Monday, May 27, 2013

Victoria to Butchart Gardens, Part 2

Butchart Gardens, British Columbia
Lyle rattles off facts like the crazy Canadian fact machine he is.

“There's a new hockey arena on Blanshard.”

“The Bay Street Armoury was built in 1913 and currently houses two regular units, cadets, and a marching band.”

“The original jail is now a high school.” (I remind myself that the territorial prison in Yuma, Arizona, later became a high school as well.)

“The observatory off Saanich Road is the largest in the British empire and is affiliated with the Hubble Space Telescope.”

Lyle's voice swells with as much pride as his Canadian citizenship will allow. And I say this without any hint of mockery, because he is wonderful. If not Kids in the Hall, then maybe Corner Gas or some other underappreciated television show.

“Victoria is the only part of Canada considered sub-tropical. It averages one snowfall per year.” He explains that the Olympic Mountain Range to the south picks off all the potential snow. A passenger adds that one of those mountains–Hurricane Ridge–received nearly 700 inches of snow last year.

Lyle acknowledges this and then tells us more about the sub-tropics of Canada. “There is no rain in Victoria between late-April and late-August,” he says. “That's good for tourism, but tough on locals.”

Then, without transition: “Vancouver Island has the largest cougar population in the world. Every now and then, one will wander into town.”

I cannot speak to the veracity of his claims, but he sure is entertaining. Crazy Canadian fact machine.

A cell phone rings. Lyle pauses, but says nothing. A few moments later, it rings again.

“I might have to confiscate that annoying cell phone,” he says in his gentle, measured tone. It is a threat delivered in the Canadian style, as an apology.

Upon arriving at Butchart Gardens, Lyle informs us that he will be handing us tickets as we disembark the coach. “Now,” he says, “these tickets are crucial.”

He pauses to ensure that all are paying attention, then delivers the reveal: “You'll need them to get through the turnstiles.”

Indeed. Because this is how tickets work. And turnstiles, for that matter.

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