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Enjoy the great outdoors on a CRD parks excursion

An artist in residence and wilderness survival program for young adults are among the additions to the curriculum at Capital Regional District Parks this year.
Susan Hitchcock and Nancie Dohan attend Marine Day at WittyÕs Lagoon in July. Dohan, who is co-ordinator of environmental interpretation for CRD Parks, says interpretive programs help engage the public.

An artist in residence and wilderness survival program for young adults are among the additions to the curriculum at Capital Regional District Parks this year.

The initiatives are among 2,600 walks, hikes, workshops and drop-in events the organization hosts for 25,000 visitors every year.

Through a variety of programs, participants get acquainted with a network of 33 regional parks and trails in the 13,000 hectares that make up the regional parks system.

“Our interpretation programs are an important way for us to engage the public,” said Nancie Dohan, co-ordinator of environmental interpretation. “For them, it is a way to connect with nature.”

The programs are seasonal. At this time of the year, the focus is on winter birding, starting with woodpeckers this weekend. Barred owls, the first owls to nest, are already making their presence heard in the woods.

While many of the programs are the “standard, tried and true,” Dohan says CRD Parks is always listening to feedback and looking for programs that appeal to new visitors.

One new program, Wilderness Skills for Youth, was created after a survey indicated young adults were interested in learning about wilderness survival.

Don’t be surprised to see artist-in-residence Joanne Thomson on the trails with her sketchbook. Her illustrations, inspired by nature, will be on display during open houses in March.

Visitors returning year after year aren’t forgotten. Although the event may be the same, participants will always find something new, Dohan said.

A downloadable brochure on the CRD Parks website lists upcoming events for the next three months. Most of the events are free and some are wheelchair-accessible.

The fun starts this weekend. Saturday’s Wonderful Woodpeckers program is a guided walk for those five and older.

The walk is led by a CRD Regional Parks naturalist, who will teach the kids how to identify woodpeckers by sight, sound and habits. The walk runs from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

On Sunday, What’s That Evergreen takes a closer look at the survival strategies of local evergreen plants. On the walk, participants will learn about common species, find out what keeps these plants green year-round and sample some evergreen tea. The guided walk, suitable for kids eight and up, runs 1 to 2:30 p.m.

Both walks take place at Francis/King Regional Park in Saanich. Meet at the Francis/King Nature Centre off Munn Road.

Participants are advised to wear sturdy footwear and dress for the weather, as programs take place rain or shine. They’re also asked to arrive 10 minutes before the start of the program and leave pets at home. Details at


Turn over a new leaf at the Royal B.C. Museum this year 

The Royal B.C. Museum is kicking off the new year with its annual Admission by Donation Week.

The program continues today and tomorrow, and  museum-goers can take part in Letter Writing Week, a throwback to an old-fashioned form of communication. Sit down and pen a note or a letter, and what you write could one day become part of the museum’s archives.

January’s Live @ Lunch takes a look at Early Photography: Through the Lens of the Royal B.C. Museum Collections at noon on Saturday. Former Royal B.C. Museum audio/visual anthropology collections manager Dan Savard will discuss milestones in the history of photography.

Learn about the importance of organic and native plant gardening, composting and urban agriculture every Wednesday and Thursday at the museum’s Afternoon Exploration in collaboration with the Compost Education Centre. Each week will feature a different topic.

Today’s workshop takes a look at the role of worms. Upcoming topics include Soil Sleuths, Fun with Fungi and Native Pollinators.

Programs and special events are included in the cost of admission at the museum, 675 Belleville St.

For information, go to

Concert celebrates a life in music

Enjoy listening to a program of rarely performed music at the Faculty Chamber Music Series: Favourites from a Life in Music on Saturday.

Compositions include the Capricorn Concerto of Samuel Barber, Serenata by Alfredo Casella and three works by Igor Stravinsky: In Memoriam Dylan Thomas, The Owl and the Pussycat and his Mass for Mixed Chorus and Double Wind Quintet.

The pieces have been selected by Louis Ranger, in celebration of his 36 years of teaching and performing at the University of Victoria School of Music.

The concert features performances by colleagues, alumni and students including Benjamin Butterfield, Susan Young, the Lafayette String Quartet and the UVic Chamber Singers under the direction of Garry Froese.

Tickets are $18, or $14 for students, seniors and alumni. The concert runs 8 to 10 p.m. in the Philip T. Young Recital Hall, Room B125 of the MacLaurin Building at the University of Victoria. For information, go to

Drop-in for fun during Rec Week 

Take advantage of Victoria’s Recreation Week with free or affordable drop-in activities all week at the Cook Street Village Activity Centre.

The centre offers social, educational and recreational activities Monday to Saturday, including Fun and Fitness, Ladies Snooker, Canasta, Bellyfit and Introduction to iPad.

The programs run 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the centre, 380 Cook St.

For information, go to

Pirouette your way to fun, fitness

Looking for fun activities to shed some pounds? How about dancing? The Colwood Community Hall is hosting two new weekly dance programs.

Adult ballet classes are perfect for those who want to get fit and bring out their inner ballerina. The classes run every Monday.

All levels of experience are welcome at the weekly drop-in class.

Cost is $10 per session. Classes run 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. every Monday until Jun. 1

For information, email

For another fun way to get in shape, try the Learn to Dance classes with the Rainbow Rounders club. Learn to rhumba, cha cha, two step, waltz and more. Participants will learn to perform choreographed routines with cues from the instructor.

Cost is $5. Classes run 7:30 to 8:45 p.m. Tuesdays to May 5.

For information, go to

Both activities take place at the Colwood Community Hall, 2219 Sooke Rd.

Musical time for seniors 

Sing, play an instrument or just sit back and enjoy the music at Musical Potluck at the James Bay New Horizons every Tuesday until the end of the month.

The weekly informal music sessions are catered to seniors but everybody is welcome.

Facilitators are Patrick Smith and Alison Vardy, both of the Ptarmigan Music and Theatre Society. The event is sponsored by the Community Arts Council of Greater Victoria.

The free events run 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the activity centre, 234 Menzies St. For information, go to


Craigdarroch Castle. 1050 Joan Cres., daily  10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. 250-592-5323.
Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites. 603 Fort Rodd Hill Rd.  
Daily 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. 250-478-5849.  
Point Ellice House National Historic Site: 2616 Pleasant St. Closed for the season. 250-385-5578.
Saanich Historical Artifacts Society. Heritage Acres, 7321 Lochside Dr., 9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily. 250-652-5522.
St. Ann’s Academy, 835 Humboldt St. Historic chapel and interior, 1-4 p.m. Thursday to Sunday.  250-953-8828.

Ashton Armoury Museum. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday 9 a.m.-noon, 724 Vanalman Ave. 250-363-8346 or
British Columbia Aviation Museum. Daily 11 a.m.-3 p.m., 1910 Norseman Rd., Sidney. 250-655-3300 or
CFB Esquimalt Naval and Military Museum. Naden (off Admirals Road). 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. 250-363-4312 or
Canadian Scottish (Princess Mary’s) Museum. Tuesdays 9 a.m.-2 p.m.  Donation. Wheelchair accessible. Bay Street Armoury, 715 Bay St. Parking on Field Street. 250-363-8753.
Nanaimo Museum.100 Museum Way, Nanaimo, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday to Saturday.
Ross Bay Villa House Museum.1490 Fairfield Rd.Tours every Saturday, 2 p.m. Cost: $5.
Royal British Columbia Museum. 675 Belleville St. Daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Archives 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Fri and 1-5 p.m. Saturday.  Our Living Languages: First Peoples’ Voices in B.C. to June 2017.  Commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the First World War film: Answering the Call. Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit, to April 6. 250-356-7226 or  
Saanich Pioneer Society, Log Cabin Museum and Archives. 7910 Polo Park Crescent, open Saturday noon-3 p.m.
Sidney Historical Museum. Daily 10 a.m.-4 p.m., 2423 Beacon Ave., Sidney.  250-655-6355.
Sooke Region Museum. Tuesday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 2070 Phillips Rd., Sooke. 250-642-6351 or
Victoria Police Museum. Monday-Friday 1-4 p.m. 850 Caledonia Ave. 250-656-0853.

The Bug Zoo, 631 Courtney St., Close for renovation through January. 250-384-BUGS or
Imax Victoria located inside the Royal B.C. Museum, 675 Belleville St. Shows hourly from 10 a.m. until early evening. 250-480-4887.
Miniature World, 649 Humboldt St. Daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 250-385-9731.  
Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre,
9811 Seaport Pl. in Sidney Pier Building, Sidney; 10 a.m.-4  p.m. daily. 250-665-7511.
Victoria Butterfly Gardens,
1461 Benvenuto Ave., Brentwood Bay. Daily 10 a.m.-4 p.m. 250-652-3822 or 1-877-722-0272.

Abkhazi Garden, 1964 Fairfield Rd. Garden open daily, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. The Teahouse, Wednesday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. to March 31. 250-598-8096 or
Butchart Gardens. Daily to Feb. 28, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. 250-652-5256 or
Finnerty Gardens at the University of Victoria. Free and open year-round dawn to dusk. Entrance near Interfaith Chapel, parking lot 6. 250-721-7014;
Gardens at HCP.  Daily 9-6 p.m. 505 Quayle Rd. 250-479-6162.
Government House Gardens. Dawn to dusk, 1401 Rockland Ave. Free. Tours at
Hatley Park Gardens. 10 a.m. to dusk. 250-391-2666 or

Goldstream Provincial Park. Open 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. 250-478-9414.
Hatley Park National Historic Site. 2005 Sooke Rd.,10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary. Monday-Friday
8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., weekends  noon-4 p.m.

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