On Wednesday I took the southern bike route passing through the campus of the Vancouver Island University (VIU) with a stopover at the cafeteria which is an extension of their highly acclaimed culinary arts program.
Finding a parking spot on this campus can be challenging but not when all you have is a bicycle; just tie it off to a tree or post.
There was an open air event in progress at the site of the VIU’S aboriginal gathering place, referred to as SHQ’APTHUT; where the raising of the 3rd totempole Ceremonie was in full progress. Like many spots on this campus this place has a spectacular view overlooking part of Nanaimo and the Salish Sea.
These poles are manifestations of woodcarving skills developed over generations of indigenous artisans, and I watched the progress of this 3rd specimen over the last few months during previous stopovers, as it was evolving out of a huge red cedar log carved by Tom Hunt from the Kwawaka’wakw Territories, located at the north end of Vancouver Island.
VIU Totem Pole Raising Ceremony
There were several First Nations dignitaries making speeches in their native tongue with an interpreter and VIU representatives responding in english to about 200 people in attendance. The VIU website expanding on aboriginal events is scribbled in the sketch. I sat in the back row and made a quick outline sketch in ink on glossy paper over the heads of people sitting in front of me with the speakers podium in the distance. Colours were added afterwards at home using watercolour markers; a new approach that I am presently experimenting with.
From the VIU, the bike trail continues to the Colliery Dam Park one of my frequented stops where I produced this sketch sitting on a log using the same materials as in the previous one.
To get to the south section of the Parkway trail from here one has to pedal the bike up a steep trail through a mature second growth forest. Once at the top, there is an open area where the Harewood Mines Road passes under the #19 Hwy and where the noise of traffic seems overwhelming.
From here one starts the Parkway trail with a steep slope down and up again into a strip of wooded parkland flanking the 4-lane highway. The next 3 kilometers are fun as the trail goes for the most part downhill, freewheeling the bike towards Cranberry Avenue where the trail ends and where one has to find ways to avoid cars, trucks and busses, all the way along Haliburton going back to downtown.