the farms and heaven knows who they were or where they'd come from.  I remember a day I was playing in the field across from our house with one came by and my friend called out "Run to beat the band!"  I'd never heard that expression before and thought it sounded very exciting!

When my family moved to Stratford during the years Dad was overseas, we lived at my grandparent's home.  Grandpa was a mechanical engineer and worked for the railway.  I knew he worked at the CNR shops as a foreman but didn't realize til years later that he was actually a mechanical engineer and had some hand in developing the first diesel engine. 

So trains have been in my blood.  And that very long cross-Canada train trip from Stratford to Vancouver when I was twelve years old was the adventure of a lifetime.  And on that trip the historical fiction writer in me was born.

I still like trains, though I seldom get to ride on them.  But this weekend I spent an afternoon Confederation Park in Burnaby where there is a miniature train museum, the Burnaby Central Railway, and miniature trains of every type: diesel, steam, electric.  The engines and some of the box-cars and cabooses are exact models of real trains and in between are seats for passengers.  For $2.50 you get a 10 - 15 minute ride through the woods, over trestles and under tunnels.  Great fun!

At the Rainbow Creek Station you'll find all amenities including a railroad museum with RR paraphernalia.  There's picnic sites and a place for private parties. That day a group were celebrating some children's birthdays. 

The tracks and trains are built and maintained by the BC Society of Model Engineers
The railway is located behind Confederation Park in North Burnaby at Hastings & Willingdon Ave, behind the park on the foreshore area.  The railway operates weekends and holidays 11 am - 5 pm from May to October.  It's not only for kids.  Lots of adults were riding it the day I went there.
Contact 604-291-0922  or

It was all a pleasant surprise for me as I didn't even know about this railway.  I've been on the one at Stanley Park and Bear Creek in Surrey.  I thought this was a more exciting ride.  So take some time to visit and enjoy being a kid again!

Thursday, September 08, 2011


Steveston Village, located on the southwestern shore of Richmond, was once a frontier seaport and principal port on the mighty Fraser River.  It was founded by William Herbert Steves in 1880. He imagined it would be a town that would rival Vancouver.  The town flourished up to 1910 and then there was a decline in the salmon industry. At the turn of the twentieth century the village was one of the busiest fishing ports in the world.  There were fifteen salmon canneries, six hotels, numerous saloons and gambling dens and daily windjammers anchored in the port loading canned salmon to distribute to the world markets.  On weekends, up to 10,000 people thronged Steveston's boardwalks: sailors from all over the world, Native Indians, Japanese, Chinese and European immigrants.  In 1918 a devastating fire destroyed much of the town and there was more hardship during the 1930`s depression.
Bunkhouse kitchen

At the time the Second World War broke out there were many Japanese fishermen living here and after Pearl Harbour their boats and property were seized as they were all sent away to interment and Steveston lost half its population and many businesses.   There is a small memorial park for the Japanese fishermen at Garry Point and one of the historic houses left at Steveston belonged to a Japanese family.

It's always a pleasant outing to spend the day at Steveston.  You can rent bikes to ride along the dikes, visit the fish market on the wharf, or the Farmer's Market.  Or just stroll along the boardwalk and take in all the sights while you investigate the heritage buildings, some now turned into museums.
Kite flying at Garry Point
Last weekend my friends and went to Steveston, first for a salmon barbecue at my friend Diane's home. She bought the fish fresh from the fish market on Steveston's wharf.  Then we set off for a tour, to show my friend from Germany around.  Patrick has been to Vancouver many times, but never to Steveston.

By the Steveston boat works

We started off at one end of the boardwalk where there are several heritage houses including one of the bunkhouses used for workers in the cannery.  The day was hot and so walking along by the river was refreshing.  When we got to Steveston town there are many boutiques and excellent dock-side restaurants: everything from seafood to Italian food.  One of the most popular (on the wharf) is Pajo`s Fish and Chips.  The town itself has many heritage buildings including the Steveston Museum which shows the history of the community. (pick up a brochure that will guide you through a Steveston Village Heritage Walking tour).
Fisherman`s Wharf
The Fisherman`s Wharf was bustling with activity as the fish boats were in port displaying their catch and lots of people go there to buy their fresh salmon, shell fish and even sea urchins. 

Sea Urchins

Fresh Salmon for Sale

We stopped by the Gulf of Georgia Cannery which is a National Historic site, although this day we didn`t tour through it.  Then we walked over to Garry Point where you can enjoy a broad view of the river delta,  picnic at the beach or fly kites in the park.  At the very end of the Point is a memorial to fishermen.  It represents a seine net mending needle mounted on a round base with a compass rose motif that represents a compass, one of the main instruments used for navigation.
Sculpture of Salmon Cannery Workers.

The day proved to be invigorating and somewhat tiring by the time we walked all the way back to where the car was parked.  But if you take the bus there, or drive, you can park in the village and walk from there.  I also recommend renting bikes down on the wharf and cycling the dikes.  If you cycle east you`ll reach the historic London Heritage Farm or going around Garry Point you can cycle as far as the airport.

Fishermen`s Memorial at Garry Point

Patrick and I with a view of the River from Garry Point

Thursday, September 01, 2011


My friend Rick had won tickets for the Grouse Mountain Sky Lift so he invited me to accompany him on a day-trip. It was only the second time for me to go up the Lift and for Rick it's been many years since his last visit.  You can ride the lift for $39.95, expensive, but there's lots to see and do when you reach the top.  The gondola swings 300 meters above the treetops and travels up the mountain in only 12 minutes.  The views are fantastic, but just wait til you actually get to the top!

The first thing we did was relax with a coffee at the mountain-top cafe and enjoy the view of Vancouver far below.  It was a clear enough day you could see all the way to Vancouver Island and past Point Roberts in the States.
Our first stop was at the Logger's Show.  They perform at intervals during the day and it's well-worth taking in the brave and often goofy antics of the loggers,  illustrating what old-time lumber-jacks did in the woods.
This unexpected character almost gave us a heart-attack with his antics high atop the pole.  Along with all the other performances by the two lumber-jacks who perform their various stunts such as axe-throwing, sawing contests and climbing,  it was an excellent show!

There's lots of things to do on the mountain including zip-lines, para sailing and the various shows including ecological lectures etc.  Of course, in winter time this mountain is a popular skiing resort for locals.  And hikers love climbing the famous Grouse Grind Trail.

Para sailing
Rick and I walking around to see the two orphaned grizzlies, Grinder and Coola, who live in a natural habitat enclosure.  A ranger gives a talk about the bears during the day.  Grinder was found wandering alone on a logging trail, half starved, at Invermere,  while Coola was the only survivor of a car crash near Bella Coola that killed his mother and brother cubs.  They've been cared for on the mountain for several years and are now pretty well full grown bears who wander contentedly in their forest home and bathe in the pools.

We were just in time to take in the Birds in Motion show next.  These are birds of prey who perform and fly about while the trainer gives you the story about each bird.  The first was a Harris Falcon from the desert of South America. He was the only bird not found locally.  The next was a red-tailed hawk, then a great horned owl (I loved this guy!), a turkey vulture and a bald eagle. 
Turkey Vulture

Bald Eagle

One of the newer features on the Peak is the Eye of the Wind, the worlds first and only wind turbine.  You can take a glass elevator to the top of the tower to get another panorama view.  It costs $19.95 to go up in the glass viewer.  You can reach the wind turbine by gondola, but we attempted to walk. It's a long, steep climb up there.  I took it slow and easy with a few stops to catch my breath.  Rick went on ahead, but I just went as far as it took to get a good view of the wind turbine and that satisfied me.  At least the walk down was easy!

Eye of the Wind
If you can afford to go, I highly recommend a visit to the Peak for a day's outing. It's great fun for the whole family and of course it's a major tourist attraction too.  Try to go on a clear day so you can enjoy the magnificent views.  Rick suggested we should have gone a bit later in the day to catch the late-afternoon sun and early sunset.  Maybe we'll do that another time!

View from the Peak