Victoria: A Steampunk Exploration
Welcome, my friends old and new. Allow me to regale you with the story of my wondrous excursion to the Victoria Steam Expo, a gathering of the greatest scientific and cultural minds on the planet, working in harmonious unison to tackle the world’s most perplexing problems, and of course, to enjoy the creature comforts of Victoria, British Columbia. During my sojourn to this wild country, I participated upon an expedition, enjoyed the finest cuisine, and met the most incredible individuals—including a mad scientist, an evil genius, a fellow scribe, and of course, the most splendid and charming ladies I have ever been privileged to encounter.
My journey began in the wee hours of 21 May, when I boarded the impressive Victoria Clipper. Imagine my surprise when I discovered neither paddle wheel nor steam engine powered this sleek craft. Instead, some remarkable “turbine,” an incredibly inventive motive force propels this ship across the waters at an impossible 35 knots. However, upon the promenade deck, I felt nary a dip of motion, so smooth was her sailing. I sipped tea and biscuits provided by wonderful hosts while the dark waters of Puget Sound slipped by. In almost no time I stepped off the boat into a foreign and mysterious country known as Canada.
Facing a day of tedium before the official start of the Exposition, I chartered a lorry to the fabled Butchart Gardens, a horticultural wonderland tended by the magnanimous Butchart family. After a short ride through the fir-graced hills of Vancouver Island, during which our talkative escort related thrilling tales of Victoria lore, I stepped off into a riotous land of bounteous beauty. For decades, the Butchart Gardens have been meticulously cultivated to produce a breathtaking mastery of the botanical arts. I enjoyed my expedition immensely, and was rewarded with the observation of several hitherto secreted varieties of plants and flowers. Alas, it ended far too soon, as I had reserved a spot at a sacred tea ceremony.
The Empress Hotel is steeped in history and tradition. Built after Queen Victoria’s passing, it is an homage to her reign and dedicated to her memory, architected in the purest Victorian style and preserved with the grandest Victorian manners. I attended their legendary Tea Ceremony whereupon my gracious hosts procured the finest tea blends and sumptuous finger sandwiches while I observed the maritime activity out on the bay. Kudos to the chefs at The Empress; their culinary creations are spot-on.
Afterwards, I retired to my room for some well-earned relaxation. However, the call to adventure that runs through my blood could not be suppressed, so I ventured out upon the grand streets of Victoria in search of a hospitable tavern. And what did I find? A pub called “Bard and Banker.” Well, a tavern with the name “Bard” could not be ignored, and I was not disappointed. I sampled the finest ales of Victoria, indubitably impressed with their fine craftsmanship while enjoying the company of the curious but hospitable natives of Canada, who proved most charming to strangers in their midst. Ales are a source of their national pride, and it is well earned. I returned to my room most satisfied but with an incurable anticipation for the start of the Exposition.
My first order of business on the dawn of May 22 consisted of a minor expedition in search of my favored Italian beverage. Whilst I enjoy tea immensely, my body craves the jolt provided by java. I returned to my room and donned my finest, then proceeded to the Exposition in the glorious Crystal Ballroom. My mouth gaped at the wonder within. Ladies and Gentlemen from all walks of life congregated in the ballroom, garbed in handsome suits and dresses. Inventors, craftsman, and seamstresses displayed their wares while masters of modern thought and expression took the stage. For two days I absorbed this elevated atmosphere, and shall hereby summarize a few of the highlights.
The Mad Scientist
Whereupon Professor Whovianart’s more preposterous claims—such as the ability to time travel—appear dubious at best, I could not argue with the results: incredible objects with mysterious powers, fascinating mechanisms, and enjoyable conversation. I purchased a few trinkets from this curious fellow, and shall examine them at length when time permits.
The Evil Genius
Despite his boyish charm, the man known as Tommy Wlasichuk is not to be trusted. I have on good authority that he runs a secret society known as VSteam with the sole purpose of world domination. This silver-tongued devil was most charming, but a closer examination revealed his evil purposes. I pray that the tender ministrations of his companion Miss Phoenix Black may curb his predilections and return him to proper society.
A Gentle Scribe
I enjoyed my conversations with Mr. Nick Valentino immensely, finding him a fellow with which I shared my literary propensity. He shared his masterpiece of fiction Thomas Riley with the audience, which proved to be a romping adventure tailored towards youths, imparting them with a story of consequence and morality. I shall endeavor to promote his work at every opportunity.
The Elegant Ladies
What might a man say when surrounded with such beauty and grace? I felt both humbled and appreciative of their finery and magnificence. I could script pages upon their glory, but pardon my piteous neglect as I only highlight the most inspiring.
A most charming and delightful minstrel, Unwoman entertained us with a haunting and compelling performance upon her famed cello. A budding talent, I encourage one and all to seek her music and performances if she journeys to your town.
Miss Charlotte and the Burlesque Dancer
Ahh,, how could one forget Miss Charlotte, the most beautiful and alluring creature to grace the Exposition. A Victoria native, she is no mere gentle lady, in fact, she is the sole proprietress of an outfitter of the finest clothes of bygone eras—an entrepreneur of the first order. I enjoyed her exquisite company in the exclusive Bengal Room over hearty ales and divine spirits along with her intriguing friends Mr. and Mrs. Bob and Denise Pearson, highlighted by a visit by the voluptuous Miss Rosie Bitts, a burlesque dancer of the first order. I most certainly shall seek Miss Charlotte’s counsel when outfitting myself for future excursions.
How could a night conclude more fittingly? Well, with a visit to one of Victoria’s more bawdy establishments known as the Sticky Wicket, where I cornered evil genius Tommy and his coterie of Vancouver associates, but they politely declined to reveal their evil aspirations. Many an ale was consumed, but the night ended too quickly and I bid my fellows adieu.
Groggy from a night of revelry, on the morning of May 23 I once more wandered the streets of Victoria and discovered a fine eatery. Joined by my fellow Seattle natives, we enjoyed our repast of eggs and bacon before returning to the concluding day of the Exposition. Once again I engaged in hearty intercourse with the many participants, exchanged cultural and scientific ideas, and uncovered many secrets of the universe. I shall not bore you with the details of my return journey, but I arrived home happy and satisfied from the experience.
I encourage one and all to visit my pictorial galleries upon Picasa.
Victoria Steam Exposition, I salute you! See you next year!