Victoria, … and the Quest for Totems   3 comments


Access to Victoria, BC (Canada, eh), is by ferry and I had initially planned on doing a passenger-only transit and then renting a compact car for a couple of days so I could drive up to Duncan (“the city of  totems”) in my search for suitable totems to photograph. However, taking the ferry as a walk-on meant I would have to carry my backpack stuffed with clothes, laptop, etc., and then walk a few blocks to the rental car office. Unfortunately, my back was still aching from my Seattle adventure a few days earlier, so I decided to take the trusty VW Jetta with me (which meant shelling out ~$125 round trip(!) and having to endure long waits during customs inspections). Victoria is a really neat city but like most other really cool places, it is jammed with tourists, particularly in the summer months. Apparently, prior to my arrival the weather had been mostly winter-like with lots of overcast skies and cool temps. (I have no problem at all with the cool temps but I do require some occasional sunshine, especially when it comes to photography.) As you can tell by the photograph of the Empress Hotel, the weather was sunny, nary a cloud in sight.

Empress Hotel, Where I Would Have Liked to Stay …

… Accent Inn, Where I Did Stay

Victoria Parliament Building

Duncan, “The City of Totems”

After reading about Duncan, BC, being renown for its vast number of native American totems, I conjured up an image of a somewhat remote native American community teeming with really cool totems set amongst a forest of trees. But as is often the case, preconceived mental images often are vastly different from reality. Turns out that Duncan indeed has lots of totems. Unfortunately – for me, anyways – the totems are interspersed throughout the downtown section of a small mostly Caucasian city. Instead of being surrounded by trees in a lush natural setting, the totems are surrounded by banks, billboards and barber shops. Even if I was so inclined to photograph any of these totems, I would have to run the risk of being run over by a pizza delivery car.

However, I did have some luck locating some totems to photograph as the town is also home to a native American cultural center that “houses” a few totems and provides guided totem tours – for a fee, of course. My thanks to John (the tour guide’s Anglo name) for a most informative tour!

Duncan Native Cultural Center Totem

Duncan Native CC Totem

On the day I was to take the ferry back to Port Angeles, I decided to visit the most excellent Royal BC Museum of Natural History in Victoria. Not only was the museum showcasing an excellent dinosaur exhibit at the time, but they also possessed a remarkable collection of … native totems! Only problem was that, although it was permissible to take pictures, you could not use a flash. Fortunately, I had brought my car and inside my car was my trusty compact tripod. Of course, just after I started taking some photos, a museum security guard came up and informed me that tripods were not allowed. You can take photos, but not with flash, and not with a tripod. That pretty well rules out taking decent photos as the museum lights were (understandably) considerably dimmed. Fortunately for me, I had already taken several photos before being told to pack up my tripod – which by the way was very compact and non-obtrusive. The museum had  an excellent selection of totems and although they were not framed by a natural setting, they were still magnificent to observe and the lighting was actually quite complimentary and made for good photography – that is, as long as you were able to smuggle in a tripod.

BC Museum Totem

BC Museum Totem

BC Museum Totem


Posted June 25, 2012 by whitecrow44 in Uncategorized

3 responses to “Victoria, … and the Quest for Totems

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  1. Great blog!!! I love the pictures!

    Justine Champion
  2. I think I will just come hang out with you and you can plan all our adventurous trips

    connie weinholtz
  3. Bring plenty of cash!

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