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Tourism BC, July 2009


A captivating collection of fresh ideas about British Columbia. 

Vancouver Island sets the scene for State-of-the-Art Aquarium

Vancouver Island sets the scene for State-of-the-Art Aquarium: Giant Pacific octopus and microscopic plankton. Sea stars, anemones, and rockfish all the colours of the rainbow. On Vancouver Island, creatures of the deep have taken up new residence at an address known simply as the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre. June 2009 marked the opening of this underwater wonder in the seaside town of Sidney, near Victoria. Home to fish, invertebrates and marine plant life that count in the thousands, this $8-million draw houses some 87 tonnes of seawater in 17 massive aquarium habitats, creating an ideal showcase of creatures from the Salish Sea on Canada's Pacific Coast. Visitors begin their journey by "descending" into the ocean in the deep-sea "elevator" before stepping into the Gallery of the Drifters for views of algae, delicate jellies, and other plankton, seemingly suspended in backlit aquariums. From here, the Ocean's Heartbeat, a high-tech classroom with video microscopes, Internet links to undersea sites, and live specimens to peruse provides a quick stop before entering the Gallery of the Salish Sea - a visual storytelling of the area's First Nations and their ancient relationship to the surrounding waters. Here, guests will discover an octopus den and a touch pool for hands to delve amongst intertidal life. And with Oceaneers (experts offering education and insight, with a focus on conservation) at every turn, there'll be little left to ponder. Except maybe that wolf eel lurking in its watery cavern. For more information, visit, or check out Tourism BC Field Reporter Chris Wheeler's hands-on view of the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre at

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Gather the Kin for family-fuelled fun in the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast: For an opportunity to reconnect with loved ones, out of cell range, head to cowboy country. At Elkin Creek Guest Ranch near Williams Lake, family time means face time in a setting low on tech and big on togetherness. Tucked in the Nemaiah Valley, in central British Columbia's pristine Chilcotin region, Elkin Creek's three-night Family Reunion Package promises an authentic backcountry ranch experience: under the watchful eye of cow boss Ian Bridge, families will saddle up and head for the hills during trips of the short and sweet variety (complete with picnic lunches in flower-strewn fields), and lengthy trail rides far into the backcountry. To add to the tech-free ranch atmosphere, instruction on horsemanship and hands-on experience amid the 28,000-acre working ranch's 120-head cattle herd will fill days. Want to look beyond roping and riding? Scavenger hunts, river kayaking, canoeing, fly-fishing, mountain biking, hiking, windsurfing, and a daily Kids Camp for your little rustlers will amuse. Available until November 2009, this 12-person (minimum) adventure retreat is all about customization: daily itineraries are designed by ranch crews to ensure an ideal blend of the great outdoors with much-needed contemplation time. Accommodation in luxuriously appointed cabins, nights gathered around the campfire and hearty ranch-style meals sure to bring the family together are included. Just make sure you leave the iPhone at home.

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Kayakers man the paddles in BC's Kootenay Rockies: The cool rush of a watery blast hits you full force; you dig your paddle in deeper, glad for the challenge, for the exhilaration. This is nirvana - or at least the wild reality of Kootenay Kayak. Set within the glacier-fed waters of Kootenay Lake near Nelson, a watery stretch over 120 kilometres sheltered between the Purcell and Selkirk mountain ranges, kayakers can dig in for a few hours, a few days, or more. Here's a start: Day Trippin' features a leisurely tour, complete with a bird's eye view of feathered friends (including local loons and blue herons), an exploratory hike at Irvine Creek and a savoury lunch. A Three-Hour Tour promises to uncover desolate beaches and abandoned mining sites, while the Sunset Spectacular features a paddle on the still waters of West Arm for a view of the descending sun, followed by a twilight tour back to home base. Kootenay Kayak's Paddle and Hike promises just that with a spirited paddle along sandy beaches before a hike in the Purcells for views of the Frye Creek Canyon waterfall (a visit to the quaint town Kaslo and a waterside picnic add extra kick to this outing). There's even two- to seven-day Wilderness Getaways, complete with a kayak camping tour of Kootenay Lake, as well as the Kootenay Multi-Sport excursions that boast a week of hiking in glacial terrain, single track mountain biking, fly fishing along rushing streams, and an exhilarating raft down the mighty Salmo River. Plus, some cool kayaking, of course. Dig in.

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Renowned Art Exhibition = Inspired Vancouver Landscapes: Monumental sculptures sprinkled along Vancouver's beaches, pathways, waterside neighbourhoods and urban plazas. New media installations splashed against billboards and rapid transit hubs. Think you're on a movie set? More like taking in the sights (and sites) during the Vancouver International Biennale. Officially launched in September, this 22-month, bi-annual, open air exhibition showcases the planet's most prominent sculptors and New media artists, all to stir the minds, and spirits, of visitors and residents alike. With 30 major sculpture installations from over 25 nations and six continents, plus light installations from over 100 of the brightest minds on the international scene, there'll be plenty to decipher - and discuss. Here's a taste: three of the most anticipated works for the exhibition include the incredible laughing man pieces from Yue Minjun (China), the contemporary works of Jaume Plens
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