Walktober is an excellent time to explore Victoria – from southwest to northeast – and back again. Following is a personal account of an urban walk – full of autumn colours.
My jaunt took me across Victoria – twice. I live in James Bay and had an appointment to keep on Hillside, at the Victoria-Saanich border. The trek took about ninety minutes each way; going “out” I noticed one handful of tourists in front of the legislative buildings, taking photos, and another small group waiting to board the solitary double-decker bus in front of The Empress. The level of activity reminded me of an early fall morning back in the 1990s, before the Coho docked on its first run of the day and long before legions disembarked from the final cruise ships of the season and overwhelmed downtown.
There was a large circle of like-minded folks engaged in some sort of contemplative gathering in Pioneer Cemetery and many people sipping coffee at numerous Cook Street cafes.
Many of the Haultain curb-side gardens were still in flower; some householders had even put excess produce out for neighbours to take home.
Along Shelbourne, single-family houses, well-past their primes and never candidates for heritage designation, continue to give way to multiplexes and townhouses. Nonetheless, there were pockets of colour along this busy corridor.
On the way “back”, I took residential streets in Oaklands, skirted Jubilee and passed through Fernwood. I saw freshly-painted fences, new backyard benches and families enjoying playgrounds and the outdoor plaza on Gladstone.
When I finally returned to James Bay I paused to reflect; other than the lack of downtown tourists, the “new normal” isn’t so different from the “old normal” and our city is going to be okay.
Notes and photos by Britta Gundersen-Bryden