Posts Tagged ‘Courtenay Bed & Breakfast’

BC Parks celebrates 100 years

Monday, May 30th, 2011

On March 1 of this year, BC Parks celebrated its 100th birthday.  The first provincial park created in British Columbia was Strathcona Provincial Park on Vancouver Island back in 1911, and since then BC Parks has grown to be one of the largest park systems in the world.  Throughout 2011, events, contests and celebrations will honor this milestone in our provincial history.

Spectacular Helmcken Falls

Strathcona Park on central Vancouver Island is more than 250,00 hectares of rugged wilderness dominated by mountain peaks, some of which are snow covered year round.  The landscape is laced with rivers, creeks and streams.  Buttle Lake and Forbidden Plateau offer visitor-oriented developments.  Hiking, backpacking and trout fishing are enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts.  Della Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in Canada, is located in the southern part of the park and the Golden Hinde, the highest point on Vancouver Island, sits almost in the center of the park, west of Buttle Lake.  Three roadless tracts, including the Comox Glacier, are dedicated preservation areas.  Both our Campbell River Bed & Breakfast Susie’s on the Shore, and  Miracle Beach Bed & Breakfast as well as our Courtenay Bed & Breakfasts are great starting points for exploring the natural wonders of Strathcona Park.

On Salt Spring Island you will find several provincial parks but one of the most beautiful is Ruckle Park.  It has 7 km of shoreline and a mixture of forest, field and shore habitats.  From the rocky cliffs watch BC Ferries exit Active Pass, watch for orcas and sea lions, mink and river otters and tidepools rich in colorful creatures.  Divers visit Ruckle Park as well and enjoy marine life in its underwater caves or on the ocean floor.  Henry Ruckle first homesteaded in the area in 1872, and his descendants still raise sheep at the entrance to the park.   Anchor Point Bed & Breakfast Suite, Anne’s Oceanfront Hideaway and Quarrystone House Bed & Breakfast are close to all the attractions on Salt Spring Island, including Ruckle Park.

Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park is situated in the northern Okanagan region, north of the Shuswap.  1076 hectares large, with 11 km along the Adams River, the park offers hiking and mountain biking in summer and cross-country skiing and snow shoeing in winter, but is most well known for its spectacular sockeye salmon run in early October.  One of the largest salmon runs in the world, every fourth year is a “dominant” year with millions of salmon making their way up stream.  2011 is a “sub-dominant” run, which, while not as big as the dominant run of 2010, is still of considerable size.  The Adams River squeezes through a narrow canyon to create spectacular rapids, much favored by river rafters and kayakers.  Your hosts at Mara Station Bed & Breakfast, A Rover’s Rest in Blind Bay and Artist’s House Heritage Bed & Breakfast in Sicamous will be able to give you all the inside information to get the most out of your visit to the Adams River area.

One of our Guild members is actually located right inside of one of BC’s largest parks, Wells Gray Provincial Park.  Blue Grouse Country Inn, a Clearwater Bed & Breakfast, is your ideal location for exploring the park. A little over an hour away is lakefront Sheridan Lake Bed & Breakfast, also a good starting point for a visit to Wells Gray Park.  There is excellent birding and wildlife viewing opportunities in the park, hiking for every level of ability, boating, canoeing and kayaking.  There are opportunities for guided horseback riding, river rafting, fishing and hiking, really something for every outdoor interest.  Helmcken Falls on the Murtle River, the fourth highest waterfall in Canada, was the original impetus for the creation of Wells Gray Provincial Park.  A short paved road from the main park road leads to a viewing platform on the rim of the canyon.

Where ever you go in British Columbia, you will find a provincial park not that far away. Near most BC Parks you will also find a British Columbia Bed & Breakfast as the perfect place to stay while exploring our spectacular natural environment.

The bigger word in “Bed & Breakfast”

Monday, May 16th, 2011

A large part of the attraction of staying at a British Columbia Bed & Breakfast concerns the bigger word in “Bed & Breakfast”, our breakfasts of course!  The BC Innkeepers Guild definition of what is a Bed & Breakfast includes the requirement that breakfast must be provided and included in the room rate.

So, what about breakfast?  As many different B&Bs as there are in our Guild, probably as many different kinds of breakfasts are provided.  Breakfast may be served at a communal table in the dining room, or individual tables, may be delivered to your room, may be set up as a buffet, may be served outside on the patio or deck, weather permitting, or may be provided for you to help yourself to at your convenience.  You may enjoy 5 courses or 3 courses or an expanded continental version, a breakfast menu or a choice of breakfast selections.  Always check when you’re deciding which Bed & Breakfast to stay at, so that you will know what to expect.

Innkeeper Sharon at Race View B&B , a Greater Victoria Bed & Breakfast in rural Metchosin, offering a single private suite, may start you off with home made banana icecream topped with maple blackberry “swoosh”, followed by smoked salmon and asparagus rouladen with rosemary roasted potatoes and whole grain toast made from locally grown red fife flour.  At the Bee & Thistle Guest House, a Vancouver Bed & Breakfast in a 1908 fully restored historic home in the Commercial Drive area, innkeepers Lynn & Michael offer fresh brandied strawberries in lace toffee cups, feta and scallion scones with whipped chive butter, creme brulee french toast with fresh banana slices and Canadian maple syrup accompanied by chorizo potato petals with sour cream and chives.  Yum, is your mouth watering yet?

Bed & Breakfasts can cater to special dietary restrictions, or specific activities that require flexible breakfast times, but please let them now in advance.  At St. Marys River B&B a Kootenay Bed & Breakfast in the small community of Wycliffe, British Columbia, innkeepers Dale & Doug Martin have devised a self-serve breakfast as they cater to a lot of fishermen and other early risers.  Hot and cold cereals, seasonal fruit and yoghurts, home baked goods or breads, and a quiche or french toast casserole that guests can pop into the oven whenever they are ready to eat.  Dale & Doug still find opportunities to host their guests as well.  A gluten and dairy-free menu served at La Pause B&B, a Courtenay Bed & Breakfast on Vancouver Island, starts with a super soy smoothie.  Innkeepers David & Lucille may then serve gluten and dairy-free lemon blueberry muffins and individual apple wood smoked bacon quiches.  There is no reason to sacrifice taste when dealing with diet restrictions.

How about one more to tickle your taste buds?  ThistleDown House, a North Vancouver Bed & Breakfast, is known for its unique breakfasts.  On Friday May 13th, this was the menu: ThistleDown porridge, pineapple poached in kirsch with crushed frozen raspberries, and a main course of wild British Columbia steelhead trout with sea asparagus.

Of course there are many more great breakfasts served by our BC  innkeepers.  All will be accompanied by delicious coffees and teas and a variety of fresh fruit juices, and are very often locally sourced and organic.  As we could not possibly include them all here, keep an eye on our Facebook page for further delectable offerings from our British Columbia Bed & Breakfasts!

Stop and Smell the Flowers

Monday, May 9th, 2011

May is a terrific month here in British Columbia.   The weather is getting warmer, the rhododendrons go crazy and gardeners know it is time to plant, weed and feed.  On Vancouver Island, between Port Hardy in the north and Victoria in the south, there are over 18 notable gardens to visit!  Here, from north to south, is a brief overview:

Ronnings Garden is located at the head of Holberg Inlet 65 km west of Port Hardy on the gravel road to Cape Scott.  Its two hectare site features twin monkey puzzle trees.  Call 250-288-3724 for visitor information.

Shepard’s Garden, near Port McNeill, is a family garden of flowers and forest on a 1 1/2 hectare site.  Bulbs and flowering shrubs provide an early display of color.  Named for and by the owners, Bill and Marilyn Shepard, the number of perennials increases as they find new plants that will overwinter in the northern island climate.

Mystic Woods Nursery, just outside Campbell River, is a work in progress with an ever expanding display garden.  This year the nursery is concentrating on unusual perennial grasses, herbs, trees and shrubs.  Your Campbell River Bed & Breakfast hosts will be able to direct you to Mystic Woods.

Kitty Coleman Woodland Gardens, founded and maintained by Brian Zimmerman, is near Courtenay and showcases over 3,000 rhododendrons in a wooded setting along with ferns, ponds and a labyrinth.  Peak bloom time is through the end of June.

The Filberg Heritage Lodge and Park is in Comox and is known for a variety of stately trees, including oaks, and deodar cedars.  Shrubs include hundreds of rhododendrons.  Each spring thousands of annuals are planted in beds near the old lodge to provide a fabulous and colorful display all summer long.   Our Courtenay Bed & Breakfast members will have all the information you need to enjoy a visit to both of these wonderful gardens.

The Old Rose Nursery is on Hornby Island, reached by ferry from Buckley Bay between Courtenay and Qualicum Beach.  It boasts over 1000 varieties of roses and is open from June through mid-August.

Milner Gardens and Woodland between Qualicum Beach and Parksville is a 28 hectare property with a 4 hectare developed garden of stately lawns, beds and borders, a small orchard and hundreds of rhododendrons.   Staying at our Nanaimo Bed & Breakfasts or our Errington Bed & Breakfast will put you just a leasurely drive away from Milner Gardens.

Dashwood Gardens is  on a 1.6 hectare site near Stamp Falls Provincial Park and Port Alberni.  It features thousands of daffodils and other bulbs.  Peak viewing is in the spring.

Tofino Botanical Gardens boasts a specimen of the oldest living tree in the world, the alerce, as well as the giant Himalayan lily with its large waxy leaves.  In the late spring the Himalayan lily produces flower spikes up to 4 meters high that bloom in July.  The garden also has a compare and contrast presentation of plants from the Chilean Coastal Rainforest which has a similar climate to Clayoquot Sound but a very different evolutionary history.  Of course the Tofino and Ucluelet area deserves a visit of more than one night, so book your Ucluelet Bed & Breakfast in advance of your visit.

Hazelwood Herb Farm, near Ladysmith, has over 500 species of plants which over the centuries have been considered herbs.  Many are found in the formal garden designed to resemble the 18th century herb gardens of Europe.  Medicinal and culinary herbs are grown in raised beds and sold in the gift shop.  Quite likely our Ladysmith Bed & Breakfast hosts use herbs from Hazelwood Herb Farm as well!

Mayo Creek Gardens, at Lake Cowichan, is on a 1 hectare north facing slope and features rhododendrons and native plants in a complimentary display.

Duncan’s Providence Farm in the Cowichan Valley explodes with plant and animal life in the springtime.  Visitors thrill to blossoms and lambs, fields and forests.  Cowichan Valley Bed & Breakfasts are located nearby.

The grand daddy of them all, Butchart Gardens, is stunning at any time of year.  Forget me nots and English daisies show their colors as do so many other spring flowers in April and May with the warmer and sunnier weather.  Located on the Saanich Peninsula, several Saanich Bed & Breakfasts are close by for your accommodation needs.

Victoria is home to several other amazing gardens.  The first is Abkhazi Garden, a heritage home and garden, created in 1946 by Prince Nicholas Abkhazi and Princess Peggy Abkhazi.  It is a one acre garden with dramatic rocky outcroppings, Garry oaks and great vistas.  Blooms are most prolific in late spring and early summer but the garden is spectacular all year round.

Finnerty Gardens, a part of the University of Victoria campus, is a lovely 1.6 hectare space boasting some 3000 trees and shrubs plus over 200 rhododendrons.  It is an all year garden, but spring is especially vibrant.

Hatley Castle – Royal Roads is a 180 hectare forest .  The Royal Roads section includes an Italian garden, a Japanese garden, a rose garden, croquet lawn, lakes and streams.  The rose garden is at it’s best in early June, but has much to offer  all year, with a number of unusual growing trees and shrubs.

Finally, Glendale Gardens and Woodlands is a two hectare garden in Conservation Park with a natural setting complimented by walking trails and bird viewing stations.  It has a wonderful winter garden, the Doris Page, featuring grasses, flowering shrubs and trees.  Spend at least a day exploring these Victoria area gardens by booking your stay at one of our Victoria Bed & Breakfasts.

However you choose to route your Vancouver Island garden tour, rest assured that your British Columbia Bed & Breakfast hosts will provide wonderfully comfortable rooms and great breakfasts to make garden hopping even more fun and exhilarating.