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These diary pages were constructed by putting together
all the e-mails we progressively sent to friends and relatives

during the course of our holiday tour. You can navigate your
way to other diary pages via the links immediately below


Click Page 1 for our journey to  Vancouver, Victoria, Campbell River, Port Hardy, Inland Passage, Prince Rupert, Telkwa and Prince George in British Columbia

Click Page 2 to continue on through Jasper, Lake Louise, Kaslo, Vernon, back to Vancouver, onto Québec City, Rimousky and Parc de Gaspesie in Quebec

Click Page 3 to pass on to Percé, down to New Brunswick, Bathurst, P.E.I., Charlottown, Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Island, Cabot Trail, Cheticamp, Baddeck, Halifax, Peggy's Cove Lunnenberg and Shelbourne

Click Page 4 for Yarmouth in Nova Scotia, CAT ferry to Bar Harbour in Maine, Acadian National Park, Portland, Toronto in Ontario, San Francisco in California thence to our home in Nambucca Heads via Sydney Australia.


Well, so far we've had nothing but good luck.

When we got to the check-in counter at United Airlines in Sydney we were greeted with news of an improved connecting flight from San Francisco to Vancouver.... meaning no 10 hour layover and no need to check-in to an Airport hotel in San Francisco as previously arranged.

The next good news was an invitation to go to the First Class Lounge. On our low, low, LOW fare basis this was a real surprise.... did you have anything to do with this Matthew??? If so, what a good son you are.

We also got some pretty good seats on the aircraft which is surprising for H Class (Lynn says "H" stands for "horrible").

It keeps getting better because once the doors closed it became obvious that the flight was only about 35% filled. Sure makes a difference in all sorts of ways when the flight is so lightly booked.

On top of everything else we had a strong tail wind all the way to San Francisco and we arrived there an hour early!

We enjoyed a very scenic flight from San Francisco to Vancouver but we were surprised to see so much snow on the mountains. More than surprised really... because we'll be driving much further north into Canada. Oh oh!  As most of you know, being an Australian doesn't equip one for knowing how to drive in snow or on iced up roads.

Upon arrival in Vancouver we caught a taxi to our lodgings, a waterfront B&B at Ogden Point near Kitsilano Beach. It overlooks a strip of beautiful parkland, then across English Bay to famous Stanley Park with snow streaked Grouse Mountain in the background. The suburb itself is similar to Vaucluse in Sydney and although the residences are not as posh, the parks and gardens are vastly superior.... quite stunning really. Spring has brought out an incredible array of rhododendrons, azaleas and multiple varieties of Japanese maples in maroon and green. The gardens of the local residents are blushing with flowering tulips in a multitude of colours. We found and booked this place on the internet and we are absolutely delighted with our selection.

To see hotel, our room click the link

Our ability to use the internet whilst on the road is somewhat restricted but as much as possible we will give you some links to click in order to add a little visual content to our written words. In some cases it may only be a link to a single page. In other cases you will be taken to a multi page site with lots of pictures and other information about the hotel or the local district.

We found a great Japanese restaurant near our B&B and enjoyed a really wonderful dinner before crashing out for the night. Brian slept past 4.00 am for the first time in months and didn't stir until 6.00 am next day.

19TH MAY 1999
A brisk walk before breakfast showed us how lucky our choice of lodging has been. Lots of parkland, bayside walking trails, the Vancouver Maritime Museum, Ferry wharf, Space Museum and more are right at our doorstep. And now I know where the term "brisk walk" came from.... things hereabouts this morning were very brisk indeed.... "I told you to wear some gloves...." someone said to someone.

Breakfast was served in our very spacious room and we enjoyed wonderfully flavoursome dark red strawberries, croissants and sultana muffins as we gazed out over the reserve and English Bay. Tugs chug by towing very long barges whilst lots of walkers and joggers pass by in the thin strip of parkland under our window. But best of all.... we saw a middle aged lady walking her cocker spaniel. The dog was decked out in a full jump suit (I mean all over) with just nose and ears exposed. And wait for it.... the dog's suit was in a matching fabric to that worn by his mistress! Totally sartorial!

We have spent the last five hours walking around downtown and will shortly head down to Canada Place where there are some museums and other attractions.

Not a great deal more to tell you about Canada as yet but what we've seen so far we like.

Just after finishing our last e-mail message we looked across the Bay and saw that the peak of Grouse Mountain was free of cloud for the first time since our arrival. Accordingly, we dropped all other plans and immediately made for the downtown Ferry Terminal to catch a SeaBus over to West Vancouver.

Upon arrival we jumped onto the correct bus to take us up to the foot of Grouse Mountain. The way things work in Vancouver you can use the same ticket to board and transfer between trains, buses and ferries provided you don't exceed a 90 minute time limit. And wait for it.... all the 90 minute, multi conveyance ticket costs is $1.50.... what a bargain (the Canadian dollar is currently not far off parity with the Australian dollar).

Anyhow, we got talking to the bus driver along the way up to Grouse Mountain and he said, "let me have a look at those tickets", So we handed them over and he said, "are you going to be taking the cable car up to the top of the mountain?" "Yes we are". "Ok seeing you're Australians, here's a couple of special bus tickets which will also get you a good discount off the cable car. I've also extended the time limit so hang onto the tickets and you can use them to ride the bus back to the ferry terminal when you come down. "Gee thanks" we said, "but we were aiming to have dinner up the on top of the mountain so won't the tickets expire before we get down". "Give em back", says the driver "here's some which will be good for another hour more but you didn't get them from me...right?"

Well we got a cable car discount of $2.20 each which wasn't bad on a ticket which had only cost us $1.50 in the first place and had already taken us on a bus, a ferry, and another bus... not to mention the same trip home.

Well we took the elevated cable car up 5,000 feet to the top of the mountain. We enjoyed the view and ate in the Bistro with thick snow and pine trees at our backs and a great view out over Vancouver Bay and City to our front. Nightfall doesn't occur until about 9.30 pm but as it gradually darkened we we greeted by the sight of millions of twinkling city lights.

Returning to the base of the mountain another friendly BC Transit bus driver was waiting and we had the whole bus to ourselves on the 20 minute ride back to the ferry terminal. Just to be sure that we'd understood the previous bus driver correctly we asked whether we could use the same tickets to board the ferry back to downtown. He looked them over and said "whoever gave you these tickets must have been your fairy godmother. Are you staying downtown or out in the suburbs?" We mentioned that we were out near Kilsilano Beach. "Ok" he says, "take these new tickets which will take you into the next time zone and get you the ferry and the next bus home without having to buy a fresh set of tickets.... just keep your mouth shut, ok?"

Well we thought it was a huge joke thinking about how many trips we'd had for $1.50 and what a hopelessly flawed system it all was. It was only as we walked the last few hundred metres home to our B&B that we began to feel a little guilty about our connivance in the whole thing. Then we thought about the huge amounts of GST and Provincial Tax that gets added to every single transaction here in Canada and we said "stuff it... let's call it square".

Awoke to view scullers (fours and eights) serenely gliding across the bay in front of our bedroom window. Beyond them float planes and choppers are landing and taking off at great regularity. I've never seen so much float plane activity in my life.

After another great breakfast we walked to Granville Island which is a huge complex of market stalls, food stands, cafes, boutiques and ships chandlers. Incredible variety, better and much less repetition of merchandise compared to Australian market equivalents.

We heard someone swear and suddenly realised that it was the first swearword we'd heard in two days since arriving in Canada! Have we been extra lucky or is Canada more civilised than most other countries... or what?

Well we walked, walked and walked until we were footsore and downright dizzy with exhaustion. Then we bought some Alaskan crab meat, some salad things, dressing and a French baguette and headed home. A crab salad and another late sunset from our bedroom eyrie was a pleasant end to a very weary day. Oh, We'd better own up to finishing with our own expresso coffee and chocolate coated seafoam. Eh? Ok, seafoam turned out to be just bloody honeycomb inside!

Hired bicycles today and cycled all around the famous Stanley Park. It's been 40 years since we last did any serious riding and as expected we ended up being very, very sore in all of the predictable places.

In the early evening we went to see a play called "The Number 14 Bus". Very funny play which all takes place on a bus making the run into town from out in the suburbs. You can probably see a bit of it for yourself by clicking on this link ===>

Tomorrow we hope to.... tell you later because they want to close this internet cafe now!!!!!

Later..... Sorry about the abrupt sign-off last time. We were preparing the newsletter in a cyber cafe during the afternoon and expected the place would stay open well into the evening. Then the Staff turned the lights off and asked us to log off. That's why the abrupt termination and that's why we didn't get to check what we'd written and make sure it made sense. We couldn't even pay for the overtime we'd used because they said the till was closed off "so forget it". We seem to be getting a lot of free rides here in Canada.

Most of you know that our daughter Anna is backpacking through Asia and is currently back in Thailand for the third time after forays into Malaysia, Burma and Laos. It's been great how the wonders of Hotmail has kept all the family in contact during the last three months. But we were suitably mollified the other day when we collected our e-mail and found a comment from Anna in a message which was in response to our first Newsletter instalment. I don't think she'll mind us quoting one paragraph.....

"How's Canada? Sounds very different from Bangkok. After reading the description of your accommodation in Vancouver, Anton and I decided to stretch the budget and splash out on an extravagant $8 room. I have to tell you our surroundings sound much more aesthetic. The room is about the size of a shoebox and overlooks a dirty Bangkok alleyway, complete with howling dogs - So there!!! See if that doesn't make you jealous!"

Moving on, thanks for the e-mails John, Cheryl, Neil and Freda. Glad you're enjoying this little bit of fun. I gather that the website addresses included in our previous e-mails have not been "hot" as such and that you've been obliged to re-enter them into your browsers in order to visit the sites. Sorry about that. It seems to be one of the limitations of us using Hotmail whilst on the road. I think we can make links "hot" in future however and links in this 3rd instalment ought to work ok.

On Saturday night we'll probably have dinner on The Starlight Dinner Train. Judging from their web sight it seems a neat and novel way to have dinner whilst enjoying a scenic train tour through Vancouver. The Starlight Dinner Train has a really cool web site (especially if your computer has a sound card) and you might like to check it out for yourself. If you like the sound of the menu perhaps you'll join us for dinner. Just click this next link here and see for yourself

Today we made a big mistake. We shelled out $44 for two tickets on a motorised trolley car bus which is a similar type of operation to Sydney's "Red Bus Explorer".... you get on and off at any of the scenic attractions the bus visits during the course of the day and just do your own thing etc. Well, for one reason and another we just got started late, then we got diverted, then we got sick of waiting when buses didn't turn up at appointed stops at appointed times etc, etc. In the end we gave it the flick after only getting the amount of travel out of it that we could have had by paying $1.50 each to BC Transit. Oh well, I guess being a tourist always means falling flat on your ass occasionally.

Anyhow we got to visit the Dr Sun Yet Sen Chinese gardens and took a stroll around Gas Town (an area somewhat like the Rocks area near the Sydney Harbour Bridge). It was a beautiful sunny day. The weather has been getting better with each passing day and is now close to perfect. After all the walking during the past five days we're feeling pretty tired and decide to skip booking ourselves on the Starlight Dinner Train afterall. Instead we bought some take-away sushi and a bottle of Spanish Cava (sort of champagne) and dragged ourselves back to Ogden Point for a sunset dinner in our room overlooking English Bay. Slept like logs again.

Up early and off to Avis to collect our Ford Taurus.... or that's what we thought. Huge congestion at the Avis office, lots of people and only two staff, one of whom was new to the job. Universal stress on both sides of the counter. After a long wait it was our turn. "Mr Tonkin we're out of Ford Taurus's but we'll give you something equivalent or better at no extra charge" Suspicious Brian says, "oh yeah, like what?"

"Well", says the desk jockey, "how about a Cadillac Seville?" Without thinking it out, Brian the dummy says, "that would be great!" Well folks, without writing pages and pages, let us now explain why it was less than "great".

There's a hundred electronic gadgets and gismos which need the Manual and a Phd. However, Avis does not provide the User's Manual!

The insurance on this $45,000 baby came to over $400 for the seventeen day hire.

We weren't even able leave the parking station because we couldn't figure out how to release the parking brake (you have to start the motor, select drive, close the door and say "let's go" whereupon the brake releases automatically (there's only minor exaggeration in that description).

You have to drive with your lights on in Canada but we couldn't find any light switch.... you guessed it, start the motor, select drive say "let's go" etc etc.

Then there's the size of this beast and the fact that it has a 180 metre turning circle.... it seems. Last but not least, we think we can hear the gas going through it at the rate of a litre every 30 seconds or so!

So the next time you get offered a Cadillac..... don't!

Nervously driving along the wrong side of the road we then drove our tank onto the Victoria Ferry and enjoyed a very scenic 90 minute voyage to Victoria on Vancouver Island. Found our lodgings without trouble thanks to a thoughtfully provided map and arrived to find a little gem!

We were attracted to "The Boathouse" when we found their website a few months back. It a lovely renovated boatshed right on the water (we mean "ON") in a delightful bay here on Vancouver Island. We are surrounded by pine trees, blue water and little islands. We no sooner arrived than we we visited by a large seal. And every few minutes hummingbirds visit our verandah to sip the sugar water which is put out for them in a hanging bottle. A truly magic place, great host and hostess, everything perfect. You could eat your heart out but a better idea is to visit their web site and begin planning your own visit. Just click on the following link

Awoke to another great day and lifting the head came face to face with a pair of large graceful grey herons. After breakfast we jumped in our rowing boat and rowed several hundred metres to The Buttchart Gardens (huge geese followed us honking at every stroke of the oars). And what fabulous gardens they are.... the best we've ever seen anywhere in the world. Thousands of rhododendrons, azaleas, tulips, dogwood, weeping cherry, Japanese maples and lots of wonderful things we couldn't identify. And all impeccably presented in immaculate surroundings. Neither words nor pictures can really do it justice but the Management does its best in their very nice web site. Visit it now by clicking this link, then click on any of the monthly links to see the stunning arrays of flowering gardens which feature in the given month. Here's the link:-

Tonight our host and hostess have invited us up to their home for drinks and snacks... a very unexpected and most hospitable gesture which we're looking forward to a lot. And wait to you hear this.... Harvey and Jean said, "some friends brought us over some prawns they'd caught and we thought we'd share them with you....."

Now friends, I ask you to be honest. If you'd been suddenly presented with a bundle of prawns would your first thought be to invite some strangers in to devour your good fortune..... yeah, in a pig's eye! But that's the Canadians for you.... generous to a fault. Oh, and incidentally. As a result of entering the Buttchart Gardens from the water's edge this morning we seemed to have somehow missed the turnstiles. Not intentional we assure you.... but if this accidental dodging of fares and admission fees keeps up we're bound to end up in the clink sooner or later.

Well that's it for now. It will probably be quite a few days before we'll have another chance to get onto the net but meanwhile, take care of each other and drop us a line if you have the time.

TUESDAY 25TH MAY in Victoria
Woke up to geese honking outside our boathouse, then enjoyed a nice quiche with corn bread drizzled in …. maple syrup, what else? We are in Canada afterall and when in "Rome" etc etc.

We drove into the splendid city of Victoria to see the sights and happened upon a district containing the most elegant and hugely expensive waterfront homes which had acres of wonderful gardens, shrubs and trees. Victoria is the capital of the Province of British Columbia which is pretty unusual given that it’s on the 600 km long Vancouver Island rather than on the mainland with the rest of B.C. It has a population of 350,000 and it is a very nice city indeed.

We enjoyed a nice lunch by the harbour front and then our run of good luck seemed to end. We drove into a parking lot and Lynn jumped out to help Brian back our white-wall tyred centurian tank into a parking slot. Unfortunately Lynn didn’t realise that our Minolta camera was in her lap and she didn’t notice it fall to the pavement either. She made appropriate hand signals which Brian obeyed until he saw a look of horror come over Lynn’s face. It seems that the Caddie’s front wheel had fully mounted the Minolta which was now directly thereunder! "I don’t know whether you should go forward or backward" whispered Lynn. "Is it really going to bloody matter?", roared Brian.

Well we got the car off the camera and inspected it for damage (the camera, that is). The leather case was ripped in several places and a metal bezel around the lens was squashed so as to prevent the lens from opening and coming forward in the required way. After being mounted by two tons of Cadillac we were quite sure the Minolta was a write-off. How could it have possibly survived?

A race around several camera shops resulted in us making our way to a specialist camera repair workshop. They had a waiting list of about seven days but the technician did manage to remove the crushed metal bezel whereupon the lens could open and the zoom mechanism did zoom again. Could we…. dare we hope…. do you think that……???? Keep your fingers crossed.

Now we rushed to a nearby photo mini lab, bought a new film, fired off a dozen shots in the street and got it quickly processed to negative stage. The guy in the shop said the negatives looked fine to him and we then breathed a collective sigh of relief. We didn’t fancy shelling out 600 bucks or more for a suitable replacement.

Unfortunately that little adventure used up our whole afternoon but upon returning home we consoled ourselves by grilling some nice steaks on the hibachi which went well with a salad and some local wine.

WEDNESDAY 26TH MAY (Victoria to Campbell River)
On the road for our first bit of serious Canadian driving. We’re slowly getting to figure out how some of the basic essentials work on the Cadillac but without a Manual most of the gismos remain a mystery. Now out on the open road however the Caddie is less of a liability as it purrs smoothly and effortlessly along very good highways amidst minimal traffic. So much of the highway has a maximum of 80 kph with 50 kph through every small village or town. Doesn’t seem to make sense on these roads.

An announcer on the radio says, "We’ll have a high today of 13 degrees celsius with sunny skies so get out your sunscreen and enjoy it whilst it lasts." He’s really serious about it too! Thirteen bloody degrees and he's thinking sunscreen!!!

Lovely scenery around here. Lots of lakes and snow capped mountains. Yellow flowering broome beside the highway, Elders, Maples, Yew and other beautiful trees in all directions.

We make a slight detour to the village of Chemainus, noted for the fact that any spare piece of shop wall or siding throughout the town is covered in professionally painted murals. But the town looks run down and we give it the thumbs down only to discover the much better part on our way out. By then we’ve run out of spare time and unfortunately have to resume our trip.

Another detour takes us into Cathedral Grove, a piece of forest with a magical quality which also boasts 170 foot high Douglas firs. Unfortunately our guide books were printed before a huge storm devastated the area a year or so back. Things aren’t going very smoothly today.

Back on the main highway we head for Campbell River a small city about halfway up Vancouver Island. We stay at a hotel we’d booked on the internet and discover we are the only guests because the place doesn't’t officially open until 1st July when the "season" begins. We end up with this huge two bedroom suite with two bathrooms, full kitchen and everything which opens and shuts. Down in the basement we have 30 car spaces to ourselves…. just enough room to park the beast.

Being thoroughly fed up with restaurant meals we bought some inexpensively priced prawns, scallops and bean sprouts, then cooked ourselves a very pleasant meal in our suite. Seafood is very reasonably priced around these parts.

To see hotel and our room click

THURSDAY 27TH MAY (Campbell River to Port Hardy)
We got a late start but today should be a relatively easy program so it doesn’t matter. We pass more wonderful lakes, Douglas firs and snow capped mountains. This really is beautiful country. Signs beside the road say "Littering carries a fine up to $2,000". It seems to work too because there is close to zero coke cans, chip packets and plastic carry bags beside the highway. How refreshing.

Now here’s another in the "always look a gift Caddie in the mouth" department. Of course this General Motors tank is a little heavy on the juice. Added to that however is the fact that it has to run on Premium Unleaded instead of Regular. That takes the price from 54 cents per litre to 65 cents per litre which is a big percentage increase. How would you like to be spending 65 cents per litre for YOUR fuel? Hey you Australians, don’t knock me down in the rush…. is it sympathy or avarice I’m detecting here?

Nighfall saw us in Port Hardy where we have a very spacious en-suite room in a very attractive B&B called Oceanvue B&B for logical reasons. 
We went out to the local Chinese restaurant for dinner. "The Apple Tree – Chinese and Canadian Meals". An unusual sign with more than a hint of deja-vu don’t you think? We ordered two dishes plus fried rice which was a big mistake. The size of the meals are twice what we’d get in Australia even though the prices were roughly the same as back home! We did our best but left heaps on the plates. Oh, and the meal tasted more Canadian than Chinese in our opinion.

FRIDAY 28TH MAY (ferry from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert)
Arose at 5.00 am so we could load our car on the northbound ferry for Prince Rupert, a sizeable city just below the Alaskan border. Cold as hell (that seems an inappropriate juxtaposition of words) but we’ve just discovered that the Caddie has electrically seated seats and they’re very welcome this morning. This car may have some meritorious features after all.

Today we have a 15 hour ferry trip through the incredible Inland Passage. Snow-capped, pine covered mountains close by on both sides of the ship as we wind our way smoothly through narrow fiord-like passages which are devoid of human life.

The scenery up here is so unique and spectacular for we Australians that we have to keep pinching ourselves to bring back reality. Words can’t do it justice. During the day we encountered seals, whales and soaring eagles. Unfortunately we haven’t seen any moose or elk yet.

For photos of our ferry and some of the spectacular scenery click

After 15 hours we arrived in Prince Rupert at 11.00 pm just as it grew dark. That’s right, even at this time of the year the days are very long indeed. We found our B&B without any trouble at all and were delighted with our huge and gorgeously decorated room. The German couple who own this establishment also operate a fine arts studio and they have decorated the rooms with the best of everything in the most tastefully arranged manner. Next morning they gave us a typical German breakfast as well, comprising some excellent breads, cheeses, hams and salamis. A nice change from the more typical Canadian breakfast fare of muffins, donuts, and pancakes.

If you wish you can take a peek at our B&B by clicking the next link.

SATURDAY 29TH MAY (Prince Rupert to Telkwa)
Today is a fabulously clear and sunny day. Quite the best weather yet. And we know this must be sounding boring but today we experienced the most incredible series of lakes, snow capped mountains, fir trees and meadows covered in huge dandelions. All absolutely breathtaking…. even better than the best parts of New Zealand’s south island in many respects. And it just lasted all day. We couldn’t help ourselves…. "Oooh, look at that" and then "Aaah, just look over there". In the end we experienced nature overload and became a trifle numb at seeing so much wonderful scenery.

At one part we took a sizeable detour to see some lava fields which turned out to be pretty ho hum. However it turned out to be well worthwhile because we had our first and second bear encounters; right beside the road in both cases. The first one spooked when Brian backed up for a better look but the second encounter was more productive. Brian spotted the bear beside the road eating grass tips and was able to stop about 60 metres short. He then slowly inched up until the car was abreast of the big black bear which studiously ignored us and went on eating. At a distance of about 5 metres Lynn wound down the car window and began to shoot photo after photo. "What will I do if it starts to walk towards me?" she asked. "I’ll just hit the gas pedal and take off, so hang on," replied Brian. But the bear ignored us completely and we eventually left him to his snack and moved on.

Evening saw us in Telkwa where we had pre-booked a particular motel, mainly because the location seemed rather unique. We had a spacious two bedroom cabin with kitchen and bathroom which was clean and tidy even though it had obviously stepped out of the early 1960’s. The position of our cabin was something else however. It was located about three metres above and only five metres distant from a very boisterous set of river rapids! All night long they roared…. but what an incredible sight. We were pleased with our pre-holiday research and decision to book in here. Once again we were almost the only guests as far as we could judge.

For an aerial view of Motel, river and rapids click

SUNDAY 30TH MAY (Telkwa to Prince George)
Awoke to fine drizzling rain this morning. There had to be a limit to our luck in the weather department. Nevertheless it’s an easy drive on these well made and lightly used undulating highways. We can’t get over the lack of population and the scarcity of traffic on the highways. It reminds us of Western Australia in this respect, only more so. Not that we’re complaining. We love getting into deserted areas but we’re just a little surprised to be travelling 100 or more kilometres between gas stations on some occasions.

We’re writing this Newsletter in a huge drug store within the city of Prince George, B.C.’s third largest city but only 70,000 people. Seeing Canada has almost double Australia’s population the people must be somewhere. No doubt we’ll find them when we head over to the Atlantic side in a couple of weeks time.

When we send off this e-mail we’ll go looking for our lodging which is about 15 minutes out of town we believe. It’s situated on a lake and sounds like it will be very nice. You can beat us to the punch if you’d like to visit it first.

Here’s the link

Diary continues >>> Click here for Page 2